Tripartitum opus juris consuetudinarii regni Hungariae

ApprobatioPars PrimaPars secundaPars tertiaConclusio



... ...W by the grace of God king of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Rama, Serbia, Gallicia, Lodomeria, Cumania, and Bulgaria; Duke of Silesia and Luxemburg; and Marquis of Moravia and Lusatia: let it be remembered in perpetuity For perpetual record.
  When the Supreme Craftsman of all things, from the very beginning when he first laid the foundation and engendered rational creation, willed that there should be such variety and distinction in the human race that one part of humanity would be subject and one in command, that some should order and others obey, he made some kings and princes with just authority over the others and other their subjects to follow their command and bidding.  So with supreme wisdom the whole of the human race is thus divided in this twofold order.
  Moreover He decreed that the kings themselves should have two means available and at their disposal, namely laws and arms, arms to drive off the enemy and keep them from our borders, and laws to keep the inhabitants and citizens in their proper station at home, and to compell them to live with just rights: the greatest with the least, the rich and the powerful with the poor and the weak.  For these two facts are the most essential to every ruler: if they disappear, nothing fixed and stable remains, and there can be no concord or agreement among men, whereas if they are kept together, the links and chains which bind them are absolutely firm and indissoluble, and they can never be separated or broken.
  For who is not aware that nothing can be achieved by force of arms abroad when evil and unjust citizens have more power at home than the good ones.  At the same time it is vain to invoke the law and seek redress in court when the sound of war is all around and citizens live in constant fear of the enemy.
  So we who have been raised by divine will and providence to this lofty throne, and set at the head of so many lands and peoples, so many powerful and warlike nations and empires, have from the very beginning of our rule directed and concentrated all our care and thought, all our efforts and plans, all our hopes and counsel to one end, namely to cultivate these two arts so that our subjects might live in peace and tranquillity.  For we have kept them safe from the enemy through our armies as far as it has lain in our power, while omitting nothing in the administration of justice which a just and conscientious prince could provide.
  And after we received by God’s goodness the sceptre and empire of this illustrious kingdom of Hungary, and were invested with the holy diadem/crown, once the fury of war was over and it had been freed from enemy threats as well as internal unrest, our first and most particular care was that we should render the kingdom and our subjects more secure and stable by peace at home and by laws.
  Therefore both at the time and after we issued on a number of occasions various constitutions and statutes, some on our own initiative, others at the prayers and petitions of our faithful subjects the lords prelate, the barons, and the rest of the nobles and dignitaries, out of a most particular concern for the security, tranquillity, and liberty of this our realm.  And this was in spite of the fact that earlier there had existed certain rights of the realm, which not being set down in written form should rather be referred to as customs/customary law.
  However, the constitutions which we issued and rights of the realm have been subject to varying interpretation which has often led to considerable problems, as different persons have found different meanings in them and drawn differing conclusions as each saw fit.  And so as some cite and follow the customary law of the realm in either seeking justice or giving judgement, while others cite the wording of constitutions, there often arises serious disagreement in the interpretation of the laws, customs, and constitutions, and not merely among the parties of the suit but among the judges themselves, even the jurisconsults most versed in the legal system of the country.  Then it can happen that those relying more on power and strength than law and justice enter the court and appear before the judges’ bench with a large gang of retainers and attempt to use the strength of numbers and shouting to obtain what they would not reasonably obtain by legal process.  Though they have less right, they nevertheless win not by right by strenght of numbers and by causing uproar.
  Among such people the authority of the judges and protonotaries has no effect when they cite the laws of the realm.  For the laws themselves have no written form to give them authority, so whatever is adduced as being law or custom, they either twist it into a contrary sense or maintain that it was otherwise understood or applied in other case by other judges, and so they confound all the principles of jurisdiction in a quite shameful way.  Thus it not uncommonly comes about that one person will win a case and another will lose it in the same circumstances.
  When these and similar errors abound everywhere, and the multifarious interpretation of the constitutions and customs of the realm leaves the way wide open to those who seek to abuse them, and the judges no less than those pursuing the case are left completely in the dark.  In the circumstances we, who have no greater or more urgent care than to assure the peace and tranquillity of our subjects, and moved by the prayers and endless complaints of our said subjects.  We have therefore to our faithful servant the distinguished Master Stephen of Werbõcz, protonotary of our curia judicis, the responsibility/task of gathering together all the rights, laws, and customs, and the received and approved constitutions of this our kingdom, that is, those customarily observed and followed in our kingdom and in especial in our royal court in judging and deciding cases and bringing judgment, and, as customary, to dividing them into chatpers and affixing chapter headings, in such a way that after being offered to us and then reviewed, discussed, and carefully gone through by the other master-/senior protonotaries and the sworn coassessors of our judicial seat they can be reduced to one volume.
  Thus in order that along with almost all other nations and provinces with good and wise institutions, our Hungarian people too may have recourse not to mere custom in settling lawsuits and the administration of justice (for custom is commonly changeable and impermanent) but to written laws with the most faithful confirmation of:
  Therefore we be present in the present assembly and general congregation of all the prelates, barons, and nobles of this kingdom, which we called for these same specific weighty reasons to be held on the feast of St Luke the Evangelist just past, the same prelates, barons, and nobles came into our presence and presented to us a certain book containing the gentilia and municipal laws and rights, and their ancient and accepted customs which had been compiled, collected, and written down at our command by the said Master Stephen: praying us, that inasmuch as they had this book read, revised, discussed, and examined in all its clauses, articles, and chapters by the venerable Paul of Várda, prepositum of St Sigismund, the administrator of our royal income, and the magnificum Benedict of Batthyán, castellan of this our castle of Buda, and the distinguished /excellent masters John of Wllyewelgh the palatine, Albert of Bellyén, and Paul Bolyár, protonotaries of our personal presence; likewise, Stephen Kesserü of Gybarth, vicepalatine of this our kingdom of Hungary, George of Mekche our secretary, Michael of Zob and Paul of Dombó, sworn assessors of our judiciary seat, and Stephen Hentzelffy of Petrovicz, director of our royal suits, and acknowledged that it was drawn up in good order and as it should be regarding their laws and approved customs: therefore having had this books and all its contents as regards its clauses, sensus, chapters, and articles into the form of a royal privilege in our name, we see fit to accept and approve them and to confirm and strengthen them with our royal authority and on the basis of the plenitude of our royal power as having the validity of perpetual laws and customs for them and their heirs and successors.
  The text of the book follows, in these words.



 De tripartita divisione Jurium: et consuetudinum inclyti Regni Hungarie in Generali.

Titulus primus.

Expeditis opitulante deo, notabilibus quê ad introductionem huius opusculi prêmittenda videbantur, iam speciatim de consuetudinibus huius inclyti regni Hungariæ tractandum superest.

[§1] Quia igitur omnis consuetudo iuris qua utimur vel ad personas pertinet, vel ad res, vel ad actiones. Certum est autem quod omnia iura respectu personarum prodierunt ideo dignum videtur a personarum iure exordium ceptê materiæ sumere, deindeque de duabus reliquis consuetudinarii iuris partibus (non directe quidem semper prêpostero tamen interdum ordine prout scilicet sequitur rerum in iudiciis emergentium series & condicio requirere dinoscitur) tractare & secundum hoc prêsens opusculum tripartiri dignum duxi.




Having finished, with God's help, the noteworthy matters with which it seemed necessary to preface this modest work, it remains now to treat the customs of this illustrious kingdom of Hungary in particular.
[1] Since every legal custom which we use always concerns either persons or things or actions, but it is certain that all laws were established for the benefit of persons, it seems proper to start the treatment of the matter at hand with the law of persons, and then to discuss the other two parts of customary law (not always in a direct order, however, but sometimes in a reversed one, as is required by the nature and pattern of issues coming before the courts). For this reason I thought it best to divide the present work into three parts.

[§2] IN prima siquidem eius parte de his quæ ad personarum rationem spectant, nobilitatis scilicet nostræ primordio libertate, bonorum iuriumque possessionariorum acquisitione, gubernatione, divisione, venditione, alienatione, concambiali permutatione, prêscriptione, pignoratione, metali reambulatione, iurium Quartaliciorum ac Dotaliciorum solutione, bonorumque mobilium & immobilium estimatione. [2] The first part of it is about matters concerning persons, namely: the ancient liberty of our nobility, and the acquisition, administration, division, sale, alienation, exchange, prescription, pledging and perambulation of boundaries of goods and property rights, the payment of the filial quarter and the dower, the estimation of movable and immovable goods.
[§3] IN secunda vero ipsius parte de rerum ac causarum prêtextu præmissorum bonorum & iurium possessionariorum aliorumque negociorum movendarum & suscitandarum processibus, & executionibus ac sententiarum exinde ferendarum seriebus. [3] The second part is about things and the processes of cases to be started and initiated regarding the aforementioned goods and property rights and other matters, as well as the executions and the kinds of judgments to be passed in consequence.
[§4] IN tertio tandem & ultimo opusculi membro, de causarum & actionum iudiciariarum in curiam regiam per viam appellationis ex omnibus regni comitatibus, atque de Croatia, Sclavonia & Transsilvania sedibusque spiritualibus deducendarum ac transmittendarum ordinibus & modis. Item de liberarum civitatum legibus, ac causis criminalibus & earum decisionibus, cum correquisitis semper & necessariis circa prêmissa materiis & rebus sua serie tractabitur. [4] Finally, the third and last part of the work is about the ways and the order of transferring and moving cases and legal actions by way of appeal into the royal court from all the counties of the realm, and also from Croatia, Slavonia, and Transylvania, and from the courts spiritual; then it will treat in proper order the laws of the free cities and criminal cases and how to decide them, always with those matters and things that are needed and required for the aforesaid subjects.
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pars secunda part two
De secunda parte iurium et consuetudinum regni in generali. Titulus primus SECOND PART OF THE RIGHTS AND CUSTOMS OF THE REALM, IN GENERAL

Titulus primus

Chapter one

Postquam favente deo de principalibus rebus iurium scilicet possessionariorum Donationibus earumque speciebus, necnon bonorum Divisionibus, Venditionibus, Impignorationibus, metarum distinctionibus, Dotalitiorum &  Quartalitiorum solutionibus & aliis ad ea spectantibus et annexis quibus utpote omnium dominorum prelatorum ac baronum magnatumque & nobilium fundatur exordium fulciturque dominium succincte dictum est: in hac iam SECUNDA parte huius opusculi de causarum & litium processibus & exequutionibus ac sententiarum super his ferendarum serie disserendum restat.

Now that (with God's help) the principal matters have been discussed succinctly, namely the donations of property rights, and their types; the divisions of goods, sales, pledges, the definition of borders, the payment of dowers and filial quarters; and other matters related and connected to these – which provide the basis and support of the lordship of all lords prelate, barons, magnates, and nobles: in the second part of this work it remains to treat about the procedures of actions and suits, about executions, and about the order of verdicts to be passed regarding these.

[§1] Sed antequam ad materiam specialem huius partis explanandam veniam quia constitutio regni huius plerumque interseri debebit ideo in generali qualiter constitutio seu generale decretum principis & regni interpretari debeat. Præterea unde consuetudo nostra seu lex non scripta qua hoc tempore communiter utimur initium et originem summat breviter præmittam. [1] But before I would turn to the explanation of the subject matter of this part, I will briefly discuss in general: how is the constitution, or a general decree of the prince and the kingdom has to be interpreted, because the term 'constitution of this kingdom' will often need to be mentioned; moreover, what is the beginning and origin of our custom, that is, the unwritten law which we commonly use at this time.

Titulus secundus

 Chapter two

CONstitutiones igitur principum sive decreta regni quatuor modis (prout occurrit) considerari possunt. The constitutions of princes, or the decrees of the kingdom, can be grouped in four kinds, as it comes to mind:
[§1] Quædam enim constitutiones sunt ex toto per posteriores abrogatê simpliciterque revocatê. [1] Some constitutions have been abrogated in toto by subsequent ones, and simply revoked.
[§2] Aliæ vero partim abolitê, partim approbatê. [2] Others have been partly abolished and partly approved.
[§3] Quêdam autem silentio preteritê [3] Some have been passed over in silence.
[§4] & quêdam introductê. [4] Some have been introduced.
[§5] In his igitur constitutionibus quê ex toto sunt deletê, sicuti iudicium Palatinale, Proclamata congregatio, iudicium Duelli & Trineforensis proclamatio attendendum est tempus abolitionis. Quia futuris & non preteritis causis ac negociis videntur legem imponere, ita quod decêtero non fiant huiusmodi iudicia Palatinalia & Duellorum dimicationes, neque proclamatê congregationes & Trineforenses proclamationes celebrentur. [5] In regard to constitutions deleted in toto (such as the court of the palatine, the extraordinary county assembly, trial by combat, and the summons at three fairs), the time of abolition must be considered, since it is clear that they legally regulate future and not past actions and matters, inasmuch as palatine courts and judicial combats will not take place any more, nor will extraordinary county assemblies and summons at three fairs be performed.
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pars tertia part three
De tertia parte iurium et consuetudinum regni in generali Third part of the laws and customs of the realm, in general

Titulus primus

Chapter one

ABsolutis auxiliante deo superius iudiciariis processibus & sententiarum speciebus atque diversitatibus curiæ regiæ, in hac iam tertia & ultima parte huius opusculi superest tractare de litium & causarum in ipsam curiam regiam per viam appellationis deducendarum atque transmittendarum seriebus. Having with God's help taken care of the judicial processes and the kinds and different sorts of sentences of the royal court, it remains in this third and last part of this work to treat of the order of suits and cases referred or brought by way of appeal to the royal court;
[§1] Et consequenter regnorum Dalmatiæ, Croaciæ & Sclavoniê atque Transsylvaniæ sacræ videlicet coronæ regni huius Hungariæ dudum subiectorum & incorporatorum consuetudinibus, a nostra lege parumper distantibus atque discrepantibus, de quibus plurimæ causê post finalem earum decisionem in dictam curiam regiam maturioris revisionis & evidentioris discussionis gratia transmitti consueverunt. [1] and, further, of the customs of the kingdoms of Dalmatia, Croatia, and Slavonia, as well as of Transylvania, which have long been subject to the holy crown of this kingdom of Hungary and incorporated thereinto, these being somewhat different from and at variance with our law; from where very many cases are commonly sent after their final sentence to the said royal court for the sake of more mature consideration and more detailed discussion;
[§2] Liberarum quoque civitatum legibus [2] and of the laws of the free cities;
[§3] & de modo impensionis iudicii ex parte colonorum & rusticorum nostrorum fieri consueti, prout in titulis subsequentibus patebit. [3] and how judgement is commonly passed in the case of villagers and peasants, as will be set out in the chapters which follow.

Titulus secundus

 Chapter two

Utrum quilibet populus vel comitatus possit per se condere statuta

Can any people or any county establish statutes on its own?

QUia leges et dudum approbatæ consuetudines prædictorum regnorum Dalmatiæ, Croaciæ, Sclavoniæ & Transsylvaniê certis in terminis & articulis a nostræ patriæ regni scilicet huius Hungariæ legibus & consuetudinibus discrepare, Nonnulli etiam comitatus distinctim ac seperatim ab aliis comitatibus immo etiam ab ipsa curia regia certas consuetudines, utcunque inductas loco legum observare videntur; Because we see that the long-established laws and customs of the aforesaid kingdoms of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, and [of] Transylvania in certain terms and articles are at variance with the laws of our country, namely this kingdom of Hungary, and that some counties, independently and separately of other counties or even of the royal court, observe certain customs introduced in whatever ways in place of laws,
[§1] Ideo quæritur: Utrum quilibet populus vel comitatus aut quêlibet civitas possit per se & seorsum facere statuta? DICENdum quod nullus populus & nulla universitas potest condere statuta, quæ non habet iurisditionem propriam, sed alterius subest dominio, nisi cum consensu sui superioris. Et hoc quoque in casibus, qui iuri divino & humano præiudicari non dinoscuntur. Ita quod statuta ipsa iniquum aliquid salutique contrarium non contineant, neque iuribus aliorum palam derogare prêiudiciumque inferre videantur. [1] the question arises: can any people or county, or any city, by its own and separately establish statutes? The answer is that no people, and no corporation which does not have its own jurisdiction but is subject to the authority of another, can establish statutes except with the consent of its superior. And this only in cases which are known not to be prejudicial to human and divine right, so that the statutes do not appear to contain anything unjust or contrary to salvation nor do they obviously hurt or prejudice the rights of others.
[§2] Unde licet Dalmatini, Croatienses, Slavonienses & Transsilvanenses in Homagiorum & Birsagiorum solutionibus: aliisque certis causarum processibus & terminorum observationibus (sicuti infra clarius dicetur) alia & alia consuetudine a nostra longe discrepante utantur utendique & fruendi habeant authoritatem, & inter se modo quoque illis simile aliquid de consensu principis statuere & ordinare possint. Contra tamen generalia statuta & decreta regni huius Hungariæ & contra iudicia iudiciariasque deliberationes super facto bonorum & iurium possessionariorum in curia regia per iudices ordinarios administrari solita celebrarique & pronunciari consuetas nil quicquam constituere possunt nullamque statuendi habent facultatem. [2] Hence, although the Dalmatians, Croatians, Slavonians, and Transylvanians have various customs at variance with our law regarding the payment of man-price and fines and in certain other legal processes and in the observing of (judicial) terms (as will be explained more clearly below), and have the right to use and enjoy these customs, and are allowed, even now, with the prince’s consent to make statutes and ordinances among themselves on similar matters; nevertheless they cannot establish any law and have no right to make statutes in contravention of general statutes and decrees of this kingdom of Hungary or against sentences and judicial decisions in cases of goods and property rights which are usually made, passed and pronounced in the royal court by justices ordinary.
[§3] Et in huius documentum atque signum universæ causæ super facto iurium possessionariorum in medio eorum motæ finitis inibi causis in curiam regiam, tanquam scilicet locum interrogatorium gratia sanioris & maturioris revisionis: examinationisque & discussionis transmitti consueverunt. [3] The token and proof of this is that all the cases initiated among them involving property rights, once the case is decided there, are customarily referred to the royal court as a place of inquiry, as it were, for the sake of sounder and more mature revision, examination, and discussion.
[§4] Ubi quicquid deliberatum & conclusum fuerit ratum semper erit atque firmum Banali vel Waywodali deliberatione non obstante. [4] There anything decided and concluded will always be valid and unchangeable, notwithstanding the decision of the ban or voivod.
[§5] SIC etiam in diversis comitatibus diversas constitutiones super agrorum, pratorum, silvarum & fluviorum custodia vel molendinorum statu atque proventibus & aliis eiuscemodi rebus immo & terminorum ac processuum observationibus, ut scilicet hic breviori & ibi longiori processu causa in sede iudiciaria comitatus coram comite parochiali mota terminetur sana inter sese deliberatione præhabita facere quidem & stabilire possunt. Generali tamen decreto totius regni atque vetustæ & approbatæ consuetudini curiæ regiê in iudiciis observari (ut præmittitur) solitê prêiudicare ac derogare nusquam possunt. [5] And likewise, in different counties they can make and establish different regulations, after having sound deliberation among them, concerning the guarding of fields, meadows, woodlands, and rivers, or the status and income of mills, and other such matters, and even the observation of judicial terms and processes, so that a case initiated before the ispán of the county may be concluded in a short suit at one county judiciary seat and in a protracted one at another. Nevertheless, they can never prejudice or derogate from the general decree of the whole realm or the ancient and approved custom of the royal court that (as aforesaid) is observed in court cases.
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Conclusio Conclusion