ALLO'DIUM, or ALO'DIUM, pro perty held in absolute dominion, without rendering any service, rent, fealty, or other consideration whatsoever to a supe rinr.cUDAL TENURE.] It is opposed to Feo UM or Fief [FIEF; FEUDAL Sys TEN], which means property the use of which is bestowed by the proprietor upon another, on condition that the person to whom the gift is made shall perform cer tain services to the giver, upon failure of which, or upon the determination of the period to which the gift was confined, the property reverts to the original possessor. Hence arises the mutual relation of lord and vassal.
When the barbarian tribes from the northern parts of Europe overran the Western Roman empire, in the fifth and sixth centuries, they made a partition of the conquered provinces between them selves and the former possessors. The lands which were thus acquired by the Franks, the conquerors of Gaul, were termed allodial. These were subject to no burden except that of military service, the neglect of which was punished with a fine (called Heribannum) proportioned to the wealth of the delinquent. They all the children equally, or, in of children, to the next of kin of the last proprietor. Of these allodial possessions there was a peculiar species denominated Salle, from which females were excluded. Besides the lands distri buted among the nation of the Franks, others termed fiscal lands (from Fiscus, a word which, among the Romans, ori ginally signified the property which be longed to the emperor as emperor) were set apart to form a fund which might support the dignity of the king, and sup ply him with the means of rewarding merit and encouraging valour. These, under the name of benefices (beneficia), were granted to favoured subjects, upon the condition, either expressed or implied, of the grantees rendering to the king per sonal service in the field. It has been supposed by some writers, that these be nefices were originally resumable at plea sure, that they were subsequently granted for life, and finally became hereditary. But there is no satisfactory proof of the first stage in this progress. (Hallam, Middle Ages, vol. i. chap. 2, 8th ed.) From the end of the fifth to the end of the eighth century, the allodial tenures prevailed in France. But there were so many advantages attending the bene ficiary tenure, that even in the eighth century it appears to have gained ground considerably. The composition for homi cide, the test of rank among the barbarous nations of the north of Europe, was, in the case of a king's vassal, treble the amount of what it was in the case of an ordinary free-born Frank. A contuma cious resistance on the part of the former to the process of justice in the king's courts, was passed over in silence ; white the latter, for the same offence, was punished with confiscation of goods. The latter also was condemned to undergo the ordeal of boiling water for the least crimes; the former, for murder only. A vassal of the kind was not obliged to give evidence against his fellow-vassal in the king's courts. Moreover, instead of paying a fine, like the free allodialist, for neglect of military service, he had only to abstain from flesh and wine for as many days as he had failed in attendance upon the army. (Montesquieu, Esprit des lib. xxxi.) The allodial proprietors, wishing to acquire the important privileges of king's vassals, without losing their domains, in vented the practice of surrendering them to the king, in order to receive them back for themselves and their heirs upon the feudal conditions. When the benefices once became hereditary, the custom of what is called subinfeudation followed ; that is to say, the possessors granted por tions of their estates to be holden of them selves by a similar tenure. This custom
began to in ground even in the eighth century ; but the disorders which ensued upon the death of Charlemagne in the ninth century, paved the way to the esta blishment of the feudal system upon a more extended basis. The vast empire which had been held together by the wisdom and vigour of one man, now crumbled into pieces. The provincial governors usurped the authority and tyrannized over the subjects of his feeble descendants. The Hungarians, a tribe that emerged from Asia at the latter end of the ninth century, spread terror and devastation over Germany, Italy, and part of France. The Scandinavian pirates, more commonly known by the name of Normans, infested the coast with perpetual incursions. Against this complication of evils, the only defence was in the reel. procity of service and protection afforded by the feudal system. The allodial pro prietor was willing, upon any terms, to exchange the name of liberty for the se curity against rapine and anarchy which a state of vassalage offered. In the course of the tenth and eleventh centuries alio dial lands in France became for the most part feudal ; that is, either they were Bur rendered by their owners, and received back as simple fiefs, where the owner was compelled to acknowledge himself the man or vassal of some lord, on the supposition of an original grant which had never been made, or as ,fiefs de protection, where the submission was expressly grounded upon a compact of mutual defence. Similar changes took place in Italy and Germany, though not to the same extent. But in most of the southern provinces of France, where the Roman law prevailed, the an cient tenure always subsisted, and lands were generally presumed to be allodial unless the contrary was shown. And in Germany, according to Du Cange (Gloss. " Baroues") a class of men called Semper Barons held their lands allodially. With respect to England, it has always been a question whether the feudal system was established there before or after the Nor man Conquest. [FEUDAL SYSTEM] At present allodial possessions are unknown in England, all land being held mediately or immediately of the king. The name for the most absolute dominion over pro perty of this nature is a Fee (Feodum), or an estate in fee, a word which implies a feudal relation. Hence it is, that when a man possessed of an estate in fee dies without heirs, and without having de vised his property by will, the estate escheats, or falls back to the lord of whom it was holden : or, where there is no in termediate lord, to the king as lord para mount. The term allodium is also some times applied to an estate inherited from an ancestor, as opposed to one which is acquired by any other means. (Spelman, Gloss. " Alodium.") The Latinized forms of this word nre various :—Alodis, Alodus, Alodium, A Mu dum, and others. The French forms ere Aleu, Aleu Franc or Frank Aleu, Franc alond, Franc-aloy, and Franc-aleuf. f'n many old charters Alodum is explaiwd by Hereditas, or heritable estate. But it is very difficult to collect any theory fro the numerous passages in which the weld occurs which shall satisfactorily explain its etymology. (Du Cange, GG " Alodis ;" Spelman, Glossarium.) The view here taken of the nature of allodial lands, and of the change of this property into feudal tenures, is not free from great difficulties. There is a very elaborate article on allodial land in the of Rotteck and Welc ker, under the head " Alodium."