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Imperial Reform (1495)

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B. The Law of the Common Penny.

We, Maximilian, Roman King by the grace of God, etc., and We [the Imperial Estates] announce for Us, Our successors and heirs publicly with this document, and We proclaim to all, that, in order to preserve law and order in the Holy Empire and resist the enemies of Christ, the Turks, and other foes of the Holy Empire and the German Nation, We agreed, decided, ordained, and established, as follows:

1. Namely, that during the next four years, but not longer, each and every person, spiritual or temporal, woman or man, of whatever rank, status, or condition, with no exceptions and throughout the Holy Empire, shall make the following annual payments: whoever owns real and/or personal property or rents worth 500 florins shall pay one-half florin; whoever possesses 1,000 Rhenish florins shall pay 1 florin; whoever possesses more than 1,000 Rhenish florins shall pay as much more than 1 florin as he sees fit; but whoever possesses less than 500 Rhenish florins, and is at least 15 years old, shall pay 1/24th of a Rhenish florin, so that together 24 such persons shall pay 1 Rhenish florin.

2. The possession or use of 25 Rhenish florins in annual rents shall be reckoned as equivalent to 500 florins of property; and 50 Rhenish florins in annual rents shall be reckoned as 1,000 florins.

3. Each year, all Jews, men and women, young and old, shall pay 1 Rhenish florin each. In each city, market, village, or district, the resident Jews shall be registered and assessed, and the sum owed by them shall be assessed according to their wealth and situation, collected, and forwarded to the commissioners.

4. Princes spiritual and temporal, prelates, counts, barons, and communes shall pay more or less according to their status and condition, as is just.

5. The yield of this levy from the laity shall be collected all throughout the Empire by the parish priests. And We, Maximilian, Roman King, and every elector, prince spiritual or temporal, prelate, count, baron, knight, gentleman, commune, etc., shall at Our and their own expense strictly order and arrange in Our and their cities, districts, marketplaces, and villages that this tax be collected in each parish from every person by upright persons on their oath. This shall occur each year in the pastor's presence before New Year’s Day, and the money shall be guarded faithfully. These chosen persons shall estimate whether someone is worth 1,000 or 500 florins and make an accurate record of the sums, which they will forward faithfully to the paid commissioners hired for each territory by the seven treasurers named below. The commissioners shall faithfully transfer the money and the registers before the next Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.

6. This tax shall be collected in Our, King Maximilian's, and Our Son's, Archduke Philip's, lands at the time and in the manner laid out above, and it shall be forwarded faithfully by the commissioners to the treasurers, along with the tax registers. This will encourage the electors, princes, Estates, and others to pay all the more willingly.

7. Item, the seven treasurers named below shall appoint in every archbishopric and bishopric a clergyman as commissioner at a reasonable salary. He shall collect this aforementioned tax from the clergy in the presence of the bishop's agents every year before New Year's Day, and he shall faithfully transmit the money and the tax registers, as provided above, to the treasurers before the Feast of the Purification.

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