Straf- und ordnungsrechtliche Regelungen in ländlichen Rechtsquellen und ihr spezifischer Wortschatz



German-language rural legal sources contain a multifaceted vocabulary that is unusually colourful compared to the rest of the legal language. This holds especially true regarding criminal law, criminal procedure and breaches of order, as this paper will illustrate with selected examples. They are based on the material of the “Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch” (DRW). This comprehensive dictionary of historical German legal terms encompasses extensive rural legal sources. In particular, the freely accessible online version with its various search tools offers convenient access to the rural legal sources and their terminology. Already the designations of the rural legal codes vary enormously, as do those of the courts and the legal proceedings such as the obligatory calling of the alarm in the case of a crime (so-called “Gerüfte”) in the Middle Ages. Although thefts occurred in town and village, the crimes differed in the objects stolen, which in the countryside were mainly related to everyday farming life. Poaching and fraudulent border manipulation played a major role in rural law. A separate vocabulary also developed for insults and acts of violence – such as pub brawls. The same applies to swearing, false oaths, superstitious practices and breaches of morality. Just as in the city, there were numerous fire regulations with their own terminology in the villages. Especially in the field of regulatory law, the large subject area of agriculture also plays a central role – with a broad canon of regulations for the protection of animals, pastures and plantations.

Keywords: Ländliche Rechtsquellen – ländliche Rechtsterminologie – Strafrecht und Ordnungsverstöße – Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch – Wortrecherche

How to Cite: Deutsch, A. (2023) “Straf- und ordnungsrechtliche Regelungen in ländlichen Rechtsquellen und ihr spezifischer Wortschatz”, Journal for Digital Legal History. 2(1). doi: