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Magdeburg rights

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The Magdeburg Rights (or Magdeburg law) granted rights given to a city in the medieval ages. Named after the city of Magdeburg.

Usually after assigment of these rights, the village was obtaining a town's status.

According to these rights, merchants from other countries travelling on the routes through the city were not entitled to go round the city and they had to stop in the capital and to sell the goods they had brought to local buyers, if any wished to buy them.

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Taken from the public domain Jewish Encyclopedia:

General name for a system of privileges "securing the administrative independence of municipalities," which was adopted in many parts of Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Bohemia ("Encyc. Brit."). Usually it was introduced into the Slavic countries at the instance and for the benefit of the German merchants and artisans, who formed the most important part of the population of many cities. Jews and Germans were always competitors in those cities, and as the Jews lived under special privileges and were not considered a part of the native population, not only were they excluded from participating in the benefits of the Magdeburg law, but their condition usually was rendered worse wherever it was introduced. In Vilnius, where the Magdeburg law was granted to the municipality as early as the fourteenth century, the Jews were expressly excluded from its benefits, but in the near-by city of Trakai the Jewish community secured from Grand Duke Kazimieras Jogaila the Magdeburg Rights for itself, and independently of the Christian community, which had received the same rights earlier. This grant, dated March 27, 1444, gave the Jews of Trakai equal rights with their Christian neighbors (see Lithuania).

One of the most interesting provisions of the Magdeburg law relating to Jews was that a Jew could not be made "Gewaersmann[?]," that is, he could not be compelled to tell from whom he acquired any object which had been sold or pledged to him and which was found in his possession. This actually amounted to permission to buy stolen property.


Taken from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia[?]:

The so-called Magdeburg Rights were also adopted by many towns in eastern and north- eastern Germany in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (in Pomerania, Schleswig, and Prussia). The local tribunal of Magdeburg was the superior court for these towns. Magdeburg was also a member of the Hanseatic league of towns, and as such was first mentioned in 1295. The town had an active maritime commerce on the west (towards Flanders), with the countries of the Baltic Sea, and maintained traffic and communication with the interior (for example Brunswick).



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