Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages/Book II/Decree of the Emperor Henry IV



(Doeberl, " Monumenta Germauiae Selecta," Bd. 3, p. 49).

Whereas in our times the holy church has been afflicted beyond measure by tribulations through having to join in suffering so many oppressions and dangers, we have so striven to aid it, with God's help, that the peace which we could not make lasting by reason of our sins, we should to some extent make binding by at least exempting certain days. In the year of the Lord's incarnation, 1085, in the 8th indiction, it was decreed by God's mediation, the clergy and people unanimously agreeing: that from the first day of the Advent of our Lord until the end of the day of the Epiphany, and from the beginning of Septua- gesinia until the 8th day after Pentecost, and throughout that whole day, and on every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, until sunrise on Monday, and on the day of the fast of the four seasons, and on the eve and the day itself of each of the apostles—moreover on every day canonically set apart, or in future to be set apart, for fasting or for celebrating,—this decree of peace shall be observed. The purpose of it is that those who travel and those who remain at home may enjoy the greatest possible security, so that no one shall commit murder or arson, robbery or assault, no man shall injure another with a. whip or a sword or any kind of weapon, and that no one, no matter on account of what wrong he shall be at feud, shall, from the Advent of our Lord to the 8th day after Epiphany, and from Septuagesima until the 8th day after Pentecost, presume to bear as weapons a shield, sword, or lance—or, in fact, the burden of any armour. Likewise on the other days—namely, on Sundays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and on the eve and day of each of the apostles, and on every day canonically fixed, or to be fixed. for fasting or celebrating,—it is unlawful, except for those going a long distance, to carry arms; and even then under the condition that they injure no one in any way. Tf, during the space for which the peace has been declared, it shall be necessary for any one to go to another place where that peace is not observed, he may bear arms; provided, nevertheless, that he harm no one unless he is attacked and has to defend himself. Moreover, when he returns, he shall lay aside his weapons again. If it shall happen that a castle is being besieged, the besiegers shall cease from the attack during the days included in the peace, unless they are attacked by the besieged, and are obliged to beat them back.

And lest this statute of peace be violated with impunity by any person, the following sentence was decreed by all present: If a freeman or a noble shall have violated it— that is, if he shall have committed murder, or shall have transgressed it in any other way,—he shall, without any payments or any friends being allowed to intervene, be expelled from within his boundaries, and his heirs may take his whole estate; and if he hold a fief, the lord to whom it belongs shall take it. But if, after his expulsion, his heirs shall be found to have given him any aid or support, and shall be convicted of it, the estate shall be taken from them and shall fall to the portion of the king. But if he wish to clear himself of the charges against him, he shall swear with 12 who are equally noble and free. If a slave kill a man he shall be beheaded; if he wound him he shall have his right hand cut off; if he have transgressed in any other way—by striking with his fist, or a stone, or a whip, or any thing else—he shall be flogged and shorn. But if the accused (slave) wish to prove his innocence, he shall purge himself by the ordeal of cold water: in such wise, however, that he himself, and no one in his place, be sent to the water. But if, fearing the sentence that has been passed against him, he shall have fled,—he shall be forever under the bann. And wherever he is heard to be, letters shall be sent there announcing that he is under the bann, and that no one may hold intercourse with him. The hands may not be cut off of boys who have not yet completed their 12th year; if boys, then, shall transgress this peace, they shall be punished with whipping only. It is not an infringement of the peace if any one order a delinquent slave, or a scholar, or any one who is subject to him in any way, to be beaten with rods or with whips. It is an exception also to this statute of peace, if the emperor shall publicly order an expedition to be made to seek the enemies of the realm, or shall be pleased to hold a council to judge the enemies of justice. The peace is not violated if, while it continues, the duke, or other counts, or bailiffs, or their substitutes hold courts, and lawfully exercise judgment over thieves and robbers, and other harmful persons. This imperial peace has been decreed chiefly for the security of all those who are at feud; but not to the end that, after the peace is over, they may dare to rob and plunder throughout the villages and homes. For the law and judgment that was in force against them before this peace was decreed shall be most diligently observed, so that they be restrained from iniquity;—for robbers and plunderers are excepted from this divine peace, and, in fact, from every peace. If any one strive to oppose this pious decree, so that he will neither promise the peace to God nor observe it, no priest shall presume to sing a mass for him or to give heed to his salvation; if he be ill, no Christian shall presume to visit him, and, unless he come to his senses, he shall do without the Eucharist even at the end. If any one, either at the present time or among our posterity forever, shall presume to violate it, he is banned by us irrevocably. We decree that it rests not more in the power of the counts or centenars, or any official, than in that of the whole people in common, to inflict the above mentioned punishments on the violators of the holy peace. And let them most diligently be on their guard lest, in punishing, they show friendship or hatred, or do anything contrary to justice; let them not conceal the crimes of any one, but rather make them public. No one shall accept money for the redemption of those who shall have been found transgressing. Merchants on the road where they do business, rustics while labouring at rustic work—at ploughing, digging, reaping, and other similar occupations,—shall have peace every day. Women, moreover, and all those ordained to sacred orders, shall enjoy continual peace. In the churches, moreover, and in the cemeteries of the churches, let honour and reverence be paid to God; so that if a robber or thief flee thither he shall not at all be siezed, but shall be besieged there until,

induced by hunger, he shall be compelled to surrender. If any one shall presume to furnish the culprit with means of defence, arms, victuals, or opportunity for flight, he shall be punished with the same penalty as the guilty man. We forbid under our bann, moreover, that any one in sacred orders, convicted of transgressing this peace, be l^unished with the punishments of laymen—he shall, instead, be handed over to the bishop. Where laymen are decapitated, clerks shall be degraded; where laymen are mutilated, clerks shall be suspended from their positions; and, by the consent of the laity, they shall be afflicted with frequent fasts and flagellations until they shall have atoned. Amen.