Translation:Pragmatic Sanction of 1549

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Pragmatic Sanction of 1549  (1549) 
by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, translated from French by Wikisource
This is a Wikisource translation of Pragmatique sanction de 1549. (Source: A.S. de Blécourt, N. Japikse ed., Klein plakkaatboek van Nederland. Verzameling van ordonnantiën en plakkaten betreffende regeeringsvorm, kerk en rechtspraak (14e eeuw tot 1749) (Groningen/La Haye 1919) nr. X, p. 77-79, accessible at the Leiden University website). This edict, promulgated by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, reorganised Habsburg possessions in the Low Countries (present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and some areas in present-day northern France and western Germany), sometimes called 'the Seventeen Provinces', into one indivisible territory that would be passed on to future Habsburg generations through hereditary succession (starting with his son Philip II), while retaining existing customs, laws, and forms of government within the provinces. It was preceded by the Transaction of Augsburg (26 June 1548), which grouped all Habsburg possessions in the Low Countries into the Burgundian Circle with far-reaching autonomy within the Holy Roman Empire.

Charles, by divine mercy always august Emperor of the Romans, King of Germany, Castile, Leon, Granada, Aragon etc.

Let it be known to all those present and those to come [in the future], that as we have always carefully and inquisitively taken care of everything that concerned the good, rest and tranquility of our Lands over there[1] and provided not only with what seemed necessary to us for the present, but also with things to come, so that our said lands were so much better ruled, governed and preserved in their entirety, and being our intention to always do the same towards them with all suitable means that can be offered, we have considered that it was of great importance to our said lands for the whole safety and establishment of these, that for the future they will always remain under a same Prince, to hold them in a group, well knowing that, coming to fall in various hands by right of hereditary succession, it would be the obvious eversion and ruin of them, the more so as they would be dismembered and separate from each other, and therefore their strength weakened and diminished, whose neighbours could be so much more animated to molest them, which will be avoided, provided that our said lands were always owned by a single Prince and kept in a group, which for the above respects and several others have found greatly suitable for the good of all lands, having thus made it prosper in their States, and jointly declare to them that to introduce what is said above, it would be required to uniformise the customs, parlans et disposans diversement du droit[2] and representation, which as we understand do not take place in any of our other said lands, for example in Flanders, Artois, Hainaut and no others, and to rule by law and irrevocable decree, that from now on representation will take place in all our said lands, as far as the succession of the Prince is concerned, requesting the said States to want to consent, to those States after several assemblies and convocations on this held, each in its place, have unanimously and voluntarily agreed, and have proceeded the same towards us, that we wanted to introduce said pragmatic law, without thereby touching on what concerns the succession of individual subjects from [the lands] over here, and remaining as for them the customs of the lands each one in their own right in their entirety, for it is, that, the things above said considered, desiring on all things to provide and give order if before that in us is, for the good, rest and tranquility of our said lands over here and keep them as a group and that they will be inseparably owned by a single prince for the aforementioned reasons, having first consulted the principal councils of our said lands over here, which have found the said pragmatic [sanction] not only reasonable, but also useful and very necessary to the Republic[3] of our said lands, we with great and dying deliberation, by the advice of our very dear and very saved sister, the Queen Dowager of Hungary, Bohemia etc.[4] for us Regent and Housekeeper in our said lands over here,

Wishing nevertheless that the speaking customs of the said right of representation take place and remain in force and vigour with regard to our vassals and particular subjects from the said lands, and that they will be maintained and observed as in the past, if we give a commandment to the aforesaid of our Council of State[5] and Privy Council,[6] president and people of our Great Council,[7] chancellor and people of our council of Brabant, governor, president and people of our council in Luxemburg, governor, chancellor and people of our council in Guelders, governor of Limburg, Valkenburg, Dalhem and our other lands of Overmaas, governor, presidents and people of our councils in Flanders and Artois, president and people holding our court of parliament in Dole, grand bailiff of Hainaut and people of our council in Mons in Hainaut, governor and people of our council in Holland, governor, president and people of our council in Namur, governor, president and people from our council in Frisia, governor of Overijssel and Groningen, governor, president and people from our council in Utrecht, governor of Lille, Douai and Orchies, presidents and people of our chambers of accounts in Lille, in Brussels, in The Hague, prevost the count at Valenciennes, stewards of Bewesten- and Beoostenschelde in Zeeland, schout of Mechelen, and to all our judges, [civil] servants, vassals and subjects present and to come [in the future] and each of them in his regard, that they will always and inviolably maintain and observe, and make sure that is maintained and observed, this present ordinance, statute, decree and pragmatic [sanction] of ours, as a perpetual and irrevocable law, which proceed by those of our sovereign courts of over here and of the said of our accounts in Lille, in Brussels and The Hague, with the representatives of the said [accounts] present and having recorded them for the entire accomplishment of these things in the times ahead.

Because it pleases us in this way and we want it to be done. And in order that this will be forever a firm and stable matter, we have signed the aforementioned present things with our names, and have added our seal to them. Given in our city of Brussels in the month of November in the year of grace 1549, of our Empire on the 30th and of our Reigns of Castile and others on the 34th. Signed Charles.

Notes (Wikisource)[edit]

  1. The phrase nos Pays de pardeçà ("our Lands around here") was a commonly used geographical distinction by the Dukes of Burgundy and their Habsburg successors to mean the Netherlands (closer to sea level) where the Dukes normally resided, as opposed to nos Pays de par delà, "our Lands over there", meaning the Franche-Comté (the County of Burgundy) and originally also the Duchy of Burgundy (until 1482) and various other Burgundian possessions in France and Switzerland (higher mountainous regions), where the Dukes originally came from.
  2. Unclear what this means, but it appears to mean reducing the diversity of laws by abolishing certain legal provisions in some provinces that contradict those of others, in yet another effort to standardise the legal system as part of his centralisation policies. Previously, in 1531, Charles V ordered all local customary laws in all 832 jurisdictions of the Habsburg Netherlands to be written down, and after a thorough review of these codified customary laws, he abolished all but 96 of them. R.C. Van Caenegem, Geschiedkundige inleiding tot het recht. Deel I: Privaatrecht, Kluwer rechtswetenschappen (1996), p. 35. Deurne. ISBN 90-5583-211-1.
  3. In this context, the word 'republic' refers to 'the public well-being, the common good', and not to a form of government without a hereditary head of state.
  4. Mary of Hungary, governor of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1531 to 1555. She was a younger sister of Charles V, and was Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia from 1515 until 1526, when her husband Louis II of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia died.
  5. Council of State of the Habsburg Netherlands
  6. Brussels Privy Council
  7. It is likely that this 'Great Council' refers to the Council of Finances, which, together with the Council of State and Privy Council constituted the three Collateral Councils; earlier in this text they were mentioned as nos consaulx d'estat, privé et des finances. It is unlikely that it refers to the Great Council of Mechelen, which was not part of the Collateral Councils and gradually lost its influence after 1504.
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