dinsdag, juni 25, 2019

BOOK: Axel Gotthard on the autonomisation of political and legal discourse, and on the Holy Roman Empire

(image source: Boehlau Verlag)

When reading and writing on neutrality, legal historians tend to venture mainly into scholarship produced by lawyers or historians of political thought. A certain illusion of comprehensiveness is engendered by the dominance of English-speaking scholarship in relatively short monographs (300 pages) or articles in peer reviewed-journals. Complex factual questions are often left aside. Virtuosity is mostly exercised on a theoretical level. Of course, this entails advantages: the field witnesses many debates present in social sciences (Empire/world history, postcolonial studies, gender...), from which genuine methodological and theoretical innovations can be borrowed and adapted to more traditional sources. Alongside of this, some scholars continue to publish large-scale studies, based on years and years of thorough primary source-work.

The concept of medius in bello (a third party not involved in an armed conflict between belligerents) has repercussions on trade and self-defence. A neutral state is obliged to treat belligerents even-evenhandedly. In return, the neutral state can continue pre-existing trade with the belligerents, and even expand its previous market share, since bilateral trade between belligerents has stopped at the declaration of war (or the start of the conflict). Neutral ships cannot be stopped and searched by military ships or privateers... at least according to smaller states. A neutral state should not allow its territory or maritime area being used by belligerents, and should thus provide a credibly defense against outside aggression. Finally, neutrality can come across as immoral, in those cases where one of the belligerent parties is seen as defending a manifestly just cause (e.g. coming to the rescue of an oppressed or starving population). However, this moral character of war is controversial, subjective and ambiguous. The very possibility to declare oneself neutral is a contested concept. The legitimacy of war is partly embedded in positive law, but belongs to the realm of political philosophy or theology for the major part of Western history. 

Of course, the study of the Spanish Neoscholastics, Gentili, Hobbes, Grotius, Vattel, Montesquieu, Locke, Kant... is an art in itself. Yet, the more subtler the literature becomes, the less it tends to become relevant for the study of law as it was applied by the relevant political actors. Academics writing on past academics for the benefit of present or future academics only tell us a part of the story. The same applies to moral or theological investigations, in themselves relevant to grasp the interdisciplinary (mutual) influence between law and the study of the scripture (from a Catholic, Lutheran or Calvinist point of view). To what extent does this inform us on practice ? Did conscience put identifiable breaks on a sovereign's animus belligerandi ?

The studies examining the birth of neutrality through a 'bottom-up'-approach, combining political and diplomatic considerations behind closed doors (arcana principis), with legal doctrine, theology and pamphlets are relatively rare. Maritime neutrality has drawn the major part of scholarly interest. The monograph of Eric Schnakenbourg (Entre la guerre et la paix, PUR, 2013, which I reviewed for Pro Memorie in 2015) and the collective volume Neutres et neutralité dans l'espace atlantique durant le long XVIIIe siècle (Les Perséides, 2017) are excellent examples of recent scholarship. In an analysis of complaints by merchants during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (published in Legatio in 2017), I explained the striking differences between the formal-legal status of an early modern conflict and the labels used by both private and public actors.

On the side of history of political and economic thought, the volumes of Antonella Alimento on seventeenth century neutrality (which I reviewed for the Journal of the History of International Law) and the volume co-edited by Antonella Alimento and Koen Stapelbroek on 18th century commercial treaties (which I reviewd for the Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire, forthcoming) provide fine examples of the creative nexus between economics, politics, administration and law.

However, the monography of Axel Gotthard, Der liebe und werthe Fried: Kriegskonzepte und Neutralitätsvorstellungen in der Frühen Neuzeit [Forschungen zur kirchlichen Rechtsgeschichte und zum Kirchenrecht; 32] delves into the theoretical foundations of neutrality, by treating the Thirty Years' War and the various expressions of war in a myriad of pamphlets and primary sources. This book thoroughly explores certain aspects at which I could only hint, or which were the product of an intuition when examining the Franco-British stabilisation of international relations after 1713, or Belgian permanent neutrality between 1830 and 1914 (see my contributions in The Legal History Review, Cahiers du CRHiDI and Journal of Belgian History). 

1. Neutrality and the Holy Roman Empire: "Neutralitas est Germanorum pestis?"

Gotthard considers that neutrality had been 'verdichtet' as 'Völkerrechtstitel' before the 18th century, but seeks for the decline of a 'Sündendiskurs' (sin discourse), which associated neutrality with forsaking either one's feudal loyalty and honour towards the Emperor [e.g. in the Schmalkaldischer Bund-war (p. 188), exemplified by the maxim 'qui non possint esse Neutrales: Subditi ac Vasalli' (p. 847), or by the idea that princes of the Empire choosing neutrality, made in reality a secessio (p. 848)], or one's moral duty to assist belligerents with an evidently just cause (p. 186) (see further down this post (2)). The position of the Emperor, who would cling on to his prodominium until well in the 18th century, was -of course- unfavourable towards neutrality. Gotthard gives the examples of the Elector Palatinate, negotiating with Louis XIV during the Dutch War on neutrality, leaving room for the 'approbatio' by the Emperor of his neutrality.

(emperor Leopold I by von Block; source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Imperial chancery qualified voluntary neutrality by a member of the Empire of 'separatio', 'Abtretung der allgemeinen Sach', incompatible with the 'bono Imperii publico' (p. 850). As Gotthard rightly states, the Emperor did not address this kind of writings to a 'Völkerrechtssubjekt' (subject of public international law), but to one of his vassals (Ibid.), of whom he expected submission and obedience. Of course, in specific conflicts, such as the Dutch War (1672-1678), where the Emperor's interests and those of the members of the Empire were the same, neutrality had become a Reizwort (causing a substantial emotional stir) in Regensburg (where the Permanent Imperial Diet assembled) as well as in Vienna: 'es könne doch keine Gleichheit zwischen dem reich und dessen Feiden gemacht werden' (p. 853). However, the ambiguous nature of Habsburg interests created situations whereby the Emperor was suspected of acting on behalf of the House of Habsburg, and not of the Empire as a whole. Gotthard refers to a Neuer Friedens-Curier (1673), wherein it is stated that Emperor Leopold I (1640-1705) had his eyes on the Spanish Low Countries, convinced that French encirclement would prevent the Spanish branch of the House from keeping them, but only 'um seines eignen Interesse' (p. 854). 

Neutrality was excluded when the Imperial Diet had pronounced a Reichskrieg (e.g. in 1734 in the War of the Polish Succession, against objections by the Electors of Bavaria and Saxony, who wished to remain neutral). Yet, would feudal law have obliged imperial vassals to remain neutral when this approbation was lacking ? Gotthard rightfully argues that more research is required for the 'Bermudadreieck Neutralität/Reichssystem/Lehnsverbund' (p. 859). Sanctions for felony, such as the Reichsacht (Ban of the Empire, e.g. earlier on this blog on Joseph I's decision in 1706) clash with the idea of the Holy Roman Empire as a political system, consisting (in Pufendorf's words monstro simile...) of subjects not subjected to anybody else, but still members of a common corpus (p. 860), halfway between municipal law and the law of nations. Textor's opinion (Synopsis Iuris Gentium, 1680, see below), according to which neutrality could only be created through a treaty, was subject to the overlord's consent. However, cases of emergency, whereby a vassal would be at risk of ruin in case of a conflict between two other sovereigns, allowed to forego this approval. 

However, wouldn't the 'Hypertrophy' of Staatsräson and individual state sovereignty have weakened the Reichsbindungen ? (p. 860). Gotthard cites interpretations of the famous article VIII §2 of the Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis, which granted members of the Empire the right to conclude treaties (Ius foederis), as long as they did not violate the Peace of the Empire (Reichsfrieden). Was neutrality a 'beneficium', which needed to be granted by the Emperor, as a logical corollary of the latter's status as Caput Imperii, or, quite the contrary, would it have been included in the principal freedom of members of the Empire ? In 1756, a pro-Austrian pamphlet described the war waged by Maria Theresia against Frederick the Great of Prussia as a Reichsexekution, whereby neutrality was not allowed, or a 'wissent- und beflissentliche Absagung des Reichs-Ständischen Schuldigkeit', a position adopted by the Imperial Diet on 17 January 1757 (p. 863).

After citing Glafey ('keinem Stand neutral zu verbleiben vergönnet') and Vogt (cogi possunt, et opoertet, ut militem in matricula IMperii vel comitiis assignatum) a 1793 Repertorium des Teutschen Staats- und Lehnrechts is mobilized to highlight the reciprocal nature of the feudal relationship (p. 864). The set of arguments is very similar to Spanish arguments I detected at the Congress of Cambrai (on the question whether don Carlos, son of Philip V and Elisabeth Farnese, ought to be seen as a 'vasallus', or a 'vasallus ligus', the Spanish court interpreting 'vassallagium' favourably, positioning the vassal in a relationship of equals with the Empire). If a member of the Empire does not have the possibility to remain neutral in case of an attack on the Emperor or other members, this relationship is 'reciprok' (sic, p. 864):
'eben so weinig, wie der Vasall es dulden darf, dass das Leben, die Ehre, die Güter seines Lehnsherrn angegriffen werden, eben so wenig darf auch der Lehnsherr seinen Vasallen angreifen lassen'
[A vassal cannot tolerate that life, honour or goods belonging to his overlord are being attacked. Conversely, the latter cannot allow an attack on his vassal]
In other words, the feudal system of the Empire could also be explained as a collective security-agreement. Yet, the essential step here was the oath of loyalty to 'dem Kaiser und dem heiligen Reiche getreu, hold, gehorsam und gewärtig seyn' [to be loyal, steadfast, obedient and reliable towards the Emperor and the Holy [Roman] Empire]. In other words, 'Neutralät fügt sich am besten in eine polyzentrische horizontale Ordnung' [Neutrality functions in a polycentric horizontal order], 

2. Secularisation and political neutrality

The author is not unfamiliar with topoi of legal doctrine concerning just war. The hypothesis tested in his book is that of secularisation. Just war-discourse (bellum iustum) is transformed by theologians and preachers in to that of Holy War (bellum necessarium). On the Catholic side, religious arguments are used to present the Peace of Augsburg (1555) as a mere expedient of 'external law', violating the will of God (i.e. the triumph of Catholic order). Protestant arguments, by contrasts, portray the Jesuits as an international maffia ('blutdurstiger Jesuit'), likened to 'terrorists' by the author. Both sides' 'bösartigen Verdrehungen des Religionsfriedens' (p. 200) were 'Ursache wie Anlass' of the Thirty Years' War. Belligerents accused their opponents of giving in to 'den gottlosen Ratschlägen Macchiavellis'. Neutrality was 'unehrenhaft", or sometimes "pure stultitia" (p. 487). 'Godless' ragione di stato (read: compromising with infidels) was a mutual topos with 'extremist' 'Schreibtischextremisten'  [writing desk-extremists] (p. 202). Yet, how could a peace agreement function without 'Grundvertrauen in die Verlässlichkeit des Verhandlungspartners' ? Gotthard thinks 'alle Wegbereiter säkularer politischer Ordnungsstiftung" necessarily developed interesting an reasoning on neutrality, since both are linked (p. 441, footnote 171).

(image: the 1555 Augsburg Diet; source: Wikimedia Commons)

However, and this is a crucial, central point, to which I entirely subscribe, political order and moral justification are two utterly distinct concepts. The author rightly points to the partial reception of bellum iustum-doctrine in Vattel (1758) or Glafey (1723). Both authors consider that in most cases, both belligerents can be found to be reasonably fighting with a causa iusta. The priority lay not with 'Iustitia', but with 'Pax', or, in German: 'Ruhe und Ordnung' (p. 868). Peace was the 'Abwesenheit physischer Gewalt'. It did not mean 'Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit', but 'Ruhe und Stabilität'.

Yet, where, when and why did this transformation happen ? In my own dissertation, focusing on French and British diplomatic correspondence after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), I noted that religious arguments did not play a big part, or even hardly a part at all, in debates on international order (I was criticized for this in a review, but I don't see a reason to change this point of view... quod non est in scriptis, non est in mundo; the assertion does not apply to sources not treated). In 1718, James Craggs (Secretary of State for the Southern Department) wrote an impressive dispatch to abbot Dubois and the French Regent, emphasising that religious (domestic) arguments were irrelevant when it came to the relationship between France and Britain (see my discussion of this letter in The Legal History Review, 2013). 

A decade later, Cardinal Fleury, French Prime minister from 1726 to 1743, stated in a conversation with Horatio Walpole (British ambassador in Paris, brother of Prime Minister Robert Walpole) that the faith of treaties, even concluded with infidels, was sacred. It was impossible to engage in political agreements (ergo: to conclude treaties) when a difference of religion would be seen as a sufficient reason to part. Conversely, Vattel denies that a difference of religion would constitute a causa iusta to start a war. Yet, since bellum iustum-theory was grounded in moral -and thus religious- considerations, these factual assertions also had broader implications.

In his study, Axel Gotthard repeatedly applies sound historical criticism to sources often over-exploited, or cited for the sake of their grammatical or lexical qualities. It is evident -even to an undergraduate students- that many pamphlets were of a subjective nature, only intended to convince one's own partisans. The same goes for declarations of war, as I demonstrated in History of European Ideas in 2016, by using the War of the Quadruple Alliance and the War of the Polish Succession.
To quote Gotthard: 'Um die plausibele Annahme zu erhärten, dass in konfessionnellen Kampfschriften (gar solchen theologischer Provenienz) anders und hitziger argumentiert wurde als in der Ratsstube, genügt ein Tag im Archiv' (p. 172)
[To strengthen the plausible hypothesis according to which confessional polemical combat writings (not in the last place those from a theological origin) argued differently, and in more excited terms as was done in the prince's advisory rooms... it is sufficient to spend a single day in the archives !]
Gotthard contrasts the work of legal advisers to render coexistence 'handhabbar' through the Peace of Augsburg (1555) with the relative inaction of theologians (from all confessions) to diminish the 'Kluft' between confessions (p. 871). The author suggests that political writers/lawyers, 'Ancillae Theologiae' (p. 874) only gradually acquired their autonomy vis-à-vis theologians, whereas the latter considered temporary peace treaties to be nothing but 'Gottloser Friedt vnnd mit Sünden vermengt vnnd besudelt'. Biblical precedents are invoked, e.g. that of Moses, who could not turn down God's invitation to lead the people of Israel out of slavery (p. 414).

Protestants, on the other hand, saw a danger in dividing their own side: "Bäpstlern, Neutralisten, Zweyfflern, vnnd Temporisirern" are the cause of all havoc (p. 417). Neutrality would equal slowness and laziness ("zagheit, trägheit, vnd faulkeit") and is seen as a synonym of "Heuchlerei" [hypocrisy] (p. 422) or of "Heuchlerischen lästerlichen Neutralität" [hypocritical and slanderous neutrality]. For Protestants and Catholics alike, God was said to have "hated" neutrality in the choice between "GOTT" and "den Teufel" (p. 423). Gotthard also delved into English texts contemporary to the Thirty Years' War, and found the following statement in a writing called Neutrality condemned (1643, p. 424):
"It is observable, that things of the Neuter Gender are without life; and where either side is for God, it argues small life in him, that is, at that time, neither hot nor cold, neither for God nor Baal [...] [These men] could be content to be an Hermaphrodite or same Monster of Men [...] The Neutralist is a Sceptique in his opinion, as well as in his resolution [...] A sluggard indeed, that will choose rather to lye still upon his hard bed, then rise to have it made the softer."
The logical apotheosis of this litany of injuries comes in 1663 in a Sermon against Neutrality:
"Neutrality in the Substantials of Religion differs not from Atheism."
Gotthard sees this heated and polarised religious criticism of neutrality soften during the wars of Louis XIV (1667-1714), e.g. citing Leibniz's idea that the princes of the Empire ought to constitute a neutral alliance, and not take part in outside quarrels, "neutral, unpartheyisch, indifferent und billig [...] von niemand mit grund getadelt werden, viel weniger enige jalousie erwecken", praising Swiss neutrality during the Dutch War (1672-1678): "ein unpartheyisches Vrtheil Auss dem Parnasso".

On the other hand, the difficult neutrality of the Prince-bishopric of Liège, which could not prevent French military raids, leads other voices to opt for a partisan attitude in order to shield oneself from the dangers of war (p. 430). Neutrals would only become the victims of the conflict's victorious party ("La malheureuse victime du vainqueur, qui sacrifie ce faux Politique [sic] à sa colere [sic]" (p. 431; for Lipsius: "praeda victoris", p. 441). The case of the voluntary neutrality of the Duchy of Württemberg during the Thirty Years' War, powerless against the troops of Tilly (1559-1632), "nicht besser als die turken selbsten" (p. 663), is another illustration. Or, to sum up this strand of arguments (p. 435):
"wer kan länger Friede haben, als ihm sein bosshaftiger Nachbar lassen will ?"
In any case, criticism of neutrality is said to have shifted away from the religious idiom of the Thirty Years' War: "Die Neutralisten, oder Stillsitzer, oder frembden Potentaten Anhänger und Bediente" are likened to "Staats- und Reichs-Criminalisten", who renounce to "dem Vatterlande mit Gut und Blut beystehen" (p. 436), but not to sinners. If French expansion constitutes a motive of alliances, neutrals are loathed following calculations of interest and power, or an abhorrence of Universal Monarchy, not necessarily linked to religion (p. 432). Another criticism is that of the neutral power as a 'Profiteur" (p. 434), as I encountered equally in Franco-British resentment against the Dutch Republic, which had not participated in the War of the Quadruple Alliance against Philip V. Gotthard cites a pamphlet from 1676 (p. 435), stating that:
"Die einfältigen Kühmelcker, die Schweitzer, solten bilig unsere Anweiser in den politischen Strichen sein [...] Sie bleiben fein in ihren Klippen und Felsen wohnen, und wissen sich beyder Partheyen Geld wol zu Nutze zu machen... O hätten wir Schwaben ein gleichmässiges gethan, wir wären in unser Einfalt glückselig geblieben!"
The contrast between an external message (pamphlet, declaration of war...) and diplomatic archival sources is evident. Again, in Gotthard's words:
'[dass] Zahlreiche im Reich verlegte Flugschriften Andersgläubige für nicht geschäftsfähig erklärten, da sie etwaige interkonfessionelle Vereinarbarungen sowieso nicht als sie bindend akzeptieren; doch ist mir kein für die damalige Reichspolitik relevanter Entscheidungsträger bekannt, der diese Schreibtischparole ebenfalls vertregen hätte'
[Many pamphlets published in the Empire stated that people from a different confession could not enter into valid and binding peace agreements, since interconfessional would not be accepted as binding in any way. Yet, I don't know a single decision maker, relevant for Imperial politics at that time, who should have defended this kind of writing-desk-theories.] 
The author suggests that a thorough 'reception history' of ratio status (raison d'état, ragione di stato) is still on the table. Whereas the works of inter alios Michael Stolleis are praised, it is suggested that archival material is still waiting (I equally take the liberty to refer to Lucien Bély's Les secrets de Louis XIV, which I reviewed for Comparative Legal History in 2014).

In that respect, it is interesting to note that Gotthard does not downplay the continuity between Jean Bodin (see my review of Howell Lloyd's biography in the Revue Belge de Philologie et d'Histoire, 2017) and Justus Lipsius. Both authors emphasize that Roman history demonstrates that neutrality is "media via, nulla" (p. 443). Yet, Bodin sees neutrality as a sound option for powerful princes, or princes capable of defending themselves against aggression:
"Celuy qui demeure neutre, trouvera bien souvent le moyen d'appaiser les ennemis: en se maintenant en l'amitié de tous, emportera grace et honneur des uns et des autres. Et si tous les Princes sont liguez les uns contre les autres, qui sera moyenneur de la paix ? Davantage il semble qu'il n'y a moyen plus grand de maintenir son estat en sa grandeur, que voir ses voisins se ruïner les uns par les autres."
Gotthard tackles legal doctrine from Grotius on, after a thorough analysis of pamphletary literature. He finds Grotius' attention devoted to neutrality unsatisfactory, notes the presence of the word "neutrality" in major treaty collections (e.g. as my students will recall from their exam last week, Du Mont) and then turns to the Strasburg lawyer Johann Heinrich Böckler (1611-1672). In a general work (Libellus de quiete in turbis), this author states that neutrality is not rare, but should be formally declared, in order to inform belligerents. Could we derive a right to be neutral from this factual state of affairs ? Böckler identifies a theoretical right, but subject to factual limitations by the belligerents. Forbidding trespass on neutral territory depends on their consent, or their reluctance to force transit. The ius necessitatis, or ratio belli trumps the neutral's rights.

The next author treated is Johann Wolfgang Textor (latinised form of Weber, 1638-1701), who only recognised conventional neutrality (i.e. neutrality granted by the belligerents to a smaller power, e.g. Louis XIV and Speyer, p. 654). The recognition of neutrality is dependent on all belligerents' consent. The treaty whereby a belligerent grants neutrality to a third power should respect the principle of equidistance between the neutral power and each belligerent. Consequently, a situation of genuine neutrality is hard to reach.

Only 18th century treatises make the decisive step, recognising the factual reality of a wide-spread practice of unilateral, self-declared neutrality. Adam Friedrich Glafey (1692-1753), whose contribution to the Theatrum Praetensionium Historicum was eagerly translated by Jean Rousset de Missy (see earlier on this blog), clearly stated that every sovereign had the right to remain neutral, and could not be forced by belligerents to opt for this position (p. 479). Even more, in certain cases, a ruler could be obliged by circumstances to declare his neutrality (p. 488). Gotthard sees Bynkershoek's Quaestionum Iuris Publici Libri Duo as a decisive point in the evolution, achieving the recognition of unilateral, "weder vertraglich fixierte noch irgend in feierliche Form gebrauchte Neutralitätsbekundungen" (p. 480). Gotthard argues that Bynkershoek did not treat the "right to neutrality", which would be insufficient for a PhD student. Yet, since the master thinks neutrality to be self-evident, and since he uses the Thirty Years' War to construct his practical reasoning, rather than "antiken Autoritäten", the work becomes a milestone and an illustration of a deep and long evolution in practical politics.

Christian Wolff (1679-1754), whose work constituted a major source of inspiration for Vattel, is characterised as of "little use" for contemporary politics. Wolff restricted the use of force to cases whereby the opponent had declined mediation or arbitration of the "Völkergemeinschaft", and continued to restrict neutrality to cases whereby a convention allowed for it.


Similar reflections could be made for those who qualify balance-of-power thinking and discourse as the consequence of early 18th century confessional opposition, whereby Europe would unite against the spectre of Catholic domination. The main actors had moved well beyond that. There was no link between heated political/religious arguments and diplomatic negotiations, which aim at compromise, order and the protection of material interests.

Gotthard pleads to look for sources in (p. 173):
'innere Beratungsprotokolle [...], den öffentlichen Deutungskrieg wie seinen Niederschlag in den Ratstuben beobachten, und genau an diesen Schnitstellen, zwischen Bibliothek und Archiv, Gelehrten- und Ratsstube, publizistischen Meinungskampf und Meinungsbildung der Entscheidungsträger'
[Internal deliberation records [...], the public explanation war, as well as its transposition in the deliberation room, and especially at this intersection, between library and archive, between the office of scholars and of statesmen, between the battle for public opinion and the genesis of decision makers' convictions]
Gotthard challenges the idea that even for the 'most pious' 17th-century princes, religious zealoutry could override 'schlaue [...] Interessenpolitik' (p. 183). Even if the double use of religion as 'Legitimitätsgenerator und Disziplinierungsmittel' (for domestic matters) and 'Mobilisierungsfaktor' (for external factors) was evident, models of 'Confessionalisation' as dominant factor ('Leitkategorie') in 17th century international relations have the primary merit of a hypothesis, to be challenged by thorough archival work (p. 184). Religious polarisation led to the depiction of neutrals as 'Bestien, Monstri, Mörder' (p. 201), which forfeited their moral duty to exterminate religious opponents ('aussrotten, vertilgen, extirpare', ibid.).


This book is the product of a relative (but increasingly rarer) freedom for an author to delve into primary sources, and let the sources speak for themselves. The work does not deliver a final or comprehensive theory in answer to the research questions asked, but this is not necessary. Of course, certain sections can come across as repetitive, and it takes a while to read 964 pages. But who cares, really ? A good scientific work provides ample evidence to make readers think, and preferably doubt of their previously acquired general image of a period or subject. Gotthard indicates to doubt of many influential studies' generalisations on early modern war and peace. This is exactly what a researcher should do. Stimulating uncertainty and new interrogations, building on archival material and predecessors' work, not delivering ready-made simplistic answers. "It's complicated" is often a representative and loyal description of what happened in reality in the past, just as it is today. We should not be afraid to say so when we write on it... 

(see Table of Contents here)

woensdag, juni 05, 2019

OPENING REMARKS: XXVth Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians, "Identity, Citizenship and Legal History" (Brussels: Academy Palace, 5 JUN 2019)

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

I had the honour to address the plenary assembly of the XXVth Annual Forum of Young Legal Historians, organised by the VUB (CORE), ULB (CHDAJ) and the Université Saint-Louis (CRHiDI), with the generous support of the VUB's Hoover Fund and Doctoral School of Humanities, the VUB's Faculty of Law and Crimninology (Emeriti Fund), the FWO, the FNRS, the Committee for Legal History of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for the Arts and Sciences and the Young Academy and the CRHiDI. The opening remarks introduced the keynote lectures by Prof. dr. Thomas Duve (Co-Director of the MPI for European Legal History), Prof. dr. Lauren Benton (President-Elect of the American Society for Legal History) and Prof. dr. Simona Cerutti (EHESS, Paris).

We are proud of our CORE PhD-students C.M. in 't Veld, Stephanie Plasschaert and Wouter De Rycke, who took the initiative to attract this established event in the world of legal history to Brussels.

The text of my opening remarks can be read here.

zaterdag, juni 01, 2019

CONFERENCE PAPER: "Le théâtre de la guerre et l’art de la paix: la défaite française près d’Audenarde du 11 juillet 1708" [Société d'histoire du droit et des institutions des pays flamands, picards et wallons: La Vie et la Mort] (Audenarde: Black Nuns' Convent, 1 JUN 2019)

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

I had the honour to address the Société d'histoire du droit et des institutions des pays flamand, picards et wallons in Audenarde on 1 June 2019.


La guerre conditionna à l’époque moderne la vie et la mort des hommes. Les Pays-Bas espagnols furent durement touchés. Le mythe de la « Belgique champ de bataille de l’Europe », utilisé par les historiens au XIXe siècle, n’était certainement pas infondé. Cependant, il convient de rentrer dans les facteurs structurants de l’action étatique des puissances étrangères, afin de mieux saisir leur conception des Pays-Bas Espagnols comme objet, plutôt que comme acteur des relations internationales (de Vault & Pelet 1835-1862 ; Legrelle 1888-1892 ; von Noorden 1870-1882 ; Kirchhammer 1885 ; Churchill 2002 [1933]). Je me permets à cet égard de revenir sur des travaux publiés antérieurement (Dhondt, 2011A) pour articuler les dimensions militaire et diplomatique de la campagne militaire de 1708. La « journée d’Audenarde » du 11 juillet 1708 fut célébrée par les puissances maritimes et l’Empereur comme une défaite française éclatante (Lachaert 2008 ; Dhondt 2010). Trois mille morts et environ le même nombre de blessés tombèrent autour de la « Bloedbeek », à quelques kilomètres d’Audenarde, une importante place sur l’Escaut (Dhondt 1999). Quelques mois plus tard, Marlborough et Eugène de Savoie s’emparèrent de Lille. L’hiver effroyable de 1708-1709 leur offrit Bruges et Gand. Cependant, aucun de ces faits militaires permirent à la coalition autour de Charles de Habsbourg d’emporter la Guerre de Succession d’Espagne (1702-1713/1714). Le véritable théâtre de la guerre fut celui des négociations diplomatiques, où les décisions furent prises (Dhondt, 2011B). Pour saisir la nature véritable des conflits, nous devons nous séparer d’un schéma bilatéral, qui lie les aspirations de chaque partie au ius ad bellum (ou au droit de la guerre juste). Les querelles ne dureraient pas si longtemps, si le tort n’était que d’un côté ! Une logique plus politique s’imposa dans la conclusion des traités de paix d’Utrecht (11 avril 1713), Rastatt (7 mars 1714) et Bade (7 septembre 1714) (Bély 1990) : la partition de la monarchie composite espagnole imposait aux parties d’abandonner des arguments tirés du droit privé, du droit naturel ou du droit canonique, pour consacrer une solution politique comme pierre angulaire d’un réseau de traités (Dhondt 2011B). En réalité, les campagnes militaires n’avaient été que les premières étapes d’un raisonnement, visant à contraindre l’opposant à conclure un traité sur la base d’autres conditions. Cependant, la conception stratégique de l’espace des Pays-Bas espagnols (De Schryver 1965), basée sur les fleuves, les échanges économiques, les circulations terrestres, la situation des ports, les fortifications (Rowlands 2011) et la mémoire historique des luttes avec la France, nous permettra de comprendre pourquoi les événements du 11 juillet 1708 ont retenti à travers l’Europe entière (Dhondt 2009 ; De Weerdt-Pilorge & Blanquie 2017). Références :Lucien BÉLY (dir.), Dictionnaire Louis XIV (Paris : Robert Laffont, 2015)Lucien BÉLY, Espions et ambassadeurs au temps de Louis XIV (Paris : Fayard, 1990)Winston CHURCHILL, Marlborough. His Life and Times (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2002 [1933]), vol. II.
Reginald DE SCHRYVER, Jan van Brouchoven graaf van Bergeyck 1644-1725 : een halve eeuw staatkunde in de Spaanse Nederlanden en in Europa [Verhandelingen van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België. Klasse der Letteren; vol. 57] (Bruxelles: Palais des Académies, 1965).
Marie-Paule DE WEERDT-PILORGE & Christophe BLANQUIE, Tout Saint-Simon (Paris : Robert Laffont, 2017)
Frederik DHONDT, ‘Clans, Cabales en Coterieën: de Slag bij Oudenaarde en de permanente machtsstrijd in de Grand Siècle’, Handelingen van de Geschied- en oudheidkundige kring van Oudenaarde, van zijn kastelnij en van den lande tusschen Maercke en Ronne XLVI (2009), 3-35
Frederik DHONDT, ‘Lodewijk XIV als spelverdeler in de Spaanse Successie, 1707-1708’, De Achttiende Eeuw 2018, 283-319
Frederik DHONDT, ‘From Contract to Treaty: The Legal Transformation of the Spanish Succession (1659-1715)’, Journal of the History of International Law XIII (2011B), nr. 2, 347-374Frederik DHONDT, Op zoek naar Glorie in Vlaanderen. De Zonnekoning en de Spaanse Successie, 1707-1708 [Standen en Landen/Anciens Pays et Assemblées d’États, v. CVIII] (Courtrai : UGA, 2011A)
Luc DHONDT, ‘Een schets van de geschiedenis van de stad en van een bijzondere symbiose met het platteland’, in: Ingrid DE MEÛTER & Martine VANWELDEN (eds.), Oudenaardse wandtapijten van de 16de tot de 18de eeuw (Tielt: Lannoo, 1999), 13-22
Fadi EL HAGE, Vendôme: la gloire ou l’imposture (Paris : Belin, 2016)Alexander KIRCHHAMMER (Hrsg.), Feldzüge des prinzen Eugen von Savoyen nach den Feld-Acten und anderen authentischen Quellen (Wien: Verlag des K. u. k. Generalstabes, 1885), vol. X.
Pieter-Jan LACHAERT (ed.), Oudenaarde 1708; een stad, een koning, een veldheer (Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2008)
Arsène LEGRELLE, La diplomatie française et la succession d’Espagne (Gand/Paris : Dullé-Plus/Pichon, 1888-1892)Guy ROWLANDS, ‘Moving Mars: the Logistical Geography of Louis XIV's France’, French History XXV (2011), 492-514 François-Eugène DE VAULT & Jean-Jacques Germain PELET, Mémoires militaires relatifs à la succession d’Espagne sous Louis XIV (Paris : Imprimerie Royale/Imprimerie Nationale, 1835-1862)Carl VON NOORDEN, Europäische Geschichte im achtzehnten Jahrhundert: der spanische Erbfolgekrieg (Düsseldorf: J. Bubbens, 1870-1882)
(see the Standen en Landen-blog on the conference)

woensdag, mei 29, 2019

OPEN ACCESS: Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige kring van Oudenaarde, van zijn Kastelnij en van den Lande tusschen Maarke en Ronne

De Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring Oudenaarde heeft de quasi-volledige collectie van de Handelingen van de Geschied- en Oudheidkundige Kring van Oudenaarde, van zijn Kastelnij en van den Lande tusschen Maarke en Ronne gedigitaliseerd (tot en met 2010).

In deze collectie verschenen twee bijdragen van mijn hand, namelijk in de editie 2007 en 2009.

dinsdag, mei 28, 2019

VERKIEZINGEN 2019: Dewachterscores Vlaams Parlement/Kamer

Op deze blog verschijnt af en toe nog een amateuristische politieke berekening. Traditiegetrouw haal ik de voorkeurstemmen door de "Dewachterschaal", een berekening die zowel het absolute aantal stemmen meet (voorkeurstemmen/500) als het relatieve gewicht van een kandidaat binnen de lijst (voorkeurstemmen * 100/stemcijfer lijst).

Dit instrument is verre van perfect, en wordt door politicologen waarschijnlijk als oubollig en nutteloos aanzien. De "score" kan hoog oplopen wanneer een politicus binnen eigen kerk scoort (cf. tweede component), of gewoon verkiesbaar is in een grote kieskring (cf. eerste component). Desondanks geniet dit mijn voorkeur boven de penetratiegraad. 25% van de ingeschreven kiezers in Luxemburg is misschien wel indrukwekkend, maar leent zich niet tot vergelijken. De mate waarin een kandidaat bijdraagt tot het succes van de lijst lijkt me wel relevant. Gelet op het samenvallen van de verkiezingen en kieskringen kan dat ook nu ook gebeuren door de twee scores te vergelijken (bijvoorbeeld in West-Vlaanderen, waar CD&V met Crevits voor het Vlaams Parlement een beter resultaat haalt dan met Bogaert; in 2014 in Antwerpen voor het Vlaams Parlement veel beter met Kris Peeters dan voor de Kamer met Servais Verherstraeten).

Ons kiessysteem gaat uiteraard over een confrontatie van ideeën via politieke partijen, maar ik denk niet dat iemand zal betwisten dat populaire kandidaten zelf ook zetels kunnen binnenslepen voor hun partij.

Tenslotte is dit als geïnteresseerde burger-amateur ook nog redelijk gemakkelijk om bij te houden. Een eenvoudige excelformule en je bent klaar.

I. Kamer

1Jan Jambon187 826427,678NVAProvincie Antwerpen 2019 K
2Theo Francken122 738375,024NVAProvincie Vlaams-Brabant 2019 K
3Tom Van Grieken122 232300,706VBProvincie Antwerpen 2019 K
4Elio Di Rupo125 009299,992PSProvincie Henegouwen 2019 K
5Alexander De Croo80 283205,581VLDProvincie Oost-Vlaanderen 2019 K
6Zuhal Demir61 444171,936NVAProvincie Limburg 2019 K
7John Crombez55 678158,337sp.aProvincie West-Vlaanderen 2019 K
8Raoul Hedebouw49 852148,646PTBProvincie Luik 2019 K
9Peter Mertens46 802146,529PVDAProvincie Antwerpen 2019 K
10Frédéric Daerden54 898145,390PSProvincie Luik 2019 K
11Koen Geens45 962140,436CD&VProvincie Vlaams-Brabant 2019 K
12Wouter Beke46 940139,178CD&VProvincie Limburg 2019 K
13Hendrik Bogaert48 421130,819CD&VProvincie West-Vlaanderen 2019 K
14Dries Van Langenhove39 295120,91VBProvincie Vlaams-Brabant 2019 K
15Maggie De Block40 819120,083VLDProvincie Vlaams-Brabant 2019 K
16Vincent Van Quickenborne40 292118,887VLDProvincie West-Vlaanderen 2019 K
17Sander Loones44 070113,725NVAProvincie West-Vlaanderen 2019 K
18Charles Michel35 062110,68MRProvincie Waals-Brabant 2019 K
19Kristof Calvo39 216109,279groenProvincie Antwerpen 2019 K
20Jean-Marie Dedecker40 781105,237NVAProvincie West-Vlaanderen 2019 K

Peter Mertens van de PVDA komt in de top-10, samen met partijgenoot Raoul Hedebouw (2014: 65). Soms wordt in de analyses vergeten hoe onvoorstelbaar goed het resultaat van deze radicaal-linkse partij in de Vlaamse provincies is. Voor het eerst zijn deze stemmen geen "verloren" stemmen. Dit compenseert enigszins het zetelverlies voor sp.a en de Pyrrhusoverwinning van groen voor de algemene links-rechtsbalans in het parlement. Frédéric Daerden gaat fors vooruit (2014: 77), maar zit nog een eind verwijderd van de nevelen van vader zaliger (2007: 232,201; 2010: 177,684; 2009: 176,256).

Elio Di Rupo (423 => 299) wordt voorbij gestoken door Francken (112 => 375) en Jambon (140 => 427), die beiden enorm vooruitgaan, maar ook door Tom Van Grieken (300), die bijna evenveel haalt als Filip Dewinter in het vermaledijde 2004 (342), toen het Vlaams Blok boven de 30% ging in de Provincie Antwerpen.

Maggie De Block (2014: 340) landt op een intermediaire positie.

II. Vlaams Parlement
Nr Naam Stemmen Dewachter Partij Kieskring
1 Bart De Wever 242 386 551,840 NVA Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
2 Hilde Crevits 130 912 331,593 CD&V Provincie West-Vlaanderen VP 2019
3 Filip Dewinter 93 751 218,884 VB Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
4 Ben Weyts 64 640 164,986 NVA Vlaams-Brabant VP 2019
5 Bart Somers 52 885 151,353 VLD Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
6 Meyrem Almaci 50 848 141,738 groen Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
7 Guy D'haeseleer 56 807 141,529 VB Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen VP 2019
8 Gwendolyn Rutten 44 866 130,655 VLD Vlaams-Brabant VP 2019
9 Joke Schauvliege 43 428 119,535 CD&V Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen VP 2019
10 Steven Vandeput 41 426 117,193 NVA Provincie Limburg VP 2019
11 Bart Tommelein 35 265 106,235 VLD Provincie West-Vlaanderen VP 2019
12 Lode Ceyssens 35 658 105,233 CD&V Provincie Limburg VP 2019
13 Koen Van Den Heuvel 36 825 102,011 CD&V Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
14 Carina Van Cauter 36 883 97,367 VLD Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen VP 2019
15 Matthias Diependaele 38 475 94,495 NVA Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen VP 2019
16 Liesbeth Homans 40 480 92,161 NVA Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019
17 Chris Janssens 29 725 86,387 VB Provincie Limburg VP 2019
18 Lydia Peeters 23 728 83,912 VLD Provincie Limburg VP 2019
19 Peter Van Rompuy 24 974 77,207 CD&V Vlaams-Brabant VP 2019
20 Caroline Gennez 24 630 76,592 sp.a Provincie Antwerpen VP 2019

Weinig verrassend is de uitslag van Bart De Wever zeer hoog. Net tussen die van 2014 (699,295) en 2010 (461,701) in. De score van Crevits is heel hoog (in 2014 280,66). De eerste sp.a'er is Caroline Gennez op plaats 20 (maar met redelijk verlies: in 2014 was het nog 113,91). Bart Somers doet het goed (hij haalde relatief gezien nooit een betere persoonlijke score in de provincie). Verrassend (of net niet...) is de negende plaats van Joke Schauvliege, die op haar krimpende lijst goed stand houdt, en het relatief beter doet dan De Crem.

III. Europa
Positie Naam Stemmen Dewachter Partij Kieskring
1 Geert Bourgeois 343.290 192,90 NVA Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
2 Guy Verhofstadt 342.460 187,49 VLD Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
3 Paul Magnette 295.339 154,54 PS Franstalig Kc 2019
4 Kris Peeters 256.822 144,31 CD&V Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
5 Gerolf Annemans 207.054 108,35 VB Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
6 Petra De Sutter 143.377 84,61 groen Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
7 Kathleen Van Brempt 127.053 80,10 sp.a Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
8 Olivier Chastel 123.331 75,537 MR Franstalig Kc 2019
9 Philippe Lamberts 115.922 70,238 Ecolo Franstalig Kc 2019
10 Frédérique Ries 111.477 68,276 MR Franstalig Kc 2019
11 Marianne Thyssen 116.344 65,37 CD&V Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
12 Johan Van Overtveldt 104.723 58,84 NVA Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
13 Benoît Lutgen 95.783 56,53 cdH Franstalig Kc 2019
14 Bart Staes 83.749 49,42 groen Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
15 Assita Kanko 85.950 48,30 NVA Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
16 Mark Demesmaeker 84.009 47,20 NVA Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
17 Ivo Belet 72.030 40,47 CD&V Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
18 Marie Arena 68.981 36,10 PS Franstalig Kc 2019
19 Tom Vandendriessche 68.871 36,04 VB Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
20 Frieda Brepols 63.949 35,93 NVA Nederlandstalig Kc 2019
Hier valt weinig over te zeggen, ook gelet op de relatief lagere aantallen voorkeurstemmen. 

maandag, mei 13, 2019

DOCUMENT: "Infracteurs de la Paix, Parjures, Felons, Contempteurs de la Liberté & des Loix d'Allemagne": Emperor Joseph I against the Wittelsbach Brothers, April-May 1706

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701/1702-1713/1714) produced numerous legally relevant moments of European history. The peace treaties of Utrecht (11 April 1713), Rastatt (6 March 1714) and Baden (7 September 1714) are of course the most evident landmarks, since they achieve the partitioning of the Spanish inheritance, which kept European diplomacy in suspense for more than half a century (cf. my article on the matter published in 2011 by the Journal of the History of International Law).. The declarations of war issued in 1702 and the Treaty of the Grand Alliance (7 September 1701) can be approached through the lense of ius ad bellum (cf. a similar exercise I published in 2016 in History of European Ideas). The 'treacherous' betrayal of the King of Portugal and the Duke of Savoy (1703) and the separate preliminaries of peace concluded by Queen Anne with Louis XIV challenge the pacta sunt servanda-principle (as I argued in a chapter in 2015, available on SSRN).

The examples enumerated above concern the law of nations, or the relations between sovereign entities (or 'polities', with the expression used American legal historian Lauren Benton in a recent stimulating article on international legal method). Yet, we cannot assume that the law of nations corresponds to a well-defined separate legal order in this period. We should rather frame it as a discourse serving to explain power relations between sovereigns. The frequent use of feudal law as 'vernacular' legal language creates interpretative problems as soon as the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation surfaces. This construction, 'monstro simile', according to Samuel Pufendorf (under his pseudonym Severinus de Mozambano, as displayed on page 400 of De Statu Imperii Germanici below), was constantly caught between the recognition of the Empire's members' real domestic power (ius territoriale), their ability to conclude treaties with outside players (ius foederis), on one hand, and, on the other, their feudal oath of loyalty (auxilium, consilium) to the Emperor and Empire as caput imperii.

I have had the pleasure to introduce the war of the Spanish Succession in optional master courses for law students in Brussels and Antwerp. Of course, any course of legal history should start from primary sources, readily available on the internet thanks to the colossal digitization efforts of the main university and reference libraries. The 18th century comes to the classroom, allowing for more than a physical copy of a book would permit. Text can be highlighted, zoomed and embedded, as the example above from Google Books illustrates.

The focus of this modest blog post concerns the most polemical internal German question of the war. Within the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg dynasty had managed to have its members chosen by a majority of Electors as either Emperor or King of the Romans. The house of Wittelsbach constituted a potential rival. Its members held the hereditary electorates of the Palatinate (Heidelberg, Mannheim, equally connected to the duchies of Berg (Düsseldorf) and Jülich) and Bavaria. Since the Nine Years' War (1688-1697), duke Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria ( had been appointed as governor-general in the Spanish Netherlands, a composite geopolitical entity with as its core the Duchy of Brabant and the County of Flanders. His brother, Joseph Clement, had been elected Archbishop of Cologne and Bishop of Liège.

The Wittelsbach princes split at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession. Max Emanuel (1679-1726) and Joseph Clement (1671-1723) opted for an alliance with France. John William (Johan Wellem), Elector of the Palatinate and Duke of Berg and Jülich (1658-1716), chose the Habsburg side. Max Emanuel's choice was of major strategic importance. The conflict over the succession of Charles II of Spain (1661-1700) would involve war on all French borders. Thanks to the appointment in Charles II's will of Philip of Anjou (1683-1746), Louis XIV's second grandson, as King of Spain, the Pyrenees were not to be feared. Yet, the Italian and Flemish fronts, where French troops had time and again fought against Dutch, Spanish or Austrian forces, were major points of concern.

(Joseph Clement of Bavaria, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud; Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Louis XIV arranged things as to have his grandson delegate the administration of the Spanish Netherlands to France. The troops which had been quartered in fortifications by the Dutch after the Peace of Rijswijk (1697) had to leave early in 1701 (1). Marshal Boufflers (1644-1711) and Max Emmanuel could thereby simply occupy the gateway to Paris against the allied army. Likewise, the possessions of Joseph Clement along the Rhine in the electorate of Cologne, or along the Meuse in the prince-bishopric of Liège, pushed the front even further away from the French border (2). Finally, the duchy-electorate of Bavaria constituted an advance zone of attack to threaten Austria itself (3).

(Max II Emanuel painted by Vivien during the War of the Spanish Succession; Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Although the 'Bavarian' allies could not contribute much to the French military effort, these geopolitical advantages were considerable. France had had to fight barely without allies against the whole of Europe (including Habsburg Spain and Bavaria) during the Nine Years' War.


This favourable starting position, however, did not last very long. The Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722) managed to gain control of Cologne and Liège (1702-1703) and then united in 1704 with Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), to crush the army of Max Emanuel and Tallard (1652-1728) at the battle of 'Blindheim' (Blenheim). The French commander was taken prisoner, and Max Emanuel saw his Electorate occupied by Austrian forces.

The ius foederis recognised to the members of the Empire in the Peace of Osnabrück (Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis) allowed them to contract alliances with third parties inside and outside the Empire. Yet, this could not violate the Reichsfrieden (peace of the Empire). Any treaty threatening the internal stability was forbidden, since it would violate the feudal bond of loyalty. Consequently, Emperor Joseph I (1678-1711), who succeeded his father Leopold (1640-1705), saw an excellent opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the House of Habsburg's competitors.

On 29 April 1706, the Emperor issued two letters patent condemning the attitude of the Wittelsbach electors. The first document can be found on page 191 of volume VIII/1 of the Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens, the seminal treaty collection edited by Hugenot 'newsagent' Jean Du Mont in the Hague.

The Emperor targets the 'pernicieux desseins & mauvaises resolutions [sic]' undertaken by Joseph-Clement and his elder brother against the late Emperor Leopold, as well as the 'Alliances défenduës [sic]' concluded with France, in order to execute their pernicious plan. As evidence, Joseph I cites their 'propres Ecrits', but also the 'crimes de dangereuse consequence qu'ils ont commis aux yeux de tout le Monde'. Joseph Clement had been collecting troops with French money to fight in the electorate of Cologne (territory of the Empire), without the consent of the Chapter of the Cathedral, against the exhortations of the Chapter to pay respect to the Empire and Emperor, conformably to the feudal 'foi et hommage' Joseph Clement owed them.

In spite of numerous efforts to convince the Archbishop by 'voies douces', the Emperor and the Empire could only try his case, proclaiming by 'Sentence judicielle' his dereliction of duty, and confiding the latter's execution to the princes and circles of Westphalia, the Lower Rhine and the Electors. Joseph Clement was hoped to return to 'himself', recognising his obligations towards 'God, the Emperor, the Empire, the Chapter and the Estates of the Empire of whom he depended'.

Yet, Louis XIV and Max Emanuel kept Joseph Clement in their conspiracy. The Archbishop gave permission to bring troops from the Southern Netherlands into Cologne and Liège, occupying their fortifications. Joseph Clement, according to Joseph I, did not have the necessary legal authority to allow for the intrusion of foreign troups. '[il]  ne les possedoit [sic] que comme Gouverneur, avec certaines restrictions, en vertu de l'Union des Païs hereditaires [sic]  & autres Droits'.

Joseph Clement's stubbornness ('opiniâtreté') left no other option than to deprive him of this competence to administer, but also to declare his destitution according to the Constitutions of the Imperial Chamber (Reichskammergericht) and the resolutions of the Imperial Diet (Reichstag). His effective resistance and opposition against the judicial sentence (jugement judiciel) has caused him the loss of all Prerogative (as a man of the church), and all beneficia enjoyed from the Emperor and the Empire. The Emperor refers, for the basis of the sentence, to the Ban Impérial & de l'Empire contre les Séculiers, applied by analogy to the Archbishop.

Joseph Clement did not stop here, but decided to persecute the members of the Cologne chapter, extraditing some of them to the French, which have had them imprisoned and have exerted revenge 'd'autres voies', after disseminating 'toutes sortes de Pasquils & de Libelles diffamatoires' against the Emperor and the main members of the Empire, having taken the title of 'Arch-Chancelor' in Italy the defense of the rebel and 'felon', the Duke of Mantua, bringing the latter to 'disobey' the Emperor.

In the next passage, Joseph I tries to legitimate the use of force against the forces of Cologne in the campaign of 1702. This first year of genuine campaigning brought a confrontation between the Duchy of Berg (allied to the Emperor through Elector Jan Wellem of the Palatinate-Neuburg) and the Elector of Cologne (allied to France). French forces occupied the old imperial castle of Kaiserswerth. The ensuing siege destroyed the castle to the state it currently remains in.

(the ruins of Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf; image source: Wikimedia Commons)

(the siege of Kaiserswerth; image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Joseph Clement, according to the Imperial letters patent, had been preparing for war in his territories, 's'étant chargé avec plaisir de tous ses propres crimes & de ceux des autres'. Leopold I could not have done otherwise than to take arms against the French and 'sa Faction'. Alas, a lot of blood has had to be spent. The Emperor discovered 'quantité de piéces [sic] et autres choses frivoles, remplies de stile François' (see for example here) which declared 'rondement' that no offer whatsoever, even made to his advantage, would be enough to convince Joseph Clement to return to the strict observance of his duties as a Prince of the Empire. The so-called 'Burgundian troops', raised by Max Emanuel in the Southern Netherlands, would be kept in Cologne.

Joseph Clement is accused of having tried to bring the city of Cologne to neutrality by force, of organising pillages in the neighbouring duchies of Berg and Jülich, and by the 'mauvais traitement qu'il a fait aux Habitans de l'un & de l'autre Sexe', by using a great number of French soldiers. Joseph Clement would have prided himself on these 'choses dignes d'admiration & glorieuses'. After the military defeat against the allies, the Elector would have opted to 'abandon' his Electorate and the Principality of Liège, leaving to the French the city of Bonn, his 'Residenz', and following with his 'Suite' a French escort, passing physically over to the 'Enemies of the Empire'.

As a consequence of the judgment pronounced against him, the Emperor has no other option but to exclude Joseph Clement of the Dignity and the Enjoyment of any rights of the Members of the Empire. His crimes of Laesio Majestatis, his 'désobéïssance [sic] opiniâtrée' and other 'gross errors' cannot give rise to a different conclusion. The Golden Bull of 1356, the Constitutions of Emperor and Empire the 'peace of the land', the most recent Statutes of the Empire, and the most recent decisions of the Emperor and The Empire, urge to pronounce a penalty. 

Following his Capitulations, sworn on at election as Emperor, and as a consequence of his 'charge' as Emperor, Joseph I deprives Joseph-Clement, former Elector of Bavaria, Prince of the Holy Empire, of Regensburg, Liège and Bergtergade of any 'Protection, Defence and Intercession'. He is 'declared, published and recognised' as deposed, having thus lost all 'Prerogatives, Franchises, Rights, Regalia, Honours, Dignitiez, Fiefs, Properties, Patronages, Lands, Goods, Men and Subjects' held or had from Emperor and Empire, without any exception.

No vassal of the Empire, of whatever status or condition, can have any communication with Joseph-Clement, can house him or 'donner le Couvert', give him anything to eat or drink, furnish whatever things possible, any help or assistance, or bequeath him with a legal title, nor receive in their 'guard and protection'. Those who have been his vassals, subjects, officers, inhabitants or 'dependents', ecclesiastical and secular, cannot have any kind of 'égards' for Joseph Clement, nor receive from him or his entourage, any kind of orders. The only possible loyalty is that to the Emperor and those appointed by him to take over from Joseph Clement. Any soldiers still in Joseph Clement's service have the obligation to switch sides, and to oppose their former master's plans, to 'do him all possible wrongs and damaged', in order to regain imperial grace and generosity.

All those previously engaged or obliged towards Joseph Clement, or those who think they are, become absolved of their oath of loyalty, duty, observance, intelligence and alliance, of an kind. Even more, since Joseph Clement's betrayal dates back to his alliance with France, there oaths do dissappear retroactively, 'étant nulles & sans force depuis sa felonie [sic], & Crime de Leze-Majesté'.

Finally, all contrary Imperial 'Graces, Privileges, Franchises, Customs & Usages' are deemed void and revoked. Joseph reaffirms at the end that the legitimacy to take such an order derives from his 'Imperial Roman authority'. It is no surprise that the name of Friedrich Karl von Schönborn, Head of the Imperial Chancery (Reichskanzlei) appears next to that of the Emperor. Friedrich Karel is the nephew of Lothar Franz von Schönborn, Archbishop-Elector of Mainz and Vice-Chancellor of the Empire.

(image: Lothar Franz von Schönborn; Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Max Emanuel's case differs on material grounds, but also in legal qualification. His betrayal is clearly worse than that of his younger brother. He is accused directly from harbouring an 'esprit d'ambition démesurée', animated in part by 'une haine secrete [sic], inveterée [sic], & illegitime [sic], against the Emperor, his Lord and Cousin. This mention proceeds from the first marriage of Max Emmanuel with Maria Antonia of Austria, daughter from Emperor Leopold I's first marriage to the Spanish infanta Margaretha Theresia.  Joseph I was a child of Leopold's third marriage to Eleonora Magdalena of the Palatinate-Neuburg (sister of Elector Jan Wellem of the Palatinate, Duke of Jülich and Berg, or the other branch of the Wittelsbach family).

(Image: Maria Antonia of Austria, daughter of Emperor Leopold I and Margareta Teresa of Spain, half-sister of Emperor Joseph I; wife of Elector Max Emanuel II of Bavaria; source: Wikimedia Commons)

Max Emanuel is reproached to have dumped all 'love, duty, honour and loyalty' due to the 'archducal House' and the late Emperor and Roman Empire. Certainly, Max Emanuel had conspired with Louis XIV in order to lower the Empire. Yet, foremost (sur-tout), he had been set on ruining the late Emperor and the archducal House. To this end, Max Emanuel delivered the Spanish Netherlands, whose guard and government had been bestowed on him, to France 'par un Esprit de revolte [sic] & de felonie [sic]'. His representative to the Regensburg Diet (Reichstag) had to act on behalf of Philip of Anjou and the 'Circle of Burgundy', in order to oppose Leopold I. Joseph Clement would have been maliciously seduced to conclude a forbidden alliance, and allow French troops -'derisory' called Burgundian troops- into the Electorate of Cologne and the Diocese of Liège.

(image: plan of the city of Liège and its fortifications, 1702; Source: Europeana/Rijksmuseum)

Evil genius Max Emanuel is said to have incited the 'Louables Cercles de Franconie & de Suabe' to join him against Leopold. He astutely delayed proceedings in the Reichstag against France and his allies. As a tyrant, Max Emanuel would have threatened all those unwilling to assist in the execution of his cause. Subtly, he seized the Imperial city of Ulm, on Our Lady's Day. He alone has had the temerity to ignore the determinate plans of all the Estates of the Empire, their declaration of War against France, the Duke of Anjou and accomplices.

(Image: Imperial Diet in Regensburg, 1640; source: Wikimedia Commons)

Max Emanuel has annexed parts of the Emperor's lands, or those of other princes, to become ordinary provinces of Bavaria, using enemy troops. He exacted contributions, pillaged, murdered and burnt, sparing nor churches or other sacred places. On Easter, he has laid siege to Regensburg, the imperial town which housed the Perpetual Diet of the Empire. When the Imperial Free City fell to his troops, Max Emanuel pretended to annex it to his proper domains. Proof does not need to be found in the perpetually ongoing negotiations, but solely in the rivers of Christian blood spilled, the abundantly flowing tears from an 'infinite number of persons', moaning for a very long time, and still imploring divine and human vengeance. Max Emanuel and his 'Suppôts' have even tried to get the 'constante Porte Ottomane' on their side, even if this had been to no avail, since the Sultan 'sçait bien mieux qu'eux tenir sa parole'.

(image: Francis Rakoczy, Hungarian rebel leader; source: Wikimedia Commons)

Max Emanuel had incited the 'sujets Rebelles de Hongrie' to persevere in their revolt. Indeed, in 1704, Austria's case was thought to be precarious. While Tallard and Max Emanuel could threaten Vienna from the West, the revolt of Francis Rakoczy posed considerable problems in the East, outside of the Empire. The Emperor argues that Max Emanuel had offered himself as leader to the Hungarian rebels, inciting them to refuse any kind of mediation or compromise with Vienna.

(image: Bavaria ad Obsequium Rediens, or Bavaria reduced to submission by the Emperor; Source: Museum Rotterdam/Europeana)

Max Emanuel, conversely, would have rejected all 'generous' offers from Leopold I or Joseph I. Even enlargement of his territories in Schwaben were insufficient to satisfy his 'desirs [sic] immoderez'. Max Emanuel persevered in his pernicious and 'impious' plans. The crushing defeat of Blenheim had not brought him to abandon 'the Enemies of the Empire'. Max Emanuel had remained among his outrageous company, 'sans le moindre repentir', nor any sign of conversion.

(image: Battle of Blenheim - tapestry by Judocus de Vos in Blenheim Palace, erected by the Duke of Marlborough with a gratification received from Queen Anne to thank for the victory; source: Wikimedia Commons)

Therefore, the only possible conclusion is to declare that the 'former Elector and Duke of Bavaria, Count Palatinate of the Rhine, Landgrave of Leuchtenberg' has been put under the 'Ban & Arriere[sic]-Ban' of Emperor and Empire. De facto, he has fallen under all 'punitions & peines' normally derived from this kind of declarations, 'selon le Droit & les Coûtumes'. He is deposed and should be considered as such with regards to all 'Graces, Freedoms, Rights, Regalia, Honours, Charges, Titles, Fiefs, Properties, Patronage, Lands, Goods, Men and Subjects', in verbatim the same terms as his brother Joseph Clement.

(image: Emperor Joseph I; Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Likewise, all who joined Max Emanuel, or chose his party, suffer the same fate. The Elector has been put outside the 'Peace & Protection' of the Emperor, as well as that of the Empire. He is thus in 'our disgrace and incertitude', for having put himself in that situation. The following orders are similar to those pronounced against Joseph Clement:
(1) all privileges, graces and beneficia are cancelled, counting from the beginning of the felony
(2) subjects and vassals (especially soldiers) can disregard their oath of loyalty and are encouraged to oppose all possible obstacles to Max Emanuel
(3) all contrary Imperial declarations or measures are void


The Emperor was not free to act as he pleased. The Peace of Westphalia had installed constitutional limits on the powers of the Pro-dominus (literally 'over-lord') of the Holy Roman Empire. He was tied to the approval of the Reichstag (Imperial Diet), since the collective corpus of the Members of the Empire was said to be jointly sovereign. Consequently, Joseph I's harsh words, although they almost read as classical medieval discourse, had to receive approval.

On 10 May 1706, 11 days after the two letters patent had been issued in Vienna, the Imperial Diet received an 'Imperial Commission Decree' requesting to accept the measures decided against Max Emanuel and Joseph Clemens. The Bavarian princes had behaved 'grossierement [sic] and intolerablement [sic]', having drifted far away from their duties, having undertaken 'quantité d'Intrigues seditieuses [sic], pernicieuses & violentes malversations', by their breach of the Imperial Peace ('infraction à la Paix', in German Reichsfriedensbruch), against the 'Grandeur' of the Emperor, against the Freedom of the Empire and against its Constitutions. They persisted in 'desobéïssance [sic]', revolt and 'damnables desseins', ignoring not only the fatherly 'Weisungen' of the Emperor, but also proposals of mediation and accommodation emerging from 'les fideles [sic] Princes et Etats, & par la Diete [sic] même, qui leur étoit bien intentionnée'. The Wittelsbach princes have thrown themselves into the arms of 'des Ennemis jurez & déclarez de l'Empire'.

Since the representatives in Regensburg had 'contributed in part to imagine and counsel generously, which was good and necessary', it seemed almost superfluous to recall what was prescribed by the Golden Bull, the Constitutions of the Empire and Emperor, the 'Peace of the Land', the Imperial Capitulation sworn at the Election of Joseph I in 1705 as well as the Imperial decisions taken in the course of the war. Joseph I could not have done anything else but 'le devoir de la Charge d'Empereur', punishing 'selon leurs demerites [sic]' both brothers: 'infracteurs de la Paix, Parjures, Felons, Contempteurs de la Liberté & des Loix d'Allemagne [...] pour servir d'exemple aux autres'.

The document is communicated to the Diet 'pour lui servir d'avertissement & satisfaire à la Coûtume'. The latter formulation indicates that the Emperor considers referring the affair to the Diet as a mere declaratory procedure. The legal basis in 'Custom' highlights the feudal origins of Imperial power: the declaration is meant for the Members of the Empire, 'pour servir d'avertissement'.

The brief eschatocol of the document states that the 'High & eminent Princes, Electors and Estates, the excellent Counselors of the Empire, the Ambassadors and Envoys did not want to obstruct the Will and Order of his Imperial Majesty'. Quite the contrary: they 'conformed themselves to it and persevered in that attitude'.


An analysis of this text cannot -of course- be complete without the necessary secundary historical and legal-historical literature. In the first place, Reginald De Schryver's monography on Max Emanuel of Bavaria and the European ambitions of the House of Wittelsbach (published in the series of the IEG in Mainz), the older works of Legrelle (1888-1892), Klopp (1885) and von Noorden (1870-1882). Next, the concise and informative thesis of Rüdiger Freiherr von Schönberg (Das Recht der Reichslehen im 18. Jahrhundert, CF. Müller, 1977), but also the recent work by Wolfgang Burfdorf on Protokonstitutionalismus. Reichsverfassung in den Wahlkapitulationen der römisch-deutschen Könige und Kaiser 1519-1792 (published in the series of the Bavarian Academy of Science in 2015) can help to identify the exact nature of Joseph I's positioning. The Battle of Blenheim and its aftermath allowed the Emperor to reclaim a certain superiority.

As Guido Braun's elaborate study (2010, Pariser Historische Studien) on the knowledge of German Public Law in French 17th-18th century diplomacy (open access) illustrates, the house of Habsburg had at first been confronted with anti-imperial sympathy for France. Yet, the Turkish War of 1683 and Louis XIV's hegemonic temper during the Dutch War (1672-1679) had reversed the situation. Military success from 1704 allowed for remarkable acts of audacity, such as the punishment inflicted on Max Emanuel and Joseph Clement, or the confiscation of the Duchy of Mantua. In the latter case, it could be argued that the Imperial Diet's competence and the application of the Peace of Westphalia were irrelevant, since Italy fell outside the scope of this arrangement.

(image: Palazzo Ducale, Mantua; Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Yet, the situation can also be approached from the other end of the war. Article XV of the Treaty of Rastatt, which ended the bilateral conflict between Louis XIV and Charles VI, Joseph I's younger brother and successor in 1711, imposed the reintegration of the Wittelsbach princes. The Treaty of Rastatt was transformed into a general Peace Treaty between the Empire, Charles VI and Louis XIV at the conference of Baden (in present-day Switzerland, Aargau) (see here for a German translation of the Latin original).

Rastatt and Baden were painful moments for Charles VI, in the sense that this monarch had to recognize the factual impossibility of a total Habsburg triumph in the War of the Spanish Succession. The French candidate, Philip of Anjou, would rule on the Iberian peninsula and in the colonies. Charles would only conclude a bilateral peace treaty with Spain in 1725 (see my paper published on the subject in the Yearbook of Young Legal History 2010, as well as chapter 3 of Balance of Power and Norm Hierarchy, 2015). Charles VI could have signed for peace at the Conference of Utrecht (1712-1713), but withdrew his delegation. Since Britain, the Dutch Republic and Prussia had withdrawn their troops, the Emperor's army under Eugene of Savoy had to stand alone against that of Marshal Villars. Unsurprisingly, after an unfortunate campaign on the Franco-German border, peace was brokered between two military men.

(image: allegory on the Peace of Rastatt, 1714; source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Treaty of Rastatt that the Emperor and Empire would consent in the 'rétablissement général [...] et entier' of Max Emanuel and Joseph Clement, in all of their 'Estates, Ranks, Prerogatives, Regalia, Goods, Electoral Dignities and Rights, just as they have enjoyed them, our could have enjoyed them, previous to the start of the present War, belonging either to the Archbishopric of Cologne & other Churches [...], or to the House of Bavaria, mediately or immediately'. What could be the motive for such a sudden turn in Imperial positioning ? The answer was not to find in a reassessment of internal legality (i.e. within the Imperial legal order), but with 'les motifs de la tranquilité publique'.

(image: Charles VI as emperor by Meyttens; source: Wikimedia Commons)

I argued elsewhere, in a quite comprehensive fashion, that the stabilization of Europe after the War of the Spanish Succession was based on a logic of norm hierarchy: political compromises enshrined in treaties had to receive priority over constitutional law. French and British diplomats consistently applied this reasoning from 1716 to 1725, with at least a rhetorical continuity until well in the 1730s. For the case of France, this was hotly debated and contested by domestic lawyers like d'Aguesseau (I refer to my contribution in the 2016 volume Penser l'ordre juridique médiéval et moderne, ed. X. Prévost & N. Laurent-Bonne or to my CORE Working Paper on the same subject). Yet, diplomatic practice witnessed the consistent application of a reasoning of priority, leading to the analogous application of treaty precedence to the arrangement of Italy in the light of the prospective extinction of the Medici and Farnese dynasties in Parma, Piacenza and Tuscany (see chapter 2 of Balance of Power and Norm Hierarchy, or my contribution to the edited volume Thémis en Diplomatie, ed. N. Drocourt & E. Schnakenbourg).

(image: siege of Huy by the allies in 1703; Source: Europeana/Rijksmuseum)

In January 2017, at the occasion of the conference 'The Art of Law' in Bruges, I had the opportunity to discuss the iconography of the Almanach Royal for 1715. The engraving for this publication depicted Louis XIV and Emperor Charles VI amidst other European sovereigns, crowned by the virtues of peace. I interpreted the depiction of the horizontal agreement between Louis XIV and his 'Fellow Monarchs' (to use Ragnhild Hatton's expression) as a different strategy to seek legitimacy in representation, compared to earlier depictions of international relations and diplomacy, when Louis XIV was portrayed as unilaterally imposing order on Europe (mainly from 1668 to 1684).

(image: Almanach Royal 1714, représentant l'Union des Princes, par la Paix Générale; source: Europeana/Gallica)

(image: the failed siege of Brussels; Source: Europeana/Rijksmuseum)

Likewise, Charles VI had to accept the reintegration of the Bavarian princes, depicted in the Almanach. This could be seen as a small triumph for French diplomacy, especially since Joseph Clement had lost Cologne and Liège in 1703, Max Emanuel lost Bavaria in 1704, and the major part of the Spanish Netherlands in 1706 (Brabant and the main cities of Flanders) and 1709 (Hainault). The Bavarian allies had turned into a nuisance. Max Emanuel's credibility had fallen very low. He appeared before the gates of Brussels in November 1708, hoping the capital of Brabant would open its gates to its former governor-general, but these hopes were quickly dashed. Max Emanuel was bequeathed with the sovereignty over the remaining French-controlled parts of the Spanish Netherlands, mainly the County of Namur and the Duchy of Luxemburg by Philip V of Spain on 2 January 1712 (CUD VIII/1, nr. CXXIV, 288), on the basis of 'ce que le Roi Très-Chrétien nôtre Ayeul a negocié [sic] & conclu le 7. Novembre 1702, en nôtre Nom, & de nôtre Consentement'.

Article XV of the Treaty of Rastatt states that Max Emanuel and Joseph Clement would have the right to send out plenipotentiaries to the general congress of peace in Baden, that all furniture, stones, gems and other personal belongings taken from them will be returned 'de bonne foy' [...] since the occupation of Bavaria, of their palaces, castles, towns, fortresses and any kind of places which belonged to them or would still come to belong to them. The restitution of rights stopped all claims against both sovereigns. Nevertheless, pending disputes could be initiated again according to the competent tribunals and established procedures ('voies de justice établies') of the Empire. Older ecclesiastical privileges and rights (to the benefit of the Chapter and Estates of the Archbishopric of Cologne) would of course remain in force.

Joseph Clement had to ensure the city of Bonn would remain without a garrison in peacetime, except citizen guards or a restricted personal guard consisting of a couple of companies, subject to the Emperor's and the Empire's agreement. The Emperor and the Empire could decide to send troops into Cologne, 'que la raison de guerre le demandera', conformably to the 'Laws and Constitutions of the Empire'.

(Image: map of the long and irregular Electorate of Cologne by Sanson (1674); source: Europeana/Gallica)

In return for their reinstatement, 'lesdits deux Seigneurs de la Maison de Baviére' renounced all possible 'pretensions, satisfactions or compensation for damages' against Empire, Emperor or the House of Austria stemming from the War of the Spanish Succession. Claims originating before the outbreak of the War, however, were considered to be still valid, if pursued through the ordinary ways of justice within the Empire.

Once reinstated, Joseph Clemens and Max Emanuel were obliged to obey and remain loyal to Charles VI, just as other Electors and Princes ought to, implying the duty to ask and accept as it should (deüement [sic]) the renewal of the Imperial investiture for their 'Electorates, Principalities, Fiefs, Titles and Rights, in the manner and terms prescribed by the Laws of the Empire'. In exchange, 'all that happened from either side, in the duration of the war', would be 'mis à perpétuité dans un entier oubli'. So far for all the alleged 'murder, pillage and burning', or the 'bad treatment' inflicted by French troops to 'inhabitants of either sex'... alleged in 1706 by the Empire and Imperial Diet !

Article XVI foresaw a 'general amnesty' for all 'Ministers, Officers, as well ecclesiastical as military, political and civil' on either side. All would be reinstated in the 'possession of all goods, charges, honour and dignities, just as before the war', enjoying a 'general amnesty for all preceding events', on the condition of reciprocity concerning 'subjects, vassals, ministers or domestics' having served the Emperor and Empire for the duration of the war. Any molestation would lead to the suspension of the treatment enjoyed by their Bavarian counterparts.