BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L ArchivesArchiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 1999-07 > 0931006973
Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 30A dtd 28 Feb 1998 (edited)
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 1999 09:02:53 EDT
THE BURGENLAND BUNCH NEWS -No. 30A
DEDICATED TO AUSTRIAN-HUNGARIAN BURGENLAND GENEALOGY
(issued biweekly by )
February 28, 1998
(all rights reserved)
This special edition of the newsletter contains more articles on Historical
Terms (LEHEN, FIEF, JOCH, METZEN and others) of especial interest to those of
us who are digging deep and wish to fully understand the conditions under
which our ancestors lived. The subject developed into an interesting email
thread which is reported here in some detail. Only the subject of FOOD
generated more correspondence. If you've formed any previous opinions or
recorded any ancestral holdings from the Hungarian Census you should check
the values and definitions given in order to convert to proper English
terms. I might mention that we can thank Frank Teklits for lighting the fuse
to this discussion by asking questions from his pending Croatian translation.
The newsletter also addresses a piece of new software, creation of newsletter
"A" editions and a new source of maps.
MORE HISTORICAL TERMS (from Bob Schatz)
Hi Gerry, Frank, Albert, and Fritz. I was very interested in the discussion
of Lehen & Fief (and also Joch and Metzen) under "Historical Terms" in BB
Newsletter 27A. At the risk of being pedantic (and possibly creating more
confusion!) I wonder if I might share the following?
Part of the problem in translating Lehen (or Lehn) is that it is an ancient
feudal term which continued to be used to designate all sorts of land
holdings up until the Age of the Enlightenment, but its English counterpart,
Fief, pretty much has only a specialized Medieval connotation. Feudalism was
a political, military and social system based in sworn loyalties, military
service and remuneration in the form of real estate. It originated as a
response to weak central governments, and fused with manorialism, the
economic system which had originated during the Roman Empire. Feudalism
proper died out, but left a strong legacy in the legalized class structure of
Europe and in the vocabulary of class structure and property rights.
The terms fief, benefit (Latin: beneficium), and Lehn or Lehen are
technically synonymous (all originally implying a loan of real estate -
hereditary privileges evolved later), although as I said, the English words
have a Medieval "feel" and connotation of the land holding of a vassal. The
English word "vassal" means a man who owed his lord homage, fealty and
military service. By the early Modern Age the German counterpart, Unterthan,
was also apparently used to designate the
peasantry (not serfs) who were tenant farmers on a nobleman's estate or
manor. The word vassal never acquired this additional meaning in English.
Obviously then, although our ancestors may have been Unterthanen in German,
they could not properly be designated as vassals in English. For the exact
same reasons I would choose a different English word than "fief" to translate
"Lehen" or "beneficium" whenever the latter words refer to non-noble tenant
land holdings. Beneficium is used in just this way in the 1767 urbarial laws
of Maria Theresa. (For a fuller discussion of all these terms and the rise
of feudalism, see Marc Bloch, FEUDAL SOCIETY, English translation: University
of Chicago Press, 1961.)
The English word "section" (Latin: sessio; German: Ansa"ssigkeit; Magyar:
jobbagytelek) - or also "virgate" (tenant farmers were known as virgaters in
England) - could be used in some instances as a translation for Lehen.
Section/sessio refers to that part of a nobleman's estate for which a
non-noble family provided goods and services (rent) in order to farm. By the
18th century, and especially among the new families moving to Hungary, this
arrangement was governed by unilateral contracts between landlord and tenant.
The section holder did not have the freehold proprietorship of "his" land,
only the leasehold or copy hold of it: he had heritable rights to its use and
profit, but was not the outright owner. (In some areas of Europe like
Frisia, Switzerland, and the Tirol, the non-noble population was historically
"free" and had freehold proprietorship of their land. In German such a man
was referred to as a Landsman, in English a yeoman. Interestingly,
non-noble free families in these areas often used coats-of-arms, usually an
exclusive right of the nobility.)
Section/sessio is somewhat an abstract concept in that it referred not so
much to a specific plot of land, but to the AMOUNT of land farmed. Farms as
we know them in America were not the norm. An Unterthan family did not work
contiguous acreage, but instead farmed many strips of land scattered around
the village fields, partly to insure that no one family farmed all the best
or worst soil. (This system is known as open field agriculture and has been
documented to the 8th century, but is possibly older.) The total acreage of
a family's strips would have been its "section".
In 1767 Maria Theresa stipulated the MAXIMUM allowable acreage that an
Unterthan could farm, and this maximum amount was known as a "full section".
A full section varied in acreage depending on locale and fertility of the
soil, so that a full section in Urbersdorf may not have been the same acreage
as one in Rechnitz or in a village in the Carpathian Mountains. (I know that
Urbersdorf was a "class 2" village and a full section there was about 35
acres.) Because the village land had to support all its farming households,
families rarely farmed full sections, but rather fractions thereof based on
eighths. The guiding principle (in 1767) was that one eighth should yield
enough to support one family and fulfill its obligations to state, landlord
(In Urbersdorf by 1840, all registered farming households, regardless of
their size, farmed 5/8 sections.) This would explain the question of "1/4
and 1/16 Lehen". I would not translate Lehen as "fief" here for the reasons
stated earlier, unless the context was a grant of an estate (German: Gut) to
a gentry (noble) family.
The terms Joch and Metzen were both units of land measure, just as our "acre"
is. Both terms are to be found in the Imperial urbarial surveys of 1767. By
my calculations, based on information provided by Oscar Jazsi in THE
DISSOLUTION OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY, one Joch was the equivalent of
approximately 2.8 acres. "Metzen" is more frequently seen as "Pressburger
Metzen", meaning "the land unit used by Pressburg", and therefore the
Hungarian land unit as opposed to the German one (the Joch).
(Pressburg/Pozsony/Bratislava was the capital of Habsburg Hungary from 1536
to 1683 during the Turkish occupation of central Hungary.) The Magyar word
equivalent for Pressburger Metzen is "hold", and one hold would be
approximately 1.4 acres: the urbarial laws of 1767 state "jedes Joch auf zwey
Presspurger Metzen gerechnet" (each Joch reckoned as two Pressburger Metzen).
The Latin form is also to be found: "metreta Posoniensis", frequently
abbreviated as "metret. poson."
Aecker (A"cker) refers to arable land in contrast to Wiesen, pasture or
meadow. "Joch Aecker" refers to the total acreage of arable land in a
family's section. (By 1840 in West Hungary, arable and pasture are
calculated in hold.) In the 1767 urbarial tables, the German term for
section is "Eigenschaft der Ansa"ssigkeit" (quality/quantity of the section).
To sum up, it is important to remember that feudal terms were used long after
the Middle Ages, but the political, social and economic institutions of
Europe were technically no longer feudal in nature. Feudal terms in English
have meanings specific to feudalism, but the German counterparts took on
expanded meanings so that a word like Unterthan (vassal) was also applied to
contractual tenant farmers. In the English language, these tenant farmers
would not be called "vassals" just as their leasehold would not be called a
I hope this is not too academic a discussion and may be of some help in
future translation efforts. I'd welcome any commentary, corrections or
By the way, etymologically FIEF is related to the German VIEH. The common
root word originally referred to movable property or the form of it which was
most valuable, i.e., cattle, and it was this latter meaning which came to be
applied to the German word. I also wonder if "Unterthan" came from "(men)
under a thane (lord)"?
Bob subsequently writes:
Gentlemen: I have to correct what I wrote earlier about PressburgerMetzen,
and the acreage of a Joch and a hold. Over the weekend, I went back to my
notes and did some new math. Apparently, a German Joch and a Hungarian hold
were equivalent measures, both equaling .576 hectare, 5755 square meters, or
1.43 acres, not 2.8 acres as I had previously written. (If anyone wants the
math, I calculated this from the following figures: 1 hectare = 10,000 square
meters = 2.471 acres; 1 Joch = 5755 square meters; 1 hold = .576 hectare.
Oscar Jaszi states on p. 224 of his book that 14 hold = approximately 20
acres, therefore 1 hold must equal approximately 1.43 acres.)
Obviously my statement that Pressburger Metzen were the same as hold is
incorrect. For me this adds some interesting information about Urbersdorf.
The amount of land under cultivation there was exactly the same in the 1767
urbarium and the 1828 dicalis census, and APPEARS to be recorded in Joch, but
in the 1840 urbarium from Budapest the amount of cultivated land is almost
double the earlier figures and is definitely recorded in hold. So, unless
the earlier records are actually recorded in Pressburger Metzen, this means
that the village nearly doubled its farmland (I would presume by clearing or
draining). Would this have been likely? Initially I thought that the
earlier records must have been in Pressburger Metzen, but then I tallied the
sections. The total number of sections farmed in the village in 1840 were
also nearly double those in 1767 and 1828. Does anyone know: was this a
general trend in Gu"ssing Bezirk? It could have been a response to
population growth or an attempt to make the estate more profitable.
Fritz Knigshofer responds with: Bob, now I was able to look up my
(relatively slim) home encyclopedias. I also read Frank's (Teklits) e-m for
which my thanks. My Brockhaus gives 0.3 to 0.65 hectare for the size of one
Joch. The concept developed from the field size which one Joch (yoke) of two
oxen could plough in one day, and that size differed over Germanic lands
depending on prevailing soil conditions and topography of the land. (I think
you already mentioned this .)
Obviously, in newer times the size became more standardized. I remember from
my youth that farmers in the Styrian mountains were still counting their land
in Jochs, and from my memory I am pretty sure that our Joch in Western Styria
was about a third of a hectare. With 600 Joch of forest and other land, a
farmer would have a right to his own hunt (Eigenjagd), perhaps the number
was even less than 600 Joch.
Interestingly, it appears that the English acre is defined in exactly the
same way; namely as the area a yoke of oxen could plough in a day. The word
acre still links to "Acker" which is now the German word for cultivated
(ploughed) fields. Both languages still contain the same root in the word
God's acre (for the cemetery attached to a parish church), "Gottesacker" in
German, though in German the word Acker has lost its original wider meaning.
At the danger of needlessly confusing the discussion, there was an older
measure used in Germanic lands for clearings assigned to new settlers. This
was the Hufe, originally about 10 hectares, sized to feed one family. From
this measure, the Austrians developed the word Hube (or "Huabn") for the
normal farmhouse with land, still used today. There was also a Knigshufe
(king's hufe) of about 20 hectares, later up to 47 or so hectares, used for
clearings on king's land. My Knigshofer ancestors come from a region in
northeastern Styria that was definitely cleared out from a massive royal
forest, i.e., one derivation of my family name is from the term Knigshufe.
I do not know whether the Hufe or Knigshufe played any role on Hungarian
Albert Schuch adds:
Hi all, I am hereby beginning to catch up on the recent terminological
discussion. I would not say that "Untert(h)an" is the German counterpart of
the English "vassal". We use the same word, only the spelling is slightly
different: "Vasall". As for the meaning of "Untertan": In 1848, when the
"Grundherrschaft" was abolished, our ancestors ceased to be "Untertanen" of
the domain owner, but they still were "Untertanen" of the King. Until 1848,
the domain (owner) to some extent had a governmental function, and I think
that it is this what the term "Untertan" is mainly referring to.
Many Soellner could have afforded to buy a sessio and thus become farmers,
but they didn't, because they didn't want to become obliged to provide goods
and services (or pay money instead).
After years of unrest (which sometimes came very close to uprisings), Maria
Theresia responded to the bitter complaints of the people living on the
Batthyany (ed.-most of southern Burgenland) domains by reforming their legal
relationship with the domain owners in the "Urbarialpatent" issued on 23 Jan
1767. Progressing slowly from west to east, these instructions where carried
out in the whole country, and by 1779 this new law was valid in all 43
The legal relationship between Untertan and domain (owner) was now for the
first time standardized for the whole kingdom. The village had already been
divided into sessios (sections) before, now their size was regulated. A
farmer's sessio consisted of the "Intravillanum" (IV) (area for house, yard
and outbuildings, usually alongside the village street) and of the
"Extravillanum" (EV) (fields, meadows etc. scattered in small pieces all over
the village land). Now (1767) the IV had to have the size equaling a field
large enough for sowing 2 Pressburger Metzen (PM) of seeds. (Metzen is
originally a unit of capacity: The PM was 62,39 liters 1551-1588, in 1588
changed to 54,62 l, in 1715 to 62,5 l, and finally in 1807 to 53,3 liters.
The size of the EV varied from village to village. The EV of one whole sessio
could include 16-40 Joch fields (1 Hungarian Joch usually calculated at 1200
Quadratklafter (0,4316 ha) plus 8-22 Tagwerk (= what one person can mow in
one day) meadows.
The Austrian Joch or "Katastraljoch" (= 1600 Quadratklafter = 0,5755 ha) was
officially introduced in Hungary in 1786 (for land surveying), but the
domains tended to stick to the Hungarian Joch. Those who owned 1/8 sessio or
more were called farmers, those who owned less than 1/8 sessio were called
"Kleinhusler". (Note that in Northern Burgenland (Seewinkel and Heideboden)
many farmers had 2 or 3 sessios.)
The historical background for the unrest 1762-66: The 7 years war 1756 - 1763
(mainly fought against Prussia) had cost a lot of money, part of which had to
be paid by Hungary. Since the Hungarian nobility didn't pay any taxes, guess
who had to?
FURTHER RESPONSE (Bob Schatz)
Albert: I am grateful for this exchange. It is helping me clarify words and
concepts even more. Dictionaries cannot provide the subtle shades of meaning
and usage in our languages. Comments follow. Best regards, Bob
My German dictionary had only provided "vassal" as a definition for
"Untertan", but now I see that it really should translate to something like
"subject" in English. My understanding is that Feudalism was a Medieval
institution based in loyalties and military service. "Feudal" refers to the
relationship between a lord and a vassal, the vassals swearing loyalty to the
lord (homage) and providing him with military service. In compensation, the
vassal received a feudum or fee, i.e. land (usually a manor with tenants, if
the vassal was a nobleman) to provide him with a living. The vassal would
undergo the ceremony of homage in exchange for his fee. Vassals could be
both noble and non-noble (the only non-vassal being the king). High-ranking
vassals in the Middle Ages often had judicial authority and sometimes the
authority to mint coinage.
I probably would simply use "lord" for "Grundherr", since our ancestors in
the 18th century did not swear fealty and did not owe the Grundherr military
service in exchange for the land they farmed (am I correct in this?).
"Feudal lord" could be used, however, if the Grundherr had judicial authority
in his Herrschaft, especially if he could sentence an Untertan to death. Did
the magnates in Hungary have this kind of power, or was this reserved to the
On the urbariums I have seen, the Soellner still owed some goods and a hearth
fee to the Grundherr for their house and yard in the village, but they were
exempt from robot. One thing is not clear to me: were Soellner considered to
be lower status than the farmers? Since the Soellner were tradesmen who
provided essential services to the village, I wouldn't think that there would
have been a kind of hierarchy, but sometimes the documents seem to imply a
MORE ON ACRE & JOCH (Bob Schatz to Frank Teklits)
Frank: I've looked up "acre" in the encyclopedia, and indeed, Fritz is
correct - it originated in the amount of land a man could plow in a day with
a pair of yoked oxen. In England, the acre was standardized in the 13th
century, and it is this measurement (700 years later) which is still the
standard here, in Canada, and in England. The etymology derives from the
Latin noun "ager" which comes from the verb "agere" - to drive.
If the German "Joch" derived from the same meaning, then I guess that implies
that German farmers were faster plowers than the English (since 1 joch equals
almost an acre and a half)!
This information may come in handy during a game of "Trivial Pursuit". Best
FURTHER RESPONSE (Fritz Knigshofer)
To all, It turns out that "Acker" is/was also used as a plot size measure in
German lands. One Acker was 0.25 to 0.65 hectare, again defined the same way
as the Joch and the English/Canadian and US acre, and thus varying from
region to region in absolute size, within the above limits.
The Brockhaus says it is a German root word, while my Columbia encyclopedia
describes "acre" as being a word of Indo-European origin. I think, this is
it, as it would also explain the Latin derivation given by Bob. Clearly, 0.65
hectares must have been the upper limit for an "Acker" and "Joch." I am only
speculating now, but since the Hungarian puszta (plain) was possibly easy to
plough, I could imagine that the Hungarian Joch had a size toward the upper
end of the range.
FINAL COMMENT & ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS (Albert Schuch)
> ... Joch ... (Pressburger) Metzen ... hold < As already said, the Metzen
was a unit of capacity, later also used as a unit of land measure. While the
Hungarian Joch was usually calculated at 1200 Quadratklafter, 1100 and 1300
were also possible! (1 (Wiener) Klafter = 6 Fuss = 72 Zoll = 1,896 Meter). My
Hungarian-German dictionary translates "hold" as "Morgen" or "Joch".
In the 1767 urbarial tables, the German term for section is "Eigenschaft der
Ansa"ssigkeit" (quality/quantity of the section). an obvious correction: the
German term for section is Ansssigkeit
> I also wonder if "Unterthan" came from "(men) under a thane (lord)"? <
I think that the Latin word for Untertan is "subditus", literally
"Unterworfener" in German. The English "subject" probably can be deduced from
"sub" + "iactus" (thrown)
> a German Joch and a Hungarian hold were equivalent measures, both equaling
.576 hectare, 5755 square meters, or 1.43 acres < The term "Hungarian hold"
is somehow misleading; hold seems to be the Hungarian word for Joch; this
still leaves the question: which Joch? (1600, 1300, 1200 or 1100 square
> The amount of land under cultivation there was exactly the same in the 1767
urbarium and the 1828 dicalis census ... but in the 1840 urbarium from
Budapest the amount of cultivated land is almost double ... this means that
the village nearly doubled its farmland (I would presume by clearing or
draining). Would this have been likely? <
Draining is not likely (too early & too much land). Since the land survey
(Kommassierung) in 1861 caused such unrest in Urbersdorf, clearing may be
likely: I think that the land cleared before 1848 had to be handed back to
the Grundherrschaft during the Kommassierung, or had to be paid for. (I am
not exactly sure if this information is correct, so I'll try to check it.)
(end of article)
Messrs. Knigshofer, Schatz, Schuch and Teklits have our thanks for providing
this extensive material. I'm sure they will be happy to answer any questions
arising from any of the above. You'll notice we went from English to German
to Latin to Hungarian as regards these definitions. A truly remarkable
thread, indicative of the complexity of the area under study!
"A" EDITIONS OF THE NEWSLETTERS
There have been some questions concerning newsletters numbered with an "A".
Some members may be of the opinion that there is an "A" edition for every
number. This is not the case. I issue an "A" edition whenever I have a single
article which is large enough to take up all or most of the ten page
limitation for email or when I have more time sensitive material than I can
use in a regular addition.. You can refer to the newsletter "catalog"
available at my FTP site or from the Homepage to check on what newsletters
have been issued. "A" Issues To date: 13A-Castles of Burgenland,
14A-Burgenland Food, 15A-History of Riedlingsdorf, 17A-Unger Trip to Austria
I, 18A-Reading Church Records, 20A-Unger Trip II, 25A-Pre-1997 Email,
26A-Unger Genealogy, 27A-Historical Terms, 28A-German Language Newspapers.
WORTHWHILE SOFTWARE FOR THE BUNCH
With over 100 members worldwide, the Burgenland Bunch gets lots of mail. This
is normally simple email easily handled by all systems and servers. On
occasion; however, someone will send an attached file of text or graphics,
even sound. When these attachments are not ASCII text or the more common
text, graphics or sound files, my computer balks and I'm left wondering what
it is that I'm missing.
Recently I ordered "Quick View Plus", a file viewer by INSO. It can be
obtained from Parsons Technology (A Broderbund Company), 1700 Progress Drive,
PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa 52233-0100. Also available at
http://www.parsonstech.com for $49.00 plus $5.00 postage.
Developed for Windows, Quick View Plus gives you easy access to the files of
over 200 programs which develop them, regardless of whether or not you have
those programs on your computer.
"Quick View Plus" installed and worked flawlessly on my Aptiva 486-66 with
Windows 3.1. I was able to open and view some files which had not been
possible previously. A very nice tool. If you receive a lot of files which
your W/P or Graphics software won't open or view, you might like this piece
of software. By the way, Parsons also has some other genealogical goodies
that I can recommend. I keep their Family Origins on my hard disk along with
Personal Ancestral File (PAF) and Family Tree Maker. GJB
NEW MAP SOURCE (from Vicky Weninger)
Vicky sent me copies of maps which she ordered from the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee, The Golda Meir Library, PO Box 399, Milwaukee, WI 53201.
She called the library (1-800-558-8993) and explained she was looking for
maps containing the village of Zahling in Austria and Montecalvo Irpino in
Italy. The library sent her a confirming letter with data explaining the
location of both villages, as well as three maps, 2-scale 1:75,000
(Zahling) and 1:100,000 (Montecalvo). All three are topographic maps showing
roads, terrain and houses in good detail. The Zahling maps are from 1914
(Hungarian) and 1939 (Austrian) and villages have Hungarian names (1914) and
German names (1939). The charge was $7.50. I'm impressed with the map detail
although black and white copies always require close scrutiny.
We receive much mail concerning archive downloading problems. There are many
reasons for this including unfamiliarity with downloading and system
incompatibilities. A sure fire way to download is to go to the Homepage,
click on "Archives" and follow the instructions. AOL members can also
download by using the FTP site addresses and letting AOL download. Notice
that the archives are in ASCII.txt configuration which means you must
download one file at a time, open it with a .txt reader, possibly word wrap
and maybe reconfigure.
END OF NEWSLETTER-EDITED & DISTRIBUTED BY GERALD J. BERGHOLD, For information
concerning the Burgenland Bunch, contact .