The Regensburg Statutes (1459)
The Statutes of the Stonecutters and Masons’ Association, commonly called the Statutes of Regensburg, were adopted on April 25, 1459, at a general meeting of Stone Masons and Master Builders of Germany (1) held in the city of Regensburg. The same day, the architect of the cathedral of Strasbourg, Jobst (Josse) Dotzinger, was appointed President and Judge or Grand Master of all the Lodges of the Holy Roman Empire: the principal ones being those of Strasbourg, Cologne, Vienna and Bern.
These statutes were completed in 1464 and 1469; approved by the Emperor Maximilian (1459-1519) in 1498, and revised in Strasbourg in 1563. They remained in force until the early 17th century (2).
The context - The 15th Century was a period of unrest and anxiety. While the Hundred Years’ War (between England and France) ended in 1453, the so-called War of the Roses raged across the Channel from 1455 to 1485; in the meantime, Charles VII of France (1403-1461) strove to strengthen his royal power against the Lords and his own son, the future King Louis XI.
In Germany, Frederick III (1415-1493), Emperor since 1452, faced a Hungarian opposition and a loss of authority. Cities of the Roman empire – which included Strasbourg, as a free imperial city, with 26,000 inhabitants – strove for more autonomy, while businesses were organized and codified.
So it was in Regensburg.
The document - The original document of the Statutes of Regensburg has been sought for a long time and remains unfound. So we have to rely on transcriptions; the most commonly used is a book published in 1888 by Joseph Neuwirth: Die Satzungen der Vereinigung des Steinmetz und Mauerer zu Klagenfurt.
The copy used for this publication is a little older: it has been taken directly from a book printed in 1844, which has never been translated into English, entitled: Die Bauhütte des Mittelalters in Deutschland, by Ritter Carl Heideloff.
Modern transcription from German.
In the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Ghost, and of our gracious Mother Mary, and also of her blessed servants, the holy Four Crowned Martyrs of everlasting memory:
Considering that true friendship, unanimity and obedience are the foundation of all good; therefore, and for the general advantage and free will of all princes, nobles, Lords, cities, chapters, and convents, who may desire at this time or in future to build churches, choirs, or other great works of stone, and edifices; that they may be the better provided and supplied, and also for the benefit and requirements of the Masters and fellows of the whole Craft of Masonry and masons in Germany, and more especially to avoid in future, between those of the Craft dissensions, differences, costs, and damages, by which irregular acts many Masters have suffered grievously, contrary to the good customs and ancient usages maintained and practiced in good faith by the seniors and patrons of the Craft in ancient times.
But that we may continue to abide therein in a true and peaceful way, we have, Masters and fellows all, of the said Craft, congregated in chapters at Spires (Speyer), at Strasbourg and at Regensburg, set our hands hereto, in the name and on behalf of ourselves and of all other Masters and fellows of our whole common Craft above mentioned, renewed and revised these ancient usages, and kindly and affably agreed upon these statutes of our fraternity.
And having by common consent drawn up the same, have also vowed and promised, for ourselves and all our successors, to keep them faithfully, as hereafter stands written:
1. - If any of the articles in these statutes should prove to be too strict and severe, or others too light and mild, then may those who are of the Fraternity (3), by a majority, modify decrease, or increase such articles, according to the requirements of the time, or country, or circumstance. The resolutions of those who shall meet together in chapters after the manner of this book shall thenceforth be observed, in accordance with the sacred oath taken by every one.
2. - Whoever of his own free will desires to enter into this Fraternity, according to the regulation as hereafter stands writ in this book, shall promise to keep all the points and articles, for then only can he be of our Craft. Those shall be Masters, who can design and erect costly edifices and works; for the execution of which they are authorized and privileged and shall not work with any other Craft, unless they choose to do so. Masters as well as fellows must conduct themselves honorably and not infringe upon the rights of others, or they may be punished according to these statues on the occasion of every such transgression.
3. - Whatever regular works and buildings are now in progress of erection by journey work – namely, Strasbourg, Cologne, Vienna, and Passau and other such works, and also in the Lodges which belong to them – , and, according to custom, have been hitherto finished by journey work, such buildings and works as before mentioned shall be continued by journey work, and in no wise by task work; so that nothing be cut short of the work, to the damage of the contract as far as possible.
4. - If any Craftsman who has had regular work should die, then any Craftsman or Master, skilled in Masonry, and sufficient and able for work, may aspire to complete said work, so that the Lords owning or superintending such building may again be supplied with the requirements of Masonry. So also may any fellow do who understands such Masonry.
5. - Any Master may, in addition to his own work, undertake a work abroad, or a Master who has no such work may likewise undertake it, in which case he may give such work or building in good faith, in journey work, and continue it as best he can or may, so that the work and progress be not interrupted, according to the regulations and customs of Masonry.
If a Master fails to satisfy those persons who committed the work to him and reliable information be given thereof, then shall the said Master be called to account by the Craft, corrected, and punished, after having been sentenced; but if the Lords are not willing to do so, then may he do it as they choose, whether it be by task or journey work.
6. - If any Master who has had such a work or building die, and another Master comes and finds such stone-work, shall not cast away from the stone work the hewn and unset stones, without previous counsel and agreement with other Craftsmen, so that the owners and other honorable persons, who caused such edifice to be built, shall not be put to unjust expense, and also so that the Master who left such work not be defamed.
But if the owners choose to have such work removed then he may have it done, provided he seeks no undue advantage thereby.
7. - Neither shall the Master, nor those who have undertaken such work hire out anything that relates to or concerns hewn stones and what belongs to them, be it stone, lime, or sand; but to break or hew by contract or by journey work he may be allowed without risk.
8. - If masons be required for hewing or setting stone, the Master may set such at work if they are able, so that the Lords are not hindered and those who are thus employed shall not be subject to these regulations unless of their own free will.
9. - Two Masters shall not share in the same work or building, unless it is a small one, which can be finished in the course of a year. Such a work he may have in common with him that is a brother.
10. - If any Master accepts a work in contract and makes a design for the same, how it shall be built, then he shall not cut anything short from the design, but shall execute it according to the plan which he has shown to the Lords, cities, or people, so that nothing is altered.
11. - Any Master or fellow who shall take away from another Master of the Fraternity of Craftsmen a work on which he is engaged, or who shall endeavor to dispossess him of such work, clandestinely or openly, without the knowledge or consent of the Master who has such work, be the same small or great, he shall be called to account.
No Master or fellow shall keep fellowship with him, nor shall any fellow of the Fraternity work for him, so long as he is engaged in the work which he has thus dishonestly acquired, nor until he has asked pardon and given satisfaction to him whom he has driven from his work and shall also have been punished in the Fraternity by the Masters, as is ordained by these statutes.
12. - If any one accepts in whole or in part any work which he does not understand how to execute, not having consulted any Craftsman thereon, nor having applied to the Lodge, he shall in no wise undertake the work; but if he attempts to do so, then no fellow shall work with him, so that the Lords are not put to expense by such an ignorant Master.
13. - No workman or Master or foreman or fellow-craft shall instruct any one who is not of our Craft in any way if he has not in his day completed his Masonic apprenticeship.
14. - No Craftsman or Master shall take money from a fellow for teaching or instructing him in anything belonging to Masonry, nor shall any foreman or fellow-craft instruct anyone for money’s sake; but if one wishes to instruct the other, they may do so mutually or for fraternal affection.
15. - A Master who has a work or a building for himself may have three apprentices and may also set to work fellows of the same Lodge that is, if his Lords so permit; but if he has more buildings than one, then shall he have no more than two apprentices on the afore-mentioned building, so that he shall not have more than five apprentices on all his buildings.
16. - No Craftsman or Master shall be received into the Fraternity who does not go yearly to Holy Communion, or who does not keep Christian discipline, or who squanders his substance at play; but should any one be inadvertently accepted into the Fraternity who does these things as aforesaid, then shall no Master or fellow keep fellowship with him until he desists therefrom, and has been punished for it by those of the Fraternity.
17. - No Craftsman or Master shall live an adulterous situation while engaged in Masonry; but if such a one will not desist therefrom, then shall no traveling fellow or mason work in company with him, or keep fellowship with him.
18. - If a fellow takes work with a Master who is not accepted into the Fraternity of Craftsmen, then shall the said fellow not be punishable for it.
So also, if a fellow takes work with a City Master, or with another Master, and is there set to work, that may he well do, so that every fellow may find work; but nevertheless such fellow shall keep the regulations as herein and hereinafter written, and shall also contribute his fee to the Fraternity, although he is not employed in the Lodges of the Fraternity, or with his fellow brethren.
But if a fellow would take unto himself a lawful wife and, not being employed in a Lodge, would establish himself in a city and be obliged to serve with a Craft, he shall on every Lent-week pay four pfennigs, and shall be exempt from the weekly pfennig because he is not employed in the Lodge.
19. - If a Master has a complaint against another Master for having violated the regulations of the Craft, or a Master against a fellow, or a fellow against another fellow, any Master or fellow who is concerned therein shall give notice thereof to the Master who presides over the Fraternity and the Master who is thereof informed shall hear both parties and set a day when he will try the cause; and meanwhile, before the fixed or appointed day, no fellow shall avoid the Master, nor the Master drive away the fellow, but render services mutually until the hour when the matter is to be heard and settled.
This shall all be done according to the judgement of the Craftsmen, which shall be observed accordingly. Moreover, the case shall be tried on the spot where it arose before the nearest Master who keeps the Book of Statutes, and in whose district it occurred.
20. - Every foreman shall honor his Master, be true and faithful to him, according to the rule of Masonry and obey him with undivided fidelity as is just and of ancient usage. So also shall a fellow do.
21. - And when a traveling fellow desires to travel further, he shall part from his Master and from the Lodge in such a way as to be indebted to no one and that no man have any grievance against him, as is just and proper.
22. - A travelling fellow, in whatever Lodge he may be employed, shall be obedient to his Master and to the foreman according to the rule and ancient usage of Masonry, and shall also keep all the regulations and privileges which are of ancient usage in the said Lodge and shall not criticize his Master’s work, either secretly or openly, in any form.
23. - But if the Master infringes upon these regulations and acts contrary to them, then any one may give notice thereof.
24. - Every Craftsman employing workmen in the Lodge, to whom these statutes are confided, and who is duly invested with authority, shall have the same power and authority over all contentions and matters which pertain to Masonry, to adjudicate and punish in his district. All Masters, foremen, and apprentices, shall obey him.
25. - A fellow who has traveled and is practiced in Masonry and who is of this Fraternity, who wishes to serve a Craftsman on a portion of the work, shall not be accepted by that Craftsman or Master for a term less than two years.
26. - All Masters and fellows who are of this Fraternity shall faithfully keep all the points and articles of these regulations as are herein and hereinafter written. But if anyone should perchance violate one of the points, and thereby become punishable, if afterward he is obedient to the regulation, by having complied with what has been sentenced upon him, he will have done sufficient, and be released from his vow, in regard to the article for which he has been punished.
27. - The Master who has charge of the Book shall, on the oath of the Fraternity, have a care that the same be not copied either by himself or by any other , or given, or lent, – so that the Book remain intact, according to the resolution of the Craftsmen. But if one of the Craftsmen, being of this Fraternity, have need or cause to know one or two articles, any Master may give that to him in writing. Every Master shall cause these statutes to be read every year to the fellows in the Lodge
28. - If a complaint be made involving a greater punishment, as for instance, expulsion from Masonry, the same shall not be tried or judged by one Master in his district; but the two nearest Masters who are entrusted with the copies of the statutes and who have authority over the Fraternity, shall be summoned by him so that there may be three.
The fellows also who were at work at the place where the grievance arose shall be summoned also, and whatsoever shall be with one accord agreed upon by those three, together with all the fellows, or by a majority thereof in accordance with their oath and best judgement, shall be observed by the whole Fraternity of Craftsmen.
29. - If two or more Masters who are of the Fraternity be at variance or discord about matters which do not concern Masonry, they shall not settle these matters anywhere but before Masonry, which shall judge and reconcile them as far as possible; but so that the agreement be made without prejudice to the Lords or cities who are concerned in the matter.
30. - Now, in order that these regulations of the Craft may be kept more honestly, with service to God and other necessary and becoming things, every Master who has Craftsmen at work in his Lodge and practices Masonry and is of this Fraternity shall each pay year four pfennigs; namely, on each Lent-week one gulden (4) to be paid into the funds of the Fraternity, and each fellow four blapparts, and so likewise an apprentice who has served his time.
31. - All Masters and Craftsmen who are of this Fraternity who employ workmen in their Lodges, shall each of them have a fund and each fellow shall pay into the funds one pfennig weekly. Every Master shall faithfully save up some money and what may be derived from other sources and shall each year deliver it to the Fraternity at the nearest place where a book is kept in order to provide for God’s worship and to supply the necessities or the Fraternity.
32. - Every Master who has a fund, if there is no Book in the same Lodge, shall deliver the money each year to the Master who has charge of the Book, and where the Book is, there shall divine worship also be held. If a Master or fellow dies in a Lodge where no Book is kept, another Master or fellow of the said Lodge shall give notice thereof to the Master who has a Book.
And when he has been informed thereof, he shall cause a mass to be said for the repose of the soul of him who has departed and all the Masters and fellows of the Lodge shall assist at the mass and contribute to it.
33. - If a Master or fellow is put to any expense or disbursement, on account of the Fraternity, and notice is given of how the expense occurred, such Master or fellow shall be repaid his expenses, whether they are small or large, out of the funds of the Fraternity; also, if anyone gets into trouble with courts or in other matters, relating to the Fraternity, then shall every one, whether he is a Master or fellow, afford him aid and relief, as he is bound to do by the oath of the Fraternity.
34. - If a Master or fellow fall sick, or a fellow who is of the Fraternity, and has lived uprightly in Masonry, is afflicted with protracted illness and wants for food and necessary money, then the Master who has charge of the funds shall lend him relief and assistance from the funds, if he can, until he recovers from his sickness; and he shall afterward vow and promise to reimburse the same into the funds.
But if he should die in such sickness, then so much shall be taken from what he leaves at his death, whether it is clothing or other articles, as to repay that which has been loaned to him, if so much is there.
These are the Statutes of the Foremen and Fellows
35. - No Craftsman or Master shall set to work a fellow who commits adultery, or who openly lives in illicit intercourse with women, or who does not yearly make confession and does not go to Holy Communion according to Christian discipline, nor one who is so foolish as to lose his clothing at gambling,
36. - If any fellow should want to take leave of a Grand Lodge or from another lodge, he should not request employment in the said Lodge for a year.
37. - If a Craftsman or Master wishes to discharge a traveling fellow whom he had employed, he shall not do so unless it is on a Saturday or on a pay evening, so that he may be able to travel on the next day, unless he is guilty of an offence. The same shall also be done with regard to a fellow.
38.o-oA traveling fellow shall make application for employment to no one except the Master of the work or the foreman, neither secretly nor openly, without the knowledge and will of the Master.
These are the Statutes of the Apprentices
39 - A Craftsman or Master shall not knowingly accept as an apprentice one who is illegitimate, and shall earnestly inquire thereof before he accepts him and shall question such apprentice on his word, whether his father and mother were duly united in lawful wedlock.
40. - No Craftsman or Master shall promote one of his apprentices to foreman whom he has taken as an apprentice from his rough state, or who is still in his years of apprenticeship.
41. - Neither shall any Craftsman or Master promote any of his apprentices to foreman whom he has taken from his rough state, notwithstanding that he may have served his years of apprenticeship, if he has not traveled for one year.
42. - If any one who has served with a Mason (Murer) comes to a Craftsman and wishes to learn from him, the said Craftsman shall not accept him as an apprentice unless he serves as such for a minimum period of three years.
43. - No Craftsman or Master shall take an apprentice from his rough state for a period less than five years.
44. - If, however, it happens that an apprentice should leave his Master during the years of his apprenticeship without sufficient reasons, and does not serve out his time, then no Master shall employ such apprentice.
No fellow shall work with him or in any way keep fellowship with him, until he has served his lawful time with the Master whom he left and has given him entire satisfaction and brings a certificate from his Master aforesaid. No apprentice shall ransom himself from his Master unless he intends to marry, with his Master’s consent, or there is other sufficient reasons which urge him or his Master to this measure.
45. - If an apprentice deems that he has not been justly dealt with by his Master, in any way they may have agreed upon, then the apprentice may bring him before the Craftsmen and Masters who are in that district, so that an explanation and redress may take place as the case may be.
46. - Every Master who has a Book in the district of Strasbourg shall pay every year at Christmas a half-florin into the funds of Strasbourg, until the debt is paid which is due to those funds.
47. - And every Master who has a Book and whose building is finished, and who has no more work whereby he can employ the fellows, shall send his Book and the money in his possession, which belongs to the Fraternity, to the Work Master at Strasbourg.
48. - It was resolved on the day at Regensburg, four weeks after Easter, in the year, counting from God’s birth, one thousand four hundred and fifty nine on St. Mark’s day, that the Work Master Jost Dotzinger, of Worms, of the building of our dear Lady’s minster, the high chapter of Strasbourg, and all of his successors on the same work, should be the Supreme Judge of our Fraternity of Masonry, and the same was also afterward determined on at Spires, at Strasbourg, and again at Spires in the year 1459, on the 9th day of April.
1. - According to some Masonic authors, some 17 contractors of the cathedrals of Regensburg, Strasburg, Vienna, Basel, Bern, Passau, Salzburg, Constance, Weissenau, Landshut, Ingolstadt, Weissenberg, Esslingen, Amberg, Hassfurt, Ochsenfurt and Cologne were present at the meeting of Regensburg. The presence of various Masters and Companions was also noted.
2. - The Statutes of Regensburg were to be read once a year to the members of the community. A copy of these statutes was given to all contractors, who had to give them back at the end of their project.
3. - We have preferred, in our transcription, the term: Fraternity to: Association, Brotherhood, Community, Company, Corporation, Fellowship, or Guild, as often used by transcribers. The following definitions are those of the New Oxford American Dictionary:
- Association - A group of people organized for a joint purpose.
- Brotherhood - An association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion, or trade.
- Community - A group of people living together in one place.
- Company - A number of individuals gathered together, esp. for a particular purpose
- Fellowship - A group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim.
- Corporation - A company or group of people authorized to act as a single entity (legally a person) and recognized as such in law.
- Fellowship - A group of people meeting to pursue a shared interest or aim.
- Fraternity - A group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
- Guild - An association of craftsmen or merchants, often having considerable power.
4. - Gulden, blappart, pfennig - Ancient coins in use in the Holy Roman Empire, dating back to the time of Charlemagne.