Masterscriptie 21 juni 2021
The purpose of this master thesis is to reopen the debate on the allocation of common land in early medieval Europe. More specifically, the question is asked: What evidence exists for common land in the Central Netherlands during the Carolingian period (c. 750-900 AD)?
The first chapter introduces the geographical framework and investigates in which of the subregions the rights to waste- or woodland might have been shared by group(s) of peasants. The second chapter examines the historiographical debate on the emergence and existence of common land by analysing the Mark, Domanial and Scarcity theory, as being competing paradigms. In the third chapter the written sources for common land are introduced, through the analysis of opposing interpretations of the terms ‘marca’, ‘scara’ and ‘silva communis’. These terms have at least in the Mark theory been considered to indicate the presence of common land. In addition, in the fourth chapter, some archaeological clues for the presence or absence of common land are examined. As a result, it is suggested that the evidence for the presence of common land in the Carolingian Central Netherlands remains highly ambiguous. The existence of common land can therefore, on the basis of the available evidence, not be proven nor disproven.