The Beutel Free Tenures in Bavaria and Austria
In Upper Swabia, East Swabia and in the Breisgau district the names of Beutel can be found frequently and noticeably in the vicinity of old co-operatives of freemen with their own jurisdiction. This observation is substantiated by the so-called Beutel free tenures.
While Eugen Haberkern and Joseph Friedrich Wallach characterised the Beutel free tenures absolutely insufficiently and unfoundedly as free farms (Hilfswörterbuch für Historiker 1, 7th edition, Tübingen 1987, page 63), they were much more exactly defined by Wilhelm Abel (included in: Friedrich Lütge, Geschichte der deutschen Agrarverfassung vom frühen Mittelalter bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Stuttgart 1963, Page 61/2). Abel was able to fall back on the publications of L. Hauptmann, Colonus, Barschalk and Freimann (included in: Wirtschaft und Kultur, Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag von Alfons Dopsch 1938) and W. Fresacher, (Der Bauer in Kärten, 1st Part: Die persönliche Stellung des Bauern in Kärnten 1950).
Wilhelm Abel writes about the Beutel free tenures: "Since the 12th century Beutel free tenures had developed in Bavaria and the adjacent areas as far as Carinthia. They were considered initially as former estates of inferior knights and nobles that became farms, later as originally knightly estates granted to peasants with elevated jurisdiction. Probably they can be interpreted as later developments of ... (other free) forms, probably all these forms coexisted. However that may be, the Beutel free tenures are interim forms between knightly tenures and possessory rights of peasants, found also in other areas of Germany. Obviously they have nothing to do with the right to make clearances in forests, at least not in Bavaria proper. In old settlement areas particularly good privileges of peasants can be found occasionally, such a Beutel free tenures or free tenures, while in adjacent new settlement areas elevated jurisdiction is lacking. The former cannot or not generally be traced back to privileges of Franconian kings."
What Abel discusses here for the Bavarian Beutel free tenures is principally also true for the Beutler estates in the Swabian area around Horb, Nagold and Dornstetten. The Beutler used to be neither handicraftsmen nor simple farmers. They counted among the rural or town honourables, a somewhat elevated social class. This is why they held, for instance, the office of village mayor in Rohrdorf and Rotfelden. The citizen of Horb Klaus Butler, mentioned in documents in the years 1432 and 1455, married to Katharina Auldörfin, did not possess his own seal, but was nevertheless considered as an honourable and unpretentious citizen.