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The Prussian "October Edict" of 1807, signed by King Frederick William III, Minister Karl Baron vom und zum Stein, and Others (October 9, 1807)

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1. Every inhabitant of our States is competent, without any limitation on the part of the State, to own or mortgage landed property of every kind. The noble may therefore own not only noble but also non-noble, citizen and peasant lands of every kind and the citizen and peasant may possess not only citizen, peasant and other non-noble, but also noble tracts of land, without in any case needing special permission for any acquisition whatever, although henceforth, as before, every change of ownership must be announced to the authorities. All privileges which are possessed by noble over citizen inheritances are entirely abolished, as well as the restrictions and suspension of certain property rights based upon the personal status of the holder.

Special laws shall still continue to regulate the right of those to acquire land who are by reason of their religious beliefs precluded from performing all the duties of citizenship.

2. Every noble is henceforth permitted, without any derogation from his station, to engage in citizen occupation and every citizen or peasant is allowed to pass from the peasant into the citizen class or from the citizen into the peasant class.

3. A legal right of pre-emption and of prior claim shall exist hereafter only in the case of superior proprietors, of the lessors of estates on perpetual leases or to copy holders, and of co-proprietary owners, and where a tract of land is sold which is confused with or surrounded by other holdings.

4. The possessors of alienable landed property of all kinds, whether in town or country, are allowed, after due notice given to the provincial authority, reserving the rights of those holding mortgages and those enjoying rights of pre-emption (3), to separate the principal estate from its appurtenances, and in general to alienate lands piecemeal. In the same way co-proprietors may divide among them property owned in common.

[ . . . ]

6. If a landed proprietor finds himself unable to restore and maintain the several peasant holdings existing upon an estate which are not held hereditarily either on a perpetual lease or of copyhold, he is required to inform the authorities of the province, with the sanction of which the consolidation of several holdings into a single peasant estate or with outlying land shall be permissible so soon as serfdom shall have ceased to exist on the estate. The provincial authorities will be provided with special instructions to meet these cases.

7. If, on the contrary, the peasants' holdings are hereditary whether in virtue of a perpetual lease or of copy hold, the consolidation or other change in the condition of the land in question is not admissible until the rights of the previous owner are extinguished, whether by the sale of the land to the lord or in some other legal way. In this case the provisions of (6) shall apply as well to this species of holdings.

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