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Imperial eighth of Emperor Ferdinand II from January 1621 against Elector Friedrich V (Palatinate) , who thereby lost his hereditary lands and the electoral dignity.

The imperial ban (also realm spell , just eight or ban (law) ) was a special form of Eight or the emperor, in the Middle Ages by the king early modern period imposed by the king or the emperor in cooperation with the imperial courts and the electors ostracism (Fried - and declaration of lawlessness) especially in the case of disobedience to summons or judgment, which extended to the entire area of ​​the Holy Roman Empire .

Before the Great Migration to the Middle Ages (500–1500)

Before and during the Middle Ages , the administration of justice and the state sovereign administration were not yet sufficiently developed, so that court judgments could often not be enforced and the perpetrators had the opportunity to evade their responsibility. The ostracism appealed to the legal aid of the entire legal community: the perpetrator was deprived of rights, and anyone from the legal society who was able to do so could bring him to court or kill him.

Even in the first tribal societies of the Germanic peoples before the Great Migration , criminals were - after their escape - in offenses against religion, cult and in the army, e.g. B. betrayal and desertion outlawed and thus placed outside of society. Otherwise there was usually a risk of death.

On the decision of the thing , in a later time after the court ruling of the king or the court, they fell to the eight and were outlawed . They lost their legal capacity and anyone could - and should - kill them without penalty. Their body remained unburied. Her fortune fell, anyone could get it. The later awarded medieval fiefdoms but fell to the king, who had pronounced night, or the feudal lord.

Only those who faced the court and the punishment could break away from the eight. If he did not, in the Middle Ages, after a certain period of time ( year and day ) , he fell into disregard (also damnatio, proscriptio superior, überacht, Oberacht, ). It led to the defendant's complete lack of rights and was initially not removable (later it was also removable).

Before resolving the eight, the creditors had to be satisfied and a resolution fee (the "eight treasure") paid. By breaking away from the eight, the once outlawed man regained his full civil status and his property as before the eight. Third parties who held the outlaw's property during the eighth time had to give it back to him, but they were allowed to keep the profit they had made from it during the eighth time.

Since 1220, the imperial ban could not only be pronounced by the Roman-German king or the emperor , it followed the ban from church after only six weeks due to Article 7 of the Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis almost automatically: without separate indictment, without trial and without conviction under imperial law . Later they imposed imperial courts, such as remote courts or the imperial chamber court with the participation of the king or emperor. Since the Peace of Mainz in 1235 (Articles 25 and 26), the Reichsacht automatically extended to people and cities that offered protection and help to the outlawed.

Since imperial ban and ecclesiastical ban have been going hand in hand since 1220, the formula in eight and ban comes from this .

Early modern age

In 1519, Emperor Charles V had to make concessions for his election ( election surrender ). Since then, as emperor, he could no longer impose the eight without first conducting an ostracism procedure. The Constitutio Criminalis Carolina regulated the imperial ban in 1532; it could be pronounced by the German king (since the 16th century also emperor ), by the Reich Chamber of Commerce , by the Court Court of Rottweil (within its sphere of activity) and by the regional peace courts .

In the remainder of the modern era, the distinction between eight and but eight was lost. “Eight” was then usually a slightly weakened form of medieval aberration.

The eight was mainly imposed at in the early modern period

  • Failure to pay certain important imperial taxes
  • following a bull of excommunication by the Pope (church ban)
  • Crimes of majesty ( crimen laesae maiestatis )
  • Breach of the peace
  • Disobedience of a party in a judicial process (for example because of failure to appear although the court has summoned you, or because of failure to act, although the court has asked you to take a certain action - so-called Contumaxacht )

Persons who have been banned from the Reich

The most famous personalities who have been given the imperial ban include:

Imperial ban against cities

The imperial ban could also be imposed on cities:

  • 1163 Mainz - After the assassination of Archbishop Arnold von Selenhofen by the townspeople in 1160, the imperial ban was imposed on the city at the Mainz Reichstag in 1163.
  • 1431 Rostock - After the Rostock citizens elected a new council due to a lack of social improvements and asked the former mayors who had fled to Emperor Sigismund for assistance.
  • 1491–1495 Regensburg - Due to a desperate financial situation, a strongly anti-imperial, pro-Bavarian trend in the city council and the subsequent decision to join the city to the Duchy of Bavaria under Duke Albrecht IV (Bavaria) , the Roman-German king and later imposed Emperor Maximilian I. the imperial ban. After Duke Albrecht's withdrawal, an imperial governor was appointed to regulate the situation in the city in the spirit of the emperor.
  • 1504–1512 Göttingen - After the Göttingen people refused to pay homage to him, Duke Erich I obtained imperial ban from Emperor Maximilian I.
  • 1540–1541 Goslar - The Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel was in dispute with the city of Goslar, which was a member of the Schmalkaldic League , over mining rights on the Rammelsberg . After the riots of 1527 , the duke brought a lawsuit for breach of the peace . After a 13-year process, the Reich Chamber of Commerce imposed the imperial ban on the city, but this was lifted the following year. (See also Schmalkaldischer Bundestaler - coin history )
  • 1547–1562 Magdeburg - Emperor Karl V imposed an imperial ban on Magdeburg because it did not want to submit to the emperor. As a result, it lost the stacking right to Brandenburg . Magdeburg was considered a refuge of Protestantism . Emperor Ferdinand I released Magdeburg from imperial ban in 1562.
  • 1607–1609 Donauwörth - After the citizens of the city of Donauwörth had broken the religious peace, Emperor Rudolf II imposed the imperial ban on the city, which lasted until 1609. This was one of the triggers of the Thirty Years' War .
  • 1652–1653 Bremen - After the city refused to pay the Elsflether Weserzoll obtained in 1623, Emperor Ferdinand III. Bremen with the imperial ban, which was repealed by the conclusion of the Regensburg settlement in 1653.
  • 1663–1664 Erfurt - After the citizens of the city rebelled against the sovereign, the Elector of Mainz , and the Lutheran clergy of the city refused to pray for the Catholic sovereign, in 1663 the imperial ban was imposed on Erfurt. Johann Philipp von Schönborn was entrusted with the enforcement of the imperial ban . The city of Erfurt was finally occupied by Franconian, Electoral Mainz and French troops in 1664. On October 15, 1664, the city finally surrendered in obedience to its sovereign.


  • Eight. In: Albrecht Cordes (Ed.): Concise dictionary for German legal history . Volume 1: Aachen - Spiritual Bank . 2nd completely revised and expanded edition. Schmidt, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-503-07912-4 .
  • Friedrich Battenberg : Reichsacht and guidance in the late Middle Ages. A contribution to the history of the highest royal jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom, especially in the 14th and 15th centuries (= sources and research on the highest jurisdiction in the Old Kingdom. Volume 18). Böhlau, Cologne and others 1986, ISBN 3-412-00686-6 .
  • Erich Klingelhöfer : The imperial laws of 1220, 1231/32 and 1235. Their becoming and their effect in the German state of Frederick II (= sources and studies on the constitutional history of the German Empire in the Middle Ages and modern times. Volume 8, 2). Böhlau, Weimar 1955.
  • Joseph Pötsch: The Reichsacht in the Middle Ages and especially in the more recent times (= studies on German state and legal history. Volume 105). Marcus, Breslau 1911, (At the same time: Münster, University, habilitation paper), (Also reprinted: Scientia-Verlag, Aalen 1971, ISBN 3-511-04105-8 ).

Web links

Wiktionary: Reichsacht  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Non-profit lexicon for readers of all classes, especially those who have not studied. Johann Ferdinand Roth , 1807, p. 8 , accessed on September 29, 2017 .
  2. Eberhard Isenmann, Bernhard Stettler: Reichsacht. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . November 8, 2011 , accessed October 12, 2020 .
  3. More precisely: Eduard Eichmann: Eight and Bann in Imperial Law of the Middle Ages. Paderborn 1909.
  4. Eight , in: Reinhard Heydenreuter, Wolfgang Pledl, Konrad Ackermann: Vom Abbräufer zum Zentgraf. Dictionary of regional history and local research in Bavaria. Munich 2009. p. 10.
  5. "Johann Hilchen / The feud with the Rheingrafen 1510" , in F. Otto: Annals of the Association for Nassau antiquity and historical research published in 1892, volume: 24, pages 3 and 4
  6. Heinrich Ruckgaber: history of outdoor and city of Rottweil . Dr. Rapp & CB Englerth, 1838 ( limited preview in Google Book Search [accessed August 5, 2017]).
  7. See the declaration of eight about Friedrich von der Pfalz at Wikisource .
  8. Kathrin Nessel: The Benedictine monastery on Jakobsberg ,, March 27, 2005
  9. Karl-Friedrich Olechnowitz : The history of the University of Rostock from its foundation in 1419 to the French Revolution in 1789. In: History of the University of Rostock 1419–1969, Festschrift for the five hundred and fifty anniversary celebration. Rostock 1969, p. 14.
  10. Tobias Beck: Emperor and imperial city at the beginning of the early modern period, The imperial governorate in the Regensburg regiments 1492-1555. Regensburg City Archives 2011, pp. 28–32.