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Frederick II: Statute in Favor of the Princes, 1231

Frederick II (1215-1250) was a brilliant and militarily powerful emperor. But in order to follow his policy in Italy, which meant fighting the popes, he virtually abandoned Germany to the rule of the princes. Thus began the process whereby Germany, the most powerful state of the 11th and 12th century, began its decline into hundreds of more or less independent parts The following grant of privileges was made in 1231.

Statute in Favor of the Princes

In the name of the holy and undivided Trinity, Frederick 11, by divine mercy emperor of the Romans, Augustus, king of Jerusalem, king of Sicily.
  1. No new castles or cities shall be erected by us or by anyone else to the prejudice of the princes.
  2. New markets shall not be allowed to interfere with the interests of former ones.
  3. No one shall be compelled to attend any market against his will.
  4. Travellers should not be compelled to leave the old highways, unless they desire to do so.
  5. We will not exercise jurisdiction within the ban-mile of our cities.
  6. Each prince shall possess and exercise in peace according to the customs of the land the liberties, jurisdiction, and authority over counties and hundreds, which are in his own possession or are held as fiefs from him.
  7. Centgrafs shall receive their office from the prince or from the person who holds the land as a fief.
  8. The location of the hundred court shall not be changed without the consent of the lord.
  9. No nobleman shall be amenable to the hundred court.
  10. The citizens who are known as phalburgii [i.e., persons or corporations existing outside the city, but possessing political right within it] shall be expelled from the cities.
  11. Payments of wine, money, grain, and other rents, which free peasants have formerly agreed to pay [to the emperor], are here by remitted, and shall not be collected henceforth.
  12. The serfs of princes, nobles, ministerials, and churches shall no be admitted to our cities.
  13. Land and fiefs of princes, nobles, ministerials, and churches, which have been seized by our cities, shall be restored and shall never again be taken.
  14. The right of the princes to furnish safe-conduct within the lands they hold as fiefs from its shall not be infringed by us or by anyone else.
  15. Inhabitants of our cities shall not be compelled by our judges to restore any possessions which they may have received from others before they moved there.
  16. Notorious, condemned, and proscribed persons shall not be admitted to our cities; if they have been, they shall be driven out.
  17. We will never cause any money to be coined in the land of any of the princes which shall be injurious to his coinage.
  18. The jurisdiction of our cities shall not extend beyond their boundaries, unless we possess special jurisdiction in the region.
  19. In our cities the plaintiff shall bring suit in the court of the accused.
  20. Lands or property which are held as fiefs shall not be pawned without the consent of the lord from whom they are held.
  21. No one shall be compelled to aid in the fortifying of cities unless he is legally bound to render that service.
  22. Inhabitants of our cities who hold lands outside shall pay to their lords or advocates the regular dues and services, and they shall not be burdened with unjust exactions.
  23. If serfs, freemen subject to advocates, or vassals of any lord, shall dwell within any of our cities, they shall not be prevented by our officials from going to their lords.

From 0. J. Thatcher and E. H. McNeal, trans., A Source Book for Mediaeval History, (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1905), pp. 238-240.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996
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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 28 August 2023 [CV]