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les Enluminures

Terrier [Land-Holdings] of the Town of Karben (Hesse, Germany)

In German, manuscript on parchment
Germany, Karben, 1483

TM 289

6 ff., apparently complete, with the exception of the original seal which lacks (collation i6), written in brown ink in batarde cursive for the text and in Gothic textura in red ink for the date, on 40-45 long lines (justification 110 x 270-290 mm.), with initials stroked in red ink. Unbound, originally tied together by a suspended seal (wanting). Dimensions 358 x 133 mm.

This is an excellent example of a “terrier” or land record for the town of Karben, which was an important center near the Rhine in medieval Germany. The important Order of the Teutonic Knights, cited frequently in the manuscript, were based in Kloppenheim (modern-day Karben). In addition to facilitating the study of diplomatics, paleography, and seigniorial administration, the document is rich in local history, full of references to the geography and toponymy of the area and to the citizens living there.


1. Terrier compiled under the direction of the priest of Klein-Karben, probably for the family of Karben; completed in a cursive hand of the 16th century (f. 6r, additions, three additional plots of land described.

2. Several additional notes, of which one is more modern (f. 6v), “Burggräfenroder Akkerbuch de anno 1483,” which indicate that the manuscript must have remained in possession of the Karben family until relatively recently.

3. Modern notes: “54” (f. 6v).


ff. 1-5v, Terrier de (Gross-) Karben; ff. 1-2, Part 1, title, “Daz Suerborn Felt”; incipit, “Item daz stuck hinder Carben liget neben jongher Waltern von Vilwil helt dry morgen mynder xv girten. Item eyne stoeck lyget neben herrn Gelbracht Weysen, helt xxii roden. Item aber eyne stoeck neben herrn Gelbracht Weysen, helt vii sirtel, minus eyn roden… “ ; explicit, “und xx roden. Summa lia morgen und xiii roden.”; (ff. 2r-3v), Part 2, title, “Daz felt geyne der breyden eyche”; incipit, “Item eyne stoeck neben den dogeln, helt iii morgen und xxiii roden”; explicit, “und xx roden. Summa liiii morgen eyn halb firtel und iii roden”; (ff. 3v-4v), Part 3, title, “Daz Cleyn cerber felt gen den wingartn”; incipit, “Item eyne stuoeck lit neben Leyderman und zuget zu der leyme kuten zu helt iii firtel und iiii rode”; explicit, “… und xv roden. Summa lv morgen, eyn halben morgen minus xii roden. Summa sumarum C lx morgen und eyne firteil, vii roden”; (ff. 4v-5v), Part 4, title, “Die Wesen”; incipit, “Item eyne wesen uff dem broell neben der bach, helt eyn morgen minus x roden, hait burergin. Item eyne wesen uff der baude wesen, neben den dogeln, helt ii morgen und iiii roden, hait Gerhart”; explicit, “item aber eyne stock im klopheymer felde, neben hen von Wasen, helt eyn halben morgen und xviii roden etc.”; (f. 5v), date (in red), “Anno Domini m° cccc° lxxx iii°”; (f. 5v), final account, “Summa summarum der wesen xlviii morgen und x roden.”

f. 6, Colophon, “Wyr hernoch gschreben lantscheyder und gsworen Henricz undergreffe zu Carben, Welants hen der alde Sipeln Ruppel, alle beyde wonhafftig zu Cleyn Carben, und swin hen Bosen henchin Peders Conradt, Leydele bes hen alle wonhafftig zu Grossen Carben, bekennen unß offentlich daz wir solliche vorgschreben lant und wesen stoeck von stoeck uff den eyt gelantscheyt han und dez zu warem orkunde han wir obgenant und iczlicher bsonder gebeden den ersaman hern Hern Ruppracht Scheybelin, pastor zu Cleyn Carben, daz er sin eygen ingeseygel unden an dithe register gehangen hait. Welichs verseygelt ich Ruppertus obgenant mich also erkennen umb flyßlicher bede willen der obgenant also verseygelt han. Anno m° cccc lxxx tercio.”

This manuscript describes the lands of the town of Karben (the name Karben is that of a town that only came into being in 1970-72 from the fusion of Kloppenheim, Groß-Karben, Klein-Karben, Okarben, Rendel, Burg-Gräfenrode, and Petterweil). Established by four legal land-surveyors, two from Klein-Karben and two from Groß-Karben, under the direction of Rupprecht Scheybelin, priest of Klein Karben, the inventory of the lands bears a very specific colophon, which regrettably does not specify the name of the individual who ordered the manuscript. However, we can assume that the patron was one of the seigneurs of Karben.

Included in this inventory are the extent of the lands and a census of the region: it is in effect exactly contemporary with a census established for Karben by the Premonstrant Abbey of Ilbenstadt, and in its geographical organization is comparable to that established for an abbey near Ilbenstadt (see the census of 1482 and the inventory of lands of June, 5, 1512, published by Clemm, 1926, below, p. 178, no. 535, and pp. 209-210, no. 594, below). But, in 1482, as in 1511, the Abbey of Ilbenstadt possessed fewer lands than are described in the present terrier. Moreover, there are no indications that the present terrier was undertaken for Ilbenstadt, whose possession of lands at Karben was primarily due to the gift it received in 1429 from Richard Lesche, canon and former provost of Ilbenstadt, of lands that he had acquired in 1428 (see Clemm, 1926, pp. 643-45, nos. 368, 371 and 372.

For whom, then, was the present terrier established? It is tempting to search for another civil or religious institution that might have had occasion to order such an inventory. Apart from the Abbey of Ilbenstadt, two other institutions were landholders in Karben. The first is the Order of the Teutonic Knights, who, thanks to a ruling by Emperor Frederick III, profit from the sale of the fief of the brothers Heusenstamm on September 25, 1444. The second are the mayor and “echevins” of Frankfurt am Main, 18 kilometers distance from Karben, who were given lands in Karben by the Emperor on September, 18, 1475 (see Die Regesten Kaiser Friedrichs III. […], vol. V, p. 70, no. 64).

In reality, however, the terrier was most likely made for a family of seigneurs in Karben, even though they are not specifically named in the colophon. This hypothesis is confirmed by the reference on f. 6v to Burggräfenroder Akkerbuch de anno 1483 (Terrier of Burg-Gräfenrode, of the year 1483). The Counts of Hanau held Burg-Gräfenrode in fief, and thus this citation points toward secular feudal archives rather than ecclesiastical ones. Perhaps the inventory was composed at the conclusion of the transaction that necessitated the borrowing by Heinrich von Karben of 10,000 florins from the Order of the Teutonic Knights in 1480 (borrowed and reimbursed by the children Robert, Karl, and Emerich, as well as their sister Margaret, widow of Emerich von Reifenberg; see HauptStaatsArchiv Darmstadt, E 12, 58/1). “Jongher Herman,” named four times in the document--the only person whose name is not accompanied by the name of his fief--is probably Herman van Karben, cousin of Emerich, Robert, and Karl von Karben, and it may be that he ordered the terrier. In so doing, he would be following in the footsteps of his uncle Herman, married to Katharina von Vilbel, who had previously authenticated the terrier established at Büdesheim for the Teutonic Order in 1463 (HauptStaatsArchiv Darmstadt, A 3, 51/3).

Not only does the inventory of the land holdings of Karben afford an extremely interesting glimpse of the division of lands, it also shows the presence there of individuals who are known from other sources: Walther von Vilbel, named no less than ten times in the terrier (Walter von Viwil, Vilwil, Vylwil) and mentioned in several imperial acts, notably that of November, 27, 1466 (see Die Regesten Kaiser Friedrichs III. […], vol. 7, p. 178, no. 242); Wicker Frosch (Wicker Frosze), bourgeois of Frankfort, who with Jost im Steinhaus, took as a pledge of security in 1442 the fief of the brothers von Heusenstamm (see ibid, p. 65, no. 29); Gilbert Waise (Gelbracht Weysen), priest at Assenheim (cf. Clemm, 1924, p. 207, no. 589); Eberhardt Löw von Steinfurt (Erbert Lewen, Eberhart Lewen); Conrad von Wolnstadt (Conradt von Wolnstadt, Wohnstadt), named at least five times and known as Vicomte at Groß-Karben in an act of May 9,1463 (see, Clemme, 1927, p. 419, no. 717). In addition, there are also the seigneurs of Aschaffenburg and the counts of Hanau, who also owned lands at Karben (neben den osschaffenburger hern und stosset uff daz hannauwe).

Apart from these persons, the Order of the Teutonic Knights appears ten times, mentioning also Mainz, Frankfurt-am-Main, and Marburg (uff dem kelber berge, neben dem duczschen hern von Mencz ; neben den duczschen hern von Franckfurt; im klopheymer felde neben den duczschen hern vonn Mergkburg). An important crusading and military order, the Order of the Teutonic Knights took its place beside two other orders of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers and the Templars. They owned a palace in Kloppenheim.

“Terrier” derives from the Latin terra meaning land, and such documents typically provide a written survey of the lands and other property belonging to an estate and may include also an accounting of the obligations of the landholders. As is the case here, a land terrier thus often includes concise and accurate information on a range of subjects of historical, genealogical, geographic, and legal import. Their first-hand study is further important on diplomatic and paleographic grounds.


Clemm, Ludwig. “Die Urkunden der Prämonstratenserstifter Ober- und Nieder- Ilbenstadt,” Archiv für hessische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, N.F. 14, fasc. 2 (1924), pp. 129-223, N.F. 14, fasc. 3 (1925), pp. 617-666, N.F. 15, fasc. 1 (1926), pp. 147-224, N.F. 15, fasc. 2 (1927), pp. 385-517.

Koller, Heinrich, ed. Regesten Kaiser Friedrichs III.: 1440-1493: nach Archiven und Bibliotheken geordnet, éd. Kommission für die Neubearbeitung der Regesta imperii bei der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Deutsche Kommission für die Bearbeitung der Regesta imperii bei der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur zu Mainz, [vol. IV] Die Urkunden und Briefe aus dem Stadtarchiv Frankfurt am Main, éd. Paul-Joachim Heinig, Vienna, Böhlau, 1986; [vol. V], Die Urkunden und Briefe aus dem Hessischen Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden, éd. Ronald Neumann, Vienna, Böhlau, 1988; [vol. VIII], Die Urkunden und Briefe aus den Archiven der Regierungsbezirke Darmstadt und Giessen, éd. Dieter Rübsamen, Vienna, Böhlau, 1993.

Online resources

Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv in Wiesbaden. HADIS (Hessisches Archiv- Dokumentations- und Informations-System)