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Privilege of the Elector of Saxony, Wittenberg (1534)

Source: Würtembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart Bb deutsch 154503 (p. 1) and the original handwritten privilege from the Stadtarchiv Wittenberg, scanned from a reprint in Hans Volz, Martin Luthers deutsche Bibeln (Berlin and Altenburg 1981) p. 157

Privilege of the Elector of Saxony, Wittenberg (1534), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

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            Chapter 1 Page 1 of 2 total

We, John Frederick, by the Grace
of God: Duke of Saxony
and Elector etc.

      Send to all and sundry of our prelates, / counts, / gentlemen / of the knightage
and the nobility, / bailiffs, / captains, / officials, / administrators, / tax collectors, / retainers, / town
councillors, / and to all our other / subjects and followers, / our greeting, / grace, / and all the best/ in advance.
      Right honourable, / well-born, / noble, / and beloved followers! / We hereby let you know
/ that, upon a request duly made /and accompanied by a statement of the motives for it, / we have
decided / to grant to three booksellers based in Wittenberg – / Moritz Holtz, / Bartel Vogel, / and
Christoffel Schramm – / the following privilege: / that only they / and no one else / may print, /
offer for sale, / and sell / in Our principalities and domains / the books listed as follows: /
namely, the whole German Bible, / the Book of Psalms, together with the Summaries, / the
small New Testament, / Jesus Syrach, / and also Dr Martin Luther’s Postils.
      And even if these books / were to be reprinted elsewhere, / they may not be sold – neither
publicly nor secretly – / nor put up for sale / in our principalities and domains – / on pain of a
fine of hundred gulden, / half of which is to be paid to the appointing authorities of the place /
where the offenders are found, / and the other half to the aforementioned three booksellers.
      We therefore demand from you all, / and from each one of you in particular, to ensure /
that, in each of your municipal courts of competent jurisdiction, as well as in your capacity as
officials appointed by us,/ you do not allow / the aforesaid books / to be printed, / or offered for
sale to others, / or sold, / unless those wishing to do this did so / with the knowledge of the
above-stated three [booksellers], / in accordance with their will and with their apparent consent.
Moreover, if anyone happened to have acted / or were acting contrary to this, / we demand from
you that, / on application of the aforesaid three / or their attorneys, / you show yourselves to
be determined and unremitting / in your levying of the above fine from the offenders.
/ We did not want to leave you uninformed about this, / and desire that in this
matter / our decision be carried out fully – / under pain of incurring a
serious punishment from us. In witness whereof, this has
been stamped and set with the obverse of our
privy seal / and issued in Torgau, /
Thursday after the Feast of St
Peter ad Vincula, /
in the year


Von Gottes Gnaden Johans
Fridrich: Hertzog zu Sach-
sen vnd Churfürst etc.

      Allen vnd jglichen vnsern
Prelaten / Grauen / Herrn / denen von der Ritterschafft
vnd Adel / Landvögten / Heubtleuten / Amptleuten /
Amptsuerwesern / Schössern / Gleitsleuten / Reten der
Stedte / vnd sonst allen andern / vnsern Vnterthanen
vnd Verwandten / Entbieten wir vnsern grus / gnad /
vnd alles guts / zuuor.
       Ehrwirdige / wolgeborne vnd Edle / lieben Getrewen / Wir geben euch
zu erkennen / Das wir auff beschehens ansuchen / auch anzeigung bewegender
rsachen / bewilliget / vnd den dreien Buchhendelern zu Wittemberg / Mo-
ritzen Goltz / Barteln Vogel / vnd Christoffeln Schrammen / solche Befrei-
hung / gegeben / Das sie / vnd niemands mehr / die nachbenante Bücher / nem-
lich die gantze Biblia Deudsch / den Psalter mit den Summarien / New Testa-
ment klein / Jesus Syrach / Auch D. Martini Luthers Postillen / in vnsern
Fürstenthumen vnd Landen / mögen drücken / feilhaben / vnd verkeuffen
       Vnd ob die selben Bücher / an andern Orten nachgedrückt würden / So
sollen sie doch in vnsern Fürstenthumen vnd Landen / weder heimlich noch
öffentlich verkaufft / oder feil gehabt werden / Bey Poen hundert gülden / Halb
den Gerichtsheldern jedes Orts / da die Vbertretter befunden / Vnd die ande-
re helffte jnen den bemelten dreien Buchhendlern / verfallen zu sein.
       Begern demnach an euch alle / vnd einen jeden in sonderheit darob zu sein /
Damit in ewer jedes zustendigen auch vnsern Ampts vnd Stadgerichten / ob-
bemelte Bücher / zu drücken / noch andern feil zu haben / oder zu verkeuffen / Der
oder die selben theten es denn / mit benanter Dreier wissen / willen vnd schein-
liche zulassung / nicht verstattet. Sonderlich so jemands dawider gethan het-
te / oder thete / gegen dem oder den selbigen / wollet euch auff benanter dreier
      Buchverkeuffer / oder jrer Befelhaber ansuchen / mit einbringung vor-
            berürter straffe ernstlich vnd vnnachleslich erzeigen / Wolten wir euch
                  nicht vnuermeldet lassen / Vnd geschicht daran / bey vermei-
                        dung vnser selbs ernsten straffe / vnsere gentzliche mei-
                              nung. Zu Vrkund mit vnserm zu rugk auffge-
                                    drucktem Secret besiegelt / Vnd gegeben
                                          zu Torgaw / Donnerstags nach Pe-
                                                tri Kettenfeier / Anno.

                                                      M. D. XXXiiij.


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