Glossary of Unfamiliar Terms

Glossary of Some Difficult Terms Encountered in the Słownik Geograficzny

by William F. Hoffman © 2013

Ärar — State Treasury or Exchequer. From: Ärar, from Latin aerarium, is an archaic designation, no longer used, for the material and non-material holdings of a state or corporation. Included are buildings, land, gold reserves, and state monopolies. A term used more often today is Fiskus … Kirchenärar: The Church Treasury covers, in addition to the church building itself, resources of a church, foundation, or monastery designated to cover the costs of services and maintenance of the foundation or monastery buildings.

archdiocese or diocese — the use of these terms reflects the tendency of the Polish authors of Słownik geograficzny entries to use Roman Catholic terminology, even when referring to Greek Catholic administrative subdivisions. It seemed best to indicate their use of these words, but to note that eparchy is the appropriate term for the Greek Catholic administrative subdivision equivalent to a Roman Catholic diocese.

budgeted schools → etatowy

atynencja — (also attynencja, attynencja, abbrev. atyn. or attyn.): the dictionary meaning is “praw., przyległość, przynależłość.” So it’s a legal term that translates literally as “contiguity”; but I saw another dictionary that gave the meaning as “appurtenance,” which in law is defined as “A right, privilege, or property that is considered incident to the principal property for purposes such as passage of title, conveyance, or inheritance.” In other words, it’s something that goes along with an estate or property because it is “contiguous” and “belongs” with it. I’m pretty sure that’s how the term is normally used.

Chełmno law — charter defining terms under which towns were incorporated in Prussia, Pomerania and Mazovia. Compare Magdeburg law.

czetwiert or chetvert — from Russian четверть [chetvert’], “quarter,” a unit of measure = 209.91 liters. one czetwert = about six bushels

Communists — also called bartoszkowie, an association of lay clerics founded in 1647 in Germany by Bartholomäus Holzhauser, confirmed in 1680 by Pope Innocent XI. Its primarily mission was to educate diocesan priests and care for retired priests; the Communists lived in a community of voluntarily shared property (thus the name). They were introduced into the Commonwealth of Poland in 1683 by Poznań bishop S. Wierzbowski (Góra Kalwaria); they ran seminaries (Warsaw); during the period of the partitions all the Polish and Lithuanian houses run by the association were liquidated. [Source: CD-ROM Multimedialna nowa encyklopedia powszechna PWN, 2000 Version 1.0, © Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN SA, Warszawa 1999]. In English called Bartholomites, United Brethren, or Communists, officially the “Institutum clericorum sæcularium in communi viventium” (“Institute of Secular Priests Living in Community”), per The Catholic Encyclopedia Website.

czopowe — a tax on liquor sales.

Długosz — Rev. Jan Długosz was one of the most famous early Polish historians. His Liber beneficiorum [Book of Benefices] is one of the best and earliest historical sources on Polish communities. The mention here indicates that this village has been around a while, long enough to appear in Długosz. If you want to know more about him, see Jan Długosz.

dziesięcina — the same as Russian десятина [desyatina], a measure of land = 1.09 hectares or about 2.7 acres.

exkurendy — a term in the SGKP entry for Krościenko, apparently designating places where they have churches but no priest resides there; instead one travels there occasionally to celebrate Mass. I base this on some Czech uses of the term I found with Google.

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 lease of 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.

etatowy — modern meaning “full-time,” older meaning “covered by the budget,” e. g., szkoła etatowa = szkoła objęta budżetem [Słownik warszawski]. So “budgeted schools” were those with teachers paid by the national government. In context, this term usually refers to places in the Austrian partition, elementary schools were under the control of the Rada Szkolna Krajowa, (Galician) National School Council.

Ferro — Słownik longitudes were often measured from Ferro (now El Hierro) in the Canary Islands rather than from Greenwich, England. El Hierro lies at 17°39′46″ W of Greenwich, so to get the right longitude for places in eastern Europe by modern standards, subtract 17°39′46″ from the so-called “Ferro longitude.”

ferton — from late Latin ferto, an ancient Polish coin, worth a quarter of a grzywna; also called a wiardunek.

Filipon — also Filipowiec, an Old Believer [per Słownik warszawski].

folwark — originally from German Vorwerk, a term for a farm or settlement (Werk) built “before” (vor, i.e., outside, in front of) the walls of a castle, but near enough to enjoy protection from the soldiers in the castle. In Polish usage a folwark was normally a self–contained agricultural community with a manor house, farm buildings, livestock and land. The single English word that comes closest to meaning the same thing is probably “grange,” especially in the British sense, “A farm, especially the residence and outbuildings of a gentleman farmer.” I feel “manorial farmstead” is a better translation, because most folks these days have no idea what a “grange” is.

gardener — a literal translation of ogrodnik, one who owned a small plot of land adequate for a good–sized garden, but not large enough to produce crops that would feed a family without further supplementing food or income.

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. This term tends to show up mainly in areas formerly under German rule, or areas where lots of Germans settled.

German law — charter defining terms under which towns and villages were incorporated, so–called because they were usually modeled on the charters given such German cities as Magdeburg and Chełmno. See also Magdeburg law.

gmina — administrative subdivision of a powiat, ruled by a council and a wójt. A gmina may encompass several villages, a combination of villages and smaller settlements, or of a single large estate or a town. In most cases the best way to translate it is “district,” but you may alse see it translated as “borough,” “commune,” or “township.” It’s from the same root as German Gemeinde, “community, congregation,” compare Latin communis.

gród — a settlement, enclosed by walls or ramparts, some dating back to the Neolithic period. In the Middle Ages it served as a fortification and a center of political or administrative authority; some later developed into towns (cmp. Russian gorod, город, the modern Russian word for “town, city”).

grosz — an old coin worth 1/100th of a złoty, and thus somewhat comparable to a penny in our currency.

grzywna — an ancient silver coin, worth several denarii, used in Poland and other countries of Europe. The Polish Wikipedia page says that this monetary unit was the same as the one called “mark” in western Europe.

hyberna — from the Latin hibernus, “winter,” a tax paid toward the maintenance of the army during winter.

Imperial and Royal — a translation of the German term kaiserlich und königlich, often abbreviated k. u. k., in Latin Caesareus–Regius, in Polish cesarsko–królewski and abbreviated c.k. Originally used in the names of government institutions under the Habsburg monarchy. Under the Austro–Hungarian Empire, during the period 1867–1918, “imperial” referred to Austria and “royal” to Hungary. We see k. u. k. in many Galician documents. See Imperial–Royal.

Jaćwingi — an ancient Baltic tribe, wiped out in the late 13th century by the Teutonic Knights; generally called “Jotvingians” or “Jacwingians” in English.

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.”

Joanici — Knights of St. John, see Wikipedia Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

jutrzyna → mórg

kijak — one living on the outskirts of a town or village and entitled to bring meat to market and sell it. [source: Słownik warszawski]

kmieć — a term that has meant different things in different times. In the 11–13th centuries it was used often as a synonym for kasztelan (castellan) or Latin comes, for a high official in the retinue of a king or prince, a favored attendant and counselor. In the 14th–15th centuries, especially in villages established under German law (q.v.), a kmieć was a relatively well–off peasant, one who was allowed by his lord to farm a full–sized łan (q.v.). In more recent times, it came to mean little more than a villager or peasant.

kniaź — a term used for a prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which included much of the territory of ancient Kievan Ruś, including Belarus and Ruthenia. It equates more or less to Polish książę.

Kodeks dyplomatyczny Wielkopolski, Latin title Codex diplomaticus majoris Poloniae — a collection of source documents on places in Great Poland dating from 984 to 1287. It is partially available online at Wielkopolska Biblioteka Cyfrowa.

kolacyi, prawo — the right of collation, i.e., the privilege of nominating a candidate for a benefice or vacant ecclesiastical position.

komornik — usually means “tenant farmer, peasant,” but in some contexts can also be a sheriff’s officer.

komuniści → Communists

krowa żelazna — Ola Heska told me about this. She was translating a short history of a parish in the Tarnow, area and it talks about someone donating “krowy zelazne”. She read online an explanation of the term (the owner has to keep and feed the cow but the milk belongs to whomever it was being donated) but wondered if I had any ideas on how to translate it into English. I told her all I could think of is to translate it literally, then insert a translator’s note explaining what it meant.

łan — a unit of land measurement used in Poland since the 13th century. It came from Old High German leh(e)n, meaning “fee” in the sense of “feudal land tenure.” It has since come to mean “field” in modern Polish; but originally it was used as a term for a full–sized farm that a peasant was authorized to work by his lord in return for work on the lord’s land. It is more or less equivalent to German Hube, which also came into Polish in the form huba. The term ślad is also used with essentially the same meaning. Its value varied from region to region and over time. For instance, the Prussian łan or huba was 16.5 hectares, or about 40 acres. In Małopolska, the Franconian łan was generally used, and it measured 23–28 hectares, or roughly 57–69 acres. Trying to determine the size of a łan in a given instance can be complicated.

łaziebne — a fee for using baths (Słownik warszawski: opłata od łaźni, Vol. 2, p. 803 – 816 of file)

Magdeburg law — a charter granted by a king or lord 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. The terms miasteczko, “small town,” miasto, “town,” and wieś, “village”, are legal definitions, used with more precision in Polish than in English, in which “town” may be used loosely for a community of almost any size.

major estate — the collective term “major estate,” posesja większa or posiadłość większa, also sometimes called dobra tabularne, “tabular estate,” refers to land owned by nobles and registered in the Galician Tabula Krajowa (literally “national table”), an institution that kept track of property transactions in Galicia. A “minor estate,” posesja (or posiadłość) mniejsza, is a collective term for land owned by peasants. Davies, God’s Playground, Vol. II, p. 143, talks of registered landowners vs. non-registered, “who did not participate in the rights of their estate.”

manorial farmstead → folwark

mansjonarz, English mansioner — priest who lives in a monastery or other residence for clergy but has no specific duties other than celebrating Mass and praying.

miasto — Polish word that corresponds to “city” or “town,” but see the note under Magdeburg law.

mila — the obvious assumption is that it means the same as our “mile” — but a mila generally measured about 7.5 km or about 4.65 miles. (The exact value differed slightly from one area to another).

mórg or morga (both forms were used) — a unit of land measurement, also called jutrzyna; according to Gerald Ortell’s book on Polish parish records, in the Russian partition 1 mórg = 1.388 acres, in the Prussian 1 mórg = 0.631 acres, in Galicia 1 mórg = 1.422 acres.

Moza, mozański — Meuse in France.

niepokalanka — Sister of the Order of the Immaculate Conception.

niewód — seine, draw-net

nomenklatura — names of all places within a specified district.

obwód — literally “circumference, girth,” a term for a political administrative subdivision; best translated as “district,” except so many terms are translated that way (powiat, gmina, obwód, okręg, etc.) that it gets confusing. In some instances, “circuit” is an acceptable translation.

okrąg or okręg — literally “circle, globe,” an administrative subdivision, perhaps best translated as “district” — there were different kinds, including judicial and military.

oprawa — spun linen provided to lords. See, for instance, Nad Sołą i Koszarawą.

pol. — an abbreviation of policyjny, “police,” as in an okręg policyjny, “police district.”

Pommer. Urkunden. or Pom. Urk. Buch or P.U.B. — abbrevations for Pommerelisches Urkundenbuch by Max Perlbach, Bertling, Danzig, 1881–1916, a major reference work on Pomerelia, a historical section of eastern Pomerania. The book is available for download from the Kujawsko–Pomorska Digital Library.

poreformacki — formerly owned by the Reformati, a branch of the Franciscan Brothers.

powiat — territorial administrative subdivision used in Poland since the 14th century, smaller than provinces but larger than gminy or gromady; abolished in 1975, then reinstated, with new boundaries, in 1999. Its place in the Polish administrative setup is roughly comparable to a “county” in the United States.

prebenda — a benefice or prebend, a church office (such as a rectory) endowed with fixed capital assets.

realny — in reference to a school, a szkoła realna, one focusing on training for professions rather than on a classical education. It did not teach ancient languages but rather math, modern languages, and the physical sciences. — Słownik warszawski, V 506.

reformaci — the Reformist branch of the Franciscans.

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 dioceses, which may include details on parishes, the diocese’s holdings, etc.

scotus, skojec, skot — an ancient monetary unit, 1/24 of a grzywna; sort of like a penny.

Sejm — Seym, diet (Polish representative body, comparable to Congress or Parliament).

skład — prawo składu, cmp. składne miasto: a privilege granted a town by virtue of which merchants with wares had to pass through that town, stay there, and sell their goods there — Słownik warszawski, VI, 163.

ślad — The primary meanings of this noun are “trail, trace, step.” But when used to indicate a measure of land, according to the eight–volume Polish–language dictionary nicknamed the Słownik warszawski, which specializes in archaic and dialect terms, it is roughly synonymous with łan; see łan. Its exact size varied, but it was your basic full–sized farm, big enough to support a family and therefore a pretty sizable chunk of land.

sołtys — derived from and equivalent to German Schultheiß (later Schulze or Schultz), a bailiff or village headman/mayor.

staje — an ancient measure of surface area, of varying size from one area to another.

starosta — a kind of district foreman. During the 14th–18th centuries, he was a royal official in Poland, in charge of treasury and police activities, and the judiciary; a starostwo was a term for the office, jurisdiction, or land of a starosta. Today, the starosta is the chief administrative official for a powiat, elected to that post by the powiat council. The word starosta comes from the basic Slavic root meaning “old,” so its derivation is somewhat similar to our terms elder and senior.

starostwo — the office, property, or jurisdiction of a starosta.

sympla — a single or one–time tax or payment (from Latin simpla) [source: Słownik warszawski].

szachulec — construction: w szachulec half–timbered, with half–timbering.

szos — formery “city tax on craftsmens’ homes and workshops” [source: Kazimierz Rymut, Nazwiska Polaków]

tabularny — in hypothecary books, thus a “major estate,” q.v.

tasarz — taszarz, a stallkeeper or kramarz.

tłoka — one–day collective help on a neighbor’s farm, assisting with harvest or transporting the crop, in return for food and drink and entertainment with music and dance; also extraordinary labor service to the lord, corvée above and beyond the norm. [source: Słownik warszawski]

village — the standard translation for Polish wieś, and in most cases that translation is adequate. But there were a number of different kinds of agricultural communities we would lump together under “village,” such as a wola (q. v.). See also the note under Magdeburg law.

wiorsta — 1 wiorsta = 1.067 km.

włóka — a unit of land measurement, more or less synonymous with łan. It comes from the root in the verb włóczyć, “to drag, harrow,” thus referring to a field with soil plowed and harrowed and ready for planting. The włóka was generally about 30 mórgs, but this can vary depending on what part of Poland and what time frame one is discussing. A włóka was regarded as a “full–sized farm,” one big enough to provide a living.

województwo — Polish political administrative district, usually translated best as “province.”

wojski — from the 15th century on, the lowest official of a ziemia; in ancient Poland the wojski was the official in charge of an area while the nobles and other authorities were gone during wartime.

wójt — in rural areas, chief officer of a group of villages, the administrative head of a gmina. In a town, he could serve much the same role as a mayor in our system. The office, jurisdiction, or property of the wójt was called the wójtostwo or wójtowstwo.

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 and thus enhancing the value of the land he owned.

wyb. — abbreviation for wybraniectwo, “recruit’s property,” land on a royal estate which a peasant was allowed to work in return for training and serving as a soldier. Originally, a peasant recruit or wybraniec was exempted from all taxes and labor service, but had to serve in the infantry whenever there was a call to arms. There was a “piechota wybraniecka” (wybraniecka infantry) created by king Stephen Bathory in his reform of the Polish army. Compare this entry in an online Polish encyclopedia. In later usage, it became a special type of farm within the royal estates (królewszczyzny), on which the kmieć had various privilages but had to pay a special tax for the army (instead of actually serving in the army in case of need, as was originally required). Many thanks to Rafał T. Prinke for clarifying this.

wydziałowa — Apparently a kind of middle school.

zagroda — the literal meaning is “enclosure, pen; something behind a fence or barrier.” In the Słownik 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 typically 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.

zagrodnik, plural zagrodnicy — equivalent to Latin hortulanus, literally “gardener,” a term for a peasant who owned a small house and a plot of land, large enough for a good–sized garden but not large enough to support a family by itself. Since “croft” is a fairly good translation of Polish zagroda — that is, a fenced or enclosed plot of land, usually farmland with a house or cottage on it — “crofter” is a better translation than “gardener.” The only problem is that most folks don’t know what a “crofter” is! It may be that “tenant farmer” comes as close to an adequate translation as one can get without writing a chapter on peasantry.

zarębnik — farmer on land cleared of trees?

ziemia — a translation of Latin terra, literally “land,” at one time a territorial and political subdivision that developed on the basis of natural borders and features of the lands involved that were conducive to settlement of people with compatible economic and political interests. The ziemie took their names from physical characteristics of the land (Polska, from the word for “field”; Kujawy, from a word for “bare, open place”); from locations of central grody (Kraków, Sandomierz); or from names of rivers (Sląsko) or tribes that lived in the region (Mazowsze). Later, as the land became more densely populated and needs changed, other political divisions proved more useful, and the ziemie gave way to powiaty and województwa. [From the SGKP entry on ziemia, Vol. 14, pp. 608–609, by Bronisław Chlebowski.]