Front Page Titles (by Subject) 240-250.: Documents on the Peace of God, the Truce of God, and the Peace of the Land. - A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age
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240-250.: Documents on the Peace of God, the Truce of God, and the Peace of the Land. - 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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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.
[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.