Front Page Titles (by Subject) 159.: Chronicle of Henry Knyghton. - A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age
Return to Title Page for A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
159.: Chronicle of Henry Knyghton. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Chronicle of Henry Knyghton.
See introductory note to no. 158.
When the emperor learned of the approach of king Edward, he set out from his place to meet him, and after travelling four days he met him near Coblenz, receiving him there with great honor. Two richly decorated thrones were set up in the market-place, and on these the emperor and the king sat. There were present in attendance four dukes, three archbishops, six bishops, and thirty-seven counts, besides a great number, estimated by the heralds at 17,000, of barons, baronets, knights, and others. The emperor held in his right hand the imperial sceptre, and in his left the golden globe as a symbol of world-wide authority. A certain knight held a drawn sword above his head. And the emperor in the presence of the people gathered there proclaimed to all the crimes, disobedience, and wickedness of the king of France. And after he had declared that the king of France had broken his faith to the emperor, he published a decree of forfeiture against him and his followers. Then the emperor made king Edward his vicar and gave him authority over the land from Cologne to the sea, presenting him with a charter of this in the sight of all the people.
On the next day the emperor and the king of England and their nobles assembled in the cathedral, and the archbishop of Cologne said mass. And after mass the emperor and all his nobles swore to aid the king of England and to maintain his quarrel against the king of France with their lives for seven years, if the war between the said kings should last so long. They also swore that all the nobles in the territory from Cologne to the sea would come at the summons of the king of England to join him in an attack upon the king of France at any place and at any time set by him. If any one of them should fail to obey the king of England in these matters, all the other nobles of northern Germany would attack and destroy him. These affairs having been arranged and settled, the king of England received the grant of authority and returned to Brabant.
The Golden Bull of Charles IV, 1356.
Various things had led the emperors to follow the policy of conferring crown rights upon their princes. In order to carry out their Italian policy the Hohenstaufen had sacrificed the power of the crown in Germany (see nos. 110-112, 136, 138, 139), and after the interregnum the electors pillaged the crown at every opportunity (see nos. 149, 153). The result was that the crown was stripped of authority, while the princes had developed almost complete sovereignty in their lands. Charles IV, in the Golden Bull, attempted to fix as in a constitution the actual rights and status of the princes. He saw that Germany was no longer a monarchy, but a federation of princes.
Although from 1273 the number of electors was fixed at seven, it was not always clear who these seven were. Thus in 1313 two men claimed to possess the electoral vote of Saxony, and two others, that of Bohemia. Charles IV made provisions to prevent the recurrence of such a situation by attaching the electoral vote to the possession of certain lands (see chaps. VII, XX, and XXV).
Charles IV was himself king of Bohemia, and, knowing that it was hopeless to attempt to restore the German kingship, he exerted himself in the Golden Bull to secure for Bohemia all the advantages possible.
(Published at Nürnberg, January 10, 1356.)
ESCORT AND SAFE-CONDUCT FOR THE ELECTORS.
1. We decree and determine by this imperial edict that, whenever the electoral princes are summoned according to the ancient and praiseworthy custom to meet and elect a king of the Romans and future emperor, each one of them shall be bound to furnish on demand an escort and safe-conduct to his fellow electors or their representatives, within his own lands and as much farther as he can, for the journey to and from the city where the election is to be held. Any electoral prince who refuses to furnish escort and safe-conduct shall be liable to the penalties for perjury and to the loss of his electoral vote for that occasion.
2. We decree and command also that all other princes who hold fiefs from the empire by whatever title, and all counts, barons, knights, clients, nobles, commoners, citizens, and all corporations of towns, cities, and territories of the empire, shall furnish escort and safe-conduct for this occasion to every electoral prince or his representatives, on demand, within their own lands and as much farther as they can. Violators of this decree shall be punished as follows: Princes, counts, barons, knights, clients, and all others of noble rank, shall suffer the penalties of perjury, and shall lose the fiefs which they hold of the emperor or any other lord, and all their other possessions; citizens and corporations shall also suffer the penalty for perjury, shall be deprived of all the rights, liberties, privileges, and graces which they have received from the empire, and shall incur the ban of the empire against their persons and property. Those whom we deprive of their rights for this offence may be attacked by any man without appealing to a magistrate, and without danger of reprisal, for they are rebels against the state and the empire, and have attacked the honor and security of the prince, and are convicted of faithlessness and perfidy.
3. We also command that the citizens and corporations of cities shall furnish supplies to the electoral princes and their representatives on demand at the regular price and without fraud, whenever they arrive at, or depart from, the city on their way to or from the election; those who violate this decree shall suffer the penalties described in the preceding paragraph for citizens and corporations. If any prince, count, baron, knight, client, noble, commoner, citizen, or city shall attack or molest in person or goods any of the electoral princes or their representatives, on their way to or from an election, whether they have safe-conduct or not, he and his accomplices shall incur the penalties above described, according to his position and rank.
4. If there should arise any enmity or hostility between two electoral princes, it shall not be allowed to interfere with the safe-conduct which each is bound to furnish to the other on the occasion of the election, under penalty of being declared guilty of perjury, and being deprived of his vote for that occasion, as described above.
5. If any other princes, counts, barons, knights, clients, nobles, commoners, citizens, or cities are at war with any electoral prince or princes, they shall nonetheless be bound to furnish to them and their representatives escort and safe-conduct for the journey to and from the election, under the same penalties. In order to render the observance of the above demands more certain, we desire and instruct all electoral and other princes, and all counts, barons, nobles, cities, and corporations to bind themselves by oaths and written promises to observe them. If anyone refuses to do this, he shall incur the penalties above described, according to his rank and station.
6. If any electoral prince violates any of the above or following laws of the empire, he shall be excluded by his fellow-electors from their body, and shall be deprived of his vote and his electoral dignity, and of his right to hold fiefs of the empire. If any other prince of any rank or station, or any count, baron, or noble who holds fiefs of the empire, or any of their successors to their fiefs, is guilty of a similar crime, he shall not be invested with the fiefs which he holds of the empire, nor be able to receive a fief from any other lord, and he shall incur the above penalties, according to his rank.
7. The above rules apply to escorts and safe-conduct in general, but we have thought it well to indicate also the neighboring lands which should furnish escort and safe-conduct in each separate case to each elector.
8. To the king of Bohemia, the chief cup-bearer of the empire, the following should furnish escort and safe-conduct: the archbishop of Mainz, the bishops of Bamberg and Würzburg, the burggrave of Nürnberg, etc.
9. To the archbishop of Cologne, archchancellor of the empire for Italy, the archbishops of Mainz and Trier, the count palatine of the Rhine, the landgrave of Hesse, etc.
10. To the archbishop of Trier, archchancellor of the empire for Gaul and the kingdom of Arles, the archbishop of Mainz, the count palatine of the Rhine, etc.
11. To the count palatine of the Rhine, the archbishop of Mainz.
12. To the duke of Saxony, archmarshall of the empire, the king of Bohemia, the archbishops of Mainz and Magdeburg, the bishops of Bamberg and Würzburg, the margrave of Meissen, the landgrave of Hesse, the abbots of Fulda and Hersfeld, the burggrave of Nürnberg, etc. These shall also furnish escort and safe-conduct to the margrave of Brandenburg, the archchamberlain of the empire.
13. We wish and command that each electoral prince should give due notice to those from whom he intends to require safe-conduct, of his journey and of the route by which he intends to go; and he should make a formal demand upon such persons for safe-conduct, in order that they may be able to make fitting preparations.
14. The above decrees concerning safe-conduct are to be understood to mean that any person, whether expressly named or not, from whom safe-conduct is demanded on the occasion of the election, must furnish it in good faith within his own lands, and as much farther as he can, under the penalties described above.
15. It shall be the duty of the archbishop of Mainz to send notice of the approaching election to each of the electoral princes by his messenger bearing letters patent, containing the following: first, the date on which the letter should reach the prince to whom it is directed; then the command to the electoral prince to come or send his representatives to Frankfort on the Main, three months from that date, such representatives being duly accredited by letters bearing the great seal of the prince, and giving them full power to vote for the king of the Romans and future emperor. The form of the letter of notification and of the credentials of the representatives are appended to this document, and we hereby command that these forms be used without change.
16. When the news of the death of the king of the Romans has been received at Mainz, within one month from the date of receiving it the archbishop of Mainz shall send notices of the death and of the approaching election to all the electoral princes. But if the archbishop neglects or refuses to send such notices, the electoral princes are commanded on their fidelity to assemble on their own motion and without summons at the city of Frankfort within three months from the death of the emperor, for the purpose of electing a king of the Romans and future emperor.
17. Each electoral prince or his representatives may bring with him to Frankfort at the time of the election a retinue of 200 horsemen, of whom not more than 50 shall be armed.
18. If any electoral prince, duly summoned to the election, fails to come or to send representatives with credentials containing full authority, or if he or his representatives withdraws from the place of the election before the election has been completed, without leaving behind substitutes fully accredited and empowered, he shall lose his vote in that election. . . .
THE ELECTION OF THE KING OF THE ROMANS.
1. (Mass shall be celebrated on the day after the arrival of the electors. The archbishop of Mainz administers this oath, which the other electors repeat:)
2. “I, archbishop of Mainz, archchancellor of the empire for Germany, electoral prince, swear on the holy gospels here before me, and by the faith which I owe to God and to the holy Roman empire, that with the aid of God, and according to my best judgment and knowledge, I will cast my vote, in this election of the king of the Romans and future emperor, for a person fitted to rule the Christian people. I will give my voice and vote freely, uninfluenced by any agreement, price, bribe, promise, or anything of the sort, by whatever name it may be called. So help me God and all the saints.”
3. After the electors have taken this oath, they shall proceed to the election, and shall not depart from Frankfort until the majority have elected a king of the Romans and future emperor, to be ruler of the world and of the Christian people. If they have not come to a decision within thirty days from the day on which they took the above oath, after that they shall live upon bread and water and shall not leave the city until the election has been decided.
4. Such an election shall be as valid as if all the princes had agreed unanimously and without difference upon a candidate. If any one of the princes or his representatives has been hindered or delayed for a time, but arrives before the election is over, he shall be admitted and shall take part in the election at the stage which had been reached at the time of his arrival. According to the ancient and approved custom, the king of the Romans elect, immediately after his election and before he takes up any other business of the empire, shall confirm and approve by sealed letters for each and all of the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, the privileges, charters, rights, liberties, concessions, ancient customs, and dignities, and whatever else the princes held and possessed from the empire at the time of the election; and he shall renew the confirmation and approval when he becomes emperor. The original confirmation shall be made by him as king, and the renewal as emperor. It is his duty to do this graciously and in good faith, and not to hinder the princes in the exercise of their rights.
5. In the case where three of the electors vote for a fourth electoral prince, his vote shall have the same value as that of the others to make a majority and decide the election.
THE LOCATION OF THE SEATS OF THE ARCHBISHOPS OF TRIER, COLOGNE, AND MAINZ.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, amen. Charles by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Bohemia. . . . To prevent any dispute arising between the archbishops of Trier, Mainz, and Cologne, electoral princes of the empire, as to their priority and rank in the diet, it has been decided and is hereby decreed with the advice and consent of all the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, that the archbishop of Trier shall have the seat directly opposite and facing the emperor; that the archbishop of Mainz shall have the seat at the right of the emperor when the diet is held in the diocese or province of Mainz, or anywhere in Germany except in the diocese of Cologne; that the archbishop of Cologne shall have the seat at the right of the emperor when the diet is held in the diocese or province of Cologne, or anywhere in Gaul or Italy. This applies to all public ceremonies: court sessions, conferring of fiefs, banquets, councils, and all occasions on which the princes meet with the emperor for the transaction of imperial business. This order of seating shall be observed by the successors of the present archbishops of Cologne, Trier, and Mainz, and shall never be questioned.
THE LOCATION OF THE SEATS OF THE ELECTORAL PRINCES.
1. In the imperial diet, at the council-board, table, and all other places where the emperor or king of the Romans meets with the electoral princes, the seats shall be arranged as follows: On the right of the emperor, first, the archbishop of Mainz, or of Cologne, according to the province in which the meeting is held, as arranged above; second, the king of Bohemia, because he is a crowned and anointed prince; third, the count palatine of the Rhine; on the left of the emperor, first, the archbishop of Cologne, or of Mainz; second, the duke of Saxony; third, the margrave of Brandenburg.
2. When the imperial throne becomes vacant, the archbishop of Mainz shall have the authority, which he has had from of old, to call the other electors together for the election. It shall be his peculiar right also, when the electors have convened for the election, to collect the votes, asking each of the electors separately in the following order: first, the archbishop of Trier, who shall have the right to the first vote, as he has had from of old; then the archbishop of Cologne, who has the office of first placing the crown upon the head of the king of the Romans; then the king of Bohemia, who has the priority among the secular princes, because of his royal title; fourth, the count palatine of the Rhine; fifth, the duke of Saxony; sixth, the margrave of Brandenburg. Then the princes shall ask the archbishop of Mainz in turn to declare his choice and vote. At the diet, the margrave of Brandenburg shall offer water to the emperor or king, to wash his hands; the king of Bohemia shall have the right to offer him the cup first, although, by reason of his royal dignity, he shall not be bound to do this unless he desires; the count palatine of the Rhine shall offer him food; and the duke of Saxony shall act as his marshal in the accustomed manner.
THE RIGHTS OF THE COUNT PALATINE AND OF THE DUKE OF SAXONY.
1. During the vacancy of the empire, the count palatine of the Rhine, archseneschal of the empire, by reason of his principality and office, shall exercise the authority of the future king of the Romans in the Rhine lands, in Suabia, and in the region of the Frankish law; this includes the right to present to ecclesiastical benefices, to collect revenues and incomes, to invest with fiefs, and to receive the oath of fidelity in the name of the emperor. All of these acts, however, must be confirmed and renewed by the king of the Romans after he is elected. The count palatine shall not have the right to invest the princes of the empire with fiefs which are called Fahnlehen,1 the investiture and conferring of which is reserved to the king of the Romans in person. The count palatine is expressly forbidden to alienate or mortgage the imperial lands during the period of his administration. The duke of Saxony, archmarshal of the holy empire, shall exercise the same authority during the vacancy of the empire for the region of the Saxon law, under the same conditions as expressed above.
2. The emperor or king of the Romans must appear before the count palatine of the Rhine, when he is cited by anyone, but the count palatine shall try such cases only at the imperial diet when the emperor or king is present.
(Repeats the statements about the priority of the king of Bohemia among the secular princes.)
THE SUCCESSION OF THE ELECTORAL PRINCES.
1. . . . It is known and recognized throughout the world, that the king of Bohemia, the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony, and the margrave of Brandenburg, by virtue of the principalities which they possess, have the right to vote in the election of the king of the Romans along with their coelectors, the ecclesiastical princes, and that they with the ecclesiastical princes are the true and legal electoral princes of the holy empire. In order to prevent disputes arising among the sons of these secular electoral princes in regard to the electoral authority and vote, which would be productive of delays dangerous to the state and other evils, we have fixed the succession by the present law which shall be valid forever. On the death of one of the secular electoral princes his right, voice, and vote in the election shall descend to his first-born son who is a layman; if the son has died before this, to the son’s first-born son who is a layman. If the first-born lay son of the elector has died without legitimate lay sons, by virtue of the present law the succession shall go to the elector’s next oldest lay son and then to his heirs, and so on according to the law of primogeniture. In case the heir is under age the paternal uncle of the heir shall act as guardian and administrator until the heir comes of age, which shall be, in the case of electoral princes, at eighteen years. Then the guardian shall immediately surrender to him the electoral vote and authority and all the possessions of the electorate.
2. When any electorate falls vacant for lack of heirs, the emperor or king of the Romans shall have the power to dispose of it, as if it reverted to the empire, saving the rights, privileges, and customs of the kingdom of Bohemia, according to which the inhabitants of that kingdom have the right to elect their king in case of a vacancy.
THE IMMUNITY OF THE KINGDOM OF BOHEMIA AND ITS INHABITANTS.
Our predecessors, the emperors and kings of the Romans, have conceded to our ancestors, the kings of Bohemia, and to the kingdom and crown . . . that no prince, baron, noble, knight, client, citizen, or other person of the kingdom, of any station, dignity, rank, or condition, should be cited, haled, or summoned before any tribunal outside of the kingdom, or before any judge except the king of Bohemia and the judges of his court. We hereby renew and confirm this privilege, custom, and concession by our royal authority and power, and decree that no one of the aforesaid, prince, baron, noble, knight, client, citizen, or peasant, or any other person, shall be required to appear or answer before any tribunal outside of the kingdom of Bohemia, in any case, civil, criminal, or mixed. . . .
MINES OF GOLD, SILVER, AND OTHER METALS.
We decree, by this present law, that our successors, the kings of Bohemia, and all the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, shall hold and possess with full rights, all mines of gold, silver, tin, copper, iron, lead, or other metals, and all salt works, both those already discovered and those which shall be discovered in the future, situated within their lands, domains, and dependencies. They shall also have authority to tax Jews, the right to collect tolls already in force, and all other rights which they or their predecessors have possessed to the present day.
1. We also decree that our successors, the future kings of Bohemia, shall possess and exercise in peace the rights of coinage of gold and silver, in all parts of their dominions and of the lands belonging to their subjects, in such form and manner as they may determine: a right which is known to have belonged to our predecessors, the former kings of Bohemia.
2. We also grant to the future kings of Bohemia forever the right to buy, purchase, or receive as gift or in payment, any lands, castles, possessions, or goods from any princes, magnates, counts, or other persons; such lands and property to remain, however, in their former legal status, and to pay the customary dues and services to the empire.
3. We extend this right by the present law to all the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, and to their legal heirs, under the same conditions and form.
THE IMMUNITIES OF THE PRINCES.
1. We decree also that no count, baron, noble, vassal, burggrave, knight, client, citizen, burgher, or other subject of the churches of Cologne, Mainz, or Trier, of whatever status, condition or rank, shall be cited, haled, or summoned to any authority before any tribunal outside of the territories, boundaries, and limits of these churches and their dependencies, or before any judge, except the archbishops and their judges. . . . We refuse to hear appeals based upon the authority of others over the subjects of these princes; if these princes are accused by their subjects of injustice, appeal shall lie to the imperial diet, and shall be heard there and nowhere else. . . .
2. We extend this right by the present law to the secular electoral princes, the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony, and the margrave of Brandenburg, and to their heirs, successors, and subjects forever.
ASSEMBLIES OF THE PRINCES.
. . . It has been decided in the general diet held at Nürnburg with the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, and other princes and magnates, by their advice and with their consent, that in the future, the electoral princes shall meet every year in some city of the empire four weeks after Easter; this year they are to meet at that date in the imperial city of Metz; on that occasion, and on every meeting thereafter, the place of assembling for the following year shall be fixed by us with the advice and consent of the princes. This ordinance shall remain in force as long as it shall be pleasing to us and to the princes; and as long as it is in effect, we shall furnish the princes with safe-conduct for that assembly, going, staying, and returning. . . .
THE REVOCATION OF PRIVILEGES.
We hereby decree and determine that the liberties, jurisdiction, rights, honors, and authority of the electoral princes, ecclesiastical or secular, or of any one of them, ought not to be and shall not be in any way diminished by any privileges or charters of rights, graces, immunities, customs, etc., granted or to be granted by us or our predecessors to any person of whatsoever rank, station, or dignity, or to any city, town or territory, even if it is expressly stated in such privileges and charters that they are not revocable. In so far as any such privileges do diminish the liberties, jurisdiction, rights, honors, or authority of the said electoral princes, we hereby revoke them and decree by our imperial authority that they are to be regarded as revoked and void.
THE FORFEITING OF FIEFS.
In many regions it is becoming the practice for vassals and feudatories to renounce and resign verbally and without due notice the fiefs and benefices which they hold of their lords, and then to declare themselves free from their allegiance and to seize the fiefs under pretext of war. Therefore we decree hereby that such renunciation shall not be valid unless it is genuine and made with the condition that the fiefs and benefices shall revert immediately to the lords from whom they are held; those who have renounced their allegiance shall never disturb or molest their lords in the possession of these fiefs. Any subject violating this decree shall lose his fiefs and benefices, shall be branded with infamy, and placed under the imperial ban; no one shall ever give him a fief or a benefice, and any grant or investiture made to him shall be void.
We reprobate, condemn, and declare void all detestable and illegal conspiracies, confederations, and societies, which are or shall be made by cities or by persons of any rank or station, under color of any pretext whatever, inside or outside of cities, between city and city, person and person, or city and person, without the consent of the lords of the persons or territories; for it is well known that such conspiracies are declared illegal and void by the laws of our predecessors, the august emperors. We except from this condemnation such confederations and leagues as are entered into by princes, cities, and others for the preservation of the peace of their lands; these shall remain in force until we have decreed otherwise. If any person shall violate this decree and the ancient laws against conspiracies, besides incurring the regular penalties he shall be branded with infamy and shall be fined ten pounds of gold; cities and corporations guilty of a similar crime shall be fined 100 pounds of gold, half of which shall go to the imperial treasury, and half to the lord of the district, and they shall be deprived of the liberties and privileges which they have received from the empire.
The complaint has frequently been made of late that certain citizens and subjects of princes, barons, and other lords, in order to escape from their proper subjection, have had themselves received as citizens in other cities, and thus, while dwelling in the lands, cities, towns, or regions of the lords whom they have deserted, they claim to enjoy the liberty and immunity of the other cities, and to be freed from the lord’s authority, because of that citizenship; these are the persons who are called in the vulgar tongue in Germany “pfahlburghers.” Now since fraud and deceit cannot constitute a legal defense for any one, we hereby decree by our imperial authority and by the advice of the electoral princes, ecclesiastical and secular, that from this day forth within all the lands of the empire such citizens shall not enjoy the rights and liberties of the cities, unless they have actually moved into them and established their homes there, making their real residence and domicile in the cities and bearing their share of the debts, burdens, and municipal taxes. If any such persons are or shall be admitted into cities contrary to this edict, the admission shall be void of effect, and the persons shall not profit by the laws and liberties of those cities, in spite of any laws, privileges, and customs to the contrary, all of which, as far as they contradict this decree, we declare to be void; and the lords shall retain their rights over the persons and goods of their subjects who have deserted them in this manner. Those who receive the subjects of other lords on these terms contrary to our law, and who do not drive them away within one month after receiving notice of their presence, shall be fined for each such violation, 100 pounds of gold, half of which shall go to the imperial treasury and half to the lords of the deserters.
RENUNCIATION OF ALLEGIANCE.
If any person renounces his allegiance or alliance without due notice and in a place where he does not have his residence, even if he thinks he has just grounds, we declare that he shall not have the right to inflict injury or violence upon those from whom he has in this manner withdrawn. And since fraud and deceit cannot constitute legal defence, we hereby declare that renunciation of this sort from the society or association of any lord or person shall not be valid, and may not be used as pretext for making war, unless the renunciation has been announced to those who are concerned personally or publicly in the place where they have their regular residence, three full days before, and the notification can be proved by good witnesses. Whoever shall make war on another without making renunciation in this form, shall be branded with infamy, just as if he had never made any renunciation, and he shall be punished as a traitor by all judges. We forbid and condemn also all unjust wars and strife, all unjust burning, wasting, and rapine, all unusual and unjust tolls and exactions for safe-conduct, under penalties fixed by the laws of the empire.
FORM OF THE LETTER OF NOTIFICATION.
“To you, the illustrious and magnificent margrave of Brandenburg, archchamberlain of the holy empire, our fellow-elector and dear friend, we give notice by these presents of the approaching election of the king of the Romans, and we summon you according to the duty of your office to come to that election at the regular place within three months from — — (date), or to send one or more representatives or agents with sufficient authority, in order to consider with your fellow-electors and agree upon the choice of a king of the Romans and future emperor; to remain there until the election is completed; and to do such other things as are required by the laws of the empire in this matter. Otherwise, in spite of your absence, we shall proceed with our fellow-electors to carry out the aforesaid business, as the authority of the imperial laws empowers us.”
FORM OF THE CREDENTIALS FOR REPRESENTATIVES OR AGENTS OF THE ELECTORAL PRINCES, SENT IN THEIR BEHALF TO THE ELECTION.
We (name), by the grace of God (title), (office) of the holy empire. Be it known to all by these presents . . . that we have constituted our faithful subjects (names) our true, legal, and special representatives and agents, to treat with our fellow-princes and electors, ecclesiastical and secular, and to agree and decide with them concerning a suitable person to be elected king of the Romans; to be present, deliberate, name, consent to, and elect the king of the Romans and future emperor in our name and for us; and to take the necessary, due, and accustomed oaths upon our soul, in regard to the aforesaid things; to appoint substitutes to do any and all things which may be necessary, useful, or convenient to the aforesaid consideration, nomination, deliberation, and election, and to do anything which we would be able to do if we were present in person at the election, even if these things be special and peculiar things not mentioned specifically in the above. We will accept and ratify everything done by the aforesaid representatives or their substitutes.
THE UNITY OF THE ELECTORAL PRINCIPALITIES.
It is known that the right of voting for the king of the Romans and future emperor inheres in certain principalities, the possessors of which have also the other offices, rights, and dignities belonging to these principalities. We decree, therefore, by the present law that the electoral vote and other offices, dignities, and appurtenances shall always be so united and conjoined that the possessor of one of these principalities shall possess and enjoy the electoral vote and all the offices, dignities, and appurtenances belonging to it, that he shall be regarded as electoral prince, that he and no other shall be accepted by the other electoral princes and admitted to participation in the election and all other acts which regard the honor and advantage of the holy empire, and that no one of these rights, which are and ought to be inseparable, shall ever be taken from him. And if through error or by any other means any decision or sentence is issued by any judge against the present law, it shall be void.
THE PRECEDENCE AMONG THE ARCHBISHOPS.
We have defined above the location of the seats of the ecclesiastical electors in the council, at the table, and on other occasions, when the emperor meets with the electoral princes, but we have thought it well to indicate also the order of precedence in procession and march. Therefore we decree by the present imperial edict that whenever the emperor or king of the Romans meets with the electoral princes, and the insignia are borne before him in procession, the archbishop of Trier shall march directly before the emperor or king, no one being between them except the bearers of the insignia; and when the emperor or king marches without the insignia the archbishop shall immediately precede him. The other two archbishops [of Mainz and Cologne] shall march on either side of the archbishop of Trier, their position on the right or the left being determined by the region in which the ceremony is held, as described above.
THE ORDER OF PRECEDENCE AMONG THE SECULAR ELECTORAL PRINCES, AND THE BEARERS OF THE INSIGNIA.
We also determine by the present decree the precedence among the secular electoral princes as follows: When the electoral princes march in procession with the emperor or king of the Romans in any of the ceremonies of the imperial diet and the insignia are borne before him, the duke of Saxony shall precede the emperor or king, marching between him and the archbishop of Trier, and bearing the imperial or royal sword; the count palatine of the Rhine shall march at the right of the duke of Saxony with the imperial globe, and the margrave of Brandenburg at the left with the sceptre; the king of Bohemia shall follow immediately behind the emperor or king.
BENEDICTIONS OF THE ARCHBISHOPS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE EMPEROR
When the mass is celebrated in the presence of the emperor or king, the archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne, or any two of them, being present, the archbishops shall perform the services on the different days in turn in the order of their consecration, each one on his day officiating in the confession which is said before the mass, in the presenting of the gospel to be kissed, in the giving of peace after the Agnus Dei, in the benedictions after the mass and before meals, and in returning thanks after meals. Each archbishop on his day should invite the other archbishops to participate in the services, to set a good example to men by honoring one another.
(Published at Mets. December 25, 1356.)
1. If any person shall have joined in a conspiracy or taken oath to join in a conspiracy with any other persons, princes, knights, or private persons, to slay one of the electoral princes of the holy empire, he shall be judged guilty of offence against the majesty of the emperor, and shall be executed, and all his goods shall be forfeited to the royal treasury; for we regard the electoral princes as members of our own body, and visit offences against them with the same severity as against ourself. [The rest of the chapter is devoted to the effects of the confiscation and attainder upon children and heirs of criminals, etc.]
If it is proper that the integrity of the ordinary principalities should be preserved, for the better securing of justice and peace for the subjects, it is even more important that the great principalities of the electoral princes should be kept intact in their domains, honors, and rights. Therefore we determine and decree by this imperial edict that the lands, districts, fiefs, and other possessions of the great principalities, namely, the kingdom of Bohemia, the palatinate of the Rhine, the duchy of Saxony, and the mark of Brandenburg, should never under any circumstances be separated, divided, or dismembered. In order that they may be preserved in their integrity, the first-born son in each case shall succeed to them, and shall exercise ownership and dominion in them, unless he be incapacitated for ruling by reason of imbecility, or other notorious defect. In that case, he shall not be allowed to inherit, but the succession shall go to the nearest male lay heir on the paternal side.
1. On the day of the imperial diet, all the electoral princes shall proceed to the imperial palace about the first hour, and shall assist the emperor or king in donning the insignia; then they shall proceed on horseback to the place of the diet with the emperor or king, preserving the order of precedence indicated above. The archchancellor of the kingdom in which the diet is held shall bear the seals of the empire or kingdom upon a silver staff; the secular princes shall bear the sceptre, globe, and sword, as indicated above; the German and Lombard crowns shall be borne, in this order, by princes of inferior rank named for this office by the emperor, immediately before the archbishop of Trier, who precedes the emperor, now wearing the imperial crown.
2. The empress or queen, clad in her insignia, shall also proceed to the place of the diet with her officials and ladies, taking her place behind the emperor or king and behind the king of Bohemia, who follows immediately after the emperor or king.
THE OFFICES OF THE ELECTORAL PRINCES AT THE DIET.
1. After the emperor or king is seated on his throne, the duke of Saxony shall appear before the place of the diet on horseback with a silver staff and a silver measure, each of the value of twelve marks in silver, and shall fill his measure with oats from a heap that has been placed before the building in which the diet is held. This heap of oats shall be as high as the breast of the horse on which he rides. He shall then give this measure of oats to the first servant that approaches. Then he shall thrust his staff into the heap of oats and go away, and the vice-marshal, the count of Pappenheim, or in his absence the marshal of the court, shall distribute the oats. After the emperor or king has taken his place at the table the ecclesiastical electors, supported by other prelates, shall stand before the table and one of them shall pronounce the blessing, according to the order of precedence established above; after the benediction the chancellor of the court shall present the seals to the archbishops, and they shall bear them to the emperor, all three touching with their hands the staff on which they are suspended, the archchancellor of the kingdom in which the diet is held marching in the middle and the other two on either side of him. They shall lay the seals reverently before the emperor or king, who shall immediately return them to the archbishops. The archchancellor of the kingdom in which the diet is held shall wear the great seal of the empire about his neck during the dinner and until he returns to his abode. The staff, which shall be of silver of the value of twelve marks, and the seals, shall be handed over to the chancellor of the court. The archbishop who bears the great seal shall return this also to the chancellor of the court by one of his own servants, mounted on a horse which shall be presented to the chancellor of the court as a perquisite of his office and as a token of the love of the archchancellor.
2. The margrave of Brandenburg, the archchamberlain of the empire, shall approach on horseback, bearing water in silver basins of the value of twelve marks, and a beautifully embroidered napkin, and shall dismount and offer the emperor or king water to wash his hands.
3. The count palatine of the Rhine shall approach on horseback, bearing four silver dishes, each of the value of three marks, filled with food, and shall dismount and carry them in and place them on the table before the emperor or king.
4. Then the king of Bohemia, the archccupbearer of the empire, shall ride up, bearing a silver cup or goblet, of the value of twelve marks, filled with wine and water mixed, and shall dismount and offer the goblet to the emperor or king to drink.
5. When the offices have been performed by the secular electoral princes, the vice-marshal, the count of Falkenstein, shall receive the horse and the silver basins of the margrave of Brandenburg; the master of the kitchen, the count of Nortemberg, shall receive the horse and the dishes of the count palatine of the Rhine; the vice-cupbearer, the count of Limburg, shall receive the horse and the goblet of the king of Bohemia; the vice-marshal, the count of Pappenheim, shall receive the horse, the staff, and the measure of the duke of Saxony. If these officials are not present, the ordinary officials of the court shall receive these gifts in their places.
(Description of the banqueting table, etc.)
1. We have learned from records and traditions, that it has been the custom in the past to hold the election of the king of the Romans in Frankfort, the coronation in Aachen, and the first diet in Nürnberg; therefore we decree that in the future these ceremonies shall be held in these places, unless there shall be some legitimate obstacle. . . .
THE RIGHTS OF THE OFFICIALS OF THE COURT WHEN THE PRINCES OF THE EMPIRE RECEIVE THEIR FIEFS.
(Requiring the secular electors to learn the Italian and Slavic languages.)
160 a and 160 b.
The Acquisition of the Mark of Brandenburg by the Hohenzollern Family, 1411.
[1 ] In the investiture of a vassal with a fief certain symbols were used. Among other articles that were used in this way when investing the secular tenants-in-chief was the spear, to which it became customary to affix a small standard or flag, as a symbol of the regalia which were conferred with the fief. Eventually this was the only symbol used in such cases, and hence the secular fiefs which were held directly from the king came to be called “Fahnlehen,” or “flag fiefs.”