Fra kongelig embetsmann til underordnet tjenestemann. Byvaktmesterstillingen i Bergen, Christiania og Trondheim fra 1596 til 1876
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This master thesis has its focus on the profession called byvaktmester (head of the watchmen) in Bergen, Christiania (Oslo) and Trondheim. The main issue it attempts to explore is: What was the profession’s function, income and status in Bergen, Christiania and Trondheim from 1596 to 1874? To answer these questions, the three main topics: 1) function, 2) income, and 3) social status, has been analyzed in each of the main chapters and further discussed how the different changes happened over the lapse of time. Although the profession as head of the watchmen played a pivotal role in the early law enforcement from the 17th to the mid-19th century in Norwegian cities - it has been shown little attention in the research literature. This include police-, urban and other forms of historic research. Therefore, there is little known information about the byvaktmester work responsibilities, income and social status. Through deep research of historic sources, this thesis will cast new light on different aspects of the profession, but also contribute to the Norwegian police- and urban history as well. For instance, the profession in Christiania and Trondheim went from being the leader of the watchmen, to become the cities jail warden in the late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. This is an important change, not only for the profession, but also influenced how the watchmen was organized through the 19th century. This paper shows that the byvaktmester profession changed throughout the period of 1596 to 1874. However, the changes did not happen steadily, but were consequences of changes in laws, governance, population increase, inflation and other minor changes in the cities. There were also differences in the three cities that are examined. For instance, in Bergen the byvaktmester was mainly dependent on his annual salary, but in Christiania and Trondheim their main income was from “custody money” (varetektspenger), a variable income from their supervising of the cities prisoners. Also, the head of the watchmen in Bergen kept his responsibilities over the watchmen until 1874, while in Christiania and Trondheim, he continued as the city jail warden through the most part of the 19th century.