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Decree on the Abolition of Personal Serfdom in Schleswig-Holstein, signed in Copenhagen, by King Christian VII of Denmark-Norway and Johann Sigismund von Mösting, German Chancellory President (December 19, 1804)

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10. If such emancipated subjects (as specified in paragraphs 8-9) seek their livelihoods through wage-labor or other means outside their previous lordship’s estate, then they must pay the usual local rent for their dwelling, if they wish to retain it. [ . . . ]

13. The number of family holdings endowed with land now to be found on each noble estate shall not be diminished.

14. Houses or dwellings endowed only with kitchen gardens or uncultivable moorland are not to be counted among such landed family holdings.

15. In particular, as of December 31, 1804, all holdings must be preserved as they now stand, whether occupied by subjects in personal serfdom, emancipated subjects or other peasant-farmers, and whether they are full-, half-, quarter-holdings, smaller arable parcels or the like. [ . . . ]

23. Previously rendered manorial labor services deriving from personal serfdom come to an end with the abolition of serfdom.

24. However, the tenant previously obliged to perform labor services will render the estate owner an appropriate compensation in money or services until a new tenancy contract is signed, if this occurs or is in process by May 1, 1805, and will in that case remain in undisturbed possession of his holding. In the absence of an amicable agreement over the aforementioned compensation, the subjects must render the indispensable necessary labor service until resolution can be achieved by judicial commissioners, who will begin work as soon as possible, and in any case by May 1, 1805. [ . . . ]

28. Conflicts arising from [lordships’] contracts with villagers in personal serfdom or concerning settlements owed to the emancipated, or that otherwise arise from relations of personal serfdom or compensation owed to tenant farmers, shall be summarily resolved, without formal legal proceedings, in the next five years by commissioners appointed by Our judicial authorities [Oberdicasterien].

29. In pursuit of non-adversarial settlements, the commissioners will report to the higher judicial authorities, who will then resolve controversial questions, without formal proceedings before the courts, summarily and without court fees. [ . . . ]

Source: Schleswig-Holsteinische Anzeigen, Part 1 from January 7, 1805, pp. 2-6.

Reprinted in Walter Demel and Uwe Puschner, eds., Von der Französischen Revolution bis zum Wiener Kongreß 1789-1815 [From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna, 1789-1815]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, Volume 6. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1995, pp. 315-17.

Translation: William Hagen

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