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Popular courts and legal transition: Rügegerichte in the Sattelzeit 1763-1831
The Project "Popular courts and legal transition: Rügegerichte in the Sattelzeit 1763-1831” studies one instance of a Koselleckian Sattelzeit: legal transition in the German states, which is often seen as one of the main driving forces of “modernity”. I will focus on the Rügegerichte which were one of the lower organs of justice – a practice that has gone out today but was found in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire from the middle ages to the nineteenth century (especially in Franconia, Saxony and Swabia). In the early nineteenth century these courts were being hotly debated, and therein lies the historical transition we are trying to pin down. The project will show how these courts were places of popular politicization: civil servants came to read aloud the new laws and rules in the smallest villages, to receive the oath of young adults, to listen to the denunciations (the Rügen) . The courts thus participated in a rich and relatively unstudied interchange between the State and the people and cast a peculiar light on a complex transition.