Lese majesty

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Loss of majesty ( Latin crimen laesae maiestatis ) is the deliberate insult or assault committed against a ruling monarch in a monarchy . It is a violation of the constitutionally enshrined “inviolability” of the holder of state sovereignty in constitutional monarchies .

In a broader sense, it can also be understood to mean insulting a head of state . If, for example, the denigration of the Federal President is punishable under Section 90 of the Criminal Code in Germany , the example is to be found in the medieval and early modern libel of majesty.


Sheet 43r from the Bambergensis of 1507 with article 132

Like antiquity, the Middle Ages punished lese majesty, which they called crimen laesae maiestatis . 1199 the crime of heresy by Pope Innocent III. the edict Vergentis in senium equal to the crime of lese-majeste, whereby the term treason as an insult God in church law took hold. In the later written Bambergensis of 1507, the offense of lese majesty (secular law) is dealt with in Article 132:

Straff derjhenen / so the Roman keyserlichen or royal maiestat read.
(cxxxij) Item such a Roman Keyserliche or Royal Mayestat of our allergenic gentlemen reads / verbuendtnuß or makes eynignug against the same Mayestat in such a way / that he has done so to Latin called Crimen lese maiestatis / Sol, according to the Keyserlichen, wrote right to his eren / life / vnd are well tightened / and in such a case the vrteylers with the lawfully learned / the legal statutes of such serious ones rigorously observed / and judge themselves with jrer vrteyl accordingly.

In the age of absolutism , when the monarch ruling by God's grace was the symbol of the state itself, the lese majesty, which was then equivalent to the disregard of the order given by law and God, was a state crime that corresponded to today's high treason and often punished with the death penalty has been.

In monarchies there are special offenses for insulting the monarch. However, the corresponding penalties are very different. In the Netherlands z. B. Criminal proceedings are only opened in very serious cases and the penalty is generally only a fine. In Thailand, on the other hand, sentences of up to 15 years are possible ( lese majesty in Thailand ).

Lese majesty and censorship

An insult to majesty can also be caused by insulting or disparaging writings, images or allegorical allusions, e.g. B. in novels, operas and plays. Hence, throughout history, the prosecution of insults to majesty has often been the justification for the need for censorship .

After the abolition of censorship could according to § 95 Penal Code for the German Reich one of the sovereign insult by imprisonment not less than two months, or with imprisonment of two months to five years to be punished. In his poem The Zoologist of Berlin, Frank Wedekind , an experienced insult to majesty, mocked the difficulty of not being guilty of insulting majesty .

Corresponding criminal offenses in republics

In republics, the insult of the respective head of state has taken the place of the libel of majesty, which is usually a qualified form of conventional insult.


In Germany , denigrating the Federal President is punishable under Section 90 of the Criminal Code. In order for this offense to be prosecuted, the Federal President must authorize the prosecuting authorities to prosecute.

Insulting foreign heads of state or diplomatic representatives ( insulting organs and representatives of foreign states ) was punishable by Section 103 ("Shah Paragraph") in conjunction with Section 104a of the Criminal Code until December 31, 2017 , provided that the Federal Republic of Germany had diplomatic relations maintained a mutual legal provision there, the foreign government had filed for prosecution with the federal government and the federal government had given the authority to prosecute.

In its draft of February 20, 2017 of a law “reforming criminal proceedings against foreign states”, which was enacted on July 17, 2017 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 2439 ), the Federal Government described the normal criminal provisions for insults as “sufficient for the Protection of honor of organs and representatives of foreign countries ”. In particular, there is no need for an increased penalty. Even international law does not impose any special penal norms in favor of representatives of foreign states. On June 1, 2017, the Bundestag unanimously decided to abolish Section 103 . This amendment to the Criminal Code came into force on January 1, 2018. The abolition of the offense of lese majesty is a consequence of the Böhmermann affair .


In Austria , the insult of the Federal President and some constitutional organs as an official offense according to Section 115 of the Criminal Code (insult) in connection with Section 117 of the Criminal Code, (entitlement to indict). While the conventional insult can only be prosecuted by means of a private accusation by the person injured in his honor, insulting the Federal President is punished ex officio. However, the Federal President has to authorize persecution. The threat of punishment is a maximum of three months' imprisonment.


Switzerland only recognizes insulting a foreign head of state or diplomat ( Art. 296 / Art. 297 StGB ) as a special offense. However, only insults that target a foreign state, an international or intergovernmental organization are prosecuted.

Individuals themselves, regardless of their status, title or position, do not enjoy any criminal law protection beyond the regular penal norms of defamation ( Art. 173 / Art. 174 / Art. 177 ).


Insulting ( hakaret ) the President of the Republic of Turkey is a criminal offense. Article 299 of the Criminal Code defines the offense as follows:

“(1) Anyone who insults the President of the Republic is punished with between one and four years in prison.
(2) If the act is committed publicly, the penalty is increased by one sixth.
(3) The prosecution of this criminal offense depends on the authorization of the Minister of Justice. "

Similar offenses


Web links


  1. Christina Buschbell: The Inquisition in the High Middle Ages. Diplomica Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8366-8790-4 , p. 38 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  2. Article 132 of the Bamberg Embarrassing Neck Court Regulations, which can now be viewed partially edited in the sister project Wikisource.
  3. Frank Wedekind : The Zoologist of Berlin ( Wikisource )
  4. BT-Drs. 18/11243
  5. Bundestag deletes the paragraph on lese majesty , bundestag.de, accessed on July 12, 2017.
  6. on the abolition of the lese majesty. Bundestag.de