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The Imperial Diet’s Response to the Peasants’ War, Speyer (August 1526)

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Complaints about game:

Also, the common man complains about the wild game which is kept by lords in many territories and which causes significant damages in the fields of the poor. Thus it is considered fitting that game not be held to excess and that the poor be allowed to fence in their crops as well as they can and also to chase off game and keep it at bay with dogs. And should the princes not wish to allow the poor to scare off unharmed the game which is causing damage to their own or the territory's property, then they should compensate the poor according to the severity via a remission of their interest, rent, tithes, or other reparations. Also, in the future, the shooting or trapping of game should no longer be punished corporally, but rather a fitting monetary fine should be imposed. If corporal punishment is to be administered, it shall only happen within [the confines of] the law.


Also, it is burdensome to the common man that many authorities have laid claim to fishing waters which had traditionally been common property and forbidden the commoners [from fishing] there.

Also, some authorities have taken away meadows, forest, and pastureland from the common man to fence it in for game or use it for other purposes. As a result, the poor have lost pastureland and wood.

On these two articles it was considered appropriate that where there is proof and evidence that an authority or anyone else with a legitimate title has taken the aliment or the common waterways, pastures, forests, fields, or the like away from the commune or from individual persons, these shall be returned and they shall again be allowed to make use of them. However, no authority should be hindered from creating their own appropriate ordinance regulating their subjects' use of the common properties along fitting guidelines. And if there is tension or disagreements about this, then a settlement should be reached according to the form and extent outlined below for the settlement of subjects’ [complaints] against their authorities.

Also, the authorities overload the subjects with diverse compulsory labors, frequently during the harvest period, so that the poor have food shortages and are forced to leave their own work undone.

It is considered fair that that labor and service which is attached to the properties should be performed, but that which is personal service [i.e. attached to the person] should be used by the authorities so that the subjects are not overly burdened with labor and other personal services, except as it has traditionally been performed and held in each place and custom. And the authorities over the poor, who are owed services attached to their person and not to their properties, should refrain when possible from demanding these during the harvest period in the autumn. And any personal service which has been introduced within human memory should be discontinued, and any tension or conflict that results from this should be dealt with as follows and every authority should consider for themselves the salvation of their soul.

Also, the poor currently incur remarkable sums for death taxes, tithes, duties, and hereditary taxes when they die, which [drives] the poor man’s widow and many young children into poverty and deprives them of their livestock, sustenance, and property.

* From the Latin alimentum/alere which means nourishment/to nourish. This section is about the right to use the common property for fishing and pasturing which contributed to the livelihood of the commoners.

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