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Jérôme [Hieronymus] Napoleon, King of Westphalia, Decree on the Abolition of Personal Serfdom in the French Satellite Kingdom of Westphalia (January 23, 1808)

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Article 2. The former lordship possesses no rights concerning the education and occupation of the village-farmers’ children. He can oblige them neither to remain in the peasantry nor pursue their elders’ trade, nor prevent them from moving away from the peasant-farm.

Article 3. He may not demand from his village-farmers an oath of loyalty and subjection.

Article 4. He may not compel them to fulfill their obligations, insofar as these continue to exist, by physical punishment or money fines. He may only appeal to the courts, since compulsory service and every other such right has been abolished.

Article 5. The peasant-farmer is free to leave his holding, to abandon its possession and settle in any other place, if only he gives prompt notice of his intention and waits to leave until an appropriate time.

Article 6. Abolished also is the right -- variously termed Sterbfall, Besthaupt [“best head”], Curmede, or, in general, Mortuarii -- to demand part of the movable possessions of a peasant-farmer’s deceased wife, and in inheritance proceedings to take a portion of the movable goods, livestock, and money of the farmer himself.

Article 7. Peasant-farmers are empowered to acquire in full property [usufructuary] rights and [physical] properties and to dispose of them both through contracts among the living and last wills and testaments, as regulated by the Napoleonic Code.

Article 8. Communal labor services [Commun-Frohnen], rendered solely to benefit the village community, as also labor services known as Burgfesten and Landfrohnen that meet the needs of the State, are not abolished.

Part Two. On Obligations Burdening Landholdings

Article 9. The former lordships retain higher ownership [dominium directum] and all those rights not abolished as entailments of serfdom, but rather consisting in dues and obligations, consistent with the Constitution, understood as the price for conferral of use-rights or usufructuary property [dominium utile], namely, interest-payments, rents, tithes, dues in cash or natural payments, indeed even the obligation to work or supply transport for the former lordship, provided that the number of days and the extent of the work are specified, acknowledged, and declared in the occupancy contract or official registers of dues burdening tenant farms.

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