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"Edict of Potsdam," issued by Frederick William ("the Great Elector") (October 29, 1685)

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3. Since Our Lands are not only well and amply endowed with all things necessary to support life, but also very well-suited to the establishment of all kinds of manufactures and trade and traffic by land and water, We permit, indeed, to those settling therein free choice to establish themselves where it is most convenient for their profession and way of living, in Our Duchy of Cleves, in the Counties of Mark and Ravensberg, the Principalities of Halberstadt and Minden, or in the Duchy of Magdeburg, the Electoral Mark of Brandenburg and the Duchies of Pomerania and Prussia; but since We consider that in Our said Electoral Mark of Brandenburg the towns of Stendal, Werben, Rathenow, Brandenburg, and Frankfurt, and in the Duchy of Magdeburg the cities of Magdeburg, Halle, and Calbe, and in Prussia the town of Königsberg, will be the most convenient for them, both because they can live there very cheaply and on account of the facilities they will find there for living and practicing a trade, We have made provision and do hereby announce Our command that so soon as any of the said Evangelical-Reformed Frenchmen arrive there, they are to be well received and helped in all possible ways to establish themselves. Whereby We leave it to their free choice to choose for their place of settlement any other place in Our Provinces outside the towns enumerated above, wherever they find it most convenient to practice their professions and trades.

4. The personal property which they bring with them, including merchandise and other wares, is to be totally exempt from any taxes, customs dues, licenses, or other imposts of any description, and not detained in any way.

5. And whereas the towns and villages in which numbers of the said Protestants will be settling and establishing themselves contain certain disrepaired, abandoned, and ruinous houses, whose owners have not the means to repair them and restore them to good condition, We do confer and assign the same in freehold to Our said French co-religionists, their children, and their children’s children, and also provide that the former proprietors shall be compensated to the value of the said houses, and the same shall be totally released and made free from all liens, mortgages, arrears of taxation, and all other similar debts. We further order that they be supplied gratis with timber, lime, and other materials necessary for the repair of the said houses and grant them six years’ exemption from all taxation, billeting, and other public charges of any description and further ordain that for the said six years the occupants shall not be required to pay any taxation except the normal excise tax on consumption.

6. We similarly provide that in towns and other places in which there are certain empty places and sites, these shall not only be assigned, with all gardens, fields, meadows, and pastures appertaining thereto, to Our said Protestant co-religionists of French nationality in perpetual freehold, but also that the same shall be totally released and liberated from all charges and servitudes attaching to them, and further, they are to be provided gratis with all materials required by them for the cultivation of these sites, and the new houses built by them and their inhabitants are not to be liable to any charges except the said excise, for the first ten years. And since We are also graciously minded to provide all possible facilities for the reception and establishment of the said people in Our Lands, We have had orders conveyed to the magistrates and other officials in these Our Provinces to hire certain houses in each town in which the said Frenchmen may be received on their arrival, and the rent thereof for them and their families is to be paid for four years, on condition, however, that they be required in due course to bring under cultivation the sites made available to them, as above.

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