Bamberger Halsgerichtsordnung ("Constitutio Criminalis Bambergensis")

Staatsarchiv Bamberg


In the late fifteenth century, the need for security and order as well as the demand for the removal of legal uncertainty and arbitrariness in criminal trials had increased. The Bamberg “Halsgerichtsordnung” (Code of High Justice) answered these needs by codifying the high justice of the times. It was drawn up by the Bamberg Court Judge Johann von Schwarzenberg (1463-1528) and directed by Bishop Georg III Schenk von Limpurg (r. 1505-1522). It is considered the immediate model for the Peinliche Gerichtsordnung (Code of High Justice) of Emperor Charles V (r. 1519-1556), usually termed the “Constitutio Criminalis Carolina”. The 278 articles are written in German and combine domestic norms and notions of law with elements of learned ancient Roman law. Apart from procedural issues, the criminal law also contains a material-legal catalogue of crimes with the appropriate types of punishment. For visualisation, the printed version of 1507 has woodcuts added with motifs from the court, depictions from the trials as well as mnemonic rhymes. The title page shows typical instruments for punishment and torture.

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