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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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8. Every possessor of feudal or entailed property is empowered to raise the sums required to replace the losses caused by the war by mortgaging the estates themselves and not simply the revenue from them, provided that the application of the funds is attested by the Landrath of the Circle or by the Direction of the District Department. From the close of the third year after the contracting of the debt the possessor and his successor are bound to pay off at least a fifteenth part of the capital annually.

9. Any feudal connection not subject to a chief proprietor, any family settlement or entail, may be altered at pleasure or entirely abolished by a resolution of the family, as has already been enacted in regard to the Fiefs of East Prussia (except those of Ermeland) in the East Prussian Provincial law, appendix 26.

10. From the date of this ordinance no new relation of serfdom whether by birth or marriage, or by assuming the position of a serf, or by contract can be created.

11. With the publication of the present ordinance the existing relations of serfdom of those serfs, with their wives and children, who possess their peasant holdings by inheritance, or in their own right, or by perpetual leases or of copy hold shall cease entirely together with all mutual rights and duties.

12. From Martinmas, one thousand eight hundred and ten (1810) all serfdom shall cease throughout our whole realm. From Martinmas 1810 there shall be only free persons, as is already the case upon the royal domains in all our provinces, free persons, however, still subject, as a matter of course, to all obligations which bind them as free persons by reason of the possession of an estate or by virtue of a special contract.

To this declaration of our supreme will everyone whom it may concern and in particular our provincial authorities and other officials are exactly and dutifully to conform and the present ordinance is to be universally made known.

Source of English translation: James Harvey Robinson, ed., Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, vol. II, no. 2: The Napoleonic Period. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1902, pp. 27-30.

Source of original German text: Sammlung der für die Königlichen preußischen Staaten erschienenen Gesetze und Verordnungen von 1806 bis zum 27. Dezember 1810. Anhang zu der seit dem Jahre 1810 edirten Gesetz-Sammlung für die Königlich preußischen Staaten [Collection of the Laws and Decrees issued for the Royal Prussian State from 1806 to December 27, 1810. Appendix to the Law Collection for the Royal Prussian State edited since the Year 1810]. Berlin, 1822. Reprint: Bad Feilnbach, 1985, pp. 170-73.

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. 327-32.

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