City Rights and Town Privileges in Ultmar

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City rights are a feature of the medieval history of the Ultmar and Burgundie. A liege lord, usually a count, duke or similar member of the high nobility, granted to a town or village he owned certain town privileges that places without city rights did not have.

A town calls itself a city if it obtained a complete package of city rights at some point in its history. Its population was not relevant, so there were some very small cities.

Overview

When forced by financial problems, feudal landlords offered for sale privileges to settlements starting in 1003CE. The total package of these privileges comprises the city rights.

Such sales raised (non-recurrent) revenue for the feudal lords, in exchange for the loss of power. Over time, the landlords sold more and more privileges. This resulted in a shift of power within the provinces from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, starting in Burgundie. Some of these cities even developed into free cities. The growing economic and military power concentrating in the cities led to a very powerful class of well-to-do merchants and traders.

Types of cities:

  • Free cities
  • Palatine cities
  • Trade cities
  • Incorporated cities

Common City rights

Privileges

  • City walls (the right to erect a defense wall around an inhabited area)
  • Market right (the right to hold markets and receive income from them)
  • Storage right (the right to store and exclusively trade particular goods, often only granted to a few cities)
  • Toll right (the right to charge tolls)
  • Mint right (the right to mint city coinage)
  • Taxation (the right to levy taxes)
  • Weighing the right to organize official weighing (cargo, livestock, produce, building material, trading goods etc..)

Freedoms

  • Personal freedom (citizens had a relative degree of personal freedom in comparison to citizens of rural areas: they were not subject to the liege lord and had freedom of mobility) —

Governance

  • Self-governance (Well-to-do citizens could sometimes elect local government officials)
  • Judiciary and law-making (Within its boundaries the city could have a great degree of autonomy)

End of city rights

The last city to receive city rights was Eszaby in 1573. After the Concordat of Ennissloe in 1613, municipalities were styled after the Kuhfrosi model and city rights were abolished by law.

Grants of city rights, chronologically

Town Privileges

Town privileges or borough rights were important features of Levantine towns during most of the medieval period.

Judicially, a borough (or burgh) was distinguished from the countryside by means of a charter from the ruling monarch that defined its privileges and laws. Common privileges involved trade (marketplace, the storing of goods, etc.) and the establishment of guilds. Some of these privileges were permanent and could imply that the town obtained the right to be called a borough, hence the term borough rights. Some degree of self-government, representation by {{wpl|diet (assembly)|diet]], and tax-relief could also be granted. Multiple tiers existed; for example, in Burgundie, the basic royal charter establishing a borough enabled trade, but not foreign trade, which required a higher-tier charter granting staple right.

See Also