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The Legal Status of Subject Villagers in Prussia, as reflected in the General Law Code for the Prussian States (1794)

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Second Section. On Village Communes.

Rights and Duties of Village Communes.

18. The possessors of peasant landholdings in a village or its arable fields compose together the village commune.

19. Village communes possess the rights of public corporate bodies. [ . . . ]

20. Only the locally settled farmers, as members of the communes, take part in their deliberations. [ . . . ]

Rights of Individual Members

28. All members of the village communes are entitled to use of common lands for grazing, wood-gathering, etc., insofar as laws or contracts do not expressly prohibit it.

29. They share in communal usages and resources in just the same measure as they bear communal burdens [e.g., taxation].

30. On communal pastures each village dweller may drive as many livestock as are required for the proper cultivation of his holding.

31. Where among the farmers and other villagers, or among different classes of farmers, special arrangements concerning common benefits and burdens are regulated by contracts or old-established customs, these shall remain in force.

32. If the common lands are divided among villagers, it must be done in proportion to each beneficiary’s prior share of usages. [ . . . ]

Third Section. On Subject Country-Dwellers and Their Relation to Their Lordships


87. The relationship of the country-dwelling subjects of noble estates to their estate-owning lordships shall be properly designated in Provincial Law Books, whereby previously existing provincial laws and the old-established arrangements resting on them shall figure only as basis or starting-point. [ . . . ]

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