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Terre, mer et communautés dans les iles Shetland au XVIIIe siècle

Abstract : In a rental of the arable land of Shetland, written in the early 1770s, the following expression appeared: “The inhabitants of the Towns within the same Scattald are called scatt brethren.” These few words triggered a series of questions. What is a scattald? What is the scatt? Who are these ‘scatt brothers’? Research at the National Records of Scotland and at the Shetland Archives as well as the reading of academic literature on the questions of communities, commons, custom, local judicial systems and rural life in the early modern period led to the writing of a thesis on communities in the 18th century. These communities lived in a peculiar geographical context: the Shetland Islands. Without underestimating the role of the local environment in the life of the Shetlanders, this thesis shows that the surroundings of the Shetlanders were more a place of possibilities than a place of restrictions; it brought constraints, but any other surroundings in early modern Europe had its limitations. The life on the islands of Shetland was as anywhere else on mainland Scotland at the same period a life based on local resources and which saw the development of a market economy with its advantages and disadvantages for the inhabitants. In Shetland the market economy took the form of the fishing tenures with their specific share-cropping contracts.In order to understand these communities the thesis starts with how they were regulated. The regulations, the courts and their personnel all had a role to play in the social control of the members of the communities. This thesis also explores the activities of the communities’ members in their environment. Shetland as well as several regions in Northwest Europe at the same time was a place of pluriactivité, multi-tasking. Through multi-tasking and access to the commons, the scattald communities of Shetland kept a certain level of independence even in time of debt-bondage. This paradoxical relationship was rendered possible by an almost unlimited access to the commons throughout the 18th century, a time during which the movement on the commons were possible and the transmission of the memory of their boundaries stayed alive. Changes, however, happened on the islands during these times. The fishing tenures were only one element of these changes: women started to outnumber men, the size of the arable land cultivated by one household diminished, the protected commons were slowly nibbled, and a regional court offered more possibilities for justice to the higher ranks than to the tenants... Eventually, this thesis argues that local communities in 18th-century Shetland offered protection to women and men who through them had an organised support system
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Audrey Beaudouin. Terre, mer et communautés dans les iles Shetland au XVIIIe siècle. Histoire. Université Rennes 2; Norwegian university of science and technology (Trondheim, Norvège), 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016REN20047⟩. ⟨tel-01953456⟩



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