L'autre visage du manse. Actes de la pratique et structures agraires dans la vallée du Rhin moyen au VIIIe siècle
Larrea Conde, Juan José
MetadataShow full item record
Frühmittelalterliche Studien 46 : 41-98 (2012)
The aim of this paper is to readdress the issue of the mansus when considered in a dimension which is totally or partially extraneous to the 'great classical estate'. A historiographical tradition several centuries long has made it prisoner both of theories which have explained it through a conjectural past and of methods which considered the information contained in charters as ambiguous or unreliable. However, the study of the internal logic of a chronologically and territorially compact dossier of charters — produced in the Lorsch scriptorium up to 804 and relating to the district of Oberrhein and Ladenburg — shows the coherence and precision of its perception of the agrarian regime. This becomes particularly apparent through the identification of specific features of each of the main Lorsch scribes. These charters thus prove to be significant tools for the study of Carolingian rural economy. Thanks to these texts, and with reference to this region and this period, it is possible to clarify many of the ambiguities concerning the mansus itself, such as the real or theoretical nature of its fragmentation or the notion of hoba, as well as the servile people who lived on it. In a live and extremely malleable rural environment, the mansus, that is the lived-on land unit, is both legally and economically the cornerstone on which agrarian exploitations pivot: it is around the mansus that such exploitations extend and contract (depending on the lifecycles of households and soils and the decisions taken by the players in the rural environment); and it is through the mansus that those same exploitations integrate in the territory.