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144.: The Excommunication of Frederick II, 1239. - Oliver J. Thatcher, A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age 
A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age, ed. Oliver J. Thatcher and Edgar Holmes McNeal (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1905).
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The Excommunication of Frederick II, 1239.
See introductory note to no. 143.
1. By the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we excommunicate and anathematize Frederick, the so-called emperor, because he has incited rebellion in Rome against the Roman church, for the purpose of driving the pope and his brothers [the cardinals] from the apostolic seat, thus violating the dignity and honor of the apostolic seat, the liberty of the church, and the oath which he swore to the church.
2. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he ordered his followers to prevent our brother, the venerable bishop of Preneste, the legal legate, from proceeding on his mission to the Albigenses, upon which we had sent him for the preservation of the Catholic faith.
3. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has not allowed the vacancies in certain bishoprics and churches to be filled, thereby imperilling the liberty of the church, and destroying the true faith, because in the absence of the pastor there is no one to declare unto the people the word of God or to care for their souls. . . .
4. We excommunicate and anathematize him because the clergy of his kingdom are imprisoned, proscribed, and slain, and because the churches of God are despoiled and profaned.
5. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has not permitted the church of Sorana to be rebuilt.
6. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has seized the nephew of the king of Tunis and kept him from coming to the Roman church to be baptized.
7. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has imprisoned Peter Saraceno, a Roman noble, who was sent as a messenger to us by the king of England.
8. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has seized the lands of the churches of Ferrara, Pigogna, and Bondenum, and the dioceses of Ferrara, Bondenum, and Lucca, and the land of Sardinia, contrary to the oath which he swore to the church.
9. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has occupied and wasted the lands of some of the nobles of his kingdom which were held by the church.
10. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has robbed the churches of Monreale, Cefalu, Catania, Squillace, and the monasteries of Mileto, Santa Eufemia, Terra Maggiore, and San Giovanni in Lamæ.
11. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has robbed many bishoprics, churches, and monasteries of his kingdom of almost all their goods through his unjust trials.
12. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has not entirely restored to the Templars and Hospitallers the property of which he had despoiled them, as he agreed to do in the treaty of peace.
13. Because he has extorted taxes and other payments from the churches and monasteries of his kingdom contrary to the treaty of peace.
14. We excommunicate him and anathematize him because he has compelled the prelates of churches and abbots of the Cistercian and of other orders to make monthly contributions for the erection of new castles.
15. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has treated the adherents of the papal party as if they were under the ban, confiscating their property, exiling them, and imprisoning their wives and children, contrary to the treaty of peace.
16. We excommunicate and anathematize him because he has hindered the recovery of the Holy Land and the restoration of the Roman empire.
We absolve all his subjects from their oaths of fidelity to him, forbidding them to show him fidelity as long as he is under excommunication. We shall admonish him again to give up oppressing and injuring the nobles, the poor, the widows and orphans, and others of his land, and then we shall proceed to act ourselves in the matter. For all and each of these causes, in regard to which we have frequently admonished him to no purpose, we excommunicate and anathematize him. In regard to the accusation of heresy which is made against Frederick, we shall consider and act upon this in the proper place and time.
Current Stories about Frederick II.
A few passages from the chronicle of Matthew of Paris are offered to illustrate the character of Frederick and to throw a little light on the great struggle between him and the pope. The last paragraph is particularly interesting because it indicates that the pope was becoming conscious that he was meeting with national opposition. But he evidently misjudged the strength of it. For after overcoming the empire, the papacy was to succumb to the French king and be subservient to him for seventy years. And the national opposition was to grow until it culminated in the great rebellion which has had many stages but has finally ended in the complete destruction of the temporal power of the pope.
It was about this time  that evil reports became current, which blackened the reputation of the emperor Frederick. It was said that he questioned the catholic faith and that he had made statements that showed not only that he was weak in the faith, but that he was indeed a heretic and a blasphemer. It is not right even to repeat such things, but it is reported that he said there were three impostors who had deceived the people of their time for the purpose of gaining control of the world, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, and that he made certain absurd remarks about the eucharist. It is incredible that any sane man should have uttered such terrible blasphemy. His enemies also said that he believed more in the religion of Mohammed than in that of Jesus Christ, and that he kept certain Saracen women as his concubines. There was a common complaint among the people that the emperor had for a long time been allied with the Saracens, and that he was more friendly with them than with Christians. His enemies, who were always trying to blacken his character, attempted to prove these statements by many evidences; whether or not they have sinned in doing this, He alone knows who knows all things. . . . In this year , while the emperor was spending the winter in Italy, he recovered certain important islands in the Mediterranean just off the shore of Pisa, the most important acquisition being the greater and more valuable part of the island of Sardinia, which belonged to the patrimony of St. Peter. The emperor, however, asserted that it belonged of old to the empire, that it had been taken from the empire illegally by occupation and other wrongful measures and that he now restored it to the empire. He said: “I have sworn, as is known to all the world, to recover the dispersed parts of my empire; and I shall give my best efforts to carrying out my oath.” So he sent his son [Enzio], in spite of the prohibition of the pope, to receive in his name that portion of the island that had surrendered to him . . . . When Frederick heard that the pope had deposed him, he was terribly enraged, and could scarcely contain himself for his wrath. Looking fiercely on those who sat around him, he thundered forth: “That pope has deposed me in his synod and has taken away my crown. Was there ever such audacity; was there ever such presumption? Where are the chests that contain my treasure?” And when these were brought and opened before him at his command, he said: “See now whether my crowns are lost.” Then taking one of them and putting it on his head, he stood up, with a threatening look, and spoke out in a terrible voice from the bitterness of his heart: “I have not yet lost my crown, nor shall the pope and all his synod take it from me without a bloody struggle. And has his presumption been so boundless that he has dared to depose me from the empire, me, a great prince, who have no superior, indeed no equal? So much the better for my cause; for before this I was bound to obey him, and to do him reverence, but now I am absolved from any obligation to love or reverence him or even to keep peace with him.” . . . . When Frederick heard of the acts of the papal legate in Germany, he was bitterly enraged and sought everywhere for a means of wreaking vengeance upon the pope. It was feared by some wise and thoughtful men that Frederick in his wrath might turn apostate, or call in to his aid the Tartars from Russia, or give the Sultan of Babylon, with whom he was on the most friendly terms, the chance to overrun the empire with his pagan hosts, to the destruction of all Christendom. . . . . Frederick attempted to make peace with the pope, . . . but the pope replied that he would not restore the emperor to his former position on any such easy terms, since he had been deposed and condemned by the general council of Lyon. And some asserted that the pope desired above all else utterly to crush Frederick, whom he called the great dragon, in order that he might then destroy the kings of England and of France and the other Christian kings (whom he spoke of as kinglets and little serpents), after he had overawed them by making an example of Frederick, and thus be able to rob them and their prelates at his pleasure.
THE EMPIRE FROM 1250 TO 1500
Diet of Nürnberg, 1274.
When Rudolf was elected king in 1273, he found that he had a crown but no income. For during the interregnum (1254-73) the German princes, both lay and clerical, had seized all the crown lands and revenues. Rudolf was glad to be king, but his private income was not sufficient to support his new dignity. Besides, he was of a miserly disposition, and was bent on getting all out of the office that he could, or at least on making the office pay for itself. So he demanded the surrender of the lands and revenues which had been seized. But no one was willing to give them up. Since Rudolf was compelled to enter suit against each one, it was necessary to have some disinterested person to act as judge in all such cases. The diet decided that this office of judge belonged to the count palatine.
As soon as the judge was decided on, Rudolf asked what he should do in regard to these lands, and he was told that he must recover them. Ottokar, king of Bohemia, had himself been a candidate for the crown, and now refused to acknowledge the election of Rudolf. The diet decided what should be done in the matter, and instructed Rudolf how he should proceed against him.
Paragraphs 5-9 reveal to a certain extent the troubled condition into which Germany had been brought by the interregnum.
1. During the meeting of the diet at Nürnberg, the princes came together as a public court of justice, in the presence of the most serene lord, Rudolf, king of the Romans, and attended by a large following of counts and barons and a great multitude of nobles and common people. And first the king asked them for a decision on the following question: who should be judge in cases which involve imperial or fiscal property, and other offences against the king or the realm, and in which the king of the Romans makes accusation against a prince of the empire. It was decided by all the princes and barons who were present that the count palatine of the Rhine has, and has had from of old, the right to act as judge in cases where the emperor or king accuses a prince of the empire.
2. The aforesaid count palatine then took his place as judge and the king asked for a decision on this question: what might and should the king do in regard to the property, now held by others, which the former emperor Frederick [II] had held and possessed in peace and quiet before he was deposed by the princes, and in regard to other imperial property wrongfully withheld from the empire. It was decided that the king ought to lay claim to such property and recover it; and that if anyone should resist the king in his attempt to recover his own, he should use his royal power to overcome this illegal resistance to authority and to preserve the rights of the empire.
3. The king asked, in the second place, what the law was in the case of the king of Bohemia, who had wilfully allowed more than a year and a day to elapse from the day of the coronation [of Rudolf] at Aachen without seeking to be invested with his fiefs by the king of the Romans. It was decided by all the princes and barons that whenever anyone, by his own neglect or contumacy and without just excuse, failed to seek investiture of his fiefs within a year and a day, all his fiefs were forfeited by the mere lapse of time.
4. In the third place, the king asked them how he should proceed to punish the contumacy of the king of Bohemia. It was decided that the count palatine of the Rhine should send a freeman to summon the king of Bohemia to appear before the count palatine at a certain place and on a certain day, which should be six weeks and three days from the day when the decision was rendered, and to answer the accusation of contumacy brought against him by the king. If the freeman who was chosen to carry the summons swore that he did not dare appear before the king of Bohemia or enter his lands because he had good grounds to fear personal injury, it would then be sufficient for the diet to pass an edict summoning the king of Bohemia and for the count palatine to proclaim this summons publicly in the city or town of his that was nearest to the kingdom of Bohemia. To allow this matter to be settled in an orderly way, however, eighteen days in addition to the original six weeks and three days were to be allowed for the answer to the summons, so that the king of Bohemia should appear before the count palatine at Würzburg nine weeks from the 19th of November, that is, on the 20th of January; otherwise he should be proceeded against according to the law.
5. It was decided also that the king of the Romans ought to take cognizancce of all civil and criminal cases arising on and after the day of his coronation, and of all civil cases (i.e., those involving inheritances, fiefs, possessions, and property) arising even before his coronation, if they had not been settled by decision of the court, by compromise, or by some amicable agreement.
6. In regard to wrongs which date from the quarrel between the empire and the papacy in the days of the emperor Frederick (seizure of property, injuries, and damages committed by one party against the other), the king proposes to confer with the pope and to try to reach some agreement with him that shall be just to both parties.
7. The king urges and requests all those who have seized or burned or destroyed the property of others during the time from the death of emperor Frederick to the coronation of the king [i.e., Rudolf], to make compensation and come to some amicable agreement with those whom they have injured; and he also requests the injured not to refuse to accept such arrangement. If the parties cannot agree, the king will himself decide the cases. This does not refer, however, to public plunderers of churches and holy places, or to those who have made open war, all of whom are to be brought to justice immediately. Likewise all cases pending before the king or his officials ought to be settled within a reasonable time.
8. It was decided also that summonses and decrees issuing from the court or from royal officials should be written and sealed with the seal of the judges, and that such documents should be in themselves sufficient evidence of the fact of the summons without further proof, and that not more than six coins of Halle or their equivalent should be exacted for the serving of the summons.
9. The king also notified all advocates who had used their office as a pretext for oppression to come to some agreement with those whom they had injured, and not to exact or demand in the future more than is due from those for whom they act as advocates. Otherwise they will be brought to trial for their injustice.
10. He also decreed that phalburgii1 should not be allowed to live in any imperial city.
The German Princes Confirm Rudolf’s Surrender of all Imperial Claims in Italy, 1278-79.
Rudolf saw clearly that the policy which the German kings had followed with regard to Italy had led to their ruin. He determined to give up this fatal policy, and to devote himself to the acquisition of lands and power in Germany. Accordingly he acknowledged all the papal claims in Italy, thus surrendering all for which the emperors had fought for the last 200 years. Contenting himself with what seemed obtainable, he gracefully acknowledged the defeat and failure of his predecessors, and struck out a new policy for himself (see no. 150). The princes confirmed his agreement with the pope by this document. Notice that the princes use the figures of the two luminaries and the two swords, accepting the papal interpretation (see no. 114).
We, the princes of the empire, to all to whom these presents come. The holy Roman church has always borne a special love for Germany, and has given her a name which in secular affairs is above the name of every other power on earth [i.e., the name of the empire]; she has established the princes in Germany, like rare and beautiful trees in a garden, watering them with her special favor, and they [the princes], supported by the church, have brought forth wonderful fruit; namely, the ruler of the empire who is produced by the election of the princes. He [the emperor] is that lesser luminary in the firmament of this world which shines by the reflected light of the great luminary, the vicar of Christ. He it is who draws the material sword at the command of the pope, to support the spiritual sword which the shepherd of shepherds uses to guard his sheep, and he wields it to restrain and correct evil-doers and to aid the good and the faithful. Now we desire that all occasion of dissension and strife should be avoided, that the two swords should work together for the reformation of the whole world, and that we, the princes, who are bound to support both the church and the empire, should be recognized as lovers of peace. Therefore we approve and ratify all concessions, renewals, and new grants made by our lord Rudolf, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, to our most holy father and lord, pope Nicholas III, and to his successors, and to the Roman church; in particular, the fidelity, obedience, honor, and reverence to be paid to the popes and to the Roman church by the emperors and kings of the Romans; the possessions, honors, and dignities of the Roman church; including all the land from Radicofano to Ceperano, the march of Ancona, the duchy of Spoleto, the lands of the countess Matilda, the city of Ravenna, the Emilia, with the cities of Bobbio, Cesena, Forlimpopoli, Forli, Faenza, Imola, Bologna, Ferrara, Comacle, Adria, Gabello, Rimini, Urbino, Montefeltre, the territory of Balneum, the county of Bertinoro, the exarchate of Ravenna, the Pentapolis, Massa Trabaria, and the adjacent lands of the church, with all the boundaries, territories, islands, land, and water, belonging to the aforesaid provinces, cities, territories, and places; also the city of Rome and the kingdom of Sicily, including its possessions on the mainland and on the island of Sicily; also Corsica and Sardinia, and all other lands and rights belonging to the church. . . .
Revocation of Grants of Lands Belonging to the Imperial Domain, 1281.
Rudolf’s efforts to secure the crown lands which had been seized during the interregnum (see introductory note, no. 146) were not successful. The princes often voted that he should recover them, but each one refused to give up those which he himself held. In spite of his continued efforts, Rudolf was unable to regain any large part of them.
We, Rudolf, by the grace of God, etc., by this document, declare and publicly proclaim that while we were holding court in a regular diet at Nürnberg, a decision was rendered and all our princes, nobles, and other faithful subjects who were present agreed to it. This decision was that all gifts of imperial lands and possessions confirmed or made in any way by Richard the king, or his predecessors in the Roman empire since the sentence of deposition was passed on Frederick II shall be invalid, and are hereby revoked, except those that shall be approved by a majority of the electoral princes.
An Electoral “Letter of Consent,” 1282.
The power of the electors as well as the weakness of the crown after 1273 are shown by the fact that the electors compelled the king to secure their express and written consent before taking any important action. By this means the electors hoped to control the policy of the king and to make their own positions secure. If what the king proposed to do was not to their interest, they made him pay well for their consent. We give here an interesting example of these “letters of consent.”
Werner, by the grace of God archbishop of Mainz, etc. Desiring always to comply promptly with the wishes of our most serene lord, Rudolf, king, etc., we entirely and freely give him our permission to grant as a fief the villages of Lenkersheim, Erlebach, and Brucke, with all their belongings, to Frederick, the burggrave of Nürnberg, whenever he wishes.
Letter of Rudolf to Edward I, King of England, Announcing his Intention of Investing his Sons with Austria, etc., 1283.
Rudolf’s chief policy was the aggrandizement of his family. By all possible means he endeavored to acquire lands in such a way that they would remain in the possession of his family, no matter who should be elected as his successor. This document is interesting as throwing light on his ambitious foreign relations, but it is still more important because it speaks of a great event in the good fortunes of the Hapsburg house, namely: the acquisition of the duchies of Austria, Styria, and Carinthia, the territorial basis for its future greatness. See no. 110, for the origin of the duchy of Austria.
To the magnificent prince, Edward, by the grace of God king of England and our dearest friend, Rudolf, by the same grace king of the Romans, Augustus, a perpetual increase of love and friendship. Although the Emperor of the eternal empire, the creator of all things, has stricken our heart with an incurable wound in the death of our beloved son Hartmann, by whose marriage our two houses were to be bound together in an eternal bond of friendship, yet, for our part, his death has not put an end to our friendship for you, as we are eager to demonstrate in every way. Therefore we have thought it right to inform you that we are prospering in all things, and have been successful in securing the consent of the electors to our plans for raising our sons to the rank of princes and investing them with the duchies of Austria, Styria, and Carinthia.
Decree against Counterfeiters, 1285.
Since so many individuals, cities, and monasteries had the right to coin money, it was impossible to keep effective control of the coinage. It was inevitable that it would in the course of time be debased. During the interregnum this abuse seems to have grown rapidly.
Rudolf, etc., to all the faithful subjects of the holy Roman empire to whom these presents come, grace and every good thing. In the court over which we presided, held at Mainz on the day of the blessed Virgin Margaret, we asked the princes, counts, nobles, ministerials, and other faithful subjects of our empire who were present, what should be the penalty for coiners of false money, for those who pass false money or knowingly have it in their possession, and for the lords who protect such persons in their castles. It was decided that the coiner of false money should be decapitated; that he who passed false money or knowingly had it in his possession should lose his hand, and that the lord who protected a coiner of false money should suffer the same penalty as the coiner.
The Beginning of the Swiss Confederation, 1290.
The Swiss confederation had its beginning in the following league which the three forest cantons, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, made in 1290. It is in itself, however, a renewal of a still older league, the history of which is unknown to us. This document reveals the fact that these cantons were not entirely independent, but were subject to some external power. For instance, they did not choose or create their own judges, but received them from some one whom they recognized as their lord. The next document, no. 152 a, shows that unfree men, probably ministerials, had been put over them as judges.
In the name of the Lord, amen. It is a good thing for the public utility if communities agree to preserve order and peace. Therefore let all know that the men of the valley of Uri, and the community of the valley of Schwyz, and the commune of those who live within the mountains of the lower valley [Unterwalden], considering the dangers that threaten them, and in order to be better able to defend themselves and their possessions, have, in good faith, promised mutually to assist each other with aid, counsel, and support, and with their persons as well as their possessions, with all their power and with their best effort, within the valley and without, against each and all who may try to molest, harm, or injure any of us in our persons or in our possessions. Each commune promised to aid the others whenever it should be necessary, and at its own expense to assist the others in repelling the attacks of their enemies and in avenging their injuries. The three cantons took oath that they would do these things without treachery.
We hereby renew the ancient agreement which has existed among us. (1) Each man, according to his condition, shall be bound to obey his lord and to serve him in the proper manner. (2) We unanimously promise, decree, and ordain that in the aforesaid valleys we will not receive any judge who has bought his office in any way, or who is not an inhabitant of the valley. (3) If a dispute arises among us, the more prudent among us shall meet and settle it as seems best to them. If anyone refuses to accept their decision we will all assist in enforcing it. (4) Above all, we decree that whoever treacherously and without good reason kills another shall be taken and put to death, unless he can prove his own innocence and a grave offence of the other. If the murderer runs away, he shall never be permitted to return to the valley. All who receive or protect such a malefactor shall be driven out of the valley until the people agree to permit them to return. (5) If anyone, by day or night, secretly and maliciously burns the house of another, he shall never again be regarded as a citizen of the valley. And if anyone protects or defends such a malefactor within the valley, he shall make proper satisfaction to him whose house was burned. (6) If anyone seizes the property of another, his own possessions, if they are in the valley, shall be seized for the purpose of rendering just satisfaction to him whose property was taken. (7) No one shall take the property of another as a pledge [security], unless he is bondsman for him, or the latter is clearly his debtor, and then only with the special permission of the judge. (8) Each one must obey his judge, and, if necessary, must tell the name of the judge before whom he must answer. (9) If anyone resists the decision of the judge and thereby causes damage to another, we are all bound to assist in compelling him to make proper satisfaction to him whom he has injured. (10) If war [feud] or a quarrel arises between any of us, and one of the parties refuses or neglects to secure its justice or to render satisfaction, we are all bound to defend the other party.
As an evidence that these statutes shall be binding forever this present document was made at the request of the aforesaid inhabitants and sealed with the seals of the three communities.
Done in the year of our Lord 1290, at the beginning of August.
Edict of Rudolf, Forbidding Judges of Servile Rank to Exercise Authority in Schwyz, 1291.
The free peasants of the Swiss cantons had a serious ground of complaint in the fact that feudal lords made use of their ministerials in the administration of justice. Being themselves freemen, the peasants of Schwyz objected to being tried and judged by men of unfree rank, as the ministerials were. See nos. 296 and 297.
Rudolf, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, to all the freemen of Schwyz, his beloved subjects, grace and every good thing. We regard it as unfitting that any person of servile condition should be made a judge over you. Therefore, by our royal authority expressed in this letter, we decree that no one of servile condition shall ever in the future exercise the authority of a judge over you.
Concessions of Adolf, Count of Nassau, to the Archbishop of Cologne in Return for his Vote, 1292.
Candidates for the royal crown in Germany were compelled to practise bribery in the most open and shameless manner. Each elector was determined to get as much as he could for his vote, in one way or another, and so demanded a great variety of things from the candidate. We give the agreement which Adolf, count of Nassau, was compelled to make with the archbishop of Cologne in 1292. Of course he had to pay, or at least promise to pay, something to each of the other electors. An analysis of each paragraph will make clear the advantages which the archbishop sought to obtain from Adolf in return for his vote.
The archbishop of Cologne had followed a policy of territorial expansion. The great commercial interests of his city made it desirable that it should control the water-way to the sea and, if possible, a part of the coast-line. So Siegfried attempted to get possession of the Iands which lay to the north and northwest, between Cologne and the sea. This brought him into conflict with the dukes of Brabant, and led to a war. In the battle of Worringen, June 6, 1228, the archbishop was defeated, taken prisoner, and held as a captive for eleven months. During his captivity his enemies took many of his possessions from him. In addition to these misfortunes the people of Cologne rebelled against him, and seized his castles, lands, and revenues. When he was finally released from captivity, he found himself in a bad plight. He was without troops, his castles were either destroyed or in the hands of his enemies, and the gates of his city were closed against him. This explains many of the things which he demanded of Adolf.
Otto “with the arrow,” the margrave of Brandenburg (d. 1309), received his title in a curious way. He made war on the archbishop of Magdeburg, and in a battle was struck on the head with an arrow. The point of the arrow could not be removed, but remained in his head for more than a year. On this account he was afterward called Otto “with the arrow.”
We, Adolf, by the grace of God count of Nassau, etc. Long before the empire was made vacant by the death of Rudolf, king of the Romans, we had vowed to God to go on a crusade, if it were possible, and to render a pleasing service to God for the remission of our sins. Now we could do much more for the honor of God and the recovery of the holy land, if we, although unworthy, were elected king of the Romans. Since our reverend father, Siegfried, archbishop of Cologne, is laboring for our election and will vote for us, of our own free will and accord we promise and bind ourselves by our word of honor and by our oath to do the following things:
(1) If we are elected king of the Romans, we will protect and defend the church and all ecclesiastical persons in all their rights and liberties, and if damage is done them, we will endeavor to make it good. And we promise this especially of the church of Cologne, which has now for a long time been suffering from her heavy losses and misfortunes.
(2) Even if the other electors do not vote for us, we will accept the election at the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, and we will never give up the right to the crown which his vote gives us.
(3) And because the empire cannot prosper if the holy church of Cologne, which has suffered so many losses and misfortunes, is not first restored by the aid of the empire, we promise and of our own free will and accord bind ourselves by our word of honor and by our oath that if the archbishop votes for us, we will surrender to him and to his successors and to the church of Cologne the fortresses and strongholds, Cochem, Wied, Landskrone, Sinzig, Duisburg, and Dortmund, in order that he may better defend and preserve the right of the realm and of the empire in those parts, and also the rights of the church of Cologne, against their enemies and opponents. We will free these places from the claims of those who now hold them, and we will give them, with all their rights, income, jurisdiction, tolls, and belongings, to be held and possessed by the said archbishop and his successors and the church of Cologne as long as we live. And we will never demand them, or any part of their income, of the archbishop as long as we live. We grant all their income, tolls, and profits during our reign to the archbishop in return for his services in holding them against our enemies and those of the empire. We reserve for ourselves only the free right to enter the said places whenever it may be necessary.
(4) The said archbishop and the church of Cologne had pawned their castles, Leggenich, Wied, Waldenburg, Rodenburg, and Aspel, to count Adolf de Monte for a certain sum of money in order to liberate the archbishop from captivity; but the Roman church had ordered the said count under threat of excommunication and interdict to restore freely and entirely the said castles to the archbishop and his church and had commissioned Rudolf, the late king of the Romans, to see that he did so. We promise therefore that we will compel count Adolf and his heirs to surrender the said castles and the village of Deutz to the archbishop and his church without any loss and without the payment of any money.
(5) We also promise to restore to the said archbishop the advocacy and jurisdiction in Essen, and the manors of Westhoven, Brakel, and Elnenhorst, and we guarantee to him the peaceable possession of them.
(6) We also promise to maintain the archbishop and his successors in the possession of the castles Wassenberg and Leidberg, and we will aid them against the duke of Brabant and the count of Flanders and all others who may attempt to invade and seize these possessions.
(7) If the archbishop or his successors and the church of Cologne wish at their own expense to rebuild the castles, Worringen, Ysenburg, Werl, Minden, Ravensberg, Volmarstein, Hallenberg, and the other castles of the church of Cologne which were destroyed during the captivity of the archbishop, we promise to resist all violence offered them while doing so, and we will use our royal power against those who try to prevent them from rebuilding them.
(8) We also promise to confirm the archbishop in the possession of the tolls at Andernach and Rheinberg, and we will renew all the grants which have been made by emperors and kings to the said church.
(9) We also promise to restore to the archbishop and the church of Cologne the castle and possessions at Zelten, of which the archbishop was deprived during his captivity by the count of Veldenz.
(10) We also promise to compel the citizens of Cologne to make the proper satisfaction to the archbishop and the church of Cologne for their offences against the archbishop. They have now been excommunicated a year and a day and their offence is notorious, and if they do not make the proper satisfaction to the archbishop, we will, at the request of the archbishop and the church of Cologne, proscribe the citizens and confiscate their property. And we will labor with all our might and at our own expense to aid the archbishop and his successors and the church of Cologne against the citizens and all who aid them. We will not cease to make war on them nor will we make a peace, truce, or agreement with them without the consent of the archbishop, and in such matters we will follow his wishes.
(11) We also promise that if the citizens submit to the archbishop, or are subjected by him, we will not in any way interfere in the affairs of the city, nor will we require an oath of fidelity and homage from the citizens, because the city belongs completely to the archbishop and he has jurisdiction over it in all matters both spiritual and temporal.
(12) We also promise to renew and confirm to the archbishop and the church of Cologne their protection of the monastery of Corvey, which was granted them by Rudolf, king of the Romans, and we will recover for the church of Corvey all the castles and strongholds which have been violently taken from her.
(13) We promise to give the archbishop and the church of Cologne 25,000 silver marks toward defraying the necessary expenses which he and the church of Cologne are bound to have in performing the services which they owe to the empire.
(14) In order to secure the observance of these promises, we agree to get the castles, Nassau, Dillenburg, Ginsberg, and Segen, with the full consent of count Henry, his wife, and his brother, Emicho, and also Braubach, Rheinfels, Limburg, and the castle and town of Velmar, with the consent of their lords and their heirs, and we will put all these places into the hands of the archbishop, his successors, and the church of Cologne, to be held at our expense. We will name fifty nobles and knights as good and legal security, and if the archbishop wishes, we will go into Bonn with these fifty nobles within fifteen days, and we will not leave Bonn until each and all of these promises have been fulfilled, or security given that they will be fulfilled to the satisfaction of the archbishop.
(15) We also agree that if we act contrary to these our promises, or fail to give the archbishop security, we shall thereby be deposed and we shall lose the kingdom to which we have been elected, and in that case we will renounce all claims upon the realm which we acquired by the election. And the electors shall proceed to elect another king, if the archbishop thinks it best.
(16) We will not demand the coronation, or consecration, or installation, in Aachen from the archbishop, nor in any way trouble him about it until we have given him full security that we will do all that we have promised.
(17) We likewise cancel the debt which the archbishop owes us on account of the tolls at Andernach, which he had pawned to us.
(18) We further promise to call before our court the trial which is pending between the archbishop and the count of Nassau for the recovery of losses and damages, and we will decide it according to the desire of the archbishop.
(19) We also promise to seek the favor and friendship of Otto “with the arrow,” the margrave of Brandenburg, for the archbishop and the church of Cologne, as well as the favor of count Otto of Everstein.
(20) If the children of the late William, brother of Walram, who is now count of Jülich, bring suit or make war on the present count, Walram, for the possession of the county and other possessions, we will assist count Walram. And we will aid him against the duke of Brabant, the count of Flanders, and others who may make war on him.
(21) We will give the said count Walram the town of Düren as long as we live.
(22) The office of Schultheiss of Aachen, with all the rights of that office, we will give to whomsoever the archbishop may choose.
(23) Rudolf, king of the Romans, was in debt to the father of the said count, Walram, and had given him his note. In regard to this debt we will consult our friends and the archbishop, and we will do what is right and in some way satisfy the count.
(24) We also promise that so long as we live we will be favorable and friendly to the archbishop and the church of Cologne, and we will aid them against their enemies, and, without the consent of the archbishop and his successors, we will never take the counts of Monte and Marka, or the duke of Brabant, or other enemies of the church of Cologne into our counsel and confidence.
(25) In testimony of this we have affixed our seal to this writing.
(26) We, John, lord of Limburg; Ulric, lord of Hagenau; Godfrey of Merenberg, and John of Rheinberg, at the command of count Adolf, have sworn and promised that we will compel the said count Adolf to fulfil each and all of these promises without treachery and fraud. And we have affixed our seals to this document.
(27) Besides we, Adolf, promise under threat of the aforesaid punishments, that we will not enfeoff anyone with the duchies of Austria and Limburg, which have reverted to the crown, nor will we make any disposition of them without the express and written consent and permission of the archbishop.
The Archbishop of Mainz is Confirmed as Archchancellor of Germany, 1298.
The archbishop of Mainz had long been the archchancellor of Germany, but nearly all the duties of the office were performed by others. Although his office had become a sinecure, he wished to retain it, because of the dignity which the title gave him, as well as the income of it. The archbishop of Mainz had been a determined opponent of the Hapsburg party in 1292, and again in 1298, when Adolf was deposed, he was not at first favorable to the candidacy of Albert. He may have feared that Albert, in a spirit of revenge, would attempt to deprive him of his office, or at least of some of its perquisites.
Albert, by the grace of God, king, etc. We remember with gratitude how ably and faithfully Gerhard, the venerable archbishop of Mainz, labored to elect us king and supported us after we were elected. For this we surely ought not only to protect him and his church in their liberties, rights, and prerogatives, but also to show him still greater kindness and favors. We therefore declare that the aforesaid archbishop and all his successors in the archbishopric are and ought to be archchancellors of the holy empire in Germany. And we faithfully promise and bind ourselves by this document to maintain, defend, and protect the said archbishop and his successors in the rights, honors, dignities, and liberties which belong to them because of their office as archchancellor. That is, they shall always receive a tenth of all the money which we collect from the Jews, and they shall always appoint the chancellor to take their place [and do the work of their office], and they shall have all the profits accruing from this office, whether the said archbishops are actually present at our court or not.
Declaration of the Election of Henry VII, 1308.
This document shows the last step in the election of a German king. After all the electors had discussed the candidates and expressed their choice, the count palatine of the Rhine may be said to have cast the vote of the whole body of electors for the candidate upon whom they had agreed.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen. The kingdom and the empire of the Romans having become vacant by the death of Albert, king of the Romans, of blessed memory, notices were sent to all who have the right to vote in the election of a new king of the Romans, and on the day set all those who have any part in it were present and agreed to proceed to the election. And after each of the electors had declared his choice it appeared that all had given their votes for Henry, count of Luxemburg, agreeing upon him and naming him as king-elect, because they were confident from what they knew of his merits and his fidelity that he would defend and foster the holy Roman and universal church in her spiritual and temporal interests and would govern wisely the empire with the aid of God. Now, therefore, I, Rudolf, count palatine of the Rhine, for myself and my coelectors, by the authority which they have specially conceded to me do elect this Henry, count of Luxemburg, king of the Romans, advocate of the holy Roman and universal church, and defender of widows and orphans, and I invoke upon him the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Supplying of the Office of the Archchancellor of Italy, 1310.
The archbishop of Cologne as archchancellor of Italy wished to enjoy the honors and revenues of his office, but the work connected with it was done by some one else. For some reason he did not wish to go into Italy with the king. So Henry VII confirmed him in his rights, and excused him from accompanying him.
Henry, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, to all present and future subjects of the holy Roman empire, grace and every good thing. . . . Henry, venerable archbishop of Cologne, archchancellor of the empire for Italy and our very dear prince, has excused himself from accompanying us across the Alps, whither, God willing, we are shortly going, because he is so occupied with our affairs here and with the interests of the empire and of his own church. Therefore, at his request, we have appointed a suitable person to accompany us in his place, and to exercise the office of chancellor in Italy for him, guarding the seals and performing such other duties as the office may require. We have also granted to the archbishop as a special grace, because of his conspicuous merits, that the honor, authority, and profits of the office shall belong entirely to him and to his church of Cologne. He whom we have put in charge of the office shall perform the duties of the chancellor in Italy in the place of the archbishop, and all persons shall obey him in all matters regarding the rights and revenues belonging to the archbishop of Cologne and shall appear before him at the accustomed place and time.
The Law “Licet Juris” of the Diet of Frankfort, August 8, 1338.
John XXII had declared, in his struggle with Ludwig the Bavarian, that he had the right to confer the imperial crown, and to administer the empire during a vacancy. His broad claims offended the German people and led to a spirited but brief exhibition of national sentiment. The electors met at Rense, 1338, and emphatically declared that the imperial crown was not in any way dependent on the will of the pope, but that he whom they elected king of Germany was thereby made emperor without any action on the part of the pope. A few days later a diet was held at Frankfort, and the decision of the electors at Rense was enacted as a law. But it must be said that the electors themselves nullified it by appealing to the pope for aid when they deposed Ludwig and elected Charles IV (1346-7).
Both the canon and the civil law declare plainly that the dignity and authority of the emperor came of old directly from the Son of God, that God has appointed the emperors and kings of the world to give laws to the human race, and that the emperor obtains his office solely through his election by those who have the right to vote in imperial elections [the electors], without the confirmation and approval of anyone else. For in secular affairs he has no superior on earth, but rather is the ruler of all nations and peoples. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ has said: “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” Nevertheless, certain persons, blinded by avarice and ambition, and totally ignorant of the Scriptures, have distorted the meaning of certain passages by false and wicked interpretations, and on this basis have attacked the imperial authority and the rights of the emperors, electors, and other princes and subjects of the empire. For they wrongfully assert that the emperor derives his position and authority from the pope, and that the emperor elect is not the real emperor until his election is confirmed and approved, and he is crowned by the pope. These false and dangerous assertions are clearly the work of the ancient enemy of mankind, attempting to stir up strife and discord, and to bring about confusion and dissensions among men.
In order to prevent this we now declare by the advice and with the consent of the electors and other princes of the empire, that the emperor holds his authority and position from God alone, and that it is the ancient law and custom of the empire that he who is elected emperor or king by the electors of the empire, thereby becomes true king and emperor of the Romans, and should be obeyed by all the subjects of the empire, and has full power to administer the laws of the empire and to perform all the functions of the emperor, without the approval, confirmation, authorization, or consent of the pope or any other person.
Therefore, we decree by this perpetual edict that the emperor elected by the electors or a majority of them is to be regarded and considered by all to be the true and lawful emperor, by reason of the election alone; that he is to be obeyed by all subjects of the empire; and that he has, and all must hold and assert that he has, the complete imperial power of administration and jurisdiction. If anyone contradicts these decrees and decisions or any one of them, or agrees with those who contradict them, or yields obedience to the commands, letters, or instructions of opponents of these decrees, we hereby deprive him and declare him to be deprived, by virtue of his act and of this law, of all fiefs which he holds of the empire, and of all favors, jurisdiction, privileges, and immunities which have been granted to him by us or by our predecessors. Moreover, we declare that he is guilty of offence against the majesty of the emperor, and subject to the penalties incurred by this offence.
The Diet of Coblenz, 1338.
[1 ] For the meaning of this term see no. 139, paragraph 10.