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GOLDEN BULL (Lat. Bulla Aurea)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 209 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GOLDEN BULL (Lat. Bulla Aurea), the general designation of any charter decorated with a golden seal or bulla, either owing to the intrinsic importance of its contents, or to the rank and dignity of the bestower or the recipient. The custom of thus giving distinction to certain documents is said to be of Byzantine origin, though if this be the case it is somewhat strange that the word employed as an equivalent for golden bull in Byzantine Greek should be the hybrid xpva6%3ovXXov (cf. Codinus Curopalates, 6 ,u&yas AoyoBETrls 6taT(iTTed Ta 'Tapia Tou /3aosXiws 6m-oar e)Xoµeva arpovTayµaTa Kai xpvo•o(3ovXl^a irpos 're Piyas, ZoOeravas, icai Tolrapxovs; and Anna Comnena, Alexiad, lib. xpviro0ovXiov A6yov; lib. viii., xpvvodovXov X6yov). In Germany a Golden Bull is mentioned under the reign of Henry I. the Fowler in Chronica Cassin. ii. 31, and the oldest German example, if it be genuine, dates from 983. At first the golden seal was formed after the type of a solid coin, but at a later date, while the golden surface presented to the eye was greatly increased, the seal was really composed of two thin metal plates filled in with wax. The number of golden bulls issued by the imperial chancery must have been very .large; the city of Frankfort, for example, preserves no fewer than eight. The name, however, has become practically restricted to a few documents of unusual political importance, the golden bull of the Empire, the golden bull of . Brabant, the golden bull of Hungary and the golden bull of Milan—and of these the first is undoubtedly the Golden Bull par excellence. The main object of the Golden Bull was to provide a set of rules for the election of the German kings, or kings of the Romans, as they are called in this document. Since the informal establishment of the electoral college about a century before (see ELECTORS), various disputes had taken place about the right of certain princes to vote at the elections, these and other difficulties having arisen owing to the absence of any authoritative ruling. The spiritual electors, it is true, had exercised their votes without challenge, but far_ different was the case of the temporal electors. The families ruling in Saxony and in Bavaria had been divided into two main branches and, as the German states had not yet accepted the principles of primogeniture, it was uncertain which member of the divided family should vote. Thus, both the prince ruling in Saxe-Lauenburg and the prince ruling in Saxe-Wittenberg claimed the vote, and the two branches of the family of Wittelsbach, one settled in Bavaria and the other in the Rhenish palatinate, were similarly at variance, while the duke of Bavaria also claimed the vote at the expense of the king of Bohemia. Moreover, there had been several disputed and double elections to the German crown during the past century. In more than one instance a prince, chosen by a minority of the electors, had claimed to exercise the functions of king, and as often civil war had been the result. Under these circumstances the emperor Charles IV. determined by an whatever that the election of a king needs confirmation from the pope. The Golden Bull was thus a great victory for the electors, but it weakened the position of the German king and was a distinct humiliation for the other princes and for the cities. The status of those rulers who did not obtain the electoral privilege was lowered by this very fact, and the regulations about the Pfahlburger, together with the prohibition of new leagues and associations, struck a severe blow at the cities. The German kings were elected according to the conditions laid down in the bull until the dissolution of the Empire in 18o6. At first the document was known simply as the Lex Carolina; but gradually the name of the Book with the Golden Bull came into use, and the present elliptical title was sufficiently established by 1417 to be officially employed in a charter by King Sigismund. The original auto-graph was committed to the care of the elector of Mainz, and it was preserved in the archives at Mainz till 1789. Official transcripts were probably furnished to each of the seven electors at the time of the promulgation, and before long many of the other members of the Empire secured copies for themselves., The transcript which belonged to the elector of Trier is preserved in the state archives at Stuttgart, that of the elector of Cologne in the court library at Darmstadt, and that of the king of Bohemia in the imperial archives at Vienna. Berlin, Munich and Dresden also boast the possession of an electoral transcript; and the town of Kitzingen has a contemporary copy in its municipal archives. There appears, however, to be good reason to doubt the genuineness of most of these so-called original transcripts. But perhaps the best known example is that of Frankfort-on-Main, which was procured from the imperial chancery in 1366, and is adorned with a golden seal like the original. Not only was it regularly quoted as the indubitable authority in regard to the election of the emperors in Frankfort itself, but it was from time to time officially consulted by members of the authoritative pronouncement to make such proceedings impossible in the future, and at the same time to add to his own power and prestige, especially in his capacity as king of Bohemia. Having arranged various disputes in Germany, and having in April 1355 secured his coronation in Rome, Charles gave instructions for the bull to be drawn up. It is uncertain who is responsible for its actual composition. The honour has been assigned to Bartolo of Sassoferrato, professor of law at Pisa and Perugia, to the imperial secretary, Rudolph of Friedberg, and even to the emperor himself, but there is no valid authority for giving it to any one of the three in preference to the others. In its first form the bull was promulgated at the diet of Nuremberg on the loth of January 1356, but it was not accepted by the princes until some modifications had been introduced, and in its final form it was issued at the diet of Metz on the 25th of December following. The text of the Golden Bull consists of a prologue and of thirty-one chapters. Some lines of verse invoking the aid of Almighty God are followed by a rhetorical statement of the evils which arise from discord and division, illustrations being taken from Adam, who was divided from obedience and thus fell, and from Helen of Troy who was divided from her husband. The early chapters are mainly concerned with details of the elaborate ceremonies which are to be observed on the occasion of an election. The number of electors is fixed at seven, the duke of Saxe-Wittenberg, not the duke of Saxe-Lauenburg, receiving the Saxon vote, and the count palatine, not the duke of Bavaria, obtaining the vote of the Wittelsbachs. The electors were arranged in order of precedence thus: the archbishops of Mainz, of Trier and of Cologne, the king of Bohemia, qui inter electores laicos ex regiae dignitatis fastigio jure el merito oblinet primatiam, the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony and the margrave of Brandenburg. The three archbishops were respectively arch-chancellors of the three principal divisions of the Empire, Germany,' Arles and Italy, and the four secular electors each held an office in the imperial household, the functions of which they were expected to discharge on great occasions. The king of Bohemia was the arch-cupbearer, the count palatine was the arch-steward (dapifer), the duke of Saxony was arch-marshal, and the margrave of Brandenburg was arch-chamberlain. The work of summoning the electors and of presiding over their deliberations fell to the archbishop of Mainz, but if he failed to discharge this duty the electors were to assemble without summons within three months of the death of a king. Elections were to be held at Frankfort; they were to be decided by a majority of votes, and the subsequent coronation at Aix-la-Chapelle was to be performed by the archbishop of Cologne. During a vacancy in the Empire the work of administering the greater part of Germany was entrusted to the count palatine of the Rhine, the duke of Saxony being responsible, however, for the government of Saxony, or rather for the districts ubi Saxonica jura servantur. The chief result of the bull was to add greatly to the power of the electors; for, to quote Bryce (Holy Roman Empire), it " confessed and legalized the independence of the electors and the powerlessness of the crown." To these princes were given sovereign rights in their dominions, which were declared in-divisible and were to pass according to the rule of primogeniture. Except in extreme cases, there was to be no appeal from the sentences of their tribunals, and they were confirmed in the right of coining money, of taking tolls, and in other privileges, while conspirators against their lives were to suffer the penalties of treason. One clause gave special rights and immunities to the king of Bohemia, who, it must be remembered, at this time was Charles himself, and others enjoined the observance of the public peace. Provision was made for an annual meeting of the electors, to be held at Metz four weeks after Easter, when matters pro bono et salute communi were to be discussed. This arrangement, however, was not carried out, although the electors met occasion-ally. Another clause forbade the cities to receive Pfahlbiirger, i.e. forbade them to take men dwelling outside their walls under their protection. It may be noted that there is no admission Empire. The manuscript consists of 43 leaves of parchment of medium quality, each measuring about foe in. in height by 7e in breadth. -The seal is of the plate and wax type. On the obverse appears a figure of the emperor seated on his throne, with the sceptre in his right hand and the globe in his left; a shield, with the crowned imperial eagle, occupies the space on the one side of the throne, and a corresponding shield, with the crowned Bohemian lion with two tails, occupies the space on the other side; and round the margin runs the legend, Karolus quartus diving favente dementia, Romanorum imperator semper Augustus et Boemiae rex. On the reverse is a castle, with the words Aurea Roma on the gate, and the circumscription reads, Roma ca put mundi regit orbis frena rotundi. The original Latin text of the bull was printed at Nuremberg by Friedrich Creussner in 1474, and a second edition by Anthonius Kohurger (d. 1532) appeared at the same place in 1477. Since that time it has been frequently reprinted from various manuscripts and collections. M. Goldast gave the Palatine text, compared with those of Bohemia and Frankfort, in his Collectio constitutionum et legum imperialium (Frankfort, 1613). Another is to be found in De comitiis imperii of O. Panvinius, and a third, of unknown history, is prefixed to the Codex recessuum Imperil (Mainz, 1599, and again 1615). The Frankfort text appeared in 1742 as Aurea Bulla secundum exemplar originate Frankfurtense, edited by W. C. Maltz, and the text is also found in J. J. Schmauss, Corpus juris publici, edited by R. von Hommel (Leipzig, 1794), and in the Ausgewahlte Urkunden zur Erlauterung der Verfassungsgeschichte Deutschlands im Mittelalter, edited by W. Altmann and E. Bernheim (Berlin, 1891, and again 1895): German translations, none of which, however, had any official authority, were published at Nuremberg about 1474, at Venice in 1476, and at Strassburg in 1485. Among the earlier commentators on the document are H.Canisius and J. Lim naeus who wrote In A uream Bullam (Strassb urg, 1662). The student will find a good account of the older literature on the subject in C. G. Biener's Commenta'rii de origine et progressu legum juriumque Germaniae (1787-1795). See also J. D. von Olenschlager, Neue Erlauterungen der.Guldenen Bulle (Frankfort and Leipzig, 1766) ; H. G. von Thulemeyer, De Bulla Aurea, Argentea, &c. ' (Heidelberg, 1682) ; J. St Putter, Historische Entwickelung der heutigen Staatsverfassung des teutschen Reichs (Gottingen, 1786-1787), and O. Stobbe, Geschichte der deutschen Rechtsquellen (Bruns-wick, 186o-1864). Among the more modern works may be mentioned: E. Nerger, Die Goldne Bulle nach ihrem Ursprung (Gottingen, 1877), O. Hahn, Ursprung and Bedeutung der Goldnen Butte (Breslau, 1903); and M. G. Schmidt, Die staatsrechtliche Anwendung der Goldnen Butte (Halle, 1894). There is a valuable contribution to the subject in the puellensammlung zur Geschichte der deutschen Reichsvefassung, edited fry K. Zeumer (Leipzig,':19o4), and another by O. Harnack in his Das Kurfursten Kollegium bis zur Mitte des I4ten Jahrhunderts (Giessen, t 883). There is an English translation of the bull in E. F. Henderson's Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages (London, 1903). (A. W. H.*) GOLDEN-EYE, a name indiscriminately given in many parts of Britain to two very distinct species of ducks, from the rich yellow colour of their irides. The commonest of them—the Antis fuligula of Linnaeus and Fuligula cristata of most modern ornithologists—is, however, usually called by English writers the tufted duck, while " golden-eye " is reserved in books for the A. clangula and A. glaucion of Linnaeus, who did not know that the birds he so named were but examples of the same species, differing only in age or sex; and to this day many fowlers perpetuate a like mistake, deeming the " Morillon," which is the female or young male, distinct from the " Golden-eye " or Rattle-wings " (as from its noisy flight they oftener call it), which is the adult male. This species belongs to the group known as diving ducks, and is the type of the very well-marked genus C / tngula of later systematists, which, among other differences, has the posterior end of the sternum prolonged so as to extend considerably over, and, we may not unreasonably suppose, protect the belly—a character possessed in a still greater degree by the mergansers (Merginae), while the males also exhibit in the extraordinarily developed bony labyrinth of their trachea and its midway enlargement another resemblance to the members of the same subfamily. The golden-eye, C. glaucion of modern writers, has its home in the northern parts of both hemispheres, whence in winter it migrates southward; but as it is one of the ducks that constantly resorts to hollow trees for the purpose of breeding it hardly. transcends the limit of the Arctic forests on either continent. So well known is this habit to the people of the northern districts of Scandinavia, that they very commonly devise artificial nest-boxes for its accommodation and their own profit. Hollow logs, of wood are prepared, the top and bottom closed, and a hole cut in the side. These are affixed to the trunks of living trees in suitable places, at a convenient distance from the ground, and, being readily occupied by the birds in the breeding-season, are regularly robbed, first of the numerous eggs, and finally of the down they contain, by those who have set them up. The adult male golden-eye is a very beautiful bird, mostly black above, but with the head, which is slightly crested, reflecting rich green lights, a large oval white patch under each ,eye and elongated white scapulars; the lower parts are wholly white and the feet bright orange, except the webs, which are dusky. In the female and young male, dark brown replaces the black, the cheek-spots are indistinct and the elongated white sc.lhulars wanting. The golden-eye of North America has been by some authors deemed to differ, and has been named C. an-ricana, but apparently on insufficient grounds. North lmerica. however, has, in common with Iceland, a very distinct sn, cics. C. islandica, often called Barrow's duck, which is but a rare straggler to the continent of Europe, and never, so far as known, to Britain. In Iceland and Greenland it is the only habitual representative of the genus, and it occurs from thence to the Rocky Mountains. In breeding-habits it differs from the commoner species, not placing its eggs in tree-holes; but how far this difference is voluntary may be doubted, for in the countries it frequents trees are wanting. It is a larger and stouter bird, and in the male the white cheek-patches take a more crescentic form, while the head is glossed with purple rather than green, and the white scapulars are not elongated. The New World also possesses a third and still more beautiful species of the genus in C. albeola, known in books as the buff el-headed duck, and to American fowlers as the " spirit-duck " and " butter-ball " —the former name being applied from its rapidity in diving, and the latter from its exceeding fatness in autumn'. This is of small size, but the lustre of the feathers in the male is most brilliant., exhibiting a deep plum-coloured gloss on the head. It breeds in trees, and is supposed to have occurred more than once in Britain. (A. N.)
End of Article: GOLDEN BULL (Lat. Bulla Aurea)
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