Patrimonial court

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Patrimonial courts were the manorial courts of the noble landlords that existed in Germany and Austria until the middle of the 19th century and exercised their own administration of justice , the basic judiciary , independent of the state .

Formal requirements

The jurisdiction was connected with the possession of a property ( patrimonium ). If it was not a question of ecclesiastical or imperial city property, it was usually tied to the owner's nobility . The landlord (e.g. the owner of a manor or a court marque ) was a court lord and as such was authorized to exercise his jurisdiction over his subjects himself. In the event of a lack of qualification or if certain state laws stipulated this, he had to exercise jurisdiction through his own legal scholars ( court keepers, nurses, court administrators, judiciaries, court directors). Most of the time, the sovereign had reserved a right of confirmation.


The patrimonial arisen because in the Middle Ages , the rulers who often lent their proper jurisdiction not only in cities but also to subordinate landlords (After Lehner) as landlords, founder, monasteries etc., resulting in a the sovereign courts equal standing lower instance trained.

However patrimonial included often only the lower courts , ie primarily property, family, inheritance and Gutsrechte, Gesindeordnung and sometimes lower criminal law (eg. As insults, brawls) that were often delegated to village judge. In certain cases and conditions, the plaintiff and the defendant could turn to a state higher court. However, the lords 'courts were often the last resort for the lords' subjects and thus the lord had a great influence on his subjects. The blood, throat, and embarrassing jurisdiction usually remained with higher courts. Only in Mecklenburg and Pomerania did it mostly belong to the patrimonial jurisdiction.

Kingdom of Bavaria

In the Kingdom of Bavaria , a distinction was made between first and second class patrimonial courts and local courts until 1848. In addition, there were also courts of rule for the larger aristocratic estates and, in particular, mediatized nobles.

First class patrimonial courts

A first class patrimonial court could only be established by mediatized princes, counts and lords. A first class patrimonial court exercised contentious and voluntary civil jurisdiction. With regard to the administration of justice , it was treated as equivalent to a regional court , but criminal jurisdiction was excluded from it. The qualification of the patrimonial court holder has been scrutinized.

Patrimonial 2nd class

Majorate owners and noble crown vassals were able to set up a second class patrimonial court . A minimum number of 300 families was required. These families had to live in contiguous communities. A second class patrimonial court only exercised voluntary jurisdiction.

Local court

Majorate owners and noble crown vassals could set up a local court . It was also known as the patrimonial court. 50 families were sufficient for local courts. These families had to live in contiguous communities less than four hours by road from the courtroom. A local court was a mere executive body and only competent for non-contentious civil jurisdiction.

Closed district - mixed district

From a closed district one spoke when the Patrimonialgerichtsherr of all land-owning tenants exercised jurisdiction in the affected villages. Patrimonial courts were designated as a mixed district, in whose localities there were also regional court ranks of other patrimonial courts or regional courts.


According to the edict of September 8, 1808, the patrimonial jurisdiction in the Kingdom of Bavaria should actually only include voluntary jurisdiction (notary's office). In 1809 the patrimonial courts were abolished in the Rhine federal states Kingdom of Westphalia under Jerome Bonaparte , Grand Duchy of Berg and Kingdom of Württemberg . Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769–1860) was given a substantial share in the fact that patrimonial jurisdiction was abolished in Swedish-Western Pomerania in 1811. In contrast, in the edict of August 16, 1812 , the rulers' courts of the larger aristocratic estates and in particular mediatized nobles in Bavaria were again granted extended criminal and civil law powers. The Grand Duchy of Baden lifted on 14 May 1813, the basic and civil jurisdiction magnificent completely, but the provisions of the 1823 had to due Bundesakte the German Federal to return the jurisdiction of first and second instance ready to explain. The Duchy of Braunschweig repealed the courts by ordinance of March 26, 1823. As a result of the revolution of 1848/1849 , it was repealed in Bavaria by a law of June 4, 1848, in the Austrian Empire by a law of September 7, 1848 and in Prussia by an ordinance of January 2, 1849. September 1849 finally repealed. In the Kingdom of Hanover , this was largely done by the ordinance of March 13, 1821 and entirely by law of November 8, 1858. In several other states ( Grand Duchy of Oldenburg , Reuss younger line , Waldeck , Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha , Altenburg) it was repealed after 1848, mostly without compensation. In the Kingdom of Saxony , this patrimonial legislation was abolished by the Courts Constitution Act of 11 August 1855. The German Courts Constitution Act of 1877 completely repealed patrimonial courts for Germany.


  • Monika Wienfort : Patrimonial courts in Prussia: rural society and civil law 1770–1848 / 49. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-35163-1 .
  • Bernd Wunder : The Baden civil service between the Confederation of the Rhine and the founding of the Empire (1806–1871). Service law, pension, training, career, social profile and political stance. (= Publications of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg. Series B, Research . Volume 136). Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-17-014379-4 , pp. 17-18.
  • Heinrich Wirschinger: Presentation of the development, training and the current legal status of the patrimonial jurisdiction in Bavaria. From the royal. Prize book awarded to the law faculty of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. Weber, 1837.
  • Wolfgang Wüst : Aristocratic self-image in transition? On the importance of patrimonial jurisdiction 1806–1848. In: Walter Demel, Ferdinand Kramer (ed.): Nobility and aristocratic culture in Bavaria. (= Journal for Bavarian State History. Supplement 32). CH Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-10673-6 , pp. 349-376.
  • Sebastian Hiereth: Historical Atlas of Bavaria : The Bavarian judicial and administrative organization from the 13th to the 19th century. Altbayern, Series I, Issue 0, 1950. (online)
  • Albrecht Liess: Plans of Bavarian rulership and local courts from the early 19th century in the General State Archives ( Bavarian Main State Archives , with a list of 224 courts). In: Communications for archive maintenance in Bavaria, ed. from the General Directorate of the Bavarian State Archives 14/2 (1968) pp. 48–57.
  • Joseph von Held : Patrimonial Jurisdiction. In: Karl von Rotteck , Karl Welcker : Das Staats-Lexikon. Encyclopedia of all state sciences for all states , Leipzig 1864, Volume 11 (3rd edition), pp. 365–371 digitized

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Basic Jurisdiction Archives - Genealogy Lexicon. In: Retrieved September 3, 2017 .
  2. William Nunzinger: Historical Atlas of Bavaria. Part Altbayern, Issue 52, Neunburg vorm Wald, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-7696-9928-9 , pp. 376-381.
  3. Dieter Bernd: Vohenstrauss . In: Historical Atlas of Bavaria , part of Old Bavaria . Series I, issue 39. Komm. Für Bayerische Landesgeschichte, Munich 1977, ISBN 3-7696-9900-9 , p. 202 ( digitized version - footnote 3).
  4. ^ Constantin Graf von Hoensbroech: Dispute over a patriot. In: Märkische Oderzeitung. , Blickpunkt, January 29, 2010, p. 3.
  5. cf. Patrimonial jurisdiction (Baden)
  6. ^ Pierer's Universal Lexicon. Volume 12, Altenburg 1861, pp. 749-750. (on-line)