BLOHIN P.A. “Strangers” in the Medieval Town on the Materials of Freiburg Urban Law


Blokhin Pavel Aleksandrovich

Assistant, Department of International History and Regional Studies,

Astrakhan State University

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Tatishcheva St., 20a, 414056 Astrakhan, Russian Federation

Abstract. The urban commune in the Middle Ages is a complex social structure. It consisted of heterogeneous population: from craftsmen and merchants to the town officials – patriciate. The urban law of Freiburg medieval determined the members of urban commune as people who owned land and were able to build house on their land. In this connection, a person was considered to be a citizen with full-right if they owned the property, appreciated by marker silver and paid annual property qualification to the seignior. The urban population was constantly replenished by alien people who represented the majority of the so called “strangers” in the town and did not make part of local communities, interacting with society members (for example, non-resident merchants). The Study of key resources – texts of Freiburg urban law – let the author reveal several categories of “strangers” in the Medieval Freiburg and determine their legal positions and conditions of social interaction. The first category is represented by Feudal lords and churchmen. They were not fully-right, but preserved the right to live in the town and use some privileges. Feudal lords and churchmen tried to get permanent residency in the town and applied the practices of emancipation from dependency. The second category included new chums or widows who belonged to exterior urban lieges on whom they were dependant. They were deprived of any rights. The third group included underaged children and orphans. They were ensured with the protection of their owners, but they were deprived of legal capacity and restricted in civil rights. The author determines the general criminal procedure and trade legal rules for the regulation of relations between urban community and all categories of “strangers”. It included protection against unfair trial, protection of citizens (sometimes biased) in the local court, protection trade policies, reflected in the law. But, at the same time, life, property, the rights to privileges in the “strangers” trade were strictly preserved by urban law and it contributed to Freiburg economic growth and social stability in the town.

Key words: Medieval town, medieval urban law, the social structure of medieval town, “strangers”, Fraiburgh.

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