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Liber...censualium (1187) (BayHStA HL Freising 6)

Liber...censualium fol. 7Liber censualium fol.7

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The Zensualen-Traditionsbuch of the cathedral chapter of Freising, entitled Noticia censualium mancipiorum specialiter ad ablationem fratrum pertinentium (fol. 2 and again on fol. 7) was devised toward the end of the twelfth century. It belongs to the libri censualium of the Bavarian region, which remain 'an inexhaustible source for research of the social strata of the censualia, about whom we otherwise would know almost nothing' (Ph. Dollinger, Der bayerische Bauernstand, p. 23). These dues-paying peasants are not distinguished by their affiliation to a distinct social group, but by their connection to the cathedral church. They surrendered themselves to the protection of the church, frequently through the renunciation of their personal freedom, mostly for an annual payment (census) of five denarii, which was used to support the lords of the Freising cathedral. However, nobles, especially women, also took refuge within the protection of the diocese's saints, Sts. Mary and Corbinian. Bavarian counts, above all Otto I of Scheyern (d. 1072) and his son Otto II (1072-1110), both of whom were also advocates of the Freising bishops and the cathedral chapter, or Gebhard of Sulzbach in 1187 (cf. fol. 16), gave unfree servants (servientes) to Freising for the sake of their own souls. They also protected by means of property conveyances to Freising members of their ministerial families as well as their wealth from the demands of their dependents. The observable rise in the twelfth century of unfree social groups within the domain of cities and episcopal seats occurred in the Bavarian region often through a release into dues obligations (censualitas), therefore by means of a personal transfer of protection to the episcopal church and its patrons, indeed in the reciprocal combination of freedom and obligation typical of the middle ages. Consequently, at that time the social background of the bishop of Freising fundamentally changed, which probably was connected to the urbanization of the episcopal seat. After all, donors within the Zensualen-Traditionsbuch of the cathedral chapter of Freising are frequently traceable to persons from the class of suburbani who have given themselves or their servants over to the cathedral church.

The manuscript consists of 49 pages in all, namely the Zensualen-Traditionsbuch for the cathedral chapter from fol. 2 to fol. 34 with three complete quaternions, fol. 2-25, a separately constituted text bound into the codex (Einbindung) as fol. 26 and 33, and an incomplete fourth quaternion. On fol. 34v, line four, a marginal cross marks the end of the Kopialbuch. Folios 35 to 49 constitute a collection of fragments, which apparently did not belong to the manuscript, when Karl Meichelbeck wrote his Historia Frisingensis between 1724 and 1729. Fol. 1 is a fly-leaf with a passage taken from a manuscript of the Gospel of John: John 4, 10-33, 'Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well.'

The Zensualen-Traditionsbuch contains in the main text over 100 individual conveyances of property, mostly 2-7 lines in length. It was written in brown tinted ink by two hands at the end of the twelfth century, one of whom wrote 32 letters per line, the other, 46-48. Additional entries of Zensualen-agreements on the lower margin of every page reveal an expansion of the Traditionsbuch in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The plan of this register book might have been influenced by contacts to the episcopal chancery in Regensburg in the year 1187. Conrad Sacristan, who at that time completed a copy of Cozroh's Liber Traditionum, might have been in charge. The oldest copied text reaches back more than three generations to the tenure of Bishop Meginward (1078-1098). The design of this register book indicates a kind of Stammbuch (family book) of the families belonging to the protection of Freising. It was intended on the one hand to establish the origins of legal transfers, and on the other to project links to the next generation. An example of an early protection arrangement is transmitted as an original document in the fragment collection of the manuscript HL Freising 6 on fol. 43, which appears in Theodor Bitterauf's edition as TF 1474. In this charter, the nobilis femina nomine Engila surrendered herself to the protection of St. Mary at Freising during the time of Bishop Meginward, though without having to pay an annual personal census.



Adelheid Krah (IOeG, Universität Wien)
Translated by Hans Hummer (Wayne State University)



  • Philippe Dollinger, Der bayerische Bauernstand vom 9. bis zum 13. Jahrhundert. Vom Verfasser autorisierte Übersetzung aus dem Französischen von Ursula Irsigler, hg. v. Franz Irsigler, München 1982.
  • Karl Brunner, Herzogtümer und Marken. Vom Ungarnsturm bis ins 12. Jahrhundert. Österreichische Geschichte 907-1156, hg. v. Herwig Wolfram, Wien 1994, Zinsleute S. 415-419 [pdf].
  • Knut Schulz, Zensualität und Stadtentwicklung im 11./12. Jahrhundert, in: Bernhard Diestelkamp (Hg.), Beiträge zum hochmittelalterlichen Städtewesen. Städteforschung A/11, Köln, Wien 1982, S. 72-93.
  • Ders., Freikauf in der Gesellschaft des Hochmittelalters. Dargestellt an bayerischen Quellen, in: Uwe Bestmann u. a. (Hg.), Hochfinanz Wirtschaftsräume Innovation (Festschrift für Wolfgang von Stromer Bd. 3) Trier 1987, S. 1197-1226.
  • Ders., Zensualen, Zinsleute, Zensualität, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters Bd. 9, München 1998, Sp. 530-534.
  • Joachim Wild, Libri censualium, in: Gerhard Hetzer, Bodo Uhl (Hg.), Festschrift Hermann Rumschöttel zum 65. Geburtstag (Archivalische Zeitschrift 88) Bd. 2, Köln, Wien 2006, S. 1105-1122. [pdf]


Institut für Oesterreichische Geschichtsforschung Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Bavarian State Library


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