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Spannum (The Netherlands)

Littenseradiel municipality, Fryslân province

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by andrew weeks
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[Spannum villageflag] image by Jarig Bakker, 6 Sep 2003
adopted 1997; Design: Rudolf J. Broersma See also:

Spannum village

Spannum is a "terp"-village, it used to be in the former municipality of Hennaarderadeel with (1958) 405; (1974) 275 inhabitants. In the terp (mound) pottery from the 3rd century BC and coins from the 7th century AD were found. In 1332 a "grangia" (colony, farm) was here of the Norbertine monastery of Lidlum.
Nickname: "Eartepûlen", "Smoarpotten", - pea-pods, grease-pots.
Spannum Coat of Arms: in blue two golden crossed arrows, over all a red heart with golden flame.
Flag: in blue, issueing from the hoist, a yellow slanting lance pennnant, resulting in three swallow-tails, which divide the fly in four
equally wide parts; the lance-pennant with a height of flagheight and towards the hoist a red heart with 9/20 flagheight.
Source: a memory-board in the church of Spannum, which was hung here after the renewal in 1729 (see also Genealogysk Jierboekje 1960, p. 103). This is not  the village arms, but a general Christian symbol: the burning heart of Christ, lying on two arrows.
The flag is a stylized image of the arms. The flames are represented by the swallowtails, resulting in a kind of lance pennant (or burgee) with in the center the heart.
Source: Genealogysk Jierboekje 1997.
Encyclopedie van Friesland, 1958.
Jarig Bakker, 6 Sep 2003

Those "grangia" (French, "grange", lit. a barn) were initially big fortified buildings used to store grains, peas and other agricultural products harvested by the monks. Progressively, the abbeys abandoned agriculture but still needed barns to store the product of the tithe.
The tithe is called in French "dime", from Latin "decima", and I guess that the English word is also based on "tenth". Giving one tenth of one's goods to the church seems to be a very ancient rule in Christian communities, as reported in texts by St. Cyprian and Origenes (3rd century). During the fourth Roma Council, Pope Damasius (IVth century) promised anathem to those who wouldn't pay the tithe. Collection of the tithe, however, was organized only when the tithe was included in state laws (Herstal Capitular Book, 779; confirmed by Charlemagne, 780, 789, 801; Louis le Pieux and Charles le Chauve, 877). In theory, the tithe should concern any kinds of goods, but it was de facto limited to agricultural products. There were different kinds of tithe, which usually varied between 1/40th and 1/10th of the goods.
According to the Carolingian system, the tithe belonged to the Bishop, who collected and shared it in four parts: one four himself, one for the clergymen, one four church building and one for the poors. Since the system became too complex, the collection of the tithe was allocated to the parish priests. However, the feudal lords and the powerful abbeys rapidly hijacked the tithe. As "protectors" of the parish churches, the lords claimed to be owners of the tithe, which they shared only with the powerful abbots. The system was condemned by the kings and the church, to no avail.
Moreover, the big communities such as the chapters and the abbeys, did not pay the tithe, which caused some troubles.
The abbeys needed special buildings to store the product of the tithe. They built big barns, known as "granges dimieres" or "granges aux dimes", which were fortified against rodents, birds, Frysian pirates and other rascals of that ilk. When those abbeys were suppressed and trashed, most barns were preserved because they were very useful for storing agricultural products. A good example of such barns is the Grange de Meslay (building, XIIIth century; roof structure, XVth century; former possession of the abbey of Marmoutier) near Tours, where the Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter organized a famous music festival until his death.
Ivan Sache, 13 Sep 2003


Spannum Coat of Arms

[Spannum Coat of Arms] from Wapens en Flaggen fan Littenseradiel, booklet of the municipality.