Decree on the Abolition of Personal Serfdom in the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein
December 19, 1804
[ . . . ] 1. In Our Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein personal serfdom is, as of January 1, 1805, completely and forever abolished, with no exception. [ . . . ]
3. From January 1, 1805, those who have been freed, like other freeborn compatriots, dispose freely and unhindered over their persons and their property, insofar as Our rulings do not prescribe restrictions applying generally to all.
4. In particular, on that day estate owners’ permission for former serfs to marry or seek training in a handicraft ceases to be necessary. [ . . . ]
7. Leaseholders of peasant farms who were previously held in personal serfdom, as well as occupants of fullholdings, cottage-holdings, and estate laborers’ holdings of the same legal status, who in consequence of the abolition of personal serfdom do not retain their holdings through leases or other conferrals of tenancy, will enjoy such provisions for life in retirement as are customary in each place of residency. Where these are not customary, another appropriate settlement shall be reached free of cost for the lifetime of the tenants and their widows.
8. Should such emancipated subjects have, whether now or earlier, taken larger or smaller leasehold farms, but in the future legally surrender or otherwise lose them, the estate owner is obliged to provide them and their widows free lodging for their lifetime on the estate.
9. This applies also, from January 1, 1805, or earlier, to emancipated estate laborers not already given new cottage-holdings or those who are altogether landless.