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freely transferable individual and family property in land during the early stages of feudalism in Western Europe, which survived under fully developed feudalism.

The beginning of such absolute, or late, alodium, which replaced for the Germanic tribes the communal collective forms of proprietorship, was preceded by transitional forms. At first movable and immovable property—the so-called early alodium—remained the common property of a comparatively narrow circle of kin—the large family. Later the right of the commune members to inherit parcels of arable land was restricted to the sons of the deceased. (This limitation was first set down legally in Salic Law.) The formation of the alodium on the territory of the former Western Roman Empire was hastened by the influence of the absolute, or Roman-type, right to land ownership that had survived here. Late alodium became established toward the beginning of the sixth century among the Visigoths, toward the end of the sixth century among the Franks, and in the seventh and eighth centuries among the majority of the other Germanic tribes (but among the Saxons and Frisians only at the beginning of the ninth century). In the conditions in which feudal relations originated, alodium and the transformation of the land into an object of donation, object of sale and purchase, etc., led, on the one hand, to a sharp increase in property stratification among members of the communes and to the gradual loss by the majority of them of their land allotments and, on the other hand, to the formation and growth of vast feudal landownership. With the development of feudal relations the majority of small freeholders were drawn into feudal dependence and their alodial lands turned into dependent peasant holdings. The alodiums of the large and medium landowners gradually gave way to conventional feudal proprietorship—benefice and then feodum. However, alodial proprietorship was to some extent preserved in England, Italy, Spain, Germany (mainly in Saxony), and especially southern France and Scandinavia.

The votchina in Russia, the mul’k in the countries of the Near and Middle East, the chzhuantian’ in China, and the seen in Japan corresponded to some extent to the alodial property of the feudal lords.


Engels, F. “Frankskii period.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 19.
Neusykhin, A. I. Vozniknovenie zavisimogo krest’ianstva kak klassa rannefeodal’nogo obshchestva ν Zapadnoi Evrope VI-VIII vv. Moscow, 1956.
Neusykhin, A. I. “K voprosu ob evoliutsii form sem’i i zemel’nogo alloda u allemannov v VI-IX vv.” In the collection Srednie veka, issue 8. Moscow, 1956.
Gurevich, A. Ia. “Problema zemel’noi sobstvennosti ν dofeodal’nykh i rannefeodal’nykh obshchestvakh Zapadnoi Ev-ropy.” Voprosy istorii, 1968, no. 4. (The author questions the view which holds that allodiums were freely transferable property.)