Privilegium de non appellando

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The privilege de non appellando (from Latin appellare , '(be) to call', 'to call'; also to appeal privilege ) was granted by the emperor in the Middle Ages and gave a noble territorial lord the right (ius) to forbid his subjects, the emperor as judicially higher Calling the instance (in today's parlance: “ appeal ”).

Privilegia de non appellando

Mainly because of the reception of Roman law , the legal institution of the appellation became common in the Holy Roman Empire . This means that if a litigant was unsuccessful in the first instance before a court, he could appeal to a higher court and obtain an examination of the lower court judgment there. In the Middle Ages, the Roman-German king or emperor was the supreme court lord, from whom all jurisdiction proceeded. In the last instance an appeal could be made to him.

But the emperor could also renounce being the final judicial authority. He did not do this through general pronouncements, but rather gave selected princes , counts or imperial cities the Privilegium de non appellando . The privileged princes, counts or imperial cities then had the right to forbid their subjects to appeal to the emperor in the final instance. In this case, the higher courts of the princes, counts or imperial cities were the last court instance.

There were different types of Privilegia de non appellando . The most important distinction was that between a Privilegium limitatum and an illimitatum . A Privilegium illimitatum gave the right to forbid any appeal to the emperor by subjects from a certain sovereign rule. A Privilegium Limitatum, on the other hand, only gave the right to prohibit appeals from subjects under certain conditions. For example, additional formalities could be provided for in a Privilegium Limitatum (e.g. subjects could be required to swear certain oaths before lodging an appeal ). Also, the appellation could only be prohibited for certain issues in dispute or the appellation was prohibited if the legal dispute was not about a certain monetary value (appellation sum). So there was some leeway for the content of such a Privilegium limitatum .

The more a Privilegium de non appellando forbade appellations from subjects from the sovereign territories, the better a sovereign could expand his own jurisdiction and consolidate his own rule in his territory. In the early modern period , the German emperors granted many and increasingly far-reaching Privilegia de non appellando to the imperial estates . On the one hand, the emperors promoted sovereign power and particularism , on the other hand, the emperors bound the respective imperial estates to the empire by granting privileges. As a rule, a Privilegium de non appellando had to be reaffirmed by every emperor who ascended the throne. This required oaths of loyalty from the imperial estates to the emperor. The emperor also had the granting of privileges paid for by the imperial estates. In this way he generated not insignificant income. The more recent historical science therefore sees the granting of privileges not only negatively as a weakening of the emperor, but also sees it as a means of rule of the emperor.

By granting such a privilege, the sovereign had initially only acquired a subjective right. He still had to bring this to general application. The sovereign passed a law within his territory that forbade appeals to the emperor and his supreme courts. The territorial courts then ensured compliance with this law. Because in principle you had to file an appeal against a judgment at the court that issued the challenged judgment (iudex a quo) . This court then had to allow the appeal to the higher court (iudex ad quem) . If there was a sovereign law that forbade appellation to the emperor on the basis of a Privilegium de non appellando , then the sovereign courts also did not allow appellation to the emperor.

The Golden Bull of 1356 granted all electors the Privilegium de non appellando illimitatum as early as the 14th century . In later times, especially in the early modern period after the establishment of permanent imperial jurisdiction by the Reich Chamber of Commerce and the Reichshofrat , more and more imperial estates obtained the appeal privileges - mostly limited appeal privileges, which over the course of time expanded and in some cases also resulted in unlimited appeal privileges were. By the middle of the 17th century, almost all major imperial estates had secured Privilegia illimitata . They withdrew their territories largely from the imperial jurisdiction .

Privilegium de non evocando

The Privilegium de non evocando (also evocation privilege ) must be distinguished from the Privilegium de non appellando .

The Privilegium de non evocando (from Latin evocare , ' to call out, to summon to court') gave a noble territorial lord the right to forbid his subjects to appeal to the emperor as first judicial instance .

However, in exceptional cases it was still possible to appeal to the emperor as the first court instance. This was especially the case in the case of denial of justice , i.e. when the courts of the aristocratic sovereign refused to bring a subject to trial against another. In the same way, the emperor was always the patron of widows, orphans, the poor and students. These groups of people had traditional special rights and, even if they had a Privilegium de non evocando, could turn to the emperor as the first instance.

In 1356, all electors were granted the Privilegium de non evocando in the Golden Bull . With the important Reich Chamber Court Order of 1495 it was generally established that essentially only imperial estates and no subjects were allowed to appeal to the emperor - or the Reich Chamber Court as its imperial court - in the first instance. This raised the ius de non evocando to a general principle.


  • Ulrich Eisenhardt : The legal effects of the privilegia de non evocando et appellando mentioned in the Golden Bull . In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . German Department 86, 1969, p. 75-96 .
  • Ulrich Eisenhardt: The imperial Privilegia de non appellando . In: Sources and Research on Supreme Jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom . tape 7 . Cologne / Vienna 1980 (After a more extensive introduction, Eisenhardt lists all Privilegia de non appellando that existed in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Important appeal privileges are reproduced in the exact wording).
  • Jürgen Weitzel : The fight for the appeal to the Reich Chamber of Commerce . In: Sources and Research on Supreme Jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom . tape 4 . Cologne / Vienna 1976 (shows the political dimension of appeal privileges).
  • Bettina Dick: The development of the camera process according to the regulations from 1495 to 1555 . In: Sources and Research on Supreme Jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom . tape 10 . Cologne / Vienna 1981, p. 69 (On procedural law at the Reich Chamber of Commerce).
  • Barbara Dölemeyer, Heinz Mohnhaupt (Ed.): The privilege in European comparison . Frankfurt 1999.
  • Heinz Mohnhaupt: Studies on the relationship between privilege and codification in the 18th and 19th centuries . In: Ius commune . tape 5 , 1975, p. 71 ff . ( Online (pdf, 7 MB) ).
  • Judgment Landscape Old Kingdom. Supreme jurisdiction and territorial jurisdiction . Contributions to the Bavarian Privilegium de non appellando. In: A. Amend, A. Baumann, S. Wendehorst, S. Wunderlich (Ed.): Sources and research on the highest jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom . tape 52 . Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, p. 46 f . (Concrete example for the discussion about its scope at the Reich Chamber of Commerce pp. 93, 101, 103, 105 f.).
  • Georg Wilhelm von Wetzell : System of the ordinary civil process . 3. Edition. Leipzig 1878, p. 363 ff .