Real division

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Real division (historical) or the right to divide real estate means that the property of a family, in particular the property of land (previously referred to as realities ), is divided equally among the beneficiaries. This division takes place with each inheritance, so that the plots are steadily smaller. In contrast to this is the inheritance law .


Result of the real division in Dordolla in Friuli , Northern Italy: a tiny house → three house numbers → three owners

In aristocratic families the principle of real division (as opposed to was Fideikommiss ) spread since the Middle Ages and led, among other things in the area of the Holy Roman Empire to Territorialisation (critical: small states ).

Noble as well as peasant real division was practiced in Germany about south of a line Aachen, Bonn, Marburg, Erfurt, i.e. in the Palatinate, in Kurhessen , Nassau , Franconia, Baden and in large parts of Württemberg, Thuringia and the Prussian Rhine Province . In other areas of Germany either the eldest son (Majorat) could take over the parental property or only the youngest son inherited the farm (Minorat) . There were also special forms: In Hessen, for example, property was only passed on in full if it was of a certain size, for example over 5 hectares. Sometimes strange excesses of the even distribution of inheritance have been passed down, such as the physical division and thus destruction of a Bible or a Springerle model.

In agriculture , the continued real division led to the fragmentation of arable land into a large number of small fields, often in the form of narrow strips. These were very inefficient to process; In addition, a relatively high proportion of the usable area for border strips and access roads was lost. The fodder base for the cattle was often too narrow, so that more potatoes were grown.

From an ecological point of view, this led to the development of species-rich meadow and hedge biotopes , but from an economic point of view this situation was increasingly unsustainable. Therefore, land consolidations have been carried out repeatedly throughout history . The real estate of arable land (partly also forest ownership) is redistributed in a certain area with the aim of maintaining only a few contiguous plots of at least the same value instead of numerous smaller ones.

In the 19th century, small farmers became impoverished in many regions due to real division , which played a role in the social unrest of the Vormärz . The situation only improved when the migration to industry began in the 1850s and 60s. In some regions such as Tyrol , the smallholders also worked seasonally as migrant workers.

Court rules

The cause for the different solutions were the farm rules in agriculture, which have different regulations as their content. However, they can be overridden by contractual provisions by making other contracts between living persons within the framework of the anticipated succession.

Social consequences of real division using the example of Altwuerttemberg

The real division in Altwuerttemberg had a number of social consequences. The real division promoted a certain equality because women and men were equally entitled to inheritance and because a single child from poor parents could inherit more than a wealthy person from a large family. In other parts of Württemberg, for example in Hohenlohe , in the Black Forest or in Upper Swabia , the inheritance law existed. In other regions with real division only male children inherited.

The real division often led to a mixed situation so that the fields were soon too small to support a family; so there was in Württemberg early Sideline farmers who operate the way a craft, a cottage industry with one or two woven or knitted chairs or peddling or had to work as day laborers temporarily. At the same time, the inherited property secured a minimum of subsistence; for one inherited not only a piece of land, but also a share of the parents' house. However, these were often only individual rooms in which entire families huddled together. Servants and farm workers played a subordinate role compared to the family workers; often their own children were hired out to the owners of larger farms. At most, migrant workers were needed for the grain harvest.

When Württemberg was industrialized , the manufacturers were able to fall back on a broad layer of experienced small craftsmen who were happy to enter the factory because the income opportunities were better here. However, the manufacturers had to fight for a long time against their workers preferring to do their field work in the appropriate season.

On the other hand, for a long time the workers in Württemberg did not feel that they belonged to the proletariat , but were also landowners. That is why the labor movement here has traditionally been more moderate.

In areas with real division, the common land was often preserved longer than in the regions with inheritance rights.

See also

Web links


  1. cf. engl. real estate = land, property
  2. Thomas Nipperdey : German history 1800-1866: Citizens' world and strong state. Volume 1. Munich 1983, p. 171 ff.