Cabinet order

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The usual form of monarchical legislation in the German-speaking area from absolutism in the Ancien Régime until the end of the Central European monarchies in 1918 was referred to as Kabinettsorder or Kabinettsordre (from French cabinet , " Kabinett ", and ordre , " command ") .

Formal determination

The Cabinet Order , also known as the Allerhöchste Cabinets Ordre ( ACO ) or the Allerhöchste Kabinettsorder ( AKO ),

  • was issued by the monarch independently and without authorization,
  • was valid without countersignature,
  • was not subject to any judicial control and
  • remained valid until revoked or canceled by a new order.

It had the legal and political significance in the pre-constitutional period that the law has in constitutional states .


The cabinet order was the typical instrument of the ancien régime for the integrated and independent exercise of rule by the monarch, by means of whose legislative , executive and judicial branches could be exercised equally, sometimes coincidentally. The sole legal source was the monarchical will , which is why the French Lettres de cachet , for example, conclude with the stereotypical formula: "Car tel est notre bon plaisir" (German for example: "Because this is our right will" or "Because that's how we like it" ). While criminal law in particular has generally known abstract rules with a constitutional character since the early modern period - such as the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina of 1532 - subjects of civil and public law were often largely regulated by cabinet orders up into the 19th century. This contributed significantly to the critical perception of absolutism - especially by the rising bourgeoisie - as an arbitrary form of rule that was not based on fundamental, permanent norms.

The rise of constitutionalism since the French Revolution in 1789 fundamentally called into question the traditional practice of monarchical rule. With the implementation of bourgeois constitutions - for example in Prussia in 1850, in Austria in 1861 - the cabinet order was more and more supplanted by law as the predominant form of norm-setting. Nevertheless, in the legal spheres that the constitution granted the monarch as relative or absolute zones of influence, it remained the instrument of legislative and executive coordination of legal relationships that was customary until 1918, especially in the following areas of law:

  • Personnel relationships in the military and civil servants
  • Exercise of the sovereign church regiment
  • Legal relationships of the crown as the owner of crown property
  • Legal relationships of the rural nobility
  • Legal relationships of the members of the ruling family as such

However, judicial powers in the broader civil and criminal sense could no longer be exercised in constitutional monarchies through the cabinet orders.

See also