Magdeburg law was adopted in large parts of Central and especially Eastern Europe. This network of cities steadily expanded as numerous rights were granted throughout the entire Middle Ages and the early modern era. It primarily spread in the territory of the present-day countries of Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine as well as the present-day German states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. What is more, Magdeburg law and the Sachsenspiegel were also adopted and incorporated in municipal and comprehensive legal systems.

Magdeburg law began spreading beyond the “mother city” in the mid-12th century. Stendal, Leipzig und Jüterbog are the first cities known to have adopted Magdeburg law. The final city assumed to have been endowed with Magdeburg law was the then-Russian city of Poltava now in present-day Ukraine in 1752. By then, Magdeburg law had spread as far as the Neva in the north of the Baltic region, as far as the Dnieper in present-day Ukraine, and to Hermannstadt/Sibiu in present-day Romania.

The spread of Magdeburg law established close ties among municipal laws. Other local versions emerged within this network of cities. The Polish Duchy of Silesia played a significant mediating role in the reception of Magdeburg law in Eastern Europe. Magdeburg law had been granted to such cities as Goldberg/Złotoryja (1211), Neumarkt/Środa Śląska (1235) and Breslau/Wrocław (1261) in the 13th century. The Neumarkt and Breslau lay judges’ benches in particular spread the municipal law into Lesser Poland. Magdeburg law was adopted in Krakow when it was founded anew in 1257. The Kulmer Handfeste (Kulm Law), the charter of the cities of Thorn/Toruń and Kulm/Chełmno (both in 1233), was instrumental in the spread of Magdeburg law in State of the Teutonic Order. Magdeburg law continued migrating eastward in the ensuing centuries.

Other prominent examples are:

In present-day Poland:
Stettin/ Szczecin (1243)
Krakow / Kraków (1257)
Danzig/ Gdańsk (1295)

In present-day Hungary:
Ofen/ Buda (now part of Budapest) (mid-15th cent.)

In present-day Russia:
Königsberg/ Калинингра́д (1286)

In the present-day Czech Republic:
Leitmeritz/ Litoměřice (1262)
Prague(so-called “Lesser Town”)/ Praha (1257)
Pilsen/ Plzeň (1295)

In present-day Slovakia:
Sillein/ Žilina (mid-14th cent)
Leutschau/ Levoča (1370)

In present-day Lithuania:
Wilna/ Vilnius (1387)
Kaunas (1408)

In present-day Ukraine
Kiev / Київ (zwischen 1492/97)
Lemberg/ Львів (1356)
Tarnopol/ Тернопіль (1548)

In present-day Belarus:
Minsk/ Мiнск (1499)
Brest/ Брэст (1390)


Rolf Lieberwirth: Einführung oder Rezeption? Mittelalterliches Recht in slawischen Herrschaftsgebieten. Das Beispiel: Polen, in: Rechts- und Sprachtransfer in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Sachsenspiegel und Magdeburger Recht. Internationale und interdisziplinäre Konferenz in Leipzig vom 31. Oktober bis 2. November 2003 (Ivs saxonico-maidebvrgense in oriente, 1). Ed. by Ernst Eichler, Heiner Lück. Berlin 2008, p. 167 ff.

Heiner Lück: Die Verbreitung des Sachsenspiegels und des Magdeburger Rechts in Osteuropa, in: Der sassen speyghel. Sachsenspiegel – Recht – Alltag, Vol 2.  Ed. by Mamoun Fansa. Oldenburg 1995, p. 37 ff.
Heiner Lück: Sachsenspiegel und Magdeburger Recht. Europäische Dimensionen zweier mitteldeutscher Rechtsquellen (Adiuvat in itinere V). Hamburg 1998.