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222.: Letter of the King. - 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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Letter of the King.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, amen. Philip, by the grace of God king of France. Be it known to all, present and future, that we have received Blanche, countess of Troyes, as our liege woman, for the fief which our beloved nephew and faithful subject, Theobald, former count of Troyes, held from us. . . . We have sworn to her that we will keep the agreements written in this charter in good faith, as to our liege woman; namely, that we will protect and nourish her daughter whom she has placed in our ward, in good faith and without deceit, and that we will not give her in marriage until she reaches the age of twelve years. After she has reached that age, we will provide her with a husband in accordance with the desires and advice of ourself, our mother, the lady Blanche, and the barons whose names are written here, or of the persons who hold their fiefs, if they have died. These are the barons: William, archbishop of Rheims; Odo, duke of Burgundy; Guy of Dampierre; Gualcher of Châtillon, etc.
Homage to the Bishop of Langres, 1214.
I, Blanche, countess palatine of Troyes, make known to all who see these presents that while my beloved lord, William, bishop of Langres, was at Troyes on certain business, I besought him, if he was willing, to receive there the homage of my beloved son, count Theobald. He replied that the homage ought to be made only at Langres, but that, as a favor to me and out of love to my son, he would receive it at Troyes, in order that I might be spared the journey, saving his rights and the rights of the church of Langres, and the rights of my son. Accordingly he received the homage of my son at Troyes, and I conceded and concede that this shall work no prejudice to the rights of the church of Langres, or the bishop, but that the rights of the bishop and of my son shall remain unimpaired.
Homage to the Bishop of Châlons, 1214.
Gerard, by the grace of God bishop of Châlons, to all who see these presents, greeting and sincere love in the Lord. Know that when our beloved son and faithful subject, Theobald, count of Champagne, came to us at Cherville, we were ill, and so he did homage at St. Memmie. Now in order that this may not work prejudice to future counts of Champagne, we acknowledge and bear witness that homage ought to be done at Cherville or elsewhere in the march [i.e., frontier], where the bishops of Châlons and the counts of Champagne are wont to come together for conference and the transaction of business.
Homage to the Abbot of St. Denis, 1226.
Peter, by the grace of God abbot of St. Denis, to all who see these presents, greeting in the Lord. Know that the noble man, Theobald, count palatine of Champagne and Blois, did homage to us for the castle of Nogent-sur-Seine and its dependencies, in the same manner as Milo of Châlons, former lord of that castle, who held it as a fief from the church of St. Denis. With the advice and consent of our chapter we have granted that the said count shall be bound to appear only in our court in matters pertaining to that fief.
List of the Fiefs of Champagne, about 1172.
These documents illustrate the relation of his vassals to the count of Champagne. They are taken from a register of the fiefs and vassals of the count of Champagne, drawn up about 1172. There are many instances of such registers or inventories in the feudal age; the relations of lord and vassals were apt to become confused and subject to dispute. The particular purpose of the register in this case was to determine the number of knights owing military service to the count of Champagne, and the amount of service owed by each one.
OF CHÂTILLON AND FISMES.
Count of Rethel, liege homage.
Count of Grandpré, liege homage.
Count of Roucy, liege homage.
Count of Chiny.
Roger of Rozoy, for the fief of Chaourse. Roger of Rozoy, his son [did homage].1
Lord of Montmort, liege homage. Guy of Montmort [did homage]. He holds in fief the rights of the forest of Vassy and many other fiefs.
Hugo of Oisy, a year’s guard.
Gaulcher of Châtillon, guard and liege homage.
The sons of Guy of Châtillon, a year’s guard and liege homage, etc., etc.
Count of Soisson. His fief is thirty pounds of the tolls and taxes of Château-Thierry.2
Lord of Pierrefonds.
Lord of Nesles, Fresnes, and Roiglise.
Lord of Braisne.
Lord of Bazoches is liege man of the count after the bishop of Soissons,3 and owes three months’ guard. For Coulonges and the forest as far as Ste. Gemme [his fief].
André de Ferté, liege homage and a year’s guard.
Bartholomé de Thury, liege homage and a year’s guard. His fief is at Thury, Coulombs, and Chacrise, etc., etc.
Count of Vermandois.
Count of Beaumont.
Bishop of Beauvais, for the fief of Savignies.
Bochard of Montmorency. His fief is at Marly and Ferrières.
Lord of Crécy-en-Brie. For Crécy and many other fiefs.
Lord of Montjay.
Viscount of La Ferté, liege homage and guard. For his holdings at Gandelus, Fresnes, La Ferté-Gaucher, La Fertésous-Jouarre, and Lizy, and their dependencies, except the fief which he holds of the bishop of Meaux and the abbot of St. Faron.
Theobald of Crespy. For Bouillancy, etc., etc.
Sum of the Knights [who owe Service to the Count of Champagne].
This table occurs at the end of the register of the fiefs of the count of Champagne of which the preceding number is a part. It is the sum of the knights who owe regular military service to the count, and is also therefore the number of knights whom the count should bring in answer to royal summons to war.
Extent of the Lands of the County of Champagne and Brie, about 1215.
This is an inventory of the domain lands of the count of Champagne, made to determine the revenues, possessions, and rights of the count, and the obligations and dues of the tenants and serfs. They were determined by the examination of certain trustworthy inhabitants of each domain or village. The result was arranged according to bailiwicks (large administrative districts), and domains or villages. Thus the cases given here are taken from the four villages of Troyes, Nogent, Pont, and Seant, in the bailiwick of Troyes. The student should notice the rights of the lord (justice, banvin, rachat, mainmort, markets, tolls, etc.); the revenues from the lands; the position of the prévôt (the lord’s agent in the village), whose services are paid by allowing him to collect and keep part of the revenues. Note also that in this age many of the rights of the lord are commuted for money or let out to others for an annual rent; this was a common tendency of the later feudal age, when the lord came more and more to appreciate the advantages of ready money over services and rents in produce.
BAILIWICK OF TROYES.
The count has at Troyes pure and mixed justice in Troyes and all jurisdiction over all persons,1 except the men who have charters of privilege and the men who live on the lands of churches which have jurisdiction over their men by charter or long usage.
Fines in cases coming under the high justice are levied at the will of the count according to the character of the crimes and the custom of the city. They are not estimated here. Escheat and confiscation of goods for the great crimes, such as killing, theft, rapine, heresy, etc., belong to the high justice. The prévôt has 20 solidi of the fines which are levied, and 60 solidi of the escheats. Besides these the prévôt has no share in these fines, but they go to the count.
Fines for cases coming under the low justice are levied according to the custom of Troyes. . . .
The count also has the right of mainmort by which he takes all the goods of men who die without children or heirs who should succeed, and all the goods of low-born men who die without children. . . .
The count also has within the district of Troyes the right of rachat,2 which the widows of noble holders of fiefs must pay if they wish to marry again. The rate of the rachat has been decided to be equal to the income of the fief for a year. The prévôt has no share in the rachat.
The count also has the markets of St. John, which begin on the first Tuesday two weeks after the day of St. John the Baptist and end about the day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. They are now estimated to be worth 1,000 pounds,3 besides the fiefs of the holders of the markets which are worth 13 pounds. This market is called the “hot-weather fair” (la foire chaude).
He also has the markets of St. Rémy, called the “cold-weather fair” (la foire froide). They begin on the day after All Saints’ day and last until a week before Christmas. They are estimated to be worth now about 700 pounds. . . .
The count also has the house of the German merchants where cloth is sold. . . . It is sold or rented out at the fairs of St. John and St. Rémy, and is estimated to be worth 400 pounds a year, deducting the expenses.
The count also has the stalls of the butchers . . . which are held from the count for an annual rental, paid half on the day of St. Rémy, and half on the day of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. The count also has jurisdiction in cases arising in regard to the stalls of the butchers.
He also has the hall of the cordwainers [shoemakers], where shoes are sold on Saturday; it is situated next to the stalls of the butchers. It is held from the count for an annual rental, paid at the above-mentioned times.
The count and Nicholas of Bar-le-Duc have undivided shares in a house back of the dwelling of the prévôt, which contains 18 rooms, large and small. The rooms are rented for an undivided rent of 125 solidi, of which half goes to the said Nicholas. . . .
The count and the said Nicholas have undivided shares in seventeen stalls for the sale of bread and fishes. They are now rented for 18 pounds and 18 solidi. . . .
The count has a house there and the orchard that goes with it, which the count retains for himself [i.e., has not let out in fief].
According to the statement under oath of Pierre of Pampeluna [etc.], the count has also all the justice, except that which is held by others by charter or long usage. . . .
Escheat and confiscation of goods come under the high justice, and the prévôt has the same rights in fines and escheats as in the case of Troyes [see above]. The smaller fines from cases belonging to the high justice are estimated as belonging to the office of the prévôt.
The count also has the market hall and the toll from the markets and the village, every day in the week. They are estimated at 80 pounds.
He also has the banvin, which lasts a whole month, beginning on the day after Easter. It is valued at 30 pounds.
The count also has the right over the streams of Noe and Vileure. . . .
5. Extent of the domain of Pont-sur-Seine, determined by the statements of Pierre Molventre, Th. Coichard, and Robert of Besançon, who were sworn to speak the truth.
The count has a house there, and has all the justice in the village and the chatelainerie, except that which is held by others by charter or long usage. The high and low justice is exercised as described in the chapter on Troyes. The jurisdiction exercised by the prévôt is estimated to be worth 100 pounds a year, the jurisdiction over the fiefs at 14 pounds, 10 solidi, and the jurisdiction over the clergy at 26 solidi, 8 denarii.
These are the dues collected by the prévôt:
Taxes and toll from the market, and 18 solidi of the ancient small tax. Also the lods et ventes,1 which are now estimated at 42 pounds.
The banvin, which lasts for 15 days, beginning about the day of St. Mary of Magdala, when the count wishes to exercise it; it is worth about 60 solidi when the count wishes to sell it. The monks of St. Étienne have the same banvin, but they are not allowed to sell it unless the count sells his.
The rents from the inhabitants of Villeneuve, now worth 60 solidi. The prévôt takes half, and the other half goes to the canons of the church of Provins. Each farm also pays 12 denarii and a measure of oats, half to the count (the prévôt does not take this) and half to the said canons. . . .
The count also has the following rents and lods et ventes:
Lods et ventes from the house of Robert of Besançon, and 12 solidi rent; the same from the house of Claude and 10 solidi rent; the same from the house of Ordinetus the serf, and 25 solidi rent. . . .
He also has from Saint-Martin-de-Bossenay 5 solidi of the small tax, lods et ventes, three hens a year, and 15 measures of oats. . . .
The count also has from Le Châtelot, near Villeneuve, seven hens a year, and five measures of oats to be paid on Christmas, and they belong to the office of the prévôt. . .
Hugo of Villeneuve, clergyman, Renerius, his brother, the prévôt of the village, Pierre Florie, Pierre Fromerit, former prévôt, and Hugo Florion, say on their oath that the count has the right of escheat from all who die in the village without heirs. . . .
6. Extent of Séant, determined by the statements of Theobald the bailly, Ithari le Paalier, Felicité Huilliet, Guillot le Convert, and Milauti Veitu, sworn to speak the truth.
They said on their oaths that Henry, king of Navarre of blessed memory, bought the village of Séant, with its men, lands, woods, domains, and appurtenances, from the lord of Montmorency, with the dowry of lady Blanche his wife, now the wife of lord Edmund, son of the king of England, paying for it 6,500 pounds Tours.1 The said lady Blanche has a house there and all the justice, high and low, within the boundaries of Séant. . . .
The lord of Montmorency had and the lady Blanche has 20 journata2 of land in the place known as the clearing of Forni, 10 journata in the clearing of John of Pont, 10 journata in the clearing of Pierre Courbe, and 5 journata in the clearing of Val de Laroi. In all, 45 journata, which are equal to about 42 arpents.
The lady also has the land tax from all the clearings; these are in meadows and contain about 250 arpents.
The lady also has the land taxes from the great field of Séant; this tax is divided into twelve parts, of which the abbeys of Valle Lucenti, Pontigny, and Dillo have five parts, and the lady the other seven. . . .
The lady also has rents, customs, and taxes from the following men:
Theobald the bailly is the man of the lady Blanche and holds of her in fief five of the eight parts of the bake-oven of Séant;3 the other three parts are held by Adelicia and her children. The said Theobald also has a farm from the countess, for which he pays 5 solidi, 1 denarius rent, and a measure of wine, a hen, a loaf of bread, and three measures of oats.
The children of Bertelon are men of the countess and hold land of her at a rent of 11 measures of oats and the taille.4
The children of Baudonnet are men of the countess and hold land of her at a rent of 12 denarii and a measure of oats, and the taille. . . .
The Attempt of the King to Control the Feudal Nobles.
The Feudal Law of Conrad II, 1037.
The feudal king naturally was not content with his restricted authority under the feudal régime and attempted to assert his right as head of the state to enforce general laws for the whole realm. When the king was strong and able, he could do this to some extent, but when he was weak, his commands received little attention. In the reigns of Conrad II and Frederick I, in Germany, the monarch was able to control his great vassals and enforce obedience to his laws. But the triumph of the papacy, allied with the great nobles of Germany, over the emperor was fatal to the development of a strong monarchy, and after the death of Frederick II the feudal lords became independent princes. See the progressive concessions to princes, nos. 136, 139, 153, 160. In France the monarchy became absolute by acquiring, in accordance with feudal law, actual possession of all the great fiefs. In England, the conflict between the king and the feudal lords gave opportunity for the rise of a representative system of government, which was used sometimes by the king to control the lords (as in the cases of Henry I and Henry II), sometimes by the great lords to control the king (John and Henry III). Thus the feudal system, under different conditions, resulted in France in an absolute monarchy, in England in a constitutional monarchy, and in Germany in a weak central government and a kingdom composed of many practically independent principalities.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Conrad, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus.
(1) Know . . . that we have ordained and established that no knight of a bishop, abbot, margrave, count, or of anyone else, who holds a benefice from the royal or from church lands, shall be deprived of his benefice unless he has been convicted of a crime by his peers, according to the laws of our ancestors. This applies to both our great vassals and their knights.
(2) If a conflict shall have arisen between a great vassal and his knight, and the peers shall have judged that the knight should lose his benefice, and if the knight alleges that he was condemned unjustly, he shall keep his benefice until both parties have come into our presence, where the case shall be settled justly. But if the great vassal is not able to get the peers of the accused to give judgment, the accused shall hold his benefice until he and his overlord and the peers shall have come before us. In such cases, the party who appeals shall notify the other party to the suit, six weeks before he sets out to the royal court. This applies to our great vassals as well.1
(3) But cases between lower vassals shall be tried before their lords or before our missi.
(4) We ordain also that when any knight, either of a great vassal or of a rear-vassal, dies, his son shall have his benefice. If he does not leave a son, but a son of his son survives, this grandson shall receive his benefice, observing the custom of great vassals by giving horses and arms to his lord.2 But if the knight leaves neither son nor grandson, but a brother or a half-brother on the father’s side, that one shall have the benefice, if he is willing to become the knight of the lord of that benefice.
(5) Moreover, we forbid that any lord should trade the benefice which his knight holds, or dispose of it in any way without the knight’s consent. And no one shall dare to take from his knight the lands which he holds by proprietary right or as a libellum or precarium.3
(6) The fodrum from the castles which was paid to our ancestors shall be paid to us, but we will not require any which was not paid to them.
The Feudal Law of Frederick I for Italy, 1158.
Frederick, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus, to all the faithful subjects of our empire. . . .
At the diet of Roncaglia, where we held a court of justice, as was the custom of our ancestors, the princes of Italy, the rulers of the church, and other faithful subjects made complaint that their vassals were in the habit of pawning or selling the fiefs and benefices which they held of them without their consent. Thereby the princes were deprived of the services due them from these fiefs and the dignity and the revenues of the empire were diminished. Having taken counsel with the bishops, dukes, margraves, counts, palatines, and other nobles, we therefore decree by this edict that no one henceforth shall sell or pawn or devise by will or in any way dispose of his fief or any part of it without the consent of the lord from whom he holds it. The emperor Lothar commanded under similar circumstances that such things should not be done in the future; we, however, hereby declare void not only future alienations of this sort, but also all illegal alienations that have already been made; the purchaser of the fief in such cases shall have an action at law against the seller for the recovery of the price, without regard to the length of time that has elapsed since the transaction. And as some resort to fraudulent sales and transfers under the form of free investiture after receiving the purchase price, we declare that such fictitious sales are void and condemn both seller and purchaser to the loss of the fief, which shall revert to the lord. Any lawyer who draws up such a contract knowingly shall be deprived of his office and lose his hand and be stigmatized with infamy. If any person over fourteen years of age, who has inherited a fief, fails through his own negligence to seek investiture for it from his lord within a year and a day, he shall lose the fief and it shall revert to the lord. If any vassal refuses to obey the summons of his lord to accompany him on an imperial expedition, or fails to come at the time set, or to send a suitable person in his place or to give half the revenue of the fief [as compensation for his service], he shall lose the fief and it shall revert to the lord.1
Duchies, marks, and counties may not be divided.2 Any other fief may be divided if the co-heirs desire, but on the following conditions: Everyone who holds a part of the fief shall swear fidelity to the overlord; no vassal shall have more than one lord for one fief; and the lord shall not transfer the fief to another lord without the consent of the vassal. Vassals shall be responsible to the lord for the conduct of their sons; if the son of a vassal offends the lord, the father, on pain of losing his fief, shall compel him either to make satisfaction to the lord for his fault or to leave his household. If the son refuses to obey, he shall not be allowed to inherit the fief on his father’s death unless he has made satisfaction. Vassals shall in a similar manner be responsible to their lord for the conduct of their vassals, and all their dependents.
In case of a controversy between two vassals of the same lord in regard to a fief, the matter shall be tried and decided by the lord. In case of a controversy between a vassal and his lord, it shall be decided by a court of peers of the vassal, sworn on their oath of fidelity to do justice in the case.
We also decree that in every oath of fidelity the fidelity to the emperor shall be excepted by name.
COURTS, JUDICIAL PROCESSES, AND THE PEACE
It is not our purpose to give a complete account of all the mediæval courts, nor to show fully their mutual connection. Because of the great difficulties of the subject and the lack of suitable documents we name only the most important courts and offer a few passages to illustrate them. It is not that such documents are scarce that we have presented so few of them; but they contain so much that would require long explanations that they would demand far more space than we felt could properly be given to this subject. The materials which we offer illustrate the courts for the most part after 1100, but they throw light on those of the earlier period. In many other documents contained in this book there are references to courts and judicial processes which the student should carefully observe.
I. The royal court. According to mediæval theory the king was the judge in the whole realm. He had jurisdiction over all things. But because he could not be present everywhere and hear all cases, he appointed men (dukes, counts, etc.) to act as judges in his place. But they merely represented him. So whenever the king in his travels comes to a place, he at once replaces the local judge and all the machinery for the administration of justice. Since he was present in person, he needed no one to represent him. Eventually the great princes refused to receive him into their palaces because of the heavy expense in entertaining him and his numerous retinue, so his journeys as judge into their territories gradually ceased. In 1220 Frederick II agreed that he would exercise his rights as judge in the cities of the bishops only during the diets which he should hold in them and a week before and a week after. (See no. 136, par. 10.) He soon ceased to travel as judge, and after 1250 acted as judge only in and during the diets which he held.
Since in theory all judges and courts merely represented the king, he had the right to call before himself any case, no matter where it was pending. This was called the jus evocandi, the “right of calling.” Rudolph of Hapsburg and his successors granted both princes and cities exemption from this. In the Golden Bull (no. 160, chs. VIII and XI) Charles IV renounced all right to call any of the subjects of the electoral princes before his court. These exemptions were gradually extended to all the princes, imperial cities, bishops, and other territorial lords, until in 1487 the crown completely lost its jus evocandi.
In the same way everyone had the right to appeal to the king, against the decision of any court. But in time the king surrendered this also in the same way to the electoral princes and agreed never to receive appeals from any of their subjects. See no. 160.
Frederick II found it impossible to attend to all the business of the royal court, and so in 1235 appointed a justiciar to represent him in all minor cases. See no. 232, par. 28. He also made provision for keeping complete records of the imperial court, and appointed a court secretary and put him under the control of the justiciar. See no. 232, par. 29.
II. The county courts. The county was composed of several districts called hundreds. Each hundred had its court, which was always held in the same place. The count received his authority as judge from the king, and with it the right to inflict the king’s ban or fine of sixty shillings. The count went about from one court place to another, holding three courts a year in each place. This regular court was in session three days. If the business of the court could not be attended to in these three days, the count announced another court to be held a few weeks later. All the freemen of the hundred in which the court was held were bound to be present at it. The courts of the count were called the greater courts (judicia majora) and had jurisdiction over property, criminal actions of a serious character, and suits to recover serfs. The lower or hundred courts (judicia minora, see nos. 139, § 7; no. 231, I, 58) had jurisdiction over cases involving debts, chattels, and trespass. These lower courts were presided over by judges of inferior rank called Schultheissen, Gografen, or hundred-counts, who were either appointed by the count or elected by the people. They merely represented the count, and could not inflict the king’s ban.
The counts were at first regarded as officials of the king, but under the influence of feudalism they became vassals and received their judgeships as fiefs.
III. Courts on the royal domain. All who lived on the crown lands, or royal domain, as they were called, were exempt from the county courts. The king appointed an official to administer justice to them. He was called an advocate and his office an advocacy. His position was similar to that of the count in the county courts. He presided over the judicia majora, and appointed Schultheissen to preside over the judicia minora.
IV. Courts on the lands of bishops and abbots. All those who lived on the lands of bishops and abbots who held directly from the king, were also exempt from the county courts. They were under the jurisdiction of the bishop or abbot, who appointed an advocate to preside over the higher courts, and Schultheissen to preside over the lower. These courts were quite like those on the royal domain.
V. The sovereign courts of the princes. The dukes received their jurisdiction with their fiefs, and in theory their courts did not differ from those of the counts. But they had a different development. For the dukes steadily developed toward sovereignty in their territories, and in 1231 many of them got complete exemption from the royal jurisdiction (see no. 139).
The duke of Austria was the first one to secure such complete exemption (1156); see no. 110. The Golden Bull (chaps. VIII and XI) shows that all the electors had acquired complete exemption and were sovereigns in their territories in the administration of justice.
VI. The courts of great landholders. Every great landholder, having a large number of vassals, held a court for the trial of all questions which arose between him and his vassals, or among his vassals. Since he also had jurisdiction over all the tenants and serfs on his lands, he of course held courts for them, which were similar to those described in III and IV. They are very similar also to the manorial courts in England.
VII. For the courts of the ministerials see nos. 297, 231, III, 42.
VIII. Ecclesiastical courts. There were also ecclesiastical courts which were presided over by clergymen, such as bishops, abbots, cathedral provosts, archbishops, etc. They tried all cases which involved offenses against the laws of the church.
IX. As the cities secured the right to govern themselves, they also in many cases got jurisdiction over themselves. In the documents in section X there are many references to courts and judicial processes in the cities. From the explanations given here the student will be able to understand at least their chief features.
X. Arbitration. Since the courts and the machinery for administering justice proved to be inefficient, it became common, especially among the cities, to create a commission of arbitration to settle all quarrels in a peaceable manner. See no. 319.
In German courts the judge was really only the presiding officer. The decision was rendered by the people who were present or by the Schoeffen. Generally some particular person had the right to propose the verdict (cf. no. 297, § 5). At the proper time the judge asked him what decision he wished to propose. Then the others present might agree with the proposed verdict or offer another in its stead.
In cases where there were no witnesses the accused was compelled to bring one or more of his relatives, friends, or neighbors, who swore that they believed that he was telling the truth. They were called his compurgators.
Schoeffe, pl. Schoeffen, were the permanent judges of the hundred court. They were instituted by Karl the Great to take the place of the temporary rachinburgii of the Salic law (see no. 4, title L, note 5). There were generally twelve of them in each county, and seven must be present before a court could be legally opened. They gave the decision in certain courts, and in so far they may be compared to our modern jury. They held their office for life. In the German cities the board of Schoeffen played a very important part in the administration of justice.
Schoeffen free, or Schoeffenbar free, were all the free-born. They were eligible for the office of Schoeffe.
The Pfleghaften were the free peasants who owned lands but because they did not render military service were compelled to pay an army tax. The payment of this tax was regarded as an evidence that they were not completely free, and hence their position was lower than that of the freemen who rendered military service for their lands.
The Landsassen were, like the leti (see no. 4, title L, note 1), essentially serfs, attached to the soil, and paying fixed rent and services.
The Bauermeister was at the head of the peasants of a village or district and acted as judge in certain cases when no other judge was at hand.
Following the revival in the study of the Roman law and the connection of Germany with Italy under the Staufer, Roman law was being introduced into Germany, where it naturally tended to replace the customary law, which was for the most part unwritten. The desire of the Saxons to preserve their own law and to prevent the uncertainty that would necessarily soon arise in it led them to attempt to codify it. Eike von Repkau, a nobleman, undertook the task of reducing their customs to writing. He called his book or code, which was written between 1215 and 1276, the Sachsenspiegel, that is, the mirror in which the Saxon law is seen.
I, 2. Every Christian man who has attained his majority is bound to attend the ecclesiastical court in the bishopric in which he lives three times a year. Three classes of people are exempt from this: The Schoeffenbar free shall attend the court of the bishop; the Pfleghaften shall attend the court of the præpositus of the cathedral, and the Landsassen shall attend the court of the archpriests.
They shall also all attend the civil courts. The Schoeffenbar free shall attend the burggrave’s court [also called the advocate’s court] every eighteen weeks. In it judgment is given under the king’s ban. If a court is called to meet after the close of the regular court, all the Pfleghaften shall attend it to try all cases involving misdeeds. This attendance is all that the judge may require from them.
The Pfleghaften shall attend the court of the Schultheiss which is held every six weeks, to try cases concerning their possessions.
The Landsassen who have no property shall attend the court of the Gograf which is held every six weeks. In the courts of the Gograf and of the burggrave the Bauermeister shall make complaint of all whose duty it is to attend the court but do not do so. And he shall ask an investigation about all cases which involve bloody wounds, abusive speech, the drawing of swords in a threatening manner, and all kinds of misdeeds, provided no suit has been entered about them.
I, 53. If anyone does not attend court when it is called, or fails to prove his case when he has brought suit, or challenges a man and is defeated, or does not come promptly to court, or disturbs the court by word or deed, or fails to pay a debt when the court has given judgment against him, he shall pay the judge his fine. In every case in which one party secures “damages” from another, the convicted party must also pay the judge his fine. And even in many cases in which no damage is involved, the judge may assess his fine. . . .
No one is fined twice for the same offence, unless he breaks the peace on a holy day. In that case he pays two fines, one to the ecclesiastical court and one to the civil court, and he pays damages besides to him whom he has injured.
I, 58. If the people choose a Gograf for a long period, the count or the margrave shall invest him with his office. . . . When the count comes into the district of the Gograf, the latter loses all his authority and cannot hold court [because his superior, whom he merely represents, is present]. In the same way when the king comes into the territory which is under the jurisdiction of the count, the count loses all his authority and cannot hold court. And this is true of all courts. In the presence of the king all other judges lose their authority and the king must try all cases. A count is the same as a judge, according to old German ideas.
II, 3. If a man is challenged to a duel who was not warned of it before he came to court, he shall have time, according to his rank, to prepare himself for it. The Schoeffenbar free shall have six weeks, other freemen and ministerials fifteen days. But for all other things that are laid to a man’s charge he shall answer at once, and either admit or deny his guilt.
II, 12. No man may render a decision in a case to which his lord, his vassal, or his friend is a party, if it involves their life or honor. Schoeffenbar free men may render decisions in all cases, but no one may render decisions in their cases unless he is of the same rank as they. . . . If a man objects to a decision after it is rendered, he may appeal to the higher judge and then to the king. In case an appeal is made, the judge shall send his messengers who understand the case to the king. The messengers shall be freemen, and the judge shall pay all their expenses while on the journey. They shall have enough bread and beer, and three dishes for dinner and a cup of wine. Their servants shall have two dishes. He shall give five sheaves for each horse every day, and shoes for their forefeet. As soon as they learn that the king is in Saxony they shall go to him and bring back his decision within six weeks.
If the man who made the appeal loses it, he shall pay the judge his fine, and all the expenses of his messengers to the king, and damages to the man against whose decision he appealed. . . .
If a judge asks a man to render a decision, and the man is in doubt and cannot make up his mind about it, he may refuse to give a decision, and the judge shall ask someone else for a decision. . . . If a man proposes a decision and someone who is present objects to it and proposes another, the judge shall accept that decision which receives a majority of the votes of those present.
II, 13. A thief shall be hung. If a theft takes place by day in a villa [village] and the object stolen is worth less than three shillings, the Bauermeister may pass judgment on the thief the same day. He may punish him in his hair and skin,1 or fine him three shillings. This is the highest sum for which the Bauermeister may try [i.e., not more than three shillings]. But he cannot try the case the next day. But in cases involving money, or movable goods, or false weights and measures, and cheating in the sale of victuals, he may assess higher fines. Murderers, and all who steal horses from the plow, or grain from the mill, or rob churches or cemeteries, and all who are guilty of treason, or arson, or who make gain out of information entrusted to them by their lord, shall be broken on the wheel.
If anyone beats, seizes, or robs another, or burns his house, or does violence to a woman, or breaks the peace, or is taken in adultery, he shall have his head cut off. Whoever conceals a thief or stolen property or aids a thief in any way, shall be punished as a thief. Heretics, witches, and poisoners shall be burnt.
If a judge refuses to punish a crime, he shall be punished as if guilty of it himself. No one is bound to attend his court or submit to his judgment if he has refused to grant him justice.
II, 27. If a man refuses to pay bridge or ferry toll, he shall be made to pay it fourfold. If he refuses to pay toll on the frontier, he shall be fined thirty shillings. This is the toll for ferries: For coming and going, four foot-passengers shall pay a penny; a man on horseback, a half-penny; a loaded wagon, four pence. The toll for bridges is half this. No toll shall be collected from anyone except at bridges and ferries. . . . An empty wagon pays half as much as a loaded one. . . . If anyone leaves the road and drives over cultivated land he shall pay a penny for each one of his wheels and make good the damage he has done. If on horseback, he shall pay half a penny besides the damage.
II, 28. If anyone cuts another’s wood, or mows his grass, or fishes in his streams, he shall pay a fine of three shillings and make good the damage besides. If he fishes in another’s fish-pond, or cuts down trees which have been planted, or fruit-trees, or if he takes the fruit from a tree, or cuts down trees which mark boundaries, or removes stones which have been set up to mark boundaries, he shall pay a fine of thirty shillings. . . . Whoever by night steals wood that has been cut, or grass that has been mown, shall be hung. If he steals them by day, he shall be punished in his “hair and skin.” A fisherman may use the bank as far as he can step from his boat.
III, 26. The king is the common judge everywhere. The Schoeffenbar free man cannot be called before a foreign court to fight a duel. But he must answer in the court in whose jurisdiction he is.
III, 33. Every man has the right to be tried before the king. And every man must respond if suit is brought against him before the king. . . .
III, 42. Do not be surprised that I have said nothing about the law of the ministerials. It is so varied that no one could ever come to the end of it. For under every bishop, abbot, and abbess, there are ministerials who have their special code of laws, and so I cannot set them all down here. . . .
III, 52. The king is elected as judge in all cases concerning property, fiefs, and life. But he cannot be everywhere, nor judge all cases, and so he gives Fahnlehen [flag-fiefs] to the princes [i.e., with jurisdiction over them], and counties to counts with the power to appoint Schultheissen, so that they can act as judges in the king’s stead.
III, 53. For every case a judge receives a fine but not damages. For no one receives damages but the man who brings the suit. And the judge cannot be both judge and a party to the suit.
III, 55. No one but the king can act as judge over the princes.
III, 60. The emperor enfeoffs all ecclesiastical princes with their fiefs using the sceptre as a symbol, and all secular princes with their Fahnlehen using a flag as a symbol. A Fahnlehen must not be vacant a year and a day. Wherever the king is, the mint and tolls of that place are surrendered to him during his stay there. And the local court is closed because he is the judge [and the local judge merely represents him]. While he is present all cases must be tried before him. The first time the king comes into the land [i.e., after his election], all prisoners must be brought before him, and he shall decide whether they shall be set free or tried. . . .
III, 63. Constantine the Great gave pope Silvester the secular fine of fifty shillings in addition to his ecclesiastical authority, in order that he might use both secular and ecclesiastical means to compel people to obey and do right. So the two courts, the ecclesiastical and the secular, should aid each other, and each should punish all who resist the other. . . .
III, 64. If the king summons the princes to render military service to the empire, or to come to a diet, and informs them of it by means of letters bearing his seal six weeks before the time set, they must obey and go to the king if he is in Germany. If they do not go, they shall pay a fine. The princes who have Fahnlehen pay 100 pounds. All others pay twelve pounds. A nobleman who does not come pays his duke ten pounds. . . . Those who are under a count or imperial advocate pay him sixty shillings, if he has the king’s ban. No one but the king can grant the king’s ban.
III, 69. In courts where the judge may inflict the king’s ban, neither the judge nor the Schoeffen shall wear caps or hats or any covering on the head, or gloves. But they may wear mantles on their shoulders. They shall not carry weapons [in court]. They shall fast until they pass judgment on every man, whether he is a German or Wend. No one except them shall pass judgment. They shall sit while passing judgment.
III, 70. In courts where the judge has no authority to inflict the king’s ban, any man may give the decision, or be a witness. . . .
Frederic II Appoints a Justiciar and a Court Secretary, 1235. From the Peace of the Land which was Proclaimed at Mainz, 1235.
(28) . . . We wish that all cases over which we cannot preside in person shall be tried by a man of approved character and good reputation, who shall be placed over the courts in our stead. And except in those cases which we reserve for our decision his judgment shall be final. We decree therefore that our court shall have as justiciar a free man, and he shall hold the office at least a year if he judges justly. He shall preside over the court every day except on Sundays and other holy days, and he shall administer justice to all litigants except to the princes and to other high persons in cases which touch their persons, rights, honor, fiefs, possessions, and inheritances, and the most important cases. All such cases we reserve for our judgment. This justiciar shall not fix the time for the more important cases which come before him without our special command. He shall not proscribe the guilty nor release from proscription. This we reserve for ourselves. He shall take oath that he will not receive anything for his decision, and that he will not be influenced by love, or hatred, or beseechings, or money, or fear, or favor, but according to his conscience, in good faith, without fraud or treachery, he will judge according to what he knows or believes to be right. We grant him all the fees which come from the absolution of those who have been proscribed, provided their cases were tried before him. We do this that he may be free to judge as he wishes, and may not find it necessary to receive gifts from anyone. He shall not remit the fine of anyone, in order that men may fear proscription.
(29) He shall have a special notary who shall keep the names of those who are proscribed, and of those who brought suit against them, an account of the case itself, and the day on which the proscription took place; also the names of those who are absolved from proscription, and of those who brought suit against them, and the day they were freed from proscription; also the names of those who stand as security for them, and where they live, and also an account of any other security which the man to be absolved is required to furnish for the satisfaction of the one who brought suit against him. All letters and documents concerning suits shall be sent to him. He shall devote all his time to this, and shall have no other work to do at the imperial court. He shall keep a list of those who are denounced as dangerous, and when anyone is freed from suspicion, he shall take his name from the list. . . . He shall be a layman, because a clergyman is not permitted to write judgments which involve the shedding of blood, and also in order that if he does wrong in his office he may be punished properly. He shall take an oath to conduct himself faithfully and legally in his office. . . .
Wenzel Creates a Commission to Arbitrate all Differences, 1389. From the Peace of Eger, 1398. (German.)
(2) We, king Wenzel, have made an agreement with the electors, princes, counts, lords, and the cities, and all who are parties to this league of peace, in regard to robbery, murder, arson, illegal seizure of persons, and quarrels which may arise between those who are party to this peace, that a commission shall be appointed to judge all cases of infraction of the peace, and the decision of this commission, or of a majority of it, shall be binding on all concerned. The electors, princes, counts, and lords shall name four of these commissioners, and the cities shall name four. And we will appoint a man to be president of this commission. If any member of this peace is injured by anyone, the case shall be brought before the president of the commission. Within fourteen days he shall call the commission to meet in one of the four cities, Würzburg Neustadt, Bamberg, or Nürnberg, as seems best to him. And the decision of this commission, or a majority of it, shall be binding, and they may call on the nearest lords, cities, officials, and judges, to aid them against the one who has broken the peace and inflicted the damage. And they shall be bound to aid them until the damage has, in the judgment of the commission, been made good.
(5) These nine men who form the commission shall swear on the holy relics that they will faithfully act as judges for rich and poor alike.
(10) If a war or quarrel arises between the lords and the cities who are in this peace, it shall be reported to the president and members of the commission. And both parties shall submit to the decision which the commission, or a majority of it, shall render in the case. If anyone refuses to submit to their decision, all the members of this league of peace shall aid the commission in enforcing it.
Ordeals or Judgments of God.
The appeal to the judgment of God in legal cases was an old Germanic practice. There is evidence that the settlement of cases by lot, and by judicial combat or duel, was common in the earliest times. In the Salic and other laws there are references to the ordeal by hot water, etc. After the introduction of Christianity and the growth of the influence of the priest, the various ordeals were conducted by the church. The casting of lots and the judicial combat were opposed by the church, the one because it was inseparably connected with heathen rites, and the other because of its violence. Accordingly the church introduced other forms, some of which are illustrated here. The ordeal was ordinarily resorted to when the regular rules of evidence were not satisfied, as when one party could not furnish the required number of compurgators, or was accused of perjury, etc. The ordeal might be used either to determine which of two persons was in the wrong, or to test the guilt or innocence of a single accused person. The commonest forms were: (1) The ordeal of the sacrament, in which the accused took the sacrament, the expectation being that if he were guilty the consequences would be fatal; (2) the ordeal of the cross, in which the two persons stood with arms outstretched in the form of a cross, and the one whose arms fell first was regarded as guilty; (3) the ordeal by hot water; (4) the ordeal by hot iron, in which the accused either carried a piece of hot iron in his hand a certain distance or walked barefoot over pieces of hot iron; (5) the ordeal by cold water; (6) the ordeal by the bread and cheese; (7) the ordeal by the suspended bread, or psalter, in which the object suspended was expected to turn around if the accused person was guilty; (8) the judicial combat, which was not favored by the church, but which was very commonly used among the noble class.
Ordeal by Hot Water.
(1) When men are to be tried by the ordeal of hot water, they shall first be made to come to church in all humility, and prostrate themselves, while the priest says these prayers:
First prayer. Aid, O God, those who seek thy mercy, and pardon those who confess their sins. . . .
(2) After these prayers, the priest shall rise and say the mass before all the men who are to be tried, and they shall take part in the mass. But before they take the communion, the priest shall adjure them in these words: I adjure you, by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by your Christianity, by the only begotten Son of God, whom you believe to be the Redeemer of the world, by the holy Trinity, by the holy gospel, and by the relics of the saints which are kept in this church, that you do not come to the holy communion and take of it, if you have done this offence, or consented to it, or if you know who committed it, or anything else about it.
(3) If they all keep silence and no one makes any confession, the priest shall go to the altar and take communion, and then give it to the men; but before they take it he shall say: Let this body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be today a trial of your guilt or innocence.
(4) After the mass the priest shall go to the place where the ordeal is to be held, bearing with him the book of the gospels and a cross, and he shall say a short litany. After the litany he shall exorcise the water before it becomes hot, as follows:
(5) I exorcise thee, water, in the name of omnipotent God, and in the name of Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord, that you may become exorcised and freed from the power of the enemy and the wiles of the devil; so that, if this man who is about to put his hand in you is innocent of the crime of which he is accused, he may escape all injury through the grace of omnipotent God. If he is guilty either in deed or knowledge of the offence of which he is accused, may the power of omnipotent God prove this upon him, so that all men may fear and tremble at the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God.
(6) Prayer. Lord Jesus Christ, who art a just judge, strong and patient, plenteous in mercy, by whom all things are made, God of gods, Lord of lords, who didst come down from the bosom of the Father for us and our salvation, and wast born of the Virgin Mary; who by thy passion on the cross didst redeem the world; who didst descend into hell and there didst bind the devil in the outer darkness, and free by thy great power the souls of all the just who suffered there for the original sin; we beseech thee, O Lord, to send down from heaven thy Holy Spirit upon this water, which is now hot and steaming from the fire, that through it we may have a just judgment upon this man. O Lord, who didst turn the water into wine in Cana of Galilee as a sign of thy power, who didst lead the three children Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, through the fiery furnace without harm, who didst free Susanna from the false accusation, who didst open the eyes of the man born blind, who didst raise Lazarus after four days from the tomb, who didst reach out thy hand to Peter as he was sinking in the sea, we, thy suppliants, beseech thee not to have regard for the errors in our prayer, but to make known to us before all men thy true and righteous judgment; so that if this man who is accused of fornication, or theft, or homicide, or adultery, or any other crime, and who is about to put his hand into the hot water, is not guilty of that crime, thou wilt so guard him that no harm or injury shall happen to that hand.
(7) Omnipotent God, we, thy unworthy and sinful servants, again beseech thee to make manifest to us thy true and righteous judgment, so that this man, who is accused and is about to undergo the ordeal, is guilty of that crime, by act or consent, because of the instigation of the devil or through his own cupidity or pride, and expects to escape or to circumvent the ordeal by some trick, his guilt may be made known upon him by thy power, and may be shown upon his hand, in order that he himself may be brought to confession and repentance, and that thy holy and righteous judgment may be made manifest to all people.
(8) [Another exorcism of the water.]
(9) Then the priest takes off the garments of each of the men and clothes them in the clean robes of an exorcist or deacon, makes them each kiss the gospel and cross of Christ, and sprinkles them with holy water. Then he makes them each take a drink of the holy water, saying to each one: I give you this water as a trial of your guilt or innocence. Then the wood is placed under the caldron and lighted, and when the water begins to get hot the priest says these prayers:
(10) In the name of the holy Trinity. God the just Judge, etc. [Similar to § 6 above.]
(11) Let us pray. God, who didst free St. Susanna from the false accusation; God, who didst rescue St. Thecla from the arena; God, who didst free St. Daniel from the lions’ den, and the three children from the fiery furnace: free now the innocent, and make known the guilty.
(12) The man who is to undergo the ordeal shall say the Lord’s prayer and make the sign of the cross; then the caldron shall be taken from the fire, and the judge shall suspend a stone in the water at the prescribed depth in the regular manner, and the man shall take the stone out of the water in the name of the Lord. Then his hand shall be immediately bound up and sealed with the seal of the judge, and shall remain wrapped up for three days, when it shall be unbound and examined by suitable persons.
Ordeal by Hot Iron.
(1) First the priest says the prescribed mass; then he has the fire lighted, and blesses the water and sprinkles it over the fire, over the spectators, and over the place where the ordeal is to be held; then he says this prayer:
(2) O Lord, our God, the omnipotent Father, the unfailing Light, hear us, for thou art the maker of all lights. Bless, O God, the fire which we have sanctified and blessed in thy name, thou who hast illumined the whole world, that we may receive from it the light of thy glory. As thou didst illumine Moses with the fire, so illumine our hearts and minds that we may win eternal life.
(3) Then he shall say the litany. . . .
(4) The prayers. . . .
(5) Then the priest approaches the fire and blesses the pieces of iron, saying: O God, the just judge, who art the author of peace and judgest with equity, we humbly beseech thee so to bless this iron, which is to be used for the trial of this case, that if this man is innocent of the charge he may take the iron in his hand, or walk upon it, without receiving harm or injury; and if he is guilty this may be made manifest upon him by thy righteous power; that iniquity may not prevail over justice, nor falsehood over truth.
(6) O Lord, the holy Father, we beseech thee by the invocation of thy most holy name, by the advent of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to bless these pieces of iron to the manifestation of thy righteous judgment, that they may be so sanctified and dedicated that thy truth may be made known to thy faithful subjects in this trial. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc.
(7) Omnipotent God, we humbly beseech thee that in the trial which we are about to make, iniquity may not prevail over justice, nor falsehood over truth. And if anyone shall attempt to circumvent this trial by witchcraft or dealing with herbs, may it be prevented by thy power.
(8) May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit descend upon these pieces of iron, that the judgment of God may be manifest in them.
(9) Then this psalm shall be said on behalf of the accused: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry. . . .
(10) Prayer: Hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayer of thy suppliants, and pardon those that confess their sins, and give us pardon and peace.
(11) Then those who are to be tried shall be adjured as follows: I adjure you (name), by omnipotent God who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, by Jesus Christ his Son, who was born and suffered for us, by the Holy Spirit, by the holy Mary, the Mother of God, and by all the holy angels, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, that you do not yield to the persuasions of the devil and presume to take the iron in your hand, if you are guilty of the crime of which you are accused, or if you know the guilty person. If you are guilty and are rash enough to take the test, may you be put to confusion and condemned, by the virtue of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the sign of his holy cross. But if you are innocent of the crime, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the sign of his holy cross, may you have faith to take this iron in your hand; and may God, the just Judge, keep you from harm, even as he saved the three children from the fiery furnace and freed Susanna from the false accusation; may you go through the ordeal safe and secure, and may the power of our Lord be made manifest in you this day.
(12) Then he who is about to be tried shall say: In this ordeal which I am about to undergo, I put my trust rather in the power of God the omnipotent Father to show his justice and truth in this trial, than in the power of the devil or of witchcraft to circumvent the justice and the truth of God.
(13) Then the man who is accused takes the sacrament and carries the iron to the designated place. After that the deacon shall bind up his hand and place the seal upon it. And until the hand is unwrapped [i.e., at the end of three days] the man should put salt and holy water in all his food and drink.
Ordeal by Cold Water.
(1) When men are to be put to the ordeal [of cold water], the process should be as follows: They shall be brought to the church, and the priest shall say the mass and the men shall take part in it. Before they take the communion, the priest shall adjure them thus:
(2) I adjure you, men, by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by your Christianity, by the only begotten Son of God, by the holy Trinity, by the holy gospel, and by the relies that are kept in this church, that you do not presume to take communion, or to come to the altar if you have committed this crime, or have consented to it, or if you know the guilty person.
(3) If they all keep silence and no one confesses, the priest shall go to the altar and give them the communion. Then he shall say to them: May this body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be today a trial of your guilt or innocence.
(4) After the mass, the priest shall take water that has been blessed and shall go to the place of the ordeal. When they come there the priest shall give the men this water to drink, and shall say: May this water be a trial of your guilt or innocence. Then he shall adjure the water in which they are to be cast, and then shall take off the clothes of the men and make each one of them kiss the holy gospel and the cross of Christ. Then he shall sprinkle each of them with holy water and shall cast them one by one into the water. The priest and those who are to be tried should have fasted before the trial.
(5) Adjuration of the man who is to undergo the ordeal: I adjure you (name), by the invocation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the ordeal of cold water. I adjure you by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by the inseparable Trinity, by our Lord Jesus Christ, by all the angels and archangels, by the dreadful day of judgment, by the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, by the twelve apostles, by the twelve prophets, by all the saints of God, by the principalities and powers, by the dominions and virtues, by the thrones of the cherubim and seraphim, by the three children, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, by the 144,000 who suffered for the name of Christ, by the baptism in which the priest gave you the new birth, that if you have seen or known anything about this theft, if you have had anything to do with it, if you have received it in your house, or consented to it, or if your heart is hardened, your heart may be melted, and the water may not receive you; may witchcraft not prevail, but may the truth be made manifest. We beseech thee, our Lord Jesus Christ, give us a sign, so that if this man is guilty, the water may not receive him; do this to thine honor and glory, by the invocation of thy name, that all may know that thou art our Lord, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
(6) Prayer over the water. We humbly beseech thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, to give us a sign, that if this man is guilty in any way of the crime of which he is accused the water may not receive him, but he may float, and not sink in the water. Do this, O Lord Jesus Christ, to thine honor and glory by the invocation of thy holy name, that all may know that thou art the true God, and that there is no other God beside thee, who livest and reignest with God the Father in unity with the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
(7) Omnipotent God has established this ordeal, and it is righteous. Pope Eugene has ordained that it should be used throughout the whole world by all bishops, abbots, counts, and all Christians, for it is proved by many to be just and righteous. Therefore it has been decreed by them that no one may clear himself by placing his hand on the altar or on the relics, or by swearing on the bodies of the saints.
Ordeal by Cold Water.
The following paragraph is taken from another ordeal by cold water which is otherwise similar to the one just given; it illustrates more minutely the way in which the accused was immersed.
(6) On the staff which is placed between the arms of the man shall be written: Behold the cross of God, let his adversaries flee. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath prevailed to make a righteous judgment + [sign of the cross]. May St. John the Baptist bless this water. On it shall also be written the gospel: In the beginning; and the benediction: Lord God.1
Ordeal by the Barley Bread.
(1) First the priest prepares himself with the deacon, and then blesses the water; and the deacon prepares the barley flour which he mixes with the holy water and bakes, both of them saying during the process the seven penitential psalms, the litany, and the following prayers [certain prayers follow].
(2) Prayer over the bread. O God, who didst reveal the wood of the true cross on Mount Calvary, where Christ was betrayed by Judas (for God gave over his Son to be betrayed by Judas), reveal to us by the judgment of the barley bread whatever we ask in thy name.
(3) After the bread is baked the priest shall take it and place it behind the altar and shall say the mass for that day. After the mass he shall mark the bread with the sign of the cross, and shall place an iron rod in the centre of the cross, with a hook at the top to suspend it by. The priest shall keep this bread by him and use it until it spoils. When anyone is accused of theft, or fornication, or homicide, and is brought before the priest, the priest shall take the bread and give it to two Christian men, and they shall hang it by the hook between them, and the priest shall say the following adjuration. And if the man is guilty, the bread will revolve around; if he is not guilty, the bread will not move at all.
(4) Adjuration over the barley bread. I adjure thee, barley bread, by God the omnipotent Father, etc., that if this man or woman has committed, consented to, or had any part in this crime, thou shalt turn around in a circle; if he is not guilty, thou shalt not move at all. I adjure thee, barley bread, by the Mother of God, by the prophet Hosea, and the prophet Jonah, who prophesied unto Nineveh, by Lazarus, whom God raised from the dead, by the blind man, to whom the Lord restored his sight, by all the monks and canons and all laymen, by all women, and by all the inhabitants of heaven and earth, forever and ever, amen.
Ordeal by Bread and Cheese.
(1) Lord God omnipotent, holy, holy, holy. Holy Father, the invisible and eternal God, maker of all things; holy God, ruler of mortals and immortals, who dost see and know all things, who triest the hearts and the reins; O God, I beseech thee, hear the words of my prayer, that this bread and cheese may not pass the jaws and the throat of him who has committed the theft.
(2) Before the mass is begun and before the cheese is cut with the knife, while it is still whole, these words should be written round about it: “His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” [Ps. 7:16].
(3) Then bread and cheese to the weight of nine denarii shall be given to each man. The bread shall be of barley and unleavened; the cheese shall be cheese made in the month of May of the milk of ewes. While the mass is being said, those who are accused of the theft shall be in front of the altar, and one or more persons shall be appointed to watch them that they do not contrive any trick. When the communion is reached the priest shall first take the communion of the body of Christ, and then shall bless the bread and cheese, which has been carefully weighed out as above, and shall immediately give it to the men. The priest and the inspectors shall watch them carefully and see that they all swallow it. After they have swallowed it, the corners of the mouth of each shall be pressed to see that none of the bread and cheese has been kept in the mouth. Then the rest of the mass shall be said.
Documents on the Peace of God, the Truce of God, and the Peace of the Land.
One of the worst features of the feudal age was the prevalence of private warfare. This was due to the warlike character of the feudal institutions, to the jealous insistence of the feudal nobles on their right to fight out their own quarrels without appeal to law, and to the weakness of the king in the feudal state. Continuous private war not only meant violence, oppression, and outrage for the weaker members of society; it also hindered or prevented any advance in civilization for the whole society. The first steps to overcome this condition were taken by the church, which was usually to be found in that age on the side of peace and order. The earliest form was the peace of God, proclaimed by provincial synods. Several of these appeared at the end of the tenth century. These forbade all violence and oppression under ecclesiastical penalty, on the ground that they were contrary to the spirit of Christianity. The peace of God did not attain any lasting success, for the turbulent nobles could not be made to give up fighting entirely. Then the church attempted to mitigate at least these evils, by means of the truce of God. In the truce of God, violence was forbidden on certain days and during certain periods. In origin the truce of God was proclaimed by the clergy of a certain diocese or archdiocese for the people of their district, but later it was sometimes adopted by the emperor or king for the whole land. The truce was to last from vespers or sunset on Wednesday to sunrise on the following Monday of every week, and also for certain whole periods. It will be seen from the documents that these days and periods had a religious significance, which is further evidence that the church regarded the keeping of the peace as a religious rather than a political duty. The means of enforcing the truce were ecclesiastical penalties, penance, anathema, excommunication, etc. The peace of the land has a different origin and character. In the empire of Karl the Great, the right to enforce the keeping of the peace belonged to the emperor, and in theory this had never been given up by the later kings and emperors. It was on this right that the emperors based their authority to proclaim the peace of the land. In appearance the great peaces of Frederick I and Frederick II were imperial edicts, but in fact they depended very largely for their authority upon the acceptance and agreement of the nobles (see nos. 245, 246). In some cases the peace of the land was proclaimed for a province (see no. 246), in others it was for the whole empire. The peace was usually proclaimed for a certain length of time. In some cases the form of the truce of God was preserved in the peace of the land, as in no. 246. The documents on the peace of the land belong in a way under section III, but it was thought better to bring them together here, because they interrupt the general historical movement of the quarrel, and because they form a subject by themselves.
Peace of God, Proclaimed in the Synod of Charroux, 989.
Following the example of my predecessors, I, Gunbald, archbishop of Bordeaux, called together the bishops of my diocese in a synod at Charroux, . . . and we, assembled there in the name of God, made the following decrees:
1. Anathema against those who break into churches. If anyone breaks into or robs a church, he shall be anathema unless he makes satisfaction.
2. Anathema against those who rob the poor. If anyone robs a peasant or any other poor person of a sheep, ox, ass, cow, goat, or pig, he shall be anathema unless he makes satisfaction.
3. Anathema against those who injure clergymen. If anyone attacks, seizes, or beats a priest, deacon, or any other clergyman, who is not bearing arms (shield, sword, coat of mail, or helmet), but is going along peacefully or staying in the house, the sacrilegious person shall be excommunicated and cut off from the church, unless he makes satisfaction, or unless the bishop discovers that the clergyman brought it upon himself by his own fault.
Peace of God, Proclaimed by Guy of Anjou, Bishop of Puy, 990.
In the name of the divine, supreme, and undivided Trinity. Guy of Anjou, by the grace of God bishop [of Puy], greeting and peace to all who desire the mercy of God. Be it known to all the faithful subjects of God, that because of the wickedness that daily increases among the people, we have called together certain bishops [names], and many other bishops, princes, and nobles. And since we know that only the peace-loving shall see the Lord, we urge all men, in the name of the Lord, to be sons of peace.
1. From this hour forth, no man in the bishoprics over which these bishops rule, and in these counties, shall break into a church, . . . except that the bishop may enter a church to recover the taxes that are due him from it.1
2. No man in the counties or bishoprics shall seize a horse, colt, ox, cow, ass, or the burdens which it carries, or a sheep, goat, or pig, or kill any of them, unless he requires it for a lawful expedition.2 On an expedition a man may take what he needs to eat, but shall carry nothing home with him; and no one shall take material for fortifying or besieging a castle except from his own lands or subjects.
3. Clergymen shall not bear arms; no one shall injure monks or any unarmed persons who accompany them; except that the bishop or the archdeacon may use such means as are necessary to compel them to pay the taxes which they owe them.
4. No one shall seize a peasant, man or woman, for the purpose of making him purchase his freedom, unless the peasant has forfeited his freedom. This is not meant to restrict the rights of a lord over the peasants living on his own lands or on lands which he claims.
5. From this hour forth no one shall seize ecclesiastical lands, whether those of a bishop, chapter, or monastery, and no one shall levy any unjust tax or toll from them; unless he holds them as precaria from the bishop or the brothers.
6. No one shall seize or rob merchants.
7. No layman shall exercise any authority in the matter of burials or ecclesiastical offerings; no priest shall take money for baptism, for it is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
8. If anyone breaks the peace and refuses to keep it, he shall be excommunicated and anathematized and cut off from the holy mother church, until he makes satisfaction; if he refuses to make satisfaction, no priest shall say mass or perform divine services for him, no priest shall bury him or permit him to be buried in consecrated ground; no priest shall knowingly give him communion; if any priest knowingly violates this decree he shall be deposed.
Truce of God, made for the Archbishopric of Arles, 1035-41.
This is the earliest truce of God extant (except for the doubtful case of the council of Elne, 1027), and it is preserved only in the form of a communication recommending it to the clergy of Italy.
In the name of God, the omnipotent Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Reginbald, archbishop of Arles, with Benedict, bishop of Avignon, Nithard, bishop of Nice, the venerable abbot Odilo [of Cluny], and all the bishops, abbots, and other clergy of Gaul, to all the archbishops, bishops, and clergy of Italy, grace and peace from God, the omnipotent Father, who is, was, and shall be.
1. For the salvation of your souls, we beseech all you who fear God and believe in him and have been redeemed by his blood, to follow the footsteps of God, and to keep peace one with another, that you may obtain eternal peace and quiet with Him.
2. This is the peace or truce of God which we have received from heaven through the inspiration of God, and we beseech you to accept it and observe it even as we have done; namely, that all Christians, friends and enemies, neighbors and strangers, should keep true and lasting peace one with another from vespers on Wednesday to sunrise on Monday, so that during these four days and five nights, all persons may have peace, and, trusting in this peace, may go about their business without fear of their enemies.
3. All who keep the peace and truce of God shall be absolved of their sins by God, the omnipotent Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and by St. Mary with the choir of virgins, and St. Michael with the choir of angels, and St. Peter with all the saints and all the faithful, now and forever.
4. Those who have promised to observe the truce and have wilfully violated it, shall be excommunicated by God the omnipotent Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, from the communion of all the saints of God, shall be accursed and despised here and in the future world, shall be damned with Dathan and Abiram and with Judas who betrayed his Lord, and shall be overwhelmed in the depths of hell, as was Pharaoh in the midst of the sea, unless they make such satisfaction as is described in the following:
5. If anyone has killed another on the days of the truce of God, he shall be exiled and driven from the land and shall make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, spending his exile there. If anyone has violated the truce of God in any other way, he shall suffer the penalty prescribed by the secular laws and shall do double the penance prescribed by the canons.
6. We believe it is just that we should suffer both secular and spiritual punishment if we break the promise which we have made to keep the peace. For we believe that this peace was given to us from heaven by God; for before God gave it to his people, there was nothing good done among us. The Lord’s Day was not kept, but all kinds of labor were performed on it.
7. We have vowed and dedicated these four days to God: Thursday, because it is the day of his ascension; Friday, because it is the day of his passion; Saturday, because it is the day in which he was in the tomb; and Sunday, because it is the day of his resurrection; on that day no labor shall be done and no one shall be in fear of his enemy.
8. By the power given to us by God through the apostles, we bless and absolve all who keep the peace and truce of God; we excommunicate, curse, anathematize, and exclude from the holy mother church all who violate it.
9. If anyone shall punish violators of this decree and of the truce of God, he shall not be held guilty of a crime, but shall go and come freely with the blessing of all Christians, as a defender of the cause of God. But if anything has been stolen on other days, and the owner finds it on one of the days of the truce, he shall not be restrained from recovering it, lest thereby an advantage should be given to the thief.
10. In addition, brothers, we request that you observe the day on which the peace and truce was established by us, keeping it in the name of the holy Trinity. Drive all thieves out of your country, and curse and excommunicate them in the name of all the saints.
11. Offer your tithes and the first fruits of your labors to God, and bring offerings from your goods to the churches for the souls of the living and the dead, that God may free you from all evils in this world, and after this life bring you to the kingdom of heaven, through Him who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.
Truce of God for the Archbishoprics of Besancon and Vienne,ca., 1041.
1. We command all to keep the truce from sunset on Wednesday to sunrise on Monday, and from Christmas to the octave of [i.e., week after] Epiphany [Jan. 6], and from Septuagesima Sunday [third Sunday before Lent] to the octave of Easter [the Sunday after Easter].
2. If anyone violates the truce and refuses to make satisfaction, after he has been admonished three times, the bishop shall excommunicate him and shall notify the neighboring bishops of his action by letter. No bishop shall receive the excommunicated person, but shall confirm the sentence of excommunication against him in writing. If any bishop violates this decree he shall be in danger of losing his rank.
3. And since a threefold cord is stronger and harder to break than a single one, we command bishops mutually to aid one another in maintaining this peace, having regard only to God and the salvation of their people, and not to neglect this through love or fear of anyone. If any bishop is negligent in this regard, he shall be in danger of losing his rank.
Truce for the Bishopric of Terouanne, 1063.
Drogo, bishop of Terouanne, and count Baldwin [of Hainault] have established this peace with the cooperation of the clergy and people of the land.
Dearest brothers in the Lord, these are the conditions which you must observe during the time of the peace which is commonly called the truce of God, and which begins with sunset on Wednesday and lasts until sunrise on Monday.
1. During those four days and five nights no man or woman shall assault, wound, or slay another, or attack, seize, or destroy a castle, burg, or villa, by craft or by violence.
2. If anyone violates this peace and disobeys these commands of ours, he shall be exiled for thirty years as a penance, and before he leaves the bishopric he shall make compensation for the injury which he committed. Otherwise he shall be excommunicated by the Lord God and excluded from all Christian fellowship.
3. All who associate with him in any way, who give him advice or aid, or hold converse with him, unless it be to advise him to do penance and to leave the bishopric, shall be under excommunication until they have made satisfaction.
4. If any violator of the peace shall fall sick and die before he completes his penance, no Christian shall visit him or move his body from the place where it lay, or receive any of his possessions.
5. In addition, brethren, you should observe the peace in regard to lands and animals and all things that can be possessed. If anyone takes from another an animal, a coin, or a garment, during the days of the truce, he shall be excommunicated unless he makes satisfaction. If he desires to make satisfaction for his crime he shall first restore the thing which he stole or its value in money, and shall do penance for seven years within the bishopric. If he should die before he makes satisfaction and completes his penance, his body shall not be buried or removed from the place where it lay, unless his family shall make satisfaction for him to the person whom he injured.
6. During the days of the peace, no one shall make a hostile expedition on horseback, except when summoned by the count; and all who go with the count shall take for their support only as much as is necessary for themselves and their horses.
7. All merchants and other men who pass through your territory from other lands shall have peace from you.
8. You shall also keep this peace every day of the week from the beginning of Advent to the octave of Epiphany and from the beginning of Lent to the octave of Easter, and from the feast of Rogations [the Monday before Ascension Day] to the octave of Pentecost.
9. We command all priests on feast days and Sundays to pray for all who keep the peace, and to curse all who violate it or support its violators.
10. If anyone has been accused of violating the peace and denies the charge, he shall take the communion and undergo the ordeal of hot iron. If he is found guilty, he shall do penance within the bishopric for seven years.
Peace of the Land Established by Henry IV, 1103.
In the year of the incarnation of our Lord 1103, the emperor Henry established this peace at Mainz, and he and the archbishops and bishops signed it with their own signatures. The son of the king and the nobles of the whole kingdom, dukes, margraves, counts, and many others, swore to observe it. Duke Welf, duke Bertholf, and duke Frederick swore to keep the peace from that day to four years from the next Pentecost. They swore to keep peace with churches, clergy, monks, merchants, women, and Jews. This is the form of the oath which they swore:
No one shall attack the house of another or waste it with fire, or seize another for ransom, or strike, wound, or slay another. If anyone does any of these things he shall lose his eyes or his hand, and the one who defends him shall suffer the same penalty. If the violator flees into a castle, the castle shall be besieged for three days by those who have sworn to keep the peace, and if the violator is not given up it shall be destroyed. If the offender flees from justice out of the country, his lord shall take away his fief, if he has one, and his relatives shall take his patrimony. If anyone steals anything worth five solidi or more, he shall lose his eyes or his hand. If anyone steals anything worth less than five solidi, he shall be made to restore the theft, and shall lose his hair and be beaten with rods; if he has committed this smaller theft three times, he shall lose his eyes or his hand. If thou shalt meet thine enemy on the road and canst injure him, do so; but if he escapes to the house or castle of anyone, thou shalt let him remain there unharmed.
Peace of the Land for Elsass, 1085-1103.
Be it known to all lovers of peace that the people of Elsass with their leaders have mutually sworn to maintain perpetual peace on the following terms:
1. All churches shall have peace always and everywhere. All clergy and women, merchants, hunters, pilgrims, and farmers while they work in the fields and on their way to and from their labor, shall have peace.
2. They have sworn to keep the peace especially on certain days and during certain seasons; namely, from vespers on Wednesday to sunrise on Monday of every week, on the vigils1 and feast days of the saints, on the four times of fast,2 from Advent to the octave of Epiphany, and from Septuagesima Sunday to the octave of Pentecost. In these times no one shall bear arms except those on journey. All public enemies of the royal majesty shall be excluded from the benefits of this peace.
3. If anyone of those who have sworn to maintain this peace shall commit any crime against one of the others, on one of these days, such as robbing, burning, seizing, or committing any other violence on his lands or in his house, or beating him so as to bring blood, he shall suffer capital punishment, if he is a freeman, and shall lose his hand, if he is a serf.
4. If anyone conceals a violator of the peace or aids him to escape, he shall suffer the penalty of the guilty person.
5. If anyone unjustly accuses one of those who have sworn to keep the peace of having violated it, or calls out the forces of the peace against him, through malice or anger, he shall suffer the penalty described above.
6. If anyone who dwells in the province has been accused of violating the peace, he shall clear himself inside of seven days by the testimony of seven of his peers, if he is a freeman or a ministerial; but if he belongs to a lower rank in the city or country, he shall clear himself by the ordeal of cold water.
7. If anyone steals anything of the value of a siclum [a coin of unknown value] or two, he shall lose his hair and his skin; if he commits the theft a second time, or steals anything worth five sicla or more, he shall lose his hand; if he commits a theft a third time, he shall be hanged.
8. Those who are called to attend the expedition of the emperor or one made to maintain the peace, shall go at their own expense for three days. If the expedition takes longer than that, they may levy fodder for their horses and food for themselves, but may take only grass, vegetables, apples, wood, and the implements of the hunt.
9. Draught horses, vineyards, and crops shall always be under the peace, except that a traveler may take enough from the public road to feed his horse.
10. Whatever anyone held by any right of ownership or possession before the peace was decreed, he shall still hold by the same right.
11. If anyone has withdrawn from this sworn agreement to keep the peace, or confesses that he swore to it falsely, and wishes still to remain in the territory, he shall promise with seven sureties that he will keep the peace. If he refuses to promise or if he in any way opposes the peace, he shall either be subject to the penalties of this decree, or shall leave the land.
12. All the authors of the peace should be on their guard to prevent rash or unwise action in enforcing it.
13. The younger men should be persuaded or even forced to swear to keep the peace, for they are especially apt to neglect its provisions.
14. Priests should watch diligently that this useful and holy peace be not disregarded by the members of their congregations, and should admonish their people every Sunday to keep it, as is decreed by pope Leo; and the beginning of the peace of God should be announced at vespers of every Wednesday with the ringing of bells.
Decree of Frederick I Concerning the Keeping of Peace, 1156.
Frederick, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus, to the bishops, dukes, counts, margraves, and all others to whom these presents come, his grace, peace, and love. . . . We desire that every person shall have his rights, and we command by our royal authority that peace, so long desired and so necessary to the whole land, be kept throughout all parts of our realm. The following sections show how the peace is to be kept and preserved:
1. If anyone kills a man within the territory covered by this peace, he shall suffer capital punishment, unless he can prove by judicial combat that he did it in self-defence. But if it is well known that he did it with malice and not in self-defence, he shall not be allowed to escape death, by appealing to the judicial combat, or by any other means. If a violator of the peace flees from justice, his movable property shall be confiscated by the judge and his heirs shall succeed to his patrimony, if they swear that the violator of the peace shall never with their consent receive anything from it. But if the heirs do not take this oath, they shall lose the inheritance and the count shall give it to the royal treasury and receive it back as a fief.
2. If anyone wounds another within the territory covered by the peace, he shall lose his hand and forfeit his property as above, unless he can prove by judicial combat that he did it in self-defence. The judge shall apply the law strictly against him and his property.
3. If anyone seizes another and beats him without drawing blood or pulls out his hair or beard, he shall pay ten pounds as compensation to the one whom he injured, and twenty pounds to the judge as fine. If anyone reviles another without cause, he shall pay ten pounds for the injury and ten pounds to the judge as a fine. If anyone has to give pledge to a judge for more than twenty pounds, he shall put his property in pawn with the judge, and shall redeem it by paying the amount within four weeks; if he fails to redeem it within that time, his heirs may receive it by paying twenty pounds to the count within six weeks; otherwise the count shall give the property over to the royal treasury, and shall receive it back as a fief from the king, after paying those who have claims against it for damages.
4. If one of the clergy has been accused of violating the peace and has been convicted and proscribed, or if he has sheltered a violator of the peace, and has been convicted of these things before his bishop on sufficient testimony, he shall pay twenty pounds to the count, and make satisfaction to the bishop according to the canons. But if the clergyman refuses to obey, he shall lose his rank and his ecclesiastical benefice, and shall be placed under the ban of the empire.
5. If a judge has followed a violator of the peace with the “hue and cry” to the castle of any lord, the lord of the castle shall turn him over to justice. If the man lives in the castle and is conscious of his guilt and fears to appear before the judge, the lord of the castle shall hand over the man’s movables to the judge under oath, and shall never receive the man again in his castle. If the man does not live in the castle, the lord shall send him out of his castle in security [that is, the lord is not bound to deliver him to the judge, but shall give him a chance to escape], and the judge and the people shall continue to pursue him.
6. If two men contend for the possession of a fief, and one of them presents as a witness the man who invested him with it, the count shall accept his testimony, for the giver of the fief ought to be able to recognize his own gift; and if the man can prove by trustworthy witnesses that he held the fief legally and not by violence, he shall hold it without further controversy. If it is proved that he got it by violence, he shall pay double the fine for violence and shall be deprived of the fief.
7. If three or more men contend for the possession of the same fief and each one offers as a witness the man who he asserts invested him with the fief, the judge who tries the case shall choose two men of good repute who dwell in the same province, and shall make them tell under oath which man has held the fief legally and without violence, and that man shall hold the fief in peace and security without further controversy, unless some other person can claim it justly from him.
8. If a peasant accuses a knight of violating the peace, the knight shall swear that he did it not of his own will, but in self-defence, and shall clear himself with three compurgators.
9. If a knight accuses a peasant of violating the peace, the peasant shall swear that he did it not of his own will, but in self-defence, and he shall choose whether he will clear himself by judgment either of court trial or ordeal, or by the testimony of six witnesses chosen by the judge.
10. If a knight has been accused by another knight of violating the peace, and wishes to put it to the trial by judicial combat, he shall not be allowed to fight his accuser unless he can prove that he and his ancestors were lawful knights by birth.
11. Immediately after the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, each count shall choose seven men of good repute, and shall determine with their advice and according to the character of the season the price at which grain shall be sold in each province; if any person during that year sells a measure of grain at a price higher than the one they have fixed, he shall be considered a violator of the peace, and shall pay thirty pounds for every measure that he sold above the price.
12. If a peasant bears arms, such as a spear or a sword, the judge of the district shall either confiscate the arms or fine him twenty solidi for carrying them.
13. A merchant who is travelling through the country on business may carry a sword bound to his saddle or on his wagon, but he shall use it only to defend himself from thieves, and not against innocent persons.
14. No one shall spread nets, snares, or other traps for any animals except bears, wolves, and boars.
15. No knight shall bear arms to the count’s court, unless requested to do so by the count. Public thieves when convicted shall suffer the established penalty.
16. If anyone has made illegal use of his office of advocate or any other benefice, and has been warned by his lord to desist, but has not done so, he shall be deprived of his advocacy or benefice by regular judicial procedure. If he attempts to recover his advocacy or benefice by violence he shall be regarded as a violator of the peace.
17. If anyone steals anything of the value of five solidi or more, he shall be hanged; if less than five solidi, he shall be beaten with rods and have his hair cut off with scissors.
18. If the ministerials of any lord are at war with one another, the count or the judge of the district shall enforce the law against them.
19. If a traveller wishes to feed his horse, he may take with impunity whatever he can reach by standing on the road and feed it to his horse. Anyone may take grass or green twigs for his use, if he does it without unnecessary destruction.
Peace of the Land Declared by Frederick I in Italy, 1158.
Frederick, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus, to all his subjects. We hereby command all our subjects to keep the peace, as it is decreed in this edict. The dukes, margraves, counts, and all vassals and public officials, together with the common people between the ages of 18 and 70, shall take an oath to keep the peace and to aid the officials in enforcing it. These oaths shall be renewed at the end of every five years.
1. If anyone has a grievance against another on any ground, he shall seek justice from his lawful judge.
2. Fines for the breach of peace shall be as follows: for a city, 100 pounds of gold; for a town, 20 pounds of gold; for dukes, margraves, and counts, 50 pounds of gold; for the immediate vassals of the emperor and the greater rear-vassals, 20 pounds of gold; for the other vassals and all other violators of the peace, 6 pounds of gold, and these shall also be forced to make good the injury according to the law.
3. Violence and theft shall be punished according to the law; homicide and bodily injury and all crimes shall also be punished according to law.
4. If judges and magistrates appointed by the emperor or his representative neglect to do justice or to punish violations of the peace, they shall be compelled to make good the damage and to pay the legal fine for breach of peace, and in addition they shall pay special fines to the royal treasury: the higher officials, 10 pounds of gold, and the lower officials, 3 pounds of gold. Those who are too poor to pay these fines shall be punished with blows, and shall be prohibited from dwelling within fifty miles of their former homes during a period of five years.
5. We hereby prohibit all associations and sworn leagues in city or country, whether between city and city, or between person and person, or between city and person. All such associations that now exist are hereby declared void, and every member is liable to a fine of 1 pound of gold.
6. Bishops are commanded to visit all violators of this decree in their dioceses with ecclesiastical censure, until they make satisfaction.
7. Protectors of malefactors and receivers of stolen goods shall be punished with the same fine as the criminals.
8. If anyone refuses to take the oath to keep the peace, or disobeys this decree, his goods shall be confiscated and his house destroyed.
9. We condemn and forbid all illegal exactions, especially against the church, an abuse which is of long standing. All such exactions levied in the future shall be repaid in double.
10. Contracts voluntarily made by minors on oath, which do not affect their own property, shall be valid; but all promises extorted by force or fear shall be void, especially promises not to complain of wrong or injury.
11. If anyone sells his allodial lands, he shall not sell the authority and jurisdiction of the emperor over them; sales made with these provisions are void.
The Perpetual Peace of the Land Proclaimed by Maximilian I, 1495. (German.)
For various reasons the government had found it impossible to secure the peace of the land. One reason was that there was no effective and satisfactory machinery for punishing offenders, administering justice, and settling disputes. Maximilian not only forbade all private warfare, but also created a supreme court to try all offenders and to make it unnecessary for a man to take the law into his own hands.
We, Maximilian, etc. (1) From the time of the publication of this peace, no one, no matter of what rank or position, shall carry on a feud against another, or make war on him, or rob, seize, attack, or besiege him, or aid anyone else to do so. And no one shall attack, seize, burn, or in any other way damage any castle, city, market town, fortress, village, farmhouse, or group of houses, or in any way aid others to do such things. No one shall receive those who do such things into his house, or protect them, or give them to eat or drink. But if anyone has a ground for complaint against another, he shall summon him before the court. For the command is now given that all such matters must hereafter be tried before the supreme court.
(2) We hereby forbid all feuds and private wars throughout the whole empire.
(3) All, of whatever rank or position, who disobey this command, shall, in addition to other punishments, be put under the imperial ban, and anyone may attack their person or their property without thereby breaking the peace. All their charters and rights shall be revoked, and their fiefs shall be forfeited to their lord. And so long as the guilty one lives, the said lord shall not be bound to restore it to him or to his heirs.
(4) In case this peace is broken and violence is done to anyone, whether elector, prince, prelate, count, lord, knight, city, or anyone else, no matter of what rank or position, secular or ecclesiastical, and the guilty ones are not known, but suspicion rests on anyone, those who were injured may make complaint against the suspected ones, and summon them, and compel them to clear themselves by oath of the crimes of which they are suspected. If any of the suspected ones refuse to clear themselves in this way, or refuse to come at the appointed time, they shall be considered guilty of having broken the peace, and they shall be proceeded against in accordance with the terms of this document. But the one who summons them shall give them a safe-conduct to come and to return to their homes. If it is impossible to deliver the summons to them in person, it shall be posted in a few places which they are known to frequent. If, contrary to this peace, anyone is attacked or robbed, all those who are present and see it, or learn of it in any way, shall take action against the offender with as much earnestness and promptness as if it concerned them alone.
(5) No one shall in any way aid or protect such peace-breakers, or permit them to remain in his territory or lands, but he shall seize them and begin proceedings against them and give aid to anyone who makes complaint against them. . . .
(6) If such peace-breakers have such protection or are so strong that the state must interfere and make a campaign against them, or if anyone who is not a member of the peace breaks the peace or aids those who have broken it, charges shall be made by the injured, or by the presiding judge of the supreme court, to us or to our representatives and to the annual diet, and aid shall be sent at once to those who have been attacked. If through war or anything else it is impossible to hold the diet, we give the presiding judge of the supreme court the authority to call us and the members of the diet together in any place where we, or our representatives, can meet and take whatever measures are necessary. But nevertheless the presiding judge and the whole court shall not cease to prosecute all such peace-breakers with all the legal means possible.
(7) There are many mercenaries in the land who are not in the service of anyone, or who do not long remain in the service of those who hire them, or their masters do not control them as they should, but they go riding about the country seeking to take advantage of people and to rob. We therefore decree that such men shall no longer be tolerated in the empire, and wherever they are found they shall be seized and examined and severely punished for their evil deeds, and all that they have shall be taken from them, and they shall give security for their good conduct by oath and bondsmen.
(8) If any clergyman breaks this peace, the bishop who has jurisdiction over him shall compel him to make good the damage which he has done, and his property shall be taken for this purpose. If the bishops are negligent in this matter, we put them as well as the peace-breakers under the ban, and deprive them of the protection of the empire, and we will in no way defend them or protect them in their evil-doing. But they may clear themselves of suspicion in the same way as laymen.
(9) During this peace no one shall make an agreement or treaty with another which shall in any way conflict with this peace. We hereby annul all the articles of such agreements or treaties which are contrary to this peace, but the rest of such agreements or treaties shall remain in force. This peace is not intended to interfere in any way with existing treaties. Without the consent of those who have been injured we will not free from the ban anyone who has through an offence against the peace been proscribed, unless he clears himself in a legal way.
(10) We command you . . . to observe this peace in all points, and to compel all your officials and subjects to observe it, if you wish to avoid the punishments of the imperial law and our heavy disfavor.
(11) We hereby annul all grants, privileges, etc., which have been granted by us or our predecessors, which in any way conflict with this peace.
(12) This peace is not intended to annul any of the laws of the empire or commands which have already been issued, but rather to strengthen them and to command that all men shall hereafter observe them.
The Establishment of a Supreme Court to Try Peace-breakers, 1495. (German.)
We, Maximilian, etc., have, for good and sufficient reasons, established a general peace of the land throughout the Roman empire and Germany, and have ordered it to be observed. But it cannot be enforced without the proper support and protection. Therefore at the advice of the electors, princes, and the general diet held here at Worms, for the common good, and for the honor of us and of the supreme court of the holy Roman empire, we have issued the following laws and regulations in regard to it. We will appoint a presiding judge of this court. He may be either a layman or a clergyman, a count or a nobleman. And we will elect sixteen assistant judges [who shall give the decision]. They shall all be elected at this diet. They shall all be Germans of good character and of good degree of knowledge and experience, and at least half of them shall be trained in the law and the other half shall be noblemen of the rank of knight at least. The decision of the sixteen shall be final. In case of a tie the presiding judge shall have the deciding vote. Nothing shall prevent them from giving a just and legal decision. The presiding judge and the sixteen shall have no other business, but they shall devote themselves wholly to the work of this court. They shall not be absent from the sessions of the court without special permission. The sixteen shall get such permission from the presiding judge, and he from the sixteen. But never more than four of them shall be absent from the court at the same time. Neither the presiding judge nor the sixteen shall leave the city in which the court is in session except for the most weighty reasons. If the presiding judge is for a long time prevented by illness or other weighty reason from holding court, he shall, with the consent of the sixteen, give one of the sixteen, preferably a count or nobleman, the authority to represent him. And even if four or less of the sixteen are absent, the others shall have the power to try cases and render decisions as if they were all present. But in cases in which electors, princes, or those of princely rank are concerned, the presiding judge must preside in person. But if he cannot do so, he may, with the consent of the others, name a person to preside in his stead. . . . We will, with the advice of the princes and of the diet which shall meet that year, fill all vacancies which may occur in this court. If the presiding judge dies without appointing some one to preside in his stead, the sixteen shall elect some one to take his place, so that the court may not be idle until the next diet assembles. They shall elect a count or nobleman to this office; and he shall fill this office until the next diet meets, at which time we will appoint a new presiding judge.
The Rule of St. Benedict. About 530.
Monasticism arose in Egypt and western Asia, where the climate was such that those who lived out-of-doors suffered very little from the inclemency of the weather. The first monks were true hermits, each one living quite alone. Very little shelter was necessary; a tree, an overhanging rock, a small cave, would offer quite enough protection against the weather. But as the movement spread to countries where there was more rain and the winters were colder their manner of life was necessarily modified. They began to live together in houses, but at the same time attempted to preserve as much of the hermit life as possible. Although under the same roof, the monks avoided life in common. Each one had his own room or cell, prepared his own food, and was as far as possible separated from his fellow monks. But the mere fact that they lived under one roof made certain rules necessary, and they had to have regulations to protect themselves against impostors. And if they had rules, there must be some one to enforce them. So in a natural way every monastery came to have an organization and certain officials. Since each monastery had its own regulations or rule, there was the widest divergence among them. By making a rule which was eventually adopted in all Greek monasteries, Basil the Great (d. 379) brought about uniformity without introducing any important changes.
Monasticism was introduced into the west toward the middle of the fourth century and spread rapidly. Here, too, each monastery made its own rule. Some of these rules achieved a local reputation and were adopted by several monasteries. But they were all eventually superseded by the rule of St. Benedict, which by fortunate circumstances came to be regarded in the west as the only proper monastic rule.
The loose organization of the monasteries had permitted many abuses to creep in (cf. ch. 1). The rule of St. Benedict was intended to correct these. Probably the worst of these abuses was the instability of the monks. This was due to the fact that they were not compelled to take a vow to remain in the monastery. Neither were their vows regarded as perpetually binding, or at least there was no means of compelling them to keep their vows, or of punishing them if they broke them. If any monk grew tired of the monastic life or found it irksome, he might leave the monastery and either enter another, or lead a vagabond sort of existence by wandering from one place to another (cf. ch. 1). In this way he could escape all the rigors of the rule and free himself from all discipline. It was not uncommon for monks to leave the monastery and go back to a life in the world. St. Benedict put an end to these abuses by requiring each monk to take a vow to remain forever in the same monastery, and by making all the vows of a monk perpetually binding: “Once a monk always a monk.”
An important change was made in monasticism in the west by introducing the common life. In consequence of this all traces of the hermit life disappeared. The monks slept in a common room and ate in a common refectory. The monk spent all his time in the company of his fellow monks. Privacy was entirely unknown to him.
The rule of St. Benedict owes its popularity chiefly to the fact that Gregory I (590-604) was a Benedictine monk and gave the rule his support. St. Augustine, whom he sent as a missionary to England, was also a Benedictine, and carried the rule with him. So it was quite natural that it should have been the rule of all monasteries in England. St. Boniface, an Englishman, considered it a part of his reform to introduce the Benedictine rule into all the monasteries of Germany. Its fame and success soon led to its adoption in all the monasteries of the west.
The rule is worthy of careful study because for several centuries it governed the lives of thousands of monks who, by their piety, their works of charity in caring for the sick and giving shelter to travellers, their learning, their industry, their practice of agriculture, architecture, and other industrial and fine arts, influenced the lives of millions of laymen and advanced them in civilization. The student should note: (1) The extensive acquaintance of the monks with the Bible as shown in the large number of quotations from it and the amount of it which must be read by them in their services; (2) the character of an ideal abbot; (3) an ideal monk and the good works and virtues which he was required to practise (cf. chaps. 4, 5, and 6); (4) the administration of the monastery, which was characterized by a judicious mixture of democratic and monarchical principles, and a high degree of flexibility, so many things being left to the judgment of the abbot; (5) the amount of time devoted to work, reading, and meditation; and (6) the fact that the majority of monks were laymen and not priests.
The first edition of the rule was written probably about 530. But it received some additions and changes were made in it by Benedict himself before his death, which took place in 543, or soon after. The exact date of his death is unknown. The rule was the basis for all the reforms in monasticism for several centuries. The new orders which were founded for the most part merely increased its ascetic features and made additions which were calculated to keep the monks up to the high standard of asceticism set for them.
The great influence of the rule of St. Benedict seemed to justify us in offering the whole of it. No other document presents so well as it the ideals of the monkish life. The documents which follow it illustrate some of the forms and ceremonies spoken of in the rule, the rise of the military-monkish orders and their extensive privileges, the founding of one of the great orders of friars, and the opposition to them on the part of the parish or secular clergy. A few documents are also given which throw a certain side-light on the history of the orders.
Ch. 1.The kinds of monks.—There are four kinds of monks. The first kind is that of the cenobites [that is, those living in common], those who live in a monastery according to a rule, and under the government of an abbot. The second is that of the anchorites, or hermits, who have learned how to conduct the war against the devil by their long service in the monastery and their association with many brothers, and so, being well trained, have separated themselves from the troop, in order to wage single combat, being able with the aid of God to carry on the fight alone against the sins of the flesh. The third kind (and a most abominable kind it is) is that of the sarabites, who have not been tested and proved by obedience to the rule and by the teaching of experience, as gold is tried in the furnace, and so are soft and pliable like a base metal; who in assuming the tonsure are false to God, because they still serve the world in their lives. They do not congregate in the Master’s fold, but dwell apart without a shepherd, by twos and threes, or even alone. Their law is their own desires, since they call that holy which they like, and that unlawful which they do not like. The fourth kind is composed of those who are called gyrovagi (wanderers), who spend their whole lives wandering about through different regions and living three or four days at a time in the cells of different monks. They are always wandering about and never remain long in one place, and they are governed by their own appetites and desires. They are in every way worse even than the sarabites. But it is better to pass over in silence than to mention their manner of life. Let us, therefore, leaving these aside, proceed, with the aid of God, to the consideration of the cenobites, the highest type of monks.
Ch. 2.The qualities necessary for an abbot.—The abbot who is worthy to rule over a monastery ought always to bear in mind by what name he is called and to justify by his life his title of superior. For he represents Christ in the monastery, receiving his name from the saying of the apostle: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” [Rom. 8:15]. Therefore the abbot should not teach or command anything contrary to the precepts of the Lord, but his commands and his teaching should be in accord with divine justice. He should always bear in mind that both his teaching and the obedience of his disciples will be inquired into on the dread day of judgment. For the abbot should know that the shepherd will have to bear the blame if the Master finds anything wrong with the flock. Only in case the shepherd has displayed all diligence and care in correcting the fault of a restive and disobedient flock will he be freed from blame at the judgment of God, and be able to say to the Lord in the words of the prophet: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation” [Ps. 40:10]; but “they despising have scorned me” [Ezek. 20:27]. Then shall the punishment fall upon the flock who scorned his care and it shall be the punishment of death. The abbot ought to follow two methods in governing his disciples: teaching the commandments of the Lord to the apt disciples by his words, and to the obdurate and the simple by his deeds. And when he teaches his disciples that certain things are wrong, he should demonstrate it in his own life by not doing those things, lest when he has preached to others he himself should be a castaway [1 Cor. 9:27], and lest God should sometime say to him, a sinner: “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing that thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee” [Ps. 50:16, 17], or “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” [Matt. 7:3]. Let there be no respect of persons in the monastery. Let the abbot not love one more than another, unless it be one who excels in good works and in obedience. The freeman is not to be preferred to the one who comes into the monastery out of servitude, unless there be some other good reason. But if it seems right and fitting to the abbot, let him show preference to anyone of any rank whatsoever; otherwise let them keep their own places. For whether slave or free, we are all one in Christ [Gal. 3:28] and bear the same yoke of servitude to the one Lord, for there is no respect of persons with God [Rom. 2:11]. For we have special favor in His sight only in so far as we excel others in all good works and in humility. Therefore, the abbot should have the same love toward all and should subject all to the same discipline according to their respective merits. In his discipline the abbot should follow the rule of the apostle who says: “Reprove, rebuke, exhort” [2 Tim. 4:2]. That is, he should suit his methods to the occasion, using either threats or compliments, showing himself either a hard master or a loving father, according to the needs of the case. Thus he should reprove harshly the obdurate and the disobedient, but the obedient, the meek, and the gentle he should exhort to grow in grace. We advise also that he rebuke and punish those who neglect and scorn his teaching. He should not disregard the transgressions of sinners, but should strive to root them out as soon as they appear, remembering the peril of Eli, the priest of Siloam [1 Sam. chaps. 1-4]. Let him correct the more worthy and intelligent with words for the first or second time, but the wicked and hardened and scornful and disobedient he should punish with blows in the very beginning of their fault, as it is written: “A fool is not bettered by words” [cf. Prov. 17:10]; and again “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” [Prov. 23:14].
The abbot should always remember his office and his title, and should realize that as much is intrusted to him, so also much will be required from him. Let him realize how difficult and arduous a task he has undertaken, to rule the hearts and care for the morals of many persons, who require, one encouragements, another threats, and another persuasion. Let him so adapt his methods to the disposition and intelligence of each one that he may not only preserve the flock committed to him entire and free from harm, but may even rejoice in its increase.
Above all, the abbot should not be too zealous in the acquisition of earthly, transitory, mortal goods, forgetting and neglecting the care of the souls committed to his charge, but he should always remember that he has undertaken the government of souls of whose welfare he must render account. Let him not be troubled about the poverty of his monastery, since it is written: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” [Matt. 6:33]; and again, “For there is no want to them that fear him” [Ps. 34:9]. Let him know that those who undertake the care of souls must be ready to render an account of them. So he must make a reckoning to God on the day of judgment for all the souls according to the number of the brothers under his charge, and of his own soul as well. Therefore, while he keeps in mind the account which he must render of the sheep committed to him, and guards the interests of others, he is also solicitous for his own welfare; and while he administers correction to others by his preaching, he also frees himself from sin.
Ch. 3.Taking counsel with the brethren.—Whenever important matters come up in the monastery, the abbot should call together the whole congregation [that is, all the monks], and tell them what is under consideration. After hearing the advice of the brothers, he should reflect upon it and then do what seems best to him. We advise the calling of the whole congregation, because the Lord often reveals what is best to one of the younger brothers. But let the brethren give their advice with all humility, and not defend their opinions too boldly; rather let them leave it to the decision of the abbot, and all obey him. But while the disciples ought to obey the master, he on his part ought to manage all things justly and wisely. Let everyone in the monastery obey the rule in all things, and let no one depart from it to follow the desires of his own heart. Let no one of the brethren presume to dispute the authority of the abbot, either within or without the monastery; if anyone does so, let him be subjected to the discipline prescribed in the rule. But the abbot should do all things in the fear of the Lord, knowing that he must surely render account to God, the righteous judge, for all his decisions. If matters of minor importance are to be considered, concerning the welfare of the monastery, let the abbot take counsel with the older brethren, as it is written: “Do all things with counsel, and after it is done thou wilt not repent” [Ecclesiasticus 32:24].
Ch. 4.The instruments of good works.—First, to love the Lord God with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and then his neighbor as himself. Then not to kill, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to covet, not to bear false witness, to honor all men, and not to do to another what he would not have another do to him. To deny himself that he may follow Christ, to chasten the body, to renounce luxuries, to love fasting. To feed the poor, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, to offer help in trouble, to comfort the sorrowing. To separate himself from the things of the world, to prefer nothing above the love of Christ, not to give way to anger, not to bear any grudge, not to harbor deceit in the heart, not to give false peace, not to be wanting in charity. Not to swear, lest he perjure himself; to speak the truth from the heart. Not to return evil for evil. Not to injure others, but to suffer injuries patiently. To love his enemies. Not to return curse for curse, but rather to bless; to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake. Not to be proud, nor drunken, nor a glutton, nor given to much sleeping, nor slothful, nor complaining, nor slanderous. To put his hope in God; when he sees anything good in himself to ascribe it to God, and when he does any evil, to ascribe it to himself. To fear the day of judgment, to be in terror of hell, to yearn with all spiritual longing for eternal life, and to keep ever before his eyes the thought of approaching death. To guard his acts in every hour of his life, to remember that God seeth him in every place, to crush down with the aid of Christ the evil thoughts arising in his heart and to confess them to his spiritual superior. To keep his mouth from evil and vain talk, not to love much speaking, not to speak vain and frivolous words, not to love much and loud laughter. To listen gladly to holy reading, to pray frequently, to confess daily in prayers to God his past sins with tears and groaning, and to keep himself free from those sins afterward. Not to yield to the desire of the flesh, to hate his own will, to obey the commands of the abbot in all things, even if the abbot (which God forbid) should himself do otherwise than he preaches, remembering the word of the Lord: “What they say, do; but what they do, do ye not.” Not to wish to be called holy before he is so, but rather to strive to be holy that he may be truly so called; to obey the commandments of God in his daily life, to love chastity, to hate no one, not to be jealous or envious, not to be fond of strife, to avoid pride, to reverence his elders and cherish those younger than himself, to pray for his enemies through the love of Christ, to agree with his adversary before the going down of the sun, and never to despair of the mercy of God.
Lo, these are the implements of the spiritual profession. If they have been constantly employed by us night and day, and are reckoned up and placed to our credit at the last judgment, we shall receive that reward which the Lord himself has promised: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” [1 Cor. 2:9]. But these graces must be exercised in the cloister of the monastery by strict adherence to the vows and obedience to the rule.
Ch. 5.Obedience.—The first grade of humility is obedience without delay, which is becoming to those who hold nothing dearer than Christ. So, when one of the monks receives a command from a superior, he should obey it immediately, as if it came from God himself, being impelled thereto by the holy service he has professed and by the fear of hell and the desire of eternal life. Of such the Lord says: “As soon as he heard of me, he obeyed me” [Ps. 17:44]; and again to the apostles, “He that heareth you, heareth me” [Luke 10:16]. Such disciples, when they are commanded, immediately abandon their own business and their own plans, leaving undone what they were at work upon. With ready hands and willing feet they hasten to obey the commands of their superior, their act following on the heels of his command, and both the order and the fulfilment occurring, as it were, in the same moment of time—such promptness does the fear of the Lord inspire.
Good disciples who are inspired by the desire for eternal life gladly take up that narrow way of which the Lord said: “Narrow is the way which leadeth unto life” [Matt. 7:14]. They have no wish to control their own lives or to obey their own will and desires, but prefer to be ruled by an abbot, and to live in a monastery, accepting the guidance and control of another. Surely such disciples follow the example of the Lord who said: “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” [John 6:38]. But this obedience will be acceptable to God and pleasing to men only if it be not given fearfully, or half-heartedly, or slowly, or with grumbling and protests. For the obedience which is given to a superior is given to God, as he himself has said: “Who heareth you, heareth me” [Luke 10:16]. Disciples ought to obey with glad hearts, “for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver” [2 Cor. 9:7]. If the disciple obeys grudgingly and complains even within his own heart, his obedience will not be accepted by God, who sees his unwilling heart; he will gain no favor for works done in that spirit, but, unless he does penance and mends his ways, he will rather receive the punishment of those that murmur against the Lord’s commands.
Ch. 6.Silence.—Let us do as the prophet says: “I said, I will take heed to my ways that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my tongue with a bridle. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace even from good” [Ps. 39:1, 2]. This is the meaning of the prophet: if it is right to keep silence even from good, how much more ought we to refrain from speaking evil, because of the punishment for sin. Therefore, although it may be permitted to the tried disciples to indulge in holy and edifying discourse, even this should be done rarely, as it is written: “In a multitude of words there wanteth not sin” [Prov. 10:19], and again: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” [Prov. 18:21]. For it is the business of the master to speak and instruct, and that of the disciples to hearken and be silent. And if the disciple must ask anything of his superior, let him ask it reverently and humbly, lest he seem to speak more than is becoming. Filthy and foolish talking and jesting we condemn utterly, and forbid the disciple ever to open his mouth to utter such words.
Ch. 7.Humility.—Brethren, the holy Scripture saith: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” [Matt. 23:12]. Here we are shown that all exaltation is of a piece with pride, which the prophet tells us he avoids, saying: “Lord, my heart is not haughty nor mine eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of its mother; my soul is as a weaned child” [Ps. 131:1, 2]. Therefore, brethren, if we wish to attain to the highest measure of humility and to that exaltation in heaven which is only to be gained by lowliness on earth, we must raise to heaven by our deeds such a ladder as appeared to Jacob in his dream, whereon he saw angels ascending and descending. For the meaning of that figure is that we ascend by humility of heart and descend by haughtiness. And the ladder is our life here below which God raises to heaven for the lowly of heart. Our body and soul are the two sides of the ladder, in which by deeds consistent with our holy calling we insert steps whereby we may ascend to heaven.
Now the first step of humility is this, to escape destruction by keeping ever before one’s eyes the fear of the Lord, to remember always the commands of the Lord, for they who scorn him are in danger of hell-fire, and to think of the eternal life that is prepared for them that fear him. So a man should keep himself in every hour from the sins of the heart, of the tongue, of the eyes, of the hands, and of the feet. He should cast aside his own will and the desires of the flesh; he should think that God is looking down on him from heaven all the time, and that his acts are seen by God and reported to him hourly by his angels. For the prophet shows that the Lord is ever present in the midst of our thoughts, when he says: “God trieth the hearts and the reins” [Ps. 7:9], and again, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of men” [Ps. 94:11], and again he says: “Thou hast known my thoughts from afar” [Ps. 139:2], and “The thoughts of a man are known to thee” [Ps. 76:11]. So a zealous brother will strive to keep himself from perverse thoughts by saying to himself: “Then only shall I be guiltless in his sight, if I have kept me from mine iniquity” [Ps. 18:23]. And the holy Scriptures teach us in divers places that we should not do our own will; as where it says: “Turn from thine own will” [Ecclesiasticus 18:30]; and where we ask in the Lord’s Prayer that his will be done in us; and where it warns us: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” [Prov. 14:12]; and again, concerning the disobedient: “They are corrupt and abominable in their desires” [Ps. 14:1]. And we should always remember that God is aware of our fleshly desires; as the prophet says, speaking to the Lord: “All my desire is before thee” [Ps. 38:9]. Therefore, we should shun evil desires, for death lieth in the way of the lusts; as the Scripture shows, saying: “Go not after thy lusts” [Ecclesiasticus 18:30]. Therefore since the eyes of the Lord are upon the good and the wicked, and since “the Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand and seek God” [Ps. 14:2], and since our deeds are daily reported to him by the angels whom he assigns to each one of us; then, surely, brethren, we should be on our guard every hour, lest at any time, as the prophet says in the Psalms, the Lord should look down upon us as we are falling into sin, and should spare us for a space, because he is merciful and desires our conversion, but should say at the last: “These things hast thou done and I kept silence” [Ps. 50:21].
The second step of humility is this, that a man should not delight in doing his own will and desires, but should imitate the Lord who said: “I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” [John 6:38]. And again the Scripture saith: “Lust hath its punishment, but hardship winneth a crown.”
The third step of humility is this, that a man be subject to his superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord, of whom the apostle says: “He became obedient unto death” [Phil. 2:8].
The fourth step of humility is this, that a man endure all the hard and unpleasant things and even undeserved injuries that come in the course of his service, without wearying or withdrawing his neck from the yoke, for the Scripture saith: “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” [Matt. 10:22], and again: “Comfort thy heart and endure the Lord” [Ps. 27:14]. And yet again the Scripture, showing that the faithful should endure all unpleasant things for the Lord, saith, speaking in the person of those that suffer: “Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter” [Ps. 44:22]; and again, rejoicing in the sure hope of divine reward: “In all things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” [Rom. 8:37]; and again in another place: “For thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us as silver is tried; thou broughtest us into the net, thou laidst affliction upon our loins” [Ps. 66:10 f]; and again to show that we should be subject to a superior: “Thou hast placed men over our heads” [Ps. 66:12]. Moreover, the Lord bids us suffer injuries patiently, saying: “Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” [Matt. 5:39-41]. And with the apostle Paul we should suffer with false brethren, and endure persecution, and bless them that curse us.
The fifth step of humility is this, that a man should not hide the evil thoughts that arise in his heart or the sins which he has committed in secret, but should humbly confess them to his abbot; as the Scripture exhorteth us, saying: “Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him” [Ps. 37:5]; and again: “O, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever” [Ps. 106:1]; and yet again the prophet saith: “I have acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” [Ps. 32:5].
The sixth step of humility is this, that the monk should be contented with any lowly or hard condition in which he may be placed, and should always look upon himself as an unworthy laborer, not fitted to do what is intrusted to him; saying to himself in the words of the prophet: “I was reduced to nothing and was ignorant; I was as a beast before thee and I am always with thee” [Ps. 73:22 f].
The seventh step of humility is this, that he should not only say, but should really believe in his heart that he is the lowest and most worthless of all men, humbling himself and saying with the prophet: “I am a worm and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of all people” [Ps. 22:6]; and “I that was exhalted am humbled and confounded” [Ps. 88:15]; and again: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes” [Ps. 119:71].
The eighth step of humility is this, that the monk should follow in everything the common rule of the monastery and the examples of his superiors.
The ninth step of humility is this, that the monk should restrain his tongue from speaking, and should keep silent even from questioning, as the Scripture saith: “In a multitude of words there wanteth not sin” [Prov. 10:19], and “Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth” [Ps. 140:11].
The tenth step of humility is this, that the monk should be not easily provoked to laughter, as it is written: “The fool raiseth his voice in laughter” [Ecclesiasticus 21:23].
The eleventh step of humility is this, that the monk, when he speaks, should do so slowly and without laughter, softly and gravely, using few words and reasonable, and that he should not be loud of voice; as it is written: “A wise man is known for his few words.”
The twelfth step of humility is this, that the monk should always be humble and lowly, not only in his heart, but in his bearing as well. Wherever he may be, in divine service, in the oratory, in the garden, on the road, in the fields, whether sitting, walking, or standing, he should always keep his head bowed and his eyes upon the ground. He should always be meditating upon his sins and thinking of the dread day of judgment, saying to himself as did that publican of whom the gospel speaks: “Lord, I am not worthy, I a sinner, so much as to lift mine eyes up to heaven” [Luke 18:13]; and again with the prophet: “I am bowed down and humbled everywhere” [Ps. 119:107].
Now when the monk has ascended all these steps of humility, he will arrive at that perfect love of God which casteth out all fear [1 John 4:18]. By that love all those commandments which he could not formerly observe without grievous effort and struggle, he will now obey naturally and easily, as if by habit; not in the fear of hell, but in the love of Christ and by his very delight in virtue. And thus the Lord will show the working of his holy Spirit in this his servant, freed from vices and sins.
Ch. 8.Divine worship at night [vigils].—During the winter; that is, from the first of November to Easter, the monks should rise at the eighth hour of the night; a reasonable arrangement, since by that time the monks will have rested a little more than half the night and will have digested their food. Those brothers who failed in the psalms or the readings shall spend the rest of the time after vigils (before the beginning of matins) in pious meditation. From Easter to the first of November matins shall begin immediately after daybreak, allowing the brothers a little time for attending to the necessities of nature.
Ch. 9.The psalms to be said at night.1 —During the winter time, the order of service shall be as follows: first shall be recited the verse [ “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O God,” Ps. 70:1]; then this verse three times: “O Lord, open thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” [Ps. 51:15]; then the third psalm and the Gloria, the 94th Psalm responsively or in unison, a hymn, and six psalms responsively. After this the abbot shall give the benediction with the aforesaid verse, and the brothers shall sit down. Three lessons from the gospels with three responses shall then be read from the lecturn by the brothers in turn. The first two responses shall be sung without the Gloria, but in the third response which follows the last reading the cantor shall sing the Gloria, the monks rising from their seats at the beginning of it to show honor and reverence to the holy Trinity. Passages are to be read from the Old and New Testaments in the vigils, and also the expositions of these passages left by the accepted orthodox Catholic fathers. After the three readings and the responses, six psalms with the Halleluia shall follow, then a reading from the epistles recited from memory, and the usual verses, the vigils concluding with the supplication of the litany, “Kyrie eleison.”
Ch. 10.The order of vigils in summer.—From Easter to the first of November the above order of worship shall be observed, except that the reading shall be shortened because of the shorter nights; that is, in place of the three lessons, one lesson from the Old Testament shall be recited from memory, with the short response. The rest of the service shall be observed as described above, so that the number of psalms read shall never be less than twelve, not counting the 3d and the 94th.
Ch. 11.The order of vigils on Sunday.—On Sunday the brothers shall rise earlier than on other days. The order of service in the vigils of Sunday shall be as follows: first, six psalms and the verse are to be said as described above; then the brothers, sitting down, shall read in order from their seats four lessons from the gospels, with responses, and in the fourth response the cantor shall sing the Gloria, at the beginning of which all shall rise to show reverence. After the lessons six other psalms shall be said responsively and the verse; then four more lessons shall be read with the responses as before; then three canticles chosen from the prophets by the abbot shall be sung with the Halleluia; then after the verse and the benediction of the abbot, four other lessons shall be read from the New Testament in the same order as above, and after the fourth response the abbot shall begin the hymn “We praise thee, O Lord” (Te Deum laudamus), following it with a lesson from the Gospel, during which all rise to show reverence and honor to God. After the reading all shall respond “Amen,” and the abbot shall begin the hymn: “It is a good thing to praise the Lord”; then the abbot shall give the benediction, and the matins shall be begun. This order of service is to be observed on all Sundays, winter and summer, unless it should happen, which God forbid, that the brethren are late in rising, in which case the readings and responses may be shortened. But care should be taken that this does not happen, and if it does, he whose negligence caused the delay should make satisfaction to God for his fault by doing penance in the oratory.
Ch. 12.The order of matins on Sunday.—In the matins on the Lord’s day the order of service shall be as follows: first, the 66th Psalm in unison, then the 50th Psalm with the Halleluia, then the 117th and the 62d Psalms, the Benedictiones [that is, Dan. 3:52-90], and the Laudes [that is, Pss. 148, 149, 150], a lesson from Revelation recited from memory, a response, a hymn, the usual verse, and a song from the Gospel, concluding with the litany, and the benediction.
Ch. 13.The order of matins on week days.—On week days the order of service in the matins shall be as follows: first, the 66th Psalm recited somewhat slowly as on Sunday, in order that all may be in their places in time to join in the 50th Psalm, which is to be recited responsively; then two psalms for the day according to this schedule: on Monday, the 5th and the 35th; on Tuesday, the 42d and the 56th; on Wednesday, the 63d and the 64th; on Thursday, the 87th and the 89th; on Friday the 75th and the 91st; and on Saturday, the 142d and the song from Deuteronomy [33:1-43], the last being divided by two Glorias. On other days, the songs from the prophets are to be sung, each on its proper day, according to the custom of the Roman church. Then shall follow the lauds, a lesson from the epistles recited from memory, the response, a hymn, the verse, and a song from the Gospel, concluding with the litany and the benediction. At the close of matins and vespers every day, the superior shall recite the Lord’s prayer in the hearing of all, because of the quarrels which are apt to occur among the monks; so that the brethren, in their hearts uniting in the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us,” may cleanse their hearts from sins of this sort. In other services, the last part of the prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” shall be said responsively by all.
Ch. 14.The order of vigils on Saints’ days.—On Saints’ days and on all feast days, the order of service shall be the same as that for Sunday as described above, except that the psalms and responses and readings belonging to the particular day shall be used.
Ch. 15.The occasions on which the Halleluia shall be said.—From Easter to Pentecost the Halleluia shall be said with the psalms and responses. From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent in the vigils of the night the Halleluia shall be said only with the last six psalms; on Sundays, except in Lent, the Halleluia shall be said also with the songs at matins, prime, terce, sext, and nones, but at vespers the songs shall be said responsively. The responses shall not be said with the Halleluia except during the season from Easter to Pentecost.
Ch. 16.The order of divine worship during the day.—The prophet says: “Seven times a day do I praise thee” [Ps. 119:164]; and we observe this sacred number in the seven services of the day; that is, matins, prime, terce, sext, nones, vespers, and completorium; for the hours of the daytime are plainly intended here, since the same prophet provides for the nocturnal vigils, when he says in another place: “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee” [Ps. 119:62]. We should therefore praise the Creator for his righteous judgments at the aforesaid times: matins, prime, terce, sext, nones, vespers, and completorium; and at night we should rise to give thanks unto Him.1
Ch. 17.The number of psalms to be said at these times.—We have already described the order of psalms for the nocturnal vigils and for matins; let us now turn to the other services. At prime, three psalms shall be said separately, that is, each with a Gloria, the verse, “Make haste, O God, to deliver me,” and the hymn for the hour being said before the psalms; then one lesson from the Epistles shall be read, then the verse, the “Kyrie eleison,” and the benediction. At terce, sext, and nones the same order shall be observed: first the prayer (that is, the verse, “Make haste, O God,” etc.), the hymn for the hour, the three psalms, the lesson, the verse, the “Kyrie eleison,” and the benediction. If the congregation is large, the psalms shall be said responsively; if small, they shall be said in unison. At vespers four psalms shall be said responsively, then shall follow the lesson, the response, the hymn for the hour, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the song from the Gospel, the Litany, the Lord’s prayer, and the benediction. At completorium, three psalms shall be said in unison, then the hymn for the hour, the lesson, the verse, the “Kyrie eleison,” the benediction, and the dismissal.
Ch. 18.The order in which these psalms shall be said.—All the services of the daytime shall begin with the verse “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O God,” followed by the Gloria and the hymn for the hour. The order in which the psalms are to be read in these services is as follows: at prime on Sunday, four sections of the 118th Psalm, and at the other services on Sunday, terce, sext, nones, three sections each of the same psalm; at prime on Monday, three psalms, the 1st, 2d, and 6th; so on through the week to Sunday again, three psalms being said at each prime in the order of arrangement to the 19th, the 9th and the 17th being divided into two readings. In this way vigils on Sunday will always begin with the 20th psalm. At terce, sext, and nones on Monday, the nine sections of the 118th psalm which remain shall be said three at each service, thus reading the whole 118th Psalm on the two days, Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday the nine psalms from the 119th to the 127th shall be read three at each of the services of terce, sext, and nones. This order of psalms, and the regular order of hymns, lessons, and verses is to be observed throughout the week, and on Sunday the reading shall begin again with the 118th psalm. At vespers four psalms are to be read daily, from the 109th to the 147th, leaving out those that are prescribed for the other services (from the 117th to the 127th, the 133d, and the 142d). As this does not make the required number of psalms, three for each day, the longer ones shall be divided, namely, the 138th, the 143d, and the 144th; and the 116th, being very short, shall be read with the 115th. The rest of the service of vespers, the lesson, the response, the hymn, the verse, and the song, shall be observed as already described. At completorium, the same psalms shall be read each day, namely, the 4th, the 90th, and the 133d. All the rest of the psalms, not thus arranged for, shall be divided equally among the seven nocturnal vigils, the longer ones being divided, making twelve readings for each night. If this particular order of the psalms is not satisfactory, it may be changed; but in any case, the whole psalter with its full number of 150 psalms should be completed every week, and should be begun again from the first at the vigils on Sunday. Monks who read less than the whole psalter with the customary songs during the course of the week are assuredly lax in their devotion, since we are told that the holy fathers were accustomed in their zeal to read in a single day what we in our indolence can scarcely accomplish in a whole week.
Ch. 19.The behavior of the monks in the services.—We know of course that the divine presence is everywhere, and that “the eyes of the Lord look down everywhere upon the good and the evil,” but we should realize this in its fulness, especially when we take part in divine worship. Remember the words of the prophet: “Serve the Lord in all fear” [Ps. 2:11], and again “Sing wisely” [Ps. 47:7], and yet again, “In the sight of the angels I will sing unto thee” [Ps. 138:1]. Let us then consider how we should behave in the sight of God and his angels, and let us so comport ourselves in the service of praise that our hearts may be in harmony with our voices.
Ch. 20.The reverence to be shown in prayer.—When we have any request to make of powerful persons, we proffer it humbly and reverently; with how much greater humility and devotion, then, should we offer our supplications unto God, the Lord of all. We should realize, too, that we are not heard for our much speaking, but for the purity and the contrition of our hearts. So when we pray, our prayer should be simple and brief, unless we are moved to speak by the inspiration of the spirit. The prayer offered before the congregation also should be brief, and all the brothers should rise at the signal of the superior.
Ch. 21.The deans of the monastery.—In large congregations certain ones from among the brothers of good standing and holy lives should be chosen to act as deans and should be set to rule over certain parts under the direction of the abbot. Only persons to whom the abbot may safely intrust a share of his burdens should be selected for this office and they should be chosen not according to rank, but according to their merits and wisdom. But if any one of the deans shall be found in fault, being perhaps puffed up by his position, he should be reprimanded for his fault the second or third time, and then if he does not mend his ways he should be deposed and his place given to a worthier brother. The same treatment should be accorded the præpositi.
Ch. 22.How the monks should sleep.—The monks shall sleep separately in individual beds, and the abbot shall assign them their beds according to their conduct. If possible all the monks shall sleep in the same dormitory, but if their number is too large to admit of this, they are to be divided into tens or twenties and placed under the control of some of the older monks. A candle shall be kept burning in the dormitory all night until daybreak. The monks shall go to bed clothed and girt with girdles and cords, but shall not have their knives at their sides, lest in their dreams they injure one of the sleepers. They should be always in readiness, rising immediately upon the signal and hastening to the service, but appearing there gravely and modestly. The beds of the younger brothers should not be placed together, but should be scattered among those of the older monks. When the brothers arise they should gently exhort one another to hasten to the service, so that the sleepy ones may have no excuse for coming late.
Ch. 23.The excommunication for lighter sins.—If any brother shows himself stubborn, disobedient, proud, or complaining, or refuses to obey the rule or to hearken to his elders, let him be admonished in private once or twice by his elders, as God commands. If he does not mend his ways let him be reprimanded publicly before all. But, if, knowing the penalty to which he is liable, he still refuses to conform, let him be excommunicated [that is, cut off from the society of the other monks], and if he remains incorrigible let him suffer bodily punishment.
Ch. 24.The forms of excommunication.—The nature of the excommunication and discipline should be suited to the extent of the guilt, which is to be determined by the abbot. If the brother is guilty of one of the lighter sins, let him be deprived of participation in the common meal. The one who has been thus deprived shall not lead in the psalms and responses in the oratory or read the lessons; he shall eat alone after the common meal; so that, for example, if the brothers eat at the sixth hour, he shall eat at the ninth, and if the brothers eat at the ninth hour, he shall eat at vespers. This shall be continued until he has made suitable satisfaction for his fault.
Ch. 25.The excommunication for the graver sins.—For graver sins the brother shall be deprived of participation both in the common meal and in the divine services. No brother shall speak to him or have anything to do with him, but he shall labor alone at the work assigned to him as a penance, meditating on the meaning of that saying of the apostle: “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ” [1 Cor. 5:5]. And he shall eat alone, receiving his food in such measure and at such time as the abbot shall determine. No one meeting him shall bless him, and the food which is given him shall be unblessed.
Ch. 26.Those who consort with the excommunicated without the order of the abbot.—If any brother shall presume to speak to one who has been excommunicated, or shall give a command to him, or have anything whatever to do with him, except by the order of the abbot, he shall be placed under the same sort of excommunication.
Ch. 27.The abbot should be zealous for the correction of those who have been excommunicated.—The abbot should exercise the greatest care over erring brothers; as it is written: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” [Matt. 9:12]. So the abbot should use all the means that a wise physician uses: he should send secret comforters, wiser and older brothers, who will comfort the erring one, and urge him humbly to make amends, as the apostle says: “Comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with too much sorrow” [2 Cor. 2:7], and again “Charity shall be confirmed in him” [2 Cor. 2:8]. Let him also be prayed for by all. It should be the greatest care of the abbot that not one of his flock should perish, using to this end all his wisdom and ability, for he is set to care for sick souls, not to rule harshly over well ones. Let him be warned in this matter by the words of God spoken to the evil shepherds of Israel through the prophet: “Ye did take that which ye saw to be strong, and that which was weak ye did cast out” [cf. Ezek. 34:3 f]. Let him rather follow the example of the good shepherd, who, leaving his ninety and nine, went out into the mountains and sought the one sheep which had gone astray; who, when he found it, had compassion on its weakness, and laid it on his own sacred shoulders and brought it back to the flock.
Ch. 28.Those who do not mend their ways after frequent correction.—If any brother has been frequently corrected and excommunicated, and still does not mend his ways, let the punishment be increased to the laying on of blows. But if he will not be corrected or if he attempts to defend his acts, then the abbot shall proceed to extreme measures as a wise physician will do; that is, when the poultices and ointments, as it were, of prayer, the medicines of Scripture, and the violent remedies of excommunication and blows have all failed, he has recourse to the last means, prayer to God, the all-powerful, that He should work the salvation of the erring brother. But if he still cannot be cured, then the abbot shall proceed to the use of the knife, cutting out that evil member from the congregation; as the apostle says: “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” [1 Cor. 5:13]; “If the unbelieving depart, let him depart” [1 Cor. 7:15]; that the whole flock be not contaminated by one diseased sheep.
Ch. 29.Shall brothers who have left the monastery be received back?—If a brother has left the monastery or has been cast out for his own fault, and shall wish to be taken back, he shall first of all promise complete reformation of that fault, and then shall be received into the lowest grade in the monastery to prove the sincerity of his humility. If he again departs, he shall be received back the third time, knowing, however, that after that he shall never again be taken back.
Ch. 30.The manner of correction for the young.—The forms of punishment should be adapted to every age and to every order of intelligence. So if children or youths, or those who are unable to appreciate the meaning of excommunication, are found guilty, they should be given heavy fasts and sharp blows for their correction.
Ch. 31.The cellarer.—The cellarer of the monastery, chosen from among the congregation, should be wise, sedate, and sober; he should not be gluttonous, proud, quarrelsome, spiteful, indolent, nor wasteful; he should fear God, since he acts in a way as the father of the monastery. He should be careful of everything, doing nothing except by the order of the abbot, and observing all the commands laid upon him. He should not rebuke the brothers roughly; if any brother is unreasonable in his demands, he should yet treat him reasonably, mildly refusing his request as being improper. He should make his service minister to his own salvation, remembering the words of the apostle: “They that have used the office well, purchase to themselves a good degree” [1 Tim. 3:13]. He should have special care for the sick, for children, for guests, and for the poor, seeing that he will certainly have to give a reckoning of his treatment of all these on the day of judgment. He should look after all the utensils of the monastery as carefully as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar, and he should be careful of the substance of the monastery, wasting nothing. He should be neither avaricious nor prodigal, conducting his office in moderation under the commands of the abbot. Above all he should conduct himself humbly; if he is not able to furnish what is asked for, he should at least return a pleasant answer, as it is written: “A good word is above the best gift” [Ecclesiasticus 18:16]. He should take charge of everything intrusted to him by the abbot, and should not interfere in what is prohibited to him. He should see to it that the brothers always have the regular amount of food, and he should serve it without haughtiness or unnecessary delay, remembering the punishment which the Scripture says is meted out to those who offend one of these little ones. In large congregations, the cellarer should have assistants, with whose aid he may be able to fulfil the duties committed to him without unnecessary worry. He should, moreover, so arrange the work in his department that the distribution of food and the other details may come at convenient hours, and may not disturb or inconvenience anyone.
Ch. 32.The utensils and other property of the monastery.—The possessions of the monastery in the way of utensils, clothes, and other things should be intrusted by the abbot to the charge of certain brothers whom he can safely trust, and the various duties of caring for or collecting these things should be divided among them. The abbot should keep a list of these things, so that he may know what is given out or taken back when the offices change hands. If any one of these brothers is careless or wasteful of the goods of the monastery which are intrusted to him, he should be reproved and if he does not reform he should be subjected to discipline according to the rule.
Ch. 33.Monks should not have personal property.—The sin of owning private property should be entirely eradicated from the monastery. No one shall presume to give or receive anything except by the order of the abbot; no one shall possess anything of his own, books, paper, pens, or anything else; for monks are not to own even their own bodies and wills to be used at their own desire, but are to look to the father [abbot] of the monastery for everything. So they shall have nothing that has not been given or allowed to them by the abbot; all things are to be had in common according to the command of the Scriptures, and no one shall consider anything as his own property. If anyone has been found guilty of this most grievous sin, he shall be admonished for the first and second offence, and then if he does not mend his ways he shall be punished.
Ch. 34.All the brothers are to be treated equally.—It is written: “Distribution was made unto every man as he had need” [Acts 4:35]. This does not mean that there should be respect of persons, but rather consideration for infirmities. The one who has less need should give thanks to God and not be envious; the one who has greater need should be humbled because of his infirmity, and not puffed up by the greater consideration shown him. Thus all the members of the congregation shall dwell together in peace. Above all let there be no complaint about anything, either in word or manner, and if anyone is guilty of this let him be strictly disciplined.
Ch. 35.The weekly service in the kitchen.—The brothers shall serve in their turn in the kitchen, no one being excused, except for illness or because occupied in work of greater importance; thus all shall learn charity and acquire the greater reward which is the recompense for service. Assistants shall be allowed to the weak, that they be not too greatly burdened in the service, and shall also be provided for all, if the size of the congregation or the conditions of the place make it necessary. In large congregations, the cellarer shall be excused from service in the kitchen, as also those who, as we have already indicated, are engaged in more important labors; but all the others shall serve in their turn. The one who goes out of office at the end of the week, should do all the cleaning on Saturday, and should wash the towels on which the monks dry their hands and their feet, and both he and the one who succeeds him shall wash the feet of all the brothers. The one who is leaving shall turn over the utensils of the service properly cleaned to the cellarer, who shall then consign them to the one who succeeds, keeping account of what he gives out and what he receives back. Those who are engaged in this service shall be allowed a piece of bread and a cup of wine an hour before the time of the common meal, so that they may serve the brethren during the meal without inconvenience or cause for complaint; but on holy days they shall fast until after the mass. On Sunday, immediately after matins, the outgoing and the incoming cooks shall kneel in the oratory and ask for the prayers of all the brothers. The one who has finished his service for the week shall say this verse three times: “Blessed art thou, O Lord God, who hast aided and consoled me,” and then shall receive the benediction; the one who is entering on the service shall say: “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O God”: this shall be repeated three times by all, and then he shall receive the benediction and enter upon his duties.
Ch. 36.The care for brothers who are ill.—Above all, care should be taken of the sick, as if they were Christ himself, as he has said: “I was sick, and ye visited me” [Matt. 25:36]; and again, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” [Matt. 25:40]. But the sick should consider that the service performed for them is done to the honor of God, and should not make it a burden for the brothers who attend them. Those who labor in this service, on their part, should endure it patiently, because it redounds to their greater reward. The abbot should make it his especial care that no one suffers neglect. A special room shall be assigned to the sick, and they shall be given pious, diligent, and careful attendants. The sick should also be allowed the use of baths as often as seems expedient, a thing which is to be accorded to the young and strong more rarely. Those who are sick or weak are, moreover, to be permitted to eat meat to strengthen them, but when they have recovered they shall abstain from it in the usual manner as the others. The abbot should see to it also that the sick are not neglected by the cellarer or the other servants, for their negligence will be placed to his account, if he is not diligent in correcting them.
Ch. 37.The aged and children.—Special regard and consideration is due to human nature in the extremes of life, old age and childhood, and yet this must be regulated by the rule. Their weakness shall always be taken into consideration, and the strict requirements of the rule in regard to food may be relaxed for them, so that they may anticipate the regular hours of eating.
Ch. 38.The weekly reader.—There should always be reading during the common meal, but it shall not be left to chance, so that anyone may take up the book and read. On Sunday one of the brothers shall be appointed to read during the following week. He shall enter on his office after the mass and communion, and shall ask for the prayers of all, that God may keep him from the spirit of pride; then he shall say this verse three times, all the brethren uniting with him: “O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise;” then after receiving the benediction he enters upon his office. At the common meal, the strictest silence shall be kept, that no whispering or speaking may be heard except the voice of the reader. The brethren shall mutually wait upon one another by passing the articles of food and drink, so that no one shall have to ask for anything; but if this is necessary, it shall be done by a sign rather than by words, if possible. In order to avoid too much talking no one shall interrupt the reader with a question about the reading or in any other way, unless perchance the prior may wish to say something in the way of explanation. The brother who is appointed to read shall be given the bread and wine before he begins, on account of the holy communion which he has received, and lest so long a fast should be injurious; he shall have his regular meal later with the cooks and other weekly servants. The brothers shall not be chosen to read or chant by order of rotation, but according to their ability to edify their hearers.
Ch. 39.The amount of food.—Two cooked dishes, served either at the sixth or the ninth hour, should be sufficient for the daily sustenance, We allow two because of differences in taste, so that those who do not eat one may satisfy their hunger with the other, but two shall suffice for all the brothers, unless it is possible to obtain fruit or fresh vegetables, which may be served as a third. One pound of bread shall suffice for the day, whether there be one meal or two. If the monks are to have supper as well as dinner, the cellarer shall cut off a third of the loaf of bread which is served at dinner and keep it for the later meal. In the case of those who engage in heavy labor, the abbot may at his discretion increase the allowance of food, but he should not allow the monks to indulge their appetites by eating or drinking too much. For no vice is more inconsistent with the Christian character; as the Master saith: “Take heed to yourselves lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting” [Luke 21:34]. A smaller amount of food shall be given to the youths than to their elders, and in general the rule should be to eat sparingly. All shall abstain from the flesh of four-footed beasts, except the weak and the sick.
Ch. 40.The amount of drink.— “Each one has his own gift from God, the one in this way, the other in that” [1 Cor. 7:7], so we hesitate to determine what others shall eat or drink. But we believe that a half-measure of wine a day is enough for anyone, making due allowance, of course, for the needs of the sick. If God has given to some the strength to endure abstinence, let them use that gift, knowing that they shall have their reward. And if the climate, the nature of the labor, or the heat of summer, or other conditions make it advisable to increase this amount, the superior may do so at his own discretion, always guarding, however, against indulgence and drunkenness. Some hold, indeed, that monks should not drink wine at all. We have not been able in our day to persuade monks to agree to this; but all will admit that drink should be used sparingly, for “wine maketh even the wise to go astray” [Ecclesiasticus 19:2]. Where wine is scarce or is not found at all because of the nature of the locality, let those who live there bless God and murmur not. In any case, let there be no murmuring because of the scarcity or the lack of wine.
Ch. 41.The time of meals.—From Easter to Pentecost, the brethren shall dine at the sixth hour and have supper in the evening. From Pentecost on through the summer, they shall fast on Wednesday and Friday1 until the ninth hour, unless they are laboring in the fields or find the heat of the summer too oppressive; on the other days of the week they shall dine at the sixth hour. But if the monks are working out of doors, or are oppressed with the heat, the abbot may at his discretion have dinner served every day at the sixth hour. In this, as in all matters, the abbot shall have regard for the souls of the brethren, that they be not given cause for grumbling. From the middle of September to the beginning of Lent, they shall dine at the ninth hour, and during Lent, toward evening. The time for the evening meal shall be so fixed that the brethren may eat without the aid of lamps; and indeed all the meals are to be eaten by daylight.
Ch. 42.Silence is to be kept after completorium.—The monks should observe the rule of silence at all times, but especially during the hours of the night. This rule shall be observed both on fast-days and on other days, as follows: on other than fast-days, as soon as the brothers rise from the table they shall sit down together, while one of them reads from the Collations or the lives of the fathers or other holy works. But the reading at this time shall not be from the Heptateuch or from the books of the Kings, which are not suitable for weak intellects to hear at this hour and may be read at other times. On fast-days the brethren shall assemble a little while after vespers, and listen to readings from the Collations. All shall be present at this reading except those who have been given other duties to be done at this time, and after the reading of four or five pages, or as much as shall occupy an hour’s time, the whole congregation shall meet for completorium. After completorium no one shall be allowed to speak to another, unless some unforeseen occasion arises, as that of caring for guests, or unless the abbot has to give a command to some one; and in these cases such speaking as is necessary shall be done quietly and gravely. If anyone breaks this rule of silence he shall be severely disciplined.
Ch. 43.Those who are late in coming to services or to meals.—When the signal is given for the hour of worship, all should hasten to the oratory; but they shall enter gravely, so as not to give occasion for jesting. The service of God is to be placed above every other duty. At vigils, those who do not come in until after the Gloria of the 94th Psalm ( “O come, let us sing unto the Lord”), which, as we have indicated above, is to be said slowly and solemnly, shall be held to be tardy. Such a one shall not be allowed to take his accustomed place in the choir, but shall be made to stand last or in a place apart such as the abbot may have indicated for the tardy. There he may be seen by the abbot and all the brothers, and after the service he shall do public penance for his fault. The purpose of placing him last or in a place apart from the others is to make his tardiness conspicuous, so that he may be led through very shame to correct this fault. For if those who come late are made to stay outside of the oratory, some of them will go back and go to bed again, or at least sit down outside and spend the time of service in idle talk, thus giving a chance to the evil one. Let them come inside that they may not lose all the service, and in the future not be tardy. At the services in the daytime, he who does not come in until after the verse and the Gloria of the first psalm, shall stand in the last place as already described, and shall not be allowed to take his own place in the choir until he has made amends, unless the abbot shall give him permission, reserving his penance for a later time. At the common meal all shall stand and say a verse and a prayer, and then sit down together. He who comes in after the verse shall be admonished for the first and second offense, and if he is again tardy after that he shall not be allowed to share the common meal, but shall be made to eat alone, and his portion of wine shall be taken away until he makes satisfaction. Those who are not present at the verse which is said at the end of the meal shall be punished in the same way. And no one shall eat or drink anything except at the appointed hours. If any one refuses to eat when food is offered to him by the superior, he shall not be allowed to do so later when he wishes it, unless he has made satisfaction for his fault.
Ch. 44.The penance of the excommunicated.—The one who has been excommunicated for grievous sins from both the divine services and the common meal shall do penance as follows: During the hour of worship, he shall lie prostrate at the door of the oratory, with his head on the ground at the feet of all as they come out. He shall continue to do this until the abbot has decided that he has made reparation for his sin. Then after he has been admitted again into the oratory, he shall fall at the feet, first of the abbot and then of all the other brothers, and shall beg them all to pray for him; then he may be permitted to take his own place in the choir or such other position as the abbot shall designate. But he shall not be allowed to lead in the psalms or the reading or any other part of the service until the abbot gives him permission. At the end of the service each day he shall prostrate himself upon the ground in the place where he was standing, until the abbot decides that his penance has been accomplished. Those who for lesser faults have been excommunicated from the table only, shall continue to do penance in the oratory until the abbot gives them his blessing and says: “It is enough.”
Ch. 45.The punishment of those who make mistakes in the service.—If anyone makes a mistake in the psalm or the response or the antiphony or the reading, he shall make satisfaction as described. But if he is not humbled by this and by the rebukes of his elders, and refuses to admit that he has erred, he shall be subjected to heavier punishment for his obstinacy. Children shall be whipped for such offences.
Ch. 46.The punishment for other sins.—When a brother has committed any fault in any of his work, in doors or out, such as losing or breaking anything, or making a mistake of some sort, he shall go immediately to the abbot and make satisfaction, confessing his fault before the whole congregation. If he fails to do this and leaves the mistake to be found out and reported by another, he shall be severely punished. But if it be a secret sin, he may confess it privately to the abbot alone or to such spiritual superiors as may be able to cure such errors without making them public.
Ch. 47.The manner of announcing the hour of service.—The signal for the hour of worship both in the daytime and at night, shall be given by the abbot or by some diligent brother to whom he has intrusted that duty, so that everything may be in readiness for the service at the proper time. The abbot shall appoint certain ones to lead in the psalms and the antiphonies after him; only those, however, shall be allowed to read or chant who are able to edify the hearers. These shall be appointed by the abbot, and shall perform their part gravely and humbly in the fear of the Lord.
Ch. 48.The daily labor of the monks.—Idleness is the great enemy of the soul, therefore the monks should always be occupied, either in manual labor or in holy reading. The hours for these occupations should be arranged according to the seasons, as follows: From Easter to the first of October, the monks shall go to work at the first hour and labor until the fourth hour, and the time from the fourth to the sixth hour shall be spent in reading. After dinner, which comes at the sixth hour, they shall lie down and rest in silence; but anyone who wishes may read, if he does it so as not to disturb anyone else. Nones shall be observed a little earlier, about the middle of the eighth hour, and the monks shall go back to work, laboring until vespers. But if the conditions of the locality or the needs of the monastery, such as may occur at harvest time, should make it necessary to labor longer hours, they shall not feel themselves ill-used, for true monks should live by the labor of their own hands, as did the apostles and the holy fathers. But the weakness of human nature must be taken into account in making these arrangements. From the first of October to the beginning of Lent, the monks shall have until the full second hour for reading, at which hour the service of terce shall be held. After terce, they shall work at their respective tasks until the ninth hour. When the ninth hour sounds they shall cease from labor and be ready for the service at the second bell. After dinner they shall spend the time in reading the lessons and the psalms. During Lent the time from daybreak to the third hour shall be devoted to reading, and then they shall work at their appointed tasks until the tenth hour. At the beginning of Lent each of the monks shall be given a book from the library of the monastery which he shall read entirely through. One or two of the older monks shall be appointed to go about through the monastery during the hours set apart for reading, to see that none of the monks are idling away the time, instead of reading, and so not only wasting their own time but perhaps disturbing others as well. Anyone found doing this shall be rebuked for the first or second offence, and after that he shall be severely punished, that he may serve as a warning and an example to others. Moreover, the brothers are not to meet together at unseasonable hours. Sunday is to be spent by all the brothers in holy reading, except by such as have regular duties assigned to them for that day. And if any brother is negligent or lazy, refusing or being unable profitably to read or meditate at the time assigned for that, let him be made to work, so that he shall at any rate not be idle. The abbot shall have consideration for the weak and the sick, giving them tasks suited to their strength, so that they may neither be idle nor yet be distressed by too heavy labor.
Ch. 49.The observance of Lent.—Monks ought really to keep Lent all the year, but as few are able to do this, they should at least keep themselves perfectly pure during that season, and to make up for the negligence of the rest of the year by the strictest observance then. The right way to keep Lent is this: to keep oneself free from all vices and to spend the time in holy reading, in repentance, and in abstinence. During this season, therefore, we should add in some way to the weight of our regular service, by saying additional prayers or giving up some part of our food or drink, so that each one of us of his own will may offer some gift to God in addition to his usual service, to the rejoicing of the Holy Spirit. Let each one then make some sacrifice of his bodily pleasures in the way of food or drink, or the amount of sleep, or talking and jesting, thus awaiting the holy Easter with the joy of spiritual desire. But the abbot should always be consulted in regard to the sacrifice to be made, and it should be done with his consent and wish; for whatever anyone does contrary to the wish of the spiritual father will not be imputed to him for righteousness, but for presumption and vainglory. So let everything be done in accordance with the wish of the abbot.
Ch. 50.The observance of the hours of worship by brothers who work at a distance from the monastery or are on a journey.—Those who are at work so far from the monastery that they cannot return for service (the question of fact shall be decided by the abbot) shall nevertheless observe the regular hours, kneeling down and worshipping God in the place where they are working. So also those who are on the road shall not neglect the hour of worship, but shall keep it as best they can.
Ch. 51.Those who are sent on short errands.—If a brother has been sent on an errand with instructions to return the same day with an answer, he shall not presume to eat outside of the monastery unless he has been told to do so by the abbot; and if he does, he shall be excommunicated.
Ch. 52.The oratory of the monastery.—The oratory should be used as its name implies: that is, as a place of prayer; and for no other purpose. When the service is over, let all go out silently and reverently, so that if any brother wishes to pray there in private he may not be disturbed by others. And when anyone wishes to pray there privately let him go in quietly and pray, not noisily, but with silent tears and earnestness of heart. No one else shall be allowed to remain in the oratory after the service, lest, as we have said, they disturb those who desire to pray there.
Ch. 53.The reception of guests.—All guests who come to the monastery are to be received in the name of Christ, who said: “I was a stranger and ye took me in” [Matt. 25:35]. Honor and respect shall be shown to all, but especially to Christians and strangers. When a guest is announced the superior and the brothers shall hasten to meet him and shall give him the kindest welcome. At meeting, both shall say a short prayer and then they shall exchange the kiss of peace, the prayer being said first to frustrate the wiles of the devil. The manner of salutation shall be humble and devout; he who offers it to a guest shall bow his head or even prostrate his body on the ground in adoration of Christ, in whose name guests are received. The way to receive a guest is as follows: immediately on his arrival he shall be conducted to the oratory for prayer, and then the superior or some brother at his order shall sit down and read from the holy Scriptures with him for his edification. After he has been thus received, every attention shall be shown to his comfort and entertainment. The abbot may break his fast to dine with a guest, unless the day be an especially solemn fast; but the brothers shall keep the regular fasts. The abbot shall offer the guests water for their hands, and together with all the brothers shall wash their feet, all repeating this verse at the end of the ceremony: “We have thought of thy loving kindness, O Lord, in the midst of thy temple” [Ps. 48:9]. Peculiar honor shall be shown to the poor and to strangers, since it is in them that Christ is especially received; for the power of the rich in itself compels honor. The abbot shall have a special cook for himself and the guests of the monastery, so that the brothers may not be disturbed by the arrival of guests at unusual hours, a thing always liable to occur in a monastery. Two well-qualified brothers shall be appointed to this office for the year, and shall be given such help as they may need, that they may not have occasion to complain of the service. But when they have nothing to do in this service, they shall be assigned to other tasks. It shall be the rule of the monastery that those who have charge of certain offices shall have assistants when they need them, and shall themselves be assigned to other tasks when they have nothing to do in their own offices. The guest chamber, which shall contain beds with plenty of bedding, shall be placed under the charge of a God-fearing brother. No one shall venture to talk to a guest or to associate with him; and when a brother meets one, he shall greet him humbly, and ask his blessing, but shall pass on, explaining that it is not permitted to the brothers to talk with guests.
Ch. 54.Monks are not to receive letters or anything.—No monk shall receive letters or gifts or anything from his family or from any persons on the outside, nor shall he send anything, except by the command of the abbot. And if anything has been sent to the monastery for him he shall not receive it unless he has first shown it to the abbot and received his permission. And if the abbot orders such a thing to be received, he may yet bestow it upon anyone whom he chooses, and the brother to whom it was sent shall acquiesce without ill-will, lest he give occasion to the evil one by his discontent. If anyone breaks this rule, he shall be severely disciplined.
Ch. 55.The vestiarius [one who has charge of the clothing] and the calciarius [one who has charge of the footwear].—The brothers are to be provided with clothes suited to the locality and the temperature, for those in colder regions require warmer clothing than those in warmer climates. The abbot shall decide such matters. The following garments should be enough for those who live in moderate climates: A cowl and a robe apiece (the cowl to be of wool in winter and in summer light or old); a rough garment for work; and shoes and boots for the feet. The monks shall not be fastidious about the color and texture of these clothes, which are to be made of the stuff commonly used in the region where they dwell, or of the cheapest material. The abbot shall also see that the garments are of suitable length and not too short. When new garments are given out the old ones should be returned, to be kept in the wardrobe for the poor. Each monk may have two cowls and two robes to allow for change at night and for washing; anything more than this is superfluous and should be dispensed with as being a form of luxury. The old boots and shoes are also to be returned when new ones are given out. Those who are sent out on the road shall be provided with trousers, which shall be washed and restored to the vestiary when they return. There shall also be cowls and robes of slightly better material for the use of those who are sent on journeys, which also shall be given back when they return. A mattress, a blanket, a sheet, and a pillow shall be sufficient bedding. The beds are to be inspected by the abbot frequently, to see that no monk has hidden away anything of his own in them, and if anything is found there which has not been granted to that monk by the abbot, he shall be punished very severely. To avoid giving occasion to this vice, the abbot shall see that the monks are provided with everything that is necessary: cowl, robe, shoes, boots, girdle, knife, pen, needle, handkerchief, tablets, etc. For he should remember how the fathers did in this matter, as it is related in the Acts of the Apostles: “There was given unto each man according to his need” [Acts 2:45]. He should be guided in this by the requirements of the needy, rather than by the complaints of the discontented, remembering always that he shall have to give an account of all his decisions to God on the day of judgment.
Ch. 56.The table of the abbot.—The table of the abbot shall always be for the use of guests and pilgrims, and when there are no guests the abbot may invite some of the brothers to eat with him. But in that case, he should see that one or two of the older brothers are always left at the common table to preserve the discipline of the meal.
Ch. 57.Artisans of the monastery.—If there are any skilled artisans in the monastery, the abbot may permit them to work at their chosen trade, if they will do so humbly. But if any one of them is made proud by his skill in his particular trade or by his value to the monastery, he shall be made to give up that work and shall not go back to it until he has convinced the abbot of his humility. And if the products of any of these trades are sold, those who conduct the sales shall see that no fraud is perpetrated upon the monastery. For those who have any part in defrauding the monastery are in danger of spiritual destruction, just as Ananias and Sapphira for this sin suffered physical death. Above all, avarice is to be avoided in these transactions; rather the prices asked should be a little lower than those current in the neighborhood, that God may be glorified in all things.
Ch. 58.The way in which new members are to be received.—Entrance into the monastery should not be made too easy, for the apostle says: “Try the spirits, whether they are of God” [1 John 4:1]. So when anyone applies at the monastery, asking to be accepted as a monk, he should first be proved by every test. He shall be made to wait outside four or five days, continually knocking at the door and begging to be admitted; and then he shall be taken in as a guest and allowed to stay in the guest chamber a few days. If he satisfies these preliminary tests, he shall then be made to serve a novitiate of at least one year, during which he shall be placed under the charge of one of the older and wiser brothers, who shall examine him and prove, by every possible means, his sincerity, his zeal, his obedience, and his ability to endure shame. And he shall be told in the plainest manner all the hardships and difficulties of the life which he has chosen. If he promises never to leave the monastery [stabilitasloci] the rule shall be read to him after the first two months of his novitiate, and again at the end of six more months, and finally, four months later, at the end of his year. Each time he shall be told that this is the guide which he must follow as a monk, the reader saying to him at the end of the reading: “This is the law under which you have expressed a desire to live; if you are able to obey it, enter; if not, depart in peace.” Thus he shall have been given every chance for mature deliberation and every opportunity to refuse the yoke of service. But if he still persists in asserting his eagerness to enter and his willingness to obey the rule and the commands of his superiors, he shall then be received into the congregation, with the understanding that from that day forth he shall never be permitted to draw back from the service or to leave the monastery. The ceremony of receiving a new brother into the monastery shall be as follows: first he shall give a solemn pledge, in the name of God and his holy saints, of constancy, conversion of life, and obedience (stabilitas loci, conversio morum, obedientia);1 this promise shall be in writing drawn up by his own hand (or, if he cannot write, it may be drawn up by another at his request, and signed with his own mark), and shall be placed by him upon the altar in the presence of the abbot, in the name of the saints whose relics are in the monastery. Then he shall say: “Receive me, O Lord, according to thy word, and I shall live; let me not be cast down from mine expectation” [Ps. 119:116]; which shall be repeated by the whole congregation three times, ending with the “Gloria Patri.” Then he shall prostrate himself at the feet of all the brothers in turn, begging them to pray for him, and therewith he becomes a member of the congregation. If he has any property he shall either sell it all and give to the poor before he enters the monastery, or else he shall turn it over to the monastery in due form, reserving nothing at all for himself; for from that day forth he owns nothing, not even his own body and will. Then he shall take off his own garments there in the oratory, and put on the garments provided by the monastery. And those garments which he put off shall be stored away in the vestiary, so that if he should ever yield to the promptings of the devil and leave the monastery, he shall be made to put off the garments of a monk, and to put on his own worldly clothes, in which he shall be cast forth. But the written promise which the abbbot took from the altar where he placed it shall not be given back to him, but shall be preserved in the monastery.
Ch. 59.The presentation of children.—If persons of noble rank wish to dedicate their son to the service of God in the monastery, they shall make the promise for him, according to the following form: they shall bind his hand and the written promise along with the consecrated host in the altar-cloth and thus offer him to God. And in that document they shall promise under oath that their son shall never receive any of the family property, from them or any other person in any way whatsoever. If they are unwilling to do this, and desire to make some offering to the monastery for charity and the salvation of their souls, they may make a donation from that property, reserving to themselves the usufruct during their lives, if they wish. This shall all be done so clearly that the boy shall never have any expectations that might lead him astray, as we know to have happened. Poor people shall do the same when they offer their sons; and if they have no property at all they shall simply make the promise for their son and present him to the monastery with the host before witnesses.1
Ch. 60.Priests who wish to live in the monastery.—If a priest asks to be admitted into the monastery, he shall not be immediately accepted. But if he persists in his request, let it be made clear to him that he shall have to obey the whole rule, and that the regular discipline will not be relaxed in his favor; as it is written “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” [Matt. 26:50]. The abbot may assign him the place nearest himself, and may give him authority to pronounce the benediction or officiate at the mass, but the priest shall not presume to do any of these things, except by the authority of the abbot, for he is subject to the rule as all the others, and should indeed set an example to them by his humility. And when an ordination or other ceremony is held in the monastery, the priest shall occupy in the service the place which he holds as a monk, and not that which he would have as a priest. Members of other clerical grades [deacons, etc.] may also be received into the monastery as ordinary monks, if they wish to enter; but they shall be made to promise obedience to the rule and never to leave the monastery.
Ch. 61.The reception of strange monks.—If a monk from a distant region comes to the monastery and asks to be received, accepting the conditions and the customs of the place without fault-finding, he shall be welcomed and entertained as long as he wishes to stay. And if he humbly suggests certain faults and possible improvements in the conduct of the monastery, the abbot shall consider his suggestions carefully, for he may have been sent there by God for that very purpose. If he expresses a wish to remain permanently in that monastery, he may be admitted to membership immediately, ample opportunity having been given to discover his real character while he was a guest. The one who has been discovered during this time, however, to be wicked or unreasonable, shall not only be refused admission to the monastery as a member, but shall be plainly told to depart, that the congregation may not be contaminated by his evil example. Those who are worthy, on the other hand, shall not only be received at their request, but may be urged to stay as a good example for the rest, since we all serve the same Lord and Master wherever we may be. The abbot may even advance such a one to a higher grade if he thinks best, for it is in his power to promote not only monks, but priests and other members of the clergy, if their character and manner of life make it expedient. But the abbot should be careful that he does not receive into his congregation monks from other monasteries who have left without the consent of their abbot, or the usual commendatory letters;1 as it is written: “Do not unto others what ye would not that they should do unto you” [Luke 6:31].
Ch. 62.The ordaining of priests in the monastery.—When the abbot wishes to ordain a priest or a deacon for the service of the monastery, he shall choose one of his own congregation who is worthy to exercise such an office. And that brother shall not be elated because of his ordination, nor presume to exercise his office except by the command of the abbot; he should rather obey the rule the more carefully because of his calling, that he may grow in grace. Except for his right to officiate at the altar, he shall occupy the same position as before his ordination, unless he is promoted to a higher grade for his merits. He shall be subject to the authority of the deans and præpositi of the monastery as the rest, for his priestly office ought to incline him to greater obedience, rather than to resistance to authority. But if he is rebellious and refuses to submit even after frequent admonitions from the abbot, he may be handed over to the bishop of the diocese for correction. If after that he persists in his flagrant sin, refusing utterly to obey the rule, he shall be cast out of the monastery.
Ch. 63.Ranks among the monks.—There shall be different ranks among the monks, the rank of each being determined by the length of his service, by the character of his life, or by the decision of the abbot. But in this matter the abbot shall be careful not to give offence to any of his congregation, nor to use his power unjustly, for God will surely demand a reckoning of all his acts and decisions. These differences in rank are to be observed by the brothers in their daily life, each one having his own position in the choir, and his own turn at the confession and communion and in leading the psalms. But these differences shall not be based solely upon age, for we are told that Samuel and Daniel while still youths were made judges over priests; but rank shall ordinarily be determined by the time of entrance upon the monastic life, except in the case of promotions and degradations which the abbot may have made for cause. Thus, for example, one who was admitted as a monk at the second hour of the day shall be the inferior of the one admitted at the first hour. But in the case of children the discipline necessary to their welfare shall not be disturbed for this consideration. The proper attributes of inferiors are honor and reverence for those above them; and of superiors, love and affectionate care for those below them. This distinction shall be observed in addressing one another; thus an inferior shall be addressed as brother, and a superior as “nonnus” [that is, tutor or elder], as a sign of paternal reverence. But the abbot, since he is the representative of Christ, shall be addressed as “lord” and “abbot” [that is, father], not for his own exaltation, but for the honor and reverence which are due to Christ; and on his part, he shall always so conduct himself as to merit the honor which is shown to him. When two brothers meet, the inferior shall ask the other for his blessing. The inferior shall always rise and offer his superior his seat, and shall remain standing until the other bids him be seated; as it is written: “In honor preferring one another” [Rom. 12:10]. The children and youths are to be given their own places at the table and in the oratory, for the sake of preserving discipline, and indeed they shall be under strict discipline in all circumstances, until they have arrived at an age of discretion.
Ch. 64.The ordination of the abbot.—The election of the abbot shall be decided by the whole congregation or by that part of it, however small, which is of “the wiser and better counsel.”1 And he shall be chosen for his meritorious life and sound doctrine, even if he be the lowliest in the congregation. But if the whole congregation should agree to choose one simply because they know that he will wink at their vices, and the character of this abbot is discovered by the bishop of the diocese or by the abbots and Christian men of the neighborhood, they shall refuse their consent to the choice and shall interfere to set a better ruler over the house of God. If they do this with pure motives in zeal for the service of God they shall have their reward; just as, in neglecting to do so, they shall surely be guilty of sin. The one who is ordained should realize that he has assumed a heavy burden and also that he will have to render an account of his office to God. He should understand that he is set to rule for the profit of others and not for his own exaltation. He must be learned in the divine law, that he may know how and be able to bring forth things new and old [Matt. 13:52]. He shall be chaste, sober, and merciful, and always prefer mercy to justice, as he hopes to receive the same treatment from God. He should love the brothers, but hate their sins. He should exercise his authority to correct with the greatest prudence, lest, as it were, he should break the vase in his efforts to remove the stains. Let him remember in this regard that he himself is frail, and that “A bruised reed is not to be broken” [Is. 42:3]. We do not mean that he is to allow vices to flourish, but that he should exercise charity and care in his attempts to root them out, adapting his treatment to each case, as we said above. Let him strive to make himself loved rather than feared. He should not be violent nor easily worried, nor too obstinate in his opinions; he shall not be too jealous or suspicious of those about him, else he shall never have any peace of mind. His commands shall be given with foresight and deliberation, and he shall always examine his decisions to see whether they are made with regard for this world, or for the service of God. He shall profit by the warning of St. Jacob, where he says: “If I overdrive my flocks, they shall die all in one day” [cf. Gen. 33:13]. He should rule wisely, using discretion in all things; so that his administration may be such that the strong shall delight in it, while the weak are not offended by it. Above all, he should obey the rule in everything. Then, at the end of a good ministry, he shall receive that reward which the Lord has promised in the parable of the good servant: “Verily, I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods” [Matt. 24:47].
Ch. 65.The præpositus of the monastery.—The ordination of præposit has been a frequent source of trouble in the monastery, for some of them have acted as if they were second abbots, and by their presumption have aroused ill-feeling and dissensions in the congregation. This occurs especially where the præpositus is ordained by the bishops and abbots from whom his own abbot has received his ordination. Herein is found the cause of the whole trouble, for the præpositus is led to believe himself freed from the control of the abbot because of his equal ordination. Thence arise envying, quarrels, dissensions, and disturbances; for, the abbot and the præpositus being opposed to one another, the congregation is divided into factions, to the peril of their souls. They who ordain them in this way are responsible for these evils. Accordingly we believe it better, for the sake of the peace of the monastery, that the abbot rule his congregation without a præpositus, intrusting the management to deans, as we have already suggested; because where several are employed with equal authority, no one can become unduly exalted. But sometimes the circumstances seem to require the services of a præpositus, or else the whole congregation humbly petitions the abbot to appoint one. Then, if he wishes, he may, with the advice of the brothers, choose one and ordain him himself. The præpositus shall have charge only of such affairs as the abbot may intrust to him, doing nothing without his consent; for his position calls for greater obedience because of the greater trust committed to him. But the wicked præpositus who acts presumptuously or refuses obedience to the rule shall be admonished for his fault at least four times; after that, if he persists in his evil ways, he shall be subjected to the discipline provided in the rule; and finally he shall be deposed from his office, and a worthier brother put in his place. And if he refuses to submit quietly and to take his old place in the congregation, he shall be cast out of the monastery. But the abbot should examine his own motives to see that he is not actuated by envy or jealousy, for he must render account to God for all his acts.
Ch. 66.The doorkeeper of the monastery.—The door of the monastery shall be kept by an aged monk, one who is able to perform the duties of that position wisely and whose age will prevent him from being tempted to wander outside. He shall have his cell near the door to be always at hand to answer to those who knock. Everyone who knocks shall receive a ready response, the doorkeeper welcoming him with thanks to God for his coming and giving him his blessing. If he needs an assistant he shall be given the services of one of the younger brothers. If possible, the monastery should contain within its walls everything necessary to the life and the labors of the monks, such as wells, a mill, bake-oven, gardens, etc., so that they shall have no excuse for going outside.
This rule shall be read often before the whole congregation, that no brother may be able to plead ignorance as an excuse for his sin.1
Ch. 67.Brothers who are sent on errands.—Those who are about to leave the monastery on errands, shall ask for the prayers of the abbot and the whole congregation while they are away; and this petition shall be added to the last prayer at every service during their absence. Likewise, at the end of every service on the day when they return, they shall prostrate themselves on the floor of the oratory and ask all the brothers to pray for them, because of the sins which they may have committed while out on the road, sins of seeing or of hearing or of speech. And no one of them shall venture to relate to the others anything that he saw or heard while out in the world, for herein lies the greatest danger of worldly contamination. If anyone shall do this he shall be disciplined according to the rule. Those who wander outside of the monastery without the permission of the abbot or go anywhere or do anything at all contrary to his commands shall also be punished.
Ch. 68.Impossible commands.—If a brother is commanded by his superior to do difficult or impossible things, he shall receive the command humbly and do his best to obey it; and if he finds it beyond human strength, he shall explain to the one in authority why it cannot be done, but he shall do this humbly and at an opportune time, not boldly as if resisting or contradicting his authority. But if after this explanation the superior still persists in his demands, he shall do his best to carry them out, believing that they are meant for his own good, and relying upon the aid of God, to whom all things are possible.
Ch. 69.No one shall defend another in the monastery.—No monk shall presume to come to the defence of another who has been reprimanded by his superior, even if the two are bound by the closest ties of relationship, for such actions give rise to the evils of insubordination and breach of discipline. If anyone violates this rule, he shall be severely punished.
Ch. 70.Monks shall not strike one another.—Monks should avoid especially the sin of presumption. Therefore, we forbid anyone to excommunicate or to strike his brother, unless by the authority directly given him by the abbot. When sinners are to be punished it shall be done before the whole congregation, for the example to the rest. Children and youths under fifteen years shall be subject to the discipline and control of all the brothers, but this, too, shall be exercised in reason and moderation. Any brother who of his own authority shall venture to strike one over that age, or who shall abuse the children unreasonably, shall be punished according to the rule; for it is written: “Do not unto others as ye would not that they should do unto you.”
Ch. 71.Monks are mutually to obey one another.—Not only should the monks obey the abbot; they should also obey one another, for obedience is one of the chief means of grace. The commands of the abbot and of the other officials shall always have precedence over those of any persons not in authority, but next to them the younger brothers should give loving and zealous obedience to the commands of their elders. If anyone refuses to do this, resisting the commands of a superior, he shall be corrected for his fault. Whenever a brother has been reprimanded by his abbot or by any superior for a fault of any sort, or knows that he has offended such a one, he shall immediately make amends, falling at the feet of the offended, and remaining there until he has received his forgiveness and blessing. And the one who refuses to humble himself in this way shall be punished with blows, being even cast out of the monastery if he persists in his stubbornness.
Ch. 72.The good zeal which monks should have.—There are two kinds of zeal: one that leads away from God to destruction, and one that leads to God and eternal life. Now these are the features of that good zeal which monks should cultivate: to honor one another; to bear with one another’s infirmities, whether of body or mind; to vie with one another in showing mutual obedience; to seek the good of another rather than of oneself; to show brotherly love one to another; to fear God; to love the abbot devotedly; and to prefer the love of Christ above everything else. This is the zeal that leads us to eternal life.
Ch. 73.This rule does not contain all the measures necessary for righteousness.—The purpose of this rule is to furnish a guide to the monastic life. Those who observe it will have at least entered on the way of salvation and will attain at least some degree of holiness. But he who aims at the perfect life must study and observe the teachings of all the holy fathers, who have pointed out in their writings the way of perfection. For every page and every word of the Bible, both the New and the Old Testament, is a perfect rule for this earthly life; and every work of the holy catholic fathers teaches us how we may direct our steps to God. The Collations, the Institutes, the Lives of the Saints, and the rule of our father, St. Basil, all serve as valuable instructions for monks who desire to live rightly and to obey the will of God. Their examples and their teachings should make us ashamed of our sloth, our evil lives, and our negligence. Thou who art striving to reach the heavenly land, first perfect thyself with the aid of Christ in this little rule, which is but the beginning of holiness, and then thou mayst under the favor of God advance to higher grades of virtue and knowledge through the teaching of these greater works. AMEN.
Oath of the Benedictines.
The following documents, nos. 252-264, are examples of the various vows, letters, and other documents mentioned in the rule. As the titles explain their character, no further word of introduction seems necessary.
The promise of the monks to obey the rule of St. Benedict.
I, (name), in the holy monastery of the blessed martyr and confessor, (name), in the presence of God and his holy angels, and of our abbot, (name), promise in the name of God that I will live all the days of my life from now henceforth in this holy monastery in accordance with the rule of St. Benedict and that I will obey whatever is commanded of me. I, (name), have made this promise and written it with my own hand and signed it in the presence of witnesses.
I, brother Gerald, in the presence of abbot Gerald and the other brothers, promise steadfastness in this monastery according to the rule of St. Benedict and the precepts of Sts. Peter and Paul; and I hereby surrender all my possessions to this monastery, built in the honor of St. Peter and governed by the abbot Gerald.
I, brother (name), a humble monk of the monastery of St. Denis in France, in the diocese of Paris, in the name of God, the Virgin Mary, St. Denis, St. Benedict, and all the saints, and of the abbot of this monastery, do promise to keep the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. I also promise, in the presence of witnesses, steadfastness and conversion of life, according to the rules of this monastery and the traditions of the holy fathers.
I, brother (name), in the presence of the abbot of this Cistercian monastery built in the honor of the ever blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, and in the name of God and all his saints whose relics are kept here, do hereby promise steadfastness, conversion of life, and obedience, according to the rule of St. Benedict.
I hereby renounce my parents, my brothers and relatives, my friends, my possessions and my property, and the vain and empty glory and pleasure of this world. I also renounce my own will, for the will of God. I accept all the hardships of the monastic life, and take the vows of purity, chastity, and poverty, in the hope of heaven; and I promise to remain a monk in this monastery all the days of my life.
The Written Profession of a Monk.
It was my earnest desire to become a monk, but when I applied for admission to this monastery, I was told it would not be granted until I had been tried and proved. So I was at first received only as a guest; after remaining in that position for several days, I was accepted as a novice to serve a period of probation. During this period I was under the charge of one of the older monks. He first explained to me all the hardships and difficulties of the life of a monk, and after I had promised steadfastness in these conditions, he said: “If you ever draw back after giving your solemn promise to obey the rule, you are not fit for the kingdom of God. You will be driven from the doors of the monastery in the old garments in which you were first admitted; for as you put off the world and your worldly garments when you became a monk, so you shall be made to put them on again to be cast out, remaining thenceforth a slave of the world to the contempt of all the righteous.” But I took courage, saying with David: “By the words of thy lips, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer” [Ps. 17:4], for I knew that if I shared the sufferings of Christ I should also share his glorious resurrection. Comforting myself with these thoughts, I promised that I would keep all these commandments, as I hoped for eternal life. Having thus convinced the father of my determination, I was accepted as a novice and made to serve a novitiate of a year, during which time the rule was read to me three times, each time with the admonition: “This is the law under which you have expressed your desire to live; if you are able to obey it, enter; if not, depart a free man.” My year of novitiate being completed and my mind fully made up after this long and careful deliberation, I now earnestly pray you with tears to receive me into your congregation. Therefore I promise, as I hope for salvation, with the aid of God to observe the rule in all things, and to obey the abbot and my superiors; I become a bondsman to the rule, that I may gain eternal liberty. From this day forth I will never leave the monastery nor withdraw my neck from the yoke of this service, which I have accepted freely and of my own will after a year of deliberation. I solemnly promise steadfastness (stabilitas loci), conversion of life, and perfect obedience. In witness thereof I have made this promise in writing, in the name of the saints whose relics are preserved here, and in the name of the abbot, and I now present it. This document, signed with my own hand, I now place upon the altar, whence it shall be taken and kept forever in the archives of the monastery.
The Ceremony of Receiving a Monk into the Monastery.
After the novice has made his oral profession, the abbot puts on the robe in which mass is to be said. Then, after the offertory, the abbot examines the novice as follows:
The abbot asks: “Brother (name), do you renounce the world and all its vain and empty shows?” The novice replies: “I do.”
The abbot: “Do you promise conversion of life?” The novice: “I do.”
The abbot: “Do you promise perfect obedience to the rule of St. Benedict?” The novice: “I do.”
The abbot: “And may God give you his aid.”
Then the novice, or someone for him, reads his written promise, and places it first upon his head and then upon the altar. Then he prostrates himself upon the ground with his arms spread out in the form of a cross, saying the verse: “Receive me, O Lord,” etc. During the “Gloria patri,” the “Kyrie, eleison,” the “Pater noster,” and the litany, the novice remains prostrate before the altar, until the end of the service. And the brothers in the choir shall kneel while the litany is being said. Then shall be said the prayers for the occasion as commanded by the fathers. Immediately after the communion and before these prayers, the new garments, which had been folded and placed before the altar, shall be blessed, being touched with holy oil and sprinkled with water which has been blessed by the abbot. After the mass is finished, the novice, rising from the ground, puts off his old garments and puts on the robes which have just been blessed, while the abbot recites: “Exuat te Dominus,” etc. Then the abbot and after him all the brothers in turn give the new member the kiss of peace. He shall keep perfect silence for three days after this, going about with his head covered and receiving the communion every day.
Offering of a Child to the Monastery.
I dedicate this boy, in the name of God and his holy saints, to serve our Lord Jesus Christ as a monk, and to remain in this holy life all his days until his final breath.
Offering of a Child to the Monastery.
The dedication of children to the service of God is sanctioned by the example of Abraham and of many other holy men, as related in the New and Old Testaments. Therefore, I, (name), now offer in the presence of abbot (name), this my son, (name), to omnipotent God and to the Virgin Mary, mother of God, for the salvation of my soul and of the souls of my parents. I promise for him that he shall follow the monastic life in this monastery of (name), according to the rule of St. Benedict, and that from this day forth he shall not withdraw his neck from the yoke of this service. I promise also that he shall never be tempted to leave by me or by anyone with my consent.
To the venerable abbot (name), of the monastery of (name), abbot (name), of the monastery of (name), sends greeting and the holy kiss of peace. We present herewith our brother (name), whom we have sent to you with letters of dismissal and recommendation. We commend him to you and beseech you to take him into your monastery, because our monastery has become impoverished through various reverses. (Or this) We dismiss him from his service in this monastery and free him from his vow of obedience to us, in order that he may serve the Lord under your rule.
To the reverend father in Christ; or:
To the pious and illustrious (name); or:
To the abbot (name), abbot (name) sends greeting in the Lord. Know that our pious brother (name), has earnestly besought us to write a commendatory letter, recommending him to your care so that he may serve the Lord under you in your monastery. We have granted his prayer and given him this letter, by which we free him from his vow of obedience to us and commend him to you, giving you the right to receive him into your monastery, if he applies within one month from this date, after which time this letter shall not be valid. This is to show that he has not been expelled from our monastery for evil conduct, but has been permitted to leave us and go to you, on account of his great desire to serve the Lord under your rule.
To all bishops and other ecclesiastics and to all Christian men: Know ye that I have given permission to this our brother (name), to live according to the rule wherever he shall desire, believing it to be for the advantage of the monastery and the good of his soul.
Letter of Dismissal.
This our brother (name), has desired to dwell in another monastery where it seems to him he can best serve the Lord and save his own soul. Know ye, therefore, that we have given him permission by this letter of dismissal to betake himself thither.
The Regular Clergy. Prologue of the Rule of St. Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, for His Clergy,ca. 744.
We give here only a part of the rule of St. Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, because it makes clear the purpose for which the rule was composed. It was for the clergy and not for the monks. The rule itself consists of a number of paragraphs prescribing in detail the life of the clergy who were to live together with their bishop. This action of St. Chrodegang was not altogether new. St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo in Africa, it is said, had all the clergy of his city live with him in a common house very much after the fashion of monks in a monastery. His example may have had some influence, but it was not generally imitated. The immediate purpose of St. Chrodegang in compelling the clergy of his diocese to live with him was to reform them. They differed little in life and morals from the laymen and were no doubt sadly in need of a reform. They were now deprived of much of their independence. They ate at a common table, slept in a common dormitory, observed common hours of prayer and work, and in general lived a “common life.” They were clergymen, not monks, although they lived in nearly all respects as monks, and their house, or canonry, was conducted quite like a monastery. They were called by various names, such as regular clergy, canons regular, regular canons, etc. Other bishops imitated St. Chrodegang and in time it came to be regarded as the only proper way for the clergy to live. The Cluniac reforming party supported the idea with all its power and the regular clergy was soon organized into orders, chief of which was that of the Premonstratensians, which was established about 1120.
There were of course many priests whose parishes and churches were so far from the cathedral that they could not live with their bishop and continue to perform their parish duties. They lived in the world and hence were called the “secular clergy.” The orders of regular canons despised them and heaped abuse on them, chiefly because they did not live according to a rule. The orders of regular canons soon became rich, and tended to indolence and luxury. They were beset by the same temptations as the monks, and their history does not differ materially from that of the monkish orders.
If the authority of the 318 holy fathers [the council of Nicæa, 325] and of the canons were observed, and the bishops and their clergy were living in the proper way, it would be quite unnecessary for anyone so humble and unimportant as we to attempt to say anything about this matter [that is, the way in which the clergy should live], which has been so well treated by the holy fathers, or to add anything new to what they have said. But since the negligence of the bishops as well as of their clergy is rapidly increasing, a further duty seems incumbent on us. And we are certainly in great danger unless we do, if not all we should, at least all we can, to bring our clergy back to the proper way of living.
After I had been made bishop of Metz  and had begun to attend to the duties of my pastoral office, I discovered that my clergy as well as the people were living in a most negligent manner. In great sorrow I began to ask what I ought to do. Relying on divine aid and encouraged by my spiritually minded brethren, I thought it necessary to make a little rule for my clergy, by observing which they would be able to refrain from forbidden things, to put off their vices, and to cease from the evil practices which they have so long followed. For I thought that if their minds were once cleared of their vices, it would be easy to teach them the best and holiest precepts.
Military-monkish Orders. The Origin of the Templars, 1119.
The Middle Age had two ideals, the monk and the soldier. The monk was the spiritual, the soldier the military hero. The military-monkish orders, whose members were both monks and soldiers, represent a fusion of these two ideals. Several other orders were formed in imitation of the Templars, such as the Hospitallers, soon after 1119; the German order, 1190; the Sword Brothers, 1202; the order of Bethlehem; the order of Calatrava, 1158; the order of Alcantara, 1156; and the Cavalleria de St. Iago de la Spada, 1161. The fact that all these orders arose on the borderland between Christians and Mohammedans, that is, in Palestine and in Spain, would indicate their close connection with the spirit of the crusades.
In the same year [1118-19] certain nobles of knightly rank, devout, religious, and God-fearing, devoting themselves to the service of Christ, made their vows to the patriarch [of Jerusalem] and declared that they wished to live forever in chastity, obedience, and poverty, according to the rule of regular canons. Chief of these were Hugo de Payens and Geoffrey of St. Omer. Since they had neither a church nor a house, the king of Jerusalem gave them a temporary residence in the palace which stands on the west side of the temple. The canons of the temple granted them, on certain conditions, the open space around the aforesaid palace for the erection of their necessary buildings, and the king, the nobles, the patriarch, and the bishops, each from his own possessions, gave them lands for their support. The patriarch and bishops ordered that for the forgiveness of their sins their first vow should be to protect the roads and especially the pilgrims against robbers and marauders. For the first nine years after their order was founded they wore the ordinary dress of a layman, making use of such clothing as the people, for the salvation of their souls, gave them. But in their ninth year a council was held at Troyes  in France at which were present the archbishops of Rheims and Sens with their suffragans, the cardinal bishop of Albano, papal legate, and the abbots of Citeaux, Clairvaux, and Pontigny, and many others. At this council a rule was established for them, and, at the direction of the pope, Honorius III, and of the patriarch of Jerusalem, Stephen, white robes were appointed for their dress. Up to their ninth year they had only nine members, but then their number began to increase and their possessions to multiply. Afterward, in the time of Eugene III, in order that their appearance might be more striking, they all, knights as well as the other members of a lower grade, who were called serving men, began to sew crosses of red cloth on their robes. Their order grew with great rapidity, and now [about 1180] they have 300 knights in their house, clothed in white mantles, besides the serving men, whose number is almost infinite. They are said to have immense possessions both here [in Palestine] and beyond the sea [in Europe]. There is not a province in the whole Christian world which has not given property to this order, so that they may be said to have possessions equal to those of kings. Since they dwelt in a palace at the side of the temple they were called “Brothers of the army of the temple.” For a long time they were steadfast in their purpose and were true to their vows, but then they forgot their humility, which is the guardian of all virtues, and rebelled against the patriarch of Jerusalem who had assisted in the establishment of their order and had given them their first lands, and refused him the obedience which their predecessors had shown him. They also made themselves very obnoxious to the churches by seizing their tithes and first-fruits and plundering their possessions.
Anastasius IV Grants Privileges to the Knights of St. John (Hospitallers), 1154.
. . . In accordance with your request, and following the example of our predecessors of blessed memory, Innocent [II, 1130-43], Celestine [II, 1143-44], Lucius [II, 1144-45], and Eugene [III, 1145-53], we take under the protection of St. Peter and of the apostolic see your hospital and house in Jerusalem, and all the persons and possessions belonging thereto. And we decree and command that all your goods and possessions, present and future, which are used for supplying the needs of the pilgrims and of the poor, whether in Jerusalem or in other churches or cities, from whatever source they may be acquired, shall remain unmolested in the hands of you and of your successors. You shall have the right to build houses and churches and lay out cemeteries on whatever lands may be given to your house in Jerusalem, provided that no damage is thereby done to neighboring monasterics and religious houses which already exist. And you may build chapels and lay out cemeteries for the use of pilgrims on whatever lands you may acquire. We further decree that your tax collectors shall be under the protection of St. Peter and of us, and wherever they may be no one shall dare attack them. We decree that if any member of your fraternity dies in a territory which is under the interdict, he shall not be denied a Christian burial unless he has been excommunicated by name. If any of your members, when sent out as tax collectors, come to a city, fortress, or village, which is under the interdict, they may, once a year, open the churches in such a place and hold divine services in them.
Since all your possessions should be used only to supply the needs of the pilgrims and of the poor, we decree that no one, either lay or cleric, shall presume to levy tithes on the income which you receive from lands cultivated at your own expense. No bishop shall have the right to pronounce the sentence of interdict, suspension, or excommunication in your churches. If a general interdict is put on those lands in which you are living, you shall have the right to hold divine services in your churches, provided that all those who are excommunicated by name be excluded, the doors of the churches closed, and no bells rung. In order that nothing may be lacking for the care and salvation of your souls and that you may have the advantages and blessings of the sacraments and divine services, we grant you the privilege of receiving into your mother house [at Jerusalem], as well as into all your dependent houses, all the clergy and priests who may ask for admission, provided that you first inquire into their character and ordination, and, secondly, that they are not already members of some other order. Even though their bishops do not give their consent, you have, nevertheless, our consent to receive all such clergy, and they shall not be subject to anyone outside of your order except the bishop of Rome. You may receive laymen, provided that they are freemen, into your order to assist in caring for the poor. No man who has been received into your order, having taken its vows and assumed its dress, shall ever be permitted to desert and go back to the world. Nor shall any member be permitted to lay aside the dress of the order and go into another order or to any other place without the permission of the brothers and of the master of the order. No person, whether lay or cleric, shall have the right to receive and harbor any such deserters. You shall have your altars and churches consecrated, your clergy ordained, and your other ecclesiastical matters attended to by the bishop of the diocese [in which you may happen to be], provided that he is in the favor and communion of the Roman church, and he shall not wish to charge you anything for these services. Otherwise, you may secure the services of any catholic bishop. When you, who are now the master of the order, die, the brothers shall have the right to elect your successor. We confirm all the possessions which the order has, or may acquire, on both sides of the sea [that is, in Asia and in Europe]. . . .
In 1162, Alexander III granted the same privileges to the Templars.
Innocent III Orders the Bishops of France to Guard against Simony in the Monasteries, 1211.
In spite of numerous reforms the character of the monks had declined. The hard and strenuous life of the early monks had given way to one of luxury and comfort. Men were no longer impelled to seek admission to the monasteries by the same irresistible religious impulse which in the earlier centuries had filled the monasteries to overflowing and made the monks models of piety. The monasteries had become rich and offered a life of ease to all who should enter them. The monks became aristocratic and mercenary, refusing to receive applicants who could not pay a considerable sum of money. In spite of the fact that monasteries were generally exempt from the control of the local bishop, and directly under the pope, Innocent III empowers the French bishops to interfere in the monasteries to correct this abuse.
Innocent . . . to his venerable brothers, the archbishops and bishops in France, greeting and apostolic benediction. We have often heard from many persons that the damnable custom, or rather abuse, which has already been condemned, has grown to such a degree in the monasteries, nunneries, and other religious houses in France that no new member is received into them except on the payment of money, so that all become guilty of simony. Lest we should seem to favor this sin by paying no heed to these complaints which have so often been made, we command you by this writing each one to visit all the monasteries in his diocese once a year and to forbid them to receive anyone on the payment of money, and we order you to repeat this prohibition in your synods. In regard to those who may disobey this prohibition, you may inflict on them whatever punishment you may think best, granting them no right of appeal.
Innocent III Grants the Use of the Mitre to the Abbot of Marseilles, 1204.
The mitre was the headdress which bishops wore on important occasions. Like the pallium it was conferred on them by the pope and symbolized their high spiritual authority. Occasionally the pope granted its use to some abbot whom he wished especially to honor. Hence we have the expression, “a mitred abbot.”
Innocent etc. . . . to the abbot of Marseilles. . . . Because your monastery has always kept the true faith and been ardently devoted to the Roman church we have thought that we ought to honor you personally in every way possible. In order therefore that you may be more zealously devoted to your divine duties, we have determined to grant you the use of the mitre.
The Friars. The Rule of St. Francis, 1223.
The monk deserted the world and went into a monastery to save his own soul. The world was left to look after its own salvation. St. Francis intended that the friars should save their souls by devoting themselves to the service of others. They were to spend their time in good works, caring for the sick and miserable, acting as missionaries to the heathen, preaching, comforting, and inciting to holy living. They were to be “brothers” to everybody, rendering to each one whatever service they might see to be necessary or helpful. Like Christ, they were to go about doing good (Acts 10: 38). St. Francis was possessed with the idea of imitating Christ in all things, but especially in his service to others and in his poverty. He took literally the saying of Christ: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matt. 8: 20); and so he wished that his order should not have monasteries or houses of any kind. Poverty is holy. The brothers should spend all their time on the road, stopping only where they might find some service to be rendered. They were to be dependent on charity for everything, even for a place to sleep. The practice of poverty was in itself meritorious, and the greater the poverty of his brothers, the greater their merit. But this degree of poverty was soon found to be unattainable. Before the death of St. Francis (1226) the order had begun to amass property.
The first rule of St. Francis was written about 1210. It was probably composed chiefly of quotations from the gospels. The second rule was written perhaps about 1217, the third in 1221, and the fourth in 1223. The first two are lost. The third is preserved in three accounts, which differ slightly from each other. The fourth, which is given here, was confirmed by Honorius III in 1223. The testament of St. Francis is in many respects more important than the rule itself, because it reveals more clearly his character and ideas.
From the rule it is easy to determine the organization of the order. The general minister was the head of the whole order. The provincial ministers were each at the head of a province. In each province there were guardians who, for the most part, were at the head of a house or monastery.
About the same time, St. Dominic, a Spaniard, established the order of Preaching Friars, or Dominicans, to combat the rising heresies of the day. These two orders mutually influenced each other in many ways. They were also rivals in most things, especially in preaching and learning. The Dominicans were intrusted with the suppression of heresy. The Friars completely overshadowed all other orders during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
1. This is the rule and life of the Minor Brothers, namely, to observe the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, in poverty, and in chastity. Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to pope Honorius and to his successors who shall be canonically elected, and to the Roman Church. The other brothers are bound to obey brother Francis, and his successors.
2. If any, wishing to adopt this life, come to our brothers [to ask admission], they shall be sent to the provincial ministers, who alone have the right to receive others into the order. The provincial ministers shall carefully examine them in the catholic faith and the sacraments of the church. And if they believe all these and faithfully confess them and promise to observe them to the end of life, and if they have no wives, or if they have wives, and the wives have either already entered a monastery, or have received permission to do so, and they have already taken the vow of chastity with the permission of the bishop of the diocese [in which they live], and their wives are of such an age that no suspicion can rise against them, let the provincial ministers repeat to them the word of the holy gospel, to go and sell all their goods and give to the poor [Matt. 19:21]. But if they are not able to do so, their good will is sufficient for them. And the brothers and provincial ministers shall not be solicitous about the temporal possessions of those who wish to enter the order; but let them do with their possessions whatever the Lord may put into their minds to do. Nevertheless, if they ask the advice of the brothers, the provincial ministers may send them to God-fearing men, at whose advice they may give their possessions to the poor. Then the ministers shall give them the dress of a novice, namely: two robes without a hood, a girdle, trousers, a hood with a cape reaching to the girdle. But the ministers may add to these if they think it necessary. After the year of probation is ended they shall be received into obedience [that is, into the order], by promising to observe this rule and life forever. And according to the command of the pope they shall never be permitted to leave the order and give up this life and form of religion. For according to the holy gospel no one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God [Luke 9:62]. And after they have promised obedience, those who wish may have one robe with a hood and one without a hood. Those who must may wear shoes, and all the brothers shall wear common clothes, and they shall have God’s blessing if they patch them with coarse cloth and pieces of other kinds of cloth. But I warn and exhort them not to despise nor judge other men who wear fine and gay clothing, and have delicious foods and drinks. But rather let each one judge and despise himself.
3. The clerical brothers shall perform the divine office according to the rite of the holy Roman church, except the psalter, from which they may have breviaries. The lay brothers shall say 24 Paternosters at matins, 5 at lauds, 7 each at primes, terces, sexts, and nones, 12 at vespers, 7 at completorium, and prayers for the dead. And they shall fast from All Saints’ day [November 1] to Christmas. They may observe or not, as they choose, the holy Lent which begins at epiphany [January 6] and lasts for 40 days, and which our Lord consecrated by his holy fasts. Those who keep it shall be blessed of the Lord, but those who do not wish to keep it are not bound to do so. But they shall all observe the other Lent [that is, from Ash-Wednesday to Easter]. The rest of the time the brothers are bound to fast only on Fridays. But in times of manifest necessity they shall not fast. But I counsel, warn, and exhort my brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ that when they go out into the world they shall not be quarrelsome or contentious, nor judge others. But they shall be gentle, peaceable, and kind, mild and humble, and virtuous in speech, as is becoming to all. They shall not ride on horseback unless compelled by manifest necessity or infirmity to do so. When they enter a house they shall say, “Peace be to this house.” According to the holy gospel, they may eat of whatever food is set before them.
4. I strictly forbid all the brothers to accept money or property either in person or through another. Nevertheless, for the needs of the sick, and for clothing the other brothers, the ministers and guardians may, as they see that necessity requires, provide through spiritual friends, according to the locality, season, and the degree of cold which may be expected in the region where they live. But, as has been said, they shall never receive money or property.
5. Those brothers to whom the Lord has given the ability to work shall work faithfully and devotedly, so that idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, may be excluded and not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion to which all temporal things should be subservient. As the price of their labors they may receive things that are necessary for themselves and the brothers, but not money or property. And they shall humbly receive what is given them, as is becoming to the servants of God and to those who practise the most holy poverty.
6. The brothers shall have nothing of their own, neither house, nor land, nor anything, but as pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility, let them confidently go asking alms. Nor let them be ashamed of this, for the Lord made himself poor for us in this world. This is that highest pitch of poverty which has made you, my dearest brothers, heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven, which has made you poor in goods, and exalted you in virtues. Let this be your portion, which leads into the land of the living. Cling wholly to this, my most beloved brothers, and you shall wish to have in this world nothing else than the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And wherever they are, if they find brothers, let them show themselves to be of the same household, and each one may securely make known to the other his need. For if a mother loves and nourishes her child, how much more diligently should one nourish and love one’s spiritual brother? And if any of them fall ill, the other brothers should serve them as they would wish to be served.
7. If any brother is tempted by the devil and commits a mortal sin, he should go as quickly as possible to the provincial minister, as the brothers have determined that recourse shall be had to the provincial ministers for such sins. If the provincial minister is a priest, he shall mercifully prescribe the penance for him. If he is not a priest, he shall, as may seem best to him, have some priest of the order prescribe the penance. And they shall guard against being angry or irritated about it, because anger and irritation hinder love in themselves and in others.
8. All the brothers must have one of their number as their general minister and servant of the whole brotherhood, and they must obey him. At his death the provincial ministers and guardians shall elect his successor at the chapter held at Pentecost, at which time all the provincial ministers must always come together at whatever place the general minister may order. And this chapter must be held once every three years, or more or less frequently, as the general minister may think best. And if at any time it shall be clear to the provincial ministers and guardians that the general minister is not able to perform the duties of his office and does not serve the best interests of the brothers, the aforesaid brothers, to whom the right of election is given, must, in the name of the Lord, elect another as general minister. After the chapter at Pentecost, the provincial ministers and guardians may, each in his own province, if it seems best to them, once in the same year, convoke the brothers to a provincial chapter.
9. If a bishop forbids the brothers to preach in his diocese, they shall obey him. And no brother shall preach to the people unless the general minister of the brotherhood has examined and approved him and given him the right to preach. I also warn the brothers that in their sermons their words shall be chaste and well chosen for the profit and edification of the people. They shall speak to them of vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with brevity of speech, because the Lord made the word shortened over the earth [Rom. 9:28].
10. The ministers and servants shall visit and admonish their brothers and humbly and lovingly correct them. They shall not put any command upon them that would be against their soul and this rule. And the brothers who are subject must remember that for God’s sake they have given up their own wills. Wherefore I command them to obey their ministers in all the things which they have promised the Lord to observe and which shall not be contrary to their souls and this rule. And whenever brothers know and recognize that they cannot observe this rule, let them go to their ministers, and the ministers shall lovingly and kindly receive them and treat them in such a way that the brothers may speak to them freely and treat them as lords speak to, and treat, their servants. For the ministers ought to be the servants of all the brothers. I warn and exhort the brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ to guard against all arrogance, pride, envy, avarice, care, and solicitude for this world, detraction, and murmuring. And those who cannot read need not be anxious to learn. But above all things let them desire to have the spirit of the Lord and his holy works, to pray always to God with a pure heart, and to have humility, and patience in persecution and in infirmity, and to love those who persecute us and reproach us and blame us. For the Lord says, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute and speak evil of you” [cf. Matt. 5:44]. “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matt. 5:10]. He that endureth to the end shall be saved [Matt. 10:22].
11. I strictly forbid all the brothers to have any association or conversation with women that may cause suspicion. And let them not enter nunneries, except those which the pope has given them special permission to enter. Let them not be intimate friends of men or women, lest on this account scandal arise among the brothers or about brothers.
12. If any of the brothers shall be divinely inspired to go among Saracens and other infidels they must get the permission to go from their provincial minister, who shall give his consent only to those who he sees are suitable to be sent. In addition, I command the ministers to ask the pope to assign them a cardinal of the holy Roman church, who shall be the guide, protector, and corrector of the brotherhood, in order that, being always in subjection and at the feet of the holy church, and steadfast in the catholic faith, they may observe poverty, humility, and the holy gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we have firmly promised to do. Let no man dare act contrary to this confirmation. If anyone should, etc.
The Testament of St. Francis, 1220.
1. While I was still in my sins, the Lord enabled me to begin to do penance in the following manner: It seemed to me bitterly unpleasant to see lepers, but the Lord led me among them and gave me pity for them. And when I left them, that which had been bitter to me was turned into sweetness of soul and body. And a short time afterward I left the world [that is, began the religious life].
2. And the Lord gave me such faith in churches that I knelt in simplicity and said, “We adore thee, most holy Lord Jesus Christ, and all thy churches which are in the world, and we bless thee because thou hast redeemed the world through thy holy cross.”
3. Afterward the Lord gave, and still gives me, such faith in priests who live according to the form of the holy Roman church, because of their clerical character, that if they should persecute me I would still have recourse to them. And if I were as wise as Solomon and should find a poor priest in this world, I would not preach against his will in his church. And I wish to fear, love, and honor all priests as my lords. I am unwilling to think of sins in them, because I discern in them the Son of God, and they are my lords. And on this account, I wish to perceive in this world nothing of the most high Son of God except his most holy body and his most holy blood which they [the priests] receive in the sacraments, and they alone administer to others.
4. And these most holy mysteries I wish to honor and venerate above all things, and to put them up in honorable places.
5. And his most holy names and words, wherever I shall find them, in improper places, I wish to collect, and I ask that they be collected and put up in honorable places.
6. We ought to honor and venerate all theologians, who ministe to us the divine word, as those who minister to us the spirit of life.
7. And afterward the Lord gave me brothers [that is, followers], and no one showed me what I ought to do, but the Lord himself revealed to me that I ought to live according to the form of the holy gospel, and I caused it to be written in a few simple words.
8. And the pope confirmed the rule. And those who came to adopt this life gave all they had to the poor. And we were content with one robe, mended within and without, and those who wished had a girdle and trousers.
9. We said the office as other clergymen, the laymen said Paternosters, and we gladly remained in the churches and we were simple and obedient.
10. And I labored with my hands, and I wish to labor. And I wish all my brothers to engage in some honest work. And those who do not know how, shall learn; not because of the desire to receive wages for their labor, but to set a good example and to escape idleness.
11. And when the wages for our labors are not given us, let us go to the table of the Lord and ask alms from door to door.
12. The Lord revealed to me this salutation that we should use it: “May the Lord give thee peace.”
13. The brothers shall guard against receiving the churches and dwellings which are built for us, unless, as becomes the holy poverty which we have promised to observe in our rule, they always live there as pilgrims and strangers.
14. By their oath of obedience I firmly forbid the brothers, wherever they are, to ask for a letter from the papal court, either themselves or through another, in order to secure a church or any position, either in the hope of securing a place to preach, or because of persecution which they may suffer. But wherever they shall not be received, they shall flee to another place to do penance with the blessing of the Lord.
15. And I earnestly wish to obey the general minister of this brotherhood, and that guardian whom he may put over me. And I wish to be so entirely in his hands and so subject to his control that I cannot go, or do anything, contrary to his will, because he is my lord.
16. And although I am simple and infirm, I wish always to have a clergyman who may perform the office for me as is contained in the rule. And all other brothers are bound by their oaths to obey the guardians, and perform the office according to the rule.
17. And if any do not perform the office according to the rule, but wish to change it in some way, or if there are any who are not catholic, all the brothers are bound by their oath of obedience to report all such, wherever they may find them, to the nearest guardian. And the guardian must watch them night and day, as a man in chains, so that they cannot escape, until he delivers them into the hands of the general minister. And the general minister shall send them with brothers who shall guard them night and day, as a man in chains, until they deliver them to the cardinal bishop of Ostia, who is the protector and corrector of this brotherhood.
18. And the brothers shall not say that this is another rule, because it is only a reminder, an admonition, an exhortation, and my testament, which I, your poor brother, Franciscus, make for you, my dear brothers, that we wholly observe the rule which we have promised to the Lord.
19. And the general minister and all the other ministers and guardians are bound by their oath of obedience not to add to, or take from, these words. But they shall always have this writing in addition to the rule, and in all the chapters when they read the rule they shall also read this. I strictly forbid all the brothers, clerical and lay, to put glosses [explanations] into the rule or this testament in order to change the simple meaning of their words. But as the Lord enabled me to say and to write the rule and these words simply and plainly, so you shall understand them simply and plainly and without gloss. And with holy works you shall observe them to the end.
20. And whoever shall observe them shall be filled in heaven with the blessing of the most high heavenly Father, and in the earth he shall be filled with the benedictions of His Son, with the most holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and with all the virtues of heaven and of all the saints. And I, your poor brother and servant, Franciscus, as far as I can, confirm to you, within and without, that most holy benediction. Amen.
Innocent IV Grants the Friars Permission to Ride on Horseback when Travelling in the Service of the King of England, 1250.
Innocent [IV], servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son in Christ [Henry III], king of England, sends greeting and apostolic benediction. Although all Dominicans and Franciscans are forbidden to ride on horseback we gladly give assent to your prayers and grant those friars, both Dominican and Franciscan, whom you may wish to take with you on your journey over sea, our full and free permission to ride on horseback whenever, on account of the exigencies of the journey, you may wish them to do so.
Alexander IV Condemns the Attacks made on the Friars because of Their Idleness and Begging, 1256.
The Friars soon became the favorites of the popes, who gave them almost unlimited concessions and privileges. By these privileges the authority of the Friars was made far greater than that of the parish priest. Before long the parish clergy complained that their authority was weakened and undermined by the Friars. The Friars despised the parish clergy, who in turn hated the Friars and resented their interference in the local affairs of the parish. The Friars generally were more lenient confessors and had more liberal indulgences, and hence the parish priest soon saw his parishioners deserting him and flocking to the Friars. This meant not only a diminution of his authority and influence in his own parish, but also a reduction in his income. He complained also that he could not maintain strict discipline and holy living in his parish because his people found it easy to secure light penance and large indulgences from the Friars. A long and bitter struggle ensued between them. The two following documents illustrate the criticisms which the secular clergy made on the Friars. It will be observed that in both cases the pope condemns these criticisms.
In 1256 Alexander IV condemned the following sentiments as errors: That the Friars, both Dominicans and Franciscans, are not in the way to be saved. Their begging and poverty are neither meritorious nor able to secure their salvation, because, if they are strong, they ought to work with their hands and not remain idle in the hope of securing aid from others. And that they should not have the permission of the pope or bishops to preach and to hear confession, because by this great harm is done to the parish clergy.
John XXII Condemns the Theses of John of Poilly in which He Attacked the Friars, 1320.
John of Poilly, a professor of Theology, attacked the Friars and set forth the following theses, which were condemned as erroneous by John XXII, 1320:
1. That all those who confess their sins to Friars who have only a general licence to hear confession are bound to confess the same sins again to their own priest. 2. That so long as the edict “Omnis utriusque sexus” stands, which was enacted in a general council, the pope himself is not able to release parishioners from the duty of confessing their sins once a year to their own priest, that is, their parish priest. Nay, more, not even God himself can do this, because it involves a contradiction. 3. That the pope has no authority to grant a general licence to hear confession.1
The following selections are meant to illustrate briefly (1) the religious value attaching to crusading, nos. 274-277; (2) the immediate origin of the crusading movement, nos. 278-280; (3) the disorders and excesses attending the first crusade, nos. 282, 283; (4) the crusade of Frederic Barbarossa, no. 285; (5) the activity of the popes in fostering the crusades, the special inducements offered by them to crusaders, etc., nos. 284, 287, 288; (6) the commercial interests of the Italian cities, nos. 286, 288.
The Meritorious Character of Martyrdom. Origen, Exhortation to Martyrdom, 235 ad, Chaps. 30 and 50. (Greek.)
The chief inducement which the church at first offered crusaders was the remission of their sins. To lose one’s life in fighting against pagans and infidels, or even to wage war on them, was regarded as closely akin to martyrdom, and therefore as possessing the power to atone for sins. Cf. nos. 274-277. As the interest in the crusades declined, the church found it necessary to offer still other inducements, chiefly of a secular character. The student should compare the later documents with the earlier in order to see what new inducements were offered.
Ch. 30. But we must remember that we have sinned and that there is no forgiveness of sins without baptism, and that the gospel does not permit us to be baptized a second time with water and the spirit for the forgiveness of sins, and that therefore the baptism of martyrdom is given us. For thus it has been called, as may clearly be implied from the passage, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” [Mark 10:38]. And in another place it is said, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” [Luke 12:50]. For be sure that just as the sacrifice of the Saviour was for the whole world, so the baptism by martyrdom is for the service of many who are thereby cleansed [of their sins]. For as those sitting near the altar according to the law of Moses minister forgiveness of sins to others through the blood of bulls and goats [Heb. 9:13], so the souls of those who have suffered martyrdom are now near the altar [in heaven] for a particular purpose and grant forgiveness of sins to those who pray. And at the same time we know that just as the high priest, Jesus Christ, offered himself as a sacrifice, so the priests [that is, the martyrs], of whom he is the high priest, offer themselves as a sacrifice, and on account of this sacrifice [which they make], they have a right to be at the altar [in heaven].
Ch. 50. Just as we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ [1 Peter 1:19], who received the name which is above every name [Phil. 2:9], so by the precious blood of the martyrs will others be redeemed.
Origen, Commentary on Numbers, Homily X, 2. (Greek.)
I fear therefore that now since there are no more martyrs and the saints are not offered up as sacrifices [that is, as martyrs], we are not securing the remission of our sins, and that the devil, knowing that sins are forgiven by the suffering of martyrs, does not wish to stir up the heathen to persecute us.
Forgiveness of Sins for Those who Die in Battle with the Heathen. Leo IV (847-55) to the Army of the Franks.
Now we hope that none of you will be slain, but we wish you to know that the kingdom of heaven will be given as a reward to those who shall be killed in this war. For the Omnipotent knows that they lost their lives fighting for the truth of the faith, for the preservation of their country, and the defence of Christians. And therefore God will give them the reward which we have named.
Indulgence for Fighting Heathen, 878.
John II to the bishops in the realm of Louis II [the Stammerer]. You have modestly expressed a desire to know whether those who have recently died in war, fighting in defence of the church of God and for the preservation of the Christian religion and of the state, or those who may in the future fall in the same cause, may obtain indulgence for their sins. We confidently reply that those who, out of love to the Christian religion, shall die in battle fighting bravely against pagans or unbelievers, shall receive eternal life. For the Lord has said through his prophet: “In whatever hour a sinner shall be converted, I will remember his sins no longer.” By the intercession of St. Peter, who has the power of binding and loosing in heaven and on the earth, we absolve, as far as is permissible, all such and commend them by our prayers to the Lord.
Gregory VII Calls for a Crusade, 1074.
Gregory VII barely missed the honor of having begun the crusading movement. His plan is clear from the following letter. The situation in 1095 was not materially different from that in 1074, and it is probable that Urban II, when he called for a crusade, had nothing more in mind than Gregory VII had when he wrote this letter. Gregory was unable to carry out his plans because he became involved in the struggle with Henry IV.
Gregory, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all who are willing to defend the Christian faith, greeting and apostolic benediction.
We hereby inform you that the bearer of this letter, on his recent return from across the sea [from Palestine], came to Rome to visit us. He repeated what we had heard from many others, that a pagan race had overcome the Christians and with horrible cruelty had devastated everything almost to the walls of Constantinople, and were now governing the conquered lands with tyrannical violence, and that they had slain many thousands of Christians as if they were but sheep. If we love God and wish to be recognized as Christians, we should be filled with grief at the misfortune of this great empire [the Greek] and the murder of so many Christians. But simply to grieve is not our whole duty. The example of our Redeemer and the bond of fraternal love demand that we should lay down our lives to liberate them. “Because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” [1 John 3:16]. Know, therefore, that we are trusting in the mercy of God and in the power of his might and that we are striving in all possible ways and making preparations to render aid to the Christian empire [the Greek] as quickly as possible. Therefore we beseech you by the faith in which you are united through Christ in the adoption of the sons of God, and by the authority of St. Peter, prince of apostles, we admonish you that you be moved to proper compassion by the wounds and blood of your brethren and the danger of the aforesaid empire and that, for the sake of Christ, you undertake the difficult task of bearing aid to your brethren [the Greeks]. Send messengers to us at once to inform us of what God may inspire you to do in this matter.
The Speech of Urban II at the Council of Clermont, 1095. Fulcher of Chartres.
In 1094 or 1095, Alexius, the Greek emperor, sent to the pope, Urban II, and asked for aid from the west against the Turks, who had taken nearly all of Asia Minor from him. At the council of Clermont Urban addressed a great crowd and urged all to go to the aid of the Greeks and to recover Palestine from the rule of the Mohammedans. The acts of the council have not been preserved, but we have four accounts of the speech of Urban which were written by men who were present and heard him. We give the two most important of these accounts. The interest of the speech lies in the fact that it gave the impulse which started the crusading movement.
“Most beloved brethren: Urged by necessity, I, Urban, by the permission of God chief bishop and prelate over the whole world, have come into these parts as an ambassador with a divine admonition to you, the servants of God. I hoped to find you as faithful and as zealous in the service of God as I had supposed you to be. But if there is in you any deformity or crookedness contrary to God’s law, with divine help I will do my best to remove it. For God has put you as stewards over his family to minister to it. Happy indeed will you be if he finds you faithful in your stewardship. You are called shepherds; see that you do not act as hirelings. But be true shepherds, with your crooks always in your hands. Do not go to sleep, but guard on all sides the flock committed to you. For if through your carelessness or negligence a wolf carries away one of your sheep, you will surely lose the reward laid up for you with God. And after you have been bitterly scourged with remorse for your faults, you will be fiercely overwhelmed in hell, the abode of death. For according to the gospel you are the salt of the earth [Matt. 5:13]. But if you fall short in your duty, how, it may be asked, can it be salted? O how great the need of salting! It is indeed necessary for you to correct with the salt of wisdom this foolish people which is so devoted to the pleasures of this world, lest the Lord, when He may wish to speak to them, find them putrefied by their sins, unsalted and stinking. For if He shall find worms, that is, sins, in them, because you have been negligent in your duty, He will command them as worthless to be thrown into the abyss of unclean things. And because you cannot restore to Him His great loss, He will surely condemn you and drive you from His loving presence. But the man who applies this salt should be prudent, provident, modest, learned, peaceable, watchful, pious, just, equitable, and pure. For how can the ignorant teach others? How can the licentious make others modest? And how can the impure make others pure? If anyone hates peace, how can he make others peaceable? Or if anyone has soiled his hands with baseness, how can he cleanse the impurities of another? We read also that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch [Matt. 15:14]. But first correct yourselves, in order that, free from blame, you may be able to correct those who are subject to you. If you wish to be the friends of God, gladly do the things which you know will please Him. You must especially let all matters that pertain to the church be controlled by the law of the church. And be careful that simony does not take root among you, lest both those who buy and those who sell [church offices] be beaten with the scourges of the Lord through narrow streets and driven into the place of destruction and confusion. Keep the church and the clergy in all its grades entirely free from the secular power. See that the tithes that belong to God are faithfully paid from all the produce of the land; let them not be sold or withheld. If anyone seizes a bishop let him be treated as an outlaw. If anyone seizes or robs monks, or clergymen, or nuns, or their servants, or pilgrims, or merchants, let him be anathema [that is, cursed]. Let robbers and incendiaries and all their accomplices be expelled from the church and anathematized. If a man who does not give a part of his goods as alms is punished with the damnation of hell, how should he be punished who robs another of his goods? For thus it happened to the rich man in the gospel [Luke 16:19]; for he was not punished because he had stolen the goods of another, but because he had not used well the things which were his.
“You have seen for a long time the great disorder in the world caused by these crimes. It is so bad in some of your provinces, I am told, and you are so weak in the administration of justice, that one can hardly go along the road by day or night without being attacked by robbers; and whether at home or abroad, one is in danger of being despoiled either by force or fraud. Therefore it is necessary to reenact the truce, as it is commonly called, which was proclaimed a long time ago by our holy fathers. I exhort and demand that you, each, try hard to have the truce kept in your diocese. And if anyone shall be led by his cupidity or arrogance to break this truce, by the authority of God and with the sanction of this council he shall be anathematized.”
After these and various other matters had been attended to, all who were present, clergy and people, gave thanks to God and agreed to the pope’s proposition. They all faithfully promised to keep the decrees. Then the pope said that in another part of the world Christianity was suffering from a state of affairs that was worse than the one just mentioned. He continued:
“Although, O sons of God, you have promised more firmly than ever to keep the peace among yourselves and to preserve the rights of the church, there remains still an important work for you to do. Freshly quickened by the divine correction, you must apply the strength of your righteousness to another matter which concerns you as well as God. For your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians and to destroy that vile race from the lands of our friends. I say this to those who are present, it is meant also for those who are absent. Moreover, Christ commands it.
“All who die by the way, whether by land or by sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant them through the power of God with which I am invested. O what a disgrace if such a despised and base race, which worships demons, should conquer a people which has the faith of omnipotent God and is made glorious with the name of Christ! With what reproaches will the Lord overwhelm us if you do not aid those who, with us, profess the Christian religion! Let those who have been accustomed unjustly to wage private warfare against the faithful now go against the infidels and end with victory this war which should have been begun long ago. Let those who, for a long time, have been robbers, now become knights. Let those who have been fighting against their brothers and relatives now fight in a proper way against the barbarians. Let those who have been serving as mercenaries for small pay now obtain the eternal reward. Let those who have been wearing themselves out in both body and soul now work for a double honor. Behold! on this side will be the sorrowful and poor, on that, the rich; on this side, the enemies of the Lord, on that, his friends. Let those who go not put off the journey, but rent their lands and collect money for their expenses; and as soon as winter is over and spring comes, let them eagerly set out on the way with God as their guide.”
The Council of Clermont, 1095. Robert the Monk.
In 1095 a great council was held in Auvergne, in the city of Clermont, Pope Urban II, accompanied by cardinals and bishops, presided over it. It was made famous by the presence of many bishops and princes from France and Germany. After the council had attended to ecclesiastical matters, the pope went out into a public square, because no house was able to hold the people, and addressed them in a very persuasive speech, as follows: “O race of the Franks, O people who live beyond the mountains [that is, reckoned from Rome], O people loved and chosen of God, as is clear from your many deeds, distinguished over all other nations by the situation of your land, your catholic faith, and your regard for the holy church, we have a special message and exhortation for you. For we wish you to know what a grave matter has brought us to your country. The sad news has come from Jerusalem and Constantinople that the people of Persia, an accursed and foreign race, enemies of God, ‘a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God’ [Ps. 78:8], have invaded the lands of those Christians and devastated them with the sword, rapine, and fire. Some of the Christians they have carried away as slaves, others they have put to death. The churches they have either destroyed or turned into mosques. They desecrate and overthrow the altars. They circumcise the Christians and pour the blood from the circumcision on the altars or in the baptismal fonts. Some they kill in a horrible way by cutting open the abdomen, taking out a part of the entrails and tying them to a stake; they then beat them and compel them to walk until all their entrails are drawn out and they fall to the ground. Some they use as targets for their arrows. They compel some to stretch out their necks and then they try to see whether they can cut off their heads with one stroke of the sword. It is better to say nothing of their horrible treatment of the women. They have taken from the Greek empire a tract of land so large that it takes more than two months to walk through it. Whose duty is it to avenge this and recover that land, if not yours? For to you more than to other nations the Lord has given the military spirit, courage, agile bodies, and the bravery to strike down those who resist you. Let your minds be stirred to bravery by the deeds of your forefathers, and by the efficiency and greatness of Karl the Great, and of Ludwig his son, and of the other kings who have destroyed Turkish kingdoms, and established Christianity in their lands. You should be moved especially by the holy grave of our Lord and Saviour which is now held by unclean peoples, and by the holy places which are treated with dishonor and irreverently befouled with their uncleanness.
“O bravest of knights, descendants of unconquered ancestors, do not be weaker than they, but remember their courage. If you are kept back by your love for your children, relatives, and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel: ‘He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me’ [Matt. 10:37]; ‘and everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life’ [Matt. 19:29]. Let no possessions keep you back, no solicitude for your property. Your land is shut in on all sides by the sea and mountains, and is too thickly populated. There is not much wealth here, and the soil scarcely yields enough to support you. On this account you kill and devour each other, and carry on war and mutually destroy each other. Let your hatred and quarrels cease, your civil wars come to an end, and all your dissensions stop. Set out on the road to the holy sepulchre, take the land from that wicked people, and make it your own. That land which, as the Scripture says, is flowing with milk and honey, God gave to the children of Israel. Jerusalem is the best of all lands, more fruitful than all others, as it were a second Paradise of delights. This land our Saviour made illustrious by his birth, beautiful with his life, and sacred with his suffering; he redeemed it with his death and glorified it with his tomb. This royal city is now held captive by her enemies, and made pagan by those who know not God. She asks and longs to be liberated and does not cease to beg you to come to her aid. She asks aid especially from you because, as I have said, God has given more of the military spirit to you than to other nations. Set out on this journey and you will obtain the remission of your sins and be sure of the incorruptible glory of the kingdom of heaven.”
When Pope Urban had said this and much more of the same sort, all who were present were moved to cry out with one accord, “It is the will of God, it is the will of God.” When the pope heard this he raised his eyes to heaven and gave thanks to God, and, commanding silence with a gesture of his hand, he said: “My dear brethren, today there is fulfilled in you that which the Lord says in the Gospel, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst’ [Matt. 18:20]. For unless the Lord God had been in your minds you would not all have said the same thing. For although you spoke with many voices, nevertheless it was one and the same thing that made you speak. So I say unto you, God, who put those words into your hearts, has caused you to utter them. Therefore let these words be your battle cry, because God caused you to speak them. Whenever you meet the enemy in battle, you shall all cry out, ‘It is the will of God, it is the will of God.’ And we do not command the old or weak to go, or those who cannot bear arms. No women shall go without their husbands, or brothers, or proper companions, for such would be a hindrance rather than a help, a burden rather than an advantage. Let the rich aid the poor and equip them for fighting and take them with them. Clergymen shall not go without the consent of their bishop, for otherwise the journey would be of no value to them. Nor will this pilgrimage be of any benefit to a layman if he goes without the blessing of his priest. Whoever therefore shall determine to make this journey and shall make a vow to God and shall offer himself as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God [Rom. 12:1], shall wear a cross on his brow or on his breast. And when he returns after having fulfilled his vow he shall wear the cross on his back. In this way he will obey the command of the Lord, ‘Whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me is not worthy of me’ ” [Luke 14:27]. When these things had been done, while all prostrated themselves on the earth and beat their breasts, one of the cardinals, named Gregory, made confession for them, and they were given absolution for all their sins. After the absolution, they received the benediction and the permission to go home.
The Truce of God and Indulgence for Crusaders. The Council of Clermont, 1095.
The canons of this council in their original form have not been preserved. We have translated the first two canons as Mansi has formulated them. See also nos. 240 ff. for truce of God.
1. It was decreed that monks, clergymen, women, and whatever they may have with them, shall be under the protection of the peace all the time [that is, shall never be attacked]. On three days of the week, that is, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, an act of violence committed by one person against another shall not be regarded as a violation of the peace [truce]. But on the remaining four days of the week if anyone does an injury to another, he shall be held to be a violator of the holy peace [truce], and he shall be punished as has been decreed.
2. If anyone out of devotion alone and not for honor or gain sets out for Jerusalem to free the church of God, the journey shall be regarded as the equivalent of all penance.
Rabble Bands of Crusaders. Ekkehard of Aura, Hierosolimita.
The lack of unity and organization in the first crusade gave many persons an opportunity to plunder and rob and commit all kinds of violence under the cloak of religion. Because they had taken the cross they pretended that they were privileged and might do as they pleased. They attempted to live at the expense of others. This and the following selection will give an idea of the violence and excesses committed by them. Their villainous conduct led many devout persons to criticise the crusading movement very sharply. The events described by Ekkehard occurred in 1096. He wrote the account between 1103 and 1106.
Folkmar [a priest] led his following [about 12,000] through Bohemia. When they came to Neitra, a town of Hungary, the people rose against them, took some of them prisoners and killed others. Only a very few of them escaped and they still tell how the sign of the cross appeared in the sky over them and saved them from imminent death.
Gotschalk, not a true but a false servant of God, suffered some losses while passing with his army through Austria. After entering Hungary, as a remarkable proof of their hypocrisy, they fortified a certain town on a hill and, after establishing a garrison there, the rest of them began to plunder the country round about. But the town was soon taken by the natives and many of the crusaders were killed. Gotschalk, the hireling and not a pastor, and those who were with him were driven off.
There arose also in those days a certain knight, named Emicho, a count from the Rhine region, who for a long time had been infamous because of his manner of living. Like a second Saul [1 Sam. 10:9-13], he said that he had been called by divine revelation to engage in this sort of religious undertaking. He gathered about 12,000 crusaders, and while passing through the cities along the Rhine, Main, and Danube, led by their zeal for Christianity, they persecuted the hated race of the Jews wherever they found them, and strove either to destroy them completely or to compel them to become Christians. They were joined on the way by many men and women. When they came to the frontier of Hungary, which is protected by swamps and forests, they were prevented from entering it by guards who were stationed there for that purpose; for king Coloman had heard that the Germans made no distinction between pagans and Hungarians. The crusaders besieged Wieselburg [at the junction of the Danube and the Leitha] for six weeks, during which time they suffered a good many hardships. A foolish quarrel arose among them over the question who of them should rule as king over Hungary after they had taken it. They were about to take the city, the walls were broken down and the inhabitants were fleeing and setting fire to their own houses, when, in a miraculous manner, the victorious army of crusaders began to flee, leaving all their provisions and supplies. They escaped with nothing but their lives.
Peter the Hermit. Anonymi Gesta Francorum, 1097-99.
The anonymous author of the Gesta Francorum was a knight from southern Italy who went with Boemund on the crusade. He wrote his account of the crusade at various times while on the march to Jerusalem. After the capture of the city and the battle with the Mohammedans before Ascalon, he added a chapter in which he described those events. From the passage here given it will be seen that Peter the Hermit played a very inglorious part in the first crusade. His army did not differ either in its character or in its fate from those of Folkmar, Gotschalk, and Emicho.
One of the divisions of the Franks passed through Hungary. The leaders of these were Peter the Hermit, Godfrey, his brother Baldwin, and Baldwin, count of Mt. Henno. These most powerful knights and many others, whose names I do not know, went by the road which Karl the Great, the famous king of France, had caused to be made to Constantinople. But Peter, with a large number of Germans, preceded all the others to Constantinople, which he reached August 1 . There he found some Lombards, [other] Italians, and many others assembled. The emperor had given them a market and had told them not to cross the strait until the great body of crusaders should come, because they were not numerous enough to meet the Turks in battle. But these crusaders were conducting themselves badly. They were destroying and burning palaces [in the suburbs of Constantinople], and they stole the lead with which the churches were covered, and sold it to the Greeks. At this the emperor became angry and ordered them to cross the strait. But after they crossed they continued to do all the damage possible, burning and plundering houses and churches. At length they came to Nicomedia where, because of the haughtiness of the French, the Lombards, Italians, and Germans separated from them and chose a leader named Raynald. They then marched four days into the interior. Beyond Nicæa they found a castle, named Xerigordon, which had no garrison. They took it and found in it a good deal of grain, wine, and meat, and an abundance of all kinds of provisions. The Turks, hearing that the Christians were in this castle, came to besiege it. Before the gate of the castle was a well and at the foot of the castle a spring of water. Near this spring Raynald laid an ambush to catch the Turks. But they came on St. Michael’s day [September 29], and discovered the ambuscade and fell upon Raynald and those who were with him, and killed many of them. Those who escaped fled into the castle. The Turks laid close siege to the castle and cut off its supply of water. And the crusaders suffered so from thirst that they bled the horses and donkeys and drank their blood. And some let down girdles and pieces of rags into the cistern and squeezed the water out of them into their mouths. Some even drank urine, and others, to relieve their thirst, dug holes in the ground and, lying on their backs, covered their breasts with the moist earth. The bishops and priests comforted them and urged them not to give up, saying, “Be strong in the faith of Christ, and fear not those who persecute you, as the Lord said, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’ ” [Matt. 10:28]. This continued for eight days. Finally the leader of the Germans agreed with the Turks to betray his companions to them. So, pretending to go out to fight, he fled to the Turks and many went with him. But those who would not deny their Lord were killed. The Turks took some prisoners and divided them like sheep among themselves. Some of these they put up as targets and shot arrows at them. Others they sold or gave away as if they were animals. Some took their prisoners home with them as slaves. In this way some of the Christians were taken to Chorasan, some to Antioch, some to Aleppo, and still others to other places. These were the first to suffer a glorious martyrdom for the name of the Lord Jesus.
Now the Turks, learning that Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless were at Civitot, which is above Nicæa, came thither with great rejoicing to kill them and those who were with them. Walter was leading his men out toward Xerigordon when the Turks met them and killed them. But Peter the Hermit had a short time before gone back to Constantinople because he could not control his people, who refused to obey him. The Turks then attacked those who were encamped near Civitot, some of whom they found asleep, others lying down, and others naked, and killed them. Among them they found a priest saying mass and killed him at the altar. Those who were able to escape fled into Civitot. Some sprang into the sea, and others hid in the woods and mountains. The Turks followed those who went into the castle, and gathered wood to burn them with the castle. But the Christians in the castle threw fire into the piles of wood, and the fire, turned against the Turks, burned some of them. But God delivered ours from the fire. But at length the Turks took them alive, divided them among themselves, as they had done before, and scattered them through all those regions. Some were sent to Chorasan and others into Persia. All this was done in the month of October .
Eugene III Announces a Crusade, December 1, 1145.
Edessa was taken by Zenki, the emir of Mosul, in December, 1144. The news of this disaster was carried to the west and at the same time an appeal for help was made. For some time no response was made to this appeal, but finally Eugene III issued this call, and appointed Bernard of Clairvaux to preach the crusade. The student will observe that the pope exercises high authority in secular matters, such as the payment of interest, the pawning of fiefs, etc. Since the days of Gregory VII (1073-85), the pope acts as the supreme law-giver in all matters, both spiritual and secular.
Eugene, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most beloved son, Louis, the illustrious and glorious king of the Franks, and to his beloved sons, the princes, and to all the faithful in God in Gaul, greeting and apostolic benediction.
From the history of our predecessors we learn how much they labored for the deliverance of the oriental church. For, in order to deliver it, our predecessor, Urban II, of blessed memory, sounded, as it were, a trumpet, and called together the sons of the holy Roman church from all parts of the world. At his voice, people from beyond the mountains, and especially the bravest and strongest warriors of the Franks and of Italy were inflamed with the ardor of love and came together. So a great army was collected which, with the aid of God, and not without great loss of life, freed from the filth of the pagans that city in which our Saviour died for us and left his glorious tomb as a memorial of his suffering for us. And they took many other cities which, for the sake of brevity, we omit. By the grace of God and the zeal of your fathers in defending them, these cities have, up to this time, remained in the hands of the Christians, and Christianity has been spread in those parts, and other cities have been valiantly taken from the infidels. But now, because of our sins and the sins of the people in the east (we cannot say it without great sorrow and weeping), the city of Edessa, or Rohais, as we call it, which was the only Christian city in those parts when the pagans held that country, has been taken by the enemies of the cross of Christ, and many Christian fortresses have been seized by them. The archbishop of Edessa and his clergy and many other Christians have been killed there. The relics of the saints have been trampled under foot by the infidels and scattered. You know as well as we how great a danger is threatening the church and the whole Christian world. If you bravely defend those things which the courage of your fathers acquired, it will be the greatest proof of your nobility and worth. But if not, it will be shown that you have less bravery than your fathers. Therefore we exhort, ask, command, and for the remission of your sins, we order all of you, and especially the nobles and the more powerful, to arm yourselves manfully to defend the oriental church, and to attack the infidels and to liberate the thousands of your brethren who are now their captives, that the dignity of the Christian name may be increased, and your reputation for courage, which is praised throughout the world, may remain unimpaired. Take for your example that Mattathias, who, to preserve the laws of his country, did not hesitate to expose himself, his children, and his relatives to death, and to leave all that he possessed in this world. And finally, by the divine aid, after many labors, he and his family triumphed over his enemies [1 Maccabees 2:1 ff.].
Wishing, therefore, to provide for your welfare as well as to relieve the church in the east, we grant to those who, in a spirit of devotion, shall determine to accomplish this holy and necessary work, by the authority of God conferred on us, the same remission of sins as our predecessor, Pope Urban, granted. And we decree that their wives and children, their goods and possessions, shall be under the protection of the holy church, of ourselves, and of the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates of the church of God. And until they return, or their death is known, we forbid by our apostolic authority any lawsuit to be brought against them about any of the property of which they were in peaceful possession when they took the cross. Moreover, since those who fight for the Lord should not have their minds set on fine clothing, or personal decoration, or [hunting] dogs, or falcons, or other things which savor of worldliness, we urge you to take care that those who undertake so holy a journey shall not deck themselves out with gay clothing and furs, or with gold and silver weapons, but that they shall try to supply themselves with such arms, horses, and other things as will aid them to defeat the infidels.
If any are in debt but with a pure intention set out on this holy journey, they shall not pay the interest already due; and if they or others are pledged to pay the interest, by our apostolic authority we absolve them from their oath or pledge. If their relatives or the lords on whose fiefs they live cannot or will not lend them the money [necessary for the journey], they may pawn their lands and other possessions to churches, to clergymen, or to others, without the consent of the lords of their fiefs. In accordance with the grant of our predecessor and by the authority of omnipotent God, and of St. Peter, prince of the apostles, which authority is vested in us, we grant such remission of sins and absolution that whoever shall devoutly undertake and complete so holy a journey, or shall have died while on the way, shall have absolution for all his sins which he shall have confessed with a humble and contrite heart, and he shall receive the reward of eternal life from God the rewarder of all.
The Third Crusade, 1189-90. From the Chronicle of Otto of St. Blasien.
The Greek emperor, Isaac Angelus, and Saladin had made an alliance against the sultan of Iconium, who was their common enemy. Isaac’s hostility to Frederick is explained in part by the fact that he had promised Saladin to try to prevent the crusaders from reaching Palestine. It was only natural that the sultan of Iconium should try to make an alliance with Frederick, since the latter was going to attack Saladin. But before Frederick reached Iconium, the sultan had divided his government among his sons, one of whom, Kutbeddin, was governor of Iconium. Kutbeddin had made an alliance with Saladin and married one of his daughters. This explains why the treaty with Frederick was broken.
In order not to confuse the student we have corrected a few errors in Otto’s account.
In the year 1187, Saladin, king of the Saracens, seeing the very base conduct of the Christians, and knowing that they were afflicted with discord, hatred, and avarice, thought the time was favorable and so planned to conquer all Syria with Palestine. He collected a very large army of Saracens from all the orient and made war on the Christians. Attacking them everywhere in Palestine with fire and sword, he took many fortresses and cities and killed or took prisoner all their Christian inhabitants, and put Saracen colonists in their place. The king of Jerusalem and the noble prince, Reinaldus [of Chatillon, governor of Kerak], and other nobles collected a large army and went out to meet Saladin. The true cross was carried at the head of the army. But they were defeated [at the battle of the Horns of Hattin, July 5, 1187] and many thousands of Christians were slain. The true cross, alas! was captured by the Saracens, and the Christians were put to flight. The king and Reinaldus and many others were taken prisoner, and carried off to Damascus, where . . . Reinaldus was beheaded, confessing the true faith. The pagans were made bold by this victory and took all the cities of the Christians except Tyre, Sidon, Tripolis, and Antioch, and a few other cities and fortresses which were the best fortified and most difficult to take. After taking Acco, where there is a port which had been the sole refuge of the Christians, they besieged Jerusalem. They destroyed all the churches about the city, among them those in Bethlehem and on the Mount of Olives. Finally the Christians surrendered, Jerusalem was taken, and the holy places were profaned and inhabited by pagans [Oct. 2, 1187].
I think that I should relate that while Jerusalem was besieged by the pagans, one of the towers of the city was taken, many of the Christians defending it were slain, and the standard of Saladin was raised over it. This caused the people to despair and they gave up the defence of the walls. And on that day the city came very nearly being taken and destroyed. But a certain German knight, seeing this, and made bold by the desperate situation, urged some of his companions to join him in making a bold attack on the enemy. They retook the tower, killed the pagans in it, tore down the standard of Saladin and threw it to the ground. By this act, he restored courage to the Christians and persuaded them to return to the defence of the walls. After the city had surrendered, as has been said, the sepulchre of the Lord was held in veneration for the sake of gain. . . .
Frederick the emperor, after ending the wars all over Germany and establishing peace, held a general diet in Mainz at mid-lent [March 27, 1188], and discussed the affairs of state. Papal delegates came to this diet and told the emperor about the destruction of the church beyond the sea [in Palestine], and, making complaint in the name of the pope and of the whole church, begged for his aid. A meeting having been held to consider the matter, Frederick offered to go to the aid of Jerusalem, and, for the remission of their sins, he and his son, Frederick, duke of Suabia, took the cross. Frederick publicly declared that he would avenge the insult which had been offered the cross, and by his example he aroused many nobles and a great multitude of various ranks and ages to take the cross. After these things were done, the cardinals preached the crusade in various parts of the country and persuaded many to leave father and mother, wife and children, and lands, for the name of Christ and to take the cross and follow him across the sea. They raised a large army. The emperor set the time of departure in May of the following year. He ordered the poor to provide themselves with at least three marks [about thirty dollars] for their expenses, and the rich to take as much money as they could. Under threat of excommunication he forbade anyone to go who did not have three marks, because he did not wish the army to be burdened with a useless crowd. After these things were done in Germany the pope sent cardinals to Philip [II], king of the Franks, and to Richard, king of the English, and persuaded them to take the cross. In England and in France he also raised a large army for the crusade.
At this time messengers of the sultan of Iconium came to Frederick and, with the intention to deceive, renewed the treaty with him. They promised him a free passage through all Cilicia if he would go peaceably. For Frederick was going to pass with his army through Cilicia, the land of the sultan, and the pagans, fearing for their land, preferred to have peace rather than war. But the outcome was not what they had expected.
At Pentecost, 1189, Frederick held a general diet at [Regensburg] . . . and had his army gather there. He gave the royal insignia to his son, king Henry. He appointed a certain income to each of his other sons, conferred titles on them, and after making all necessary arrangements, said farewell to all. His son, Frederick, duke of Suabia, the marquis of Meissen, with the Saxons, and many other princes and bishops, went with him. And so with a very large army, well equipped and organized, he set out for the orient to attack Saladin and all the enemies of the cross. While passing through Hungary its king honored him with many gifts and gave the army large supplies of flour, wine, and meat. When he entered Bulgaria the inhabitants tried to block the road. But he forced his way through, killed many of those who opposed him, took some of them prisoner, and hung them on the trees along the road. By this he showed that he was visiting the grave of the Lord not with a pilgrim’s wallet, but with the sword and lance of a warrior. Thus he passed through Bulgaria and entered Greece. But the Greeks were worse than the Bulgarians. At the command of the Greek emperor they showed the army no kindness and even refused to sell them anything to eat. They shut themselves up in their fortresses, into which they had taken all their possessions. It made Frederick angry to receive such treatment from Christians, and so he permitted his army to plunder the country. He determined to treat the Greeks as pagans because, by their acts, they showed that they were aiding his enemy, Saladin. His whole army besieged Philipopolis, a very rich city, and took and plundered it. He likewise captured a very strong fortress called Demotica. By this he so frightened the Greeks that he got possession of several fortresses and cities. After devastating the country and taking much booty, he compelled the rest of the Greeks to furnish the army with provisions. These things were done about the end of August . After consulting the princes, the emperor determined to pass the winter in Greece. So he took possession of the country round about, fortified a strong mountain as a camp for his soldiers and called it Kingsmountain. Having thus taken up a strong position against Constantinople, he had supplies for the army brought from the neighboring territory, and thus overcame Greek treachery with Roman strength and German bravery. He remained there all winter to the next Easter [March 25, 1190]. The Greeks were unable to resist his army and always fled before it.
Now the Greek emperor, not being able to withstand the power of Frederick, made amends for what he had done, and entered into a treaty with him. He appeased the army by supplying them with provisions. Thus, having been reconciled with Frederick, he set him and his army across the Propontis [March 22-28, 1190, from Gallipolis]. Frederick now entered Asia with his army. He marched for some time, meeting everywhere with success, and all the people in Romania [western Asia Minor] submitted to him. As the emperor approached Iconium, the sultan broke his treaty, caused all the provisions to be carried into the fortresses, and, like a barbarian and Scythian, refused to sell the army provisions. The army suffered from hunger and were compelled to eat the flesh of mules, donkeys, and horses. Besides, the pagans attacked the rear and those who went out foraging, and killed some of them. In this way they hindered the army. Our troops wished to meet the Saracens in open battle and often drew themselves up in battle array, but the Saracens always withdrew and refused to join in a general engagement. Now although the army was annoyed in this way and was suffering from hunger and want, the emperor, out of regard for the treaty with the sultan, kept his army from devastating and plundering the country, because he thought the people were attacking him without the permission of the sultan. But when he learned from couriers that the sultan had perfidiously ordered the people to attack him, he was angry, and, declaring the sultan an enemy, he permitted the army to take vengeance. They devastated Cilicia, Pamphilia, and Phrygia with slaughter, rapine, fire, and sword, while the pagan army constantly withdrew before them. The army now turned toward Iconium, which is the capital of Cilicia, and the chief residence of the sultan, and quickly took it [May 18, 1190]. It was a very populous city, well fortified with strong walls and high towers, and had in its midst an impregnable citadel. It was well supplied with victuals against a siege, while all the surrounding country was stripped of provisions, in order that when the emperor came he would not long be able to support an army there. But God overruled their efforts so that the outcome was just the opposite of what they sought. For the emperor suddenly attacked the city with great violence before the third hour of the day [9 o’clock], killed a great many of the inhabitants and took the city by storm before the ninth hour [3 o’clock p.m.]. Many people, of both sexes and of all ages, were put to the sword. The sultan with many of his nobles fled into the citadel, which the emperor began to besiege the same day. Now the sultan saw that nothing could resist the force of the Germans and that, supported by some divine power, they despised death and without hesitation attacked everything that resisted them. So, taught by dangerous experience, and thinking it necessary to demand peace from the emperor, he asked to speak with him. The emperor granted his request. The sultan then marched out of the citadel and surrendered at the discretion of the emperor, and gave hostages. After peace was made the city of Iconium and his kingdom were restored to him.
The army was thus made rich with spoil and the emperor left Iconium in triumph. The Armenian princes from all sides began to come to him, among them Leo, the noblest Christian prince of all that country. They all welcomed Frederick with joy and thanked him heartily for coming and attacking the Saracens. They were all well disposed toward him, so he set out for Tarsus, famous as the birthplace of St. Paul. But God who is terrible in his doing toward the children of men [Ps. 66:5], showing that the time had not yet come for showing mercy on Zion [Ps. 102:13], cut the anchor of the little boat of St. Peter and permitted it to be tossed about and beaten by the storms of this world. For the great emperor, Frederick, while on the road to Tarsus, after a part of the army had crossed a certain river, went into the water to refresh himself. For it was very hot and he was a good swimmer. But the cold water overcame him and he sank. So the emperor, powerful by land and sea, met with an unfortunate death. Some say that this happened in the Cydnus river, in which Alexander the Great almost met the same fate. For the Cydnus is near Tarsus. He died in the 38th year of his reign, the 35th of his rule as emperor [June 10, 1190]. If he had lived he would have been a terror to all the orient, but by his death the army lost all its courage, and was overwhelmed with grief. His intestines and flesh were buried in Tarsus, but his bones were carried to Antioch and buried with royal ceremony.
Innocent III Forbids the Venetians to Traffic with the Mohammedans, 1198.
The maritime cities of Italy took quite a part in the crusades, but their interests were largely commercial. In all the cities of the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea they tried to get harbor privileges, freedom from tolls or at least a reduction in them, and quarters, consisting of a few city blocks, in which their agents or colonists could reside. They carried on an extensive commerce with the Mohammedans and cleverly and selfishly made use of the crusades to increase it. While the church was glad to have their aid in the wars with the Mohammedans, it found them a disturbing element, because they were content and wished to end hostilities as soon as they had secured good commercial advantages. The popes took the position that there should be no peaceable intercourse between Christians and Mohammedans, and so tried to prevent all commerce between them. This letter of Innocent III to the people of Venice illustrates the attitude of the pope in this matter, informs us what some of the chief articles of commerce were, and shows how the pope was compelled to make concessions to the commercial spirit.
In support of the eastern province [that is, the crusading states], in addition to the forgiveness of sins which we promise those who, at their own expense, set out thither, and besides the papal protection which we give those who aid that land, we have renewed that decree of the Lateran council [held under Alexander III, 1179], which excommunicated those Christians who shall furnish the Saracens with weapons, iron, or timbers for their galleys, and those who serve the Saracens as helmsmen or in any other way on their galleys and other piratical craft, and which furthermore ordered that their property be confiscated by the secular princes and the consuls of the cities, and that, if any such persons should be taken prisoner, they should be the slaves of those who captured them. We furthermore excommunicated all those Christians who shall hereafter have anything to do with the Saracens either directly or indirectly, or shall attempt to give them aid in any way so long as the war between them and us shall last. But recently our beloved sons, Andreas Donatus and Benedict Grilion, your messengers, came and explained to us that your city was suffering great loss by this our decree, because Venice does not engage in agriculture, but in shipping and commerce. Nevertheless, we are led by the paternal love which we have for you to forbid you to aid the Saracens by selling them, giving them, or exchanging with them, iron, flax (oakum), pitch, sharp instruments, rope, weapons, galleys, ships, and timbers, whether hewn or in the rough. But for the present and until we order to the contrary, we permit those who are going to Egypt to carry other kinds of merchandise whenever it shall be necessary. In return for this favor you should be willing to go to the aid of the province of Jerusalem and you should not attempt to evade our apostolic command. For there is no doubt that he who, against his own conscience, shall fraudulently try to evade this prohibition, shall be under divine condemnation.
Papal Protection of Crusaders. Innocent III Takes the King of the Danes under his Protection, 1210.
We commend you because, fired with zeal for the orthodox faith and for the praise of God and for the honor of the Christian religion, you have taken the cross and have drawn your royal sword to repress the cruelty of an infidel people [the Turks]. And we also give you our apostolic favor, and take under the protection of St. Peter as well as under our own your person and your kingdom with all your possessions, decreeing that so long as you are engaged in this work all your possessions shall remain intact and free from all molestation. Nevertheless we urge upon you to take all possible precautions to protect you and yours, in order that you may not suffer any loss.1
Innocent III and the Lateran Council Announce a Crusade, 1215.
It was the greatest ambition of Innocent III to recover Palestine from the Mohammedans. During his pontificate he never lost sight of this object. One of the chief purposes of the Lateran council which he called together in 1215, was to arrange for a universal crusade. This decree shows his earnestness in the matter, but at the same time betrays the difficulties which were in the way. (1) The character of the clergy was not such as to insure the best results, and their conduct was not above reproach. They were jealous of each other, and intrigued to secure places to which much honor and rich livings were attached (par. 2). (2) Many who took the cross afterwards refused to go. Some had no doubt made the vow in a moment of enthusiasm; others, in a calculating spirit, hoping to gain some reputation, or secure some advantage, such as an extension of time in the payment of their debts, the cancellation of interest, the freedom from local taxation, or feudal dues, the right to raise money by pawning their fiefs, etc. (pars. 4, 10, and 11). (3) There was a general unwillingness on the part of the rich to go in person on a crusade. Nor were they all willing to equip someone to go in their place (pars. 5 and 6). (4) The commercial interests and spirit of the Italian cities were stronger than their religious sentiment, and led them to sell arms and ships to the Mohammedans, and even to serve in important positions on their boats (pars. 12, 13, and 14). (5) The warlike spirit of the west had found a new outlet in the bloody tournaments which were now much in fashion, and the feuds and private warfare offered the ambitious and adventurous knight a convenient field for the constant exercise of arms (pars. 15 and 16).
In spite of his great efforts, many things made the execution of Innocent’s plan impossible. The popular days of the crusades were over. Innocent escaped a bitter disappointment only by his death, which occurred the following year, 1216.
Since we earnestly desire to liberate the holy land from the hands of the wicked, we have consulted wise men who fully understand the present situation. And at the advice of the holy council we decree that all crusaders who shall determine to go by sea shall assemble in the kingdom of Sicily a year from the first of next June. They may gather at their convenience either at Brindisi, Messina, or in any other place on either side of the strait. If the Lord permits, we shall also be there in order that the Christian army may, with our advice and aid, be well organized, and set out with the divine benediction and papal blessing.
1. Those who determine to go by land shall be ready at the same date, and they shall keep us informed of their plans in order that we may send them a suitable legate to counsel and aid them.
2. All clergymen of whatever rank, who go on the crusade, shall diligently devote themselves to prayer and exhortation, by word and example teaching the crusaders always to have the fear and the love of God before their eyes and not to say or do anything to offend the divine majesty. Even if they sometimes fall into sin, they shall rise again by true penitence. They shall show humility of heart and of body, and observe moderation in their way of living and in their dress. They shall altogether avoid dissensions and rivalries, and shun hatred and envy. Thus, equipped with spiritual and material arms, they shall fight more securely against the enemies of the faith, not resting on their own power but hoping in the divine strength.
3. These clergymen shall receive all the income of their benefices for three years, just as if they were residing in them, and, if it is necessary, they may pawn their benefices for the same length of time.
4. In order that this holy undertaking may not be prevented or delayed, we earnestly command all prelates, each in his own locality, to urge and insist that all who have taken the cross fulfil their vows to the Lord. And, if necessary, they may compel them to do so, in spite of all their subterfuges, by putting their persons under excommunication and their lands under the interdict. We except, however, those who may find some real hindrance in the way, on account of which we may decide that their vow may be commuted or put off.
5. In addition to these things, that nothing relating to Christ’s business may be neglected, we command patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and all others who have the care of souls, zealously to preach the crusade to those who are under their charge, by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one only true eternal God, beseeching kings, dukes, princes, marquises, counts, barons, and other magnates, as well as the communes of cities, villages, and towns, that those who do not go in person to aid the holy land may, in proportion to their wealth, furnish a suitable number of fighting men and provide for their necessary expenses for three years. This they shall do for the remission of their sins according to the terms published in our general letter, and, for the sake of greater clearness, repeated below. Not only those who give their own ships, but also those who shall try to build ships for this purpose, shall have a share in this remission of sins.
6. If any shall be found so ungrateful to the Lord as to refuse, we warn them that they must answer for it to us before the terrible judge on the last day. Let all such consider with what conscience and what security they will be able to make their confession before the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, into whose hands the Father has given all things, if, in this matter which so peculiarly concerns them, they refuse to obey him who was crucified for sinners, by whose favor and goodness they live and are sustained, nay, more, by whose blood they are redeemed.
7. Lest we should seem to put on other men’s shoulders burdens so heavy that we would not so much as put a finger to them, like those who say, but do not, we give 30,000 pounds out of our savings for this work, and besides the passage-money which we give all crusaders from Rome and the surrounding country, we also give 3,000 silver marks which are left in our hands from the gifts of certain Christians, the rest having been spent for the benefit of the holy land by the patriarchs of Jerusalem and the masters of the Templars and the Hospitallers.
8. Since we wish all other prelates and clergy to have a share in this meritorious work and its reward, we, with the approval of the council, decree that all the clergy of whatever rank shall, for three years, give the twentieth of the income of their churches to the aid of the holy land, and for the collection of it we shall appoint certain persons. We except from this tax certain monks and also those who shall take the cross and go in person on the crusade.
9. Moreover, we and our brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman church, will pay a tenth of our incomes; and let all know that they must faithfully do this. For any cardinal who shall knowingly commit any fraud in this matter shall incur the sentence of excommunication.
10. Now, because it is only just that those who devote themselves to the service of the heavenly ruler should enjoy some special prerogative, and since it is a little more than a year until the time set for going, we decree that all who have taken the cross shall be free from all collections, taxes, and other burdens. As soon as they take the cross we receive them and their possessions under the protection of St. Peter and of ourselves, so that archbishops, bishops, and other prelates are entrusted with their defence, and besides, other protectors shall be specially appointed to defend them. And until they return or their death shall be certainly known, their possessions shall not be molested. And if anyone shall act contrary to this he shall be restrained by ecclesiastical censure.
11. If any of those who go on the crusade are bound by oath to pay interest, their creditors, under threat of ecclesiastical censure, shall be compelled to free them from their oath and from the payment of the interest. If anyone compels them to pay the interest, he shall be forced to pay it back to them. We order the secular authorities to compel the Jews to remit the interest to all crusaders, and until they do remit it they shall have no intercourse with Christians. If any are not able for the present to pay their debts to Jews, the secular authorities shall secure an extension of time for them, so that after they have set out on the journey until their return or their death is certainly known, they shall not be disturbed about the interest. The Jews shall be compelled, after deducting the necessary expenses, to apply the income which they receive in the meantime from the property which they hold in pawn, toward the payment of the debt; since a favor of this kind, which defers the payment but does not cancel the debt, does not seem to cause much loss. Moreover, all prelates must know that they will be severely punished if they are lax in securing justice for crusaders or their families.
12. Since corsairs and pirates greatly impede the work by taking and robbing those who are going to, or returning from, the holy land, we excommunicate all who aid and protect them. Under the threat of anathema we forbid anyone knowingly to have anything to do with them in buying or selling, and we command all rulers of cities and other places to prevent them from practising this iniquity. Otherwise, since not to interfere with the wicked is the same as to aid them, and since he who does not prevent a manifest crime is suspected of having a secret share in it, we command all prelates to exercise ecclesiastical severity against their persons and lands.
13. Besides, we excommunicate and anathematize those false and impious Christians who, against Christ and the Christian people, furnish the Saracens with arms, irons, and timbers for their galleys. If any who sell galleys or ships to the Saracens, or accept positions on their piratical craft, or give them aid, counsel, or support with regard to their [war] machines to the disadvantages of the holy land, we decree that they shall be punished with the loss of all their goods, and they shall be the slaves of those who capture them. We command that this decree be published anew every Sunday and Christian feast day in all the maritime cities, and the bosom of the church shall not be opened to offenders against it unless, for the support of the holy land, they give all that they have gained from such a damnable business, and as much more from their possessions, so that they shall be justly punished for their crimes. But if they cannot pay, they shall be punished in some other way, in order that by their punishment others may be prevented from impudently attempting things of the same sort.
14. We forbid all Christians for the next four years to send their ships, or permit them to be sent, to lands inhabited by Saracens, in order that a larger supply of vessels may be on hand for those who wish to go to the aid of the holy land, and also that the Saracens may be deprived of that aid which they have been accustomed to get from this.
15. Although tournaments have been prohibited by many councils under the general threat of punishment, we forbid them for three years under the threat of excommunication, because the crusade is hindered by them.
16. Since, for the accomplishment of this work, it is necessary that Christian princes and peoples live in peace, and in order that the clergy may be able to make peace between all who are quarreling, or persuade them to make an inviolable truce, with the approval of the holy universal council we decree that a general peace shall be observed in the whole world for at least four years. And those who shall refuse to observe this peace shall be compelled to do so by excommunication of their persons and interdict on their lands, unless they have been so malicious in inflicting injuries on others that they themselves do not deserve the protection of such a peace. If they disregard the censure of the church, the ecclesiastical authorities shall invoke the secular power against them as disturbers of the business of Christ.
17. Trusting, therefore, in the mercy of omnipotent God and the authority of Saints Peter and Paul, and by the authority to bind and loose, which God has given us, to all who shall personally and at their own expense go on this crusade we grant full pardon of their sins, which they shall repent and confess, and, besides, when the just shall receive their reward we promise them eternal salvation. And to those who shall not go in person, but nevertheless at their own expense and in proportion to their wealth and rank shall send suitable men, and likewise to those who go in person but at the expense of others, we grant the full pardon of their sins. All who shall give a fitting part of their wealth to the aid of the holy land shall, in proportion to their gifts and according to the degree of their devotion, have a share in this forgiveness. This universal council wishes to aid in the salvation of all who piously set out on this work, and therefore grants them in common the benefit of all its merits. Amen.
Given at the Lateran, 19 kal. Jan., year 18 of our pontificate.
SOCIAL CLASSES AND CITIES IN GERMANY
Otto III Forbids the Unfree Classes to Attempt to Free Themselves,ca. 1000.
In the tenth century a large part of the peasant population of Germany was unfree. But from this decree of Otto III it is apparent that they were trying to escape from this condition. From various causes they had been able to avoid rendering their servile dues, and had, on that account, asserted their freedom.
While the number of unfree was great, they were not all equally unfree. The lowest grade were slaves in the real sense of the word; that is, they were chattels. But this class was not numerous and was tending to disappear. The highest grade was composed of those who were personally free, and who could amass property; but they were unfree in that they had no legal status. That is, they could not appear in court as a party to a suit, nor could they testify as witnesses. In all legal matters they had to have some one to represent them in the court. These are the two extremes, between which there were a great many unfree classes or groups, each differing from the other in the degree of personal or property rights which they possessed. An idea of some of these classes will be gained from the following documents.
There is need of careful legislation because the princes of the empire, both lay and clerical, rich and poor, the higher as well as the lower, make frequent complaints that they are not able to obtain from their unfree subjects those services to which they have a right. For some falsely declare that they are free because their lords, in many cases, cannot prove the servitude which they [their unfree subjects] are trying in a dishonest way to escape. Others are trying to rise to the honor of freedom because their lords have, for a long time, been hindered from knowing anything about their unfree subjects, and hence the latter have not been kept in their accustomed state of servitude, nor are they forced to pay a tax as a proof of their unfree state. So on this account they declare that they are free and boast that they have lived in freedom, because for a short time they have not fulfilled their servile duties. Therefore we have issued this imperial law: (1) If a serf, led by his desire for liberty, says that he is free, his lord may settle the case by a duel with him, fighting either in person or by his champion [representative], as he may wish. The lord is given this privilege because of the great difficulty there is in proving such things in the regular way. The unfree man may secure a champion for himself if, because of age or disease, he is unable to fight. (2) In order that the unfree may not hide his real condition by avoiding his duties for a time, we decree by this our edict, which, with the help of God, shall be valid forever, that hereafter each one shall show his servile condition by paying a denar of the ordinary currency every year on the first of December to his lord or to the agent whom he shall appoint for this purpose. (3) The children of the free shall begin to pay this tax as a proof of their servile condition in their twenty-fifth year and at the appointed time. And no matter how long they may avoid paying this tax, they shall not thereby become free. (4) If any unfree man belonging to the church shall disobey this edict, he shall be fined one-half of all his goods and he shall be reduced to his former unfree condition. For an unfree man of the church may never become free. We strictly forbid the unfree of the churches to be set free, and we order all those who have, by any device, been freed to be reduced to servitude again.
Henry I Frees a Serf, 926.
There were many ways in which a serf could be set free, but after 850 the form used in this document was not uncommon. A freeman was to a great extent dependent on his relatives as witnesses. He could not prove his freedom without their testimony. When a serf was set free he was without a family, because his relatives, being serfs, could not testify in court. The charter which the king gave him was the only evidence of freedom which he possessed. It took the place of the testimony of his relatives.
When a serf was freed he became a “freedman.” But generally he was not entirely free, for there was still a personal bond between him and his lord, to whom he must pay a poll-tax. The coin which was knocked out of his hand symbolized this poll-tax. That is, his offer to pay the poll-tax is rejected, the coin is knocked out of his hand as a symbol that he is now entirely free, and is no longer bound to pay the poll-tax.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Henry, by the divine clemency king. Let all our faithful subjects, both present and future, know that at the request of Arnulf, our faithful and beloved duke, and also to increase our eternal reward, we have freed a certain priest, named Baldmunt, who is our serf, born on the land of the monastery of Campido. We freed him by striking a penny out of his hand in the presence of witnesses, according to the Salic law, and we have thereby released him entirely from the yoke of servitude. And by this writing we have given a sure proof of his freedom and we desire that he shall remain free forever. We ordain that the said Baldmunt, the reverend priest, shall enjoy such freedom and have such rights [that is, have the same legal status] as all those have who up to this time have been set free in this way by the kings or emperors of the Franks.
Henry III Frees a Female Serf, 1050.
See introductory note to no. 290.
Henry, etc. Let all our faithful Christian subjects, both present and future, know that we, at the request of a certain nobleman, named Richolf, have freed a certain one of his female serfs, named Sigena, by striking a penny out of her hand. We have freed her from the yoke of servitude, and have decreed that the said Sigena shall in the future have the same liberty and legal status as all other female serfs have who have been freed in the same way by kings or emperors. . . .
The Recovery of Fugitive Serfs, 1224.
The condition of the serfs was a hard one. They had heavy work, poor shelter, and bad food. It is not strange that they sought freedom by running away. The cities offered them a good asylum, for they regarded it as a part of their law that a serf remaining in a free city a year and a day without being reclaimed by his lord became free. The lords objected to this, but without effect. Since the cities refused to deliver serfs to their lord on demand, it was necessary for the lords to enter the city and search for them. But in doing so they ran great risk of being stoned from the house-tops. Henry [VII] prescribed that they should have protection from the king as well as from the officials of the city which they wished to search.
Henry [VII], etc. . . . When a quarrel arose between our cities of Elsass and the nobles and ministerials of the same province in regard to the serfs who had run away and gone to the cities, or might hereafter do so, . . . it was settled by the following decision: If a serf belonging to a noble or ministerial runs away and goes to one of our cities and stays there, his lord may recover him if he can bring seven persons who are of the family of the serf’s mother, who will swear that he is a serf, and belongs to the said lord. If the lord cannot secure seven such witnesses, he may bring two suitable witnesses from among his neighbors, who will swear that before the serf ran away the said lord had been in peaceable possession of him, . . . and he may then recover his serf. We also decree and command that all nobles and ministerials who wish to recover their serfs may enter a city for this purpose with our permission and protection, and no one shall dare injure them. At their request a safe-conduct shall be furnished them by the Schultheissen and council of the city.
The Rank of Children Born of Mixed Marriages is Fixed, 1282.
We, Rudolf, by the grace of God king, Augustus, wish by this writing to inform all that while we were holding court at Germersheim on Ash-Wednesday our faithful and beloved subject, Adolf, count of Monte, presented the following question for an official decision: If free peasants contract marriage with unfree, or with others whether of a higher or lower social status, what shall be the status of the children born of such mixed marriages? And all who were present declared that children should always have the rank of that one of its parents who has the lower social status. And by this writing we confirm this decision as a reasonable one.
Frederick II Confers Nobility, about 1240.
There was a noble class among the ancient Germans. As they established themselves on Roman soil, the nobility itself underwent a change and it was added to in various ways. Through great possessions in land, and through appointment to office, which generally led to the acquisition of lands, an aristocratic class was formed which came to be regarded as noble. From the tenth century the man who fought on horseback was a knight, and hence of the noble class. As the class became conscious of itself and its privileges, it tended to put up barriers and exclude from its ranks all except those who were born into it. Thus in the days of Barbarossa if a knight were challenged by another, he could refuse to fight him unless the challenger could prove that his grandfather was a knight.
Frederick, etc. We wish all to know that A— of N— has told us that although his father was not a knight yet he wishes to become one. He therefore besought us to make him a knight. In order to reward the faithfulness of him and of his family we grant his petition and, out of the fulness of our power, we grant that, although his father was not a knight, and although our laws forbid anyone to be a knight who is not born of a noble family, he may nevertheless with our permission put on the military girdle, and we forbid all people to hinder or prevent him from doing this.
Charles IV Confers Nobility on a Doctor of Both Laws, 1360.
The king by virtue of his royal power could confer nobility on all whom he wished. The document of Charles IV is especially interesting as showing the degree of honor attaching to learning. The learned man was, because of his learning, the equal of the noble. He who had taken the Master’s degree in both laws was thereby raised to the same social plane as the knight, but, of course, was not thereby knighted. Charles IV recognized this principle and conferred knighthood on his friend, the professor, who had received this degree.
Charles IV, by divine clemency emperor of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Bohemia, sends his favor and wishes all good to the honorable Wycker, scholasticus1 of the church of St. Stephen of Mainz, his [that is, the emperor’s] chaplain, intimate table companion, and devoted and beloved member of his household.
Beloved and devoted: Although, according to your birth and to the standards of the world, you were not born of a noble family and are not reckoned as a knight, nevertheless, because you are adorned with so great and remarkable knowledge of both the civil and canon law, that it supplies what you lack by birth [that is, nobility], in imitation of our predecessors, the emperors of great and renowned memory, we regard your knowledge and ability as the equivalent of nobility, and out of the fulness of our imperial power we decree that you are noble and knightly, and of the same rank, honor, and condition as any other noble and knight. Therefore we strictly command all princes, ecclesiastical and secular, counts, chiefs, nobles, and all our other faithful subjects, to whom this letter may come, under threat of the loss of imperial favor, to regard, hold, and treat you as such [that is, as a knight], in all places; and out of reverence for the holy empire to admit you to all the rights, privileges, etc., which noblemen are accustomed to enjoy. . . .
The Law of the Family of the Bishop of Worms, 1023.
The bishop of Worms was a large landholder, possessing a great deal of the land in the city as well as in the country. This land may be divided into two groups according to the way in which it was held and tilled. Some of it was let out as fiefs, and from this the bishop received only the regular feudal dues according to the terms on which he let it out. The rest of his land was called the domain, and was tilled by serfs who lived on it and were attached to it. There was great variety in the condition of the serfs. Some of them had little or no right to the products of their labors, except to what they needed to eat and wear. It would of course be impossible for such to acquire property. Others had a right to a greater or less share of the products of their labors, and hence they could amass property. Through their wealth all such could, in the course of time, improve their condition and rise in the social scale. All those of this servile group were unfree; they were bondmen of the church. All of them taken together were called the family of St. Peter. They were attached to the soil which they tilled, paid a tax in money or in kind, or rendered services, and were under the protection of the church and the jurisdiction of the bishop.
From paragraphs 9, 13, 16, etc., we learn that there were two classes of these serfs, the fisgilini, and the dagewardi. Of these the fisgilini were the higher in the social scale. According to paragraphs 9 and 29 they had a share in the wergeld of members of their family and they were not compelled to render services except of a certain kind or in certain departments of the bishop’s household. The services which they were bound to render were considered less servile, less ignoble, than those required of the dagewardi. From these facts it is inferred that their ancestors had at one time been free, but had surrendered their lands and their freedom and become bondmen of the church for the sake of securing protection. Bishops and abbots were generally regarded as lenient lords in comparison with secular princes, and many preferred to become bondmen of the church rather than of secular lords. The lands which they held they passed on from father to son (par. 2 and 3), and they could amass property and dispose of it (par. 1 and 4). From paragraphs 26, 27, and 28 there seems to have been some difference between the fisgilini who lived in the city and those who lived in the country. The former were no doubt artisans, the latter, peasants. But it is not clear what other differences existed between them.
Besides these bondmen, mention is made in the introduction and par. 14 of knights and freemen. These were the vassals of the bishop, holding the lands of the church as fiefs. They were not included in the “family of St. Peter.”
Three officials are mentioned. (1) The advocate was a layman who represented the bishop and the church in all secular matters, held the three regular courts of the year, collected the fines which fell to the bishop, etc. In theory he was the protector of the church against all violence and oppression, but not infrequently he took advantage of his position, and by threats and other unjust measures oppressed the church and extorted money from it. (2) The vidame was the aid or representative of the advocate and assisted him in the administration of his office. (3) The “official” of the introduction is the same as the “local official” in paragraphs 2, 12, and 24. As the people on these lands lived in villages, he was probably the official whom the bishop entrusted with the government of the village. He held the local or village court. (See note to par. 13.) There were scabini or Schoeffen who assisted all these officials in administering justice (see Glossary).
In par. 29 we have the origin of a new class which came to be called ministerials. Since no. 297 treats of them especially, the student is referred to it for a discussion of this class.
Although not logically arranged, this document is in fact a little code of laws for the government of the bondmen of the church. A careful analysis of each paragraph is recommended and the student will find it profitable to attempt a classification of its provisions. The laws concerning the different classes should at least be grouped together.
This family of St. Peter may be regarded as a partial cross section of the society in and about Worms, showing many of the layers of which that society was composed. The bishop’s lands were no doubt scattered about, and not in one mass. So there were other serfs, probably of different grades, as were the fisgilini and dagewardi, and other freemen, knights, etc., living as neighbors to the serfs and vassals of the bishop.
Because of the frequent lamentations of my unfortunate subjects and the great injustice done them by many who have habitually wronged the family of St. Peter, imposing different laws upon them and oppressing all the weaker ones by their unjust judgments and decisions, I, Burchard, bishop of Worms, with the advice of my clergy, knights, and of all my family, have ordered these laws to be written, in order that hereafter no advocate, nor vidame, nor official, nor any other malicious person may be able to add any new law to the detriment of the afore-mentioned family, but that the whole family, rich and poor alike, may have the same law.
1. If anyone of the family of St. Peter legally marries a woman who is also a member of the family, and gives her a dower and she has peaceable possession of it for a year and a day, then if the man dies, the wife shall hold the whole of the dower until she dies. When the woman dies, if they had no children, the dower goes to the nearest heirs of the man. If the woman dies first, the same disposition shall be made of it [that is, it reverts to the husband and his heirs]. If after marriage they acquire property, when one of them dies, the other shall have it and do what he will with it. If the wife brought any property to her husband at the time of marriage, at the death of both, their children, if they have any, shall inherit it. If they have no children, it shall return to her relatives unless she gives it away before her death. If the children die after inheriting it, it shall return to the nearest relatives of their mother.
2. If anyone has inherited a piece of land with serfs, and becomes poor and is forced to sell it, he must first, in the presence of witnesses, offer to sell it to his nearest heirs. If they will not buy it, he may sell it to any member of the family of St. Peter. If a piece of land has, by judicial process, been declared forfeited to the bishop [because the holder has not paid the proper dues or rendered the due services], and any one of the heirs of the one who held it wishes to pay the back dues, he may do so and receive the land. But if no heir wishes to pay the back dues, the local official may let the land to any member of the family he may wish, and the one thus receiving it shall hold it. If after a few years someone comes and says: “I am the heir. I was poor, I was an orphan, I had no means of support, so I left home and have been supporting myself in another place by work,” and if he tries by his own testimony alone to dispossess him who, with the consent of the bishop, received the land, and who has cultivated it well and improved it, he shall not be able to do so. For since there was no heir at the time who was willing to pay the back dues, let him to whom the local official gave it keep it. For [it may be said to the new claimant]: “If you were the heir, why did you go away? Why did you not stay at home and look after your inheritance?” No hearing shall be granted him unless he has a good and reasonable excuse [for his absence]. If anyone who has a piece of land by hereditary right dies leaving a child as heir, and this child is not able to render the service due, and there is a near relative who is willing to render the due service for this land until the heir becomes of age, he may do so. But let the heir not be disinherited because of his youth. We beg that he may be treated mercifully in this matter [that is, that he may receive his inheritance when he comes of age].
3. If anyone on our domain land dies leaving an inheritance, his heir shall receive it without being bound to give us a present, and thereafter he shall render the due service for it.
4. If any member of the family dies leaving free property, unless he has given it away, his nearest heirs shall inherit it.
5. If anyone in the presence of witnesses and with the consent of his wife parts with [alienates] any piece of property, no matter what it is, the bargain shall stand unless there is some other good reason for breaking it.
6. If anyone sells his land or his inheritance to another member of the family in the presence of one of his heirs, and that heir does not object at the time, he shall never afterwards have the right to object. If an heir were not present, but, after learning of the sale, did not object within that year, he shall afterwards not have the right to object to it.
7. If anyone is, by the judgment of his fellows, put “into the bishop’s hand,” he and all his possessions are in the bishop’s power.
8. If anyone takes some of his fellows and does some injustice to a member of the family, he shall pay a fine for himself and for his accomplices and each one of them shall pay his own fine.
9. Five pounds of the wergeld of a fisgilinus go to the bishop’s treasury and two and one-half pounds go to his friends [kin].
10. If a man and his wife die leaving a son and a daughter, the son shall receive the inheritance of the servile land [i.e., the land which the father held], and the daughter shall receive the clothing of her mother and all the cash on hand. Whatever other property there is shall be divided equally between them.
11. If anyone has received a piece of land and serfs by inheritance, and takes his bed because of illness so that he cannot ride on horseback or walk alone, he shall not alienate [dispose of in any way] the land and serfs to the disadvantage of his heirs, unless he wishes to give something for the salvation of his soul. All his other property [that is, all that he has gained in addition to what he inherited] he may give to whomever he wishes.
12. In order that there may not be so many perjuries, if any member of the family has done some wrong to a fellow-member in the matter of land, or vineyards, or any other less important thing, and the case has been brought before the local official, we desire that the local official shall, with the aid of his fellows, decide the case without having anyone take an oath.
13. If any fisgilinus does an injustice, either great or small, he shall, like the dagewardus, pledge five solidi to the treasury of the bishop and pay five solidi as composition to him to whom he did the wrong, if he is of the same society. If he is outside his soceity he shall pledge one ounce and no oath shall be taken.
14. If anyone from the bishop’s domain lands marries someone who belongs to a fief which is held from the bishop, he shall continue to be under the bishop’s jurisdiction. If anyone from such a fief marries someone from the bishop’s domain land, he shall continue under the jurisdiction of the lord of the fief on which he lives.
15. If anyone marries a foreign woman [that is, one who does not live on the bishop’s territory], when he dies two-thirds of their possessions shall go to the bishop.
16. If a fisgilinus marries a dagewarda, their children shall be of the lower rank; and likewise if a dagewardus marries a fisgilina.
17. If anyone makes an unjust outcry in court, or becomes angry and leaves the court, or does not come in time to the court, and those sitting in the court with him do not convict him of this, he shall not take an oath about it, but the Schoeffen shall decide it.
18. If anyone has a suit against his fellow, he alone shall take an oath about it. But if it concerns a feud, or is against the bishop, he shall have six men [compurgators] to take an oath with him.
19. It has frequently happened that if one lent his money to another, the borrower would repay as much as he wished and then swear that he owed no more. In order to prevent perjury we have decreed that the lender need not accept the oath of the borrower but may, if he wishes, challenge him to a duel, and so [by defeating him] prove his indebtedness. If the lender is so important a person that he does not wish to fight the borrower on such an account, he may appoint someone to fight for him.
20. If anyone in the city of Worms is convicted by losing a duel, he shall pledge sixty solidi. If he is defeated by a member of the family who lives outside of the city, he shall pay the victor three times the amount of the fine, because he challenged him unjustly, and he shall pay the bishop’s ban, and twenty solidi to the advocate, or he shall lose his skin and hair [that is, he shall be beaten and his head shaved].
21. If anyone of the family of St. Peter buys a piece of land and serfs from a free man [that is, one who is not a member of the family], or has acquired it in any other way, he shall not dispose of it to anyone outside of the family, unless he exchanges it [for other land and serfs].
22. If anyone attempts to reduce a fisgilinus to the rank of a dagewardus and subject him to an unjust poll tax [as a symbol of his servile rank], the fisgilinus shall prove his rank by the testimony of seven of his nearest relatives, but he shall not hire them for this purpose. If the charge is made that his father was not a fisgilinus, two female witnesses shall be taken from his father’s family and one from his mother’s. If it is said that his mother was not of that rank, two shall be taken from her family and one from his father’s family, unless he can prove his rank by the testimony of the Schoeffen or of his relatives.
23. If any member of the family enters the house of another with an armed force and violates his daughter, he shall pay to her father, or to her guardian, three times the value of every piece of clothing which she had on when she was seized, and to the bishop his ban for each piece of clothing. And he shall also pay to her father a triple fine and the bishop’s ban. And because the law of the church does not permit him to marry her, he shall appease her family by giving to twelve members of it twelve shields and as many lances and one pound of money.
24. If anyone confesses a debt in the presence of the local official but the said official has not the time to render a decision that day, and he who confessed the debt denies it the next day, the said official, if he had a witness to the confession, shall render the decision in accordance with the confession.
25. But if the said official had no witness to the confession, he shall render the decision according to what the man says in court and not according to his former confession.
26. If anyone in the city has inherited a building site, it cannot be declared forfeited to the bishop unless he has refused to pay the tax and all other dues for three years. After he has failed to pay these dues for three years, he shall be summoned to court three times, and if he wishes to pay all the back dues he may do so and retain the building site. If he sells the house, he forfeits the building site.
27. If anyone in the city strikes another so hard that he knocks him down, he shall pay sixty solidi to the bishop. If he strikes another with his fist or a light stick without knocking him down, he shall pay only five solidi.
28. If anyone in the city draws his sword to kill another or stretches his bow and puts an arrow on the bow-string, or tries to strike him with his lance, he shall pay sixty solidi.
29. If the bishop wishes to take a fisgilinus into his service, he may put him to work under the chamberlain, or the cup-bearer, or the steward [dish-bearer], or the master of the horse, or under the official who has charge of the bishop’s lands and collects the dues from them [i.e., the advocate]. But if he does not wish to serve the bishop in any of these departments of the bishop’s household, he may pay four denars every time the bishop is summoned by the king to call out his men for the purpose of fighting, and six when the bishop is summoned to accompany the emperor to Rome, and he must attend the three regular sessions of court which are held every year, and then he may serve whomsoever he wishes.
30. Homicides take place almost daily among the family of St. Peter, as if they were wild beasts. The members of the family rage against each other as if they were insane and kill each other for nothing. Sometimes drunkenness, sometimes wanton malice is the cause of a murder. In the course of one year thirty-five serfs of St. Peter belonging to the church of Worms have been murdered without provocation. And the murderers, instead of showing penitence, rather boast and are proud of it. Because of the great loss thus inflicted on our church, with the advice of our faithful subjects, we have made the following laws in order to put an end to such murders. If any member of the family of St. Peter kills a fellow member except in self-defence, that is, while defending either himself or his property [against the attacks of the man whom he kills], we decree that he shall be beaten and his head shaved, and he shall be branded on both jaws with a red-hot iron, made for this purpose, and he shall pay the wergeld and make peace in the customary way with the relatives of the man whom he killed. And those relatives shall be compelled to accept this. If the relatives of the slain man refuse to accept it and make war on the relatives of the murderer, anyone of the latter may secure himself against their violence by taking an oath that he knew nothing of the murder and had nothing to do with it. If the relatives of the slain man disregard such an oath and try to injure the one who took it, even though they do not succeed in doing so, they shall be beaten and have their heads shaved, but they shall not be branded on the jaws. But if they kill him or wound him, they shall be beaten and their heads shaved, and they shall be branded on the jaws. If a murderer escapes, all his property shall be confiscated, but his relatives, if they are innocent, shall not be punished for him. If the murderer does not flee, but, in order to prove his innocence [that is, that he acted in self-defence], wishes to fight a duel with some relative of the slain man, and if he wins [in the duel], he shall pay the wergeld and satisfy the relatives of the slain man. If no relative of the slain man wishes to fight a duel with the murderer, the murderer shall clear himself before the bishop with the ordeal of boiling water, and pay the wergeld, and make peace with the relatives of the slain man, and they shall be compelled to accept it. If through fear of this law the relatives of the slain man go to another family [that is, to people who do not belong to the family of St. Peter], and incite them to violence against the relatives of the murderer, if they will not clear themselves by a duel [that is, prove that they did not incite them, etc.], they shall clear themselves before the bishop by the ordeal of boiling water, and whoever is proven guilty by the ordeal shall be beaten, his head shaved, and he shall be branded on the jaws. If any member of the family who lives in the city kills a fellow member except in self-defence, he shall be punished in the same way, and besides he shall pay the bishop’s ban, and the wergeld, and make peace with the relatives of the slain man, and they shall be compelled to accept it. If any foreigner [that is, one who does not belong to the family of St. Peter] who cultivates a piece of St. Peter’s land [that is, holds it as a fief from the bishop], kills a member of the family of St. Peter except in self-defence, he shall either be punished in the same way [that is, by beating, etc.], or he shall lose his fief and he shall be at the mercy of the advocate and the family of St. Peter [that is, they may carry on a feud against him, and slay him]. If anyone who is serving us [that is, anyone who is serving the bishop in one of the five departments named in paragraph 29] or one of our officials commits such a crime [that is, kills someone], it shall be left to us to punish him as we, with the advice of our subjects, may see fit.
31. If one member of the family has a dispute with another about anything, such as fields, vineyards, serfs, or money, if possible, let it be decided by witnesses without oaths. If it cannot be decided in that way, let both parties to the case produce their witnesses in court. After the witnesses have testified, each for his side [that is, each one says that he believes the man whom he is supporting is telling the truth], two men shall be chosen, one from each side, to decide the suit by a duel. He whose champion is defeated in the duel shall lose his suit, and his witnesses shall be punished for bearing false witness, just as if they had taken an oath to it.
32. If any member of the family commits a theft not because of hunger, but from avarice and covetousness, or habit, and the stolen object is worth five solidi or more, and it can be proved that the thief, either in a public market or in a meeting of his fellow members, has restored the stolen object, or given a pledge to do so, we decree for the prevention of such crimes that as a punishment of his theft the thief shall lose his legal status—that is, if anyone accuses him of a crime, he cannot clear himself by an oath, but must prove his innocence by a duel or by the ordeal of boiling water or red-hot iron. The same punishment shall be inflicted on one who is guilty of perjury, or of bearing false witness, and also on one who is convicted by duel of theft, and of those who plot with the bishop’s enemies against the honor and safety of his lord, the bishop.
Par. 2. As a reasonable excuse, the claimant might prove that he had been serving the bishop in war, or that he had been held as a prisoner. In such cases he must have a hearing.
Par. 3. It was customary for an heir on entering into his inheritance to give his lord as a present either his best piece of furniture or clothing, or his best animal (horse, etc.). The bishop here surrenders his right to all such presents.
Par. 4. “Free property” is such as he has acquired and has the right to dispose of as he wishes.
Par. 7. “Into the bishop’s hand,” see especially no. 297, par. 7.
Par. 13. It is not clear what is meant by being of the same society. Probably those who lived in the same neighborhood or village were regarded as forming a society or group for administrative purposes. They were probably under the local official who has already been spoken of in the introduction.
Par. 14. Here the land which was held by the unfree or servile classes is clearly distinguished from that which was held as fiefs by freemen, knights, etc., who were the bishop’s vassals.
Par. 20. The bishop’s ban was sixty solidi. That is, this was a fixed sum which all who were convicted of certain offenses had to pay as a fine to the bishop.
Par. 26. In recognition of the fact that the ground or building-site originally belonged to the bishop, and that he still had a certain legal claim on it, the one who held it paid an annual tax on it. He passed it on to his heirs, but could not sell it or transfer it to anyone. For certain crimes it reverted to the bishop. It is characteristic of German mediæval law that it distinguished sharply between the building-site and the buildings on it, attaching much more importance to the building-site than to the buildings. Thus no one in the cities was entitled to citizenship who did not possess such a building-site in the city.
Par. 30. From the last three paragraphs one may gain a good idea of the amount of violence, and especially of the feuds, which raged among the serfs. The serfs of the bishop of Worms were probably no worse than those of other lords. These paragraphs also contain several indications of legal procedure which are worthy of note (see section VII).
The Charter of the Ministerials of the Archbishop of Cologne, 1154.
It required a large number of servants to conduct the household of a great landed proprietor and prince, such as the king, a duke, count, archbishop, bishop, or abbot, was. For the household included the management of his lands, the administration of justice, etc., as well as the care of his palace, or, more likely, palaces. The household was divided into five departments, each under a head. The head of the first was the chamberlain, of the second, the cup-bearer, of the third, the steward, of the fourth, the marshal (master of the horses), and of the fifth, the advocate. The law of the bishop of Worms shows that he obtained a sufficient number of servants to man his household by calling in fisgilini to serve in relays. All the other great lords did the same thing. It was natural that those who had obtained some experience in this work should be called in again and again, and so it came about that those who served in this way were regarded as a class quite separate from their fellow serfs who remained in the country and did not serve in the lord’s household. The position and honor became hereditary and differentiated them from all others. They gradually rose in the social scale. Every great lord, from the king down, developed such a class of servants, who were called without distinction ministerials. The kings of Germany made use of their ministerials in the administration of the government.
As soon as they became conscious of themselves as a class they began to haggle with their lords for more rights and privileges. They gradually obtained a body of rights and established a set of customs which, when written, formed a little code of laws for them. Their history shows a constant improvement in their condition and an enlargement of their rights. Every such lord needed soldiers, so he early began to arm his ministerials, to put them on horseback, and to train them to fight for him. It was soon understood that every ministerial was bound to fight for his lord. But as soon as a man began to fight on horseback, he was a knight, and the title of knight carried with it the conception of nobility. We have the strange circumstance that serfs, by fighting on horseback, partake to a certain extent of the knightly character and rank. The outcome of it was that those ministerials who fought on horseback forgot their servile origin and succeeded in attaching themselves to the nobility. They formed the lower nobility in Germany.
The ministerial knights who were developed on the lands of the Staufer served their lords in their wars and were used in the administration of the imperial government. When the Staufer family disappeared, their knights called themselves imperial knights and declared that they were attached to the crown, and owed allegiance directly to the emperor, whoever he might be.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. These are the rights of the ministerials of St. Peter in Cologne, which have been decreed, fixed, and observed for a long time, and are still to be observed.
1. The ministerials of St. Peter shall take an oath of fidelity to their lord, the archbishop, without any reservation or exception, and they shall be faithful to him against every man [that is, the archbishop is their supreme lord. Their oath to him takes precedence over their oath to anyone else, even to the emperor].
2. If anyone invades the territory of Cologne and the lands of the bishopric, all the ministerials of St. Peter, both those who hold fiefs [from the archbishop] and those who do not, shall assist their lord, the archbishop, in defending his lands, and shall follow him with arms to the frontier of the bishopric. If the archbishop wishes to go beyond the limits of his bishopric, the ministerials are not bound to follow him. But they may go with him if they do so of their own accord, or if their lord can persuade them to do so [that is, by gifts, concessions, etc.]. If the lands of the archbishop, which lie outside of his bishopric, are violently invaded by anyone, the ministerials are bound to follow their lord thither for the purpose of repelling this violence.
3. If the archbishop becomes so offended by one of his ministerials that he denies him his grace and confiscates his property, that ministerial shall beg the nobles of the land, and especially those who are the highest officials of the archbishop’s court, to intercede for him with the archbishop. But if he is not able to regain the archbishop’s grace within a year, he may, at the end of the year, attach himself to some other lord and serve him, but he shall never assist his new lord in plundering the lands or burning the houses on the lands of his lord, the archbishop. If the archbishop does not confiscate his property but merely denies him his grace, after a year he may refuse to serve the archbishop further until the archbishop again grants him his grace.
4. The ministerials of St. Peter are bound to go with their lord, the archbishop, in his expedition across the Alps for the coronation of the emperor, especially those who hold fiefs of him which have the value of five marks or more. An exception is made in favor of the advocate and treasurer. These two shall remain at home, because the advocate must collect and take care of the income from the archbishop’s lands [that is, those that are not let out, but tilled by his serfs], and the treasurer must collect the money from tolls and from the mint. But all the others who hold fiefs of the archbishop, worth five marks or more, shall go if the archbishop wishes them to do so. To fit him for the journey and to clothe his servants the archbishop shall give each one of them ten marks and forty yards of cloth which is called “scarlet,” and to every two knights he shall give a packhorse and a saddle with all that belongs to it, and two bags with a cover for them (which is called a “dekhut”), and four horseshoes and twenty-four nails. After they reach the Alps the archbishop shall give each knight a mark a month for his expenses. If the archbishop refuses to give this mark to any knight at the proper time and place, the said knight shall inform the officials of the archbishop’s court, and, if possible, by their help get his money. But if even with their aid he cannot obtain the mark, he shall, toward evening, and in the presence of a witness, place a rod which has been stripped of its bark, on the bed of the archbishop. Nor shall anyone remove this rod until the archbishop finds it on going to bed. If the archbishop asks, “Who did this?” and, on being told, gives the knight the mark due, the knight shall proceed with him. But if the knight does not receive the mark, he shall come early the next morning to the archbishop and fall on his knees before him; and in the presence of two of his fellow ministerials he shall kiss the hem of the pallium of the archbishop. He then has the right to go back home without suffering either in his rights or honor or possessions. But if the archbishop is angry and refuses to let him kiss his pallium, the knight shall call his two fellow ministerials to witness and then he may go back home. Those who hold fiefs from the archbishop of less than five marks in value need not go on the expedition unless they wish to do so. But each one of them shall pay an army tax, that is, the half of the income of his fief. The archbishop shall announce the expedition to all his ministerials a year and a day before the time of departure.
5. Of all the ministerials of St. Peter no one shall propose a verdict [that is, render a decision in a case in court], except the advocate alone, if he is present. If he is not present, the archbishop may ask some other ministerial to propose the verdict.
6. The advocate of Cologne has the control and management [and income] of the following twelve farms: Elberfeld, Helden, Zunz, Nyle, Duze, Merreche, Pinnistorp, Lunreche, Dekstein, Blatsheim, Merzenich and Rudisheim. He may appoint and remove the overseers in them as he sees the interests of his lord the archbishop demand. Because Merzenich and Rudisheim have been given as a fief to others, Burche and Bardenbach are given the advocate in their stead. The archbishop shall have the control of all his other farms and shall appoint and remove the overseers as he pleases.
7. No ministerial of St. Peter shall fight a duel with another ministerial, no matter what the one has done to the other. If one ministerial kills another wilfully and without a good reason, the relatives of the slain man shall make charges against the slayer before the archbishop. If the slayer confesses the deed, he shall be delivered into the power of his lord [that is, the archbishop]. If he denies the deed, the archbishop shall convict him on the testimony of seven of his ministerials who are related neither to the slayer nor to the slain. If convicted in this way he shall be delivered into the power of his lord. After he is delivered into the power of his lord he shall always follow him wherever he goes. He shall have with him three horses and two servants. But he shall never willingly let the archbishop see him, unless it happens that the archbishop unexpectedly turns and comes back by a road along which he has just passed. The archbishop shall supply him and his two servants with food and provender [for their horses]. He shall constantly follow his lord thus, and labor earnestly with the officials of the city and the lords of the land [that is, the vassals of the archbishop] and with all whom he can that they may aid him in recovering the grace of the archbishop and that he may be reconciled with the family of the man whom he has slain. If he cannot do this within a year and a day, the advocate and the treasurer shall shut him up in the room which is nearest to the chapel of St. Thomas under the palace of the archbishop. This room is so near the chapel that through its window he can daily hear the divine services. He shall be shut in the room in the following manner: A woollen thread shall be stretched from one doorpost to the other and each end fastened with a wax seal. Every day at sunrise the door of the room shall be opened and it shall remain open until sunset. He shall be under the protection of the archbishop and secure from his enemies [the family of the man whom he slew]. After sunset the door shall be closed from the inside so that he will be protected from his enemies. While he is shut up in this room he shall be at his own expense, and the archbishop shall give him nothing toward his support. Never as long as he lives shall he leave this room until he has recovered the grace of his archbishop and the friendship of the family of the man whom he has slain. The archbishop shall not grant him his grace until he has compounded with the friends of the man whom he has slain. But he may leave the room at certain times in the year, namely, at Christmas, at Easter, and on St. Peter’s day [Aug. 1]. At each one of these times he may go out for three days to urge and beseech all the officials of the church, and the nobles of the land and all his friends and fellow ministerials, to intercede for him. If he fails to recover the grace of the archbishop within the three days, he shall at once return to the room and remain there as before. If he leaves the room in any other way he shall thereby lose all his rights, ecclesiastical and secular, and he shall be deprived of his honor and his Christianity [that is, he shall be excommunicated]. And if afterwards he is chased and captured and killed in the church or in sanctuary, in the city or out of it, in peace or in war, in any place and at any time, he shall not be buried in holy ground and no punishment shall be inflicted on those who have killed him. As long as he remains in the room, his friends and relatives and acquaintances may freely come to see him and stay with him, provided that in coming in or going out they do not break the thread or the seals. His wife may visit him also, but if she bears a child while he is thus imprisoned, it shall be illegitimate and shall have no secular rights [that is, it cannot inherit].
8. If a ministerial of St. Peter challenges a ministerial of the empire to a duel [to settle some suit] in the court of the archbishop, fifteen days before the duel the archbishop shall send both of them to the emperor that they may fight in his presence and the ministerial shall obtain his justice there [in the court of the emperor]. If a ministerial of the emperor challenges a ministerial of St. Peter to a duel, the emperor shall send them both to the archbishop that he may decide the case. And if the emperor does not judge the ministerials of St. Peter but sends them to their lord the archbishop, it is evident that the nobles of the territory of Cologne who have jurisdiction on their lands, have no right to sit in judgment on the ministerials of St. Peter in matters concerning their allodial holdings and in capital charges. But if the nobles have anything against the ministerials, which concerns their persons or their allodial holdings, they shall enter suit in the archbishop’s court and obtain justice there.
9. No archdeacon, no deacon, and no parish priest shall exercise ecclesiastical authority over the ministerials of St. Peter or excommunicate them for anything that they may do, unless they seize the tithes or property of the church. If they do this they must answer for it in the court of the priest in whose parish they have committed the offence. If they do anything else worthy of punishment, the chaplain of the archbishop shall punish them for it. The day after the feast of St. Peter the chaplain shall hold a synod [an ecclesiastical court] in the old house of the archbishop before the chapel of St. John, and he shall sit in the stone chair which is there. And all the ministerials of St. Peter shall be present to answer to the chaplain as to their spiritual father for all the faults which they have committed in person.
10. Every ministerial is born and appointed to service in a certain department at the court of the archbishop. There are five of these departments. In them only the ministerials of St. Peter may serve, and especially the oldest sons. They shall serve in the following manner: Each one shall serve for six weeks in that department of the household to which he was born. After one has served six weeks he shall go home and another shall take his place. If anyone wishes to go home he shall come into the presence of the archbishop and tell him that his six weeks are ended and shall ask him for permission to go home. If the archbishop refuses his permission, the ministerial shall nevertheless kiss the border of the archbishop’s robe and go home without offending the archbishop. But if the archbishop is not willing to be without him and can persuade him to stay [that is, by paying him in some way], the archbishop may use him in whatever honorable service he pleases, but he may not use him in any of the five departments until his turn of six weeks comes around again.
11. Every year at the three great festivals, Christmas, Easter, and St. Peter’s day, the archbishop shall give new clothing to thirty of his knights. At Christmas, because it is cold, he shall give each one of the thirty a variegated fur overcoat with a collar made of marten skins and with a broad border of deerskin, and a fur coat with a broad red collar and wide sleeves. At Easter and on St. Peter’s day, because it is then hot, he shall give each one a light fur mantle and a light fur coat. If he does not wish to give these clothes he shall give each one of them six marks to purchase clothing. The five officials at the head of the five departments who are then serving their six weeks at the archbishop’s court shall receive clothes, and the archbishop shall distribute the others to any twenty-five knights that he may choose.
12. If a ministerial dies leaving children, his oldest son shall receive the fief which his father held [that is, if he held a fief] and the right of serving in that department to which he was born [that is, in which his father served]. If there is a second son who is a knight, but so poor that he must serve, he shall come with his war-horse, shield, and lance, to the court of the archbishop before the door of St. Peter’s church, and if he has no servant, he shall dismount at the perforated stone which lies there, and run his lance through the hole in the stone, and fix his reins around the lance, and lean his shield against the stone. And all these things shall be secure and safe there under the protection of the archbishop until he returns. Then he shall enter the church of St. Peter to pray. After his prayer he shall go into the house of the archbishop, and standing in his presence he shall declare that he is a knight and ministerial of St. Peter, and he shall offer an oath of fidelity and his services to the archbishop. If the archbishop accepts him into his court and family, he shall serve him faithfully for a whole year. Then the archbishop is bound to give him a fief and he shall serve the archbishop thereafter. But if the archbishop does not wish him and will not take him into his family, he shall kneel before those who are present and kiss the hem of the archbishop’s pallium. Then he shall go back and mount his horse, and he may go wherever he wishes and serve whom he will. If his new lord makes war on the archbishop, he need not on that account refuse to serve him. If the archbishop should besiege a castle in which he [the knight] is, he [the knight] shall not desert or leave the castle, but he shall aid his new lord in defending his castle as well as he can. But he shall never ravage the territory of the archbishop or burn the houses on his lands.
Par. 3. It is characteristic of the codes for ministerials that the lord punishes them by “withdrawing his favor from them.” The serious character of this punishment is seen from par. 4.
Par. 4. A white rod, i.e., one stripped of its bark, had a symbolic meaning which is preserved in the German expression, “mit einem weissen Stock gehen,” that is, to walk with a white cane or stick. It means that the one who carries it is helpless and without means. Thus when the Hannoverians were defeated in the battle of Langensalza in 1866, and had to surrender their arms, they cut sticks from the woods, stripped them of their bark, and went home with “white canes.”
Par. 5. The archbishop presided over the court in which cases of the ministerials were tried. All the ministerials were the judges, but the advocate had the right to express his judgment first. After the advocate had said what he thought the decision or verdict should be, the others had the right to express their judgments (see section VII, introductory note).
The Bishop of Hamburg Grants a Charter to Colonists, 1106.
In the time of Karl the Great the Slavs held all the territory east of the Elbe. Karl began to extend the frontiers of Germany to the east by making war on these Slavs, a policy which was continued at intervals by his successors. In this way the Slavs were slowly conquered, Christianized, and Germanized. Some of them were slain or driven out, while others remained on their lands, submitted to the Germans, and were eventually absorbed by them. The waste lands as well as those made vacant by their removal were occupied by German colonists. This charter which the bishop of Hamburg gave his colonists illustrates the terms on which such colonies were established. Since the lord of the land received many solid advantages from such colonies, it is not strange that they made great efforts to induce people to settle on their lands.
1. In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick, by the grace of God bishop of Hamburg, to all the faithful in Christ, gives a perpetual benediction. We wish to make known to all the agreement which certain people living this side of the Rhine, who are called Hollanders, have made with us.
2. These men came to us and earnestly begged us to grant them certain lands in our bishopric, which are uncultivated, swampy, and useless to our people. We have consulted our subjects about this and, considering that this would be profitable to us and to our successors, have granted their request.
3. The agreement was made that they should pay us every year one denarius for every hide of land. We have thought it necessary to determine the dimensions of the hide, in order that no quarrel may hereafter arise about it. The hide shall be 720 royal rods long and thirty royal rods wide. We also grant them the streams which flow through this land.
4. They agreed to give the tithe according to our decree, that is, every eleventh sheaf of grain, every tenth lamb, every tenth pig, every tenth goat, every tenth goose, and a tenth of the honey and of the flax. For every colt they shall pay a denarius on St. Martin’s day [Nov. 11], and for every calf an obol [penny].
5. They promised to obey me in all ecclesiastical matters according to the decrees of the holy fathers, the canonical law, and the practice in the diocese of Utrecht.
6. They agreed to pay every year two marks for every 100 hides for the privilege of holding their own courts for the settlement of all their differences about secular matters. They did this because they feared they would suffer from the injustice of foreign judges. If they cannot settle the more important cases they shall refer them to the bishop. And if they take the bishop with them [that is, from Hamburg to the colony] for the purpose of deciding one of their trials, they shall provide for his support as long as he remains there by granting him one-third of all the fees arising from the trial; and they shall keep the other two-thirds.
7. We have given them permission to found churches wherever they may wish on these lands. For the support of the priests who shall serve God in these churches we grant a tithe of our tithes from these parish churches. They promised that the congregation of each of these churches should endow their church with a hide for the support of their priest. The names of the men who made this agreement with us are: Henry, the priest, to whom we have granted the aforesaid churches for life; and the others are laymen, Helikin, Arnold, Hiko, Fordolt, and Referic. To them and to their heirs after them we have granted the aforesaid land according to the secular laws and to the terms of this agreement.
The Privilege of Frederick I for the Jews, 1157.
The position of the Jew in the Middle Age was a peculiar one. The law of the state did not in any way recognize him as a citizen. But he was classed along with the right to coin money, levy tolls, appoint officials, administer justice, etc., as a regale, or a crown right; that is, his existence in Germany depended on the will of the king. As no mint could be established without the king’s consent, so no Jews could live anywhere in the realm without the king’s permission. The city which wished to permit Jews to live within its walls had first to secure the permission of the king. The Jews were made to pay well for the bare right to exist. They were subject to the king’s taxation and hence were said to belong to the king’s treasury. In theory they were under the king’s protection, but that did not preserve them from mob violence. This document shows that while their position was anomalous, they nevertheless received liberal charters from the king.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick, by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, Augustus. Be it known to all bishops, abbots, dukes, counts, and all others subject to our laws, that we have confirmed by our royal authority, expressed in the present law, the statutes in favor of the Jews of Worms and their fellow-religionists which were granted to them by our predecessor emperor Henry, in the time of Solomon, rabbi of the Jews.
1. In order that they may always look to us for justice, we command by our royal authority that no bishop or his official, and no count, Schultheiss, or other official except those whom they choose from among their own number, shall exercise any authority over them. The only official who may exercise such authority is the man whom the emperor puts over them in accordance with their choice, because they are entirely under the control of our treasury.
2. No one shall take from them any property which they hold by hereditary right, such as building sites, gardens, vineyards, fields, slaves, or any other movable or immovable property. No one shall interfere with their right to erect buildings against the walls of the city, on the inside or outside. If anyone molests them contrary to our edict he shall forfeit our grace and shall restore twofold whatever he took from them.
3. They shall have free right to change money with all men anywhere in the city except at the mint or where the officials of the mint have established places for changing money.
4. They shall travel in peace and security throughout the whole kingdom for the purpose of buying and selling and carrying on trade and business. No one shall exact any toll from them or require them to pay any other public or private tax.
5. Guests may not quarter themselves on the Jews against their will. No one shall seize one of their horses for the journey of the king or the bishop, or for the royal expedition.
6. If any stolen property is found in the possession of a Jew, and he says that he bought it, he shall say under oath according to Jewish law how much he paid for it, and he shall restore it to its owner on receipt of that amount.
7. No one shall baptize the children of Jews against their will. If anyone captures or seizes a Jew and baptizes him by force, he shall pay twelve pounds of gold to the royal treasury. If a Jew expresses a wish to be baptized, he shall be made to wait three days, in order to discover whether he abandons his own law because of his belief in Christianity, or because of illegal pressure; and if he thus relinquishes his law, he shall also relinquish his right to inheritance.
8. No one shall entice away from them any of their pagan slaves under pretext of baptizing them into the Christian faith. If anyone does this, he shall pay the ban, that is, three pounds of gold, and shall restore the slave to his owner; the slave shall obey all the commands of his owner, except those that are contrary to his Christian faith.
9. Jews may have Christian maid-servants and nurses, and may employ Christian men to work for them, except on feast days and Sundays; no bishop or other clergyman shall forbid this.
10. No Jew may own a Christian slave.
11. If a Jew brings suit against a Christian or a Christian against a Jew, each party shall follow the process of his own law as far as possible. The Jew has the same right as the Christian to prove his case and to release his sureties by his oath and the oath of another person of either law [i.e., Christian or Jew].
12. No one may force a Jew to undergo the ordeal of hot iron, hot water, or cold water, or have him beaten with rods or thrown into prison, but he shall be tried according to his own law after forty days. In a case between a Christian and a Jew, the defendant cannot be convicted except by the testimony of both Christians and Jews. If a Jew appeals to the royal court in any case, he must be given time to present his case there. If anyone molests a Jew contrary to this edict, he shall pay the imperial ban of three pounds to the emperor.
13. If anyone takes part in a plan or plot to kill a Jew, both the slayer and his accomplice shall pay twelve pounds of gold to the royal treasury. If he wounds him without killing him, he shall pay one pound. If it is a serf who has wounded or slain the Jew, the lord of the serf shall either pay the fine or surrender the serf to punishment. If the serf is too poor to pay the fine, he shall suffer the penalty which was visited upon the serf who in the time of our predecessor, emperor Henry, slew the Jew named Vivus; namely, his eyes shall be torn out and his right hand cut off.
14. If the Jews have any suit or any matter to be settled among themselves, it shall be tried by their peers and by no others. If any Jew refuses to tell the truth in any case which arises among the Jews, he shall be forced to confess the truth by his own rabbi. But if a Jew has been accused of a serious crime, he shall be allowed to appeal to the emperor, if he wishes to.
15. Besides their wine, they shall have the right to sell spices and medicines to the Christians. As we have commanded, no one may force them to furnish horses for the expedition of the emperor, or to pay any other public or private tax.
The Bishop of Speyer Gives the Jews of His City a Charter, 1084.
As the king granted the princes the right to coin money and other regalian rights, so he also gave them the permission to establish Jews in their territories or cities. This charter which the bishop of Speyer gave the Jews of his city, presents some interesting details concerning their quarter in the city, their way of living, occupations, etc.
1. In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. I, Rudeger, by cognomen Huozman, humble bishop of Speyer, when I wished to make a city of my village of Speyer, thought that it would greatly add to its honor if I should establish some Jews in it. I have therefore collected some Jews and located them in a place apart from the dwellings and association of the other inhabitants of the city; and that they may be protected from the attacks and violence of the mob, I have surrounded their quarter with a wall. The land for their dwellings I had acquired in a legal way; for the hill [on which they are to live] I secured partly by purchase and partly by trade, and the valley [which I have given them] I received as a gift from the heirs who possessed it. I have given them this hill and valley on condition that they pay every year three and one-half pounds of money coined in the mint of Speyer, for the use of the brothers [monks of some monastery which is not named here].
2. I have given them the free right of changing gold and silver coins and of buying and selling everything they wish within their own walls and outside the gate clear up to the boat-landing [on the Rhine] and also on the wharf itself. And they have the same right throughout the whole city.
3. Besides, I have given them a piece of the land of the church as a burial-ground. This land they shall hold forever.
4. I have also granted that, if a Jew comes to them from some other place and is their guest for a time, he shall pay no tolls [to the city].
5. The chief priest of their synagogue shall have the same position and authority among them as the mayor of the city has among the citizens. He shall judge all the cases which arise among them or against them. If he is not able to decide any case it shall be taken before the bishop or his chamberlain.
6. They are bound to watch, guard, and defend only their own walls, in which work their servants may assist them.
7. They may hire Christian nurses and Christian servants.
8. The meats which their law forbids them to eat they may sell to Christians, and the Christians may buy them.
9. To add to my kindness to them I grant them the most favorable laws and conditions that the Jews have in any city of the German kingdom. . . .
The Cities of Germany.
In the days of Karl the Great each city with the surrounding territory formed a county which was under the jurisdiction of a count. As feudalism developed, the count became the lord of the city, and governed it in a more or less autocratic way. Besides these cities there were many villages in the time of Karl which in the course of time grew into cities. Later, still other cities, arose, some growing up around markets, or monasteries, or churches, and others developing from settlements of colonists, etc. They grew under favorable circumstances into cities, over which, however, the lord still retained his control. But in the course of time the cities freed themselves from the jurisdiction of their lord and separated themselves from the surrounding territory. They acquired a set of laws for their government, and jurisdiction over themselves. The citizens of each city became a commune possessing a number of rights, among them the right to have a market, freedom from tolls, the election of their own officials, judges, etc., the right to levy their own taxes, to coin money, to fortify their city, etc. In a word, each city freed itself from the government of its lord and got the right to govern itself.
The city charter was, in many cases at least, developed from the market charter. On this account we give a few market charters. Then a few documents are given to illustrate the rebellion of the cities against their lords, and their acquisition of municipal rights. We offer the important charter of Magdeburg, and some documents concerning the origin of the Rhine league and the early history of the Hanseatic league.
The development in the German cities was so varied that it is quite impossible in the space at our disposal to illustrate it adequately. Nearly every city offers something peculiar, interesting, and worthy of note.
Lothar II (855-69) Grants a Market to the Monastery of Prüm, 861.
Markets were a part of the regalia; that is, no one had a right to set up a market without the king’s permission. Small coins were necessary for the convenience of those who came to the market, and hence the lord of the market always received the right to establish a mint in connection with his market. In order to insure justice and fair treatment to the merchants who might bring their wares to the market, it was separated from the local jurisdiction, and the lord of the market was given jurisdiction over all crimes committed during the market and on the ground occupied by it. A further interest attaches to the charters of markets because in some cases the towns which grew up about the market-places became cities, and the market charter was developed into the city charter.
Lothar II, etc. . . . Therefore, let all our faithful subjects, both present and future, know that Ansbald, abbot of the monastery of Prüm, has told us that that place suffers great disadvantage because it is so far distant from a market and mint. On this account, he begged us to grant his monastery our permission for the establishment of a market and mint in a place which is called Romarivilla, which is not far from his monastery. Out of reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of our soul, we gladly grant his petition, and have ordered this document to be written, by which we decree and command that hereafter that monastery may have an ordinary market in the above-named place and a mint for coining denarii of the proper weight and quality. And no public official shall levy a tax of any sort on the monastery for this market and mint, but they shall be wholly for the profit of the monastery and its inmates. And that this concession may never be violated, we have ordered it to be sealed with our ring and we have signed it with our own hand. . . .
Otto I Grants a Market to an Archbishop, 965.
See introductory note to no. 301.
In the name of the undivided Trinity. Otto by the favor of God emperor, Augustus. If we grant the requests of clergymen and liberally endow the places which are dedicated to the worship of God, we believe that it will undoubtedly assist in securing for us the eternal reward. Therefore, let all know that for the love of God we have granted the petition of Adaldagus, the reverend archbishop of Hamburg, and have given him permission to establish a market in the place called Bremen. In connection with the market we grant him jurisdiction, tolls, a mint, and all other things connected therewith to which our royal treasury would have a right. We also take under our special protection all the merchants who live in that place, and grant them the same protection and rights as those merchants have who live in other royal cities. And no one shall have any jurisdiction there except the aforesaid archbishop and those to whom he may delegate it. Signed with our hand and sealed with our ring.
Otto III Grants a Market to Count Bertold, 999.
See introductory note to no. 301.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Otto by the clemency of God emperor, Augustus. If we grant the petitions of our faithful subjects we shall no doubt make them more faithful to us. Therefore, we wish all our subjects, present and future, to know that, at the request of the noble duke, Hermann, we have given our count, Bertold, full authority to establish a market, with a mint, tolls, and public jurisdiction, in a certain place called Vilungen, in the county of Bara, over which count Hildibald has jurisdiction. And by royal decree we make this a legal [and regular] market, with all the functions of a market. And no one shall be permitted to interfere with it. All who wish to come to this market may come and go away in security and peace. No unjust charges shall be levied on them, but they may buy and sell and do everything else that belongs to the business of a merchant. And if anyone tries to violate or break this concession, he shall pay the same fine as one who should violate the market at Constance, or Zürich. He shall pay this fine to count Bertold, or to his representative. The aforesaid count shall have the right of holding, changing, granting, and making any arrangement in regard to this market, as he pleases. . . .
No One shall Compel Merchants to Come to His Market, 1236.
See introductory note to no. 301.
Frederick [II], etc. . . . The venerable archbishop of Salzburg asked: When merchants are going along the public highway to a market, may anyone force them to leave the highway and go by private roads to his market? The decision of the princes was, that no one has a right to compel merchants to leave the highway, but that they may go to whatever market they wish. . . .
A Market-court is Independent of the Local Court, 1218.
See introductory note to no. 301.
Frederick II, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily, etc. We wish to inform you that the following decision has been rendered in our presence by the princes and magnates of our empire. If we have granted the establishment of a market, either annual or weekly, and have given them [that is, the people to whom the market has been granted] our glove [as a symbol that they have jurisdiction over all offences committed during the market], no count nor any other judge of the province [in which the market is situated] shall exercise any jurisdiction there [that is, over crimes committed during the market], or have any power to punish crimes committed there. But if a thief, or robber, or any other criminal shall have been condemned to death there [that is, by the judge who holds the market-court] he must he handed over to the count or to the judge of the province to have the sentence executed upon him.
Otto I Grants Jurisdiction over a Town to the Abbots of New Corvey, 940.
For about 300 years after the time of Karl the Great the cities of Germany did not have self-government. Under Karl they were governed by an imperial or royal official. With the appearance and growth of feudalism, the towns came into the hands of the bishops, dukes, counts, etc., and were governed by them.
Frequently new towns grew up about monasteries or the churches, especially cathedral churches. As the land on which the town was built belonged to the abbot or bishop, as the case might be, he was naturally regarded as its lord, and of course he had jurisdiction over all its inhabitants. It is apparent that such a new town had sprung up around the monastery of New Corvey, and by this document Otto I recognized that its abbot had jurisdiction over all the people who lived on the lands of the monastery.
Otto I, etc. . . . Therefore, let all our subjects, both present and future, know that, for the love of God, the salvation of our souls, and the forgiveness of our sins, at the request of our beloved wife, we have granted that all the abbots of the monastery of New Corvey,1 beginning with Folkmar, who is now its abbot, shall have jurisdiction over all the men who live in the territory of the monastery and in the city which has been built up about it, that is, in, etc. [Here follow the names of the places over which the monastery shall have jurisdiction.] And no man and no official shall have the right of exercising over the aforesaid men that jurisdiction which is commonly called “Burgbann” [that is, the jurisdiction that goes with a town], except the abbot of the monastery and those to whom he may delegate it.
The Ban-mile, or the Limits of the Bishop’s Authority, 1237.
There was often a question as to the geographical limits of the jurisdiction of the lord of a town. In some cases his authority was bounded by the city walls. In others it extended into the country to a certain distance called a ban-league, or ban-mile.
Frederick II, etc. The archbishop of Cologne asked whether his jurisdiction extended beyond the city walls or not. The decision was that his jurisdiction extends beyond the city walls to the distance which is generally called a “ban-mile,” and within that he may legally sit in judgment on all the men who are under his jurisdiction.
The Citizens of Cologne Expel Their Archbishop, 1074.
The chief interest in this and the following number lies in the fact that they introduce us to the beginnings of the movement in the cities toward the acquisition of self-government. As the inhabitants of the towns increased in numbers and wealth, they began to resent the manner in which they were treated by their lords. As their own interests increased in importance it became more and more annoying and exasperating when their lord interfered with their business and demanded their services or the use of articles which they were using (see the following number). A rebellion was inevitable. It began generally, if not always, with the merchant class of the population. The lords of the towns vigorously resisted, but were unable to maintain their prerogatives. The cities generally succeeded in acquiring the right to govern themselves and obtained a charter to that effect.
The citizens of Worms had been offended by their bishop, not only because of his government of them, but also because he was supporting the pope against their king, to whom they were devotedly attached.
To his beloved brother and fellow bishop, Udo, archbishop [of Trier], Anno, archbishop of Cologne, sends his love, etc. . . . You have no doubt heard about the violence and insults which I have suffered from my citizens, although I have said nothing about the matter in my letters to you. And you have also probably heard how I was restored to my place in the city by the help of others. According to the canon law, I should immediately have punished their abominable insolence with excommunication and interdict, but I restrained myself from doing so, because it might have seemed that I did it not out of zeal for the Lord, but for personal reasons. But some of the insclent ones disregarded and despised my gentle treatment of them, and at night secretly collected and threatened me with worse things than they had done before. On this account, with the advice of the bishops whom the pope sent me, I anathematized them a week after Pentecost. I beg you to publish this anathema in your diocese. Do not permit your people to be infected with the leprosy of these excommunicated persons, but keep them out of your territory, lest by their speech they excite your people to do the same things against you. I beg you to inform your bishops of this, in order that my contaminated flock may not infect theirs also.
The People of Cologne Rebel against Their Archbishop, 1074.
See introductory note to no. 308.
The archbishop spent Easter in Cologne with his friend, the bishop of Münster, whom he had invited to celebrate this festival with him. When the bishop was ready to go home, the archbishop ordered his servants to get a suitable boat ready for him. They looked all about, and finally found a good boat which belonged to a rich merchant of the city, and demanded it for the archbishop’s use. They ordered it to be got ready at once and threw out all the merchandise with which it was loaded. The merchant’s servants, who had charge of the boat, resisted, but the archbishop’s men threatened them with violence unless they immediately obeyed. The merchant’s servants hastily ran to their lord and told him what had happened to the boat, and asked him what they should do. The merchant had a son who was both bold and strong. He was related to the great families of the city, and, because of his character, very popular. He hastily collected his servants and as many of the young men of the city as he could, rushed to the boat, ordered the servants of the archbishop to get out of it, and violently ejected them from it. The advocate of the city was called in, but his arrival only increased the tumult, and the merchant’s son drove him off and put him to flight. The friends of both parties seized their arms and came to their aid, and it looked as if there were going to be a great battle fought in the city. The news of the struggle was carried to the archbishop, who immediately sent men to quell the riot, and being very angry, he threatened the rebellious young men with dire punishment in the next session of court. Now the archbishop was endowed with all virtues, and his uprightness in all matters, both of the state and of the church, had often been proved. But he had one vice. When he became angry, he could not control his tongue, but overwhelmed everybody, without distinction, with bitter upbraidings and violent vituperation. When his anger had passed, he regretted his fault and reproached himself for it. The riot in the city was finally quieted a little, but the young man, who was very angry as well as elated over his first success, kept on making all the disturbance he could. He went about the city making speeches to the people about the harsh government of the archbishop, and accused him of laying unjust burdens on the people, of depriving innocent persons of their property, and of insulting honorable citizens with his violent and offensive words. . . . It was not difficult for him to raise a mob. . . . Besides, they all regarded it as a great and glorious deed on the part of the people of Worms that they had driven out their bishop because he was governing them too rigidly. And since they were more numerous and wealthy than the people of Worms, and had arms, they disliked to have it thought that they were not equal to the people of Worms in courage, and it seemed to them a disgrace to submit like women to the rule of the archbishop, who was governing them in a tyrannical manner. . . .
Confirmation of the Immediateness of the Citizens of Speyer, 1267.
Cities which were immediately subject to the king were called “imperial cities” (Reichsstädte), while those which were subject to the lord of the land in which they were situated were called “territorial cities” (Landesstädte). Many such cities rebelled against their lord, and put themselves under the king and secured his recognition of their character as imperial cities.
Philip, lord of Falkenstein, treasurer of the imperial court. By this present writing we wish to make known and publicly to declare that the citizens of the city of Speyer are joined directly to the empire so that they are in no way answerable to the bishop of Speyer [in secular matters]. This is manifest and well known to all. . . .
Summons Sent to an Imperial City to Attend a Diet, 1338.
An imperial city was in fact a tenant-in-chief since it held directly from the king. It therefore had a right to send its representatives to the diet.
Ludwig, etc. Because of certain important affairs of the empire, especially the controversy which has arisen between us and the pope, we have decided to summon the ecclesiastical and secular princes, the counts, barons, cities, and communities of the empire; therefore, we notify and command you, in whose fidelity, wisdom, and advice we place special confidence, to send two representatives with full credentials to Frankfort on the Tuesday before St. Laurence’s day [Aug. 10], there to meet with us, and the princes, counts, and other cities. Do not seek to evade this summons, but obey it readily and willingly, if you expect to receive our grace and favor.
Municipal Freedom is Given to the Town Called Ebenbuchholtz, 1201.
This is a good example of the charters by which the lord of the town surrendered his authority and granted municipal freedom to the people of the town.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Hermann, by the grace of God bishop of Münster. Because temporal things imitate time and pass away with it, we have thought it best to commit to writing those things which concern our honor and advantage. Let all people know, therefore, that we have granted to our village, Ebenbuchholtz, that municipal freedom which is commonly called “Weichbild.” But because that could not be done without the consent of Sueder of Dingden, to whose county the aforesaid village belonged, we made this agreement with him, that he should give up his right to the “Weichbild” [that is, to the government of the town, the appointment of the officials, etc.] and he should receive in return for it civil jurisdiction over the town, such as he has over our cities, Münster, Coesfeld, and others. And that these agreements and arrangements may remain unbroken forever, we have caused this document to be written and sealed with our ring. . . .
The Extension of the Corporate Limits of the City of Brunswick, 1269.
After a town had got its municipal freedom new quarters of suburbs might easily spring up about it. These might at first have no share in the government of the town, but would manage their own affairs. But in the course of time these new quarters might be incorporated with the old town. That is, the corporate limits of the old town would be extended to include the new suburbs.
All the aldermen of the city of Brunswick, etc. . . . We wish it to be made known that after having taken counsel with the older and wiser men for the best interests of the city, we have, under oath, issued the following decree which shall be observed forever, to the effect that hereafter we [the aldermen from the three different parts of the city which up to this time have had a separate organization] shall meet in one house to take counsel together about the affairs of the whole city. All the income of the city, from whatever source, shall be kept in a common fund and spent for the common good of the whole city. In the old town wine may be sold all the time. In that quarter of the city called Indago [that is, the Park], however, when one vat of wine has been sold no more shall be sold there until a vat has been sold in the new town, and vice versa. New aldermen shall be elected every year as follows: Seven new aldermen shall be elected in the old town, and three of the former aldermen from the same quarter shall be chosen to remain in office another year. In Indago [the quarter called the Park] four new aldermen shall be elected and two of the former aldermen shall remain in office. In the new town three shall be elected and one of the former shall remain in office. Thus there shall always be twenty aldermen. They shall take a special oath, among other things, to preserve this union [of the three towns in one]. And that no doubt may arise about this, we have caused this document to be written and the seal of the city to be attached to it. Witnesses . . .
The Decision of a Diet about the Establishment of City Councils in Cathedral Towns, 1218.
The lords of the towns were generally unwilling to surrender their authority without a struggle. They appealed to the king and to the diet against their rebellious subjects. The decisions were almost always in their favor, but they found it difficult to enforce them. Neither the king nor the diet assisted them. In the struggle which ensued between the lord and the rebellious town, the town was generally successful. It may be said that the kings seldom followed a wise policy in this matter, but permitted themselves to be influenced by the complaints of the lords. The German kings generally did not understand the movement or see its importance. They did not perceive that a new order of things was arising in the cities which was rapidly replacing the feudal system.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick II, by the favor of God king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily. . . . Our beloved prince, Henry, bishop of Basel, came into the presence of us and of many princes, barons, and nobles of the empire and demanded a decision about the following matter, namely: Whether we or anyone else had the right to establish a council in a city [that is, to give a city municipal freedom] which was subject to a bishop, without the bishop’s consent and permission. We first asked our beloved prince, Theodoric, the venerable archbishop of Trier, about this, and he, after some deliberation, declared that we neither could nor should grant or establish a council in the city of the aforesaid bishop of Basel without the consent of him or of his successors. The question was then asked in due form of all who were present, both princes, nobles, and barons, and they confirmed the decision of the archbishop of Trier. We also, as a just judge, approve this decision, and declare it to be right. We therefore remove and depose the council which is now in Basel, and we annul the charter which we granted the people of Basel authorizing the establishment of this council, and they shall never make any further use of it. As a greater evidence of our favor and love for the aforesaid bishop of Basel, we forbid, under the threat of the loss of our favor, the people of Basel to make or set up a council or any constitution, by whatever name it may be called, without the consent and permission of their bishop. . . .
Frederick II Forbird the Municipal Freedom of the Towns and Annuls all City Charters, 1231-2.
See introductory note to no. 314.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick, etc. . . . (2) In various parts of Germany, through the failure to enforce the law and through neglect, certain detestable customs have become established which hide their bad character under a good appearance. By them the rights and honor of the princes of the empire are diminished and the imperial authority is weakened. It is our duty to see that these bad customs, or rather these corrupt practices, shall no longer be in force. (3) Wishing, therefore, that all the grants and concessions of liberties and privileges which we have made to the princes of the empire shall have the broadest interpretation and that the said princes may have full and undisturbed possession of them, we hereby remove and depose in every town and city of Germany all the city councils, burgomasters, mayors, aldermen, and all other officials, by whatever name they may be called, who have been established by the people of the said cities without the permission of their archbishop or bishop. (4) We also dissolve all fraternities or societies, by whatever name they may be called. (5) We also decree that, in every city or town where there is a mint, no kind of money except that which is coined in that place shall be used in the sale and purchase of all kinds of goods and provisions. (6) In times past the archbishops and bishops governed the cities and all the lands which were given them by the emperor, and we wish them to continue to do so forever, either in person or through the officials whom they may appoint for this purpose, in spite of the fact that certain abuses have crept in, and in some cities there are those who resist them. But this resistance to their lord is illegal. (7) In order that these wicked abuses may be stopped and may not have even a pretence of authority, we revoke and declare invalid and worthless all the privileges, open letters, and scaled letters, which we or our predecessors or the archbishops or bishops have given to any person, either public or private, or to any city, in favor of these societies, communes, or councils, to the disadvantage of the princes and of the empire. This document has the form of a judicial decision, being published by a decree of the princes with our full knowledge. . . .
Breslau Adopts the Charter of Magdeburg, 1261. (German.)
Magdeburg was on the frontier between the Germans and the Slavs (Wends and Poles) of the interior. It owed its importance and growth in large part to the fact that it was the centre of the extensive trade between the two peoples. For a long time practically all the commerce between them passed through it. It had the same commercial importance for the Slavs of the interior as Lübeck did for the people along the shores of the Baltic. Because of its position it was raised to be the seat of an archbishop, and given the work of Christianizing the Slavs. Another effect of her position and commerce was seen in the organization of the Slavic cities, all of which adopted her government and laws. These so-called Slavic towns to the east of Magdeburg were established generally by German colonists who made it a condition of their going as colonists that they should have the charter of Magdeburg. And when towns were raised to the rank of cities they asked to have the charter of Magdeburg. So in 1261 when Breslau was made a city, duke Henry and his citizens of Breslau applied to Magdeburg for a copy of its charter. In response to this request the Schoeffen of the city drew up the following statement of the city’s government. Although prolix, unsystematic, and obscure in some points, the student will be able to understand the essential features of it. Compare the legal procedure, delays, etc., with no. 4, the Salic Law.
In a city which had the charter of Magdeburg it might easily happen that a new case would arise which was not provided for in the charter. If the governing body was in doubt as to what to do, a deputation was sent to Magdeburg to ask for instructions from her board of Schoeffen. So in 1338 the citizens of Culm asked for instructions on several points, and the Schoeffen told them what the law on these matters in Magdeburg was. We give these two documents as typical, and as illustrating the government of the cities in Wendish-Polish territory.
(1) When Magdeburg was founded the inhabitants were given a charter such as they wished. They determined that they would choose aldermen every year, who, on their election, should swear that they would guard the law, honor, and interests of the city to the best of their ability and with the advice of the wisest people of the city. (2) The aldermen have under their jurisdiction false measures, false scales, false weights, offences in the sale of all sorts of provisions, and all kinds of deception in buying and selling. If they find anyone guilty of such things, he shall pay a fine of three Wendish marks, that is, thirtysix shillings. (3) The aldermen shall take counsel with the wisest people and then appoint their courts at whatever time they wish. Their decisions rendered in court are binding and must be obeyed. If anyone resists their decisions, they shall punish him. (4) If the bells are rung [to call the inhabitants to court], and anyone does not come, he shall pay a fine of six pence. If he is summoned to the court and does not come, he shall be fined five shillings. (5) If the people who are called hucksters are convicted of cheating, they shall either be beaten and have their heads shaved, or they shall be fined three shillings, according to the choice of the aldermen. (6) If anyone is convicted of using false weights or measures, the aldermen shall punish him according to the custom of the city, or fine him thirty-six shillings. (7) The burggrave is the highest judge. He must hold three courts every year: the first one at St. Agatha’s day [February 5], the second one at St. John’s day [June 24], and the third one a week after St. Martin’s day [November 11]. If these days fall on holy days or on “bound times” [that is, holidays on which, for some reason not here stated, no courts may be held], the court must be put off. If plaintiffs do not appear, the case must be put off. If the Schultheiss does not come, the case must be put off. But the Schultheiss who fails to come must pay the burggrave ten pounds, unless it was impossible for him to come. (8) All crimes committed 14 days before the burggrave’s court meets belong solely to the jurisdiction of the burggrave. But if the burggrave is not there, the citizens shall choose someone else to judge in his place, if anyone has been taken in the very act of committing a crime. The fee of the burggrave is three pounds. When the burggrave rises from the judge’s chair, his court is dissolved, and he then appoints the court of the Schultheiss to be held 14 days from the next day. (9) The Schultheiss holds three regular courts every year: the first one, twelve days after Christmas, the second, on the first Tuesday after Easter week, and the third, at the end of the week of Pentecost. At the close of each of these courts he shall appoint another court [if necessary], to be held fourteen days later. If these courts fall on a holy day, he may put off his court for a day or two. (10) The fee of the Schultheiss is eight shillings. No one shall be summoned to his court except by the Schultheiss himself or by his beadle. His servant shall not summon anyone. If the Schultheiss is not at home when a crime is committed, the people shall choose someone to judge in his place, in case they have taken some offender in the act. The Schultheiss shall receive his authority as a fief from the lord of the land, and he shall have a fief [besides], and he must be of legitimate birth, and born a citizen of the town. (11) If a man is wounded and cries for help, and seizes his assailant and brings him into court, and has six witnesses, the defendant is to be shown to the witnesses, so that he cannot escape. If a man inflicts a wound as deep as a nail and as long as a finger, his hand shall be cut off; for killing anyone his head shall be cut off. (12) Neither the burggrave nor the Schultheiss shall compel citizens to render decisions [that is, assist in holding court] at any other time than the regular sessions of the court, except when a criminal has been taken in the act. But the burggrave and the Schultheiss must, every day, try the cases which are brought before them. (13) If a man is wounded but puts off making complaint [to the proper official] until the next day, the accused may clear himself if he produces six witnesses. If the accused fails to appear at the next three sessions of the court, he shall, at the fourth session, be put under the ban [outlawed, proscribed]. (14) If a man dies leaving a wife, she shall have no share in his property except what he has given her in court, or has appointed for her dower. She must have six witnesses, male or female, to prove her dower. If the man made no provision for her, her children must support her as long as she does not remarry. If her husband had sheep, the widow shall take them. (15) If a man and woman have children, some of whom are married and have received their marriage portion, and the man dies, the children who are still at home [that is, un-married], shall receive the inheritance. Those who have received their marriage portion shall have no part of it [that is, the inheritance]. Children who have received an inheritance shall not sell it without the consent of their heirs. (16) If a man surrenders anything to another in court, and the other holds it in peaceable possession for a year and a day, he shall call the judge and the Schoeffen as witnesses to the fact [that he has held it for a year and a day], and thereafter no one shall bring a suit against him to recover it. (17) If a judge or Schoeffe dies, he shall be declared deposed [that is, his office shall be declared vacant] by a session of court in which at least two Schoeffen and four free citizens are present. Then his wife shall receive her share of his property [that is, not until his office is declared vacant may his widow claim her share of his property]. (18) No one, whether man or woman, shall, on his sick-bed, give away more than three shillings’ worth of his property without the consent of his heirs, and the woman must have the consent of her husband. (19) If the fee or wergeld of the burggrave has been adjudged to him in court, it must be paid to him within six weeks. (20) If there are no immediate heirs [that is, children] to an inheritance, the nearest of kin shall share it equally. (21) If a man is wounded and cries for help [but does not seize his assailant] and comes into court and accuses someone who was present [when he received the wound], the accused must answer in court and defend himself. If a man accuses more persons than he has wounds, only as many persons as he has wounds shall be prosecuted, but the defendants may clear themselves of the charges with six witnesses. (22) If an inheritance is left to a boy [that is, if his father dies], and he wishes to become a priest, he shall nevertheless receive the inheritance. But if he has an unmarried sister at home, the two shall divide it between them. (23) If a man transfers a piece of property to another in the presence of the judge and of the Schoeffen, the Schoeffen shall receive a fee of one shilling. (24) If a man brings a suit against another for a debt and gets a writ of execution against him, the defendant must, on the same day, pay the debt and also the judge’s fee. (25) If a man is sued for a debt and he confesses to the debt, he must pay it within fourteen days. If he does not pay it within fourteen days, he shall pay the judge’s fee, and the judge shall order him to pay it within eight days. If he does not pay it within eight days, the judge shall order him to pay it the next day. If he does not pay it, he shall pay the judge his fee for every time the judge ordered him to pay. If he does not have the money to pay, his house shall be taken in pawn for the debt. If he has no house, he shall be seized for debt wherever he may be found. Whoever gives him aid, shall pay a fine to the judge. (26) If a man’s clothes are taken from him by a writ of execution, he has seventeen days in which to call a court session. (27) If a man of good reputation is accused of having caused a disturbance by day or night, he shall clear himself with six witnesses, provided he was not seen near the place where the disturbance was. (28) No widow shall use the capital of her dower or sell it. If she dies it shall go to the heirs of her husband. (29) If an inheritance is left to children, and one of them dies, the others share it equally. (30) If a man’s house is taken from him as a pawn for a debt, so long as the pawn is unredeemed he shall pay the judge a fine every time he enters the house. (31) If a man is going out of the country as a pilgrim or as a merchant, no one shall hinder him from going because of a debt, unless he brings suit against him for the debt before the judge. (32) If anyone reviles a Schoeffe while he is on the bench [that is, while he is performing the duties of his office], he shall pay the Schoeffe the regular fine [for an offence against a Schoeffe], that is, thirty shillings, and he shall also pay the judge his fee. (33) If a man reviles the Schoeffen after they have given a decision, he shall pay each of them the regular fine, that is, thirty shillings, and also pay the judge his regular fine. He shall pay the judge’s fine as many times as there are Schoeffen whom he reviled. (34) if a man needs evidence that a quarrel or feud was legally settled in court, he shall appeal to the judge and Schoeffen in whose presence the feud was settled. If they have died, he shall take the testimony of the free citizens who were in court at the time. (35) The judge shall not reverse a decision of the Schoeffen. (36) If a feud is settled out of court and one of the parties afterward renews it, the other party shall prove that it was settled by bringing six witnesses who saw and heard the settlement. (37) If a feud is settled in court and a pledge given [that the feud shall not be renewed] and some of them [that is, one of the parties to it] renew it and they are convicted of it before the judge and the Schoeffen, they shall lose a hand for inflicting a wound on any of the other party, and their head if they have killed anyone. If a man who did not agree to the settlement of the feud renews it, he shall pay the wergeld, that is, nine pounds for a wound and eighteen for killing anyone. (38) If a man attacks another with intent to wound, and does wound him, he shall lose a hand for a wound, and his head if he kills him. (39) If a man is beaten with rods on his back and abdomen so as to make black and blue spots and to cause swellings, he shall show himself to the judge and to the free citizens in court that they may see the effects of the blows, and then he has grounds for suit against those who beat him. But if he is beaten on his head and arms and he has no other proof, the accused shall clear themselves in the regular way. If they confess [that they beat him], each one shall pay his fine and the judge’s fee besides. If the man whom they beat dies, they must all answer in court for his death. If he does not die, only one of them shall answer in court, the others shall go free. (40) The burggrave and not the Schultheiss shall have jurisdiction over the three crimes of attacking from an ambush, violating women, and attacking with intent to kill. If the one attacked has wounds and shows them to the judge and has witnesses who heard him cry for help, the accused shall answer in court to the charges. (41) If anyone dies leaving an inheritance and no heirs appear within a year and a day to claim it, it shall go to the king. (42) If a man who has three or more children is killed, and someone is accused by one of the children of having killed his father, but is not convicted, and the court gives him a certificate that he did not commit the crime, the other children shall not renew the charge against him. (43) If a man enters suit against another, he shall make a deposit with the judge [to cover expenses?]. He shall not give this deposit to the judge, but he shall receive it back [after the suit is ended]. (44) If a man seizes a horse and declares that it was stolen or taken by force from him, he shall prove it in court. He in whose possession the horse was found, shall appeal to witnesses and name them and swear by the saints that he is not practising any deception in appealing to witnesses. After he has named his witnesses, the man who is called as a witness shall go with him a reasonable distance [that is, to meet the witnesses who have been named]. If he cannot produce the witnesses whom he boasted of having, he shall give security to the judge for the fine and the expenses to which the man who claimed the horse has been put, and he shall set a day when he shall appear in court. If he says that he bought the horse in the public market, he shall restore the horse to its owner and he shall lose the money which he paid for it. But he shall not pay a fine. The judge shall not assess a fine for the non-payment of his fine. (45) If a man claims a piece of property or an inheritance, he shall not bribe the judge in order to secure a favorable decision. If a man enters a suit against another [but in the meantime the matter is settled out of court], he shall pay nothing except the fee of the judge. (46) If a man who has been wounded does not wish to make charges against anyone, the judge cannot compel him to do so. (47) If a man is outlawed or condemned, no one but his heirs shall take his property. (48) If a man dies without having disposed of his property, it shall go to his children, if they are his equals in birth. If one of the children dies, its share goes to its mother, but she cannot dispose of it without the consent of her heirs. (49) When a child is twelve years old it may choose whom it will as guardian. The guardian must render an account to the mother and to the children of his management of the inheritance. (50) If one man says to another, “You are my property,” but the man thus claimed can prove his freedom, no similar claim shall ever be made against him again. A man can prove his freedom by the testimony of three of his mother’s relatives and three of his father’s relatives. These witnesses may be either male or female. (51) Playing at dice is not a crime. (52) If a man is security for anything and dies, his children are not responsible for the security. If a man is security for a debt, he must pay it and make everything good. (53) If a man wounds another in the street within the corporate limits of the city [that is, on ground which is under the jurisdiction of the city] not in self-defence, wrongfully, and without provocation, and the wounded man turns and wounds him and cries for help, but because of his wounds is not able to reach the court first and make charges against his assailant, and his assailant, although he was the first to make the attack, maliciously and insolently comes into court and makes charges, the one who was first attacked shall come into court on the same day and prove by those who heard his cry for help that the other was the first to make the attack. If he can prove this he shall win his case. But he must appear the same day. (54) If two men who are from Wendish territory, even though they are not both Wends, wound each other within the corporate limits of the city, and one of them comes into court and makes charges against the other according to Wendish law, the other must answer him according to the same law. (55) When a man dies his wife shall give his sword, his horse and saddle, and his best coat of mail. She shall also give a bed, a pillow, a sheet, a table-cloth, two dishes and a towel. Some say that she should give other things also, but that is not necessary. If she does not have these things, she shall not give them, but she shall give proof for each article that she does not have it. (56) If two or more children inherit these things [named in § 55], the oldest shall take the sword and they shall share the other things equally. (57) If the children are minors, the oldest male relative on the father’s side, if he is of the same rank by birth, shall receive all these things [named in § 55] and preserve them for the children. When they become of age, he shall give them to them, and in addition, all their property, unless he can prove that he has used it to their profit, or that it has been stolen or destroyed by some accident without any fault of his. He shall also be the guardian of the widow until she remarries, if he is of the same rank as she is. (58) After giving the above articles the widow shall take her dower and all that belongs to her; that is, all the sheep, geese, chests, yarn, beds, pillows, cushions, table linen, bed linen, towels, cups, candlesticks, linen, woman’s clothing, finger rings, bracelets, headdress, psalters, and all prayer-books, chairs, drawers, bureaus, carpets, curtains, etc., and there are many other trinkets which belong to her, such as brushes, scissors, and mirrors, but I do not mention them. But uncut cloth, and unworked gold and silver do not belong to her. (59) All the possessions of the man except those named in § 55 belong to his inheritance. If he has given anything in pledge, he who has the right to shall redeem it if he wishes to do so. (60) If one of the children becomes a priest he shall share in the inheritance equally with his brothers, but not if he becomes a monk. (61) If a boy is put into a monastery but leaves it before he becomes of age, he retains his legal status; that is, he may inherit fiefs from his father and has all the protection of the law of the land. But if a man becomes a monk, he loses all his rights and fiefs, because he has denied his military duties. The monks of the monastery which he has entered shall be witnesses of this. (62) Cases shall be tried in the order in which they are entered. The plaintiff and the defendant have each the right to speak three times during the trial. Each one may speak until the beadle orders him to stop. (63) In all cities it is the law that the judge shall give decisions. A man who has a representative shall not speak in court. If the judge asks him whether he agrees to what his representative says, he must answer Yes or No, or he may ask for permission to speak. (64) If anyone wishes to challenge a fellow citizen to an ordeal by duel, he must ask the judge to permit him to challenge the peace-breaker in a legal manner. If this request is granted, the accuser may ask how he should challenge so as to have the support of the law. The answer is, by pulling the defendant at his collar. After the challenge, he shall tell the defendant why he challenged him. He must accuse him of having broken the peace either on the king’s road, or in a village. He shall declare in which way the peace was broken. But he must accuse the defendant of having wounded him and done him violence. And this he may prove by showing his wounds or scars. Further, he shall accuse the defendant of having robbed him of his property and of having taken enough to make an ordeal necessary. He shall accuse him of all these three crimes at once. If he omits one of these he is deprived of the privilege of the ordeal.
The honorable Schoeffen and the aldermen of Magdeburg drew up this law of Magdeburg for the noble duke, Henry, and his citizens of Breslau, and, if necessary, will aid them in keeping it. They gave it at the request of Henry the duke and of his citizens of Breslau. In the year 1261. . . .
The Schoeffen of Magdeburg give Decisions for Culm, 1338. (German.)
See introductory note to no. 316.
1. May aldermen be deposed? To the honorable aldermen of Culm, we the Schoeffen of Magdeburg, your obedient servants [send greeting]. You have asked us in your letter whether aldermen may choose other aldermen, and whether they may choose from among themselves burgomasters and Schoeffen without the consent of the burggrave. And also whether the burggrave may depose some of the aldermen and appoint others in their place. We answer, that the aldermen may choose other aldermen for a year, and one or two burgomasters from their own number also for a year. But the burggrave has no right to depose aldermen and put others in their place.
2. Who shall choose other Schoeffen? The Schoeffen shall elect other Schoeffen, and those elected shall remain Schoeffen as long as they live. The aldermen have no right to elect Schoeffen. The burggrave shall confirm the Schoeffen who are elected.
3. May the aldermen make laws? You have also asked us whether the aldermen with the consent of their citizens may make laws among themselves and fix the penalties for offences against them, without the consent of the burggrave, and whether the aldermen have the right to collect such penalties and retain them, or shall the burggrave and the Schultheiss have a share in them. And you have also asked if a man breaks the laws and refuses to pay the fine, how it is to be collected from him. We answer, that the aldermen may make laws and fix their penalties provided these laws do not conflict with the laws of the city. And they may do this without the consent of the burggrave. And they have the right to demand the payment of fines, and they may keep them for the benefit of the city; the burggrave and the Schultheiss shall have no part in them.
4. What if a man refuses to pay a fine? If a man refuses to pay a fine but admits that he owes it, the aldermen may seize and imprison him until he pays it. If he says he does not owe the fine, he shall prove it by taking an oath by the saints.
5. About false measures. You have further asked whether the aldermen have jurisdiction over weights and measures, false measures, and the sale of provisions, and if a man refuses to pay a fine how it shall be collected. We answer, that aldermen have jurisdiction over the said things, and that if a man refuses to pay his fine, they may seize and imprison him until he pays it, as is written above.
6. About damage done to a forest. You asked us if a man cuts wood in a forest, how he shall pay the damage. We answer, if a man cuts down trees in another’s forest, or cuts his grass, or fishes in his streams, he shall pay for the damage and a fine besides.
7. How far shall a guest live from the city? You also asked us how far a man must live from the court if he wishes to have the right of a guest. We answer, if a guest is accused before the court, if he swears by the saints that he lives more than twelve miles from the court, he shall have his trial at once. If a guest enters suit against a citizen in the same court, the citizen shall answer in court that same day if the guest demands it.
8. About attaching the property of a guest. You further asked us how you should proceed, if a man attaches the property of a guest from a far country, so that justice may be done to both. We answer, if a man attaches the property of a guest who lives so far away that you cannot get hold of him, the attachment is not to be put into execution until the guest is informed of it. If the guest does not then appear to defend his property, the attached property may be taken.
9. About taxes. You further asked us, if the citizens have property outside of the territory of the city which they hold from some lord and from which they receive an income, are they bound to pay the tax which may be assessed on property outside the city, just the same as they do on their ordinary property? We answer that, according to the law and practice of our city, every man must pay taxes on his property outside as well as inside the city, no matter where it is, and he must take an oath to its value and pay a tax accordingly.
The Establishment of the Rhine League, 1254.
Commerce, the chief interest of the cities, could flourish only under peaceful conditions. But peace was a stranger to Germany toward the middle of the thirteenth century. In order to prosecute his Italian-Sicilian policy, Frederick II had left Germany to her fate. The princes were engaged in private warfare, and a large number of robber barons plied their trade and made the roads unsafe. Conrad IV was fighting for the possession of the crown and so was unable to establish peace. William of Holland was recognized in only a small territory and was practically helpless to restore order. Under these circumstances the cities of the Rhine valley determined to take matters into their own hands, and so made a league for the purpose of protecting their commerce against the robber barons and other highwaymen who infested all the roads and streams. We give the document by which the league was formed, and the one in which is embodied its first legislation.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. The judges, consuls [aldermen], and all the citizens of Mainz, Cologne, Worms, Speyer, Strassburg, Basel, and other cities which are bound together in the league of holy peace, to all the faithful of Christ, greeting in him who is the author of peace and the ground of salvation.
1. Since now for a long time many of our citizens have been completely ruined by the violence and wrongs which have been inflicted on them in the country and along the roads, and through their ruin others have also been ruined, so that innocent people, through no fault of their own, have suffered great loss, it is high time that some way be found for preventing such violence, and for restoring peace in all our lands in an equitable manner.
2. Therefore we wish to inform all that, with the aid of our Lord Jesus Christ, the author and lover of peace, and for the purpose of fostering peace and rendering justice, we have all unanimously agreed on the following terms of peace: We have mutually bound ourselves by oath to observe a general peace for ten years from St. Margaret’s day [July 13, 1254]. The venerable archbishops, Gerhard of Mainz, Conrad of Cologne, Arnold of Trier, and the bishops, Richard of Worms, Henry of Strassburg, Jacob of Metz, Bertold of Basel, and many counts and nobles of the land have joined us in this oath, and they as well as we have all surrendered the unjust tolls which we have been collecting both by land and water, and we will collect them no longer.
3. This promise shall be kept in such a way that not only the greater ones among us shall have the advantage of this common protection, but all, the small with the great, the secular clergy, monks of every order, laymen, and Jews, shall enjoy this protection and live in the tranquillity of holy peace. If anyone breaks this peace, we will all go against him with all our forces, and compel him to make proper satisfaction.
4. In regard to the quarrels or differences which now exist between members of this peace, or which may hereafter arise, they shall be settled in the following way: Each city and each lord, who are members of this league, shall choose four reliable men and give them full authority to settle all quarrels in an amicable way, or in some legal manner. . . .
Peace Established by the Rhine League, 1254.
See introductory note to no. 318.
In the name of the Lord, amen. In the year of our Lord 1254, on the octave of St. Michael’s day [that is, a week after Sept. 29] we, the cities of the upper and lower Rhine, leagued together for the preservation of peace, met in the city of Worms. We held a meeting there and carefully discussed everything pertaining to a general peace. To the honor of God, and of the holy mother church, and of the holy empire, which is now governed by our lord, William [of Holland], king of the Romans, and to the common advantage of all, both rich and poor alike, we made the following laws. They are for the benefit of all, both poor and great, the secular clergy, monks, laymen, and Jews. To secure these things which are for the public good we will spare neither ourselves nor our possessions. The princes and lords who take the oath are joined with us.
1. We decree that we will make no warlike expeditions except those that are absolutely necessary and determined on by the wise counsel of the cities and communes. We will mutually aid each other with all our strength in securing redress for our grievances.
2. We decree that no member of the league, whether city or lord, Christian or Jew, shall furnish food, arms, or aid of any kind, to anyone who opposes us or the peace.
3. And no one in our cities shall give credit, or make a loan to them.
4. No citizen of any of the cities in the league shall associate with such, or give them counsel, aid, or support. If anyone is convicted of doing so, he shall be ejected from the city and punished so severely in his property that he will be a warning to others not to do such things.
5. If any knight, in trying to aid his lord who is at war with us, attacks or molests us anywhere outside of the walled towns of his lord, he is breaking the peace, and we will in some way inflict due punishment on him and his possessions, no matter who he is. If he is caught in any of the cities, he shall be held as a prisoner until he makes proper satisfaction. We wish to be protectors of the peasants, and we will protect them against all violence if they will observe the peace with us. But if they make war on us, we will punish them, and if we catch them in any of the cities, we will punish them as malefactors.
6. We wish all the cities to destroy all the ferries except those in their immediate neighborhood, so that there shall be no ferries except those near the cities which are in the league. This is to be done in order that the enemies of the peace may be deprived of all means of crossing the Rhine.
7. We decree that if any lord or knight aids us in promoting the peace, we will do all we can to protect him. Whoever does not swear to keep the peace with us, shall be excluded from the general peace.
8. We decree that whoever is in our cities as a pledge [that is, as security that some contract will be kept] shall have peace from all who are in the league. We will not permit him to be molested by anyone so long as he is in one of our cities; but we will defend him, and he may enter and leave the city as he pleases.
9. But if any such man breaks his oath and flees, he shall be warned three times by the city, and if he does not return, the creditor, or the one to whom he had been security, may bring suit against him before the judges and they shall compel him to continue as security.
10. Above all we wish to affirm that we desire to live in mutual peace with the lords and all the people of the province, and we wish that each should preserve all his rights.
11. Under threat of punishment we forbid any citizen to revile the lords although they may be our enemies. For although we wish to punish them for the violence they have done us, yet before making war on them we will first warn them to cease from injuring us.
12. We decree that all correspondence about this matter with the cities of the lower Rhine shall be conducted from Mainz, and from Worms with the cities of the upper Rhine. From these two cities all our correspondence shall be carried on and all who have done us injury shall be warned. Those who have suffered injury shall send their messengers at their own expense.
13. We also promise, both lords and cities, to send four official representatives to whatever place a conference is to be held, and they shall have full authority from their cities to decide on all matters. They shall report to their cities all the decisions of the meeting. All who come with the representatives of the cities or who come to them [while in session], shall have peace, and no judgment shall be enforced against them.
14. No city shall receive non-residents, who are commonly called “pfahlburgers,” as citizens.
15. We firmly promise that if any member of the league breaks the peace, we will proceed against him at once as if he were not a member, and compel him to make proper satisfaction.
16. We promise that we will faithfully keep each other informed by letter about our enemies and all others who may be able to do us damage, in order that we may take timely counsel to protect ourselves against them.
17. We decree that no one shall violently enter the house of monks or nuns, of whatever order they may be, or quarter themselves upon them, or demand or extort food, or any kind of service, from them contrary to their will. If anyone does this he shall be held as a violator of the peace.
18. We decree that each city shall try to persuade each of its neighboring cities to swear to keep the peace. If they do not do so, they shall be entirely cut off from the peace, so that if anyone does them an injury, either in their persons or their property, he shall not thereby break the peace.
19. We wish all members of the league, cities, lords, and all others, to arm themselves properly and prepare for war, so that whenever we call upon them we shall find them ready.
20. We decree that the cities between the Mosel and Basel shall prepare 100 war boats, and the cities below the Mosel shall prepare 500, well equipped with bowmen, and each city shall prepare herself as well as she can and supply herself with arms for knights and foot-soldiers.
Agreement between Hamburg and Lübeck,ca. 1230.
With the deposition of Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, in 1180, and the consequent dismemberment of his duchy (see no. 112), north Germany was left without a great prince, and there was no hope that anyone would be able to unite the numerous principalities which were enjoying more or less sovereignty. The absence of any strong power gave greater opportunity for the development of the cities and made the Hanseatic league possible. This league had its origin in the league between Hamburg and Lübeck for mutual protection against robbers in 1241. But these cities had already for a long time been friendly, and had made a mutual agreement for the protection of the merchants of the one city when they went to the other. Other cities joined them in the league of 1241. The power and influence of the league grew until it was able to carry on war and to dictate in political matters to the whole north. The earliest stages of the development of the league are illustrated by nos. 320-322.
To their honorable and beloved friends, the advocate, aldermen, and other citizens of Lübeck, the advocate, aldermen, and the commune of Hamburg, greeting, etc. . . .
We wish you to know that we desire by all means to preserve the mutual love and friendship which have hitherto existed between you and us. We desire that we shall have the same law, so that whenever your citizens come into our city, bringing goods that are unencumbered [that is, about which there is no dispute or suit pending], they may possess and enjoy them in peace and security, in the same way as our citizens. . . .
Agreement for Mutual Protection between Lübeck and Hamburg, 1241.
The advocate, council and commune of Lübeck. . . . We have made the following agreement with our dear friends, the citizens of Hamburg.
1. If robbers or other depredators attack citizens of either city anywhere from the mouth of the Trave river to Hamburg, or anywhere on the Elbe river, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in destroying and extirpating them.
2. If anyone who lives outside the city, kills, wounds, beats, or mishandles, without cause, a citizen of either city, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in punishing the offender. We furthermore agree to share the expenses equally in punishing those who injure their citizens in the neighborhood of their city and those who injure our citizens in the neighborhood of our city.
3. If any of their citizens are injured near our city [Lübeck], they shall ask our officials to punish the offender, and if any of our citizens are injured near their city [Hamburg], they shall ask their officials to punish the offender.
Lübeck, Rostock, and Wismar Proscribe Pirates, 1259.
To all the faithful subjects of Christ. . . . The communes of Lübeck, Rostock, and Wismar. . . . Since most merchants are not protected on the sea from pirates and robbers, we have, in a common council, decreed, and by this writing declare, that all who rob merchants in churches, in cemeteries, or on the water or on the land, shall be outlawed and proscribed by all cities and merchants. No matter where these robbers go with their booty, whatever city or land receives them shall be held equally guilty with them, and proscribed by all the cities and merchants. . . .
Decrees of the Hanseatic League, 1260-64.
We wish to inform you of the action taken in support of all merchants who are governed by the law of Lübeck.
(1) Each city shall, to the best of her ability, keep the sea clear of pirates, so that merchants may freely carry on their business by sea. (2) Whoever is expelled from one city because of a crime shall not be received in another. (3) If a citizen is seized [by pirates, robbers, or bandits] he shall not be ransomed, but his sword-belt and knife shall be sent to him [as a threat to his captors]. (4) Any merchant ransoming him shall lose all his possessions in all the cities which have the law of Lübeck. (5) Whoever is proscribed in one city for robbery or theft shall be proscribed in all. (6) If a lord besieges a city, no one shall aid him in any way to the detriment of the besieged city, unless the besieger is his lord. (7) If there is a war in the country, no city shall on that account injure a citizen from the other cities, either in his person or goods, but shall give him protection. (8) If any man marries a woman in one city, and another woman from some other city comes and proves that he is her lawful husband, he shall be beheaded. (9) If a citizen gives his daughter or niece in marriage to a man [from another city], and another man comes and says that she is his lawful wife, but cannot prove it, he shall be beheaded.
This law shall be binding for a year, and after that the cities shall inform each other by letter of what decisions they make.
Decrees of the Hanseatic League, 1265.
We ought to hold a meeting once a year to legislate about the affairs of the cities.
(5) If pirates appear on the sea, all the cities must contribute their share to the work of destroying them.
Cologne Merchants have a Gildhall in London, 1157.
The merchants of Cologne early had commercial dealings with London. Her commercial relations with England were more important to her than her relations with Germany, and as a result of this she generally preferred her English alliance to her less lucrative relations with other German principalities on the mainland. In international complications Cologne was apt to be found on the side of England. This document is interesting as showing the early existence of the gildhall of the merchants of Cologne, which was the starting-point of the Hanse in London.
Henry [II], by the grace of God, etc., . . . to his justiciars, sheriffs, and all his officials in England, greeting. I command you to guard, maintain, and protect all the men and citizens of Cologne as if they were my own subjects and friends, and all their goods, merchandise, and possessions. You shall not permit them to suffer any loss or damage in their house in London, which is called their gildhall, or in their goods, or merchandise, or anything else that belongs to them, because they are faithful to me, and they are in my ward and protection. They shall have complete protection, and they shall pay only their customary tolls, and you shall not exact new tolls from them. . . .
The following list is intended to serve both as a brief bibliography of important collections of mediæval documents and as an explanation of the references. In the case of the more important collections and works a brief comment is added. Many titles are omitted where the reference in the text is clear and the work is not of general importance.
LARGE COLLECTIONS; NATIONAL
LARGE COLLECTIONS; ECCLESIASTICAL AND PAPAL
SPECIAL TOPICS SELECTED DOCUMENTS, ETC.
This list is meant to include only technical terms which occur frequently in the text. Terms which are familiar, and those which are used only once or twice and explained in the text, are therefore not included.
abbot, head of a monastery; see no. 251, chs. 2, 64.
advocate, advocatus, representative of church or prelate in secular affairs; in feudal system regularly a vassal of the church, holding office and church lands as fief; see no. 296 introduction.
aids, obligations of vassal to his lord; see introductory note to nos. 209-228, and nos. 215-217.
alderman, originally head of a gild; later, regularly member of ruling council of a city.
allodial land, alod, small freehold, as distinct from tenant-farm; later in feudal system also applied to family possessions of a noble as distinct from lands held by title of duke, count, etc.; an instance of this latter use in no. 90.
anathema, curse, regularly associated with papal excommunication.
apostolic seat, apostolic see, the bishopric of Rome, used as a figure of speech for pope or papal office.
Augustus, from time of Otto III the title regularly assumed by emperors after imperial coronation; indicates the theory that mediæval emperors were successors to Roman emperors.
bailly, bailiff, representative of lord in the villa.
ban, (1) proscription, or outlawry, regularly that pronounced by emperor against a subject; (2) particular fine paid to emperor or king in addition to ordinary penalty, usually 60 solidi.
basilica, church, especially early church modelled on Roman public building called basilica.
Bauermeister, see introductory note to section vii.
benefice, beneficium, (1) a form of land-holding, practically a fief; see nos. 197-202 and introduction; (2) lands and income attached to the office of a canon.
bull, a decree or edict of the pope.
burggrave, the official representative of overlord or king in a city; later a feudal noble.
canon, (1) a decree of a council or synod; (2) one of the chapter of a bishop’s church.
canon law, ecclesiastical law, the law of the church, based on the decrees of popes and councils; see no. 33, introduction, and Bibliography, Corpus juris canonici.
canonical election, election of a church official in accordance with canon law.
capitulary, decree or edict of Carolingian king or emperor, drawn up with advice of Frankish assembly.
cardinal, a member of the Sacred College, the advisory body of the pope, standing next to him in Catholic hierarchy, and intrusted with duty of electing pope. Members of college have titular offices in the bishopric of Rome, as cardinal bishops (now 6 in number), cardinal presbyters (now 50), and cardinal deacons (now 14).
chamberlain, see court officials.
chancellor, official at the head of the department intrusted with drawing up and preserving documents; an important office in every royal court, frequently held by an ecclesiastic.
chaplain, priest of private church or chapel of great lord or ruler; in royal courts becomes important member of council and central administration of king.
chapter, regularly the corporation of the clergy attached to the bishop’s church, including dean, præpositus, cantor, scholasticus, penitentiarius, treasurer, etc.
confession of St. Peter; see no. 45, note 1.
council, the general assembly of the church, composed of chief clergy and representatives of lower clergy, and summoned occasionally by pope or cardinals; see no. 41, note 3, and nos. 169-174.
count, comes, the chief official in a county, originally as representative of the king, later, in feudal system, as feudal lord of lesser nobles in county.
count palatine, comes palatinus, one of chief officials of royal court; in feudal system, hereditary title attached to certain possessions, as palatine county of the Rhine in Germany, and of Champagne in France.
court officials, officers of the royal courts charged with important departments of central administration: seneschal, steward, chief official in charge of royal household and domains; chamberlain, originally officer in charge of royal chamber, later practically treasurer; cupbearer, cellarer, or butler, officer in charge of vineyards; marshal or constable, officer in charge of royal stables, later of the royal army. These offices in the beginning were of private nature, were later extended to include important public functions and became hereditary in hands of great nobles, and then became merely titular and ceremonial, the real duties being performed by royal officials and servants. See no. 160, ch. 27, for this last stage, in Germany.
cupbearer, see court officials.
dean, head of a chapter of canons.
denarius, a small coin, penny, originally silver; see no. 4, I, note 2.
diet, general assembly of the empire, including in final form the great ecclesiastics and nobles, and representatives of imperial cities; see nos. 146, 158, 159, 160 for instances.
diocese, ecclesiastical district ruled over by a bishop, made up of parishes; archdiocese, ecclesiastical district of an archbishop, comprising several bishoprics.
duke, ruler of a duchy, a great feudal lord, in Germany retaining character also of a public official to time of Frederick I.
electors, electoral princes, princes of Germany who exercised the right of electing the emperor; see no. 160 for names of the electors, their prerogatives, etc.
excommunication, exclusion from the communion of the Catholic church, entailing loss of rank and privileges on part of church officials, and of allegiance of subjects on part of secular ruler; ecclesiastical outlawry.
feudal terms, see introductory note to nos. 209-228.
fief, regularly an estate or territory held from a superior on terms of personal allegiance and honorable service, usually military support.
fodrum, fodder; as an obligation, the duty of supplying provisions for the royal army.
gild, society or association of merchants of a town, or of artisans of a single trade in a town. Gild of the merchants in many cases represented the town in the struggle for a charter, and government of many towns was based on the organization of the gild.
hide, portion of a family in the lands of the village community.
hierarchy of the Catholic church, chief ecclesiastical officials; in order of authority: pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops. For lower grades, see no. 34, note 1.
homage, ceremony of entering into personal dependence on a lord, preliminary to receiving a fief from him; see nos. 209-214, 218-225.
hundred, division of the county, mainly for judicial purposes; see no. 1, note 1, and no. 4 introduction.
hundred-court, local public court of the hundred; the regular public court in Germany; see introductory note to section vii.
hundred-man, centenarius, centgraf, presiding official of the hundred-court, usually elected by freemen of the hundred; see no. 1, note 4, and no. 4 introduction.
immunity, freedom from control of public officials; a right attached to gifts of land from king; see nos. 190-194, and introduction.
indiction, number of a year in a period of 15 years, used as a means of dating mediæval documents; established by Constantine and beginning with the year 313 ad To find the indiction of a year, add 3 to the number of the year and divide by 15; the remainder is the indiction of the year; if there is no remainder, the indiction is 15.
indulgence, see no. 179 introduction.
insignia, symbols of office, commonly referring to royal or imperial symbols; see nos. 158, 159, and 160, ch. 22, for insignia of emperor.
interdict, prohibition of performance of church services and sacraments, pronounced by ecclesiastical authority against a district or a country, frequently for the sins of its ruler.
investiture, the ceremony of induction into office, whether ecclesiastical or secular.
justice, in feudal system technically right of lord to try cases of inhabitants of his fief in his feudal court; see no. 228, 1, note 1; as a revenue, income from fines in feudal justice.
king of the Romans, title used by German kings from the time of Henry III before the imperial coronation; later also used by son of the emperor associated in the rule with his father.
landgrave, a feudal noble, practically the same as feudal count.
legate, special representative of the pope; see no. 66 introduction.
liege homage, see no. 218 introduction.
margrave, the official in control of a mark or frontier county; later a feudal noble.
marshal, see court officials.
metropolitan, as a noun, archbishop; as an adjective, archiepiscopal.
ministerial, servant of the king or great lord in Germany; being endowed with land and used as mounted followers in war, they become a lower nobility; see no. 297 introduction.
missi, in general, representatives of central government sent into local districts; in particular, the officials sent out annually by Karl the Great and his successors to oversee the administration of local officials, etc.; see no. 9 introduction.
notary, lower official in the department of the chancellor.
patriarch, in the west, honorary title attached to certain bishoprics, as patriarch of Aquileia; in East, bishop of highest rank, as patriarch of Constantinople.
patricius, see no. 48 introduction.
patrimony, estate or territory belonging to the pope as possession of office; Patrimony of St. Peter, land about Rome which was the basis of the states of the church.
Petrine theory, see no. 35.
pfahlburgers, phalburgii; see no. 139, sec. 10.
pontificate, papacy, period of rule of a pope.
pope, bishop of Rome and head of the church; titles: vicar of Christ, vicar of St. Peter, apostolic, universal, servant of the servants of God, etc.
præpositus, prévôt, provost, (1) member of chapter of canons, in charge of lands of the chapter; (2) a layman in charge of domain lands of a bishop; (3) the representative of great lord or king in local regions; (4) the chief of a gild, or the mayor of a city.
precarium, see introductory note to nos. 184-188.
prior, chief official under the abbot in a monastery; also ruler of a priory or small congregation of monks dependent on a monastery.
regalia, sovereign rights, or rights of the crown; see no. 83, no. 103 and introduction.
Schoeffen, scabini, originally board of judges for each hundred-court, established as a judicial reform by Karl the Great; from these develop Schoeffen of feudal domains and cities, as judges in the courts there.
Schultheiss, originally subordinate official of the count, who becomes presiding officer of lower public courts in Germany; name used also for presiding officer of court on territory of feudal lord, and in cities under jurisdiction of lord; see introductory note to section vii.
seneschal, see court officials.
senior, see no. 208, note.
serf, unfree tenant on a feudal estate, paying rent and services to the lord, bound to the soil, and subject to the jurisdiction of the lord’s officials.
simony, use of money or secular influence to secure an ecclesiastical office; generally, securing of such an office by any means other than canonical election.
solidus, a gold or silver coin, shilling, containing 12 denarii; see no. 4, I, note 2.
suffragan bishop, one who has the right of voting for his archbishop.
synod, local council of bishopric or archbishopric summoned by the prelate.
vassal, one who has promised allegiance and fidelity to a superior, from whom he holds a fief.
villa, village or community of tenants and serfs on feudal domain, corresponding to English manor; the unit of organization of feudal estates.
wergeld, compensation for manslaughter, paid to the kindred of the slain man by slayer or his kindred; see no. 1, ch. 21, note 6, and no. 4, XLI, note 1.
[1 ] This expression means apparently that the person named did the homage and performed the services for the holder of the fief, as his representative.
[2 ] Here is a case where the fief of a vassal is a portion of the revenues of the lord. As already noted, holding by feudal tenure was the regular form of contract in the feudal age; it was used not only in regard to the holding of land, but also for the acquisition of other possessions, as a sum of money, etc.
[3 ] The bishop of Soissons is the liege lord of the lord of Bazoches.
[1 ] Justice was divided into high and low, or into high, middle, and low justice. These distinctions were not everywhere the same, but in general high justice meant jurisdiction over cases the penalty for which was death or mutilation, and low justice, or middle and low justice, the jurisdiction over less serious crimes. The same general difference was understood by pure and mixed justice. When the lord is said to have “all the justice, high and low,” or “pure and mixed justice,” it is meant that he has complete jurisdiction over his subjects in all cases.
[2 ] Rachat is the sum paid by the new holder of a fief at the time of his entrance into the fief; it is about the same as the relief (see no. 217, § 2, and introductory note to nos. 209-228). Here it refers to the sum which the widow of a vassal of the count must pay when she remarries, not for the privilege of remarrying, but for the right to take the fief with her to her new husband.
[3 ] Note the great value of the markets to the count. Troyes was not a small village, but a city of some importance, and the market rights were worth a good deal. This is a good illustration of the seignorial or feudal control of cities, against which the citizens continually struggled. (See nos. 308, 309.)
[1 ]Lods et ventes were payments made to the lord when the farm changed hands. The holder in these cases had the right to sell or rent his holding subject to the payment of lods et ventes. It may be compared to rachat or relief in the case of fiefs.
[1 ] An illustration of the acquisition of a fief by purchase. All the rights of the former holder went with the land to the new holder.
[2 ]Journatum is a measure of land, literally the amount which could be cultivated in a day. Probably in this case the lord had allowed some of his tenants to clear and reduce to cultivation part of his waste lands, on condition that he be given a portion of the cleared land from each tenant as payment for the permission.
[3 ] Note that the village bake-oven, which the lord originally erected and from which he collected tolls, has been let out as a fief and is now in the possession of two families of tenants.
[4 ] The taille, poll tax.
[1 ] Note the right of the vassal to be tried by a court of his peers, i.e., a court composed of the other vassals of the same lord; and also the right of appeal claimed for the court of the king.
[2 ] This is an old form of relief.
[3 ] Feudal tenure of land was not the only form known in the Middle Age. Other more ancient forms still existed in exceptional cases; as here: land held by proprietary right, that is, allodial possessions that had never been feudalized; land held as libellum or precarium, which are about the same. A libellum was a piece of land held by one person from another for a term of years, for life, or with the right of inheritance, for a fixed rent, the libellus being the charter or grant. Libellum, precarium, usufruct, and emphyteusis, are forms of land-holding known to the later Roman law, and differing one from the other only very slightly.
[1 ] Notice the attempt of the king to enforce his authority in military matters over the vassals of his vassals. In strict feudal law the rear-vassal was responsible only to his immediate lord for the fulfillment of his duties, but the king generally claimed authority over them in matters in which the welfare of the state was concerned, as in the matter of military service in public wars.
[2 ] In Germany the great lords retained for a long time in theory their character of public officials and their fiefs were regarded as administrative districts of the state. Hence the idea that they were indivisible, a character which still adhered to the lands of the electoral princes in later times (see no. 160, Golden Bull, ch. XX).
[1 ] Punishment in the “hair and skin” was especially cruel. The guilty one was flogged and his hair was wound about a stick which was then turned around and around until the hair was all pulled out. For some offences the hair was closely cut instead of being pulled out, which was, of course, much more humane. Long hair was worn by freemen as a mark of their rank.
[1 ] An illustration, from an old manuscript of one of the collections of forms for ordeal, shows how the person was bound in this case. The illustration represents the ordeal as taking place from a boat. The man’s knees are shown drawn up to his chin; a staff is under the bend of the knees and his arms are passed under the staff. His hands are bound at the wrist with a rope which is held by other persons in the boat. He was probably drawn out by the rope if he sank in the water.
[1 ] The meaning of this exception is not clear in the original. Apparently it is put in to preserve the right of the bishop over the churches and the clergy of his diocese, and to prevent any of the lower clergy from citing the decree in restraint of episcopal control; so also the exception in paragraph 3.
[2 ] This exception is intended to preserve the rights of the emperor and others on lawful expeditions to take what they need for the journey.
[1 ] The vigil is the day before the saint’s day.
[2 ] Certain days of fast in the four seasons, observed in the first week of March, the second week of June, the third week of September, and the fourth week of December.
[1 ] The numbering of the psalms in the authorized version differs from their numbering in the Vulgate. We have followed the numberings of the latter in those passages of the Rule in which the psalms for the services are given. But in quotations from the psalms we have followed the translation as well as the numbering of the authorized version, except occasionally when the translation in the authorized version does not give the sense required by the context of the Rule. In these cases we have translated the Latin of the Vulgate. The following table gives the corresponding numbers in each version:
In the Vulgate there are two psalms having the same number 10.
[1 ] There were eight services to be held every day. The night service was called vigils and was held some time between midnight and early dawn, perhaps as early as 2 a.m. in summer, and as late as 4 or 5 in winter. The first service of the day was called matins. It followed vigils after a short interval. It was supposed to begin about daybreak, which is also an indefinite expression and not a clearly fixed moment. The service of prime began with the first period of the day, terce with the third, sext with the sixth, and nones with the ninth. Vespers, as its name indicates, began toward evening. Completorium, or compline, was the last service of the day and took place just before the monks went to bed.
These designations of time are necessarily very inaccurate and indefinite. Beginning with sunrise the day was divided into twelve equal periods which were numbered from one to twelve. Beginning with sunset the night was divided in the same way. The day periods would, of course, be much longer in summer than in winter. As their methods of measuring time were primitive and inaccurate we must not suppose that the services took place exactly and regularly at the same hour every day.
[1 ] In the early church Wednesdays and Fridays were fast-days, because Christ was believed to have been born on a Wednesday and he died on a Friday.
[1 ] The vows which a monk had to take are found in chap. 58 and in nos. 252-257. They are differently stated but may be summed up as follows: (1) stabilitas loci, stability of place, steadfastness; that is, he took a vow never to leave the monastery and give up the monastic life; (2) conversio morum, conversion of life; that is, to give up all secular and worldly practices and to conform to the ideals and standards of the monastic life; (3) observance of the rule; (4) obedience, that is, to the abbot and to all his superiors; (5) chastity; and (6) poverty. The last three are generally meant when “monastic vows” are spoken of.
[1 ] See nos. 259, 260.
[1 ] See nos. 261-264.
[1 ] See introductory note to no. 113.
[1 ] From this last sentence it is thought that this was at one time the end of the rule, and that all the chapters which follow were added at a later date.
[1 ] The parish priest received a licence to hear confession only in his own parish, while the Friars received a general licence to hear confession everywhere. The decree “Omnis utriusque sexus” (All persons of both sexes) is the twenty-first chapter of the decrees of the Lateran council of 1215, and concerns the duty of making confession. According to its terms every Christian must confess at least once a year to his own parish priest. If he wished to confess to some other priest, he had first to secure the permission of his parish priest to do so.
[1 ] From this sentence it may be inferred that the papal protection was not always respected. It sometimes failed to protect the possessions of a crusader from violence and seizure.
[1 ] That is, he was a professor in the school connected with that church.
[1 ] New Corvey, near Paderborn, was founded in 816, for the purpose of Christianizing the newly conquered Saxons. It was named after its mother monastery, Corbie, in France. It was for a long time the most famous monastery in north Germany.