a tract of land—pasture, forest, meadow, wasteland, or fishing area—used commonly by the members of one or several territorial communes (or marks) among the German peoples in the early Middle Ages and in the countries of Western Europe in the later Middle Ages.
The Allmende was a necessary mainstay of the peasant economy. In the course of the development of feudal relations the Allmende gradually decreased, and the sovereign right to its ownership passed to the feudal lords, who sought to gain personal control over it or its parts (in French, triage). Demands for free access to the communal land tracts or for their return were voiced in the majority of peasant uprisings of the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
The breaking up of the old agricultural order and the penetration of capitalist relations into the village resulted in the complete abolition of the Allmende. In England the Allmende became the property of the landlords during the enclosures; in France the triage was done away with during the Great French Revolution and the communal lands were distributed among the members of the communes. In a number of countries—for example, western and southern Germany, Switzerland, and Scandinavia—remnants of the Allmende may be found even in modern times.
L. A. KOTEL’NIKOVA