A History of Wealth and Poverty: Why a Few Nations are Rich and Many Poor, by John P. Powelson.

Appendixes for Chapter 22

Appendix 22.1: Historical References to Vertical Alliances, Pluralism, and Leverage in Germany During the High Period of the Estates, sixteenth to eighteenth centuries

Examples of vertical alliances, negotiation, and compromise among estates, princes, and emperor are so numerous that it is not practical to list them all, even in an appendix. The most complete history of them that I know of is Carsten (1959), but other histories of Germany (for example, Barraclough 1947 and Holborn's three-volume treatise, 1959, 1964, 1969) also contain instances. Those listed here are illustrative only.

  1. "[C]onflicts with other rulers, above all the Elector Palatine, Frederick I, forced Ulrich [Count of Württemberg] to consult his knights, prelates, and towns [in 1457]. These took the side of the native nobility; grievances were raised; in the end Ulrich had to promise that he would in future govern with the advice of his Three Estates, to his benefit and theirs. It does not seem, however, that he kept his promise, for two years later the Estates complained that he was not governing with the help of his councillors from the native nobility." [500]
  2. "After an initial refusal of Duke Eberhard [of Württemberg], his councillors summoned a diet which met in March 1498. . . . Eberhard was invited to attend. If he failed to do so, they informed him, they would nevertheless proceed. . . . [The Duke] left the country and sought refuge in the Free City of Ulm, from where he appealed to the Emperor Maximilian. . . . Maximilian decided in favor of the rebels: Eberhard was deprived of his principality on account of his manifold bad and disorderly practices." [501]
  3. "In 1422 the Emperor Sigismund confirmed this privilege of the [Bavarian] Estates to conclude unions with the nobility of other German territories and with his towns and those of the Empire, because the nobility were much oppressed and suffered much injustice in Germany." [502]
  4. "[L]ong feuds occurred between the hostile brothers [Louis II and Henry of Hesse], [so] the Estates had to act as arbiters between them. . . . [T]he continuous division of Hesse strengthening their position." [503]
  5. "[T]he treaty of Passau [1552] had established a religious peace in the Empire, for [Catholic] King Ferdinand . . . needed Protestant support against the Turks." [504]
  6. "[In 1512, Duke William of Bavaria] fulfilled a demand of the Estates to confirm their privileges] only because of his pressing debts, and because his brother Louis, disregarding the treaty of 1506 and the principle of primogeniture, demanded a partition of the duchy. [The Estates decided that] the two dukes should rule together." [505]
  7. "In the secularized duchy of Prussia [1570s] the Estates emerged as the decisive power. They considered Lutheran orthodoxy and the Corpus Doctrinae Prussicae their most cherished privileges. They dominated the church and the administration and made the duke completely dependent on themselves, playing him off against the king of Poland and becoming the real masters of the country." [506]
  8. "The Emperor also managed to recover some of his power through the renewal of hitherto neglected perquisites. Among these was the privilege of protecting the subjects of the Empire from the arbitrary rule of the territorial authorities. . . . [In 1755, he] supported the estates of Mecklenburg in their successful effort to curb the absolute rule of the duke." [507]
  9. "In short, the Empire provided the framework for a diplomacy of countervailing intervention, in which each prince could involve himself in his neighbor's internal affairs in order to protect the local 'liberties' of his neighbor's subjects." [508]

Appendix 22.2: Historical References to the Accountability of Princes and Dukes Demanded by the German Estates

  1. "Frederick [IV of Saxony] tried to win the support of the Estates and in 1446 he summoned a diet and requested a new tax to pay off his debts. To this the Estates agreed, but they demanded to be informed of how he had incurred such debts. [If Frederick's son should succeed to the throne as a minor] the government should be exercised by his mother and sixteen members of the Estates, eight of the nobility, four of the clergy, and four burghers; they should appoint all officials and receive an audit of the accounts." [509]
  2. "In Cleves and Mark John III neglected his promises of 1486 and 1489 and aroused new opposition by his arbitrary and belligerent policy. In 1499 the Estates refused to pay the second installment of the tax which they had granted to redeem the prisoners taken in the war with Gülders, because it was used for other purposes." [510]
  3. "Joachim II [of Brandenburg, r.1531-71] was recklessly extravagant. He could never balance his budget. As a result he several times asked the town and country estates to assume his debts, and this they did in return for the right to assess and collect their own taxes, raise their own troops and otherwise run their own domestic affairs." [511]
  4. "Anna [of Mecklenburg] reached an agreement with the majority of the Estates. The union of 1509 was revoked and a new one concluded which severely limited her power. The Estates were granted the power of the purse; they were to be consulted before a war or feud was begun and in other important affairs. If they found fault with her government, this was to be remedied with their 'advice and will.' " [512]
  5. "[F]or the rendering of accounts [in Hesse, mid-sixteenth century] some burghers were associated with [the landgraves], so that they could not only see 'what came in, but also to what useful purposes the money was put'." [513]
  6. In Saxony in 1540, a committee was appointed to deal with sequestered religious lands. "The members of the religious orders should be provided for, the surplus should be administered by the Estates, and yearly accounts should be rendered in the presence of ducal councillors. Again Henry conceded most of these wishes." [514]
  7. When the Estates of Bavaria voted a tax in 1514, they "elected eight of their members to keep records of revenues and expenditures." [515]

Many, many more examples are found in the general histories. Once again, Carsten (1959) is a rich source.


Copyright © 1994 by the University of Michigan. First published in the USA by the University of Michigan Press, 1994.

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