Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 3a46-50.
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[3a.47] Awaiting the gift of the highest and eternal Emperor, we should serve faithfully in his camp and diligently merit his grace. For just as we judge it horrifying and ignominious to incur offense of the earthly and mortal emperor, so by divine inspiration we understand that it is even more dangerous and irrecoverably damaging to sustain the wrath of the eternal and immortal Prince, Who takes away the hope of princes.

[3a.48] Therefore we do not allow the lawlessness of wicked men to be further unleashed on this world with impunity, because the power and reason of our office requires that we should administer punishment to evil men for the peace of good men. For as the prince of apostles says: "We do not carry a sword without cause,,2 but so that by cutting away useless twigs3 we might make the Lord's vineyard bear fruit." Therefore, so that we may unceasingly defend widows, orphans, the powerless and those deprived of all human aid from the violence of oppressing tyrants, throughout neighboring provinces, we accept tolls and travel expenses from imperial largess and foresight, lest because of a lack of resources we might be forced to forebear from works of justice and defer zeal of mercy. Because no law prohibits one from granting from his own right and releasing debts owed to him, so that we might merit to hear this word at the Last Judgment: "Blessed are the merciful, since they shall be according mercy."4 In order to obtain divine grace, we grant from our right and remit to the serfs of the village N. the obligation which they are accustomed to pay annually.

[3a.49] So that posterity shall know how much <tax> we have released them from and that they are the more subservient to our power on this account, we have inscribed their obligations on the present charter, lest the grace of our good deed be effaced, when the memory of that obligation is forgotten. The serfs of the aforesaid village owed each year to the dignity and office of the duke one hundred bushels of grain, three hundred bushels of oats, fifty hens or roosters and one hundred shillings of coins for wine. We release this obligation forever, in this manner, that they shall never pay it, unless perchance by necessity the duke would have to make a journey to the court of the emperor. And although we shall hereafter require nothing from them, yet they shall rest secure under our protection and we shall nurture them with so much affection, that if anyone touches them, he shall know that he has touched the pupil of our eye.

[3a.50] May the celestial Emperor give the promised reward to those successors to our office who serve faithfully and release this obligation and may He denounce as deserters and fasten unbreakable chains to those attempting to rescind that release. Lest the bare text have little authority, we strengthen the page of this present writing with the impression of our seal and fortify it by the subscription of witnesses and by legal stipulation we block up the mouths of those speaking iniquity.

1 Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony (1142-1180). A different German duke appears above, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.23.

2 Rom. 13.4.

3 cf. Acts 28.3.

4 Matt. 5.7.

© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
Scrineum © Universitą di Pavia 1999