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where seigniorial powers became centralized; and manors (Fronhöfe) were established as centres of the seigniorial administration in different parts of the domain, which was sometimes widely scattered. Only occasionally was the estate of a landlord continuous, to the inclusion of whole marks; usually it was composed of numerous separate parcels, sometimes of small extent.
Around the manor stretched the land exploited by the proprietor, the terra salica or indominicata, and beyond it lay the tenants' land, the holders of which were bound to the manor for dues and services. If the creation of seigniorial property around individual manors was impossible or disadvantageous, the landlords as early as Frankish times contented themselves with the establishment of stations for the collection of rent in the different districts in which their rented land lay. To the manors belonged, however, not alone the tenants, who held land of the lord, but also a number, frequently considerable, of people who were dependents but held none of the lord's land, serfs and freemen who personally stood in a fixed hereditary relation of dependence to the manor, and were charged with the payment of a money rent or with a few days of manorial service during the year.
This is the peculiarity of the economic organization of the seigniorial authority and of its manors, that only a very small number of the people under the lord's authority entirely lacked economic independence, and as servants had to devote all their working power to their lord. The great mass of manorial dependents, the mass of those connected with the manor, although constrained to yield dues and service, yet possessed a certain, sometimes a very extensive, economic freedom, and, spite of continuing subjection, were able to work for themselves and to sell the product of their labor, to amass earnings and to raise themselves to a higher social and economic rank.
The industrial labor needed by the manorial economy was regulated in the same manner as the agricultural. There were industrial laborers who did not act as servants but, like the agricultural tenants, were free to work also for themselves and for the market. On the one hand they stood in a relation of fixed economic dependence to the manor; they were definitely bound, and yet were capable of economic advance.
An exceedingly complex gradation of economic obligations existed among the people of a seigniorial estate; from the serf, who must give all to his lord, to the wholly independent tenant, who owed a small yearly rent or perhaps a day's labor in the year, ran unbroken series. But almost all, even those closely bound, possessed the possibility of a free development of their economic powers; even the servant who rendered day-labor won in the course of development a certain economic independence.
It is indeed a momentous fact, important for the whole later development, that seigniorial authority did not seek to bind its subordinates on all sides; that it did not try to mould tenancy into absolute immobility and dependence; that instead it from the beginning left to the great mass of tenants their economic personality, considerable freedom of movement, and the power to accumulate property, not only within the seigniory but outside it; and especially that the class held only by slight personal bonds was given an opportunity to struggle entirely out of the sphere of seigniorial authority. Without regard to the old legal conditions and to the distinction between free and unfree, it built up its organization of labor, admitting freemen and even serfs from outside, and on the other hand allowing its own serfs outside service.
It is necessary for us to take all this into consideration if we are to understand subsequent institutions. The men charged with manorial obligations were thus from the outset fully qualified to take part in a free economic life, even in one that stood outside the bounds of manorial authority; to participate in market activities and urban economic life. Thus seigniorial authority permitted an ebb and flow of social forms, an issue of the predial population from its narrower circle. And thus it was made possible for seigniorial authority itself to act with its organization in the realm of political life and of civil administration, to ally itself with the factors of the state, to assume important public functions and to furnish the very foundation for the development of new and divergent state institutions.
From the beginning seigniorial authority not only bound its subordinates economically, but also sought to govern them politically. Naturally something of the strong patriarchal power of old Germanic days passed over to the later lords of the land. The free tenants, even, had come to a certain extent under the political authority of their landlords. As the state had recognized the authority of the head of the house, so it also recognized that of the later lord of the land. Separate political and judicial districts began to come into existence. Private affairs were settled at home, and not alone agrarian and property questions, but also other matters, civil and criminal. A seigniorial tribunal began to act, the manor court became a court of justice, and at the same time the manor became the centre of an independent military organization; the foundations of a new communal life were laid.
But these new communities are not created merely by the power of private lordships. The forces which worked in them did not arise out of seigniorial authority alone. Even if a private lordship was able to create for itself an administrative and judicial district of its own, a tribunal of its own for the affairs of its own domain, an unlimited jurisdiction over the serfs of the manor, a limited jurisdiction over all to whom it owed protection; on the other hand there were early added rights conferred by royal grant. Immunities won for the seigniorial estate and seigniorial folk protection from the immediate interference of the royal officials. By the forbidding of these officials to set foot on immune territory or to have direct official dealings with persons protected by an immunity, they created an intermediate seigniorial jurisdiction and brought about the formation of seigniorial courts and military communities of their own. Finally the state recognized the seigniorial court as a court of general jurisdiction, granted it privileges and placed it on the same basis with the state courts, and thus admitted it into the organism of the institutions of the state. This came about in Carolingian times.
Thus did private lordship take into itself elements of state origin. Private and public authority became intermingled, and the whole stood in a position of unconditional subordination to the state, which at that time was vastly expanded, and which in its operation made no halt before private spheres of power. But even if the Carolingian state in its struggle for power in general forced the private authorities, especially those of the church, into its sphere, and made them a part of its organization, it did not render these powers permanently serviceable to itself, but strengthened the private authority. And when therefore in post-Carolingian times the actual dissolution of the bureaucratic state set in, when the powers of the provincial functionaries were treated as private usufruct rights, and were bequeathed, partitioned, sold and mortgaged, then the private authorities, being already equipped besides with elements of public power, were frequently able to combine with these powers those derived from the exercise of public functions in the provinces. And through this there came about not only an internal development and strengthening, but also a territorial rounding out of the lordship.
But not alone through this. Already during Frankish times, the natural endeavor of the lords was toward the territorial completion of their spheres of power. This was attempted in two ways: through the rounding out of the estates, whereby eo ipso the lord's rights obtained a local completeness, and through the extension of the lord's authority over a definite district, without the acquisition of proprietorship in the land, by laying claim to an authority over all the inhabitants of the district, whether dwelling on manorial land or not, whether free or serf, similar to that which existed on an immune estate—to a mediatorship between the organs of the state and the population of the district--to a coercive power. This led to the establishment of potestates (a word met perhaps already in this sense since the seventh century) of districtus, and the like-of “ban-districts", as the expression went in many parts of Germany from the tenth century on.
The institution of " lordship ", taking its rise from landholding on a large scale, progressed beyond the realm of landownership and extended over the whole of continuous districts, independently of the expansion of the landed property, those political rights which privileged landed property had acquired. This came to pass both with and without the authorization of the state, and in various ways; through voluntary submission of the inhabitants of a district to the lord's power, through the acquisition of privileges, through usurpation, through purchase. It came to pass also with most various results; for it happened frequently that a single lord acquired the bannus in the whole of a village; at other times in one portion only of the village, and sometimes even each landlord exercised the bannus in his property. The stable characteristic of this institution of ban-lordship is that rights over territory were established, which must be carefully distinguished from ownership; which neither sisted of property rights nor merely developed out of them.
The ban-lord, indeed, at once demands of his ban-folk submission and dues which often are a simple extension of those demanded of the tenant, and which bind the folk to the manor. And subsequently, especially in the later Middle Ages, the ban-lord frequently lays claim to a species of overlordship over all the land of the district, even demands services and rent from land which was not at all granted by him; and, through the widespread notion of the necessary existence of " lordships" over all open country, such claims were unresistingly recognized. Foundations, which held lands in the banlieue of another, even resigned themselves to this, for the sake of carrying out toward others a similar policy in their own banlieues.
The power of the lords differed in extent. Only the coercive authority was universal, while the jurisdiction bound up with it varied widely. Often only the low justice was won, often high justice, full justice, which effected the separation of the district from
connection with the county (Grafschaft), and secured for the districts of the new lordships a position exactly equal to that obtained by the older counties. Thenceforth such a “lordship" did not differ in kind from an acquired county, or portion of a county.
It is evident that, as regards the local exercise of the powers of the state, their distribution and organization, these ban-lordships always possessed a great importance. Such an importance the seigniorial authorities, the lords of the land as such, did not possess. They were not capable of it, from the nature of their authority, or from its territorial extent. Only the seigniorial authority that developed into ban-lordship could win this influence. If we analyze the real nature and the historical source of these “lordships ”, we perceive that most of their more important social functions did not originate in private lordship, and should not be considered legally as developments of the rights of private lordship; that they are rather an additional acquisition; that the real kernel of the seigniorial power was derived directly or indirectly from the state. But the whole organization of the “lordship” (Herrschaft) has nevertheless grown out of the organization of the seigniorial power; historically the whole structure of lordship appears as a gradual development out of the older system of seigniorial authority; the lordship shows itself always homogeneous in its power, exhibits no duality of origin, no distinction between public and private, recognizes only a single body of seigniorial functionaries, a single seigniorial organization. The manors (Fronhöfe) had developed courts whose jurisdiction included others than the predials of the manor (i. e., Dinghöfe); they were the centre of the whole organization, the seat of the lord, the burg; and often as well the centre of a district and endowed with manifold public powers.
If we keep these facts before our eyes, we shall be able to answer the question as to the influence of seigniorial authority on the moulding of the public life, and on the rise of towns and of territories, in a way which surely does not attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable and to bring together things which do not belong together, but which accounts for and finds intelligible the sharp opposition of opinion, and thus endeavors to open the way for a common understanding.
Assuredly the German town did not grow out of those seigniorial institutions which concerned the practice of agriculture. Assuredly the lord who aimed at the foundation or the prosperity of a market centre, the inhabitants associated in other ways than those which united the rural population, did not demand agricultural services;