Glossaries – Commons – Poland

This glossary will provide you with explanations (and sometimes also translations) of Polish words and expressions, used within the datasets on the commons and the related webtexts. Explanation/translation will only be given at the word or expression most commonly used. In case other words or expressions have the same meaning, a term in italics refers the explanation of the word/expression at the word/expression most commonly used.

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see also: Cześnik.

System of herding cattle on common pastures, used in medieval and early modern times; each day a different user of the common pasture worked as a shepherd (cześnik). (Trzyna 1992)


A peasant without land who possessed only a house and was forced to work on somebody else’s land. Often also a part-time artisan. (Inglot 1966)


see also: Cecha.

The function of temporary shepherd within the system of cecha. (Baranowksi 1950/1)



Rent in kind, work, or money, paid to the landlord in exchange for the right to use the land. (Inglot 1966)



The part of the landlord’s domain where his house was situated and where peasants worked as serfs to cultivate the land of the landlord. (Topolski 2000)



The process of ending the exercise of common use-rights on pieces of land, usually by the construction of a physical barrier around the lands concerned, or by barriers becoming a permanent feature in landscapes that previously had been open for common use throughout part of the year. (De Moor, Shaw, and Taylor 2001)


In medieval and early modern times, collective entity formed by all the inhabitants of a village, characterized by common responsibilities, co-operation, mutual help, common use of land, common morality and insurance systems. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


Official responsible for counting the amount of alcoholic consumptions used by gromada officials at the village’s inn. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


In medieval and early modern times, a group of neighbouring villages belonging to the same landlord. (Inglot 1966)


A peasant having enough land to sustain his family on his own. (Inglot 1966)


A peasant without land nor a house, hence forced to live with the family he works for. (Inglot 1966)


In medieval and early modern times, the King’s domain; land and villages belonging to the state. (Inglot 1966)

Księga Sądowa

A register of a rural court. (Inglot 1966)


A unit of surface area used in medieval and early modern Poland, its precise value depending on the region, varying from 6 to 16 hectares. (Inglot 1966)



Official responsible for collecting fees from the peasants. (Inglot 1966)


A group of territories and villages, owned by a single noble family, of which the possession could not be divided. (Inglot 1966)


see also: Urząd wiejski; also known as: Przysiężny.

Member of a council. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


A fee charged for the right to collect resinous chips from a landlord’s forest. These chips were used for making light. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


Inventories, written reports on the situation in the domains; a primary source to study the economic history of the rural areas. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


Official responsible in medieval and early modern times for controlling measures, especially in a mill or in a granary. (Baranowksi 1950/1)



Official responsible for measuring plots of land. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


see: Rugownik.


In medieval and early modern times, land commonly used for construction or production purposes. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


(The Dutch colonisers)

Dutch settlers in Poland in medieval and early modern times. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


A number of dwellings located around a commonly used pasture, one of the oldest territorial institutions of Slavic tribes. (Inglot 1966)


also: Renta odrobkowa.


Work a peasant had to perform on the manor or for the landlord, in exchange for the right to use the land. (Inglot 1966)


(Scribe, Writer)

In medieval and early modern times, official that writes official documents for the village. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


see: Rugownik.


(Crop rotation)

A system of land cultivation, based on crop rotation. Thanks to the features of the crops planted, the ground remains fertile. (Inglot 1966)


In medieval and early modern times, an official responsible for controlling the proper use of meadows and pastures. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


see: Rugownik.


see: Ławnik.


In medieval and early modern times, an official responsible for financial acts of the village.

Renta odrobkowa

see: Pańszczyzna.


Eviction from land.


see also: Sąd rugowy; also known as: Prokurator, Plenipotent, Mówca.

In medieval and early modern times, an oOfficial, performing the task of public prosecutor within a village: everyone had to report any known crimes to the rugownik. The rugownik then brought these cases before the general meeting of the gromada in order to judge and sanction the alleged offenders at the sąd rugowy.

Sąd rugowy

see also: Rugownik.

An annual confession by the whole village combined with court session. (Trzyna 1992)


also known as: Zgromadzenie gromady.

In medieval and early modern times, general meetings of the whole village, the most important political institution in a village next to the landlord. (Trzyna 1992)



High grass left on a field after harvest.



A part of the manor if the landlord, on which part the peasants were allowed to use the resources of the land, this land usually being either forest or pasture.


see also: Wójt.

From German: Schultheiß. Judge, head of a local (mostly rural) community. Typical for villages that were set up for the colonization of uninhabited land. The title of sołtyswas hereditary. The sołtys possessed various economical privileges. Often interchangeable with wójt. (Trzyna 1992)

Spichleż gromadzki

A common granary. (Trzyna 1992)



An economic activity set up by a group of individuals for their common benefit. (Trzyna 1992)


Animals, like horses and oxen, used in agriculture. (Trzyna 1992)


A peasant’s written complain or request. (Inglot 1966)

Szukanie śladu

The medieval custom of following a criminal to the neighbouring village and ordering the harbouring village either to hand over the criminal or to pay a fee in stead. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


see also: Ugór.

(Three-field system)

A system of land cultivation based on the division of the fields into three parts, changing the function of the separate parts every year. One third of the fields was laying fallow for a year, whilst the other two third of the land was being cultivated. (Inglot 1966)


see also: Trójpolówka.

Part of the crop-rotation cycle. Uncultivated land left for regeneration, usually used as a common pasture. (Inglot 1966)

Urząd gromadzki

see: Urząd wiejski.

Urząd wiejski

also known as: Urząd gromadzki.

Council, composed of a wójt/sołtys and few ławniks, responsible for governing the village. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


In medieval and early modern times, a written instruction, issued by a landlord, regulating the economical dealings in his domain. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


see also: Sołtys.

A head of a local (mostly urban) community, typical for newly set up cities. The function and title of wójt was hereditary. The wójt possessed various economical privileges. Often interchangeable with sołtys. (Inglot 1966)

Wolać na gwałt

“Cry for help”, an ancient custom of asking other peasants for help in case of an emergency. (Trzyna 1992)


In medieval and early modern times, an official, responsible for announcing the landlord’s decisions. (Baranowksi 1950/1)


Road connecting individual lands of peasants with common pastures, used for driving the cattle. (Baranowksi 1950/1)



Allowing animals to graze in a pasture under a control of a shepherd. (Inglot 1966)


A peasant who owned some land, but too little to sustain himself and his family without working for other peasants. (Inglot 1966)


Help in kind or tools provided from the manor to an individual peasant in need. (Trzyna 1992)


A fee charged for the right to collect wood from a landlord’s forest. (Trzyna 1992)

Zgromadzenie gromady

see: Schadzki.