What are land rights

The General Prussian Land Law

Goal: A clear and just law

The efforts for a uniform law in Prussia reached back to King Friedrich I (1657-1713). However, the actual work on the new law was only started by his grandson Friedrich II (1712-1786). The enlightened absolutist king wanted to enact a clear and just law.

It was his great concern to end the abuse of rights among his legal officials by an exact wording of the laws. The "General Prussian Land Law" should now make the applicable law understandable and readable for everyone.

But Frederick II was unable to complete the legal reorganization under his aegis.

Equality before the law

The work of law was completed under his nephew and successor Friedrich Wilhelm II (1744-1797). The new law replaced previously valid legal norms such as Roman law and Saxony law. However, it was only a subordinate law that only came into effect when the local legal sources could not be exhausted.

The pioneering thing about the new law was that it guaranteed equality before the law for the subjects of the Prussian state and introduced the independence of the judiciary, i.e. the separation of powers, as well as uniform legal bodies.

In addition, the new law regulated civil, family, inheritance and feudal law. Since the introduction of the "General Prussian Land Law", Prussia was on the way from a police state to a constitutional state. The new law said:

"The laws and ordinances of the state must not restrict the natural freedom and rights of citizens more than the common end purpose requires."

The "General Prussian Land Law" remained in force in Prussia until 1900, with the exception of the areas on the left bank of the Rhine. A European comparison shows that it was one of the earliest comprehensive legal works on the continent. The important "Code Civil" was not introduced until 1804 under Napoleon. In 1853 the Canton of Zurich drafted its private law code and Italy did not issue its civil code until 1865.