The end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern age in the political-juridical structure of the “Kingdom” of Germany are marked on the one hand by the acceptance of Roman law in the German courts, and on the other by the reform of the Empire deliberated by the classes between 1484 and 1495. This reception was due to the affirmation of Roman law in the universities, to the preference given by the princes to jurists of Romanistic education for their regalistic ideas, to the fragmentation of German law and the lack of a scientific elaboration of it, as well as a supreme judicial instance in the division, also political, of Germany. Added to this was the difficulty of German law in adapting to the new economic and social conditions, its incompleteness with respect to the greater demands of juridical technique and the undoubted superiority of Roman law in many institutes. Germanic law was in fact a complex of laws of different lineages and eras, without internal unity: first as a right of lineage, only later as territorial law. Until the sec. In the 13th century, custom prevailed over written law, which developed especially in the territories and organizations endowed with autonomy, strongly preserving its national features. Under the influence of the supranational Church, a European commercial and matrimonial law was already outlined in Germany before and independently of the reception of canon and Roman law. The rules of law were therefore conceived and expressed in an intuitive and plastic form, accompanied by symbolic acts and fixed in symbols. There was no distinction between public law and private law, since the political and socio-economic conditions made the distinction difficult. This reception met the hostility of the city courts, jealous of their local law, as well as that of the humanists, spokesmen of the local nobility against the penetration of jurists (called da von Hutten doctores Luft) in the best places in the territorial administrations. Roman law came to constitute common law: the exceptions were territorial law (Landrecht), city statutes (Stadtrecht), the will of the territorial prince (Willkür); moreover, the custom, which was Germanic, always retained a wide field of affirmation. The ancient Germanic institutes survived in forestry, agrarian law and with regard to fishing, waters, mines. And precisely an institution that emerged from the reform of the Empire of 1495 obliged the judges to judge “according to the common law of the Empire and also according to customs, etc. of the Ducati “. The reform of the Empire reflected the dualism between Reichs and classes accentuated under the rulers of the House of Habsburg: it was centered on a general tax (combination of income tax and personal taxation) for the needs of the Reich, but its use was subject to the approval of the Diet. All free or imperial cities were also allowed in this. Visit thedressexplorer for Germany History.
A “perpetual peace” was proclaimed by prohibiting the feud, the private self-defense of war; its application, however, was attributed to districts or circles of the Reich, diminishing this political power of the Empire. A chamber court of the Reich was founded as a supreme instance: it was presided over by the sovereign, but the 16 assessors that made it up were appointed by the classes. This reform – which had been insistently requested together with that of the Church – consolidated particularism, strengthening the principles, Charles V, tried to build on the example of the monarchies of France, Spain, England. This institutional moment informed the political-religious struggles of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, since they did not arise only from the religious, doctrinal and church clash, but also represented the conflict between the emperor and the states of the Empire about the control of the Empire itself, indeed for the dominance in the Reich. In the war against the Protestant League of Smalcalda, Charles V also intended to break the power of the classes and therefore the Peace of Passau (1552) meant the consolidation of the territorial right of the princes, with the inclusion of the ius reformandi, and therefore the defeat of the imperial unitary principle with respect to particularism. The classes made use of Luther’s appeal to them in 1520 to reform the Church in order to consolidate their moral and administrative power, also challenging the decisions of the Diet of Worms which banned Luther (1521) as a heretic and, at the same time, as a disturber of peace. In an even more radical way, the knights drew from the movement of conscience aroused by his preaching, joining in league under the guidance of von Hutten and Sickingen to assault ecclesiastical territories. But they were defeated by a league of the great Rhenish princes and with this the small nobility was eliminated from a leading role in the German Reformation (war of the knights, 1522-23). Even the peasants, intolerant of serfdom and feudal burdens in general, after having presented “in the name of the gospel” in the 12 articles of Memmingen their economic and social claims, gathered in bands, under the banner of the rough peasant sandal the assault on convents and castles, convinced moreover, with this, to establish the kingdom of God reserved for the poor, in a millenarian Anabaptist spirit. But, with the approval of Luther himself, the vast revolt flared up in southern Germany, it was also suffocated in blood by a league of great lay and ecclesiastical lords. Meanwhile, capitalism had also strengthened in Germany.
Great families of merchants and bankers, such as the Fuggers and the Welsers, in Augsburg, Nuremberg, Ulm, valuing the production and trade of fabrics and as bankers primarily of the Habsburgs, conquered an almost monopoly position in the extraction and trade of metals in South-Eastern Europe, making its influence felt as far as Spain, the Netherlands, in the same colonies of America. With this the cities of the South, as financial centers, surpassed those of the North connected in the Hansa. The economic and social movements brought about by this urban capitalism had played their part in provoking the social uprisings of the knights and peasants generally linked to the Reformation. This situation and these forces conditioned the intent of Charles V to revive with the united forces of his domains the Holy Roman Empire as a political-religious system in collaboration with the papacy. An intent that failed due to the vigor now acquired in Germany and outside the particularistic, national and territorial forces. In addition to the political-religious wars of Germany, also those in Italy and on the Rhine with France and those against the Turks in Hungary and the Mediterranean, contributed to the failure of the policy of Charles V (1519-56) by inducing him to separate the crown of Germany from that of Spain. There religious peace of Augusta (1555), based on the cuius regio eius religio with the limitations of the reservatum ecclesiasticum, did not calm the tensions. Also in Germany a third confession was established alongside the Catholic and Lutheran, the Calvinist one, which also presented itself as a party under the direction of the Count Palatine and the Margrave of Hesse.