Poland 1791 Constitution

XI. The National Armed Force

The nation bears a duty to its own defense from attack and for the safeguarding of its integrity. Therefore all citizens are defenders of the national integrity and liberties. The military are nought but a defensive force drawn and ordered from the general force of the nation. The nation owes reward and esteem to its military because they dedicate themselves solely to the nation’s defense. It is the military’s duty to protect the nation’s borders and general peace, in a word, to be its strongest shield. That the military fulfill this charge unfailingly, they shall remain always in obedience to the executive authority, as prescribed by law, and shall execute an oath of fidelity to the nation and to the King and to the defense of the national Constitution. Thus the nation’s military may be used for the general defense of the country, for the safeguarding of fortresses and borders, or in aid of law, if any not be obedient to its execution.

Our Free Royal Cities in the States of the Commonwealth

[A Sejm act, adopted 18 April 1791, and declared integral to the later May 3rd Constitution: see the Constitution, article III.]

Obl[ata] de 21 aprilis 1791 {Latin: “Registered, 21 April 1791”]

Article I. On the Cities

  1. We recognize all the royal cities in the lands of the Commonwealth as free.
  2. We recognize the citizens of these cities as free people, and the land within the cities inhabited by them, their homes, villages and territoria that lawfully now belong to them, as their hereditary property, which fact shall not impede pending litigation.
  3. We the King shall issue to cities whose foundation charters have been lost, upon proof of their previous existence, diplomata renovationis [renewed charters of privileges] together with the grant of land that they now indubitably possess.
  4. We the King shall issue foundation charters, if they do not yet have them, to royal cities in which district regional seyms are designated.
  5. If a settlement of free people in a happily situated place on royal lands shall give its abode the pleasing form of a city, in that event we the King shall issue to that settlement diploma erectionis [a founding charter] for the new city, together with a grant of land.
  6. Likewise squires on their lands shall have the right to establish cities or to confer freedom upon the husbandmen, and to make their cities locally hereditary; such settlements, however, shall not enter the rolls of free cities, except the squire shall by instrument of foundation grant them hereditary land, and then we the King shall, upon the squire’s own request, issue diploma confirmationis [a document of confirmation] of this instrument and shall command the squire’s instrument of foundation to be inscribed into said diploma.
  7. Inasmuch as there is a single law for all cities, a citizen of any city whatever shall enjoy equal privileges under the present law.
  8. All citizens of a city, whether of noble or civic birth, who wish to conduct commerce in pounds, cubits, etc., if they have or shall obtain property in the cities, of whatever dignity, profession or craft they may be, shall be obliged to accept and abide by civic law. Others of the nobility may accept civic law.
  9. Acceptance of civic law shall take place in the following manner. Everyone accepting civic law, on coming before the civic authorities in person or through a plenipotentiary, shall make declaration in the following words: “I, N.N. [Latin abbreviation for nomen nescio, “I do not know the name”], shall be faithful to His Majesty the King and to the Commonwealth, I take obedience to the laws and statutes of the Sejm as the strictest duty, I wish to be subject to the superior authority of the city of N [Latin abbreviation for nomen, “name”], to which I am joined in citizenship, and shall keep every obligation, all of which I pledge both for myself and for my heirs.” After the execution of the declaration, he shall be inscribed into the book of citizens of the city.
  10. The cities shall not refuse admission to citizenship, and inscription into the civic book, of any honest foreigners, nor of any craftsmen, free people, or Christians not by law subject to anyone, and that without fee.
  11. Nobles by birth as well as those citizens of the civic estate who shall be admitted to the dignity of nobility, shall henceforth in no way be damaged or demeaned, either themselves or their heirs, in the dignity or prerogatives of nobility, by accepting civic citizenship, abiding in it, holding offices, conducting commerce, or maintaining manufactures.
  12. The election, by the citizens of the cities, of their own civic authorities, to wit, of mayors, aldermen and all and sundry officials, as an attribute of liberty, abides with the liberty of the city. Likewise shall the cities have power to make dispositions as to internal order and see to their execution, about which they shall inform the Commission of Police through reports.
  13. Wherefore all citizens of a city who are inscribed in the civic book and own a hereditary property, may elect and be elected to all civic offices by a majority of opinions. But no one may unite an executive office and a landed proprietor’s function with the office and function of civic plenipotentiary, under pain of invalidating both; nor may a currently serving military person be a civic official.

Article II. On the Prerogatives of Townspeople

  1. We extend the cardinal law of neminem captivabimus nisi iure victum [Latin: “We shall imprison no one unless he be lawfully sentenced”] to persons residing in towns, save for guileful bankrupts who fail to post sufficient bail in court and who have been caught in the act.
  2. Cities wherein appellate courts are designated, shall before every ordinary sejm elect one plenipotentiary by majority vote from among citizens who own hereditary property in the cities, are suitable for public service, are crimine non notatos [not punished for a crime], are not under legal proceedings, and are distinguished by previous civic office, with freedom to choose said plenipotentiaries as well from other cities. These plenipotentiaries shall come on the day appointed for the sejm’s opening to the city designated for sejms and shall give the marshal of the sejm the result of their election. At provincial [prowincjonalne] sessions, plenipotentiaries of the cities shall be elected to the commissions of Police, Treasury and the assessory, and at the selfsame sessions they shall be designated each to the commission and assessory to which they are to belong. But though all these may sit on the said commissions and the assessory as designated, still no more shall sit on the Commissions of Treasury and Police than two each, nor in the assessory more than three each from every province [prowincya]. The commissioners and assessors in these commissions and in the assessory shall have vocem activam [an active voice (vote?)] in matters pertaining to cities and commerce, and in other circumstances vocem consultivam [a consultative voice (vote?)]. If any or all the plenipotentiaries from the cities which have the right to elect plenipotentiaries shall be confirmed further, they may remain for a second two years. And in arranging the table of expenditures we shall establish a salary for these commissioners and assessors, for such number as is designated to sit on the commissions and on the assessory.
  3. That the government’s solicitude for all the cities shall deal proper justice to their requests, we permit our cities to bring the desideria [desires] of the cities before the sejm through the civic assessors or commissioners serving on the assessory and on the Commissions of Treasury and Police; and these, when it become necessary and they desire it, shall ask the marshal of the sejm for permission to speak [glos], and this shall not be denied them, and they shall argue in the manner today practiced, whereby delegates from the commissions take the floor.
  4. After two years’ public service in the aforesaid commissions or assessory, the plenipotentiaries elected by the cities shall at the next sejm immediately be ennobled, without fee for the patent nobilitatis [of nobility], if they not yet be nobles.
  5. Every townsman may henceforth acquire landed and other property as hereditament, own it entirely, and bequeath it to his heirs as his rightful successors, possess property by succession or iure potioritatis [by right of preference: a graduated priority of close family members in purchasing real property in the event of its sale by the current owner]; for which property, though they be townspeople, they shall be answerable to the court proper to property.
  6. Such townsman as shall purchase an entire village or town as hereditament that pays in taxes, every 10th grosz, at least 200 zlotych, shall by virtue of the present law at the very first sejm, if he submit written application for it through the sejm marshal to the estates, be ennobled.
  7. Additionally, at every sejm 30 townspeople who own hereditary property in the cities shall be admitted to the privilege of nobility, with first consideration given to those who distinguish themselves in the military, serve on civilian-military committees of order, establish manufactures, conduct commerce in products of the country, and upon recommendation by landed deputies and upon recommendation by the cities.
  8. In all the armed forces (excepting the national cavalry), in every corps and regiment, citizens of civic condition shall henceforth be eligible to attain officers’ ranks. And he who attains the rank of Stabskapitaen or company captain in the infantry, or captain of horse in a regiment, shall by virtue of the present law become a nobleman as well as his descendants, with all the prerogatives thereto pertaining, and we the King shall, upon showing of their commissions, issue diplomata nobilitatis [patents of nobility] to them, to which no stamp duty shall apply.
  9. Citizens of civic condition shall henceforth be eligible to serve in the chancelleries and palestras of all government commissions, court dicasteries, and other lesser courts, to act as court defender and to perform other services and to advance in rank in these offices according to their merits and abilities; and whoever of these attains the rank of chancellery regent in government dicasteries, shall at the very next sejm be ennobled, and we the King shall issue such diploma nobilitatis without fee.
  10. In the spiritual estate, persons of civic condition shall be eligible to hold prelatures and canonicates in collegiate churches, and doctoral canonicates in cathedrals, as well as all beneficia saecularia et regularia [secular and monastic benefices], excluding those that are established particularly for persons of noble birth.
  11. Commissioners from cities lying within the ambit of the commissions may be elected to the civilian-military committees of order of provinces, districts and counties, three apiece to each committee, be they of noble birth or of civic condition, provided only they own hereditary property in the city.
  12. Our cities of Gdansk and Torun, when they have requests, shall present them to the estates through their secretary to the marshal of the sejm or through their delegates, if they so choose, upon receiving from the marshal of the sejm permission to speak [glos], which shall not be denied them.
  13. The penalty for falsely claiming possession of property shall be as follows: whoever give someone hereditary landed property in exchange for a promissory note, shall forfeit it in perpetuity, and the court shall grant the said property to him who demonstrates the promissory note. Even should it be the same person who holds the property in exchange for a promissory note who proves this status of the property, it shall be granted to him in perpetuity. And the landed-property court shall judge such cases praecisa appellatione [without appeal].
  14. We abrogate all previous laws and statutes contrary to the present law on cities, and we proclaim the present act on cities to be constitutional law.