Schildgeld und Heersteuer

Eine vergleichende Studie zur Entwicklung lehnsrechtlicher Strukturen durch die Umwandlung vasallitischer Kriegsdienste in Geldabgaben im normannisch-frühangevinischen England und staufischen Reich

[Scutage and Military Levies
Comparing the Development of Feudal Legal Structures in Norman/Early Angevin England and the Hohenstaufen Empire through the Transformation of Vassal Military Service in the Form of Tribute

Carsten Fischer

Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte 279
Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann 2013. XIX, 391 p.

ISSN 1610-6040
ISBN 978-3-465-04178-8

Tensions between the reciprocal rights and duties of lords and vassals pervaded feudal law in the High Middle Ages. Military service was one aspect of vassal duties. Payments in kind were increasingly monetised through the course of the High Middle Ages, and tributes gained currency relative to practical military service. This study investigates such vassal tributes and their effects on feudal legal structures during the High Middle Ages in Europe. The work surveys certificates, law books and narrative sources to reconstruct the forms of scutage (scutagium) and military levies (hersture) in Norman/early Angevin England and in the Hohenstaufen Empire. These two forms of tribute are then compared to show that, through properly functioning fiscal administration, Norman-Angevin lords were able to gain new leverage on the economic strength of their English feudal league to record and make good on their lordly claims. By contrast, military levies did not intensify the lords’ use of vassals’ economic assets. Rather, they served as stakes in negotiating vassals’ duties in particular feudal relationships. Moreover, they symbolised Frederick Barbarossa’s imperial claim to vassal service and demonstrated his ruling position in and over the feudal hierarchy. The main obstacle to a more systematic use of the military levies for fiscal purposes in the Hohenstaufen Empire was the lack of a permanent administration.

The comparison of feudal regulatory instruments provides insights into the contemporary functions of feudal law and the medieval concept of law more generally. This reinforces the role of high medieval feudal law as a flexible tool of regulation and rule that could be applied to various social and political contexts.

This work was honoured with the Award of the 2014 Rechtshistorikertag (the biannual German Legal History Conference).

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