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Michael Gaismair’s Territorial Constitution for Tyrol (1526)

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[18] In every district at an appropriate time each year, the whole community should work together to clear the fields and common lands and make good pasture and also gradually improve them. No one in the territory should act as a merchant so that no one becomes stained with the sin of usury. In order to avoid shortages, however, and to maintain good order so that nobody is overcharged or cheated but rather able to fairly purchase everything and find good wares, a location in the territory should be determined in the beginning where one can establish all industries and relocate those from [other parts of] the country, like silk, millinery, bronze ware, velvet, shoes, etc. For this, Trent would be [a good choice as it is] cheap and central. And a general superintendent should be appointed to whom these [industries] all report. The spices and other goods which cannot be produced within the territory should be ordered from abroad. And in several other places wherever it is convenient, shops should be set up in which one can buy everything fairly. They should not aim to make a profit but figure the prices only to cover the costs of production. Thus deception and wrongdoing can be avoided and one will be able to acquire everything at a fair price. The money will stay within the territory and will be of great advantage to the common man. This superintendent of commerce and his assistants shall receive a set salary.

[19] One shall reestablish a good, heavy coinage as was used in the time of Archduke Sigismund [r. 1477-96] and ban and banish the current currency from the territory. In the future, no foreign currency should be accepted [i.e. exchanged] in any amount. Instead, the coins should be appraised and found to be of comparable wealth within the territory before they are accepted.

[20] One shall take the chalices and other valuables from the churches and houses of God and make them into coins for the good of the territory.

[21] One shall establish good relations with the neighboring lands. One should not allow the Savoyards to peddle in the territory. There should be one market held in the Adige region and one in the Inn valley. There should be a goodly sum of money in reserve in case the territory is engaged in an unforeseen war. And the [estates of] exiled nobles and other buildings should be used to pay for the courts.

[22] Concerning mining: First of all, all smelting works, surface mines, ore, silver, copper, and everything associated with these within the territory, whether they belong to the nobles and foreign merchants or corporations like the Fuggers, Hoechstetters, Paumgartners, Bimmels, and the like, should become common property. They deserve as much because they have gained the rights with unfair usury. [They earned] money by spilling human blood; they also deceive the common man and worker by paying him in bad goods at a high price, twice as much as they are worth. They also drive up the price of spices and other goods by forestalling [e.g., by buying up the goods to create a monopoly]. They are the cause of bad money, and all the "coin lords" who buy silver from them have to pay the prices that they determine, or they take the coins from the poor by reducing the wages of the poor, if they themselves are not smelters allowed to buy ore. But the merchandise over which they have a monopoly is then sold at a higher price. And thus they are a burden to the entire world with their unchristian usury while they become as rich as princes, and this should be properly punished and put to an end.

Accordingly, the territory should appoint a supervisor for everything concerning the mines, and he should manage things and report annually. And no individual should be permitted to smelt; instead, the territory should control the smelting via the supervisor, regulate the sale of ore fairly, and pay the workers' bills in cash and not in vouchers, so that in the future the rural residents and the miners can coexist peacefully.

Similarly, there should be [a system to promote] good order in the saltworks. The territory should earn quite a bit from the mines, so that if all goes well, the territorial government will be able to provide for the officials and ensure [security]. However, if there should be a deficit and insufficient income for the plans to care for the territory, then a tax or interest-penny should be collected so that the burden is distributed fairly. There should also be a diligent effort to find and open new mining sites, and the territory should carry the costs for this, because mining will provide the territory with the greatest income without significant discomfort.

Source of original German text: Quellen zur Geschichte des Bauernkrieges, compiled and edited by Günther Franz. Darmstadt: WBG, 1963, pp. 285-89.

Translation: Ellen Yutzy Glebe

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