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Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Germanistische Abteilung

Ed. by Haferkamp, Hans-Peter / Oestmann, Peter / Rückert, Joachim

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Volume 136, Issue 1


Volume 82 (1965)

Volume 79 (1962)

Diestelkamp, Bernhard, Der deutsche König als oberster Richter im Hoch- und Spätmittelalter Eine neue Positionsbestimmung

Bernhard Diestelkamp
Published Online: 2019-07-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zrgg-2019-0004


The German king as highest judge in the Mid- to Late Medieval period. A new paradigm. Conventionally it is assumed that the king was the highest judge in the medieval Empire. However, many times this turns out to be a misconception. The idea of a ‘highest’ judge suggests a relationship of superiority and inferiority as well as successive stages of appeal which, in fact, did not exist in the customary law. The article analyzes sources from the late medieval Imperial Aulic Court examining when and in which contexts the term ‘highest judge’ was used first. Aside from little evidence in the 14th century numerous records can be found in 15th century documents. It is hardly a coincidence that these findings concur with the increase of references on appeal trials based on the learned law around this time. In this respect the designation of the king as the highest judge marks the transition of the judicial organization in the wake of the reception of the Roman and canon law.

Keywords: appeal; customary law; Imperial Aulic Court; learned law

About the article

Published Online: 2019-07-17

Published in Print: 2019-06-26

Citation Information: Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Germanistische Abteilung, Volume 136, Issue 1, Pages 94–129, ISSN (Online) 2304-4861, ISSN (Print) 0323-4045, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zrgg-2019-0004.

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