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A Landfrieden or Landfriede (Latin: constitutio pacis, pax instituta or pax jurata) was, under medieval law, a contractual waiver by rulers of specified territories of the use of (actually legitimate) force to assert their own legal claims. This especially affected the right of feuding.


Landfrieden formed the political basis for pursuing claims without resorting to the private use of violence. They also often regulated the jurisdiction of the Landfriede and thus allowed the settlement of disputes through judgements based on a common set of rules. Offences or violations of the public peace were liable to severe punishment. For example, objects or buildings (such as churches, homes, mills, agricultural implements, bridges, and especially imperial roads) and people (priests, pilgrims, merchants, women, even farmers, hunters and fishermen in carrying out their work) could be placed under protection. The Landfrieden created a type of martial law, as well as special courts, the Landfriedensgerichte.


The Landfrieden movement strove from the 11th century to extend the so-called Peace and Truce of God (Gottesfrieden). The first imperial Landfriede was established by Henry IV in 1103 and was known as the First Imperial Peace of Mainz (Erster Mainzer Reichslandfriede).

This followed the Mainz Peace and Truce of God (Mainzer Gottesfrieden) which he had already proclaimed in 1085. In 1152 Frederick I Barbarossa proclaimed the Great Imperial Landfrieden (Großer Reichslandfrieden), which extended to the whole empire. This was an act of constitution and brought into effect a time-limited alliance of ruling princes. The two most important imperial Landfrieden (in 1235 and 1495), however, were more like legal decrees and had less of the character of an alliance. The imperial Landfrieden of 1235 was announced by Frederick II (the Mainz Landfrieden). For the first time this was bilingual, i.e. written in both Latin and German. It was a constitutional act that applied to the whole empire. It was superseded by the Perpetual Public Peace (Ewiger Landfriede) of 1495, which constituted a permanent Landfriede for the Holy Roman Empire.

Modern forms[edit]

Even today a breach of the Landfrieden (Landfriedensbruch) is a criminal offence in Germany (§ 125 StGB), Austria (§ 274 StGB) and Switzerland (Art. 260 CH-StGB). The preservation of the Landfrieden in the sense of public law and order – i.e. the ban on jungle law (Faustrecht) and frontier justice (Selbstjustiz) – by giving the state authorities a monopoly on violence, is the basis of all modern legal codes.


  • Heinz Angermeier: Königtum und Landfriede im deutschen Spätmittelalter. Munich, 1966.
  • Joachim Bumke: Höfische Kultur. Literatur und Gesellschaft im hohen Mittelalter (= dtv 30170). 11th edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich, 2005, ISBN 3-423-30170-8.
  • Arno Buschmann, Elmar Wadle (ed.): Landfrieden. Anspruch und Wirklichkeit (= Rechts- und staatswissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Görres-Gesellschaft. NF Vol. 98). Schöningh, Paderborn etc., 2002, ISBN 3-506-73399-0.
  • Mattias G. Fischer: Reichsreform und „Ewiger Landfrieden“. Über die Entwicklung des Fehderechts im 15. Jahrhundert bis zum absoluten Fehdeverbot von 1495 (= Untersuchungen zur deutschen Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte. NF Vol. 34). Scientia, Aalen, 2007, ISBN 978-3-511-02854-1 (Also: Göttingen, University, Dissertation, 2002).
  • Joachim Gernhuber: Die Landfriedensbewegung in Deutschland bis zum Mainzer Reichslandfrieden von 1235 (= Bonner rechtswissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. H. 44, ZDB-ID 502603-9). Röhrscheid, Bonn, 1952.
  • Guido Komatsu: Landfriedensbünde im 16. Jahrhundert. Ein typologischer Vergleich. Dissertation, University of Göttingen, 2001 (Volltext).
  • Elmar Wadle: Landfrieden, Strafe, Recht. Zwölf Studien zum Mittelalter (= Schriften zur europäischen Rechts- und Verfassungsgeschichte. Vol. 37). Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 2001, ISBN 3-428-09912-5.

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