Burgfrieden

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The Burgfrieden or Burgfriede [1] was a German medieval term that referred to imposition of a state of truce within the jurisdiction of a castle, and sometimes its estate, under which feuds, i.e. conflicts between private individuals were forbidden under threat of the imperial ban.

A feud, referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, beef, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another. Intense feelings of resentment trigger the initial retribution, which causes the other party to feel equally aggrieved and vengeful. The dispute is subsequently fuelled by a long-running cycle of retaliatory violence. This continual cycle of provocation and retaliation makes it extremely difficult to end the feud peacefully. Feuds frequently involve the original parties' family members or associates, can last for generations, and may result in extreme acts of violence. They can be interpreted as an extreme outgrowth of social relations based in family honor.

The imperial ban was a form of outlawry in the Holy Roman Empire. At different times, it could be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor, by the Imperial Diet, or by courts like the League of the Holy Court (Vehmgericht) or the Reichskammergericht.

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Middle Ages

The lord of the castle could also grant asylum in this way and place people under his protection, but also force his jurisdiction on people. If several parties held joint possession of a castle, being considered joint lords, so-called Burgfrieden agreements were signed, containing far-reaching rules for living together in the castle.

Right of asylum

The right of asylum is an ancient juridical concept, under which a person persecuted by one's own country may be protected by another sovereign authority, such as another country or church official, who in medieval times could offer sanctuary. This right was recognized by the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Hebrews, from whom it was adopted into Western tradition. René Descartes fled to the Netherlands, Voltaire to England, and Thomas Hobbes to France, because each state offered protection to persecuted foreigners.

The granting of Burgfrieden, especially in the Middle Ages, could not be ignored. When visiting other castles, including those of one's enemy, a feud could not be pursued, because the Burgfrieden also applied to adversaries whilst within the castle grounds. The Burgfrieden could be terminated by a special feud letter (Fehdebrief), for example, in order to be able to besiege the castle legally.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th through the 15th centuries

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

A feud letter was a document in which a feud was announced – usually with few words - in medieval Europe. The letter had to be issued three days in advance in order to be legally valid.

The Burgfrieden could apply to the entire estate belonging to the castle, or, for example, in Ganerbenburgs , where it was intended primarily to govern relationships between the co-heirs of the castle, it might just apply to the area of the inner courtyard. If there was no natural demarcation, the area could be marked out by appropriate signs, such as so-called Burgfrieden stones.

A Ganerbenburg is a castle occupied and managed by several families or family lines at the same time. These families shared common areas of the castle including the courtyard, well and chapel whilst maintaining their own private living quarters. They occurred primarily in medieval Germany.

See also

War Organised and prolonged violent conflict between states

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

Apage is an Ancient Greek word and means:

<i>Landfrieden</i>

A Landfrieden or Landfriede was, under medieval law of the Holy Roman Empire, a contractual waiver by rulers of specified territories of the use of force to assert their own legal claims. This especially affected the right of feuding.

Literature

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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References

  1. c.f. Burgfriede at Duden online.