Boundaries and Men in Poland from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century: The Case of Masovia
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Keywords

Middle Ages
East–Central Europe
Masovia
space
natural environment delimitations
border
markers
medieval mentality

How to Cite

1. Myśliwski G. Boundaries and Men in Poland from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century: The Case of Masovia // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2020. № 3 (5). C. 136-168.

Abstract

The article concerns the emergence and proliferation of the artificial, local boundaries in the region of Masovia, the area situated in the basin of the middle Vistula River. The poor soils of this heavily forested region delayed rural and urban colonisation here, in comparison with other Polish regions. In spite of the fact that the first source reference to such boundaries in Masovia is relatively early (dating from 1185), the recurrent raids by Prussian and Jadźwing tribes as well as by the Lithuanians in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries stopped the development of colonisation. Consequently, delimitation began at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, intensified from around 1360 onward, and reached a climax in the fifteenth century. This practice was supported by the establishment of numerous villages and towns according to German law, the breakup of family demesnes, and demographic growth. In addition to natural features of the landscape (rivers, creeks, swamps, hills), and to artificial landmarks designated to serve as border points (roads, bridges, churches, chapels, wells, mills, pagan tombs), artificial border markers were in wide use (usually, mounds of sand or stone, single stones, and X-shaped signs). Border markers also played the role of vehicles of collective, local memory, through their specific names, or as incised/engraved signs (Xes, coats of arms). The history of the emergence and proliferation of artificial border markers and delimitation in Mazovia is part of the story of transforming, organizing and acquiring control over space by medieval societies.

https://doi.org/10.46539/jfs.v5i3.220
pdf (Русский)

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