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the flesh of their conquered enemies. The savage is a cannibal
from the same motive which incites shipwrecked sailors on a
raft to become so, namely hunger. Human bones of the stone
age, discovered by Professor Schmerling in the grottoes of
Engihoul, near Liëge, still bear the mark of human teeth, which
had broken them to extract the marrow. Hunting tribes are
warrior tribes; they can only live with their arms in their
hands, and the limits of their hunting-ground are a constant
source of bloody contests. Aristotle has caught this feature
of early societies. "The art of war," he says, "is a means
of natural acquisition, for the chase is a part of this art.
Thus war is a sjiecies of chase after men born to obey, who
refuse to submit to slavery."

When, at a later period, man has succeeded in taming
certain animals suitable for his sustenance, a great change
takes place in his lot; he has no longer any fears for the
morrow, having the means of subsistence always at hand. The
quantity of food produced on the same space being larger, the



THE GERMANIC MARK. 101

social group can become more numerous: and so the tribe is
formed. Man has ceased to be the carnivorous, cannibal animal
of prey, whose only thought was to kill and eat.

More peaceable and affectionate sentiments have come to
life; for, in order to the multiplication of the flocks, there is
need of forethought, care for their sustenance, attachment to
them, even a sort of love for them. The pastoral system is not
therefore incompatible with a certain stage of civilization.
Although the use of arms is not excluded, there is not the
perpetual struggle, the combats, the ambuscades and daily
massacres, characteristic of the preceding period. The culti-
vation of certain alimentary plants is also compatible with the
nomadic life. Thus the Tartars cultivate the cereal bearing
their name, the polygonnin tartaricmn, or buckwheat. They
burn the vegetation on the surface ; sow and reap the harvest
in two or three months, and then betake themselves elsewhere.
The Indians cultivate a kind of wild rice in the same way.
Such is agriculture in its earliest stage. Men do not leave
the pastoral system for the agricultural from choice, the con-
ditions of the latter being infinitely harder; they only do
so compelled by necessity. When the population increases,
agriculture is the only means by which it can obtain sus-
tenance. In his excellent work on Russia, Mr Mackenzie
"Wallace seizes the passage from the pastoral to the agricultural
life among the Bashkir and Kirghiz tribes while in actual
process, and he shews how periodic partition of the cultivable
land was originally introduced among the Cossacks. We thus
see in actual development the successive stages which mankind
has traversed\

The Germans, when the Romans first came into contact
with them, were a pastoral people, retaining the warlike habits
of the primitive hunters, and bordering on the agricultural
system. It seems generally admitted that the tribes of the
Aryan race, before their dispersion, had no knowledge of agri-
culture, for the terms designating farming implements and
culture of the land differ in the different branches of the Aryan
languages, while words relating to the management of flocks are

^ Mackenzie Wallace, Russia, Vol. ii. c. xxi. p. 15.



102 PRIMITIVE PROPERTY.

similar. The Germans, the last race to enter Europe, had not
yet increased in numbers sufficiently to require any large
portion of their support from the rude labour demanded for
tillage and harvest. Except under the pressure of necessity,
man never devotes himself to long and arduous labour.

Certain German writers have maintained that the Germans,
in the time of Tacitus, practised the triennial rotation of crops,
reserving a third part of the arable land for winter grain, and
another third for summer grain, while the remaining third
lay fallow. M. Roscher has proved this opinion to be erroneous \
Agriculture, at this period, was on the contrary in the highest
degree "extensive." The phrase of Tacitus describes this
method of cultivation very faithfully, — nee enim cum uhertate
et amplitudine soli labors contend ant, "they do not attempt
by their labour to vie with the fertility and extent of the
soil." Cœsar before him had remarked that the Germans
applied themselves very little to agriculture, agri'cultnrce
niinwie student, and that they never cultivated the same
land two years together. The magistrates, who annually allot
to the several families the share which comes to them, make
them pass from, one part of the territory to another. Tacitus
tells us the same thing: Arva per annas mutant et svperest oger,
they cultivate fresh lands each year, and there always remains
a portion undisposed of.

To understand these passages, often incorrectly translated,
we must take into consideration an agricultural practice, still
in force in our day, in certain villages possessing large tracts
of common land, as in the Ardennes in Belgium. Part of the
heath is divided among the inhabitants, who obtain from it
a crop of rye by the process of "essartage " or " écobuage^." The



^ Ansichten der Volhswirthschaft: XJeher die Landicirthschaft der altesten
Deutsclwn.—A French trauslation of this work has recently appeared bearing
the title " Recherches sur divers sujets d'ccouomie politique, by M. W.
Koscher." The entire passage in Tacitus is as follows : Agri pro numéro cul-
torum ab iiniversis per vices occupantur, quos mux inter se secundum dignationem
partiuntur ; faciUtatem j^artiendi camporum sputia prccstant. Arva per a?inos
iHutant et supcrest ager ; nee enim cum xthertate et amplitudine soli labore con-
ti'iuhuit, ut pomaria conserant et prata séparent et hortos rig eut : sola terrce seges
imperatur.

* Essartage or essartement is a method of cultivating forest land, still
employed in some districts of the north-cast of France. It is performed by
digging up all the vegetation on the surface, and then submitting the boil to



THE GERMANIC MARK. 103

following year, another part of the common land is parcelled
out and cultivated in the same manner. The portion so worked
is afterwards abandoned to the natural vegetation ; and it
becomes common pasture again for eighteen or twenty years,
after which period it is again subjected to "essartage." Suppose
the population so small as to allow of the annual allotment of
a hectare^ (about 2^ acres) to each inhabitant, and the village
will be able to subsist by means of this primitive method of
cultivation, which was exactly that of the Germans. It will
not be necessary to manure the soil or to expend capital on it ;
its extent will serve instead ; spatia prœstant, as Tacitus says.
In the southern parts of Siberia, the land is cultivated in tliia
way. Barbarous as it may appear, it is the most rational and
economical method of cultivation, for it is the one which yields
the largest net profit. So long as space suffices, there can be
no object in concentrating capital and labour on a small
surface. It is the rule, that a second application of capital
to the soil produces relatively smaller profit than the first. It is
only density of population that can render "intensive" cultivation
necessary or profitable. Under a system of temporary cultiva-
tion, where the same land is only tilled once in twenty years,
and which occupies different portions of the territory in succes-
sion, the annual partition of the soil is obviously a natural, and
almost a necessary, result. The labours of cultivation are so
simple that this redivision can w^ork no manner of harm to any
one. The mode of tenure is in accordance with the mode of cul-
tivation. The Germans cultivated, for the most part, the cereal

êcohxiage. The soil is afterwards cultivated for two or three years, and then
left for fresh essartage after fifteen or eighteen years.

Ecohuage is an operation which consists in raising the surface layer of soil,
and burning the organic matter contained in it. Littré, Diet.]

1 Allowing 10 hectolitres of corn as the produce of a hectare, a village of
200 inhabitants would require 200 hectares a year ; which demands a cultivable
territory of 4,000 hectares for a rotation of twenty, years. The Germans had a
relatively large number of cattle, and one must, therefore, add another 1,000
hectares of pasturage and 1,000 hectares of forest. The density of the popu-
lation would be reduced to three or four inhabitants to the square kilometre, or
hundred hectares. On this computation, Germany would have contained two
millions of inhabitants.

[Adopting English measures :^on the supposition that an acre would
yield 11 bushels of corn, 200 inhabitants would require 500 acres a year. And
the whole cultivable land would have to be 10,000 acres, with an additional
2,500 acres of pasturage and the same amount of forest. The population would,
therefore, be about one to every 150 acres.]



104 PEIMITIVE PROPERTY.

which occupies the soil for the shortest time, and is best suited
to newly cleared lands, namely oats. As it is sufficient to sow it
in spring, it escapes the severity of the winter, and was, there-
fore, especially suitable to the severe climate of Germany.
Pliny tells us that the tribes of this country lived exclusively
on oatmeal, which was also formerly the principal food of the
Scotch, and is so at the present time in the Highlands. The
Germans also cultivated summer barley, to make a fermented
liquor, Tacitus tells us, somewhat resembling wine, that is to
say, beer. The observation of Pliny is correct as regards the
cereals grown by them ; but they looked to animal food for
the greatest part of their sustenance. " They eat wild fruit,
game and curds," says Tacitus : while Cœsar tells us " They
live for the most part on milk, cheese and flesh." Agriculturœ
non student, majorqae pars victus eorum in lade, caseo et came
consistit^. They were, therefore, still hunters and shepherds
rather than agriculturalists. Their numerous herds, ill-fed
and of poor quality, constituted their chief wealth.

For the chase, they had the depths of the common forest,
where, besides the stag and deer, there was then abundance of
larger animals, since disappeared, the reindeer, the elk, and the
wild ox : while for the maintenance of their cattle they trusted
to the common pasturage, which consisted of permanent mea-
dows in the valleys, and of waste or fallow land, eighteen or
nineteen times as extensive as the land under temporary culti-
vation. Not only was all the territory the undivided property
of the clan, but their collective enjoyment extended over nearly
the whole of it. Only a small portion was subject to private
occupation for a year. The tenure characteristic of the pastoral
system still embraced almost the whole land. Hereditary
ownership was only applicable to the house and enclosure
belonging to it, as in Java or Russia. Suam quisque domum
spatio circumdat, says Tacitus. This was the salic soil, terra
salica^, which was transmitted by succession to male children

1 De Bell. G< I 1. vi. c. 22.

* Advertendum in hac temporum antiquitate Germanos liahuisse domum quam
vocahant Sal; circa domum fuisse Salbuck seu curtim, gnllice courtil, spatiumve
terrce dumui circumdatum et scrpe cinctum s2Jatium, illud cum domo est seliland,
seu terra salica quœ ad solos filios ptrtinebat ; nee immerito, quum filiiC in aliam
domum terramque salicam transirent. Brotier, sur Tacite, quoted by M. J.
Simonnet, Histoire de la iSaisine, p. 54.



THE GERMANIC MARK. 105

and relations, hut could not be inherited by females. The
inclosure, surrounded by a quickset hedge, could not be
entered by any one without the consent of its owner. In this
sacred domain he was sovereign. In his own house, as our
proverb says, every one is king.

The common territory of the clan bore the name oï Mark or
Allmend, Almennings Maurk^ among the Scandinavians, Folc-
land among the Anglo-Saxons. Sometimes, too, it is denoted
by the name of gau, from the same root as jrj, jaia. The
marken were called geraiden in Alsace, or hundschaften or
huntari among the Alamanni. They included cultivated land,
pasturage, wood and water. Originally they were of vast
extent, and embraced whole valleys, as in Switzerland and the
Tyrol, and elsewhere immense countries, where states such as
Austria, Bavaria, Carinthia, Carniola and Brandenburg have
subsequently grown up. Each family was entitled to a tem-
porary enjoyment of a portion in each division of the mark;
but no one could exercise any permanent or hereditary right
over it. It is what Cœsar^ and Tacitus' tell us of the Ger-
mans. Grimm asserts that in the ancient German language
he has found no word rendering the idea of property. The
word Eigenthum is of recent origin. It springs from the epi-
thet eigen, pî'oprium, that which is peculiar to the individual.
Individual dominion only appears in the allod (from od, goods,
and all, complete) of the Saxons. Merum proprium odit ;
there is no mention of ownership till after the Germans have
entered into relation with the Romans. The names Sondergut
and Sondereigen, given to private property, indicates that it
arises by separation {sonder) fiom common property. The
portion of the mark occupied by one of the groups of com-
mon origin, called by Ctesar cognationes, and by Tacitus pro-
pinquitates*, was designated by the name oî geburscip, vicinium,

1 In Sweden the term Lands ahnnmiingar distinguish ed the common domain
of the whole nation from that of the communes Bijs almanningar.

^ Neqiie qiiisquam modum ccrtum ant fines hahet jnopruis, sed ma(jUtralus ac
principes in annos singulos gentibtis cognationibiitiqiie hoiiiiintin, qui una coierunt
quantum et quo loco visum est agri attribuant ; atquc anno post alio transire
cogxmt (De Bel. Gal. 1. vi. c. 29).

^ Non casus nee fortuita conglohatio turmam aut euncum facit sed famiUœ et
propinquitatcs [Germ. c. vii.). This propinquitas was alike the military and
economic unit.

* The Greek yeVos, and the Roman gens, equally with the village of Java or



106 PRIMITIVE PROPERTY.

the viens of the Romans, the voysiné or visnet of the middle
ages in France, the vinâve at Liëge up to the present day.
"We possess an edict of Chilperic of 581, which proves that at
this date hereditary ownership was but just introducing itself
among the Franks. This edict declares that sons and daugh-
ters, brothers and sisters, are to inherit the goods of the
deceased in preference to the other inhabitants of the village,
vicini^.

At the time of the Salic law private property in land seems
scarcely to have been developed. This law nowhere mentions
any action relating to property in the soil : it does not recog-
nize seizure of lands ; execution only applies to moveable
goods, which constitute the alodis^. If the moveables of the
debtor are insufficient, the creditor loses all his remedy, as he
cannot seize land. When the payment of the Wehrgeld, which
admits of no abatement, is in question, the insolvent debtor
may be compelled to alienate, by the formality of CJirenecruda,
his rights in the collective domain to his nearest relative, who
is then obliged to pay for him.

Even when arable land had been gradually converted into
private property, the forest and pasturage remained common
property. In documents of the middle ages there is constant
reference to rights of enjoyment in forest or pasturage.
"Manses" are bequeathed or sold cuin terris cidtis et incultis
et silvis communibus. The campus communis, referred to in
the law of the Burgundians, Tit. 31, is preserved in Germany,
England, and France, under the names of allmend, common,
and communaux respectively.

The Mark, like the ancient Gens, had its altars and its
sacrifices ; and, in later days, after the introduction of Chris-
tianity, its church and common patron-saint. It had a tribunal
which took cognizance of moral offences, and even, in the early
times, of crimes committed within its territory.

The families, forming the community, had only a right of
enjoyment, the ownership of the soil resting in the community

India, and the Eiissian viir or Slav gmind, -were only patriarclial groups
founded on common descent.

1 Pertz, Leg. ii. 10, art. 3.

^ See Solim, Altdcutsche Eeichs- und Gerichtsvcrfassung.



THE GERMANIC MARK. 107

itself\ In course of time, however, portions of the com-
mon land were granted for a term more or less long, either
gratuitously, or in consideration of a rent. Grants of this kind
are met with everywhere, of the Folcland in England, of the
JIammerka in Frisia, of the Almanniger in Sweden and Norway,
and of the Alltnend in Germany, just as of the oger jiuhlicus
and terrœ vectigales at Rome. Such is the origin of the portions
granted out for enjoyment for life or years, which we still meet
with in different countries, as in the Allmendgœrten of Uri and
Gersau, the Gmeinmerkguter of Lucerne and Scbwyz, the
Gemeinfelder {Campi communes) of the Treves district, the
Gemeinen Loosguter of Peitingau in Bavaria, the MarL-f elder of
Westphalia, the Geraidengilter of Alsace and the Palatinate, the
Hahbmannschaften of Hundsriick, and the Rollttheile in Eiclisfeld.
It is these parcels of common which have, by gradual usurpa-
tions, given birth to Sondereigen, or private property.

We have few details as to the manner in which the allot-
ment of the soil was effected in early times. Cœsar tells us :
"No one has fields marked out or land as his own property.
But the magistrates and chiefs assign lands every year to the
clans, or g entes, and to the families living in association." These
families, living in association and cultivating the land in
common, are the exact picture of the patriarchal families, wliich
are to be found at the present day among the Russians and
Southern Slavs, and which in the middle ages existed through-
out Europe, and especially in France and Italy. It is the
primitive group of the pastoral period, whose existence has
been perpetuated from the days of the Aryans in Asia up to our
own. To understand properly what is said by Roman historians
on this subject, we must never lose sight of the institutions of
nations whose economic condition resembles that of ancient
Germany, According to Caesar, the chiefs effect the partition, as
they think fit. In the distribution, regard is paid, according to

1 This appears clearly in texts of the middle ages. For exarople : In hac
sUva nullns nostrum privatiin hahebat aliquid, sed communlfer pertiiiehiit ad
omncs viUœ nostra: incolns. Dii'l. of 1173. Bodmanu i, p. 4i'3;5, quoted by Von
Maiirer. The association of iuliabitants was called comnuinitas or comiiinnio.
Lex Bubg. Add. I. Tit. 1, c. vi. Sijlvurum, montium et ixiscuorum coinntu-
nioneni. Diplôme of 1234, quoted by v. Maurer, Einleitunff, etc., p. 141, com-
vniint»iein qnœ vulgo Ahnendd vocatur. Pipl. of 1291. Id. In cvnununitale
vlllce Merle, quœ Allmcnd vulgaritcr ajipcllatur.



108 PRIMITIVE PROPERTY,

Tacitus, to the number of cultivators : pro numéro cultorum;
and to the rank of the co-partners : secundum dignationem
partiuntur. Of these two features one represents itself in
Russia, where the division is made by tiaglos, that is, by units
of labour, according to the number of adult labourers; while
the other reappears in Java, where the chief of the dessa,
the loerah, the elders and other officers of the commune
actually have a portion of land proportionate to their rank.
Horace, too, depicts in the following terms the annual division
of lands, as practised in his time among the tribes dwelling
on the banks of the Danube: —

Et rigidi Getae
Imnietata quibns jugera libéras

Fruges et cererem ferunt ;
Nee cultura placet longior annua ;

Defunctumque laboribus
Aequali recréât sorte vicarius.

He is here rather speaking of the division of labour between
two groups of inhabitants, which alternately cultivate the soil
for the entire tribe. Ca3sar tells us exactly the same thing
of the Suevi, the most warlike and powerful of the Teutonic
tribes\ "Those who remain in the country cultivate the soil
for themselves and for the absent members, and in their turn
take arms the next year, while the others remain at home.
But none amongst them can possess the land in severalty as
his own, and none may occupy for more than a year the
same laud for cultivation. They consume little corn; but live
chiefly on milk and the flesh of their herds, and devote
themselves to the chase." These are the habitual features
characteristic of the economic condition of the German tribes.
The chase and the rearing of their herds pi'ovide the greatest
part of their food; agriculture takes but the third place. The
soil is only cultivated for a year: landed property is unknown:
and the arable land is divided among the inhabitants for mere
temporary enjoyment. There was the custom, apparently pecu-
liar to the Getse and Suevi, which leads one to suppose that
the produce of the soil was originally gathered in mass to be
subsequently divided; each half of the inhabitants worked

1 Com. IV. 1, 3.



THE GERMANIC MARK. 109

alternately for the other. Community here, then, is more
intimate than among the other German tribes, and belongs to
a more primitive system, such as we cannot meet with in the
wildest forests of Russia, or the most remote districts of Bosnia.

Aristotle seems to have recognized two forms of community.
" Thus," he says in The Politics, lib. il. c. 3, " the fields would
be private property, while the harvest would belong to all.
This practice exists among some nations. The land, on the
other hand, might be common, but the harvest would be di-
vided among all for private ownership. This kind of com-
munity is to be found among certain barbarian tribes." In
fact, Diodorus of Sicily and Strabo bear witness to the exis-
tence of this custom in several passages, which will be found
in Chapter x. The periodical partition of the land must
have been a very general custom in the ancient world, to have
been noted in so many different quarters, among nations so
different in race, in origin and in ways of thought.

In Germany, every inhabitant was entitled to a portion of
land large enough to supply the wants of his family. Except
for the chiefs, who obtained a larger share, this portion was the
same for all^; and to insure complete equality, each part of
the arable land was divided into as many parcels as there were
co-partners, and lots were then drawn for these parcels. The
measurement was made with a cord, per fimiculiim, called in
German Reeb, or Reepmate^. This word gives the name to
the Beebiiings procedur, a custom which lasted for a very long
time in the north, and particularly in Denmark, even after the
periodical partition had fallen into disuse. The equality of



^ It seems, however, that, either in certain districts or at a later period, the
portion of land depended on the importance of the house, for Grimm quotes a
curious maxim of ancient German law : " The habitation, toiiipt, is the mother
of the field ; it determines the portion of arable, the portion of arable deter-
mines that of pasture, the portion of pasture that of forest, the portion of forest
that of rushes to thatch the roof, the portion of rushes divides the water ia
the streams."

2 M. von Maurer, whose profound researches have thrown so much light on
this subject, quotes some curious texts in his hook Einleitung zur Geschichte
der Mark- Hof- Dorf- nnd Stadtverfassung. Thus : Einleitung, p. 278, " In
divisionem mansorum more theutonico excrcitni zcugitanam vel proconsularem
provinciam funiculo hereditatis divisit." Victor Vitensis, //isf. pcrsec. Vandalicœ.
Lib. I. c. iv. — "Uenrictis comes de Racesbiirg adduxit multitudinem populorum de
Westfalia ut incolerent terrain Polaborum et divisit eis terram in funiculo dis-
tributionis," Helmod, Chronic. Slav. Lib. i. c. xxxi.



110 PRIMITIVE PROPERTY.

the portions seemed so essential, that, when, in course of
time, the portions had become unequal {pro inœqualitate man-
sorum), any one who had a smaller portion than his neighbours,
could demand a new measurement, reebning, that the primitive
equality might be restored. In the law of the Burgundians
we find a passage which refers to the same practice : " The
claim of co-partners to have the lots in the common land made
equal cannot be refused \" It seemed so necessary for every
free man to hold property, that even in later times, when the
sale of land was introduced after the conquest, every one was
forbidden to sell his lot who did not possess others elsewhere.



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