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Margrave Karl Friedrich von Baden, Proclamation of the Abolition of Serfdom in Baden (July 23, 1783)

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You officials in the chancellery shall publish all of this and report to Us about its implementation and act accordingly yourselves. We graciously order you, treasury officials, from this day forward to refrain from collecting those fees which have been hereby abolished, and also to make appropriate note of this in your account books. On the other hand, in those subordinate cases in which We have preserved the manumissions and departure taxes, you shall continue to collect and to credit these loyally to us, in which case We are disposed to abide in graciousness toward you.

Decreed in Karlsruhe, July 23, 1783.

Source: Günther Franz, ed., Quellen zur Geschichte des deutschen Bauernstandes in der Neuzeit [Sources on the History of the Germany Peasantry in the Modern Era]. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1976, pp. 292–94.

Reprinted in Helmut Neuhaus, ed., Zeitalter des Absolutismus 1648-1789 [Age of Absolutism, 1648-1789]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, vol. 5. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1997, pp. 434–38.

Translated by Ellen Yutzy Glebe

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