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The allod ( Old Low Franconian allōd , "full property", to all "full, whole" and ōd "good, possession"; Middle Latin allod or allodium ), also personal property or inheritance or free property , in medieval and early modern law referred to property (almost always land or urban land or property) that the owner ( owner , also heir ) could freely dispose of. As a family inheritance , it differs from fiefdom and manorial land .

Historically, the owners of allods are a kind of sovereign state. Because of this, they were historically the same as other princes, regardless of the size of their territory or the title they used. This definition is confirmed by the celebrated jurist Hugo Grotius, the father of international law and the concept of sovereignty. "Owners of allodial lands are sovereign" because allodial lands are inherently free, hereditary, inherited from their ancestors, sovereign, and held by the grace of God.

The conversion of benefits into personal property is called allodialization . The respective owner, however, was not allowed to freely dispose of a property called an Odal .

The private wealth of a princely family in contrast to fiscal property ( state treasure , state domain ) is also referred to as an allodial property .

Allod and feudal beings

In all these properties the allod differed from the feudal property , which did not belong entirely to the feudal taker or vassal . The upper ownership of the fiefdom remained with the feudal lord, who could demand different services from his vassals, mostly determined by customary law. Fiefdom was so-called usable property , while allod was fully owned . This was also expressed in the synonymous contemporary term for allod, heritage and property . The possession of the citizens within the scope of the city ​​law usually had an allodial character. The church donors also owned their land as inheritance and as their own.

In England there has been no allodial property since the Norman Conquest in 1066 , which brought about a development towards feudalism . It was very rare in France. In Germany the allod never disappeared in aristocratic ownership and was sometimes re-established in cleared land.

With the decline of feudal rights in the 16th century, a movement in the opposite direction began. Fiefs were converted back into freely inheritable property in return for a compensation for the liege lord. This process is called allodification or allodification . The fiefs remained limited property due to the rights of the feudal followers ( agnates ). Only the upper ownership of the feudal lord was abolished, whereas the rights of the feudal heirs suffered no impairment. The fiefdom thus approached the family fideikommiss as a so-called allodified fiefdom ; it was often expressly converted into Fideikommissgut.


Model of the Cronheim palace complex . In the picture on the right the reinforced Allodium Cronheim with tithe barn

The property was therefore not tied to services or obligations of the owner towards other people. An allod could be freely inherited according to the local law. Originally, not even taxes had to be paid to the respective sovereigns on the income from allodial goods .

In the Middle Ages, the allodium was in front of the central seat of the castle. It was also known as the Dominicale and finally the Vorwerk . Members of the respective knightly family often lived in them. From this derives, the outer works are called knight seats and popularly as a castle. They were able to repel minor attacks and offered protection to the population of the village.

Origin and historical development

The allod as a form of possession arose among the Germanic tribes and peoples before the feudal system developed. Land that was originally a common property of the entire national community was given to the individual member. The Germanic peoples distributed or raffled land in the lands they had conquered and occupied among their free men. This gives rise to the essential character of allodial property: free property allocated and guaranteed by the will of the entire people or by popular law. The owner is free from all private dependence and restrictions on his property rights.

In many regions initially only the owners of an allod were considered free, who shared in all communal, public duties and rights. They were the members of the state parish . The free landowners in the early Middle Ages were one of the groups from which the nobility developed over time . They saw themselves as equal partners of the sovereign because they were associated with him as comrades in the state community and were not subordinate to him as vassals. The freedoms associated with the allodial property (including tax exemption, hunting rights ) could only be preserved in most countries by the noble lords who - even if they had to submit more and more to the sovereign after 1500 ( becoming a state) - the politically and economically most influential class of the Landowners stayed. The term allod occurs only in the Franconian area and the territories legally influenced by Franconian tribes. Since the Battle of Hastings in 1066 there was no allod in England, in France mainly in the south. In Germany, allod ownership, especially of the nobility, is concentrated in the south. There were numerous lords who based their powerful position on extensive allodial possessions in the eastern Alpine countries and in the countries of the Bohemian Crown . The king as supreme liege lord was never master of the entire territory of the empire.

Allodial property could also arise if the feudal lord waived his rights in favor of the vassal. Cleared land is regarded by the princes as an allodial good. Conversely, free landlords were occasionally punished for a crime by converting their freehold property into a fief.

The differences between the two medieval forms of ownership, fiefdom and allod, became increasingly smaller over time. On the one hand, feudal services were no longer required from the vassals by the 17th century at the latest and the right of inheritance of the feudal recipients was already much stronger in the early modern period; on the other hand, the sovereigns had already been able to force the free lords to pay regular taxes in the 16th century. In the 19th century, the feudal system was gradually abolished in most European countries. At this time, the concept of property in civil law emerged , as it was mainly coined in the Civil Code . While in France the "régime féodal" was ended with the stroke of a pen by the revolutionary legislature in 1789, in Germany it took until the middle of the 20th century until the feudal right was finally abolished (1947 by the Control Council Act).


  • Otto Brunner : Land and Dominion. Basic questions of the territorial constitutional history of Austria in the Middle Ages. 5th edition. Rohrer, Vienna 1965 (unmodified reprographic reprint of the 5th edition: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1984, ISBN 3-534-09466-2 ).
  • Karl Heinz Burmeister : Allod . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , column 440 f.
  • Rüdiger Frhr. von Preuschen: The Sponheim castle in Osterspai in the dispute between those of Carben, Steinkallenfels and Waldenburg over the legacy of the last Liebensteiner 1637–1793. In: Nassau Annals. Volume 126, 2015, pp. 155-176, ISSN  0077-2887 .
  • Allod . In: Prussian Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape 1 , issue 4 (edited by Eberhard von Künßberg ). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar, Sp. 486–502 ( - publication date between 1914 and 1930).

Web links

Wiktionary: Allod  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. free . In: Prussian Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape 3 , issue 5 (edited by Eberhard von Künßberg ). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar ( - publication date between 1935 and 1938). own . In: Prussian Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape  2 , issue 9 (edited by Eberhard von Künßberg ). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar ( - publication date between 1933 and 1935).
  2. Hereditary lord . In: Universal Lexicon of the Present and Past . 4., reworked. and greatly increased edition, Volume 5:  Germany – Euromos , Eigenverlag, Altenburg 1858, p.  814 .
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  4. ^ Frank Adam: The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands . Genealogical Publishing Com, 1970, ISBN 978-0-8063-0448-9 ( [accessed April 27, 2020]).
  5. ^ Frank Adam: The Clans, Septs & Regiments of the Scottish Highlands . No. 97 . Genealogical Publishing Com, 1970, ISBN 978-0-8063-0448-9 ( [accessed April 27, 2020]).
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