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Imperial Reform (1495)

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7. Since there are many soldiers, cavalry and infantry, who have no proper lord, and since many have entered contracts which they do not honor and which the rulers with whom they contract cannot force them to honor, and who thus scour the land in their own interest, We desire and order that henceforth such cavalry and infantry shall no longer be tolerated or allowed to remain in the Holy Empire. Whoever encounters such folk shall arrest them, put them to the question [= judicial torture], punish them severely for their misdeeds, confiscate their property to the last farthing, and force them to swear oaths and give guarantees of future good behavior.

8. And if, which We do not expect, spiritual persons [= clergy] act against Our peace and law, the prelates, who have direct jurisdiction over them, shall at the request of the plaintiffs redress the damage as best they can and severely punish those who are responsible. And if they fail to do this, and the evildoers are not punished, We shall remove them from the grace and protection of Ourselves and the Empire and refuse to defend or make agreements with such disturbers of the peace. They may purge themselves of suspicion, however, just like lay persons, as described above.

9. During the time that this public peace is in force, no one shall be bound by agreements, obligations, or alliances to act against it, and by virtue of Our royal authority We declare all such agreements void and non-binding, though without prejudice to the other paragraphs, provisions, and articles. And this public peace obliges no one to give or take guarantees for honest debts. And whoever comes by virtue of this law under the ban, as provided above, he or she shall not be absolved of it by Us without the consent of the injured party and not until he receives satisfaction before the law.

10. And We, by virtue of Our Roman royal authority, therefore recommend to all the aforementioned by your oath and your duty, which you have performed and pledged to us in the name of the Empire, and by the obedience that you are obliged to render us as Roman King, and by pain of loss of all grace, privileges, and rights that you have from Us, from the Holy Empire, or from others, and We command, with deep seriousness and strictness, that you steadfastly hold to this public peace and to Our mandate with all of its points, articles, and provisions. And that you order and command that in your principality, county, barony, and lands, whatever their form of regime may be, the officers, vicedoms, wardens, administrators, and deputies – or whatever other titles they may hold – and your subjects obey and enforce and not neglect or resist – openly or covertly – in any way all the aforementioned points, under pain of the Imperial common law, the royal mandates, and Our extreme displeasure.

11. We also furthermore declare to the possessors of each and every grace, privilege, liberty, tradition, agreement, and obligation framed and issued by Us, Our predecessors, or others in the Empire who may oppose – in whatever language – this, Our public peace, that We, by virtue of the plenitude of Our Roman royal authority desire and add to this law, that no one, of whatever rank, status, or condition, shall or may be in any way protected by such graces, liberties, traditions, or agreements against this public peace.

12. Further, this peace and mandate does not nullify the royal and Imperial common law and other existing ordinances and mandates but complements them. From the moment of this proclamation on, everyone is obliged to obey it. [ . . . ]

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