Hans Becker


Types and forms of the medieval settlement expansion process in tht central parts of the south of the Eastern Alps

Hans Becker

Geographia Polonica (1978) vol. 38, pp. 25-30 | Full text

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For good reasons the Eastern Alps have been considered to be a regionin which the medieval settlement expansion process in general — and that ofthe High Middle Ages in particular — have proved to be of great importance.Settlements which date back to that time constitute a high percentage of thetotal number of settlements in the Eastern Alps. Numerous special investigationsmade by several authors have always confirmed anew that feudal landlordsor sovereigns initiated and regulated the process of settlement expansion.Therefore it seems understandable that the settlement expansion process directedby landlords is still today considered as the significant type of innercolonization in the Eastern Alps during the High Middle Ages.What has been scarcely noticed, however, is the fact that at the same timethere existed still other types of settlement expansion. Recent publicationshave produced a number of individual examples for this fact; particularly forthe central region in the south of the Eastern Alps. Therefore previous conceptionsof only one type of inner colonization characteristic for the time ofthe High Middle Ages will necessarily have to be modified — at least as faras the region investigated is concerned.On the basis of our present knowledge a first attempt to systematize the differenttypes of medieval settlement expansion for the south of the EasternAlps shall be made and put up for discussion. In addition to that I shall tryto outline the exceptional position of the different types under some aspects ofsocial geography in this special historical period.