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Friedrich Weigandt’s Draft of an Imperial Reformation (May 18, 1525)

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Also, under these four appellate courts there should be sixteen territorial courts, four beneath each appellate court, and each presided over by sixteen persons, namely four from the princes, counts, and lords, four from the knights and vassals, four from the cities, and four from the other communes. Each of them shall appoint and select a member of the knight’s estate as judge and proceed as outlined above.

Further, below the sixteen territorial courts there should be sixty-four free courts, four under each territorial court and also presided over by sixteen persons, namely four from the imperial cities, four from the nobles, four from the [territorial] princely cities, and four from the communes. They shall each select a member of the nobility as free judge and proceed as outlined above, but without infringing upon the city courts or the territorial rural courts.

Further, cases from the city or village courts can be appealed at the nearest free court, but not [cases concerning] less than ten florins, unless it is a question of honor or inheritance. Further, cases from the free court may be appealed at the nearest territorial court, but not [those that concern] less than one hundred florins. Further, cases from the territorial court may be appealed at the nearest appellate court, but not [cases concerning] less than one thousand florins. Further, cases from the appellate court may be appealed at the Chamber Court, but not [those concerning] less than ten thousand florins.

7. It would be good if all customs duties, safe-conduct fees, excise taxes, fees, taxes, and levies, which are applied everywhere, be abolished except for those which are seen to be necessary, so that selfishness does not burden the common man. Reason: many customs duties have arisen through the spiritual and secular princes, counts, lords and knights, nobles, prelates, monks, and towns. These hinder the merchants’ trade and make the wares that the common man has to buy and use more expensive. Further, the tolls necessary for the maintenance of the commonweal – for bridges, roads, and footpaths – shall be given and the excess saved for the commonweal.

8. Also, it would be good if all the roads within the German nation were kept free and open, with no [need for] corporal violence or escort, with no exceptions, for the princes and lords are responsible for them as vassals of the [Holy] Roman Empire. And should anyone be injured or have something stolen in any of these regions, the prince or lord of that region shall be responsible for paying and rendering complete compensation. Further, all excise taxes on wine, beer, and mead should be abolished, except if they are allowed under exceptional circumstances.

9. Further, [territorial] taxes, tithes, tribute, and other innovations [of this kind] should be abolished. Excepted: The Roman Emperor shall be permitted to collect his tax once per decade, as God confirmed in [the Gospel of] Matthew 22.

10. All coins should be made of gold and silver and of a standard quality [alloy] and weight, without consideration of each man's liberties and rights.

And all the mines should be made free, without exception, whether gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, or others. This makes it necessary that all discoveries of gold, silver, lead, and copper should be recorded by the Imperial Chamber, with a steady purchase [price] and brought into circulation. Gold and silver may remain as they are. Should, however, copper be found which contains silver, it shall not be refined to remove the silver but rather enriched with silver, so that one can make orts, hellers, or other [small] coins with it because if one uses lead to smelt it, the silver accumulates with no great effort. If, however, copper or lead are found which contain little silver, one may refine and sell it.

Further, there have been many new “coin lords” [i.e. rulers who mint their own coins], so that the good old coinage has disappeared and a large number of inferior coins are in circulation. It would be good to investigate these rights and their origins, and to abolish everything which is not grounded in the old rights and liberties. The old “coin lords” should be admitted as found necessary. These should have their minting royalties or seigniorage determined based on the imperial coinage, on one side the imperial eagle, on the other side the coat of arms of the “coin lord.”

Further, it would suffice for there to be twenty or twenty-one coinsmiths appointed for the entire Empire. Under oath and the [threat of] being branded, they must mint coins of consistent quality and weight throughout the entire Empire, so that the common man remains undeceived. And such coinsmiths shall be appointed as warranted within each region by the state of commerce there.

Further, the appointed coinsmiths shall be distributed in the following lands and border areas, namely: Austria, Bavaria, Swabia, Franconia, and along the Rhine. Also, in these places sixty-three kreutzer should equal one florin of gold. Further the hellers should be called orts. Also, the pennies should be called hellers. And the Austrian and Strasbourg coins, which are worth two pennies, should be called pennies. The other new silver coins are one florin, a half-florin, an ort, and a half-ort. Further the additional coinsmiths should be distributed throughout the Holy Empire as outlined above and as thought to be best.

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