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Friedrich Weigandt’s Draft of an Imperial Reformation (May 18, 1525)

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On the declaration of the fourth article:

And to ensure that the imperial law not be suppressed, every institution of higher learning or university which is recognized by the Empire shall have doctors of imperial law appointed. And should princes or other courts seek their advice, they shall offer true counsel within a month, grounded in imperial law, so that proper justice is maintained for everyone.

Further, because the doctors are not hereditary servants of the law but rather hired hands, who for their own benefits delay the process or only slowly advise or serve, they shall not sit on any court to pass judgment or proclamations.

Further, since it is known and as clear as day that two parties on multiple occasions have been misled for ten years, some more, some less, by the doctors for their own self-interest (so that they should be better called stepcousins and not true heirs of the law), they shall not be admitted nor appointed to any court.

Also, if a ruler or state wishes to have one or more doctors, they shall not be placed on the council, rather only serve as advisors. Thereby the advisors should nevertheless be allowed to use mercy, reason, and wisdom to adjust the [decisions of the] council, increasing, decreasing or leaving them untouched, as God enables every just man to be able to recognize justice.

5. It would be good if no ordained [priest], whether of higher or lower estate, should be called or placed on the imperial councils or others of the secular princes and lords, or the local communal councils, for such is forbidden them, as is clearly founded in Scripture. Reason: Through worldly wisdom and endeavors, the divine Spirit will be eclipsed, they will become remiss and neglect their divine service. And most concerning of all, worldly honor might mislead them so that they could lose God's mercy, if they ever had it.

Further, no one who has been consecrated or anointed shall be appointed to secular office, used or employed [in such], because it is as clear as day that worldly honor hinders them in their service of God.

No one who has been consecrated or anointed shall be called into court or other secular proceedings, because they would thereby become servants of lords and secular persons of high and low estate. There are also nobles and commoners who have been exploited by the monks and made into guests on their own estates, which would more properly have been inherited by them rather than the monks.

[ . . . ]

6. It would be good if all the secular laws used to date in the Empire were to be abolished and set aside and the divine and natural law, as outlined here, were established. The poor man would thereby have access to the law equal to [that of] the noblest and richest. Thus the Imperial Chamber Court in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation should be presided over by sixteen diligent, worthy, honorable men, namely two princes, two counts or lords, two knights, three from the Imperial cities, three from the territorial cities of the princes in the Empire, and four from the [rural] communes of the Empire. They should elect an Imperial Chamber Court from the counts or lords. And from these sixteen persons, every plaintiff or defendant shall choose and name a spokesman and an advisor to act on their behalf. And those who are chosen for this Chamber Court shall have had sat and served on [another] court for at least ten years.

Also, in addition to the Chamber Court there should be four appellate courts, as is seen to be good, also each presided over by sixteen people, namely three from the princes, counts and lords, three from the knights and territorial nobles, three from the imperial cities, three from the princely [territorial] cities, and four from the communes and communities in the Empire. Together they shall elect one man as their court judge. And from them the parties shall name their spokesman and advisor as outlined above. And such persons shall be honorable and formerly have sat on councils and courts.

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