Courland Statutes

Courland Statutes

 

(Statuta Curlandica), the feudal law code of the Duchy of Courland. The laws were drawn up in 1617 by the commissars of the Polish king, mainly on the basis of the Pil’tene Statutes formulated in 1611 by the Courland nobleman K. von Zakens. The Courland Statutes consisted of nine sections: the first two cover the judicial system, the third through eighth deal with the privileges of the nobility, and the ninth is on criminal law.

Curtailing the power of the duke, the Courland Statutes stressed the ruling position of the nobility in landowning as well as in the Landtag. Serfs were placed completely at the disposal of the feudal lord, who could sell them, forcibly extradite them, and even condemn them to death. The Courland Statutes legalized especially strict serfdom in Courland, based on Roman slaveholding law.

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