Constitution (fraternity)

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Constitution of the Corps Onoldia (1798)

The constitution of a student union forms its ideal basis (constitution). Numerous original documents with the signatures of the founders still exist after 200 years, at that time it was often the only founding document.


Even with the old-style country teams, loose associations of students in the 18th century , there were constitutions which, however, still contained very few paragraphs and only regulated the most necessary formal questions of membership. This institution has also come down to us from the student orders , which in the second half of the 18th century with their tight organization eroded the old country teams. However, these documents were largely kept secret and are no longer available today.

The new time

With the change from the 18th century to the 19th century , a decisive change occurred. It was the time after the French Revolution, the phase of the Napoleonic occupation and the wars of liberation. At that time, associations were established that made completely new demands on themselves and their fellow students. Suddenly the universities, which had been very rough up until then, had strict rules on character and behavior. High ideals of honesty and binding friendship were established and put into writing in the spirit of idealism .

Just as the rulers were required to have written laws designed to curb the arbitrariness of the rulers as a result of the French Revolution, the students also began to put the ideals of their new connections on paper. The new Constitutions then also contained a great number of paragraphs which idealistically dealt with character requirements and mutual friendship. Of course, the improvement in morals did not happen overnight, but the fact that student associations wrote something like this on their flags was new.

The turning point in student history

This turning point represented the hour of birth of the corps that still exist today and marked a massive turning point in German student history. Because all previous types of student associations died out in a few years. And all of the connections that exist today are based on this development. The German student liaison system as we know it today emerged from the ideas that arose at that time and were laid down in the Constitutions.

Despite all the good intentions, these new connections were not welcomed by the authorities either, their existence had to be kept secret and so did the Constitutions and the SC comments , which regulated the relationship between the corps at a university location.

Some associations ( corps ) founded in the early 19th century still keep their old constitutions confidential and only read them to their young members when they are finally accepted as full members of the corps (when the fox becomes a corps boy, at the reception ). As a rule, however, the traditional historical constitutions of many corps are now published as source material by student historians and are accessible for research.


In connection with student associations, one speaks of reconstitution when a corporation that has been suspended due to an official ban or a lack of members is brought back to life following its tradition.


  • Ernst Meyer-Camberg (ed.): 21 of the oldest constitutions of the corps and their predecessors up to 1810 . Special edition, Einst und Jetzt , Part 1. 1981 (159 pages),
  • Rainer Assmann : Constitutions of the Corps and their forerunners 1810-1820 , Part 2.Special Issue Once and Now , 1983 (205 pages),
  • Rainer Assmann: Constitutions of the Corps III , part 3. Special issue, Einst and Jetzt 1988 (231 pages) with a complete directory for all three volumes

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