Wie verlässlich ist das Artlenburg-Privileg überliefert?


  • Detlev Ellmers




Henry the Lion’s Artlenburg Charter (1161)
The Artlenburg Charter of 1161, only transmitted in later copies, is unquestionably the most hotly disputed document of the twelfth Century. While one side views the charter as the founding document of the German Hanse, the other side focusses on the clauses inserted into the charter at a later date, which leads them to a completely different understanding of its significance. Among those in the latter group, Thomas Riis put forward the hypothesis that the Lübeck copy of the charter constitutes nothing less than an augmented version of the document with ,improving' additions to the text which was produced around 1225 by the Lübeck canon Marold, which Lübeck presented to Emperor Fredrich II in 1226 - together with a number of other Charters which Marold had ,improved‘ - in order to obtain the document known to scholars as the ,charter of imperial freedom’ (1226). The critical examination of Riis’s arguments demonstrates, however, that Lübeck never employed its copy of the Artlenburg charter to argue a point with an external authority, be it in 1226 or at any other subsequent time. This raises the question of why. and for whom, the copy was made. The town seal appended to the charter proves indubitably that it was executed on a mandate from the Lübeck town council. It was this body which ordered the Artlenburg charter (together with Henry the Lion’s mandate to the advocate charged with governing the German merchants on Gotland) to be copied into Lübecks Codex of Privileges, which was reserved for confidential use by councillors and merchants. The copy of the charter served to inform them of the conditions under which a permanent, peaceful settlement of the conflicts between Germans and Gotlanders had been reached under the tutelage of Henry the Lion, a settlement which opened trade in the Baltic for merchants sailing from Lübeck. The purpose of the copy was to keep Lübeck’s merchants precisely informed of each and every right they enjoyed (since these constituted the foundation of their trade), in order to be able to maintain those rights if conflicts arose in the future. Any change to the original text would have been suicidal. Therefore, we can be confident that the text which the copy transmits corresponds to the (lost) original in each and every particular.