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German Federal Act (June 8, 1815)

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Art. 14. In order to provide a uniformly permanent legal situation, in accordance with current conditions in all federal states, for the Imperial Estates and members of the Empire that became subject to sovereign authority in the year 1806 and thereafter, the Confederal states agree to the effect:

a) That from now on these princely houses and earldoms be considered no less than part of the high nobility in Germany, and that they continue to enjoy the right to the same rank imparted by the term previously associated with them;
b) the heads of these houses are the lords of the first estate in the state to which they belong; – They and their families comprise the most privileged class in the same, especially with respect to taxation;
c) altogether, with respect to their persons, families, and possessions, all those rights and advantages that originate from their property and its undisturbed enjoyment, and which are not subject to the authority of the state or its higher governmental rights, should be promised to them or remain with them. Among the above-mentioned rights are especially and particularly:
1) the unrestricted freedom to take up residence in any state belonging to or living in peace with the Confederation;
2) in accordance with the principles of the former German constitution, existing family contracts will remain intact, and the princely houses and earldoms will be assured the authority to issue binding decrees concerning their family and property. These will, however, have to be submitted to the sovereign and brought before the highest offices in the land for the purpose of general information and compliance. All previous ordinances to the contrary should no longer apply to future cases;
3) privileged legal venue and exemption from all military obligation for themselves and their families;
4) the maintenance of civil and criminal justice in the first instance and, where the estate is large enough, in the second instance, of forest jurisdiction, the local police, and supervision over church and school matters, and also over charitable foundations. This, however, must occur in accordance with the regulations of state laws, to which they remain subject, just as they do to the military constitution and the supervision of governments over these jurisdictions.
For a closer definition of the above-mentioned authorizations, both generally and with respect to all remaining points, the Royal Bavarian Ordinance from the year 1807 will be the basis and the norm in order to further justify and establish a legal status congruent in all of the German Confederal states for the princes, counts, and lords under sovereign authority. The former imperial nobility is assured the rights cited in Sub N. 1 and 2: share of wealth in peerage, patrimony, forest jurisdiction, local police, church patronage, and privileged legal venue. These rights will, however, only be practiced in accordance with the regulations of state laws.
In the provinces ceded by Germany through the Peace of Lunéville of February 9, 1801, but which are now reunited therewith, the application of the above basic principles to the former high imperial nobility shall be limited as special conditions there make necessary.

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