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¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Much of the Black Forest landscape is rugged and suited more for small farms than for large contiguous family farms. The famines of the sixteenth century had left the German peasantry impoverished,23 at best leaving only a small surplus of production over consumption. Economic pressures in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century gradually tended to segregate agrarian society into two layers: by 1581 the bottom 80% who collectively owned some 40% of the wealth, and the top 20% who owned the other 60%.24 The large contiguous family farms at the top in general were successfully handed down intact to the next generation, while the small properties tended to be constantly fractured and redistributed.25 In contrast to the margraviate of Burgau,26 the Stühlingen region lacked a significant, export-oriented textile production, although the town featured small dyeing and pottery manufacture.27 The town had its complement of tanners and tawers, bakers and barbers, as well as several inns, but the region’s economy was based mainly on agricultural produce. Stühlingen featured its own public market hall, in which Jews too were allowed to trade.28 But most likely it served only as retail market (Latin macellus publicus), supplying residents with their basic needs.29 Up until 1659, the town would hold three annual fairs; two more were added that year.30 But the Stühlingen fairs paled in comparison to the bi-annual Zurzach fair, thirty kilometres to the southwest in Switzerland.
24Ibid., table A.3.
26Ullmann, “Nachbarschaft und Konkurrenz” 56–7.
27Häusler, “Stühlingen: Vergangenheit und Gegenwart” 241.
28FFA, Judenakte, Politica, Amt Stühlingen, div. I, subdiv. 1, Die Annahme der Juden 1615–1784.
29Dickinson, “The Morphology of the Medieval German Town.”
30Häusler, “Stühlingen: Vergangenheit und Gegenwart.” 221.