The Hanseatic League




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Sigismund (1506-1548) granted this charter to Kiev on 29 March 1514, awarding the city the Magdeburg law.

SOURCE: “The Charter Confirming Magdeburg Law for Kiev.” In Vernadsky, George, ed. A Source Book for Russian History From Early Times to 1917,vol. 1, Early Times to the Late Seventeenth Century. New Haven and London: Yale U. Press, 1972. p. 109-110.
Included here under fair use regulations.

Page 109 Page 110

The mayor [voit] and townspeople of the town of Kiev have petitioned us and informed us that our brother, His Grace the king and grand duke Alexander of glorious memory, for the enhancement of the town of Kiev, had granted to them in his benevolence the German or Magdeburg law, to townspeople of Roman, Greek, and Armenian faith alike, so that in the future as well the townspeople would be governed in accordance with all the articles of that law....
     Therefore, taking into consideration their services and the losses they suffer from our enemies in the borderland [the Tatars], and desiring that this town of ours should increase in population and prosperity, out of particular benevolence we have done as they petitioned, that is, we have granted for all time to come the German law, called the Magdeburg, to our town of Kiev and to all [its] townspeople, present and future, of Roman, Greek, and Armenian faith; they shall observe this

law in its entirety and goven themselves by t, just as our town of Vil'no possesses and is subject to that Magdeburg law; and we exempt them [the people of Kiev] from Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian laws and from all other customs that contravene that German Magdeburg law; and we likewise exempt all our townspeople from any authority, force, or coercion... on the part of voevody and judges and the entire body of our officials, so that... in matters great and small alike... the townspeople of the town of Kiev shall be answerable to their mayor, whoever he may be, and the mayor shall not be answerable to anyone but ourselves, and only in accordance with that same German law, and then only if he is summond before us by our message. In criminal cases and in all other above-mentioned matters the mayor of that town of ours shall likewise have full authority to judge and sentence [men], to punish and behead and impale and drown, as contained and indicated in that German Magdeburg law in all its articles....
     ... The weighing tax shall be paid to us as of old; likewise the silver tax [collected from all peasants and townspeople] shall be paid to us as it is in our other towns. [The people of Kiev] shall likewise keep guard in the field against that Tatars at all times, in accordance with ancient custom, in the same places where they kept guard before; and likewise whenever the need should arise, however many times a year, to set forth with us or with our subjects in pursuit of the Tatars, they shall all set forth mounted and armed and shall [furnish men] in accordance with their wealth, as they are obliged to do in case of war, without any delay or disobedience, as soon as we or our officials issue orders. They shall likewise keep guard and call the watch around our castle in Kiev, in accordance with ancient custom. In addition, they shall hold two fairs each yearfor the support of our town....
     And they shall observe this Magdeburg law in every respect and be governed by it, just as our town of Vil'no observes it and is governed by it; and by this charter of our we confirm eternally and inviolably for all time to come, and for future townspeople of Kiev, all those above-mentioned rights and exemptions which we have granted to them [and] to our town.