Town privileges

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The Town Charter of Flensburg (1284)

Town privileges or city rights were important features of European towns during most of the second millennium.

Judicially, a town was distinguished from the surrounding land by means of a charter from the ruling monarch that defined its privileges and laws. Common privileges were related to trading (to have a market, to store 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 city, hence the term city rights (Stadtrecht in German, stadsrechten in Dutch). Some degree of self-government, representation in a diet, and tax-relief could also be granted. Multiple tiers existed; for example, in Sweden, the basic royal charter for a city enabled trade, but not foreign trade, which required a higher-tier charter granting staple right.

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