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The Golden Bull (1356)

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Chapter 13
On the revocation of privileges

[Summary: No privilege issued by previous or future Emperors shall harm or hinder the rights, freedoms and privileges of the electors, and we withdraw and declare invalid all such privileges.]

Chapter 14
On the withdrawal of fiefs from those deemed unworthy

In many regions the vassals of lords have the habit of renouncing the fiefs they have from their lords at unfitting times, [but only with words and with treacherous intent], and after their renunciation is complete, they in bad faith announce a feud against their lords, express their enmity, and cause their lords great damage; and they attack and seize the fiefs that they have renounced, and claim and occupy them anew under the pretense of the law of war and conquest, and retain them as their property. Therefore we ordain the following, immutable law, that such renunciations and abandonments shall be considered not to have happened, except when they happen in fact and without force, and the lands are given back to the lord in real and actual possession – in such a way, moreover, than those who declare feud shall not bother or attack the lord, nor encourage or help others to do so. Anyone who violates this law, and attacks his lord’s lands whether renounced or not, or who encourages others to do so, shall lose all claim to the lands, shall be dishonorable and shall fall under the Imperial ban; and for all time they shall lose any right to return to such land and fiefs, nor shall they ever be enfeoffed with them again, nor shall any such enfeoffment be valid. Finally we decree that anyone who acts fraudulently against his lord without renouncing his fiefs shall fall under the same penalties.

Chapter 15
On conspiracies

Detestable and illegal conspiracies, conventicles and associations in cities or outside them, or between city and city, between person and person, or between persons and cities, whether under the pretext of kinship, or of acceptance into the citizenry, under whatever color; and also conjurations [i.e., oaths sworn together], confederacies and pacts, and also the recent custom (or much more abuse) by which cities or persons of whatever rank make agreements without regard to whose subjects they are and in whose lands they dwell, and without the permission of their lords or without making exceptions for their lords in all these things, whether already undertaken or planned for the future, we condemn and deplore, and we declare with absolute certainty that such things are invalid, since they are clearly forbidden by the holy laws established by our predecessors. Only those confederations and leagues are excepted, which are made among princes, towns and other estates for the purpose of maintaining the public peace among themselves in their regions. For these we make a special arrangement, and declare that they should remain in force until we are pleased to proclaim otherwise. Any single person who violates the terms of this decree, and of the old laws, by entering into any such alliances, leagues, conspiracies and pacts, shall suffer in addition to the punishments set forth in the old laws a fine of 10 £ in gold, and shall be declared dishonorable. Any city or community, however, that should similarly violate this law, shall pay a fine of 100 £ in gold and lose and have withdrawn all privileges given by the Empire. Half of this fine shall go to the city's lord who has been damaged, the other half to the imperial treasury.

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