Lay Judges and the Lay Judges’ Bench

Schöffen or lay judges are individuals who administer justice. In the Middle Ages, they were also occupied with governance. The term Schöffe denotes an assesor and is derived from the Germanic word skapjan, meaning rule in the legal sense. In the Germanic era, mediation and the administration of justice were the responsibility of the entire... read more

Magdeburg (History of the City)

The history of the present-day capital of the state of Saxony-Anhalt began in the Carolingian era. The first mention of Magdeburg dates to 805, appearing as Magadoburg in Charlemagne’s Capitulary of Diedenhofen. At that time, Magdeburg was a center of long-distance trade and an outpost to the Slavic territories east of the Elbe. A sustained... read more

Municipal Law (General)

Medieval municipal law comprised the rules of law in force in a city, which normally consisted of a collection of privileges granted externally and rules laid down internally. The existence and validity of a specific law differing from the law of the surrounding region is one of a medieval city’s most important features. Inevitably granted... read more


The Sachsenspiegel is both a record of medieval Saxon customary law and the first major work of German prose. It is considered to be the most significant medieval law book. It is believed to have been authored by the legal expert Eike von Repgow, whose family settled in the vicinity of the village of Reppichau... read more

Weichbild (Weichbildrecht) and Sächsisches Weichbild

The term Weichbild (municipal jurisdiction), stemming from the Middle Low German word wikbelde, spread into Northern and Central Germany from the 12th century onward. The word element wik refers to pre-urban origins and means something like village, estate or independent settlement. It frequently appears in place names, e.g. Brunswik (Braunschweig). The root word bild, in... read more