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The Prussian Regulation Edict of 1811, signed by King Frederick William III, State Chancellor Hardenberg, and Justice Minister Kircheisen (September 14, 1811)

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§36. The relationship that predominates in [East And West] Prussia, Lithuania, Pomerania, Upper Silesia, the Uckermark, and the Neumark, in which the actual [seigneurial] owner has no direct influence on the management and cultivation of the farms, and the momentary tenant farmer has no long-term interest in the property, has even greater disadvantages than those characteristic of the hereditary tenancies. We can thus no longer permit the continuation of such relationships which run contrary to the common weal: instead, to establish a new landlord-peasant relationship, we decree the following:

§37. The regulations outlined in the first section concerning the hereditary peasant farms shall also apply to those which are not hereditary, with the difference that, if no other mutual agreement is amicably reached, the manorial lords shall be authorized to enclose into their estates half of such farms’ holdings in arable fields, gardens, meadows, woods, and pastureland, or to decide for themselves how otherwise to dispose of them.

§38. The other half must be left to the free, unrestricted ownership [ . . . ] of the current usufructuary or tenant, if there are no objections based on his abilities or performance which would have been grounds based on the rules up to now to dismiss him legally from the property. In this case, or if the current tenant willingly relinquishes his right to acquire the property, the lord is not bound to any subject but may select anyone he thinks fit. He is not, however, thereby permitted to demand any sum in payment.
[ . . . ]

§40. The determination of the halves of the farm properties shall be permitted in three ways:

A) via division of the land so that each party truly receives half of the land;
B) without division of the land, but rather via compensation for the use of the [unclaimed] half in payment by grain-rent, to be calculated based on the total area left in the peasant farmer’s possession.
C) via a combination of these types of compensation in which 1) of the three sixths of the land owed to the lordship, two sixths are surrendered while one sixth is compensated for in rent, so that the farmer assumes payment of a grain-rent levied on this one sixth and on the three sixths which are allocated to him, in other words, on the remaining four sixths. This payment in grain may amount to, from an acre1 of “wheat-bearing land,”2 a quarter-bushel3, half in rye, half in oats; from an acre of “first-class barley-bearing land”, three-sixteenths of a bushel, from “second-class barley-land,” one-eighth of a bushel, from an acre of “oats-bearing land,” one-sixteenth of a bushel.

§41. It is for the parties to mutually agree to one of these three forms of compensation. If such an agreement, however, is not reached within two years after the day of this edict—or three years in [East and West] Prussia and Lithuania—the lord shall be permitted to unilaterally choose one of the three forms. [ . . . ]

1 The German term Morgen, literally “morning,” refers to the area of land which could be plowed in one morning. It was varied from region to region, but is often translated, as here, with the English term “acre.”
2 Land was categorized according to which crops could be expected to grow well in a given field, but peasant farmers did not typically grow wheat, which is why they are expected to pay their grain-rents here in rye and oats, the grains they more frequently cultivated.
3 The German unit Metze, used in the original, is a measure of volume which varied regionally and depending on the type of grain to be measured. It has been converted to bushels here for readability.

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