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Replica of conduct takings and a Saxon half-mile column in action with royal-Saxon stagecoach at the inn in Grumbach

The right of escort was an escort of travelers or objects that the holder of the right (escort) granted within a certain territory or for certain distances.

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Are to be distinguished

  • A guardian escort was to accompany travelers, especially merchants, to prevent robbery . This escort is also known as a customs escort .
  • Honor escort was an accompaniment that served to honor or support high-ranking personalities, and was more representative .
  • Safe conduct is the assurance and accompaniment of persons against whom legal or military action would normally be necessary, but for whom this should not happen due to a specific situation ( parliamentarian , witness ).
  • Process management ensures that all participants in a process will arrive and leave safely.
  • Army escort served to secure the passage of foreign troops through an area.
  • Market guidance is a special form, since general protection applied to all those arriving and departing from the market without the protection being actually always ensured by the presence of the military or a tax having to be paid.
  • Numerous individual and special forms that people should be given the freedom to act in certain situations that threatened them with arrest or punishment .

While escort was usually given to people, it could also apply to certain objects, e.g. B. for the transfer of the German imperial regalia from their storage place in Nuremberg to the coronation places Aachen (until 1531), later: Frankfurt am Main , and back.


In pre-state conditions in the Middle Ages and early modern times , before the state monopoly of force emerged , the right of escort was a means of establishing legal security for travelers. The convoy was granted by the holder of the convoy against payment of an escort money. It was thus a popular source of income for the territorial lords . They were able to use and “sell” their original military skills and received the highly coveted hard cash in return , in a late medieval and early modern economy that was largely still based on barter and natural produce . The boundaries between the areas of the individual escorts were marked by escort crosses or stones.

Initially, traders were accompanied by escorts, servants or teams, later the escort issued letters of conduct that the traveler could buy. In these letters, the road owner undertook to pay compensation if the merchant suffered damage as a result of robberies - thus providing a kind of “ insurance cover ”. Because of the street pressure, merchants were obliged to use escorts or streets. However, this compulsion did not apply to all goods and also not to other travelers.

Often it was actually the customs authorities in the territories who were actually responsible for the actual conduct of the escort, whereby the fee for the escort stood independently in addition to the actual customs fees and any additional road tolls .

In feuds of the late Middle Ages, convoys of the enemy were a popular target for raids because they always caused a stir and caused the attacked person to lose face and prestige. Opponents could thus be put under political and economic pressure.

Legal derivation

In the high Middle Ages , the right of escort was regalie , but in the late Middle Ages it was also used more and more by the emerging sovereignty , partly through the transfer of royal punitive power ( royal peace ) - e.g. B. as a fief - or perceived in its own right Through the Statutum in favorem principum in 1231 the right of escort was granted by the king to the princes in their own territory. Nonetheless, there were always disputes over who was entitled to a specific right of escort. With the passing of the Reichstag in 1548, the right of escort was finally transferred to the sovereigns, but they were also obliged to guarantee security in their territory.

With increasing nationalization, the original function of escort was lost and the right of escort turned more and more into a travel tax and a mere sovereign source of income. In the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss , the city of Frankfurt am Main had itself exempted from all escort money for its merchants that any Reich class was authorized to raise. The last escorts were only abolished with the establishment of the German Customs Association in 1833/1834 as a special tax that hindered trade.

Famous cases


  • B. Koehler: Escort . In: Concise Dictionary of German Legal History , Vol. 1, Sp. 1482ff.
  • Gebhard Weig: The ius conducendi of the bishops of Würzburg. A study of the legal structure, political function and organization of the right of escort in the Würzburg monastery during the 15th and 16th centuries , Diss. Phil. Wuerzburg 1970.