The Chelmno Rights

On 28th December 1233 the Grand National Master Hermann von Salza and Grand National Master Hermann Balk issued location papers for Chelmno and Torun at the same time.
These documents are called the original Chelmno Rights. The Teutonic Knights used elements of Magdeburgian, Hungarian and Flemish law to create the famous Chelmno Rights. According to the document Chelmno was to be a metropolitan city (civitas metropolitana) for the whole province, and in the future – for the whole Teutonic state.
These unusually modern rights were a sort of constitution regulating all the aspects of social, economical and political life of the city. They created perfect conditions for development and lives of the city inhabitants. The document was a basis for their wealth, a full bloom of crafts, trade, architecture and art, as well as economical and judicial independence. In the Chelmno Rights the Teutonic Order excused all the Chelmno Land from any duties, gave the right to elect a judge, determined the rules of minting coins and introduced a rule of inheritance for both sexes.
By the power of the Chelmno Rights as many as 225 cities, 1364 villages and various settlements were located since the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century. This document dating from 1233 burned around 1244 and on 1st October 1251 a new document (the so called renewed Chelmno Rights) was issued by the Order. This time two separate papers were prepared for Chelmno and Torun. In this document Chelmno was described as ‘major and more respected than other cities’. The papers are significant not only for Chelmno for another reason – it was there where a term ‘Chelmno coin’ appeared for the first time. Although a uniform coin was legislated in the original Chelmno Rights in 1233, it was the renewed Rights that described the coin’s name and its significance as a coin binding ‘in the whole world’. i.e. on the territory of the Teutonic State. The coin, also known as the Chelmno denarius, was the basis of the monetary system (so called mint standard) being in effect on the whole territory.
The Chelmno Rights are now kept in Geheimes Staatsarchiv Berlin – Dahlem.