Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages/Book II/Peace of the Land established by Frederick Barbarossa



(Altmann u. Bernheim, " Ausgewahlte Urkunden," p. 150. Berlin, 1891.)

Frederick by the grace of God emperor of the Romans, always august, to the bishops, dukes, counts, margraves and all to whom these letters shall come: sends his favour, peace, and love.

Inasmuch as by the ordination of the divine mercy we ascend the throne of the royal majesty, it is right that in our works we altogether obey Him by whose gift we are exalted. Therefore we, desiring the divine as well as the human laws to remain in vigour, and endeavouring to exalt the churches and ecclesiastical persons, and to defend them from the incursions and invasions of every one, do wish to preserve to all persons whatever their rights, and do by the royal authority indicate a peace, long desired and hitherto necessary to the whole earth, to be observed throughout all parts of our kingdom. In what manner, moreover, this same peace is to be kept and observed, will be clearly shown from what follows.

1. If any one, within the term fixed for the peace, shall slay a man, he shall be sentenced to death, unless by wager of battle he can prove this, that he slew him in defending his own life. But if this shall be manifest to all, that he slew him not of necessity but voluntarily, then neither through wager of battle nor in any other manner shall he keep himself from being condemned to death. But if a violator of the peace shall flee the face of the judge, his movable possessions shall be confiscated by the judge and dispensed among the people; but his heirs shall receive the heritage which he held; this condition being imposed, that a promise shall be given under oath to the effect that that violator of the peace shall never, henceforth, by their will or consent receive any emolument from it. But if later the heirs, neglecting the rigour of the law, shall allow him to have his heritage, the count shall hand over that same heritage to the rule of the king and shall receive it from the king under the name of a benefice.

2. If any one wound another after the proclamation of the peace, unless he prove by wager of battle that he did this while defending his life, his hand shall be amputated and he shall be sentenced as has been explained above: the judge shall most strictly prosecute him and his possessions according to the rigour of justice.

3. If any one take another and without shedding blood beat him with rods, or pull out his hair or beard, he shall pay by way of composition 10 pounds to him on whom the injury is seen to have been inflicted, and 30 pounds to the judge. But if without striking him he shall boldly attack him "asteros hant," as it is vulgarly called, viz., with hot hand, and shall maltreat him with contumelious words, he shall compound with 10 pounds for such excess and shall pay 10 to the judge. And whoever, for an excess, shall engage to pay 20 pounds to his judge, shall hand over his estate to him as a pledge, and within four weeks shall pay the money required; and if within four weeks he neglect to hand over his estate, his heirs, if they wish, may receive his heritage, and shall pay to the count the 20 pounds within six weeks; but if not, the count shall assign that heritage to the power of the king, shall restore the claims of those who proclaim them, and shall receive the estate from the king under the title of a benefice.

4. If a clerk be charged with violating the peace and be openly known and published as doing so, or if he keep companionship with a violator of the peace, and be convicted of these things in the presence of his bishop and by sufficient testimony: to the count in whose county this same clerk has perpetrated this he shall pay 20 pounds, and for so great an excess he shall make satisfaction to the bishop according to the statutes of the canons. If, moreover, that same clerk shall be disobedient, he shall not only be deprived of his office and ecclesiastical benefice, but also he shall be considered an outlaw.

5. If a judge through clamour of the people shall have followed any violator of the peace to the city of any lord, that same lord whose city it is known to be shall produce him to render justice; but if he shall mistrust his own innocence and shall fear to come before the face of the judge,—if he have a dwelling in the city, his lord shall, under oath, place all his movable goods at the disposition of the judge, and in future, as an outlaw, not receive him in his house; but if he have not a dwelling in his city, his lord shall cause him to be placed in security, and afterwards the judge, with the people, shall not desist from prosecuting him as a violator of the peace.

6. If two men contend for the possession of one benefice, and one of them produces the man who invested him with that benefice, his testimony, if the investor acknowledge having given the investiture, shall be received first by the count; and if the man can prove by suitable witnesses that he obtained this same benefice without plunder, the occasion for controversy being removed, he shall hold it; but if in the presence of the judge he be convicted of plunder, he shall doubly pay the plunder, and shall be deprived of the benefice, unless, justice and judgment dictating, he may in the future seek to obtain it again.

7. If three or more contend for the same benefice, each one producing different investors, the judge in whose pre- sence the ease is carried on shall require of two men of good testimony dwelling in the province of these same litigants, that they swear by an oath which of them, with- out plunder, has been the possessor of that benefice; and, the truth of the matter being known from their testi- mony, the possessor shall quietly obtain his benefice, unless, justice and judgment dictating, another shall snatch it from his hand.

8. If a rustic charge a knight with violating the peace, he shall swear by his hand that he does this not willingly but of necessity; the knight shall clear himself by the hand of four.

9. If a knight charge a rustic with violating the peace, the rustic shall swear by his hand that he has done this not willingly but of necessity ; the rustic shall choose one of two things : whether he shall show his innocence by a divine or a human judgment, or whether he shall expur- gate himself by six suitable witnesses whom the judge shall choose.

10. If for violation of the peace, or in any capital matter, a knight wishes to engage in wager of battle against a knight, permission to fight shall not be granted to him unless he can prove that from of old he himself, and his parents as well, have by birth been lawful knights.

11. After the nativity of St. Mary each count shall choose for himself seven men of good testimony, and shall wisely make arrangements for each province, and shall usefully provide for what price, according to the quality, the grain is to be sold at different times; but whoever, contrary to his ruling, within the term of the year, shall presume to sell a measure for a higher price, shall be con- sidered a violator of the peace, and shall pay as many times thirty pounds to the count as the number of measures he shall have been convicted of selling.

12. If any rustic shall carry as weapons either a lance or a sword, the judge within whose jurisdiction he shall be found to belong shall either take away the weapons, or shall receive 20 shillings for them from the rustic.

13. A merchant passing through the province on business may tie his sword to his saddle, or place it above his vehicle, not in order to injure the innocent, but to defend himself from the robber.

14. No one shall spread his nets or his nooses, or any other instruments for taking game, except for taking bears, boars and wolves.

15. In going to the palace of the count no knight shall bear arms unless invited by the count. Public robbers and convicts shall be condemned to the old sentence.

16. Whoever shall treat his advowsonor any other benefice unbecomingly, and shall have been warned by his lord and do not amend, continuing in his insolence,—he shall be deprived by a judicial order as well of his advowson as of his benefice; and if he afterwards, with bold daring, shall invade his advowson or benefice, he shall be considered a violator of the peace.

17. If any one shall have stolen 5 shillings, or its equivalent,—he shall be hung with a rope; if less he shall be flayed with whips, and his hair pulled out with a pincers.

18. If the ministeriales of any lord have a conflict among themselves, the count or judge in whose district they do this shall carry on the law and the judgments in the matter.

19. Whoever, in passing through the land, wishes to feed his horse, may with impunity take, for the refection and refreshment of his horse, as much as he can reach when he stands in a place directly adjoining the road. It is lawful for any one to take, for his convenience and necessary use, grass and green wood; but without any devastation.