Village rules

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From the early Middle Ages to the 19th century, village regulations (including village constitution, peasant constitution, farmer's letter / farmer's letter, farmer's certificate, Burrecht or similar) regulate the coexistence of community members in a village, the rights and duties of farmers and mostly also those of the inhabitants without arable land in the Gewannflur ( Seldner , Gärtner , Kötter , Häusler ), as far as they were community authorized . Housemates and servants stood under the spirit of the householder.


Originally, people in Hohenlohe lived according to orally handed down commandments, which were not recorded until the end of the Middle Ages , due to the increasing use of writing. The Hohenlohe village regulations, which were created through the interaction of the community and the rulers, were valid until the mediatization in 1806, according to which the village court was judged. The community understood them as a letter of freedom, as a legal right.

In the sources, in addition to the word village rules , the terms community letter, village law, old justice or similar terms are used, often synonymous in the same order. They were established by the community and only confirmed by the government or formulated by the government, almost always in agreement with the community; there is no indication that a village order was forcibly imposed by the authorities . In the village area, the community was largely able to organize its own affairs under the control of the mayor appointed by the rulers . She had the right to draw up binding statutes for all residents (with the exception of pastors and lordly officials) at the parish assembly and to enforce compliance with them by means of fixed fines . She could use this at her own discretion, mostly drinking it together.

Village regulations are very different in scope. Otherwise independent regulations, such as a forest regulation, shepherd regulation, wine tavern regulation and rug court regulations were included in the village regulation. Some have been handed down undated, many have been revised; the older version is then mostly not preserved. Often they remain in use unchanged for centuries, sometimes even when there is a change of rule. The oldest recorded Hohenlohe order comes from the year 1492, it was supplemented in 1497 and in 1508 and revised again in 1597. Each village order has an individual character. In the course of the 17th century, self-government was restricted by stately orders.


→ Main article: Oldenburg peasant letters

For the county of Oldenburg , especially the Wesermarsch , numerous farmers' letters have come down to us. They are testimony to the competence of the farmers to regulate the life of the community in all areas of everyday life. So far, 92 documents are known for the Oldenburg area. In terms of content, the Oldenburg Farmers' Letters are primarily about regulating economic life, i.e. pasture, heather, plowed land and the organization of all farms, as well as joint work on paths, dams, dykes , sluices and drainage ditches. The aim of the constitutions was to regulate peaceful coexistence. The first farmers' letters appear in 1580, the last are handed down for 1789. In 1814 the self-government of the farmers in the Oldenburg area ended.


Around 1300 was the rural colonization of the 12th / 13th centuries. Century completed in Saxony. Each farmer ( Hufner ) received a whole or half a hoof in the new settlement; There were as yet no propertyless peasant lower classes. Landlords or village lords set the village rules and granted extensive self-administration to regulate village life. An orderly land use through arable farming and pasture within the framework of the three-field economy and the proper use of the common land was the task of the community. The law applied in the village court was customary village law; this becomes clear in the name of Dorfrügen : complaints are not only “judicial charges ” or “ complaints ”, but also information about legal habits that may affect a. were given in formulaic speech at the annual courts by individual villagers.

The orally handed down regulations have been recorded in writing since the late 15th century, for example in the oldest known written village regulation of the Saxon village Kötzschenbroda from 1497, whose recorder Thanneberg the " market justice ", the "free wine bar", the "freedom, trade and commerce drift ”and the right to“ harvest wood ”and“ litter in the forest ”for posterity. The regulations were tailored to the particular circumstances of a village and today offer researchers a good view of legal, social and economic life. The collection of rules of the village regulations, also known as the farmers 'roll or the farmers' code, and also called village rügen in some areas, were read out to the public one to four times a year at the rug court days. Over the course of time, the statutes were repeatedly adapted to the changing circumstances and reaffirmed by the village authorities. In the High and Late Middle Ages there was an extraordinary variety of jurisdictions in personal, local and factual respects, which changed greatly from the early 10th to the late 15th century.

Since the late Middle Ages, the traditional responsibility of the community has been limited to regulating land use and village life, including caring for the elderly, the poor and orphans, as well as the burial of corpses, the administration of community funds and fire protection. For this she received local police duties.

As a result of the increase in population and the prohibited division of property, sub-peasant classes emerged in many villages, such as mature farmer's sons, gardeners and cottagers, for example, who were not allowed to participate in land use by the old community . Tensions remained until the rural community ordinance of 1838, which replaced the village regulations.


  • Reprimand that . In: Adelung: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect . Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, pp. 1197-1198.
  • Günther Franz: The Hohenlohe village regulations . In: Karl and Marianne Schumm (arr.): Hohenlohische Dorordnungen . Württemberg rural legal sources 4th volume, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1985, pp. XV – XXXV.
  • Karlheinz Blaschke: Village municipality and town municipality in Saxony between 1300 and 1800 . In: Peter Blickle (Hrsg.): Landgemeinde and Stadtgemeinde in Central Europe . R. Oldenburg, Munich 1991, ISBN 978-3-486-55886-9 , pp. 119-143.
  • Old church; To reprimand. In: Frank Andert (Red.): Stadtlexikon Radebeul . Historical manual for the Loessnitz . Published by the Radebeul City Archives. 2nd, slightly changed edition. City archive, Radebeul 2006, ISBN 3-938460-05-9 , p. 4 (with a photo of the title page of the Radebeuler Rügen from 1666).
  • Wolfgang Wüst (Ed.): The "good" Policey in the Reichskreis . Volume 4: The local policey: Standard setting and regulatory policy in the country. A source work . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 2008; The edition contains numerous Franconian village regulations from the 15th to 18th centuries. ISBN 978-3-05-004396-8 .
  • Ekkehard Seeber: Constitutions of Oldenburg peasantry. Edition of rural legal sources from 1580-1814, in: Voss, Wulf Eckart (Ed.) Osnabrücker Schriften zur Rechtsgeschichte Volume 14, Universitätsverlag Osnabrück, Osnabrück 2008.
  • Martin Rheinheimer: The village regulations in the Duchy of Schleswig. Village and government in the early modern era . Berlin 1999.
  • Wilhelm Ebel: East Frisian peasant rights. Aurich 1964.

Individual evidence

  1. Karl and Marianne Schumm (arr.): Hohenlohische Dorordnungen. Württemberg rural legal sources 4th volume, Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1985
  2. a b c Günther Franz: The Hohenlohian village regulations (see literature)
  3. Günther Franz: Die Hohenlohische Dorfordlungen (see literature) p. 29
  4. a b c d e Ekkehard Seeber: Constitutions of Oldenburg peasantry. Edition of rural legal sources from 1580-1814 . In: Wulf Eckart Voss (Hrsg.): Osnabrück writings on legal history . tape 14 . Universitätsverlag Osnabrück, Osnabrück 2008, p. 35 .
  5. village. In: Erich Bayer (Hrsg.): Dictionary of history. Terms and technical terms (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 289). 4th, revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-520-28904-0 .
  6. a b complaint that . In: Adelung: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect . Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, pp. 1197-1198.
  7. village court . In: Prussian Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape 2 , issue 7 (edited by Eberhard von Künßberg ). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar ( - publication date between 1933 and 1935).
  8. a b c d Karlheinz Blaschke: Dorfgemeinde and Stadtgemeinde (see literature)
  9. ^ Heinrich Magirius : Village centers in the Lößnitz - their historical and urban significance and problems of their preservation as monuments. In: Dresdner Geschichtsverein (ed.): Lößnitz - Radebeul cultural landscape. Dresdner Hefte 54, Dresden 1998, ISBN 3-910055-44-3 .