Förfäderna inför tinget|
Our ancestors in the courts
■ Vid tinget slits tvister och utdöms straff för begångna brott. Så sker i dagens tingsrätter och så skedde på medeltidens tingsplatser. Men det är först från 1500- och 1600-talen vi kan följa domstolarnas arbete mer i detalj. Från den tiden finns det nämligen protokoll bevarade, som berättar hur domstolarna dömt och vilka personer som varit inblandade.
Bouppteckningarna var förr i tiden mycket mer detaljerade än dagens summariska redogörelser över en avlidens kvarlåtenskap. Nästan varenda pinal finns specificerad. Bilden av en förfader får onekligen skarpare konturer om man vet att han åkte till kyrkan i en "gammal skäskärra" bakom ett "gult sto", klädd i långbyxor, väst, kravatt, vantar och stövlar. Utanpå alltsammans hade han en "mörkblå kapprock", i västfickan satt ett av hans två "silfverfickur" och i mungipan hängde en "silfverbeslagen sjöskumspipa".
Quarrels and disputes were heard in the courts and judgement was meted out for crimes committed. This is the practice today and this was the practice at the assizes held in the Middle Ages. It is not, however, until the 16th and th 17th centuries that we can trace the work of the courts in greater detail. From this time on the court records have been preserved, which tell us what the courts accomplished and which persons were involved.
In the country it was the assizes (häradsrätt) which heard the court cases. In the cities it was the magistrate´s court (rådhusrätt) which handled the cases. The area which came under the jurisdiction of the assizes was called tingslag and usually covered one or more judical units named härad. A härad, equivalent of the old English hundred, comprised several parishes, sometimes as many as thirty. Even as late as the 1940s the sessions of the assizes were held three times a year – in the winter, the summer and the autumn.
Inheritance disputes and village fights
Court documents (domböcker) contain detailed records of the cases handled by the courts or the assizes. A long drawn-out inheritance quarrel can provide the genealogist with much information, and just as interesting is following the course of the courts dealing with a village fight. Obviously these records often reflect the seamy side of life.
Estate inventories (bouppteckningar) were recorded in much greater detail in olden days compared with the rather dry summaries which we run into today when studying the estate left by a deceased antecedent. The least little item was inventoried. The picture of an ancestor emerges in much greater detail if we know that he went to church in an "old rig" pulled by a "sorrel mare". We can also picture our ancestor in his pantaloons, vest, tie, gloves and boots. Over these clothes he wore a "dark blur redingote". In his vest pocket we find one of his "silver watches" and hanging from the corner of his mouth his "meerschaum pipe adorned with silver".