The Peasants of Ottobeuren, 1487–1726

A Rural Society in Early Modern Europe

The Peasants of Ottobeuren, 1487–1726

Focusing on the lands of the Benedictine monastery of Ottobeuren and based on a mass of archival data, this study presents a detailed reconstruction of peasant society in early modern Germany. It argues that the German rural economy performed much better than has previously been believed. The Ottobeuren peasantry generated large agricultural surpluses, became progressively more active in land and credit markets, and traded in ever wider circuits of commerce. Their peasant society is shown therefore to have been stable economically, and surprisingly resilient to war, plague and famine.


"Sreenivasan's sophisticated book emerged from many years of labor. Replete with staistics (almost numbingly so), it gains life from compellingly told stories of individuals and families participating in markets, shaping the early modern world in a far more direct way than most scholars of early modern Europe have ever imagined."Renaissance Quarterly W. David Myers, Fordham University

"This is a historiographical bouillabaisse with many provides a rich interpretive broth with many a good empirical tidbit...[Sreenivasan] has presented a centuries-encompassing synthesis that reveals a larger picture previously unseen."
William W. Hagen, Journal of Modern History

'… enormously rich and detailed … an incisive and compelling analysis of the rapidly increasing commercialization of the rural economy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.' German History