What is the purpose of the worldly

Navigate to the city of Bern

During the late Middle Ages, the admission of noble and ecclesiastical court lords to communal rights of citizenship was an important means of exercising political influence on the landscape (Political significance of the expatriate admissions). The purpose of such expatriate admissions was to give rural rulers contractually (Citizens) to commit to maintaining peace and renouncing violence against the city and its allies. With the granting of citizenship (Admission to civil rights) to nobles and clergy, the council tried to convince foreign gentlemen to comply with the law of peace within the city walls (City law) to bind. The castle rights treaties thus pursued a similar purpose as the numerous alliances, rural peace and umbrella treaties that the Schultheiss and Council (Schultheiss and advice) since the middle of the 13th century with municipalities, monasteries and rulers of the area (Rulership in the country from 1298 to 1415). In contrast to alliances and rural peace, which were negotiated between legally equal partners, the castle rights contracts usually established a more or less strong subordination of the expatriates (Expatriates) under the authority of the council. In this way, Bern differed from other cities in the empire, in which the acceptance of expatriates was of little political importance. While Solothurn, Freiburg, Lucerne and Zurich managed to pursue an active politics of castle rights, other cities such as Frankfurt, Augsburg or Konstanz were forced to largely renounce the naturalization of expatriates after the military defeat against the nobility in the First City War of 1388. [ 1]

Forced castle rights of hostile nobles

Military conflicts were often the specific reason for acquiring citizenship. [2] In order to protect their own territory from destruction, noble court lords felt compelled to place themselves under the protection of the city (Acquisition of landgrave rights). [3] Since the 13th century, the council also used castle rights awards as reprisals against nobles whose castles it had destroyed and whose loyalty it sought to secure. In the case of castle rights treaties, in addition to the strict enforcement of the communal peace commandment in the countryside, the main interest was the military influx in armed conflicts and the submission of the landlords and feudal people residing in the secular and spiritual jurisdictions to the city's tax sovereignty.

Spiritual branches have also paid property taxes since 1444

Compared to aristocratic court lords, religious settlements found out that they had their own town courts in Bern (Town houses of foreign monasteries) had more favorable conditions than contractual partners. Above all, monasteries which, like the Augustinian canons in Interlaken, the Cluniacians in Rüeggisberg or the Cistercians in Frienisberg, had already acquired the Bernese castle rights in the second half of the 13th century, enjoyed special privileges. Although religious corporations should not have been taxed due to the privileges granted by the Pope, they had to pay a tax to the Venner at the latest since 1444, when Bern was particularly expensive because of its participation in the Old Zurich War (Venner). [4] The Cistercian Sisters of Fraubrunnen and the Premonstratensians of Gottstatt alone paid a combined tax amount of 168 guilders into the city sack (Bag master). [5] The Tellherren received further tax income (Tell lords) with 20 guilders from the provost of the island monastery and 76 guilders from the deans in Wynau, Burgdorf, Münsingen and Büren an der Aare. In 1485 the council took over the newly founded secular canon monastery of St. Vincent (Parish Church of St. Vincent) finally out of their own power in our eternal castle right, protection and shield on. [6] He granted the canons tax exemption for the use of their benefices, while they had to pay tax on their worldly possessions. [7]

Roland Gerber, July 14, 2018



[1] Adolf Gasser: Development and formation of state sovereignty in the area of ​​the Swiss Confederation. A contribution to the constitutional history of the German Middle Ages, Aarau / Leipzig 1930, pp. 386-391; J. Zorn: treaties of alliance between the city of Frankfurt am Main and the nobility of the area in the 14th and 15th centuries, Frankfurt am Main 1966; as well as H.J. Domsta: Cologne's foreign citizens. Studies on the politics and constitution of the city of Cologne from the middle of the 13th to the middle of the 16th century, Bonn 1973.

[2] Dorothea A Christ: High nobility confederates. Counts and lords in the castle law of federal places, in: New Citizens in the late Middle Ages, ed. by Rainer C. Schwinges (supplement to the journal for historical research 30), Berlin 2002, pp. 99-123.

[3] The Konstanz chronicler Christoph Schultheiss proudly states in his 15th century city chronicle, whatever gotzhus or edelman sin surely wanted, the burger must be in ainer instead of sin; Bernhard Kirchgässner: The tax system of the imperial city of Constance 1418-1460. From the economic and social history of an Upper German trading town at the end of the Middle Ages (Konstanzer Geschichts- und Rechtsquellen, N.F. 10), Konstanz 1960, p. 98.

[4] On the taxation of clerics see Eugen Mack: The Church Tax Exemption in Germany since the Decretal Legislation (Church Law Treaties 88), Stuttgart 1916; Bernd Moeller: Clerics as Citizens, in: The Reformation and the Middle Ages, ed. by Bernd Moeller (Church history essays), Göttingen 1991, pp. 195-198; as well as for Switzerland Guy P. Marchal: The cathedral and collegiate monasteries of Switzerland. Introduction, in: The secular collegiate pens of German- and French-speaking Switzerland (Helvetia Sacra, Dept. 2, Part 2), Bern 1977.

[5] Friedrich Emil Welti (ed.): The city bills of Bern from the years 1430-1452, Bern 1904, here city bills 1445 / II, p. 192f.

In 1613 the council decided that all clerics resident in the city had to acquire citizenship; SSRQ Bern V, p. 233; as well as Bernd Moeller: Clerics as Citizens, in: The Reformation and the Middle Ages, ed. by Bernd Moeller (Church history essays), Göttingen 1991, p. 222.

[7] SSRQ Bern V, pp. 158-160.