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"Constitution of the Kingdom of Westphalia," proclaimed by Napoleon Bonaparte in Fontainebleau (November 15, 1807)

The Kingdom of Westphalia, a French satellite state ruled by Napoleon’s brother Jérôme [Hieronymus], comprised previously unconnected lands in central Germany east of the Rhine. Intended as a model Napoleonic state for emulation by other German rulers, it received the first modern written constitution in post-Holy Roman Empire Germany. In practice, the Kingdom of Westphalia served mainly to secure French interests and to extract German resources. Its representative assembly, seating deputies of the propertied and educated classes, met only twice and did not effectively co-govern, despite the legislative powers invested in it. The constitution proclaimed equality before the law, religious freedom, abolished serfdom where it still existed, and limited the extent of the land-tax. Doubtless, the constitution helped inspire some German states, especially in southwest Germany, to issue constitutions of their own.

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We, Napoleon, by the grace of God and constitutions, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, and Protector of the Confederacy of the Rhine,

Wishing to implement Article 19 of the Peace Treaty of Tilsit promptly and to give the Kingdom of Westphalia a basic constitution that may assure the happiness of its people, while at the same time providing their sovereign with the means to collaborate as a member of the Confederacy of the Rhine on the safety and prosperity, have decreed and are decreeing as follows:

Title I.

Art. 1. The Kingdom of Westphalia is comprised of the following states, namely:

the territories of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel; the part of the Altmark located on the left bank of the Elbe River; [ . . . ] the province of Magdeburg [ . . . ].

Art. 2. We reserve for Ourselves one half of the allodial domains of the princes in order to use them toward the rewards We have promised to those officers in our armies who have rendered Us the greatest services in the current war. [ . . . ]

Art. 3. The extraordinary military contributions that have been announced in the countries mentioned above shall be paid or security for payment shall be given by December 1.

Art. 4. On December 1, the King shall be put in possession of full disposal and sovereignty of his territory by means of commissioners whom We will appoint to this end.

Title 2.

Art. 5. The Kingdom of Westphalia constitutes part of the Confederation of the Rhine.

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