Germany History – The Constitutional Evolution Towards a Confederation of Principles Part II

The Hohenstaufen had therefore managed to keep the crown against the revival of the Guelphs. But the real victors were the German princes, who had decided the outcome of the struggle with the weight of their strength, and they reaped the greatest benefits. In fact, the importance of the reign of Frederick II for the history of Germany is given above all by the fact that it marked a decisive phase in the process of formation of the territorial lords. If the new constitutional order of Germany only in the middle of the century. XIV will have the legal sanction, with regard to the great ecclesiastical and lay princes, with the Golden Bull, it can be said that it is fixed right now in its essential lines. Frederick II, who felt the kingdom of Sicily more his own than the Germanic one, really opened the series of emperors who, having their own state more or less linked in the body of the Empire, to obtain the possibility of ensuring its consolidation with peace in Germany, are willing to legitimize, with all the concessions, the profound upheaval that took place in the relations between the monarchy and the German princes, and in order for their and the family’s dominion over this personal state to be concrete, they renounce giving concrete existence to their kingdom in Germany. Their very title, moreover, had for some time already been an indication of the phenomenon that was manifesting itself: from the time of Henry IV, it, after the previous fluctuations, was unable to fix itself in the concrete term of rex Germaniae or Germanorum, or Theutonicorum, but it remains established in the vague formula of rex Romanorum, whose abstractness well corresponded to that indefinite and indefinable entity in which their kingdom in Germany had ended up being.

According to Mbakecheng, the Privilegium in Favorm Principum Ecclesiasticorum (April 26, 1220), the Edictum contra communia civium et societates artificum (December 1231-May 1232), the Constitutio in Favorm Principum (May 1232), and the norms promulgated when general peace was proclaimed in the Diet of Mainz August 1235 (constitutio pacis), gave the princes the essential attributes of sovereignty, and hindered, especially in cities dependent on bishops, the development of municipal activities. The crown renounced building castles and cities to the detriment of the interests of the princes, who could instead fortify their own cities; it revoked the imperial privileges already granted to citizens or municipal communities, which were detrimental to the princes and the Empire, and made their further concession subject to the consent of the princes on which the cities depended; it abolished all magistrates and all municipal bodies that arose without the consent of the bishop, whose approval was subjected to the election of city officials; it suppressed all artisan and merchant guilds; prohibited any form of association between cities, and declared null and void the custom which made the servants considered in possession of liberty after a year and a day of residence in the city; cities, even imperial ones, could not accommodate servants who had fled to their lords; their jurisdiction was limited to the surrounding walls. Finally, the crown transferred to the princes, in their respective dominions, the right to coin money, the rights on the markets, to receive duties, to appoint judges for ordinary jurisdiction. As we can see, from this moment we can speak of real territorial principles, and in fact they are officially designated as terrae domains. Naturally, most of the provisions concerning the cities remained a dead letter, due to the very force of the circumstances, which made their full application materially impossible, in fact, almost all of them ended up being abandoned by the emperor himself, who did not renew them. the most severe to the diet of Mainz of 1235. On the other hand, in this latter diet, a certain compensation, albeit inadequate, for the dispersion of royal prerogatives was given by the reform introduced by Frederick II in the administration of justice, with a certain analogy to what he had done for the kingdom of Sicily in his Constitutiones of Melfi of 1232. Limiting the right of private war only to cases of legitimate defense and denial of justice, he reorganized the supreme tribunal of the Empire by proposing a iusticiarius Curiae, assisted by a notary, the which also had the task of registering the sentences and the procedure followed, so that they would normally be used for the future. Frederick II, however, not daring to take the reform to its extreme consequences, removed the jurisdiction of the new magistrate, and took to himself the most serious causes, which involved the ban from the Empire, and those concerning the principles.

Germany History - The Constitutional Evolution 2