Notes on Terms Requiring Explanation
Chelmno law - charter defining terms under which towns were incorporated
in Prussia, Pomerania and Mazovia.
chetvert – a unit of liquid measure from Russian [chetvert’], “quarter.”
dziesie~cina – the same as desyatina in
Russian, a measure of land = 1.09 hectares, or about 2.7 acres
emphyteutic (in Polish empfiteutyczny)
- referring to a long-term lease or deed of unused property requiring
the owner to
improve it; the Latin term emphyteusis refers specifically
to church property.
enfranchised - refers to reforms giving peasants
legal ownership of the land they had used before but which had belonged
to their lords, i. e., releasing them from serfdom. In the Kingdom
of Poland enfranchisement was put into effect in
1863 and 1864.
ferton - from late Latin ferto, an ancient
Polish coin, worth a quarter of a grzywna, also called a wiardunek.
folwark - large manorial farmstead.
gbur - from Middle High German gebûr,
farmer, a farmer or peasant who owned his own land and was therefore
relatively well off, for a peasant.
German law - charter defining terms under which
towns were incorporated, so-called because they were usually modeled
charters given such German cities as Magdeburg and Chelmno.
gimnazjum - secondary school or grammar school.
gmina - administrative subdivision of a powiat,
ruled by a council and a wojt. It usually encompasses
several villages, or a combination of villages and smaller
it can consist of a single large estate or a town.
In most cases the best way to translate it is “administrative
grod - a settlement, enclosed by walls or ramparts,
some dating back to the Neolithic period. In the Middle Ages
it served as a
of political or administrative authority; some later developed
into towns (cmp. modern Russian gorod, “town,
grosz - an ancient Polish coin, less than a zloty
grzywna (plural grzywny) - an ancient silver
coin, worth several denarii, used in Poland and other countries of
gubernia – from Russian [guberniya],
a province in the Russian Empire.
hyberna - from Latin hibernus, “of winter,” a
tax paid toward the maintenance of the army during winter.
jednodworzec - a term used in the Russian Empire for
those who were neither nobles nor peasants, or for one-time petty nobles
who'd lost that rank; literally it
means "one with a single manor/court/yard."
kalwaria - literally "calvary," a
complex of shrines or chapels commemorating Christ's Passion, generally
often with vast numbers of small crosses erected by the faithful in
memory of deceased loved ones.
kmiec– (Latin cmeto, cmetonis) in records
from the 10th to the 13th centuries, a high dignitary, baron, member
of a king’s or prince’s retinue; in later usage a peasant
who was comparatively welloff, pay-ing rent or doing labor service
in exchange for the right to work a full sized farm.
kwarta - literally “a fourth,” an ancient
tax paid toward the upkeep of the army.
lan - literally “field,” a unit of land measurement
used in Poland since the 13th century. It was originally a full-sized farm
received from his lord, in return for work on the lord’s
land. In Malopolska the Franconian lan was used,
23-28 hectares; in Mazovia and Podlasie the Chelmno lan was
of Poland the
Polish wloka was about 16.8 hectares.
Magdeburg law - charter defining terms under which towns
were incorporated, modeled on the charter of the east central German
city of Magdeburg (now in the Land of Saxony-Anhalt) formulated in
the 13th century.
mansioner (in Polish mansjonarz) - a resident priest, holder of a small
benefice and free of obligations beyond his basic duties as a
mila - the value varied in different times and places, but
here the “Polish” or “Russian mila is
probably meant; it measured about 7.5 km., so a square mila would
be about 56 sq. km.
mórg - a unit of land measurement; per Gerald Ortell’s
book on Polish parish records, in the Russian partition
1 morg =
1.388 acres, in the Prussian
1 morg = 0.631 acres, and in Galicia 1 morg =
okra~g - literally "circle, globe", an administrative
subdivision, perhaps best translated as "district" - there
were different kinds, including judicial and military.
oprawa - amount from a husband's property secured for
his wife, consisting of the amount of her dowry plus an equal sum pledged
by the husband from
powiat - administrative subdivision used in Poland since
the 14th century, smaller than provinces but larger than gminy or gromady;
abolished in 1975, roughly comparable to a county in the U. S, reinstated
with new boundaries on January 1, 1999.
prebenda - a benefice or prebend, a church office (such
as a rectory) endowed with fixed capital assets.
rewizja - literally "review," it can be an official inspection performed
by a rewizor, or, especially in the Russian Empire, it can mean simply "census."
schematyzm or szematyzm - a list of officials; this
term especially refers to a kind of annual report issued by Galician
which may include details on parishes, the diocese's holdings, etc.
scotus, skojec, skot - an ancient monetary
unit, 1/24 of a grzywna, a coin of small value.
Sejm - Seym, diet (a parliamentary body)
soltys - derived from and equivalent to German Schultheiß (later
Schultz), a bailiff or village headman/mayor.
starosta - a kind of district foreman, a royal official in Poland
in the 14th-18th centuries, in charge of treasury and police activities,
and the judiciary. His office, property, or jurisdiction was called a
starostwo, which could be grodowe, affiliated with a gród (q.
v.), or niegrodowe
starostwo - the office or property or jurisdiction
of a starosta, a kind
of district foreman and royal official in Poland in the 14th-18th century,
in charge of treasury and police activities, and the judiciary, sometimes
grodowe, affiliated with a grod (q.
v.), sometimes not (niegrodowe).
wiardunek - an ancient Polish coin, worth a
quarter of a grzywna, also called a ferton.
wola – diminutive form wólka, a “new” settlement
built by peasants whose lord granted them relief from taxes and rents
for a specified period, while the wola was getting on its feet, in the
hope of generating future revenue.
wlóka- a unit of land measurement used
in Poland, more or less synonymous with lan; it comes from the
root in the verb wloczyc, “to drag, harrow,” thus
referring to a field with soil plowed and harrowed and ready for planting.
The wloka was generally
about 30 morgs, but this can vary, depending on what part
of Poland and what time-frame one is concerned with. Generally 30 morgs
was considered a full-sized farm, big enough to support a family.
wójt - in rural areas, chief officer of
a group of villages; the administrative head of a gmina.
wójtostwo - the land, office, or jurisdiction of a wójt.
zagroda – literally “enclosure, pen; something behind
a fence or barrier.” In the Slownik it’s usually a term for
a small farmstead consisting of a cottage with a courtyard, other buildings
such as barns or sheds, and a garden. It could be a peasant farm, but
the poorer nobility often owned nothing more than a zagroda, which they
worked themselves. The term zagrodnik denotes the owner of a zagroda,
typically a peasant who owned no significant land, just a small plot large
enough for a garden.