Blood jurisdiction

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The court rights , also known as blood spell , high courts and high courts , Fraisch , neck jurisdiction or county law or Bailiwick law , was known in the Holy Roman Empire of the penal jurisdiction ( distressing refers to the Latin poena , punishment ') through deeds that with corporal punishment as Mutilations or death could be punished, so were "bloody punishments".

Criminal offenses

These were primarily offenses such as robbery and murder , theft , sexual harassment , rape , homosexual intercourse , witchcraft or sorcery, and infanticide . The forms of execution at a death sentence differed in each case after the crime (for example for child killers the drowning , rape death by fire or for killing the wheels ) as well as the identity of the criminal. For example, execution by beheading has long been a privileged method of execution for the noble and free .

In the case of crimes that were to be atoned for by mutilation, there were different forms of punishment, such as putting in the pillory , cutting off parts of the body (e.g. ears, tongue), whipping or branding.

In the case of offenses such as insults or scuffles, the lower courts remained responsible, which did not impose “bloody punishments” but “only” recognized fines , imprisonment , dishonor or banishment .

Death sentence

Death sentences were often carried out for the purpose of public deterrence. For the same reason, in many rural areas, the hanged men were hung from the gallows for a long time .

Blood jurisdiction was conferred by the respective sovereign rulers in selected places of jurisdiction. At village and city level there were mostly only the courts of the landlords or the courts of the lower jurisdiction . Since an imperial city was equated with a principality, it too had the right of high jurisdiction. The border between the areas of different high jurisdictions was called Fraisch border in Upper Germany . The blood judge is the judgmental person to whom the law or ruler has conferred the right to impose the death penalty and / or who exercises such conferred right.

Galgenberg near Irnfritz-Messern in Lower Austria


The first codified criminal law was the Maximilian Neck Court Order , also known as the Tyrolean Maleficition Order , by Maximilian I from 1499. In 1507, the Bamberg Embarrassing Neck Court Order ( Constitutio Criminalis Bambergensis , CCB) was issued. Both were incorporated into the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (CCC), the Embarrassing Neck Court Code of Emperor Charles V , which had been in force since 1532. This applied subsidiary , i.e. In other words, it was only used when there was no corresponding regulation in one's own state law, but it nevertheless led to the standardization of criminal processes.

In Austria, after the Tyrolean Maleficent Code in 1514, the regional court code for Austria under the Enns came into being . The neck court regulations according to the CCC are based on this, but always had a severability clause that it still applies subsidiary. For example, the regional court order for Carniola in 1535 , the regional court order for Austria under the Enns (1540, 1656 "Ferdinandea", which was most important in Austria in the 17th century, as Charles VI instructed it to be used as a subsidiary), Austria ob der Enns ( 1559, 1627, 1675 "Leopoldina"), Styria (1574) and Carinthia (1577). These individual ordinances were replaced in 1768 by the uniform Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana , which was valid in all Habsburg hereditary lands . With it, the subsidiary use of the Carolina in Austria was ended. Torture was abolished in 1776 and the Josephine Penal Code of 1787 lifted the death penalty for the first time for pragmatic reasons. The convict had to do community service that sometimes resulted in high death rates, such as pulling ships .

Overall, blood jurisdiction was still widespread in German-speaking countries until the 18th and 19th centuries. In Germany it was only replaced by the nationalization and codification tendencies of the individual domains by actual penal laws as we know them today, first in Bavaria and Prussia , then also in almost all medium-sized states and most small states. The last time the Carolina was replaced in the two Mecklenburgs, in Lauenburg , Bremen and Schaumburg-Lippe, in 1870 was the penal code for the North German Confederation .

Blood shield and mark of blood jurisdiction

The right of blood jurisdiction was often represented by symbols and coats of arms. Since the late Middle Ages, many sovereigns added a second simple red coat of arms, the so-called blood shield, to their coat of arms. This was a sign of the high judiciary. On maps from the 15th to 18th centuries, places of justice are often marked separately, either with a blood shield or a gallows, which could also mark the place of execution.

Examples of a blood shield: the epitaph of Elector Albrecht Achilles of Brandenburg in the Moritzkirche in Ansbach and the blood shield of Margrave Georg Friedrich in the castle church of Plassenburg in Kulmbach .

Priests and spiritual courts were not allowed to exercise blood jurisdiction, according to the principle: Ecclesia non sitit sanguinem .

See also


  • Wolfgang Wüst: In the clutches of the judiciary. High court history on site, in: Rainer HOFMANN (Ed.), Bettler, Jauner, Galgenvögel. In the clutches of justice. Volume of essays for the special exhibition in the Franconian Switzerland Museum Tüchersfeld from May 17 - November 3, 2013 (exhibition catalog of the Franconian Switzerland Museum 22) Tüchersfeld 2014, pp. 11–30.
  • Wolfgang Wüst: The staged high court. State leadership, representation and bloody rulership ceremonies in Bavaria, Franconia and Swabia. In: Konrad Ackermann , Alois SCHMID, Wilhelm VOLKERT (eds.): Bavaria. From the tribe to the state. Festschrift for Andreas Kraus on his 80th birthday (series of publications on Bavarian national history 140). Vol. 1, Munich 2002, pp. 273-300.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rape . In: Heidelberg Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape 10 , issue 1/2 (edited by Heino Speer and others). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 1997, ISBN 3-7400-0984-5 , Sp. 19–21 ( ). - "Forcing a sexual act or tolerating this act, esp. Rape."
  2. After Johann Christoph Adelung : Grammatical-critical dictionary of the high German dialect. Vienna 1811 ( ).
  3. David Funck, The great Helvetian League, or thorough preparation, the Löbl. Eydgenossschaft ... Nuremberg 1690, p. 176.
  4. ^ Josef Pauser: State Princely Legislation (Policey, Maleficent and State Regulations). - (PDF; 413 kB) from: Josef Pauser, Martin Scheutz, Thomas Winkelbauer (eds.): Source studies of the Habsburg Monarchy (16th – 18th centuries). R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-7029-0477-8 .
  5. ↑ Neck court order . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition. Volume 8, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1907, p.  668 .