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Magistrate in an office, depiction at Mildenstein Castle (administrative seat in Leisnig )

The bailiff or Ammann (Switzerland) was in German-speaking countries since the Middle Ages the chief porter of the sovereign to the territorial administration of estates created, castles and villages Office was, at the same time an administrative and court district. He mostly belonged to the nobility or clergy, and in cities often also to the wealthy classes of the bourgeoisie. He resided in the administration building and drove in the district collected taxes, dispensed justice and provided with a small armed unit for security and order . Its counterpart in Prussia and the Electorate of Saxony was the governor .

Later, the word official became common for the old word bailiff .


In Holstein during the Danish period (until 1864) the bailiff was the senior official of a lordly office. As head of administration he was under the Ministry ( German Chancellery ) in Copenhagen from 1546 . The bailiff was also a secular judge of the first instance and together with the provost formed the spiritual court ( consistory ).

In Switzerland , in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, the Ammann was the head of the Landsgemeinde elected by the citizens and has been the chairman of the executive of some cantons ( Landammann ), various cities or municipalities ( Stadtammann , Municipal Mayor ) and of the Corporations (for example the "Talammann der Korporation Urseren").

In Tyrol officials have been occupied since the late Middle Ages, both as sovereign officials and administrators of aristocratic landowners. They are also referred to there as carers (Middle Ages) and have been distinguished from the judges who were responsible for the jurisdiction in the administrative districts. Since 1392, the Dukes of Austria appointed supreme officials who controlled the state administration.

In the Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg and (after the Kingdom of Westphalia from 1807-1814) in the Kingdom of Hanover , as in other absolutist German states, there was no separation of powers in the offices, i.e. at the lower state level of the municipalities and (smaller) cities, until 1852 : In his office, the royal bailiff was responsible for issuing edicts as well as for administration and jurisdiction. Only larger cities such as Hameln were “free of office”, that is, had their own administration, so that the function of the bailiff was limited to the jurisdiction there. In order to be appointed by the sovereign as a bailiff, one usually had to complete a university education and a two-stage practical test: For example, the University of Göttingen offered the study of " camera sciences ". "Auditor" was someone who then passed the lower of the two state judge exams customary at the time, the auditor exam, something like a trainee lawyer in our modern terms. “Official Assessor” was then the next practical trial phase in the course of the training of a bailiff, roughly equivalent to today's assessor. After passing the second exam, the aristocratic assessors became “supernumerare Droste” and the bourgeois “supernumerare clerk”. Auditors and assessors were seen as a working aid for the bailiff and were paid by him. The bailiff himself often did not receive a fixed wage (i.e. no salary) from his sovereign, but only income from parts of the district that he had leased, as well as from fees (" sports " and "taxes") that were paid to him when the courts were called upon were to be paid personally (not to the state treasury). The ruler only paid a pension when he retired. The Courts Constitution Act of November 8, 1850 then determined, in the interests of the separation of powers, also for the offices to be divided into local courts on the one hand and administrative courts on the other. Both after the annexation of the kingdom by Prussia in 1866 and the formation of the province of Hanover and after Prussia became a federal state of the German Empire in 1871, many provisions and structures were viewed as exemplary and incorporated into the larger political unit.

Official title

Today, Amtmann in Germany is the official designation for a civil servant in grade A 11 in the senior service and in Burgenland (Austria) the designation for a municipal official ( see also Amtmann (Burgenland) ).

The feminine designation Amtfrau (e.g. government officer - RAmtfr - or customs officer - ZAF) has largely prevailed. For a while, the term Amtmännin - this term was previously the rule - was used in some federal states and the federal administration instead of officewoman. This designation has largely disappeared, but the designation "Zollamtmännin" (as an alternative to "Zollamtfrau") can still be used in the Federal Customs Administration. Originally, the introduction of the official title z. B. “Judicial Office woman” in the 1970s from a Lower Saxony civil servant / judicial officer who refused to accept the transport document as long as it was not issued in the female form. In Switzerland, a female Landammann is usually referred to and addressed as Frau Landammann .


Web links

Commons : Amtmann  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Steiner: Ammann. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  2. Henning Fließ: Development of the district court. 150 years of the district court - over 1000 years of jurisdiction in Hameln . Lecture on the occasion of the open day of the Hameln District Court on May 17, 2003