The Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Economic and Social Foundations of European Civilization

1st Edition

By Alfons Dopsch


416 pages

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First published in 2005. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Table of Contents



chap. page

Introduction to the 1969 Edition by Robert Latouche… xi

Introduction to the English Edition…

Key to Abbreviations Used in the Footnotes…

I. The Influence of Contemporary Movements on Historical Research… 1

The catastrophic theory of the Italian Humanists—The French Era of Enlightenment = Boulainvilliers, Montesquieu, and Voltaire—Guizot—German agrarian history—J. Möser and the Mark—K. D. Hüllmann’s manorial theory—K. F. Eichhorn’s Deutsche Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte—The theory of Germanic freedom, Rogge—Guizot’s picture of society—Augustin Thierry—Jakob Grimm—Beseler’s principle of association—Wilda and von Sybel emphasize the state—G. Waitz’s Constitutional History—Gaupp—Olufsen and G. Hanssen—Kemble—G. Landau and G. L. v. Maurer—F. Thudichum—P. Roth’s political theory—Gierke’s association theory—R. Sohm’s criticisms—Meitzen’s study of field systems—Research into place-names: W. Arnold—S. Riezier—Fustel de Coulanges and the evidence of historical sources—The Sociological theory: Sumner Maine—Laveleye—P. Viollet—Geffroy—Morgan—Their opponents: von Inama-Sternegg—-Denman W. Ross—G. Kaufman, Thévenin, and R. Hildebrand—E. Mayer—The old hypotheses untenable—New auxiliary sciences.

II. The So-called "Earliest" Period (Ceasar … 30

The natural environment of European culture—Unforested land—The primeval forest—The landscape in Caesar and Tacitus—The stage of civilization reached by the peoples of Central Europe at the beginning of the Christian era—Settled agriculture—Reliability of Caesar—Communal ownership of the soil—State socialism—Tacitus’ Germania—Typological treatment and common sources—No communal ownership—Changes of settlement—The occupatio agrorum—Agrarian economy of the Germans = field-grass husbandry—Individual ownership of the soil—Communal cultivation—No attribute of free association—Common routine of cultivation and redistribution of strips—The Mark-association—No communal economy—No free use in the Mark—Co-existence of communal and individual economy—The social basis of the Mark-association theory—Existence of manorialism (Grundherrschaft)—Not all Germans were landlords—Only the leaders—Influence of the "following" on settlement.

III. Romans and Germans in the Age of the Migrations… 48

The mistakes of historians—Natural and artificial reasons for the migrations—These already in progress before the time of Caesar—Settlement of Germans within the Empire by the Romans—Excavations—Influx of Germans into the army and the administration, colonization—Their employment as household servants—Their influence on Roman fashions—No complete destruction of Roman culture (continuity of development on the Main)—Domain land—The Neckar district—North-West Germany—The {see copy} of Ptolemy—Westphalia —Friemersheim—The place-names with suffix -weiler—Remains of Roman civilization—Not merely smaller or mountain settlements—Rh{ae}tia and the Tyrol —Bavaria—Patron Saints—Domain land (royal palaces) —Noricum—-Bias of the Vita Severini—The walch places—Barschalken—Finds of coins—Pottery—Wheel ornamentation—Household utensils and tools—The glass manufacture —Late Roman industrial art—Anthropological evidence—The relations between Romans and Germans in the towns—-The {see copy} of Ptolemy (second century) and Herodian (third century)—Development in detail = Cologne—Neuss, Düren, Andemach—Mainz—Frankfurt-am-Main—Worms—Ladenburg—Trier —Metz—Strassburg—Basel, Chur, and Constance—Kempten—Augsburg—Regensburg—Passau—Salzburg—Sazburg falsifications of hi story—Lauriacum—Vienna—Binnen-Noricum—General survival of the towns—The meaning of the term barbari—The nature of existing sources (writings of Catholic bishops of noble and cultured families who were also great landowners)—The barbari were not uncivilized—Conservative policy of the Germans towards Roman institutions—The peculiar position of Roman writers in the transition period.

IV. The Occupation of the Land by the Germans in the Fifth and Sixth centuries… 9

Italy—Odoacer’s land grants—The Ostrogoths—The Byzantines—The Lombards—No general exploitation or asservation—Private ownership of land—Romanization—The Visigoths in Spain and the South of France—Their divisions of the land—Right of disposal of landed property—Types of settlement—The Burgundians—Single homesteads and villages—The distribution of land—The Franks—The possibility of a division of land—The settlement of the Franks—The old Frankish agrarian system—No settlement by kindreds with communal ownership—Place-names in -ing—The re-naming of places—The connection with Roman settlements—Continuity of culture—The place-names in —-heim—Military importance of royal palaces—Single homesteads or villages ?—Meitzen’s study of field-maps—The German folk villages (Gewanndörfer) in Upper Germany—No settlement by associations—The distribution of land and private property—The Alemanni—The theory of annihilation—Wailer’s theories—Manorial estates (Grundherrschaft)—Social stratification—The traffic in real property—Frankish colonization—The settlement of the Baiuvari—No settlement by kindreds—The Bavarian Law—Settlement in single homesteads—Frankish colonization—Manorial estates—The manorial theory—The Thuringians—The forms of settlement—Frankish colonization—Differences of rank—The Saxons—The single homesteads of Westphalia—The village settlement—Burgs and seats of the nobility—Coin finds—The Frankish period—The Meier and the cotters—The Instem—The Mark-associations—Schleswig-Holstein, Dithmarschen—The Frisians—Forms of settlement—The Hufen system—The laying together and rounding off of land in later periods—Common lands—The distribution of property—Conclusion.

V. The Division of the Soil and Agrarian Economy in the Late Roman and Early Medieval Periods… 132

The dissolution of the older theories—Their inner contradictions—No interruption of civilization and no catastrophe—Increase of population through German settlement—The great estates of the Roman Emperors—Land loans—Inquilini—The legal status of the Roman estate territory—Immunity—The labour dues—Free landowners = the Roman division of land and fields—Intermixture, bounds, and disputes over bounds among vicini—Field measurements—Forests and rivers—Survival of Roman land divisions shown by arch{ae}ological investigation—Fundus and Mark—The Hufen—Close correspondence in the material composition of the Roman and the German Hufe—Iuncta and sub-iuncta in the Frankish appurtenance formularies—inculta, wadriscap{ae}— Origin of the Hufe system—The Mark—The concept of the boundary—The actual composition of the Mark in the various areas of settlement—The ownership of appurtenances —Inheritance by the vicini in the Edict of King Chilperic—The right of objecting to strangers to the Mark (Tit. de migrantibus in the Lex Salica)—New reclamations and the right of assarting (Bifang)—Varies with the size of individual holdings —Heritable leases of assarted land—Continuity with the Roman period—The village commons (Almends)—Rübel on division in Marks by the Franks—Preceding development under Rome—The relation between Roman arrangements and those of the Germano-Frankish era—The German village fields—Seigneurial and free Marks—Patrocinium of great landlords—The new motives of the German development—Household communities—Artificial relationships—Economic consequences of land-loans—The right of settlement exercised by the Frankish kings—Administrative organization—The older German land-gifts—The economic organization—The three-field system—The fencing obligations of the members of the Mark—The continuity of economic units—The Romano-German peasant calendar—Conclusion.

VI. Political Structure… 165

Nature of the problem—The civitas—As a community of "folk’—Pagus—Gau—In the Roman Period—The hundred—Private property in land —The Nomad theory rejected as an explanation of the hundred—The hundred was a military and jurisdictional association—The comites ex plebe—The principes —Discussion of the alleged republican form of constitution—The kingship—The co-princes of the different tribes—The dux—The priesthood—Not a later introduction—The Druids—The temple-priesthood in Iceland—The Nobility—The Hereditary principle—Political significance—The right to maintain a" following" —The bucellarii—Influence of the "following" on the German system of government—The wars between the Germans and the Romans—Roman influences—German Army leaders in the service of Rome—The effects of the permanent German settlement—The new kingship—The significance of Childeric—The work of Clovis—The Gau- or district-kingship—Among the Anglo-Saxons—

Among the Lombards—The development of the monarchy and the Roman Church—Among the Visigoths—Among the Anglo-Saxons—The new nobility —The situation in Gaul—Old German influences—The co-operation of the people—The great men themselves representatives—The potentes—The co-operation of the people among Alemanni, Baiuvari, and Lombards—The Visigoths and Burgundians—The Anglo-Saxons—The North German peoples—The transformation of the old popular constitution through the aristocracy—The acceptance of Christianity—The close connection between State and church—The service of the king—Acquisition of land by the royal ministri—Decline of the royal power—Rising power of the nobility—The treaty of Andelot (587) —And the Edict of Clothar II (614)—Their political significance.

VII. The Reorganization of Society… 202

Theories of the rise of the nobility among the Franks—The theory of a destruction of the nobility of birth—The service nobility—Existence of an ancient nobility—Extensive landed property—The nobility among the Alemanni and Burgundians—Among the Visigoths—The Lombards, Anglo-Saxons, and Baiuvari—Nobility of service and nobility of birth—The immunitas—The holders of royal beneficia—The royal offices become hereditary—The nobility in Spain—In Italy—In England—The Lombard Kingdom—The ordinary freemen—Alleged uniformity of holdings (the Hufe)—Causes of change—Social differentiation of the mass of the freemen among Alemanni and Burgundians—Visigoths and Baiuvari—Ostrogoths and Lombards—In England—Legislation to protect the peasantry—The social depression of the common freeman not general—Protective relationships (patronage)—Fines and compositions—Legal position of the common freeman = military service—The supposed reforms of Charles the Great—Gradation according to property—The adjutarii—Private troops—Judicial service (Dingpflicht)—Eligibility as witness dependent on solvency—The boni homines—The institution of scalini—The "reforms" of Charles the Great—Social and political decline the result of economic degradation—The freeman’s wergeld—Calculated for each individual according to his property—The nobiles in Bavaria—Upward movement from below—Rise in the social scale of the unfree classes—The freedmen—Among the Visigoths and Franks—The origin of the ministeriales—Among the Lombards—The economic importance of freedmen—Beneficia—The freedmen—Eligibility of the liti to acquire property—The unfree—Increase in the slave trade—Improvement in the position of the unfree—Advancement through the great estates—Manumission by means of land grants—The slaves become tied to the soil—The mobilization of unfree agricultural labourers for work in the towns—Social differentiation of the unfree class—Social significance of the Mark-association—Advantageous position of tenants on the great estates—Social consolidation—Position of the Church in this matter—England—Custom as the standard of dues and services—Consuetudinarii—The colliberti—The unfree in the lord’s household—In the household of the king and of great laymen—In the service of the Church—Episcopal vassalage.

VIII. The Church… 241

The beginnings of Christianity—Eastern influences on the Germans—The earliest Christian communities survived the fall of the Roman Empire in the West—In the towns—The country churches—The monks—Ecclesiastical organization—Pious gifts to the Church—Development of great estates—The principle of association strengthened by the Germans—Pauperization of the declining Roman Empire and increase of the proletariat—Provision for the poor—Almsgiving—The right of free partition (Freiteilsrecht)—The right of sanctuary—Care for the slaves and unfree—The freedmen—Social status of persons freed in church—Protection of widows and orphans—Care of foundlings —And of prisoners—And of accused persons—The Precaria—The Church as an institution of credit—The fight against usurers—The social and political significance of ecclesiastical law—The private churches (Eigenkirche)—An attribute of the great estate—Inherited from Rome—Development in Spain, among the Burgundians and in Italy—In Gaul—Among the Visigoths and the Suevi—In Spain—Aryanism and private churches—The Celtic churches—Private ownership of churches neither national nor denominational—Evolution of the monarchical constitution—The bishop—Relationship to the secular power—Nature of the Frankish state Church: the conversion of Clovis—Governed by considerations of internal policy—Bishops and country churches—The episcopate as a great power—Spain and Italy—Alliance between spiritual and political authority—The situation in Spain and Italy—Among the Irish-Scots —The monasteries—Private monasteries (Eigenklöster)—Movement initiated by Columba—Monastic privileges—Kingship and Church—The Frankish country churches—Nomination by the king—The situation in Italy—The election of bishops—Entry into the clerical profession—Limitations on the acquisition of landed property in Bavaria—Among the Franks—The legal position of the king in respect of the Councils—No Aryan model—Italy—The Frankish king summoned the Councils—Isolation of the Frankish Church from the Roman Papacy—"Freedom from Rome"—Changes in the eighth century—The Eigenkirchenrecht and the Frankish great estate—The Vogtei—Monastic right of election—Offensive of the lay aristocracy against church property.

IX. The Rise of Feudalism… 283

Theory of Roth and Brunner untenable—Heavy cavalry among the Franks —The wars with the Saracens—The reform of the Frankish army—The Frankish army was not composed mainly of cavalry—Nor composed mainly of vassals—Levies of vassals in the sixth and seventh centuries—Vassalage and the "following"—Vassalitium and beneficium not two separate legal institutions—Development of the feudal system in the sixth century—Not purposely called into being by the State—A symptom of the decline of its authority—The rise of the beneficial system—Appropriation of church property under the Merovingians—Charles Martel—Precar{ae} verbo regis in the seventh century—And as early as the sixth century—Charles Martel merely exercised an old right—Restitutions had also taken place earlier—Descriptio et divisio—Divisio in the sixth century—The payment of tithes—Purpose of the appropriation of church property—The Merovingian land grants—The ecclesiastical beneficia—The Eigenkirchenrecht (U. Stutz’s theories)—Tendency towards perpetuity in clerical precaria in the sixth century—Fief and living—Commendation by priests—The Roman precariurn—Often found in connection with the patronatus—Private churches and beneficia—The beneficia of the late Roman period—The feudal system not peculiarly German.

X. The Development of Town Life… 303

The decline of the Roman towns—Existing theories—Transformation of the municipal governments—The defensor civitatis—The curia—The comes civitatis—Relation of his authority to that of the bishop—Power of the bishops in the towns—Among the Visigoths—In Italy—justinian’s legislation—New forms of provincial government—In the Lombard kingdom—The bishops there—Urban government in German territory—The importance of the limes —The "civitates" of the anonymous geographer of Ravenna—Genesis of the towns—The walling of towns—Displacement of the residential district in the old Roman towns—Inner Germany: the oppida of the Germans—Forts of refuge (Fluchtburgen) and folk strongholds (Volksburgen)—Mallus—The {see copy} of Ptolemy—Oppida and urbes in the time of Boniface—Changes in the nomenclature of towns—Town fortifications— Villa publica and curtis regia—Conditions of settlement and population in the towns—Property of the king—Of the Church —Of secular freemen—Urban land leases—The soldiery—Free craftsmen and merchants—The matricularii—The hired workers—In Italy and England Position of the towns in general—The old Gau- and folk-communities were the starting-point—Their importance from the point of view of coinage—The frontier problem—The eastward advance of the kingdom.

XI. Industry and Trade… 327

(1) Industry

The so-called "closed household economy" —The pure household economy no longer in existence—The Capitulare de Villis and the St. Gaul plan—Late Roman estate-management and industry—The great estates did not supply their own needs—Conditions for the existence of a free industry already in existence —Roman influences—The importance of the Church—Luxuries—Appearance of the great lay estates—Their demand for luxuries—Free industrial workers—Wandering craftsmen—Unfree workers in the folk laws—Forges and mills as public buildings—Hired labour—The theory of a retrogression to natural economy and of the self-sufficing character of the great estate—Great estates and towns under Theodoric the Great in Italy—The crafts—The magistri.

(2) Trade and Commerce 339

The catastrophic theory and the supposed disappearance of trade—Italy—The economic policy of the Gothic kings—The Emperor Justinian’s Pragmatic Sanction of 554—Merchants among the Lornbards—The waregang—The Visigoths—Jews and Orientals—Native merchants and traders among the Franks —Inner Germany—In the Roman period—The North Sea and the Baltic—The Itineraries of the fourth to the sixth centuries—Trade during the period of the Migrations—The utilization of the Alpine passes—The Roman roads—The slave trade (seventh century)—The Frankish policy of expansion under King Theudebert—Trade in Bavaria—Frisia and Saxony—The Thuringians and the Anglo-Saxons—General character of the trade—Position of the great estates—Surplus production—Volume of trade—Small retailers—Fixing of prices—No constant value—Price dependent on the subjective value of goods—The documentary evidence of the Formularies—Famine prices, fancy prices—One-sided nature of the surviving evidence.

XII. Currency and Money Economy… 358

(1) Currency

The evidence of Tacitus—The finds of coins—Used in trade—Wide circulation of Roman coins—The political factor—Currency in Italy—Among the Visigoths—Among the Burgundians and Lombards—The Anglo-Saxons—Thyms and Mancus—The Merovingians = Silver coinage—New form of the Denarius (seventh century)—The double reckoning of Fines—Byzantine influence—The new Frankish method of Account (1 sol. = 12 den.)—No change from a gold to a silver standard: a double standard—The cause of the currency reform—The gold drain from the East Roman Empire to the Barbarians—The circulation of money—Gold coinage did not cease in the kingdom of the Franks—Scarcity of the precious metals in the East Roman Empire (seventh century)—The currency law of the Merovingians—racio fisci—racio ecclesie—The same master-coiners struck for the king as for the Church, the cloister, and the private individual—Wage labour—Co-operative enterprise—Mints (officina) —Identification of the master-coiners’ names—The position of the Jews as farmers of the Mint.

(2) Money Economy 373

The theory of a natural economy—Development in Italy—The moratorium of Justinian (555). The Jews as money-lenders and dealers—Their position among the Visigoths—The refusal of inferior coins —In Gaul—Money loans of the clergy—The practice of usury by the Jews—A general struggle for profit and greed for money—Taxation—-The poll tax—Taxes in kind (akzisa)—Money economy in the territories on the right bank of the Rhine— Taxable values in the Lex. Rib. and in the Capitul. Sax.—Alternative forms of taxation in the folk-laws—Lex Aleman. and Lex Baiuvar.—Frequent buying and selling as well as money-loans (original documents)—Natural compensation—The alternative laws a sign of social and political concern for the economically weak freeman—The nature and significance of the German terms (Schatz, Schilling, Pfennig, Geld).

XIII. Retrospect and Conclusion… 384

A summary of the results arrived at—The Carolingian Renaissance.

INDEX… 391

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BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economic History