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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/31

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15
RISE OF THE LOWER CLASSES

During this long period of reaction little energy could be expended for agricultural reforms. All that could be done was to allow the farmers to take full advantage of the previous reform measures. At the end of the eighteenth century loans had been granted to leaseholders who wished to buy their lands and cultivate them as freeholds, and these efforts were continued during the first years of the nineteenth century. After a time they lessened somewhat, but the conversion of the leaseholds into freeholds did not cease entirely. In 1835 almost two-thirds of the farms were freeholds.

A reaction was also felt in trade and industry. Toward the close of the eighteenth century there had appeared, in connexion with the more liberal politico-economic movement, a certain tendency to relax the guild restrictions. Plans had even been formed for the complete abolition of the guilds. As a matter of fact, however, the restrictions were only slightly relaxed. In 1800, for example, it was stipulated that any journeyman who had worked steadily for four years might become a free master, but might not employ an apprentice or journeyman. But even this limited concession was withdrawn in 1822, and other reactionary regulations were introduced. It cannot be said, however, that the guild restrictions in Denmark were felt to be very severe. In the towns, indeed, to which trade was chiefly confined, the guilds were sharply distinguished from one another. But it was comparatively easy to become a journeyman, and when a journeyman had made a masterpiece he was entitled to become a master with the right to employ as many assistants as he saw fit. In the country districts certain trades were carried on freely or by special licence; but the country tradesmen were not allowed to work in the town.