Front Page Titles (by Subject) 301-325.: The Cities of Germany. - A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age
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301-325.: The Cities of 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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The Cities of Germany.
In the days of Karl the Great each city with the surrounding territory formed a county which was under the jurisdiction of a count. As feudalism developed, the count became the lord of the city, and governed it in a more or less autocratic way. Besides these cities there were many villages in the time of Karl which in the course of time grew into cities. Later, still other cities, arose, some growing up around markets, or monasteries, or churches, and others developing from settlements of colonists, etc. They grew under favorable circumstances into cities, over which, however, the lord still retained his control. But in the course of time the cities freed themselves from the jurisdiction of their lord and separated themselves from the surrounding territory. They acquired a set of laws for their government, and jurisdiction over themselves. The citizens of each city became a commune possessing a number of rights, among them the right to have a market, freedom from tolls, the election of their own officials, judges, etc., the right to levy their own taxes, to coin money, to fortify their city, etc. In a word, each city freed itself from the government of its lord and got the right to govern itself.
The city charter was, in many cases at least, developed from the market charter. On this account we give a few market charters. Then a few documents are given to illustrate the rebellion of the cities against their lords, and their acquisition of municipal rights. We offer the important charter of Magdeburg, and some documents concerning the origin of the Rhine league and the early history of the Hanseatic league.
The development in the German cities was so varied that it is quite impossible in the space at our disposal to illustrate it adequately. Nearly every city offers something peculiar, interesting, and worthy of note.
Lothar II (855-69) Grants a Market to the Monastery of Prüm, 861.
Markets were a part of the regalia; that is, no one had a right to set up a market without the king’s permission. Small coins were necessary for the convenience of those who came to the market, and hence the lord of the market always received the right to establish a mint in connection with his market. In order to insure justice and fair treatment to the merchants who might bring their wares to the market, it was separated from the local jurisdiction, and the lord of the market was given jurisdiction over all crimes committed during the market and on the ground occupied by it. A further interest attaches to the charters of markets because in some cases the towns which grew up about the market-places became cities, and the market charter was developed into the city charter.
Lothar II, etc. . . . Therefore, let all our faithful subjects, both present and future, know that Ansbald, abbot of the monastery of Prüm, has told us that that place suffers great disadvantage because it is so far distant from a market and mint. On this account, he begged us to grant his monastery our permission for the establishment of a market and mint in a place which is called Romarivilla, which is not far from his monastery. Out of reverence for the Lord Jesus Christ, and for the salvation of our soul, we gladly grant his petition, and have ordered this document to be written, by which we decree and command that hereafter that monastery may have an ordinary market in the above-named place and a mint for coining denarii of the proper weight and quality. And no public official shall levy a tax of any sort on the monastery for this market and mint, but they shall be wholly for the profit of the monastery and its inmates. And that this concession may never be violated, we have ordered it to be sealed with our ring and we have signed it with our own hand. . . .
Otto I Grants a Market to an Archbishop, 965.
See introductory note to no. 301.
In the name of the undivided Trinity. Otto by the favor of God emperor, Augustus. If we grant the requests of clergymen and liberally endow the places which are dedicated to the worship of God, we believe that it will undoubtedly assist in securing for us the eternal reward. Therefore, let all know that for the love of God we have granted the petition of Adaldagus, the reverend archbishop of Hamburg, and have given him permission to establish a market in the place called Bremen. In connection with the market we grant him jurisdiction, tolls, a mint, and all other things connected therewith to which our royal treasury would have a right. We also take under our special protection all the merchants who live in that place, and grant them the same protection and rights as those merchants have who live in other royal cities. And no one shall have any jurisdiction there except the aforesaid archbishop and those to whom he may delegate it. Signed with our hand and sealed with our ring.
Otto III Grants a Market to Count Bertold, 999.
See introductory note to no. 301.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Otto by the clemency of God emperor, Augustus. If we grant the petitions of our faithful subjects we shall no doubt make them more faithful to us. Therefore, we wish all our subjects, present and future, to know that, at the request of the noble duke, Hermann, we have given our count, Bertold, full authority to establish a market, with a mint, tolls, and public jurisdiction, in a certain place called Vilungen, in the county of Bara, over which count Hildibald has jurisdiction. And by royal decree we make this a legal [and regular] market, with all the functions of a market. And no one shall be permitted to interfere with it. All who wish to come to this market may come and go away in security and peace. No unjust charges shall be levied on them, but they may buy and sell and do everything else that belongs to the business of a merchant. And if anyone tries to violate or break this concession, he shall pay the same fine as one who should violate the market at Constance, or Zürich. He shall pay this fine to count Bertold, or to his representative. The aforesaid count shall have the right of holding, changing, granting, and making any arrangement in regard to this market, as he pleases. . . .
No One shall Compel Merchants to Come to His Market, 1236.
See introductory note to no. 301.
Frederick [II], etc. . . . The venerable archbishop of Salzburg asked: When merchants are going along the public highway to a market, may anyone force them to leave the highway and go by private roads to his market? The decision of the princes was, that no one has a right to compel merchants to leave the highway, but that they may go to whatever market they wish. . . .
A Market-court is Independent of the Local Court, 1218.
See introductory note to no. 301.
Frederick II, by the grace of God king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily, etc. We wish to inform you that the following decision has been rendered in our presence by the princes and magnates of our empire. If we have granted the establishment of a market, either annual or weekly, and have given them [that is, the people to whom the market has been granted] our glove [as a symbol that they have jurisdiction over all offences committed during the market], no count nor any other judge of the province [in which the market is situated] shall exercise any jurisdiction there [that is, over crimes committed during the market], or have any power to punish crimes committed there. But if a thief, or robber, or any other criminal shall have been condemned to death there [that is, by the judge who holds the market-court] he must he handed over to the count or to the judge of the province to have the sentence executed upon him.
Otto I Grants Jurisdiction over a Town to the Abbots of New Corvey, 940.
For about 300 years after the time of Karl the Great the cities of Germany did not have self-government. Under Karl they were governed by an imperial or royal official. With the appearance and growth of feudalism, the towns came into the hands of the bishops, dukes, counts, etc., and were governed by them.
Frequently new towns grew up about monasteries or the churches, especially cathedral churches. As the land on which the town was built belonged to the abbot or bishop, as the case might be, he was naturally regarded as its lord, and of course he had jurisdiction over all its inhabitants. It is apparent that such a new town had sprung up around the monastery of New Corvey, and by this document Otto I recognized that its abbot had jurisdiction over all the people who lived on the lands of the monastery.
Otto I, etc. . . . Therefore, let all our subjects, both present and future, know that, for the love of God, the salvation of our souls, and the forgiveness of our sins, at the request of our beloved wife, we have granted that all the abbots of the monastery of New Corvey,1 beginning with Folkmar, who is now its abbot, shall have jurisdiction over all the men who live in the territory of the monastery and in the city which has been built up about it, that is, in, etc. [Here follow the names of the places over which the monastery shall have jurisdiction.] And no man and no official shall have the right of exercising over the aforesaid men that jurisdiction which is commonly called “Burgbann” [that is, the jurisdiction that goes with a town], except the abbot of the monastery and those to whom he may delegate it.
The Ban-mile, or the Limits of the Bishop’s Authority, 1237.
There was often a question as to the geographical limits of the jurisdiction of the lord of a town. In some cases his authority was bounded by the city walls. In others it extended into the country to a certain distance called a ban-league, or ban-mile.
Frederick II, etc. The archbishop of Cologne asked whether his jurisdiction extended beyond the city walls or not. The decision was that his jurisdiction extends beyond the city walls to the distance which is generally called a “ban-mile,” and within that he may legally sit in judgment on all the men who are under his jurisdiction.
The Citizens of Cologne Expel Their Archbishop, 1074.
The chief interest in this and the following number lies in the fact that they introduce us to the beginnings of the movement in the cities toward the acquisition of self-government. As the inhabitants of the towns increased in numbers and wealth, they began to resent the manner in which they were treated by their lords. As their own interests increased in importance it became more and more annoying and exasperating when their lord interfered with their business and demanded their services or the use of articles which they were using (see the following number). A rebellion was inevitable. It began generally, if not always, with the merchant class of the population. The lords of the towns vigorously resisted, but were unable to maintain their prerogatives. The cities generally succeeded in acquiring the right to govern themselves and obtained a charter to that effect.
The citizens of Worms had been offended by their bishop, not only because of his government of them, but also because he was supporting the pope against their king, to whom they were devotedly attached.
To his beloved brother and fellow bishop, Udo, archbishop [of Trier], Anno, archbishop of Cologne, sends his love, etc. . . . You have no doubt heard about the violence and insults which I have suffered from my citizens, although I have said nothing about the matter in my letters to you. And you have also probably heard how I was restored to my place in the city by the help of others. According to the canon law, I should immediately have punished their abominable insolence with excommunication and interdict, but I restrained myself from doing so, because it might have seemed that I did it not out of zeal for the Lord, but for personal reasons. But some of the insclent ones disregarded and despised my gentle treatment of them, and at night secretly collected and threatened me with worse things than they had done before. On this account, with the advice of the bishops whom the pope sent me, I anathematized them a week after Pentecost. I beg you to publish this anathema in your diocese. Do not permit your people to be infected with the leprosy of these excommunicated persons, but keep them out of your territory, lest by their speech they excite your people to do the same things against you. I beg you to inform your bishops of this, in order that my contaminated flock may not infect theirs also.
The People of Cologne Rebel against Their Archbishop, 1074.
See introductory note to no. 308.
The archbishop spent Easter in Cologne with his friend, the bishop of Münster, whom he had invited to celebrate this festival with him. When the bishop was ready to go home, the archbishop ordered his servants to get a suitable boat ready for him. They looked all about, and finally found a good boat which belonged to a rich merchant of the city, and demanded it for the archbishop’s use. They ordered it to be got ready at once and threw out all the merchandise with which it was loaded. The merchant’s servants, who had charge of the boat, resisted, but the archbishop’s men threatened them with violence unless they immediately obeyed. The merchant’s servants hastily ran to their lord and told him what had happened to the boat, and asked him what they should do. The merchant had a son who was both bold and strong. He was related to the great families of the city, and, because of his character, very popular. He hastily collected his servants and as many of the young men of the city as he could, rushed to the boat, ordered the servants of the archbishop to get out of it, and violently ejected them from it. The advocate of the city was called in, but his arrival only increased the tumult, and the merchant’s son drove him off and put him to flight. The friends of both parties seized their arms and came to their aid, and it looked as if there were going to be a great battle fought in the city. The news of the struggle was carried to the archbishop, who immediately sent men to quell the riot, and being very angry, he threatened the rebellious young men with dire punishment in the next session of court. Now the archbishop was endowed with all virtues, and his uprightness in all matters, both of the state and of the church, had often been proved. But he had one vice. When he became angry, he could not control his tongue, but overwhelmed everybody, without distinction, with bitter upbraidings and violent vituperation. When his anger had passed, he regretted his fault and reproached himself for it. The riot in the city was finally quieted a little, but the young man, who was very angry as well as elated over his first success, kept on making all the disturbance he could. He went about the city making speeches to the people about the harsh government of the archbishop, and accused him of laying unjust burdens on the people, of depriving innocent persons of their property, and of insulting honorable citizens with his violent and offensive words. . . . It was not difficult for him to raise a mob. . . . Besides, they all regarded it as a great and glorious deed on the part of the people of Worms that they had driven out their bishop because he was governing them too rigidly. And since they were more numerous and wealthy than the people of Worms, and had arms, they disliked to have it thought that they were not equal to the people of Worms in courage, and it seemed to them a disgrace to submit like women to the rule of the archbishop, who was governing them in a tyrannical manner. . . .
Confirmation of the Immediateness of the Citizens of Speyer, 1267.
Cities which were immediately subject to the king were called “imperial cities” (Reichsstädte), while those which were subject to the lord of the land in which they were situated were called “territorial cities” (Landesstädte). Many such cities rebelled against their lord, and put themselves under the king and secured his recognition of their character as imperial cities.
Philip, lord of Falkenstein, treasurer of the imperial court. By this present writing we wish to make known and publicly to declare that the citizens of the city of Speyer are joined directly to the empire so that they are in no way answerable to the bishop of Speyer [in secular matters]. This is manifest and well known to all. . . .
Summons Sent to an Imperial City to Attend a Diet, 1338.
An imperial city was in fact a tenant-in-chief since it held directly from the king. It therefore had a right to send its representatives to the diet.
Ludwig, etc. Because of certain important affairs of the empire, especially the controversy which has arisen between us and the pope, we have decided to summon the ecclesiastical and secular princes, the counts, barons, cities, and communities of the empire; therefore, we notify and command you, in whose fidelity, wisdom, and advice we place special confidence, to send two representatives with full credentials to Frankfort on the Tuesday before St. Laurence’s day [Aug. 10], there to meet with us, and the princes, counts, and other cities. Do not seek to evade this summons, but obey it readily and willingly, if you expect to receive our grace and favor.
Municipal Freedom is Given to the Town Called Ebenbuchholtz, 1201.
This is a good example of the charters by which the lord of the town surrendered his authority and granted municipal freedom to the people of the town.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Hermann, by the grace of God bishop of Münster. Because temporal things imitate time and pass away with it, we have thought it best to commit to writing those things which concern our honor and advantage. Let all people know, therefore, that we have granted to our village, Ebenbuchholtz, that municipal freedom which is commonly called “Weichbild.” But because that could not be done without the consent of Sueder of Dingden, to whose county the aforesaid village belonged, we made this agreement with him, that he should give up his right to the “Weichbild” [that is, to the government of the town, the appointment of the officials, etc.] and he should receive in return for it civil jurisdiction over the town, such as he has over our cities, Münster, Coesfeld, and others. And that these agreements and arrangements may remain unbroken forever, we have caused this document to be written and sealed with our ring. . . .
The Extension of the Corporate Limits of the City of Brunswick, 1269.
After a town had got its municipal freedom new quarters of suburbs might easily spring up about it. These might at first have no share in the government of the town, but would manage their own affairs. But in the course of time these new quarters might be incorporated with the old town. That is, the corporate limits of the old town would be extended to include the new suburbs.
All the aldermen of the city of Brunswick, etc. . . . We wish it to be made known that after having taken counsel with the older and wiser men for the best interests of the city, we have, under oath, issued the following decree which shall be observed forever, to the effect that hereafter we [the aldermen from the three different parts of the city which up to this time have had a separate organization] shall meet in one house to take counsel together about the affairs of the whole city. All the income of the city, from whatever source, shall be kept in a common fund and spent for the common good of the whole city. In the old town wine may be sold all the time. In that quarter of the city called Indago [that is, the Park], however, when one vat of wine has been sold no more shall be sold there until a vat has been sold in the new town, and vice versa. New aldermen shall be elected every year as follows: Seven new aldermen shall be elected in the old town, and three of the former aldermen from the same quarter shall be chosen to remain in office another year. In Indago [the quarter called the Park] four new aldermen shall be elected and two of the former aldermen shall remain in office. In the new town three shall be elected and one of the former shall remain in office. Thus there shall always be twenty aldermen. They shall take a special oath, among other things, to preserve this union [of the three towns in one]. And that no doubt may arise about this, we have caused this document to be written and the seal of the city to be attached to it. Witnesses . . .
The Decision of a Diet about the Establishment of City Councils in Cathedral Towns, 1218.
The lords of the towns were generally unwilling to surrender their authority without a struggle. They appealed to the king and to the diet against their rebellious subjects. The decisions were almost always in their favor, but they found it difficult to enforce them. Neither the king nor the diet assisted them. In the struggle which ensued between the lord and the rebellious town, the town was generally successful. It may be said that the kings seldom followed a wise policy in this matter, but permitted themselves to be influenced by the complaints of the lords. The German kings generally did not understand the movement or see its importance. They did not perceive that a new order of things was arising in the cities which was rapidly replacing the feudal system.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick II, by the favor of God king of the Romans, Augustus, and king of Sicily. . . . Our beloved prince, Henry, bishop of Basel, came into the presence of us and of many princes, barons, and nobles of the empire and demanded a decision about the following matter, namely: Whether we or anyone else had the right to establish a council in a city [that is, to give a city municipal freedom] which was subject to a bishop, without the bishop’s consent and permission. We first asked our beloved prince, Theodoric, the venerable archbishop of Trier, about this, and he, after some deliberation, declared that we neither could nor should grant or establish a council in the city of the aforesaid bishop of Basel without the consent of him or of his successors. The question was then asked in due form of all who were present, both princes, nobles, and barons, and they confirmed the decision of the archbishop of Trier. We also, as a just judge, approve this decision, and declare it to be right. We therefore remove and depose the council which is now in Basel, and we annul the charter which we granted the people of Basel authorizing the establishment of this council, and they shall never make any further use of it. As a greater evidence of our favor and love for the aforesaid bishop of Basel, we forbid, under the threat of the loss of our favor, the people of Basel to make or set up a council or any constitution, by whatever name it may be called, without the consent and permission of their bishop. . . .
Frederick II Forbird the Municipal Freedom of the Towns and Annuls all City Charters, 1231-2.
See introductory note to no. 314.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Frederick, etc. . . . (2) In various parts of Germany, through the failure to enforce the law and through neglect, certain detestable customs have become established which hide their bad character under a good appearance. By them the rights and honor of the princes of the empire are diminished and the imperial authority is weakened. It is our duty to see that these bad customs, or rather these corrupt practices, shall no longer be in force. (3) Wishing, therefore, that all the grants and concessions of liberties and privileges which we have made to the princes of the empire shall have the broadest interpretation and that the said princes may have full and undisturbed possession of them, we hereby remove and depose in every town and city of Germany all the city councils, burgomasters, mayors, aldermen, and all other officials, by whatever name they may be called, who have been established by the people of the said cities without the permission of their archbishop or bishop. (4) We also dissolve all fraternities or societies, by whatever name they may be called. (5) We also decree that, in every city or town where there is a mint, no kind of money except that which is coined in that place shall be used in the sale and purchase of all kinds of goods and provisions. (6) In times past the archbishops and bishops governed the cities and all the lands which were given them by the emperor, and we wish them to continue to do so forever, either in person or through the officials whom they may appoint for this purpose, in spite of the fact that certain abuses have crept in, and in some cities there are those who resist them. But this resistance to their lord is illegal. (7) In order that these wicked abuses may be stopped and may not have even a pretence of authority, we revoke and declare invalid and worthless all the privileges, open letters, and scaled letters, which we or our predecessors or the archbishops or bishops have given to any person, either public or private, or to any city, in favor of these societies, communes, or councils, to the disadvantage of the princes and of the empire. This document has the form of a judicial decision, being published by a decree of the princes with our full knowledge. . . .
Breslau Adopts the Charter of Magdeburg, 1261. (German.)
Magdeburg was on the frontier between the Germans and the Slavs (Wends and Poles) of the interior. It owed its importance and growth in large part to the fact that it was the centre of the extensive trade between the two peoples. For a long time practically all the commerce between them passed through it. It had the same commercial importance for the Slavs of the interior as Lübeck did for the people along the shores of the Baltic. Because of its position it was raised to be the seat of an archbishop, and given the work of Christianizing the Slavs. Another effect of her position and commerce was seen in the organization of the Slavic cities, all of which adopted her government and laws. These so-called Slavic towns to the east of Magdeburg were established generally by German colonists who made it a condition of their going as colonists that they should have the charter of Magdeburg. And when towns were raised to the rank of cities they asked to have the charter of Magdeburg. So in 1261 when Breslau was made a city, duke Henry and his citizens of Breslau applied to Magdeburg for a copy of its charter. In response to this request the Schoeffen of the city drew up the following statement of the city’s government. Although prolix, unsystematic, and obscure in some points, the student will be able to understand the essential features of it. Compare the legal procedure, delays, etc., with no. 4, the Salic Law.
In a city which had the charter of Magdeburg it might easily happen that a new case would arise which was not provided for in the charter. If the governing body was in doubt as to what to do, a deputation was sent to Magdeburg to ask for instructions from her board of Schoeffen. So in 1338 the citizens of Culm asked for instructions on several points, and the Schoeffen told them what the law on these matters in Magdeburg was. We give these two documents as typical, and as illustrating the government of the cities in Wendish-Polish territory.
(1) When Magdeburg was founded the inhabitants were given a charter such as they wished. They determined that they would choose aldermen every year, who, on their election, should swear that they would guard the law, honor, and interests of the city to the best of their ability and with the advice of the wisest people of the city. (2) The aldermen have under their jurisdiction false measures, false scales, false weights, offences in the sale of all sorts of provisions, and all kinds of deception in buying and selling. If they find anyone guilty of such things, he shall pay a fine of three Wendish marks, that is, thirtysix shillings. (3) The aldermen shall take counsel with the wisest people and then appoint their courts at whatever time they wish. Their decisions rendered in court are binding and must be obeyed. If anyone resists their decisions, they shall punish him. (4) If the bells are rung [to call the inhabitants to court], and anyone does not come, he shall pay a fine of six pence. If he is summoned to the court and does not come, he shall be fined five shillings. (5) If the people who are called hucksters are convicted of cheating, they shall either be beaten and have their heads shaved, or they shall be fined three shillings, according to the choice of the aldermen. (6) If anyone is convicted of using false weights or measures, the aldermen shall punish him according to the custom of the city, or fine him thirty-six shillings. (7) The burggrave is the highest judge. He must hold three courts every year: the first one at St. Agatha’s day [February 5], the second one at St. John’s day [June 24], and the third one a week after St. Martin’s day [November 11]. If these days fall on holy days or on “bound times” [that is, holidays on which, for some reason not here stated, no courts may be held], the court must be put off. If plaintiffs do not appear, the case must be put off. If the Schultheiss does not come, the case must be put off. But the Schultheiss who fails to come must pay the burggrave ten pounds, unless it was impossible for him to come. (8) All crimes committed 14 days before the burggrave’s court meets belong solely to the jurisdiction of the burggrave. But if the burggrave is not there, the citizens shall choose someone else to judge in his place, if anyone has been taken in the very act of committing a crime. The fee of the burggrave is three pounds. When the burggrave rises from the judge’s chair, his court is dissolved, and he then appoints the court of the Schultheiss to be held 14 days from the next day. (9) The Schultheiss holds three regular courts every year: the first one, twelve days after Christmas, the second, on the first Tuesday after Easter week, and the third, at the end of the week of Pentecost. At the close of each of these courts he shall appoint another court [if necessary], to be held fourteen days later. If these courts fall on a holy day, he may put off his court for a day or two. (10) The fee of the Schultheiss is eight shillings. No one shall be summoned to his court except by the Schultheiss himself or by his beadle. His servant shall not summon anyone. If the Schultheiss is not at home when a crime is committed, the people shall choose someone to judge in his place, in case they have taken some offender in the act. The Schultheiss shall receive his authority as a fief from the lord of the land, and he shall have a fief [besides], and he must be of legitimate birth, and born a citizen of the town. (11) If a man is wounded and cries for help, and seizes his assailant and brings him into court, and has six witnesses, the defendant is to be shown to the witnesses, so that he cannot escape. If a man inflicts a wound as deep as a nail and as long as a finger, his hand shall be cut off; for killing anyone his head shall be cut off. (12) Neither the burggrave nor the Schultheiss shall compel citizens to render decisions [that is, assist in holding court] at any other time than the regular sessions of the court, except when a criminal has been taken in the act. But the burggrave and the Schultheiss must, every day, try the cases which are brought before them. (13) If a man is wounded but puts off making complaint [to the proper official] until the next day, the accused may clear himself if he produces six witnesses. If the accused fails to appear at the next three sessions of the court, he shall, at the fourth session, be put under the ban [outlawed, proscribed]. (14) If a man dies leaving a wife, she shall have no share in his property except what he has given her in court, or has appointed for her dower. She must have six witnesses, male or female, to prove her dower. If the man made no provision for her, her children must support her as long as she does not remarry. If her husband had sheep, the widow shall take them. (15) If a man and woman have children, some of whom are married and have received their marriage portion, and the man dies, the children who are still at home [that is, un-married], shall receive the inheritance. Those who have received their marriage portion shall have no part of it [that is, the inheritance]. Children who have received an inheritance shall not sell it without the consent of their heirs. (16) If a man surrenders anything to another in court, and the other holds it in peaceable possession for a year and a day, he shall call the judge and the Schoeffen as witnesses to the fact [that he has held it for a year and a day], and thereafter no one shall bring a suit against him to recover it. (17) If a judge or Schoeffe dies, he shall be declared deposed [that is, his office shall be declared vacant] by a session of court in which at least two Schoeffen and four free citizens are present. Then his wife shall receive her share of his property [that is, not until his office is declared vacant may his widow claim her share of his property]. (18) No one, whether man or woman, shall, on his sick-bed, give away more than three shillings’ worth of his property without the consent of his heirs, and the woman must have the consent of her husband. (19) If the fee or wergeld of the burggrave has been adjudged to him in court, it must be paid to him within six weeks. (20) If there are no immediate heirs [that is, children] to an inheritance, the nearest of kin shall share it equally. (21) If a man is wounded and cries for help [but does not seize his assailant] and comes into court and accuses someone who was present [when he received the wound], the accused must answer in court and defend himself. If a man accuses more persons than he has wounds, only as many persons as he has wounds shall be prosecuted, but the defendants may clear themselves of the charges with six witnesses. (22) If an inheritance is left to a boy [that is, if his father dies], and he wishes to become a priest, he shall nevertheless receive the inheritance. But if he has an unmarried sister at home, the two shall divide it between them. (23) If a man transfers a piece of property to another in the presence of the judge and of the Schoeffen, the Schoeffen shall receive a fee of one shilling. (24) If a man brings a suit against another for a debt and gets a writ of execution against him, the defendant must, on the same day, pay the debt and also the judge’s fee. (25) If a man is sued for a debt and he confesses to the debt, he must pay it within fourteen days. If he does not pay it within fourteen days, he shall pay the judge’s fee, and the judge shall order him to pay it within eight days. If he does not pay it within eight days, the judge shall order him to pay it the next day. If he does not pay it, he shall pay the judge his fee for every time the judge ordered him to pay. If he does not have the money to pay, his house shall be taken in pawn for the debt. If he has no house, he shall be seized for debt wherever he may be found. Whoever gives him aid, shall pay a fine to the judge. (26) If a man’s clothes are taken from him by a writ of execution, he has seventeen days in which to call a court session. (27) If a man of good reputation is accused of having caused a disturbance by day or night, he shall clear himself with six witnesses, provided he was not seen near the place where the disturbance was. (28) No widow shall use the capital of her dower or sell it. If she dies it shall go to the heirs of her husband. (29) If an inheritance is left to children, and one of them dies, the others share it equally. (30) If a man’s house is taken from him as a pawn for a debt, so long as the pawn is unredeemed he shall pay the judge a fine every time he enters the house. (31) If a man is going out of the country as a pilgrim or as a merchant, no one shall hinder him from going because of a debt, unless he brings suit against him for the debt before the judge. (32) If anyone reviles a Schoeffe while he is on the bench [that is, while he is performing the duties of his office], he shall pay the Schoeffe the regular fine [for an offence against a Schoeffe], that is, thirty shillings, and he shall also pay the judge his fee. (33) If a man reviles the Schoeffen after they have given a decision, he shall pay each of them the regular fine, that is, thirty shillings, and also pay the judge his regular fine. He shall pay the judge’s fine as many times as there are Schoeffen whom he reviled. (34) if a man needs evidence that a quarrel or feud was legally settled in court, he shall appeal to the judge and Schoeffen in whose presence the feud was settled. If they have died, he shall take the testimony of the free citizens who were in court at the time. (35) The judge shall not reverse a decision of the Schoeffen. (36) If a feud is settled out of court and one of the parties afterward renews it, the other party shall prove that it was settled by bringing six witnesses who saw and heard the settlement. (37) If a feud is settled in court and a pledge given [that the feud shall not be renewed] and some of them [that is, one of the parties to it] renew it and they are convicted of it before the judge and the Schoeffen, they shall lose a hand for inflicting a wound on any of the other party, and their head if they have killed anyone. If a man who did not agree to the settlement of the feud renews it, he shall pay the wergeld, that is, nine pounds for a wound and eighteen for killing anyone. (38) If a man attacks another with intent to wound, and does wound him, he shall lose a hand for a wound, and his head if he kills him. (39) If a man is beaten with rods on his back and abdomen so as to make black and blue spots and to cause swellings, he shall show himself to the judge and to the free citizens in court that they may see the effects of the blows, and then he has grounds for suit against those who beat him. But if he is beaten on his head and arms and he has no other proof, the accused shall clear themselves in the regular way. If they confess [that they beat him], each one shall pay his fine and the judge’s fee besides. If the man whom they beat dies, they must all answer in court for his death. If he does not die, only one of them shall answer in court, the others shall go free. (40) The burggrave and not the Schultheiss shall have jurisdiction over the three crimes of attacking from an ambush, violating women, and attacking with intent to kill. If the one attacked has wounds and shows them to the judge and has witnesses who heard him cry for help, the accused shall answer in court to the charges. (41) If anyone dies leaving an inheritance and no heirs appear within a year and a day to claim it, it shall go to the king. (42) If a man who has three or more children is killed, and someone is accused by one of the children of having killed his father, but is not convicted, and the court gives him a certificate that he did not commit the crime, the other children shall not renew the charge against him. (43) If a man enters suit against another, he shall make a deposit with the judge [to cover expenses?]. He shall not give this deposit to the judge, but he shall receive it back [after the suit is ended]. (44) If a man seizes a horse and declares that it was stolen or taken by force from him, he shall prove it in court. He in whose possession the horse was found, shall appeal to witnesses and name them and swear by the saints that he is not practising any deception in appealing to witnesses. After he has named his witnesses, the man who is called as a witness shall go with him a reasonable distance [that is, to meet the witnesses who have been named]. If he cannot produce the witnesses whom he boasted of having, he shall give security to the judge for the fine and the expenses to which the man who claimed the horse has been put, and he shall set a day when he shall appear in court. If he says that he bought the horse in the public market, he shall restore the horse to its owner and he shall lose the money which he paid for it. But he shall not pay a fine. The judge shall not assess a fine for the non-payment of his fine. (45) If a man claims a piece of property or an inheritance, he shall not bribe the judge in order to secure a favorable decision. If a man enters a suit against another [but in the meantime the matter is settled out of court], he shall pay nothing except the fee of the judge. (46) If a man who has been wounded does not wish to make charges against anyone, the judge cannot compel him to do so. (47) If a man is outlawed or condemned, no one but his heirs shall take his property. (48) If a man dies without having disposed of his property, it shall go to his children, if they are his equals in birth. If one of the children dies, its share goes to its mother, but she cannot dispose of it without the consent of her heirs. (49) When a child is twelve years old it may choose whom it will as guardian. The guardian must render an account to the mother and to the children of his management of the inheritance. (50) If one man says to another, “You are my property,” but the man thus claimed can prove his freedom, no similar claim shall ever be made against him again. A man can prove his freedom by the testimony of three of his mother’s relatives and three of his father’s relatives. These witnesses may be either male or female. (51) Playing at dice is not a crime. (52) If a man is security for anything and dies, his children are not responsible for the security. If a man is security for a debt, he must pay it and make everything good. (53) If a man wounds another in the street within the corporate limits of the city [that is, on ground which is under the jurisdiction of the city] not in self-defence, wrongfully, and without provocation, and the wounded man turns and wounds him and cries for help, but because of his wounds is not able to reach the court first and make charges against his assailant, and his assailant, although he was the first to make the attack, maliciously and insolently comes into court and makes charges, the one who was first attacked shall come into court on the same day and prove by those who heard his cry for help that the other was the first to make the attack. If he can prove this he shall win his case. But he must appear the same day. (54) If two men who are from Wendish territory, even though they are not both Wends, wound each other within the corporate limits of the city, and one of them comes into court and makes charges against the other according to Wendish law, the other must answer him according to the same law. (55) When a man dies his wife shall give his sword, his horse and saddle, and his best coat of mail. She shall also give a bed, a pillow, a sheet, a table-cloth, two dishes and a towel. Some say that she should give other things also, but that is not necessary. If she does not have these things, she shall not give them, but she shall give proof for each article that she does not have it. (56) If two or more children inherit these things [named in § 55], the oldest shall take the sword and they shall share the other things equally. (57) If the children are minors, the oldest male relative on the father’s side, if he is of the same rank by birth, shall receive all these things [named in § 55] and preserve them for the children. When they become of age, he shall give them to them, and in addition, all their property, unless he can prove that he has used it to their profit, or that it has been stolen or destroyed by some accident without any fault of his. He shall also be the guardian of the widow until she remarries, if he is of the same rank as she is. (58) After giving the above articles the widow shall take her dower and all that belongs to her; that is, all the sheep, geese, chests, yarn, beds, pillows, cushions, table linen, bed linen, towels, cups, candlesticks, linen, woman’s clothing, finger rings, bracelets, headdress, psalters, and all prayer-books, chairs, drawers, bureaus, carpets, curtains, etc., and there are many other trinkets which belong to her, such as brushes, scissors, and mirrors, but I do not mention them. But uncut cloth, and unworked gold and silver do not belong to her. (59) All the possessions of the man except those named in § 55 belong to his inheritance. If he has given anything in pledge, he who has the right to shall redeem it if he wishes to do so. (60) If one of the children becomes a priest he shall share in the inheritance equally with his brothers, but not if he becomes a monk. (61) If a boy is put into a monastery but leaves it before he becomes of age, he retains his legal status; that is, he may inherit fiefs from his father and has all the protection of the law of the land. But if a man becomes a monk, he loses all his rights and fiefs, because he has denied his military duties. The monks of the monastery which he has entered shall be witnesses of this. (62) Cases shall be tried in the order in which they are entered. The plaintiff and the defendant have each the right to speak three times during the trial. Each one may speak until the beadle orders him to stop. (63) In all cities it is the law that the judge shall give decisions. A man who has a representative shall not speak in court. If the judge asks him whether he agrees to what his representative says, he must answer Yes or No, or he may ask for permission to speak. (64) If anyone wishes to challenge a fellow citizen to an ordeal by duel, he must ask the judge to permit him to challenge the peace-breaker in a legal manner. If this request is granted, the accuser may ask how he should challenge so as to have the support of the law. The answer is, by pulling the defendant at his collar. After the challenge, he shall tell the defendant why he challenged him. He must accuse him of having broken the peace either on the king’s road, or in a village. He shall declare in which way the peace was broken. But he must accuse the defendant of having wounded him and done him violence. And this he may prove by showing his wounds or scars. Further, he shall accuse the defendant of having robbed him of his property and of having taken enough to make an ordeal necessary. He shall accuse him of all these three crimes at once. If he omits one of these he is deprived of the privilege of the ordeal.
The honorable Schoeffen and the aldermen of Magdeburg drew up this law of Magdeburg for the noble duke, Henry, and his citizens of Breslau, and, if necessary, will aid them in keeping it. They gave it at the request of Henry the duke and of his citizens of Breslau. In the year 1261. . . .
The Schoeffen of Magdeburg give Decisions for Culm, 1338. (German.)
See introductory note to no. 316.
1. May aldermen be deposed? To the honorable aldermen of Culm, we the Schoeffen of Magdeburg, your obedient servants [send greeting]. You have asked us in your letter whether aldermen may choose other aldermen, and whether they may choose from among themselves burgomasters and Schoeffen without the consent of the burggrave. And also whether the burggrave may depose some of the aldermen and appoint others in their place. We answer, that the aldermen may choose other aldermen for a year, and one or two burgomasters from their own number also for a year. But the burggrave has no right to depose aldermen and put others in their place.
2. Who shall choose other Schoeffen? The Schoeffen shall elect other Schoeffen, and those elected shall remain Schoeffen as long as they live. The aldermen have no right to elect Schoeffen. The burggrave shall confirm the Schoeffen who are elected.
3. May the aldermen make laws? You have also asked us whether the aldermen with the consent of their citizens may make laws among themselves and fix the penalties for offences against them, without the consent of the burggrave, and whether the aldermen have the right to collect such penalties and retain them, or shall the burggrave and the Schultheiss have a share in them. And you have also asked if a man breaks the laws and refuses to pay the fine, how it is to be collected from him. We answer, that the aldermen may make laws and fix their penalties provided these laws do not conflict with the laws of the city. And they may do this without the consent of the burggrave. And they have the right to demand the payment of fines, and they may keep them for the benefit of the city; the burggrave and the Schultheiss shall have no part in them.
4. What if a man refuses to pay a fine? If a man refuses to pay a fine but admits that he owes it, the aldermen may seize and imprison him until he pays it. If he says he does not owe the fine, he shall prove it by taking an oath by the saints.
5. About false measures. You have further asked whether the aldermen have jurisdiction over weights and measures, false measures, and the sale of provisions, and if a man refuses to pay a fine how it shall be collected. We answer, that aldermen have jurisdiction over the said things, and that if a man refuses to pay his fine, they may seize and imprison him until he pays it, as is written above.
6. About damage done to a forest. You asked us if a man cuts wood in a forest, how he shall pay the damage. We answer, if a man cuts down trees in another’s forest, or cuts his grass, or fishes in his streams, he shall pay for the damage and a fine besides.
7. How far shall a guest live from the city? You also asked us how far a man must live from the court if he wishes to have the right of a guest. We answer, if a guest is accused before the court, if he swears by the saints that he lives more than twelve miles from the court, he shall have his trial at once. If a guest enters suit against a citizen in the same court, the citizen shall answer in court that same day if the guest demands it.
8. About attaching the property of a guest. You further asked us how you should proceed, if a man attaches the property of a guest from a far country, so that justice may be done to both. We answer, if a man attaches the property of a guest who lives so far away that you cannot get hold of him, the attachment is not to be put into execution until the guest is informed of it. If the guest does not then appear to defend his property, the attached property may be taken.
9. About taxes. You further asked us, if the citizens have property outside of the territory of the city which they hold from some lord and from which they receive an income, are they bound to pay the tax which may be assessed on property outside the city, just the same as they do on their ordinary property? We answer that, according to the law and practice of our city, every man must pay taxes on his property outside as well as inside the city, no matter where it is, and he must take an oath to its value and pay a tax accordingly.
The Establishment of the Rhine League, 1254.
Commerce, the chief interest of the cities, could flourish only under peaceful conditions. But peace was a stranger to Germany toward the middle of the thirteenth century. In order to prosecute his Italian-Sicilian policy, Frederick II had left Germany to her fate. The princes were engaged in private warfare, and a large number of robber barons plied their trade and made the roads unsafe. Conrad IV was fighting for the possession of the crown and so was unable to establish peace. William of Holland was recognized in only a small territory and was practically helpless to restore order. Under these circumstances the cities of the Rhine valley determined to take matters into their own hands, and so made a league for the purpose of protecting their commerce against the robber barons and other highwaymen who infested all the roads and streams. We give the document by which the league was formed, and the one in which is embodied its first legislation.
In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity. The judges, consuls [aldermen], and all the citizens of Mainz, Cologne, Worms, Speyer, Strassburg, Basel, and other cities which are bound together in the league of holy peace, to all the faithful of Christ, greeting in him who is the author of peace and the ground of salvation.
1. Since now for a long time many of our citizens have been completely ruined by the violence and wrongs which have been inflicted on them in the country and along the roads, and through their ruin others have also been ruined, so that innocent people, through no fault of their own, have suffered great loss, it is high time that some way be found for preventing such violence, and for restoring peace in all our lands in an equitable manner.
2. Therefore we wish to inform all that, with the aid of our Lord Jesus Christ, the author and lover of peace, and for the purpose of fostering peace and rendering justice, we have all unanimously agreed on the following terms of peace: We have mutually bound ourselves by oath to observe a general peace for ten years from St. Margaret’s day [July 13, 1254]. The venerable archbishops, Gerhard of Mainz, Conrad of Cologne, Arnold of Trier, and the bishops, Richard of Worms, Henry of Strassburg, Jacob of Metz, Bertold of Basel, and many counts and nobles of the land have joined us in this oath, and they as well as we have all surrendered the unjust tolls which we have been collecting both by land and water, and we will collect them no longer.
3. This promise shall be kept in such a way that not only the greater ones among us shall have the advantage of this common protection, but all, the small with the great, the secular clergy, monks of every order, laymen, and Jews, shall enjoy this protection and live in the tranquillity of holy peace. If anyone breaks this peace, we will all go against him with all our forces, and compel him to make proper satisfaction.
4. In regard to the quarrels or differences which now exist between members of this peace, or which may hereafter arise, they shall be settled in the following way: Each city and each lord, who are members of this league, shall choose four reliable men and give them full authority to settle all quarrels in an amicable way, or in some legal manner. . . .
Peace Established by the Rhine League, 1254.
See introductory note to no. 318.
In the name of the Lord, amen. In the year of our Lord 1254, on the octave of St. Michael’s day [that is, a week after Sept. 29] we, the cities of the upper and lower Rhine, leagued together for the preservation of peace, met in the city of Worms. We held a meeting there and carefully discussed everything pertaining to a general peace. To the honor of God, and of the holy mother church, and of the holy empire, which is now governed by our lord, William [of Holland], king of the Romans, and to the common advantage of all, both rich and poor alike, we made the following laws. They are for the benefit of all, both poor and great, the secular clergy, monks, laymen, and Jews. To secure these things which are for the public good we will spare neither ourselves nor our possessions. The princes and lords who take the oath are joined with us.
1. We decree that we will make no warlike expeditions except those that are absolutely necessary and determined on by the wise counsel of the cities and communes. We will mutually aid each other with all our strength in securing redress for our grievances.
2. We decree that no member of the league, whether city or lord, Christian or Jew, shall furnish food, arms, or aid of any kind, to anyone who opposes us or the peace.
3. And no one in our cities shall give credit, or make a loan to them.
4. No citizen of any of the cities in the league shall associate with such, or give them counsel, aid, or support. If anyone is convicted of doing so, he shall be ejected from the city and punished so severely in his property that he will be a warning to others not to do such things.
5. If any knight, in trying to aid his lord who is at war with us, attacks or molests us anywhere outside of the walled towns of his lord, he is breaking the peace, and we will in some way inflict due punishment on him and his possessions, no matter who he is. If he is caught in any of the cities, he shall be held as a prisoner until he makes proper satisfaction. We wish to be protectors of the peasants, and we will protect them against all violence if they will observe the peace with us. But if they make war on us, we will punish them, and if we catch them in any of the cities, we will punish them as malefactors.
6. We wish all the cities to destroy all the ferries except those in their immediate neighborhood, so that there shall be no ferries except those near the cities which are in the league. This is to be done in order that the enemies of the peace may be deprived of all means of crossing the Rhine.
7. We decree that if any lord or knight aids us in promoting the peace, we will do all we can to protect him. Whoever does not swear to keep the peace with us, shall be excluded from the general peace.
8. We decree that whoever is in our cities as a pledge [that is, as security that some contract will be kept] shall have peace from all who are in the league. We will not permit him to be molested by anyone so long as he is in one of our cities; but we will defend him, and he may enter and leave the city as he pleases.
9. But if any such man breaks his oath and flees, he shall be warned three times by the city, and if he does not return, the creditor, or the one to whom he had been security, may bring suit against him before the judges and they shall compel him to continue as security.
10. Above all we wish to affirm that we desire to live in mutual peace with the lords and all the people of the province, and we wish that each should preserve all his rights.
11. Under threat of punishment we forbid any citizen to revile the lords although they may be our enemies. For although we wish to punish them for the violence they have done us, yet before making war on them we will first warn them to cease from injuring us.
12. We decree that all correspondence about this matter with the cities of the lower Rhine shall be conducted from Mainz, and from Worms with the cities of the upper Rhine. From these two cities all our correspondence shall be carried on and all who have done us injury shall be warned. Those who have suffered injury shall send their messengers at their own expense.
13. We also promise, both lords and cities, to send four official representatives to whatever place a conference is to be held, and they shall have full authority from their cities to decide on all matters. They shall report to their cities all the decisions of the meeting. All who come with the representatives of the cities or who come to them [while in session], shall have peace, and no judgment shall be enforced against them.
14. No city shall receive non-residents, who are commonly called “pfahlburgers,” as citizens.
15. We firmly promise that if any member of the league breaks the peace, we will proceed against him at once as if he were not a member, and compel him to make proper satisfaction.
16. We promise that we will faithfully keep each other informed by letter about our enemies and all others who may be able to do us damage, in order that we may take timely counsel to protect ourselves against them.
17. We decree that no one shall violently enter the house of monks or nuns, of whatever order they may be, or quarter themselves upon them, or demand or extort food, or any kind of service, from them contrary to their will. If anyone does this he shall be held as a violator of the peace.
18. We decree that each city shall try to persuade each of its neighboring cities to swear to keep the peace. If they do not do so, they shall be entirely cut off from the peace, so that if anyone does them an injury, either in their persons or their property, he shall not thereby break the peace.
19. We wish all members of the league, cities, lords, and all others, to arm themselves properly and prepare for war, so that whenever we call upon them we shall find them ready.
20. We decree that the cities between the Mosel and Basel shall prepare 100 war boats, and the cities below the Mosel shall prepare 500, well equipped with bowmen, and each city shall prepare herself as well as she can and supply herself with arms for knights and foot-soldiers.
Agreement between Hamburg and Lübeck,ca. 1230.
With the deposition of Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony, in 1180, and the consequent dismemberment of his duchy (see no. 112), north Germany was left without a great prince, and there was no hope that anyone would be able to unite the numerous principalities which were enjoying more or less sovereignty. The absence of any strong power gave greater opportunity for the development of the cities and made the Hanseatic league possible. This league had its origin in the league between Hamburg and Lübeck for mutual protection against robbers in 1241. But these cities had already for a long time been friendly, and had made a mutual agreement for the protection of the merchants of the one city when they went to the other. Other cities joined them in the league of 1241. The power and influence of the league grew until it was able to carry on war and to dictate in political matters to the whole north. The earliest stages of the development of the league are illustrated by nos. 320-322.
To their honorable and beloved friends, the advocate, aldermen, and other citizens of Lübeck, the advocate, aldermen, and the commune of Hamburg, greeting, etc. . . .
We wish you to know that we desire by all means to preserve the mutual love and friendship which have hitherto existed between you and us. We desire that we shall have the same law, so that whenever your citizens come into our city, bringing goods that are unencumbered [that is, about which there is no dispute or suit pending], they may possess and enjoy them in peace and security, in the same way as our citizens. . . .
Agreement for Mutual Protection between Lübeck and Hamburg, 1241.
The advocate, council and commune of Lübeck. . . . We have made the following agreement with our dear friends, the citizens of Hamburg.
1. If robbers or other depredators attack citizens of either city anywhere from the mouth of the Trave river to Hamburg, or anywhere on the Elbe river, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in destroying and extirpating them.
2. If anyone who lives outside the city, kills, wounds, beats, or mishandles, without cause, a citizen of either city, the two cities shall bear the expenses equally in punishing the offender. We furthermore agree to share the expenses equally in punishing those who injure their citizens in the neighborhood of their city and those who injure our citizens in the neighborhood of our city.
3. If any of their citizens are injured near our city [Lübeck], they shall ask our officials to punish the offender, and if any of our citizens are injured near their city [Hamburg], they shall ask their officials to punish the offender.
Lübeck, Rostock, and Wismar Proscribe Pirates, 1259.
To all the faithful subjects of Christ. . . . The communes of Lübeck, Rostock, and Wismar. . . . Since most merchants are not protected on the sea from pirates and robbers, we have, in a common council, decreed, and by this writing declare, that all who rob merchants in churches, in cemeteries, or on the water or on the land, shall be outlawed and proscribed by all cities and merchants. No matter where these robbers go with their booty, whatever city or land receives them shall be held equally guilty with them, and proscribed by all the cities and merchants. . . .
Decrees of the Hanseatic League, 1260-64.
We wish to inform you of the action taken in support of all merchants who are governed by the law of Lübeck.
(1) Each city shall, to the best of her ability, keep the sea clear of pirates, so that merchants may freely carry on their business by sea. (2) Whoever is expelled from one city because of a crime shall not be received in another. (3) If a citizen is seized [by pirates, robbers, or bandits] he shall not be ransomed, but his sword-belt and knife shall be sent to him [as a threat to his captors]. (4) Any merchant ransoming him shall lose all his possessions in all the cities which have the law of Lübeck. (5) Whoever is proscribed in one city for robbery or theft shall be proscribed in all. (6) If a lord besieges a city, no one shall aid him in any way to the detriment of the besieged city, unless the besieger is his lord. (7) If there is a war in the country, no city shall on that account injure a citizen from the other cities, either in his person or goods, but shall give him protection. (8) If any man marries a woman in one city, and another woman from some other city comes and proves that he is her lawful husband, he shall be beheaded. (9) If a citizen gives his daughter or niece in marriage to a man [from another city], and another man comes and says that she is his lawful wife, but cannot prove it, he shall be beheaded.
This law shall be binding for a year, and after that the cities shall inform each other by letter of what decisions they make.
Decrees of the Hanseatic League, 1265.
We ought to hold a meeting once a year to legislate about the affairs of the cities.
(5) If pirates appear on the sea, all the cities must contribute their share to the work of destroying them.
Cologne Merchants have a Gildhall in London, 1157.
The merchants of Cologne early had commercial dealings with London. Her commercial relations with England were more important to her than her relations with Germany, and as a result of this she generally preferred her English alliance to her less lucrative relations with other German principalities on the mainland. In international complications Cologne was apt to be found on the side of England. This document is interesting as showing the early existence of the gildhall of the merchants of Cologne, which was the starting-point of the Hanse in London.
Henry [II], by the grace of God, etc., . . . to his justiciars, sheriffs, and all his officials in England, greeting. I command you to guard, maintain, and protect all the men and citizens of Cologne as if they were my own subjects and friends, and all their goods, merchandise, and possessions. You shall not permit them to suffer any loss or damage in their house in London, which is called their gildhall, or in their goods, or merchandise, or anything else that belongs to them, because they are faithful to me, and they are in my ward and protection. They shall have complete protection, and they shall pay only their customary tolls, and you shall not exact new tolls from them. . . .
The following list is intended to serve both as a brief bibliography of important collections of mediæval documents and as an explanation of the references. In the case of the more important collections and works a brief comment is added. Many titles are omitted where the reference in the text is clear and the work is not of general importance.
[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.