Bondage (legal history)

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Medieval peasants (seldom also other social groups, for example forest smiths or other craftsmen) on manor farms who were dependent on a landlord (e.g. knight ) are referred to as servants . The bondage was passed on to the children.

Slaves were unfree and subject to certain restrictions. They could own movable property but not acquire real estate and were tied to land ( plaice obligation ) that belonged to a landowner ( nobility or church ) who also had lower jurisdiction over them. They worked the land with the obligation to different duties and compulsory services to the landlord, which were mostly performed on or at Fronhöfen (Salhöfen). In return, the landlord was obliged to protect and care for the serfs.

The land and the unfree peasants who worked it formed an inseparable unit that could not be dissolved, that is, land could not be sold separately by the peasants and vice versa.

In Germany, bondage was lifted by the peasant liberation in the 19th century (1848). As a result of this measure, many of the serfs became tenants , but they were also able to purchase the land themselves. As a result of this, with the abolition of the landlord's obligation , a massive and lasting peasant deaths began.

Note the difference between bondage and serfdom , which often leads to confusion. As serfs servants are called the landlord, who farm the land and property. Formerly free farmers who voluntarily submitted to the landlord and surrendered their land to him, on the other hand, are referred to as belonging to this land, as servants or - depending on the region - as Lassen, Laten, Liten . While serfs have to pay personal taxes to their masters, the taxes of the peasants are related to the estate.

See also


  • Georg von Below : History of German agriculture in the Middle Ages in its basic features. Edited by Friedrich Lütge from the manuscript that was left behind . 2nd unchanged edition. Fischer, Stuttgart 1966, ( sources and research on agricultural history 18).
  • Ch. E. Perrin: Le servage en France et en Allemagne. In: Relazioni del X Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storiche . (Roma 4–11 September 1955). Volume 3: Storia del medioevo . Sansoni, Florence 1955 ( Biblioteca storica Sansoni NS 24), pp. 213–245.