Privilege minus

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Under privilege minus , even Little Freiheitsbrief called, an imperial document understood from the year 1156, the mark on the basis Ostarrîchi (in contemporary terms already Marcha Austria ) in one of the tribal duchy of Bavaria independent duchy was converted.

For today's Republic of Austria , it is one of its historic founding documents.


As a privilege minus , the research, in contrast to the later Privilegium Maius , a forgery from the chancellery of Rudolf IV. From the year 1358/59, describes a solemn diploma given on September 17, 1156 by Emperor Friedrich I for the Duke of Bavaria Heinrich Jasomirgott from the House of Babenberg was exhibited.

It includes the elevation of Marcha Austria from a margraviate to the hereditary duchy of the Babenbergs. In addition to the inheritance of the ducal dignity, a female line of succession was also envisaged: in the event of childlessness, the duke should be able to decide who to appoint as his successor (libertas affectandi) . The duty to appear at the Reichstag was limited to those held in Bavaria . Army successes only had to be achieved in theaters of war in the neighborhood.

This letter of freedom is to be seen against the background of the Staufer - Welf conflict, which the then young emperor, descended from both houses, wanted to resolve. The Duchy of Bavaria, which the Babenbergs had ruled in his place since 1139, was returned to the Guelph Heinrich the Lion . The elevation to Duke of Austria was nothing more than a substitute and was generally seen as the defeat of Heinrich Jasomirgott. For Frederick I, however, their main function was likely to have been to reduce Bavaria by splitting off its eastern marrow and thus to limit Henry the Lion's increase in power.


In March 1152 Friedrich Barbarossa was elected Roman-German king . It can be assumed that Heinrich the Lion was among his voters and that the return of the Duchy of Baiern was promised in advance. However, this cannot be clearly proven because the sources are very sketchy. Otto von Freising , one of the most important sources for this time, did not name those present at the election in Frankfurt. Friedrich Barbarossa was very interested in receiving the favor of Henry the Lion, because he was planning a march to Italy and needed the support in military form from Heinrich. Under these conditions, Barbarossa allowed Heinrich to unite the two duchies of (Old) Saxony and Bavaria under his rule.

When the king summoned both dukes to Würzburg for a court conference in 1152 in order to enter into negotiations with Heinrich Jasomirgott about the Duchy of Bavaria, he stayed away. At Pentecost 1153 in Worms they both arrived, but no result could be achieved because Heinrich Jasomirgott stated that he was not legally invited. This tactic of alternating absenteeism, combined with the explanation that one was not properly summoned, delayed a decision.

Friedrich Barbarossa wanted to bring about a decision in 1154, since the fixed date for the Italian train was approaching, for which he needed the contingents of Henry the Lion, who pressed for a decision in his favor. Both opponents were summoned on a court day in Goslar in June 1154, but Heinrich Jasomirgott stayed away again. The royal court then decided to award Heinrich the Lion Bavaria. This decision was made easier by the fact that Heinrich Jasomirgott failed to consolidate his position in Bavaria. He had already moved his residence from Regensburg to Vienna, a flourishing long-distance trading town, and thus withdrew from the northern parts of Bavaria to the southern parts of his dominion.

Since the verdict of the princely court, Heinrich the Lion had the Saxon and Bavarian duke titles in his documents and on his seal. The actual investiture did not take place until September 1156 on a court day in Regensburg , when Heinrich Jasomirgott officially declared his resignation. Heinrich the Lion was encouraged in his decision to also hold the title of duke in Bavaria when the Bavarian greats assured him of team and oath of loyalty on a court day in Regensburg in October 1155.

On June 5, 1156 there was a secret meeting near Regensburg between Friedrich Barbarossa and Heinrich Jasomirgott without Heinrich the Lion. Details of the conversation are not known.

The Court Day in Regensburg September 1156

On September 8, 1156, Friedrich held a court day in Regensburg, and Heinrich Jasomirgott had pitched his tent camp near the city to announce the resolutions that had been in effect since June 5, 1156. Friedrich visited Heinrich Jasomirgott's camp on the Barbinger Meadows with the greats of the empire, including Heinrich the Lion. The fact that the emperor was traveling to Heinrich Jasomirgott, even if the distance was only two German miles, demonstrated the particularly accommodating attitude of Frederick the Babenberger. Whether the visit to the tent camp was a request from Heinrich Jasomirgott on June 5, 1156, or whether the emperor wanted to avoid the difficulty of how Heinrich the Lion should be received as the reigning duke in his residence cannot be clarified.

Heinrich Jasomirgott gave Friedrich seven flags, which symbolizes the renunciation of the Duchy of Bavaria. This then enfeoffed Heinrich the lion, who in turn returned two to the emperor. Friedrich converted the Mark of Austria into a duchy based on a resolution of the princes and gave Heinrich Jasomirgott and his wife the two flags.

The settlement of the dispute through feudal provisions

Nine days after the solemn ceremony on September 8, 1156, after further negotiations, the privilege minus was issued. By means of feudal regulations, Barbarossa managed to find a long-term solution for various components of the conflict over the Duchy of Bavaria.

The conversion of the mark into a duchy

The conversion was preceded by a verdict of the princes , which the emperor had requested and which was pronounced by one of the most distinguished secular greats of the empire, Duke Wenceslaus of Bohemia . The wording of the Privilegium minus that deals with this verdict is “omnibus principibus approbantibus marchiam Austrie in ducatum commutavimus”. The conversion of the mark into a duchy is justified a few lines beforehand with Heinrich Jasomirgott 's "honor et gloria" . Accordingly, one reason for the conversion is that Heinrich Jasomirgott should not renounce the honor and fame associated with the title of duke.

Furthermore, a demotion of Heinrich Jasomirgott to margrave would have been intolerable, because he had not incurred any personal guilt. In addition, in the event of demotion, Heinrich the Lion , as Duke of Bavaria, would have been placed higher and could have invited the Babenberger to his court to demand accountability from him. These points show how important it was to maintain the personal status of those involved.

Heinrich Jasomirgott was given the duchy according to Privilegium minus with all rights and with all fiefs that Margrave Leopold once held from the Duchy of Bavaria ("que quondam marchio Livpoldus habebat a ducatu Bawarie"). This fact ascribes Heinrich Jasomirgott to the fact that as duke he occupied the same position that he had previously as margrave. This was decisive for the Babenberger, because he wanted to continue the title of duke, but not forego the privileges of a margrave. As a margrave, he had the opportunity to demand benefits, especially financial benefits, from the church property, which would not have been possible for him as a duke due to the immunity and protection of the kings of the imperial churches.

For Heinrich the Lion, the strengthening of the Babenbergs through the Privilegium minus also meant a weakening, namely the loss of Austria as a margraviate. Bavaria became an internal duchy of the empire like Swabia . The Guelph had received the Duchy of Bavaria, but he was unable to perform the tasks determined by borders, such as territorial expansion and border protection. So he only had the north and northeast of Saxony as a field of activity.

The strengthening of the Babenbergs and the simultaneous weakening of the Guelphs must also have been in the spirit of Friedrich Barbarossa, in order to create a counterweight to Heinrich the Lion, the most powerful imperial prince of this time. Friedrich had been able to find a mutually acceptable solution, from which he benefited most, by getting the military contingents for his Italian march from Heinrich the Lion, without letting him become too strong, and the Babenberg Heinrich Jasomirgott through brought the granting of special privileges to his side. In addition, the peaceful settlement of the conflict served to maintain peace in the empire, which was of course of particular importance during the ruler's planned absence for the Italian move.

The libertas affectandi

One of the series of privileges vested in Heinrich Jasomirgott is the right, in the event of his childless death, to cede the duchy to someone who Heinrich and his wife Theodora could choose. The wording in the Privilegium minus is:

“Si autem predictus dux Austrie patruus noster et uxor eius absque liberis decesserint, libertatem habeant eundem ducatum affectandi cuicumque voluerint.”

It should be noted that only Heinrich Jasomirgott ( patruus noster ) and his wife Theodora ( et uxor eius ) had this right of proposal . It was therefore limited in time and no longer applies to the following generations. In addition, Barbarossa retained the lending right. He only undertook to appoint the successor appointed by Heinrich Jasomirgott and Theodora.

This unusual privilege finds its justification in the situation of the Babenbergs in 1156. Heinrich Jasomirgott and the Byzantine princess Theodora were childless. Heinrich had a minor daughter named Agnes from his first marriage. If Heinrich and Theodoras had died prematurely, Agnes would have had a difficult position in the empire. Heinrich's two brothers, Otto von Freising and Bishop Konrad von Passau , were also eliminated as potential successors, as they were both clergymen. In order to guarantee the continued existence of the Babenberg family, Heinrich Jasomirgott had to insist on this special form of enfeoffment.

For Friedrich Barbarossa this privilege was not a particular restriction on his power as a feudal lord, because in the case of large imperial vassals he could not have refused to invest his sons in the event of the death of the vassal . He was also very interested in the continued existence of the Babenbergs, as they represented a counterweight to the Guelphs, who, as dukes of Bavaria, might have made claims on Austria after the Babenbergs died out.

The limitation of vassal duty

The restrictions in the Privilegium minus relate to the court journey ( compulsory attendance at court days) and the army succession . Heinrich Jasomirgott only had to appear on court days in Bavaria when he was invited: "Dux vero Austrie de ducatu suo aliud servicium non debeat imperio, nisi quod ad curias, quas imperator prefixerit in Bawaria, evocatus veniat." For Heinrich Jasomirgott this means geographical limitation a financial relief, since he did not have to raise funds for long trips to the north or west of the empire.

The limitation of the army succession to neighboring countries of the Duchy of Austria ("Nullam quoque expedicionem debeat, nisi quam forte imperator in regna vel provincias Austrie vicinas ordinaverit.") Can be explained by the geographical location of the Duchy, which was previously the Bavarian Ostmark. It was in Friedrich Barbarossa's interest to relieve the Babenberger so that he could continue the duties of a margrave. In particular, he hoped for support for trains to Italy, which borders on Austria.


  • Heinrich Appelt : Heinrich the lion and the choice of Friedrich Barbarossa. In: Alexander Novotny, Othmar Pickl (ed.): Festschrift Hermann Wiesflecker for the sixtieth birthday. Self-published by the Historical Institute of the University, Graz 1973, pp. 39–48.
  • Heinrich Appelt: Privilege minus. The Staufer Empire and the Babenbergs in Austria. 2nd, modified edition. Böhlau, Vienna 2006, ISBN 3-205-77477-9 .
  • Heinrich Büttner : The political action of Friedrich Barbarossas in the year 1156. In: Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 106th , 1970, ISSN  0006-4408 , pp. 54-67.
  • Wilhelm Erben : Frederick I's privilege for the Duchy of Austria. Konegen, Vienna 1902.
  • Heinrich Fichtenau : From the Mark to the Duchy. Basics and meaning of the “Privilegium minus” for Austria. Oldenbourg, Munich 1958, ( Austria Archive ), ( Series of publications by the Working Group for Austrian History ).
  • Otto von Freising , Rahewin : The deeds of Friedrich or more correctly Cronica. Translated by Adolf Schmidt. Published by Franz-Josef Schmale . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1965, (Rudolf Buchner (Hrsg.): Selected sources on the German history of the Middle Ages. Freiherr von Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe 17, ISSN  0067-0650 ).
  • Erich Schrader: To the court determination of the privilege minus . In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History (ZRG) 82, 1952, pp. 371–385.
  • Michael Tangl : The authenticity of the Austrian Privilegium Minus. In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History (ZRG) German Department 25 = 38, 1904, pp. 258–286. ( Digitized version ).
  • Erich Zöllner : The Privilegium minus and its successor provisions in a genealogical perspective. In: Communications of the Institute for Austrian Historical Research (MIÖG) 86. 1978, ISSN  0073-8484 , pp. 1–26.

Web links