Population History and Social Structure of a Mining Centre in the early modern Period: the Example of Schwaz
The history of settlement, population movement and social structure of the early modern mining centre of Schwaz and its adjacent areas has so far only rudimentarily been focused on by historical studies on mining. This is highly astounding, because, on the one hand, the relevant literature topos-like deduces the "urban character" of Schwaz (estimates range from 3,000 to 25,000 inhabitants) from the former flourishing period of silver mining in the 15th and 16th centuries, and, on the other hand, demographic questions belong to the core issues of economic and social history. The intricate body of source material may partly explain this lack of interest in such topics.
On the basis of demographic sources and dues records, this study tries to give an overview on the history of settlement in the area around Schwaz at the beginning of modern times. The paper also aims at reconstructing the social structure of the village of Vomp in the 17th century. Being in close proximity to Schwaz and housing many miner families, Vomp provides an ideal example for a settlement affected by mining. The article is to be seen as a status report on a historical-demographic micro-study, which, on the basis of the mining district of Schwaz, tries to answer macro-historical questions from a micro-historical perspective.