The Northern Way

Commentary To the Germanic Laws and Medieval Documents

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On Romance territory sag- has stopped at the original meaning "to confiscate." From the elventh century on the sources are abundant as to the fact that after a piece of property was adjudicated to the plaintiff, he had to "seize" the property by force, and that such seizure was by no means a mild affair is seen from the equation of saisia and invasio. (95) In Normandy private seizure was counted among the heavy crimes, (96) but it was prescribed by law if the courts had properly adjudicated the property, and even the king could not seize church property without due process of law. (97) Here we have not only seisiscere "to take possession," but also disaisiscere "to dispossess." Similar meanings are given to saisire and dissaisire in Norman England, (98) where on account of the forcible occupation of the land no other title than the one by seisin was valid. (99)

An older form for this dissaisire has had a checkered career in the Italian formula of dispossession in Carolingian documents. In the Frankish werpicio the customary expression is "se exitum dicere, facere," (100) also "se exutum facere." (101) The whole formula, even as the werpicio itself, has arisen from the late Roman traditio, wherefore we find in the Ostrogothic documents "se exisse excessisse discessisseque dicere." (102) As the tendency was to substitute foris for ex, (103) we get the expression forisfacere, which originally had the meaning "to commit a misdemeanor," but now acquired the additional meaning "to forfeit." (104) But far more popular was absacire for "to give up possession," and this word not being clearly understood it has assumed a large number of extravagant forms. (105) Sacire never became very popular in Italy. Although sasire, sagire, saxire, xasire are recorded since the twelfth century (106) and dissagire, resagire were used in the south, (107) these forms give way to the much more frequent staggire, which, however, has arisen in an entirely different manner.

In 361 the Romans promulgated a law of hospitale ius, (108) according to which soldiers and servants of the state were to be billeted in private houses. This was merely an extension of a previous usage, for in 333 teachers were exempted from the burden of keeping hospites, (109) and ten years later the clergy were included in this immunity. (110) With these exceptions no one could be freed from the obligation, (111) by which a third of the house was turned over to the metatores or mensores, as the billeting officers were called. The Germans, as is well known, appropriated to themselves a third of the Roman possessions, where they considered themselves to be the hospites, or two thirds, where they looked upon the Romans as in their service. To this I shall return later. Here I shall only mention that the right of quartering, hospitaticum, hospitalitas, hospitium, is asserted throughout the Middle Ages, when it was frequently attended by violence. (112) The Germans correctly translated hospitium by heriberga "soldiers' quarters," (113) which has produced English harbour "protection," harbinger "metator, billeting officer." In Anglo-Saxon the word is lacking, and Norse heriberga is obviously borrowed from the German.

As hospes was a person who was quartered upon another, it naturally lent itself as a synonoym for "surety, warrantee, hostage." In the Cronicae of Fredegar hospes is used exclusively for "hostage," (114) and the same expression is employed in the letters of Paul I. to Pipin. (115) In the eleventh century the Frankish documents suddenly begin to substitute hostis for hospes in the threefold meaning of "guest, renter, and surety," so that there can be no doubt as to their identity. Fortunately we have the documentary history of this change. In 904 Berengarius issued for the church at Asti an immunity, which has been very frequently repeated until late into the eleventh century. Here the phrase occurs, "nulla denique magna parvaque publica persona eos hostaticum facere compellat," (116) where hostaticum can be nothing but in hostem ire, "to take part in military expeditions," of the older documents. The ending -aticum was generally used for taxes, hence the incomprehensible word of the much quoted immunity was transferred to the exemption from certain obligations, (117) where it apparently had no definite meaning. In France, where this immunity must have originated, hostaticum was in the eleventh century considered a synonym for hospitaticum, and was used wherever derivatives from hospes had been employed before, that is, for "surety" (118) and for the taxes of the hospes, the emphyteutic peasant. (119) To this was soon added hostis for hospes, and thus arose the modern French hôte, ôtage, hôtel, etc., while in Italy ostaticum, ostagium, under the influence of sagire, produced stazire, stagire "confiscate," stasina "confiscation." (120) This stazire was understood as extasire, and to this was formed intesire, intensire, tesire, tensire. (121)


95. "Invasionem, vulgari vocabulo saisiam dictam, propria manu facere," H. Morice, Mémoires pour servir de preunes à l'histoire ecclésiastique et civile de Bretagne, Paris 1742, vol. I, col. 591. [Back]

96. "Si clericus raptum fecerit vel furtum, vel aliquem percusserit....aut assultum fecerit, aut aliquid saisierit" (1080), Teulet, Layettes du Trésor des chartes, Vol. I, p. 27. [Back]

97. "Si episcopi aliquid quod hic non sit scriptum in regis curia monstrare possunt se habuisse tempore Roberti comitis vel Willelmi regis, ejus concessione, rex eis non tollit quin bene habeant; tantummodo illud nullatenus seisiscant, donec in curia ejus monstrarent quod habere debeant. Similiter et laicis propter hoc scriptum rex nil tollit quod in curia regis monstrare possint episcopos non debere habere; tantummodo episcopos inde non disaisscant, donec in curia sit monstratum quod episcopi inde habere non debeant," ibid., p. 28. [Back]

98. "Si quis hominem habeat qui et nolit esse ad rectum, si quid de eo tenet, post legittimam submonicionem saisiri faciat," Leg. Henrici 61. 18c; "postquam aliquis dissaisitus legem uel rectum domino suo uadiauerit et plegios, si opus est, addiderit, saisitus esse debet," ibid., 53. 6. [Back]

99. K. E. Digby, An Introduction to the History of Real Property, Oxford 1884, p. 92 ff. [Back]

100. "Per durpilum et festucam sibi foras exitum, alienum vel spoliatum in omnibus esse dixit, et omnia werpivit," MHG., Formulae, p. 492, and similarly pp. 188, 190, 200, 210, 492, 547; "per mea fistuca de jamdicta rem illa exitum feci" (870), Bibl. de l'Ec. des chartes, vol. LXIX, p. 661; "se in omnibus dixit exitum," ibid.; "se in omnebus de ipso monasthyriolo....dixit esse exitum" (703), Tardif, op. cit., p. 35; "sibi exinde dixit esse exitum" (750), ibid., p. 44; "unde et ipse Gerardus ex praedictos teloneos se exitum dixit coram eis" (759), Cartulaire général de Paris, Vol. I, p. 29; "se exinde in presenti dixit esse exitum" (703), Lauer and Samaran, Les diplômes originaux des Mérovingiens, Paris 1908, p. 21; "ut de ipsas villas se exigere fecisset" (782), Devic and vaissete, op. cit., Vol. II, Preuves, col. 50. [Back]

101. "Supradictas rebus se exutum fecit" (870), Bibl. de l'Ec. des chartes, vol. LIX, p. 261. [Back]

102. "Inque bacuam possessionem rei ss. supra venditor eundem emptori actoresque ejus in rem ire mittere ingredi possidereque permisit hac (ac) suos omnes inde ex eadem rem exisse excessisse dissesseque dixit" (540), Marini, I pap. dipl., p. 175; "omnes solidos (suous) inde exisse excessisse descessisseque dicxerunt" (539 or 546), ibid., p. 173; "suos omnes inde exisse et excessisse discessique dixit" (572), ibid., p. 184; "se suosque omnes exinde exisse excessisse discessisseque dixit" (end of 6. cent.), ibid., p. 185. [Back]

103. "Dico me meosque omnes exinde a presenti die foras exissent" (769), HPM., vol. XIII, col. 71. [Back]

104. "De qua suprascripta et predesignata proprietate terre et case cooperte et discoperte ex toto per omnia et in omnibus, et etiam desuper omnia me foris facio et ipsam in tua potestate relinquo et refuto" (1218), F. Cornelius, Ecclesiae Venetae, Venetiis 1749, vol. IX, p. 388. The notary of this document has raised the notarial style to an art by quoting every known formula of antiquity. The whole document is unique. [Back]

105. Absacito (814), HPM., vol. I, col. 40; absasito (890), ibid., vol. XIII, cols. 576, 910, 912, 1033; 1078, 1079, vol. I, cols. 165, 169, 183, 189; absasita (991), ibid., vol. I, cols. 288, 306, 610; absascito (990), ibid., vol. XIII, col. 1502; abasasito (903), ibid., col. 1332; absito (976), ibid., col. 1357; absasisito (973), ibid., col. 1306; absaxito (928), ibid., col. 895, vol. I, cols. 302. 505; absarcito (986), Ughelli, Italia sacra, vol. IV, col. 843; absarsito (966), HPM., vol. I, col. 209; apsasire (980), ibid., col. 258; absititum (995), Ughelli, op cit., vol. III, col. 39; adsasito (999), HPM., vol. XIII, cols. 1758, 1761; assassito (999), ibid., col. 1763, vol. I, col. 592; ausasito (967), ibid., col. 1222; autsasito (966), ibid., col. 1213; hautsasito (936), ibid., vol. I, col. 140; absesi (979), U. Pasqui, Documenti per la storia della città di Arezzo, Firenze 1899, p. 109; asentam (963), HPM., vol. XIII. col.. 1157; asentem, ibid., vol. I, cols. 614, 669; absentes, ibid., cols. 551, 566, 585, 600; apsente, ibid., cols. 558, 637. [Back]

106. L. Frati, Statuti di Bologna, vol. III, in the Vocabulary. "Iura et bona ad prefatum monasterium pertinentia sepissime occupavimus, seysivimus, perturbavimus per bannum et per alias oppressiones innumeras....omnen vim cuiuscumque oppressionis, occupationis, seysicionis inferende in homines" (1212), Bullettino dell' istituto storico italiano, vol. XVIII, p. 113. [Back]

107. "Iniuste et sine ratione inextitit dissagitus" (1185), Camera, Storia....di Amalfi, vol. I, p. 368; "Goffridus iniuste et sine iudicio sola auctoritate sua dissagivit ecclesiam sancti Nicolai de quibusdam terris suis de ecclesia sancti Petri de scavezulis.....eandem ecclesiam resagiri facias de ipsis terris sicut inde prius sagita fuerat" (1180), Cod. dip. barese, vol. V, p. 250; "Goffridus Gentile dissagivit ecclesiam beati Nicolai auctoritate et ve sua de quibusdam terris....Goffridus Gentile resagivit predictam ecclesiam" (1196), ibid., vol. VI, p. 5. [Back]

108. Cod. Theod. VII. 8. 1. [Back]

109. XIII. 3. 3. [Back]

110. XVI. 2. 8. [Back]

111. "Ab hospitalitatis munere domum privatorum nullus excuset," VII. 8. 3. [Back]

112. "Quando etiam Episcopos, Abbates, vel Comites, seu fidelium nostrorum quempiam in propria villa morari contigerit, cum suis in suis maneant domibus, ne sub obtentu hospiti vicinos opprimant, vel eorum bona diripiant," Synodus Tycinensis ann. 855; "ut in domibus Ecclesiarum neque missus, neque comes, vel judex quasi pro consuetudine neque placitum, neque hospitium vindicent," Concilium annonym. ann. 904; "preterea concedimus predictis civibus (Luccae), ut nostrum regale palatium intra civitatem vel in burgo eorum non hedificent aut inibi vi vel potestate hospitia capiantur" (1081), J. Ficker, Urkunden zur Reichs- und Rechtsgeschichte Italiens, Innsbruck 1874, p. 125; "at vero homines Uchezoni, canonico super ipsam terram bis quiete hospitato, tunc tercio per vim eiecerunt" (1138), ibid., p. 153; "nullaque imperii nostri magna vel parva persona....molestare, divestire, angariare vel violenter hospitare....audeat," ibid., p. 270. [Back]

113. "Hospitalitatem quem vulgo herbergiam vocant," J. Laurent, Cartulaire de Molesme, p. 151. [Back]

114. "Quam plures hospitibus ab eis accepit," MGH., Scrip. rer. merov., vol. II, p. 177; "hospites dederunt mutuo," p. 196; "dederunt invicem mutuo hospites," p. 197; "receptis hospitibus," p. 197; "datis hospitibus et mutuo acceptis," p. 198. Krusch (Neues Archiv, vol. VII, p. 513), who did not see the relation between hospes and hostis, said as follows: "Sehr merkwürdig ist ferner die Verwechslung von 'obsides' und 'hospites'; Geiseln nennt der fränkische Verfasser der Origo stets 'hospites.'" [Back]

115. "Ut nostros ad tuam Excellentiam dirigere debeamus Missos, et suos hospites, quos ibidem ad vos habere videtur, recipere debeat....ut jubeas ipsos hospites praedicto filio nostro Desiderio Regi restitutere" (762), Troya, Cod. dipl., vol. V, p. 193 f.; "neque praelatos hospites permittitis parti Langobardorum restituere" (764 or 758), ibid., p. 264. [Back]

116. L. Schiaparelli, I diplomi di Berengario I., Roma 1903, p. 148; ostaticum (918), ibid., p. 310; ostiaticum (1037), Codice diplomatico padovano dal secolo sesto a tutto l'undecimo, p. 151; ostaticum (1047), ibid., p. 184. [Back]

117. "Et sint liberi et soluti cum omnibus suis adiacentiis, vineis, campis, olivetis, cultis et incultis, mobilibus et immobilibus, Toloneis Ripaticis Hostiaticis" (969), Odorici, Storie Bresciane, vol. IV, p. 96; "et nullus potestative in eorum mansionibus ingredi temptet, nemoque illos de eorum proprietatibus absque imperiali iudicio audeat investire, Ripaticum, tholoneum, hostiaticum, aut aliquam publicam functionem ab eis aliquid exigat" (1155), ibid., vol. V, p. 107; "et cedimus illis per hanc nostri precepti vel concessionis paginam portaticum toloneum ripaticum et opstaticum et absque aliqua publica functione quiete vivere" (969), MGH., Diplomata regum, vol. I, p. 511. [Back]

118. "Miserunt se in ostaticum de jamdictis comite et comitissa et illorum filiorum apud Gerundam...inde omnes istos ostaticos praedictos aut unum aut duos ex illis, faciant emendare ipsum omne si aliquis de praedictis ostaticis mortuus fuerit, jamdicti vicecomes et vicecomitissa mittant alium ostaticum vel alios non minus valentes in potestatem jamdicti comitis" (1070), Devic and Vaissete, op. cit., vol. V, col. 577 ff.; "dabit ostaticos decem, quales ipsa comitissa voluerit, de ipso onore que non l' al tolla ni l'al anpar" (1083), Teulet, op. cit., vol. I, p. 29; "dans, post se, octo ostacios per fides suas.....Isti siquidem tenebunt tamdiu ostagium suum secundum masiones suas.......quamdiu unusquisque moras habuerit in reddendum centum solidos" (1093), G. Musset, Cartulaire de Saint-Jean d'Angély, in Archives de la Saintonge et de l'Aunis, vol. XXX, p. 235. [Back]

119. "De hostagiis autem, id est censibus domorum, quoniam inolevit nequitia ut plerumque post longos temporum decursus et generationum permutationes hi qui hostagia debent ea ab Ecclesia abalienare et sciscitantes unde ea debeant libertatem quam nec habent nec habere debent, sibi usurpare contendunt, dignum ac necessarium duxi, loca ipsa in quibus et de quibus debentur, eos quoque qui debent nominatim discernere," Van Drival, Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Saint-Vaast d'Arras 1875, p. 102 f. [Back]

120. "Stazire vel sequestrari," F. Bonaini, Statuti inediti della città di Pisa, vol. I, p. 232; "stasina," ibid., p. 232, etc. [Back]

121. "Praedari vel intesiri, vel in praedam aliquo casu concedi," Statuta Lucensis civitatis 1539, lib. I, cap. CLIX, "Intensina seu sequestrum intensire," Liber statutorum Arretii 1580, p. 104; "Teneatur potestas in continenti facta accusatione vel documentatione de aliquo maleficio perpetrato vel commisso ab aliqua persona, invenire vel facere et tesire (tensire) vel tesiri facere bona omnia accusate persone," L. Zdekauer, Statutum potestatis comunis Pistorii, p. 115 f. [Back]

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