The church as colonist: the benedictine abbey of Lorsch and planned Waldhufen colonization in the Odenwald
DOI: 10.1016/0305-7488(83)90218-9
Title: The church as colonist: the benedictine abbey of Lorsch and planned Waldhufen colonization in the Odenwald
Journal Title: Journal of Historical Geography
Volume: 9
Issue: 2
Publication Date: April 1983
Start Page: 105
End Page: 126
Published online: online 26 August 2004
ISSN: 0305-7488
Author: Hans-Jü;rgen Nitz
Abstract: ill uncertain whether earlier Waldhufen row settlements with single strip farms in the west of Germany served as models for this type of village, so widely diffused in east central Europe from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries. In the Odenwald hills Waldhufen settlements were introduced as early as the late eighth century when the imperial monastery of Lorsch started to colonize a royal forest donated by Charlemagne. At first the abbey founded a small Waldhufe for dependent peasants of the manorial villicatio system, but later an enlarged version of strip farms incorporating large portions of forest—the classical Waldhufe—was developed by economically more independent farmers. Also a systematic network of central places in the form of villicatio centres and castle settlements was established within the colonization area. From the Lorsch colonies the diffusion of the Waldhufen settlement model can be traced to the neighbouring Spessart and to the distant Black Forest through personal contacts of territorial lords with Lorsch. Similar connections to one of the leading colonists in the Frankenwald may have brought the idea even to the east central European Waldhufen region in the early twelfth century.

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