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X.: SOCIAL CLASSES AND CITIES IN GERMANY - 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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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. . . .
[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.