In the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, the chamber procurator or chamber tax office was a ministerial or official of the sovereign who had to represent the interests of the “chamber” (the finances of the prince, i.e. the tax authorities ), including in court.
In the broader sense, he was a member of the princely financial administration. He had to ensure that the income due to the chamber was actually received. Therefore, he was entrusted with the supervision of the various tax collectors and occasionally also the estate officials. If necessary, he had to take the prince to court for missing funds. Because of this, mostly civil law scholars were appointed chamber procurators.
The tasks and powers of the Chamber Procurators differed from country to country. Over time, the chamber procurators became representatives of the nascent modern state in other matters as well. In Austria they were the forerunners of the public prosecutors .
Around 1225, Emperor Frederick II appointed procuratores fisci vel curiae ( Procurators of the Treasury and the Court) in Sicily . This institution is considered to be the origin of all European taxation . In terms of the factual scope of its activities, the Sicilian fiscal authorities are reminiscent of the advocati fisci of the Roman Empire. From Sicily, the office of fiscal authority came to France (procureurs et advocats du roi) and through King James II through the rulers of the House of Anjou , who had succeeded the last Hohenstaufen in the middle of the 13th century . from Aragon probably also to Spain, where it lives on to this day in the Ministerio fiscal .
In the German lands of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, procuratores fisci have been traceable since the 15th century. The sovereign rights of the sovereigns over their subjects, but especially over the politically justified classes, were relatively limited in the late Middle Ages. If the prince exceeded his rights, the subjects could seek justice before his courts and the sovereign had to grant them. In such legal disputes, the princes were represented by the chamber procurators.
As the first imperial tax office, i.e. the emperor's legal representative, Dr. Bartholus from Pisa can be documented in 1421. From around 1500 onwards, only legal scholars could become tax officials at the Reich Chamber of Commerce. Fiscal had two functions. On the one hand he was an authorized representative, on the other hand he also acted as a preparer or leader of the legal dispute outside the process, which made him an advocatus .
Since the sovereign acts both as a judge and as a party in “his” trials at the same time, he delegated his claims to special representatives and equipped these lawyers with the party role. Lawsuits against the person of the sovereign are formally brought against the tax authorities to preserve the dignity of the ruler. Initially, the sovereign appointed representatives for his trials on a case-by-case basis. Because the number of proceedings grew steadily and the sovereign recognized that his trial representatives were suitable as a means to fight against the increasingly strong estates, he appointed permanent officials, tax officials or chamber procurators exclusively for this task. In the Habsburg Monarchy they were subordinated to the royal court chamber. Lawsuits could only be initiated with their permission. Without prior knowledge of the sovereign, neither the chamber nor the tax authorities should get involved in judicial acts. From the task of collecting fines, the fiscal authorities gradually fell into the role of public prosecutor. In addition to the right to impose property penalties, the authority to intervene in general criminal matters is added later.
The estates quickly realized that the permanent representation of the sovereign interests, organized according to the authorities, jeopardized their autonomy rights. As early as 1502, the Styrian estates demanded Maximilian I to abolish the chamber tax. However, the emperor did not think about it, he only changed the name of the unpopular office to Chamber Procuratorate. Fiscal was already an integral part of the authorities in the Austrian states around 1500. After 1526 the Habsburgs tried to establish the office in the newly won Bohemian lands, which of course did not succeed everywhere. In Upper Lusatia, for example, the Chamber Procuratorate was set up by Emperor Rudolf II against strong concerns from the estates and was retained by the Wettins during the Saxon period.
- Wolfgang Peschorn : The History of the Financial Procuratorate . from lawyer and advisor of the republic. Festschrift for the 50th anniversary of the re-establishment of the Austrian Financial Procuratorate, ed. v. Manfred Kremser. Vienna 1995. (PDF file; 182 kB)
- Knolle, Ulrich: Studies on the origin and history of the Reichsfiskalats in the 15th century , dissertation, Freiburg 1965.