CRACOW TESTAMENTS FROM THE TURN TO THE MODERN ERA IN THE LIGHT OF THE MAGDEBURG LAW (Testamenty krakowskie z przelomu sredniowiecza i nowozytnosci wobec zasad dziedziczenia wedlug prawa magdeburskiego)
The article is based on investigating 612 testaments registered before the year 1545 in Cracow court records (three books of testaments as well as alderman and councillor books) preserved in the State Archive in Cracow. The testaments were confronted with the rules of the Magdeburg Law, which was operative in Cracow, collected in the Magdeburg Weichbild (Ius municipale) and in the Sachsensspiegel, which covers civil and criminal law as well as procedural law, supplemented in the 15th-16th c. with the rulings of Magdeburg councillors and the resolutions of the city council of Cracow. The analysis indicates that the disposition of property in testaments followed the Magdeburg Law; moreover, it often was an additional confirmation of the regulations. This was probably the best way to implement the property strategies of Cracow families. The analysis revealed several recurrent elements decisive in the disposition of the bequeathed property. Those included: decisions concerning the testator's living spouse, which are listed as the most important ones, then decisions on legal heirs, legacies to the Church, monasteries and charitable institutions, and legacies to people whom the testator wanted to favour specially or to whom he/she had some obligations. Testaments also commonly included lists of the debts owed by and/or to the testator, which were so extensive that last wills often played the role of final financial statements. They also functioned as probate inventories, especially as concerned the movables that the testator was entitled to bequeath according to his/her wish (excluding geradae and armae bellicae, which were inherited by law as hereditates).
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.