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Women carrying water. Picture no. 4 in handwriting by Lorenzo Magalotti, Notizie di Svezia, 1674.

Seamen, Soldiers, Wifes and Everyday Life

Recent research has shown that the household was vital for the organization of work in early modern Sweden. This subproject aims to study the work conditions for ordinary seamen and the role played by the household in the navy. 

As a consequence of Swedish naval ambitions in the 17th-century Sweden a great number of men (and some women) experienced life at sea. Yet, we know very little about recruitment, provisioning, logistics and everyday life in the navy. As a fixed system for seamen’s recruitment was established, the seamanship came to define not only the seamen, but also their wives and children.

To this end, both written sources and artefacts will be investigated. The objects that have been excavated from Vasa and Kronan together with other artefacts in museum collections and ongoing maritime archaeologic ventures offer unique keys to our understanding of the lived reality at sea.

In contrast to other collections which mainly contain ”elite objects”, these objects belonged to all layers of society. When combined with written sources they can provide insights not only in maritime life, but also to the 17th-century society as such.

Name of the Subproject

Seamen, Soldiers, Wifes and Everyday Life.


Project leader

Anna Maria Forssberg, historian, The National Maritime and Transport Museums


Page last updated: 2021-06-07