The eastern realm

This article deals with royal administration in the eastern province of Jemtland in the period circa 1300-1500. Jemtland was under the rule of the King of Norway from the late 12th century, but kept a certain amount of autonomy and a low level of royal interference in internal affairs. The article looks at four aspects of royal rule: taxation, juridical power, military obligations and the presence of royal officials. All these aspects point in the same direction: there was a mutual interest in keeping royal presence at a low level. The economy of the region supplied the crown with taxes paid in furs, a commodity of good value for the crown but not labour-intensive for the population. In the period of Scandinavian unions, the region was not of strategic importance, and military duties were negligible. The legal system was under local control, and decentralized. Paradoxically, this low level of royal presence which guaranteed a high degree of local autonomy also secured legitimacy for the crown.