Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/340

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was to be declared without the sanction of the Council. Matters of too great difficulty for the Council to determine were to be referred not to the King alone, but to the King and Electors in conjunction; and both here and on the projected Council the King counted but as a single vote. If Maximilian accepted this scheme, a Common Penny was to be levied throughout the Empire and an army established under the control of the Council.

To Maximilian Berthold's proposals must have seemed but a demand for his abdication. But he cleverly negotiated instead of openly refusing, and finally made a counter-proposal, which practically reduced the suggested Council to a mere royal Council, whose independent action was limited to the periods of the King's absence, and which otherwise sat at the King's Court and depended upon the King's pleasure. Long and wearisome negotiations followed, but a final agreement issued on August 7 showed that Berthold's plan had essentially been abandoned in favour of Maximilian's alternative propositions. The reformers preferred to give up their Executive Council altogether rather than allow it to be twisted into a shape which would have subordinated it to the royal prerogative! They went back on the old line of suggestions,—Public Peace, Common Penny, imperial Court of Justice, and the rest. Maximilian had already professed his acceptance of these schemes, so that on such lines agreement was not difficult. Even this mutilated plan of reform was sufficiently thorough and drastic. It makes the Diet of 1495 one of the turning-points in the constitutional history of the Empire.

The Landfriede was proclaimed without any limitation of time, and private war was forbidden to all Estates of the Empire under pain of the imperial ban. A special obligation to carry out this Public Peace was enjoined on those dwelling within twenty miles of the place of any breach of it. Were this not enough, the vindication of the peace rested with the Diet. Law was now to supersede violence, and an adequate Supreme Court was at last to be established. Frederick III had converted his traditional feudal Court (HofgericM) into an institution styled the Cameral Tribunal (Kammergericht), without in any very material way modifying its constitution. A very different Imperial Cameral Tribunal (Reichsltarnmergericht) was now set up. Its head, the Kammerrichter, was indeed the King's nominee, but the sixteen assessors, half doctors of law, half of knightly rank, who virtually overshadowed his authority, were to be directly nominated by the Estates. The law which the new Court was to administer was the Roman Law, whose doctrines soon began to filter downwards into the lower Courts, with the result that its principles and procedure speedily exercised a profound influence on every branch of German jurisprudence. The new Court was not to follow the King, but to sit at some fixed place (at first Frankfort), which could only be changed by vote of the Estates. Its officers were to be paid not by the Emperor but by the Empire. Thus independent