Bambergische Peynliche Hals-Gerichts-Ordnung.(Bamberg, gedruckt zum erstenmal durch Johann Wagner, 1580. Zum zweytenmahl, durch Georg Andream Gertner..., 1738).

SCHWARZENBERG Johann Freiherr von (1738)

£3500.00  [First Edition]

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Splendid woodcut pictorial title-page by Lucas Mayr after Jost Amman enclosing the title printed in red, and 21 large (including 11 full-page) woodcuts by Fritz Hammer and Albrecht Rodner after Wolf Traut and Wolfgang Katzheimer, using the original blocks from the first edition of 1507; a very good copy with the cuts in rich deep impressions. 

Small folio (324x205 mm). [6], 144, [24]pp. Bound in contemporary vellum, head of spine a little worn. 

The Bamberger Hals-Gerichts-Ordnung, commonly known as the Bambergensis, was a milestone in German criminal law which codified a new approach to criminal law and procedure. It was originally issued in 1507, and designed for the small bishopric of Bamberg; however, its excellence and convenience attracted interest all over the Holy Roman Empire, and a glossed version of the Bambergensis would become the first code of criminal law and criminal procedure to be applied uniformly throughout the empire, Emperor Charles V's Constitutio Criminalis Carolina of 1532.

A revised and updated Bambergensis was published in 1580 and it is this text, with the 1507 illustrations, which was re-issued in 1738, the present edition. It continued to be used in German law courts until the early 19th century, and was recognised as the key text in German criminal law and procedure. There is also a re-issue of 1694 with no indication of printer or date, but recognisable by the paper used. However, it was obviously not known in the 18th century as the printer here, G.A. Gertner claims in his colophon that he is the first to reprint the 1580 edition (see above).

The enduring appeal of the Bambergensis lies not only in the precise vernacular wording of the various criminal law procedures but also in the 1507 illustrations which mirror the text, with only the pictorial title-page taken from the later, 1580 edition. The illustrations are stunning, detailed and bold, chronicling the criminal law procedure of the German renaissance, accompanied with short verses giving a précis of the legal text.

The Bamberger Hals-Gerichts-Ordnung represented an advance in the direction of the rule of law in a number of respects. It included a clear statement of substantive criminal law along with a precise account of the specific penalties that were appropriate to each crime. It also presented in concise language the rules for criminal procedure. Both of these features were crafted so that judges who were not trained lawyers would easily be able to understand and apply the rules (the author of the work, Johann Freiherr zu Schwarzenberg (1463-1528) although a rising star in the management of the bishopric of Bamberg, was also not a trained lawyer [but worked for many years as a lay judge]). By combining these features in a single slim volume, the work considerably reduced the chance for arbitrary proceedings and punishments. The author also took great care to establish clear rules for the use of evidence. Physical evidence was not sufficient to sustain a conviction. The prosecution was obliged to introduce the testimony of a private person, someone not employed by the state. Confession remained the most important evidence for securing a conviction, but torture, which was the method typically used to extract a confession, could only be used under certain narrow, predetermined circumstances; and confessions obtained by torture could be rendered invalid if the defendant recanted within twenty-four hours (Library of Congress online).

J. Kohler and W. Scheel, Die Bambergische (Halle 1902): edition B. II. 2; COPAC locates no copy of this edition (or the 1694 edition); OCLC records 3 copies of this edition: Harvard, Michigan and Trinity (no copies of 1694 edition).

Stock Code: 231714

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