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The "Youngest Recess" [jüngster Reichsabschied] of the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire in 1654 (May 17, 1654)

This recess, or resolution, of the Imperial Estates – that is, the ecclesiastical and secular princes and Imperial Cities assembled in the Imperial Diet [Reichstag] – was important for the authorization it conveyed to them, in the emperor’s name, to act autonomously to create military defenses for themselves and the Empire. This authorization was particularly important for the larger secular principalities. Historians have interpreted it as a warrant for absolutist standing armies.

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[§§ 170-177 concern the problems discussed in Article VIII, § 5 of the Peace of Osnabrück, regarding war debts, the moratorium on paying principle and interest, etc.]

§ 178. The electors and the estates also found, after many consultations and careful deliberations on the stabilization of peace and law, that the Holy Roman Empire might be secured against all external powers and various impending indignations and maintained in its tenuous state of peace. For many years past, and indeed since the oft-mentioned peace treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, as well as before, other warring parties' various violent actions were de facto undertaken and carried out against electors and estates of the empire, but principally against the electoral Rhineland, the upper Rhineland, and also the Westphalian Imperial Circles [Reichskreise]. Confronting without further hesitation and with tenacious earnestness such happenings, which are intolerable, as well as baleful and shameful to the Holy Roman Empire, demands the greatest urgency. When we heard this most obedient advice [from the electors and the estates], we agreed with them and they with us on this present resolution: We therefore issue anew the order (which was issued in the Imperial Recess of the year 1555 and thereafter repeated, augmented, and improved in the years 1559, 1564, 1566, 1570, 1576, 1582, and 1594) against the aforementioned and all other violations and indignations, wherever they happen. All such emergencies are to be followed up with appropriate assiduousness and diligence, and the suitable help and force unhesitatingly put to work with a truly strong hand. The aforementioned imperial order will be well known and held fast as an unmistakably correct legal principle in each and every point. To better ensure this, in all of the Holy Roman Imperial Circles, the offices and positions of the circle colonels [Kreisobristen] and deputies and subordinates should be re-seated immediately (indeed at the latest by the first of this September) through the means of working circle assemblies. This will be done so that in case of any emergency (as provided for and declared in the oft-mentioned order) they will come together at once at the head of the circle's first call, and so that they will remember attentively the demanded urgency.

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