XX

TOWARDS NEW FORMS OF MANORIALISM

1 THE STABILIZATION OF OBLIGATIONS

THE profound changes which from the twelfth century onwards began to transform the relations of subject and lord were to extend over several centuries. It will suffice to indicate here how the institution of the manor emerged from feudalism.

After the Carolingian surveys had fallen into disuse, as being no longer practicable, and increasingly difficult to interpret, there was a danger that the internal life of the manors, even of the largest and least ill-administered, would henceforth be regulated only by purely oral rules. There was indeed nothing to prevent the drawing up of statements of property and of rights better adapted to the conditions of the time. This is, in fact, what was done by certain churches in regions like Lorraine where the Carolingian tradition had remained particularly vigorous; the practice of compiling these inventories was never lost. At an early date, nevertheless, attention was directed to another type of document which, in concentrating on questions of human relations rather than on the description of the land, seemed to correspond more exactly to the needs of a time when the manor had become above all a community subject to a lord. This was a charter defining the customs peculiar to such and such an estate. Granted in theory by the lord, little local constitutions of this sort were yet as a rule the outcome of preliminary negotiations with the subjects, and such an agreement seemed all the more necessary because the text did not usually confine itself to recording ancient practice but frequently modified it on certain points. An example of this was the charter by which, as early as 967, the abbot of St. Arnulf of Metz lightened the services of the men of Morville-sur-Nied; another, pointing in the opposite direction, was the ‘pact’ whose somewhat harsh terms the monks of Bèze in Burgundy, about 1100, imposed on the inhabitants of a village destroyed by fire, before they would sanction its rebuilding.1 But till the beginning of the twelfth century these documents remained very rare.

1 C.E. Perrin, Recherches sur la seigneurie rurale en Lorraine d’après les plus anciens censiers, p. 225 et seq; Chronique de l’abbaye de Saint-Bénigne…ed. E. Bougaud and J. Garnier, pp. 396-7 (1088-1119).

-275-

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