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Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume IV (1876-1877)

Allen, William F.
Department of social and political sciences,   pp. [1]-6 PDF (1.8 MB)


Page 3


                 Peasant Communities in France.           3
similar cases have flow at length brought about a similar irregu-
larity and unorganized tenure of the soil in Germanic countries.
It confirms this expectation, that the greater part of the village
communities, described by Bonnemere and La Chavanne, as exist-
ing in France, are found in the essentially Teutonic portions of
France, like Franche Comte'; but it would not militate with this
view if such communities were found sporadically in every part
of France, because there were, as a matter of fact, extensive set-
tlements of Germans scattered all over France.
  The documents which I have been able to examine in this in-
vestigation belong entirely to the ninth, tenth and eleventh
centuries: to a period, that is, before the full establishment of
feudalism, and in which, therefore, we may expect, if anywhere,
to find the primitive organization of the community.
  Of these d ocuments, the first is the most important and instruc-
tive for my point of view. It is the Polyptichumn of the Abbot
Irmino; a register of the estates belonging to the Abbey of St.
Germain des Pres in the time of Charlemagne. In the fullness
and minutetness of this survey, we are reminded of the greatest
medieval work of this character, the Domesday Book of William
the Conqueror; but this Polyptichum is confined to only a small
part of France, all within forty leagues of Paris. Moreover, Dom-
esday Book is a public document, drawn up for the use of the
government, while this is a private register of the estates belong-
ing to a religious corporation.
  The first point that strikes one on examining this register is
that the estates are not enumerated according to public divisions
of the territory, but are grouped into what are called fiscs: in this
grouping, there is the greatest irreglarity,* bits of land scattered
here and there in different villages being combined merely for
purposes of administration. Now, in English documents of this
nature, we find the public divisions uniformely observed, even
in reference to private estates. What is of even more importance,
is that tenures of land in England are always given in hydes or
aliquot parts of the hyde - the hyde being the part of land fall-
ing to a full member of an organized community; in the French
                        *Prolegomena, p. 30.


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