GEORGE RIPLEY AND CHARLES A. DANA.
D . A P P L E T O N . A N D . C O M P A N Y,
549 & 551 BROADWAY.
LONDON: 16 LITTLE BRITAIN.
ALLODIUM, in law, signifies a landed possession; freed from all feudal tenure or service. Several explanations have been given of the etymology of the word, but they are all only more or less ingenious conjectures. In early ages the allodium was the most desirable property. In process of time the anarchy consequent on the want of a supreme power made the mutual protection and support of lord and vassal more expedient; and in England all land passed into fee land, the king being suzerain of the whole country. The theory still remains in slight services, or in small fee farm rents; and in the escheat to the sovereign for want of heirs. In France, before the revolution of 1789, the actual serces still remained; not nominal, but real, unequivocal, and in some cases odious burdens; serfdom, indeed, was only abolished by and express decree of the assembly. Nulle terre sans seigneur was a maxim of law, and the tyranny and monstrous oppressions of the local seigneur proved that it was no dead letter. In Germany the allodium yet remains to be perfected. The system of man service is not yet exploded, such as the right to several days' work in harvest, or at hunting parties; although this is much modified, particularly in Prussia, of late years. The conversion of the feudal soil into allodial land is effected either by means of an annual fee rent, or of a fine payable at once, in lieu of all customary services. Even in 1595 the last traces of bondage and serfdom in England were not obliterated. A patent to Sir Henry Lea was issued by the crown, giving power to this individual, as commissioner, to enfranchisae a limited number of crown villeins, and to seize all the rest of the estates acquired by parties in villanage, to his own use. This monstrous commission, which was, like many other similar enormities, a means of enriching some needy or profligate courtier, at the expense of the people, could not have operated except in the case of crown serfs : the doctrine nullum tempus occurrit regi, [no time runs against the sovereign -RS] coming into operation against the unfornuate landholders whose title was barred by the impurity of their blood. In the case of subjects, villanage had become obsolete.