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Neighbor law

(776 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. GeneralNeighbor law is part of the law of property with respect to real estate. It consists of rules whereby an owner’s otherwise essentially free power to dispose of his property is limited. Such limitations may be agreed among neighbors (Neighborhood). One example is an agreement that a path on another person’s property may be used. In the case of such agreements, there is particular interest in their stability, so that they cannot be rescinded unilaterally and that subsequent owners are als…
Date: 2020-04-06

Corporal punishment, right of

(1,046 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. Definition Rights of corporal punishment permit the use of physical force on certain persons with the consequence that such punishment is not considered a punishable physical assault. Various forms can be distinguished in the early modern period: on the one hand, persons viewed as possessing special authority (e.g. heads of households, teachers, master craftsmen, military superiors) received the right to inflict corporal punishment. Their authoritative position entitled them to infli…
Date: 2019-10-14

Contract (private law)

(887 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. GeneralContracts are a central institution of private law. They are the means by which private persons (including merchants) can regulate their legal relations to one another. Contracts governed by the law of obligations are the most commonly used, with examples including contracts for purchase and rent, contracts for work/labor, service contracts, sureties, and loans for consumption (mutuum). There are also contracts governed by family law (e.g. marriage contracts), inheritance law (e.g. inhe…
Date: 2019-10-14

Legal enforcement

(922 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionLegal enforcement is the process whereby civil claims (Private law), especially debts, are enforced. Enforcement is predicated on a valid judicial decision under civil procedure. Enforcement during the early modern period was characterized by the repression of private self-help in favor of the execution of rulings by state authority. States (Sovereign power) made use of legal enforcement not only to help creditors obtain their rights, but also to pursue their own interests. On the on…
Date: 2019-10-14

Law of aliens

(796 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionOf the various criteria for foreignness (e.g. religion, language, origin), one’s community affiliation or citizenship was decisive with respect to the law of aliens. This field of law determined the legal standing of foreigners in the state in which they resided. In Germany during the early modern period, the rights of Germans from another territory were determined by the law of aliens. The legal position of foreigners was determined by numerous regulations from territory to territory as well as by state treaties. It also differed in the various fields of law.Sibylle H…
Date: 2019-10-14

Loan for consumption (mutuum)

(811 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionThe loan for consumption was a central legal form of contract credit transactions in the early modern period. In a typical loan for consumption, one person (the borrower) receives a certain amount or weight of a certain object (e.g. grain, cloth, oil) from the lender on the understanding that he will later return objects of the same kind, quantity, and quality. Already in the early modern period, loans of money were the most common. A loan for consumption (Latin  mutuum) differed from a loan for use ( commodatum) insofar as the borrower received ownership and there…
Date: 2019-10-14

Honor, loss of

(739 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. In general Honor in the early modern period had legal significance not only in the form of criminal protection against injuries to one’s honor ( Iniuria), but also by virtue of the fact that the legal status of an individual was associated with his respectability. Intact general civic honor was regarded as a precondition for full legal capacity (Person), while the loss of honor led to limitations on the exercise of one’s rights.Sibylle Hofer2. DefinitionThe legal history of the loss of honor is reflected in its terminology. Some German legal scholars used the Latin term infamia for lo…
Date: 2019-10-14

Market rights

(831 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. Market regulations From the 16th to the 18th century, markets in Europe were the subject of numerous legal provisions. Cities were responsible for holding weekly markets, although in some cases permission had to be obtained from the local ruler (as, for instance, in Prussia) [4. 33–37]. Municipal law and local territorial law, as well as special market ordinances, were accordingly sources of law for markets. Such norms were part of police ordinances ( gute Policey). They described markets from the perspective of the sovereign power, which they likewise reflecte…
Date: 2019-10-14


(826 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. Concept Bankruptcy is a special form of compulsory execution (Legal enforcement) which takes place when several creditors have financial claims against a debtor. A feature of bankruptcy is that the creditors form an association and are given satisfaction by receiving a share in the debtor’s assets. When the assets are over-committed, each creditor receives only a partial amount of his or her original claim. This type of procedure developed gradually in Europe, starting in the 13th century, in t…
Date: 2019-10-14

Service contract

(758 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. ConceptIn present-day law, the category of service contract includes agreements obligating a person to perform certain services in exchange for payment. The service contract was distinguished gradually as a specific type of contract (Contract [private law]) only in early modern jurisprudence. The basis for this lay in received Roman law, in which the concept of “hire” in the locatio conductio (hiring, leasing, service and work contract) provided a comprehensive form of contract that included not only wage labor, but also other socially significant r…
Date: 2021-08-02

Private law

(6,266 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. Definition and concept 1.1. Areas of lawThe concept of private law was used in Roman law (Latin  ius privatum), in which it was distinguished from public law ( ius publicum). Since then, certain areas of law have been assigned to private law [16], despite the fact that the theoretical boundary between private and public law varied during the early modern period.A key part of private law is made up by contracts (Contract [private law]), which encompass the general conditions for concluding valid contracts and individual types of contract, such as purc…
Date: 2021-03-15

Equal birth, principle of

(799 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
1. DefinitionEqual birth means that the parties to certain legal relationships must have equal status. Failure to satisfy this precondition either completely invalidates the legal transaction in question or at the very least causes the legal relations thereby created to follow different rules than would be the case between equals. Thus the principle of equal birth is indicative of a legal order that is not marked by the concept of general equal rights, but rather one that draws legal distinctions…
Date: 2019-10-14

Employment law

(707 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Sibylle
Employment law consists of the regulations that apply to the performance of work for others in return for wages (Wage labor). The key criterion is that the work is not performed independently, that is, the employee must follow the instructions of the employer. Regulations may concern legal relations between the employer and individual employees. The terms of the employment contract are crucial for this relationship. Rules concerning unions of employers or employees and their ability to influence…
Date: 2019-10-14


(2,183 words)

Author(s): Häberlein, Mark | Hofer, Sibylle
1. Terminology and subjectToday the German term  Wucher (usury) denotes the profiteering of a market participant in commodity or credit transactions or in employment contracts, exploiting the plight, carelessness, or market ignorance of the disadvantaged party; it is a punishable offence in both civil and criminal law. The modern definition assumes a distinction between usury and interest – in principle justified – that came about only in the course of the early modern period (Interest [banking]). The OT forbids both usury and interest without distinction as exploi…
Date: 2023-11-14

Servants in husbandry

(3,380 words)

Author(s): Flüchter, Antje | Hofer, Sibylle | Klußmann, Jan
1. DefinitionThe German term Gesinde (servants in husbandry; from OHG  gisind, “liegeman”) denotes the servants (Knecht) and maids employed (mostly) for pay in agricultural production. Unlike day laborers, they entered into a non-seasonal contract (see 2. below) with a peasant farmer (Peasants) and were integrated into the peasant household (Ganzes Haus).Antje Flüchter2. Social aspectsThe peasant family can be thought of as a potential workforce, whose size and composition depended on the current phase of the family cycle. In early modern Eu…
Date: 2021-08-02


(3,976 words)

Author(s): Schaede, Stephan | Sparn, Walter | Hofer, Sibylle
1. Philosophy and theology 1.1. Definition and cultural contextThe word person (Latin  persona) originates from ancient theater, where it was used to indicate the mask worn by an actor and hence also the identity of his role; in institutional contexts, the word was transferred to the individual holder of rights and duties, as well as to political and (since the Middle Ages) ecclesiastical officials and dignitaries. In grammar, the word is used for the three possible speakers of a verb, that is, the 1st, 2nd…
Date: 2020-10-06


(2,788 words)

Author(s): Lehmann-Brauns, Sicco | Hofer, Sibylle | Graf, Friedrich Wilhelm
The term autonomy (from Greek autonomía, “self-determination, independence”) appeared for the first time in German (as Autonomie) in the context of the confessional and constitutional disputes following the Peace of Augsburg (1555) [3]. Its earliest use in English (with reference to states) dates from the 1620s. It arrived at its various semantic levels in the history of philosophy, law, and religion during the early modern period. As a legal term, it initially meant freedom from interference by the authority of the state, esp…
Date: 2019-10-14