Manorial rule

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The lordly organizational form of manorial rule - in Austria and other areas also called hereditary subservience or patrimonial rule - was a legal, economic and social ownership structure of rural areas that prevailed from the Middle Ages to 1848 and the peasant liberation . Manorial rule denotes the power of disposal of the lords over the peasants on the basis of the disposition over the land. Manorial rule is a characteristic term from medieval and modern social and legal history, but only appears in this way in modern sources.

Bareheaded peasants deliver their taxes to the landlord. Woodcut from the 15th century

Training during the feudal period

A landlord was usually a member of the first two classes : the nobility or the clergy . He was not only the landowner (see also Allod ) or owner of a lease with power of disposal over the land, but mostly also exercised extensive administrative and judicial functions with the appropriate administrators . The landlord was responsible for the legal administration and allocation of use of land used for agriculture or forestry and the exercise of powers under public law, such as police power and jurisdiction in their various forms of punishment in the event of uprisings of subjects obliged to perform. He had the right to rule over his subjects in matters of religion or property. The landlord had the right of patronage .

However, the landlord not only had to ensure the obedience of his mostly destitute landlords (subjects), but also to provide protection and protection . Therefore, the basic rule included not only the feudalism coherent agrarian economic system , but a sphere of control and ownership structure, all areas of life to the 19th century dominated and manifestations as serfdom , body rule , patronage , court rule , decade rule , Bailiwick violence had and village authorities . War duty did not necessarily require body rule.

Mark of submission

The subjects were in different relationships of dependence on the landlord. They had to pay different taxes ( Gülte ) from what they had earned and were obliged to perform labor . The taxes mostly consisted of payments in kind ( fruit interest ) that had to be delivered to the lords' court. Official duties, such as manual and clamping services , services and customs by customary law consisted of annual, weekly, daily compulsory work or on certain events, such as the obligation to pay due to an inheritance in the family of the heir or payments etc. at a marriage.

In some manors there was an obligation to use the mill owned by the manor for a fee or to buy the beer brewed in the manorial brewery. Since the beginnings of feudalism , there have been various compulsions on the part of the manorial system against submissive village communities if they represented a communal enterprise ( commons ) or had become dependent due to warlike events. The form of the relationship of dependency ranged from the pure lease relationship to bondage to serfdom . Wealthy landlords mostly owned numerous villages with the income and labor to be achieved from them and tracts of land up to large estates. In the former Frais , a special legal area between a monastery and a town, different landlords shared the rights and income of a village, which makes the actual legal situation extremely complicated.

It was mostly the case that over the centuries house and land ownership in a region was increasingly split up into different secular and spiritual landlords, so that in some localities every or at least every second property earned a different landlord. In the case of larger manors, which had many subjects in a region, a local meier (= administrator) was often appointed for the administration.

Obligations of the landlord

Every landlord had duties according to the principle of "loyalty and obedience to protection and protection". It was supposed to provide the dependents with basic economic security and support in the event of illness, crop failures or disasters, protection against being lured away as mercenaries for foreign warlords and provide funeral care for the family. During his reign, his administration had to ensure religious peace, settle disputes and, with the help of an arbitration tribunal, sentence peace breakers to death if necessary.

As a rule, the landlord had the right of patronage , was able to determine the clergy and the religious orientation of his domain or to force a change of faith. The landlord often procured relics for his churches , which were exhibited in reliquary shrines and kept watch over the graves of the landlord's family. As a result, according to the conviction of the time, they should have the grace of God to ascend to heaven together with the remains of the relic on Judgment Day, the end of all times , in order to escape the torments of hell .

Manorials of religious institutions or individual monasteries, mostly created through gifts and foundations from secular landlords who wanted to promote their spiritual salvation and achieve social prestige, did not differ in their social behavior and the legal system of inheritance from a secular manorial system.

Overview of historical development

The disposition over people typical of the manorial system through the power of disposal over people may have existed in a similar form even before the Middle Ages. Older research assumed "Germanic" roots. In the formation of the manorial lords of European character, a connection with the gradual Christianization of the population of that time must be taken into account. The principle of the ruler as the male dominant shepherd over the flock of sheep and their availability prevailed. The burdens of the flock gradually changed over time and were often increased to serve their salvation. The so-called villication system, which provided for a functional differentiation of the courtyards, is typical of the Carolingian era. Several Fronhöfe were assigned to a manor house, which served to administer the individual, often scattered, manor houses. Taxes in kind played an important role until the end of the manorial rule, but have lost their importance since the late Middle Ages, as the interest of the landlord in cash grew and so benefits in kind were converted into cash payments, a kind of tax . From the point of view of the landlord, however, it was still worthwhile to demand contributions in kind, such as to collect tithe “in kind” or to demand compulsory service instead of service money .

With the transition to the general monetary economy and the shift of economic power to the emerging cities with the special rights of the citizens, away from the agricultural economy, a devaluation of the power relations of feudalism began. This led to Knight revolts, then the peasant wars of the early modern period. Germany remained shaped by this rural legal, economic and social order until the middle of the 19th century with the onset of industrialization , the liberation of the peasants and the end of subservience .

In the second half of the 18th century, reforms began in some territories that at least reformed the existing manorial rule, such as the conversion of benefits in kind into cash payments or the abolition of serfdom. This process is also known as basic relief . But these reforms did not call the system itself into question.

In France and the Rhineland (on the left bank of the Rhine), the manorial system was abolished during the French Revolution .

The area of ​​today's Germany followed from 1807 as a result of the October Edict and the French reform laws after 1808. In the Rhine Confederation states , these reforms were often reversed after 1814, but important reform laws ( replacements ) were passed in 1831 . The reforms were largely completed with the revolution of 1848 . They ended with the transfer of the rustic property to the farmers in return for compensation, while the directly managed Dominical property became private property and, in many cases, large property.

The trigger for the abolition of the manorial rule in the cisleithan part of Austria was the ultimately failed revolution of 1848/49 . The youngest member of the constituent Reichstag, Hans Kudlich , a farmer's son from Lobenstein in Austrian Silesia and a student in Vienna, who was not yet 25 years old , had made the fundamental request on July 26, 1848: “The Reich Assembly should decide: From now on, subservience is all all rights and obligations are abolished, subject to the provisions of whether and how compensation is to be paid. ”The imperial patent of September 7, 1848 already announced the decision to abolish the subordination of the peasants. This individual freedom, however, meant the compulsion to take on transfer obligations (basic relief) . A third of the fixed cash sum had to be paid within 20 years; every current tax payment was only made in money that had to be delivered to the state, represented by the tax office. This means that the local communities are developing in parallel , after the cadastral communities had been set up as tax communities a few decades earlier .

The manor as the center of the manor

Each manorial estate had a so-called manor house . In the Middle Ages it was mostly a castle, later a palace or mansion. In the early and high Middle Ages, the manorial central courtyards were often referred to as curtis or curia. The manor housed the family of the landlord with administrators and servants; it was at the same time the economic and administrative center of the manorial power. The allod , the manor v. a. in Prussia, the noble estate widespread in Schleswig-Holstein and the chancellery estate . In the Bavarian Imperial Circle there were also the Hofmarken and Landsassen goods. The estates of a sovereign were called domains or chamber estates .

Word history overview and research tips

The term landlord can be understood as a translation of the older dominus terrae or dominus fundi after 1300. It originated at a time when townspeople and territorial lords were fighting for economic and political reasons about the separation of property (proprietas) and rule (potestas), which since late antiquity had been mixed up more and more closely. The manorial rule at that time meant a special case of rule, namely that of a special relationship between a master and his land (and the people attached to it). Since the early Middle Ages, partial powers and their new combination had become independent, each power of disposal or form of income was given its own right to claim. As real and personal, ecclesiastical and secular, public and private aspects increasingly diverged, Roman law with its concept of the separation of superior and beneficial ownership helped to find a property law term of domination (dominium). The "intertwining of land ownership and rural rule" ( Ludolf Kuchenbuch ) that began in late antiquity was dissolved again in a tough process. Despite this authoritarian and economically oriented physical rule theory, the tension with rural rule practice persisted. Thus, at the end of the 16th century, the abstraction of manorial rule emerged, and a legal tradition of private property rule emerged, but this changed little about this contradiction until the end of the 18th century. On the contrary, with the bourgeois era there was an increasing use of the terms feudalism and manorial rule, which served to combat the ancien régime based on the connection between noble property and private rule. With the liberation of the peasants and the inclusion of aristocratic large estates in the capitalist economy, the term manorial rule quickly lost its ideological orientation.

In the run-up to the founding of the empire, the question of whether it was one of the "original institutions of Germania" was of interest in connection with the manorial rule. The question of the freedom and cooperative character of a society that had been without private property was increasingly discussed on the basis of the assumption that rulers referred to land. The concept of manorial rule became a social and economic system concept. The worked out tensions between property and personal law, property and rule repeatedly inspired research.

In 1878 Karl Theodor von Inama-Sternegg raised the thesis that the dramatic development of the great manors during the Carolingian rule was a turning point, and that the Villication Constitution provided the framework for everyday rural life. From 1881 to 1886, in his German business life in the Middle Ages , Karl Lamprecht showed research the way to regional studies, as he had demonstrated using the Moselle region. At the same time, he drew attention to the scattering of the ruled areas. Georg von Below's statistically oriented research discredited this direction for decades, but the connection between geography, sociology and history proved to be more fruitful. It was one of Lamprecht's successors, Rudolf Kötzschke , who, based on his investigations into Werden Abbey from 1901, presented an in-depth study and expanded the ideas of the manorial structure through the "levy constitution" based on tax organization.

Alfons Dopsch also contributed to the relativization of Inama's teaching. Its extremely broad-based economic development in the Carolingian era was influenced by the fact that it created typifications based on the bearers, i.e. the king, clergy, secular lords, and above all that Dopsch included cultural, constitutional and foreign works and reinterpreted the known sources.

It was not until 1935 to 1941 that new impulses were added in German-speaking countries. Thus, impulses came from the cyclical economic history, as embodied above all by Wilhelm Abel in his habilitation thesis Agricultural crises and agricultural economies in Central Europe from the 13th to the 19th century . This work was followed in 1943 by The Desolations of the Late Middle Ages . In 1962 he tried to transfer these results into the history of German agriculture from the early Middle Ages to the 19th century to the early Middle Ages and to pose the question of the importance of manorial rule for the change in the economy.

In France, it was Charles-Edmond Perrin (Lorraine, 1935) and André Déléage (Burgundy, 1941), in Germany especially Friedrich Lütge (“Central Germany”, 1937) who further developed the regional historical approach. Perrin drew attention to the key concept of the seigneurie rurale and thus inspired comparative works on the right and left of the Rhine. Lütge extended it to large-scale type theory, which made comparability easier. In his work on Burgundy, Déléage dedicated more than 280 pages to manorial rule (pp. 407–688). Marc Bloch described the process of seigneurialization in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages in the Cambridge Economic History in 1941 .

The works of Otto Brunner , based on Austrian sources from the late Middle Ages, interpreted manorial rule as rule over peasants as a political association that comprehensively structures the reality of life of those affected in his country and rule were completely different and much better suited to the ideas of reciprocal rule . He embedded the manorial rule in the concept of the house rule, the concentric extensions of which, as it were, were the manorial rule and the state rule. The Lord gave protection, the peasants help and service. In addition, Brunner assumed that these concepts were of Germanic origin and he demanded that the inner structure of the manor be described in "source-like terminology". The National Socialists recognized that this concept corresponded in several respects to their ideas of the consensus character of rule and Germanic descent.

After the war Brunner continued to receive attention, but further questions developed more in the form of new regional studies, comparative studies and investigations into individual rulers. The Marxist research dealt with the fate of the free peasants, or the socio-economic version of the forms of manorial rule in Germania within the framework of the assumptions about production methods and conditions. They were not seriously discussed in West Germany until the 1970s, to which French research also contributed. This stronger socio-historical orientation strengthened Karl Bosl's promotion of the concept of familia as a starting point for socio-structural work. In addition to numerous regional works, overviews were published that make the dynamics of the adaptation efforts increasingly recognizable.

In 1965 Adriaan Verhulst put forward the thesis that the two-part system of manorial rule was a phenomenon that was limited in terms of both space and time. He saw this system mainly on favorable soils with suitable settlement conditions, such as those that predominated in some regions of the Franconian Empire. In terms of time, the manor with the villication system emerged mainly in the 7th and 8th centuries. Approaches to social history, such as Ludolf Kuchenbuch's work on Prüm in the Eifel, showed that the forms of manorial rule were very different. Werner Rösener was able to show for the south-west that the villication constitution dissolved in the 12th and 13th centuries and was replaced by a system of money and rents in kind. At the same time, new forms of village emerged ( evaporation , village genesis ), which were associated with corridors and Flurzwang and - as archeology in particular has shown - by no means dates back to the early Middle Ages, as research has long assumed.

In addition to monographs, the debates are now mainly driven by conferences. For example, the Göttingen conference in 1987 suggested comparative studies between France and Germany, asked whether the classical manorial rule was represented in the East at all, or whether and how rule was specifically introduced in German territory; that of 1992 shifted the emphasis to the High Middle Ages, whereby the focus here was on structural investigations and questions of the dissolution of the villication system.

See also


  • Günther Franz (Ed.): German peasantry in the Middle Ages . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1976, ISBN 3-534-06405-4 , ( Paths of Research 416).
  • Hartmut Harnisch : The manorial rule. Research history, development relationships and structural elements. In: Jahrbuch für Geschichte des Feudalismus 9 (1985) 89–240.
  • Alfred Haverkamp : Frank G. Hirschmann (Hrsg.): Manorial rule - Church - City between Meuse and Rhine during the high Middle Ages . Mainz 1997, ISBN 3-8053-2476-6 .
  • Brigitte Kasten (Ed.): Fields of activity and horizons of experience of rural people in the early medieval manorial rule (up to approx. 1000) . Festschrift for Dieter Hägermann on his 65th birthday. Steiner, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-515-08788-5 , ( quarterly for social and economic history supplements 184).
  • Ludolf Kuchenbuch : Manorial rule in the early Middle Ages . Schulz-Kirchner, Idstein 1991, ISBN 3-8248-0021-7 , ( History Seminar NF 1).
  • Friedrich Lütge : The Central German rulership and its dissolution . Stuttgart 1957, ( Sources and research on agricultural history 4, ISSN  0481-3553 ).
  • August Ludwig Reyscher : The manorial rights of the Württemberg nobility , Friedrich Fues, Tübingen 1836 ( .
  • Werner Rösener : Farmers in the Middle Ages. 4th, unchanged edition. Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-30448-6 .
  • Werner Rösener (Hrsg.): Structures of the manorial power in the early Middle Ages . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1989, ISBN 3-525-35628-5 , ( publications of the Max Planck Institute for History 92).
  • Werner Wittich: The manorial rule in northwest Germany. Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1896 ( .
  • Wolfgang Wüst : Dynamic landlords and agricultural innovations in old Franconia. In: Yearbook of the Historical Association for Middle Franconia. 99, 2000/2009, ISSN  0341-9339 , pp. 59-88.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. La vie rurale en Bourgogne jusqu'au début du XIe siècle , 2 vols., Mâcon 1941.