Magdeburg rights (German : Magdeburger Recht; also called Magdeburg Law) were a set of town privileges first developed by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor (936–973) and based on the Flemish Law, which regulated the degree of internal autonomy within cities and villages granted by the local ruler. Named after the German city of Magdeburg, these town charters were perhaps the most important set of medieval laws in Central Europe. They became the basis for the German town laws developed during many centuries in the Holy Roman Empire. The Magdeburg rights were adopted and adapted by numerous monarchs, including the rulers of Bohemia, Hungary, Poland and Lithuania, a milestone in the urbanization of the region which prompted the development of thousands of villages and cities.
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Being a member of the Hanseatic League, Magdeburg was one of the most important trade cities, maintaining commerce with the Low Countries, the Baltic states, and the interior (for example Braunschweig). As with most medieval city laws, the rights were primarily targeted at regulating trade to the benefit of the local merchants and artisans, who formed the most important part of the population of many such cities. External merchants coming into the city were not allowed to trade on their own, but instead forced to sell the goods they had brought into the city to local traders, if any wished to buy them.
Jews and Germans were sometimes competitors in those cities. Jews lived under privileges that they carefully negotiated with the king or emperor. They were not subject to city jurisdiction. These privileges guaranteed that they could maintain communal autonomy, live according to their laws, and be subjected directly to the royal jurisdiction in matters concerning Jews and Christians. One of the provisions granted to Jews was that a Jew could not be compelled to be a Gewährsmann/informant; that is, he had the right to keep confidential how he had acquired objects in his possession. A Jew with this right could voluntarily divulge who had gifted, sold, or loaned him the object, but it was illegal to coerce him to say. Other provisions frequently mentioned were a permission to sell meat to Christians, or employ Christian servants. By at least some contemporary observers, the parallel infrastructure of Jews and gentiles was considered significant; in medieval Poland's royal city development policy, both German merchants and Jews were invited to settle in Polish cities.
Among the most advanced systems of old Germanic law of the time, in the 13th and 14th centuries, Magdeburg rights were granted to more than a hundred cities, in Central Europe apart from Germany, including Schleswig, Bohemia, Poland, Belarus, [ citation needed ]Ukraine, especially in Pomerania, Prussia, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (following the Christianization of Lithuania), and probably Moldavia. In these lands they were mostly known as German or Teutonic law. Since the local tribunal of Magdeburg also became the superior court for these towns, Magdeburg, together with Lübeck, practically defined the law of northern Germany, Poland and Lithuania for centuries, being the heart of the most important "family" of city laws. This role remained until the old Germanic laws were successively replaced with Roman law under the influence of the Reichskammergericht, in the centuries after its establishment during the Imperial Reform of 1495.
The Law of Magdeburg implemented in Poland was different from its original German form.It was combined with a set of civil and criminal laws, and adjusted to include the urban planning popular across Western Europe – which was based (more or less) on the ancient Roman model. Polish land owners used the location privilege known as "settlement with German law" across the country usually with no German settlers present. Meanwhile, the country people often ignorant of the actual German text, practiced the old common law of Poland in private relations.
Notable Polish, Lithuanian, and today's Belarus and Ukraine towns governed on the basis of the location privilege known as the "settlement with German law" issued by Polish and Grand Duchy of Lithuania landlords (since the 16th to 18th centuries by Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth landlords) included Biecz, Frysztak, Sandomierz, Kraków, Kurów, Minsk, Polotsk, Poznań, Ropczyce, Łódź, Wrocław, Szczecin (which was not a part of Poland when granted town rights; they were given by a Pomeranian landlord), Złotoryja, Vilnius, Trakai, Kaunas, Hrodna, Kyiv, Lviv, Chernivtsi, Brody, Lutsk, Volodymyr, Sanok, Sniatyn, Nizhyn among many hundreds of others. The advantages were not only economic, but also political. Members of noble families were able to join the city patriciate usually unchallenged.In the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, the first town to receive the Magdeburg rights was Goldberg in 1211 (Latin: "Aurum"; Polish: "Złotoryja"), then Székesfehérvár in 1237, followed by Trnava (1238), Nitra (1248), Levoča (1271) and Žilina (1369). Towns and cities including Bardejov, Buda, Bratislava and Košice adopted the Southern German Nuremberg town rights, rather than the Magdeburg rights.
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland on the eastern edge of the Żuławy region with 118,582 inhabitants. It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Previously it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998) and a county seat within Gdańsk Voivodeship (1945–1975).
The Hanseatic League was a medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in central and northern Europe. Growing from a few north German towns in the late 12th century, the League ultimately encompassed nearly 200 settlements across seven modern-day countries; at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries, it stretched from the Netherlands in the west to Russia in the east, and from Estonia in the north to Kraków, Poland in the south.
Radom is a city in east-central Poland, located approximately 100 kilometres south of the capital, Warsaw. It is situated on the Mleczna River in the Masovian Voivodeship, having previously been the seat of a separate Radom Voivodeship (1975–1998). Radom is the fourteenth-largest city in Poland and the second-largest in its province with a population of 209,296 as of 2020.
Grodno Region or Grodno Oblast or Hrodna Voblasts is one of the regions of Belarus. It is located in the western part of the country.
Łosice is a town in eastern Poland, seat of the Łosice County and Gmina Łosice (commune) in the Masovian Voivodeship.
Ashmyany is a town in Grodno Region, Belarus, located at 50 km from Vilnius. The town is Ashmyany District's capital. It lies in Ashmyanka's river basin.
Złotoryja is a historic town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship in southwestern Poland, the administrative seat of Złotoryja County, and of the smaller Gmina Złotoryja. Having been granted town privileges in 1211, Złotoryja is the oldest town in Poland. Since the Middle Ages, it was a centre of gold and copper mining. Złotoryja was also featured among the most beautiful towns in Poland due to its location and architectural heritage.
The State of the Teutonic Order, also called Deutschordensstaat or Ordensstaat, was a medieval crusader state, located in Central Europe along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. It was formed by the knights of the Teutonic Order during the 13th century Northern Crusades in the region of Prussia. The Livonian Brothers of the Sword merged in 1237 with the Teutonic Order of Prussia and became known as its branch, the Livonian Order, while their state became a part of the Teutonic Order State. At its greatest territorial extent, in the early 15th century, it encompassed Chełmno Land, Courland, Gotland, Livonia, Neumark, Pomerelia, Prussia and Samogitia, i.e. territories nowadays located in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
Town privileges or borough rights were important features of European towns during most of the second millennium. The city law customary in Central Europe probably dates back to Italian models, which in turn were oriented towards the traditions of the self-administration of Roman cities.
Lida is a city 168 km (104 mi) west of Minsk in western Belarus in Grodno Region.
This article presents the timeline of selected events concerning the history of the Jews in Poland beginning with the formation of the Polish state under its first ruler, Mieszko I of Poland.
Merkinė is a town in the Dzūkija National Park in Lithuania, located at the confluence of the Merkys, Stangė, and Nemunas rivers. Merkinė is one of the oldest settlements in Lithuania. The first settlers inhabited the confluence of Merkys and Nemunas in the 9th-10th century BC, at the end of the Paleolithic. On top of Merkinė hill-fort stood one of the most important Lithuanian castles, built in the 13th century, which guarded against invasions of the Teutonic Order. Merkinė was a part of a strategic triangle - Kaunas - Vilnius - Merkinė, protected with the chains of hillforts and castles. The center of Merkinė town is a state-protected urbanistic monument. Merkinė is an important point of Lithuania's domestic tourism.
The history of the Jews in Poland before the 18th century covers the period of Jewish-Polish history from its origins, roughly until the political and socio-economic circumstances leading to the dismemberment of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the second half of the 18th century by the neighbouring empires.
The history of the Jews in Lithuania spans the period from the 14th century to the present day. There is still a small community in the country, as well as an extensive Lithuanian Jewish diaspora in Israel, the United States and other countries.
The history of the Jews in Belarus begins as early as the 8th century. Jews lived in all parts of the lands of modern Belarus. Jews were the third largest ethnic group in the country in the first half of the 20th century. In 1897, the Jewish population of Belarus reached 910,900, or 14.2% of the total population. Following the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1920), under the terms of the Treaty of Riga, Belarus was split into Eastern Belorussia and Western Belorussia, and causing 350,000-450,000 of the Jews to be governed by Poland. Prior to World War II, Jews remained the third largest ethnic groups in Belarus and comprised more than 40% of the population in cities and towns. The population of cities such as Minsk, Pinsk, Mahiliou, Babrujsk, Viciebsk, and Homiel was more than 50% Jewish. In 1926 and 1939 there were between 375,000 and 407,000 Jews in Belarus or 6.7-8.2% of the total population. Following the Soviet annexation of Eastern Poland in 1939, including Western Belorussia, Belarus would again have 1,175,000 Jews within its borders, including 275,000 Jews from Poland, Ukraine, and elsewhere. It is estimated 800,000 of 900,000 — 90% of the Jews of Belarus —were killed during the Holocaust. According to the 2019 national census, there were 13,705 self-identifying Jews in Belarus. The Jewish Agency estimates the community of Jews in Belarus at 20,000. However, the number of Belarusians with Jewish descent is assumed to be higher.
Early East Slavs settled the forested hills of today's Minsk by the 9th century. They had been migrating from further south and pushing the preceding Balts northwards. The valley of Svislach river was settlement boundary between two Early East Slavs' tribal unions – Krivichs and Dregovichs. By 980 the area was incorporated into the early medieval Principality of Polatsk, one of the earliest East Slav states along with the principalities of Kiev and Novgorod.
The German town law or German municipal concerns was a set of early town privileges based on the Magdeburg rights developed by Otto I. The Magdeburg Law became the inspiration for regional town charters not only in Germany, but also in Central and Eastern Europe who modified it during the Middle Ages. The German town law was used in the founding of many German cities, towns, and villages beginning in the 13th century.
The period of rule by the Piast dynasty between the 10th and 14th centuries is the first major stage of the history of the Polish state. The dynasty was founded by a series of dukes listed by the chronicler Gallus Anonymous in the early 12th century: Siemowit, Lestek and Siemomysł. It was Mieszko I, the son of Siemomysł, who is now considered the proper founder of the Polish state at about 960 AD. The ruling house then remained in power in the Polish lands until 1370. Mieszko converted to Christianity of the Western Latin Rite in an event known as the Baptism of Poland in 966, which established a major cultural boundary in Europe based on religion. He also completed a unification of the Lechitic tribal lands that was fundamental to the existence of the new country of Poland.
The history of Germans in Poland dates back almost a millennium. Poland was at one point Europe's most multiethnic state during the medieval period. Its territory covered an immense plain with no natural boundaries, with a thinly scattered population of many ethnic groups, including the Poles themselves, Germans in the cities of West Prussia, and Ruthenians in Lithuania. 5 to 10% of immigrants were German settlers.
Ostsiedlung is the term for the High Medieval migration period of ethnic Germans into and beyond the territories at the eastern periphery of the Holy Roman Empire and the consequences for settlement development and social structures in the immigration areas. Generally sparsely and only recently populated by Slavic, Baltic and Finnic peoples, the area of colonization, also known as Germania Slavica, encompassed Germany east of the Saale and Elbe rivers, the states of Lower Austria and Styria in Austria, the Baltics, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Transylvania in Romania.