The Bergregal[1] (German: [ˈbɛʁk.ʁeˌɡaːl]) was the historic right of ownership of untapped mineral resources in parts of German-speaking Europe; ownership of the Bergregal meant entitlement to the rights and royalties from mining. Historically, it was one of those privileges that constituted the original sovereign rights of the king.[2]

In addition to the Bergregal, another important sovereign privilege was the Münzregal or "minting rights", which was a consequence of the Bergregal since coins were minted near the mines from which their metal was obtained.[3]

Schlaegel und Eisen nach DIN 21800
The hammer and pick: symbol of mining


In the early days of the Roman Empire, the landowner had the right to extract minerals. The reason behind this was that mineral resources were seen as "fruit of the soil" which were deemed to belong the landowner.[4] The first regalia, or royal privileges, emerged in the first millennium, but there was still no Bergregal governing mining rights as part of the laws regulating property. Emperors and kings, the nobility or clerics who ruled over a territory, established this right for themselves, based on their ownership of land and the mineral resources found therein. This was easy for the king or territorial princes because, as a rule, they were the actual landowners.[5] But it was often political and economic circumstances rather than law and statute that were instrumental in the establishment of the Bergregal.

Statue of Otto the Rich in Freiberg, centre of mining in the Ore Mountains

The Emperor, Barbarossa, had the Bergregal recorded in writing for the first time in Germany as part of the Roncaglian Constitution in 1158. This effectively removed the right to extract minerals from the landowner who, from then on, had to purchase such rights from the king. As a result of the Roncaglian Constitution, mining rights passed over time into the hands of the territorial lords. This led to arbitrary presumptions of rights by these territorial princes.[4] Because of Kleinstaaterei – the plethora of minor states – and the special position of ecclesiastical principalities in the Holy Roman Empire, enforcement of the Bergregal by the emperor was virtually impossible.[5] and so, in many cases, it was given to the princes. For example, Frederick I vested this privilege in Otto the Rich, the Margrave of Meissen.[6] Likewise, the Bishop of Chur was given the Bergregal in 1349[4] and the King of Bohemia already received these rights even before the Golden Bull was issued.

In 1356, the Golden Bull finally enshrined in writing that these rights were ultimately held, not by the emperor, but by the seven electoral princes (the archbishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier, the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Duke of Saxony, Margrave of Brandenburg) as his territorial lords.[6] Existing grants of rights to lower-ranking lords were unaffected. In general, the electoral princes were keen to retain the Bergregal for themselves.

The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, saw the rights of the Bergregal pass from the electoral princes to the lesser nobility. To enforce their mining rights, the territorial lords had mining regulations enacted, the so-called Bergordnung, which regulated in detail the mining activities, the duties or tithes (the Zehnt), the structure of the mining authorities and the privileges of the miners themselves. [7]

In the 19th century the Bergregal in the German states was gradually superseded by mining acts or Berggesetze. In Prussia, the Bergregal was ended by the General Mining Act for the Prussian States (Allgemeine Berggesetz für die Preußischen Staaten) or ABG of 24 June 1865. Landowners' rights were removed and mining regulations were clearly defined in the Berggesetz.[8] This process began with the Napoleonic conquests, when French law was temporarily enacted in many parts of Germany, and was largely completed with the adoption of the General Mining Act of the Kingdom of Saxony (Allgemeinen Berggesetzes für das Königreich Sachsen) on 16 June 1868.[9]

Legal implications and exercise

As a result of the Bergregal, there was a legal separation of property ownership and mining rights. Local landowners were only left with exploration and mining rights for a few unimportant minerals.[6] The territorial prince, on the other hand, had three options by which he could exercise his rights under the Bergregal:

  1. He could reserve the right to mine for himself (self-profit)
  2. He could award mining rights to a third party (transfer of profit)
  3. He could give everyone the right to mine (alienation of the Bergregal to third parties)

The first opportunity for mining to be operated for the benefit of the state came in those countries in which mining was regulated by free declaration (Freierklärung). But here, the ruler had to have explicitly renounced his rights to the exploitation of natural resources. In practice, no German state – indeed no European state – had a monopoly over mining rights.

The way mining rights were granted went back to the days of feudalism. However, mining privileges was not just granted to certain individuals, but also to entire estates or towns.[10] In particular, towns involved in the mining industry for a long time were given special privileges and rights. One of these was the granting of the "freedom to mine" (Bergfreiheit), with its associated privileges, to the miners and burghers of the towns. These privileges were intended to support the mining industry and growth of the towns.[11] However, this freedom was not part of the Bergregal; it was based, in the German states at least, on the old mining constitutions. In these constitutions, the Bergregal was exercised through the declaration of such freedom. It was also quite common for all three options described above to be used simultaneously in the same state.[10]

Distinctions and demarcations

Specifically which minerals were governed by the Bergregal varied from state to state, but generally there were two categories: the "upper" or "higher" Bergregal and the "lower" Bergregal.[12] The upper Bergregal, which covered the mining of precious metals (gold and silver), but could include salt and precious stones remained, almost without exception, in the hands of the state rulers.[13] Precious stones and salt were not part of the upper Bergregal in all countries, however.[14] The lower Bergregal covered the mining of base metals, like iron, tin, copper, cobalt, lead and bismuth, as well as the minerals arsenic, sulphur, saltpetre and antimony. In many cases these rights were awarded to a third party or granted to landowners under the mining regulations (Bergordnung).[13]

The mining of bituminous coal, brown coal and peat did not initially come under the Bergregal; instead ownership remained with the landowners because these resources were classed as fossil fuels. But the territorial lords very quickly realised that coal mining was potentially very lucrative and, as a result, the Bergregal was soon extended to cover coal too.[6] Peat cutting continued to fall outside the Bergregal,[12] as did the quarrying of gravel, clay, marl and limestone. These minerals were the property of the landowners.[14] In the Prussian states, semi-precious stones and precious stones were not part of the Bergregal if they were lying loose in a field or were brought to light in the course of economic activity such as ploughing.[12]


Issues inevitably arose over the Bergregal. In states where specific resources were not governed by a mining act (Bergrecht), but were now regulated by a newly introduced Bergregal, there was serious opposition from the mining companies. They did not initially want to denounce their ownership in order to lease the right to mine or to have to lease their mine property. In addition, new taxes, such as the mine tithe and special mine duties like the so-called Quatembergeld, led to unrest amongst the mine operators.[8] The introduction of coal tithes frequently led to disputes. To pay the coal tithe, 10 per cent of coal production had to be separated into special heaps. This coal had to be sold first, the profit going to the territorial lords. This coal was often stolen by night.[6] As a result, the mining companies had to be supervised by mining authorities (Bergbehörde). In the mining fields of the Mark of Brandenburg, there was such unrest that the military had to intervene.[8]

Other problems were caused by the location of the ore deposits. If a deposit extended over two territories, there could be disagreements at the state border. The mining operators often ended up in conflict. Because different organizations were responsible on either side of the border, there was the question of which mining jurisdiction (mining court or Berggericht) was responsible for handling a case. These disputes could adversely affect the relationship between the territorial princes as well as the local mining industry. The situation was aided slightly, if the powers of one mining court were greater than those of the other.[15]


The Bergregal represented a considerable source of income for its owner. The entitlement to a fixed percentage (usually 10%) of the commodity (in the early days of mining usually salt or ore) from each pit, (the so-called mine tithe, Bergzehnt or Fron) formed the basis for the wealth of the great rulers, for example, in the Electorate of Hanover and Duchy of Saxony, helping to finance their expensive royal households.[14] The owner of the Bergregal also had the option of first refusal. This effectively resulted in a monopoly. In this way, many regions laid the economic foundations for their future development and the territorial lords and princes showed great interest in the promotion of the mines in their lands, whether through advances, grants or joint construction, because a decline in the mining industry could result in an empty treasury.

Present-day regulations

Following the end of the Bergregal, mining acts were introduced in the individual states to govern the extraction of mineral resources. In Germany the exploration and extraction of natural resources is governed by the Federal Mining Act (Bundesberggesetz).[16] The Austrian equivalent is the Raw Materials Act (Mineralrohstoffgesetz).[17] In Switzerland, the exploration and mining of minerals is regulated by the Swiss Bergregal.[18] In 1649, ten courts in Graubünden broke away from Austrian rule. At that time it was already laid down that mining rights under the Bergregal lay with the landowner. This regulation is still in force today.[19]

See also


  • Heiner Lück: Art. Bergrecht, Bergregal. In: Albrecht Cordes, Heiner Lück, Dieter Werkmüller, Ruth Schmidt-Wiegand (eds.), Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte, 2nd, fully revised and expanded edition, Vol. I, Erich-Schmidt-Verlag, Berlin, 2008, pp. 527–533. ISBN 978-3-503-07912-4
  • Guido Pfeifer: Ius Regale Montanorum. Ein Beitrag zur spätmittelalterlichen Rezeptionsgeschichte des römischen Rechts in Mitteleuropa, Münchener Universitätsschriften – Juristische Fakultät – Abhandlungen zur rechtswissenschaftlichen Grundlagenforschung, Vol. 88, Aktiv Druck & Verlag GmbH, Ebelsbach am Main, 2002. ISBN 3-932653-12-2
  • Wakefield, Andre (2009). The Disordered Police State: German Cameralism as Science and Practice, Chapter 2: Science and Silver for the Kammer, University of Chicago.
  • Hübner, Rudolf (xxxx). A History of Germanic Private Law
  • Postan, Michael Moïssey and Miller, Edward (1987). The Cambridge Economic History of Europe: Trade and industry in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press.
  • United States. Dept. of the Treasury,Rossiter Worthington Raymond (1869). Statistics of mines and mining in the states and territories West of the Rocky Mountains, Band 1868


  1. ^ Berg, "mountain" or, in this context, "mining" + Regal, "regalia" or "right", as in droit de régale. Sometimes seen as Bergwerksregal.
  2. ^ Wirtschaftsvereinigung Bergbau e.V.: Das Bergbau Handbuch. 5th edition, Verlag Glückauf GmbH, Essen, 1994, ISBN 3-7739-0567-X
  3. ^ Hermann Schulz: Das System und die Prinzipien der Einkünfte im werdenden Staat der Neuzeit. Druckerei Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1982, ISBN 3-428-05144-0
  4. ^ a b c Hans Krähenbühl: Bergrichter, Bergordnungen und Bergknappen. In Der Bergknappe 85 (accessed on 22 August 2011)
  5. ^ a b Volker Dennert: Salzgewinnung und Salzrecht Archived 26 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 22 August 2011)
  6. ^ a b c d e Joachim Huske: Der Steinkohlenbergbau im Ruhrrevier von seinen Anfängen bis zum Jahr 2000. 2nd edition, Regio-Verlag Peter Voß, Werne, 2001, ISBN 3-929158-12-4
  7. ^ Bergrecht. TH Clausthal Zellerfeld Archived 12 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 22 August 2011)
  8. ^ a b c Helmut Schelter: Die historische Entwicklung des Landesoberbergamtes Nordrhein-Westfalen. (accessed on 22 August 2011)
  9. ^ Bergrecht bei (accessed on 22 August 2011)
  10. ^ a b Carl Hartmann (ed.): Handwörterbuch der Berg-, Hütten- u. Salzwerkskunde der Mineralogie und Geognosie. First Volume, Second fully reworked edition, Buchhandlung Bernhard Friedrich Voigt, Weimar, p. 185
  11. ^ C. J. B. Karsten: Ueber den Ursprung des Berg-Regals in Deutschland. Druck und Verlag von G. Reimer, Berlin, 1844
  12. ^ a b c Hermann Brassert: Berg-Ordnungen der Preussischen Lande. F.C. Eisen's Königliche Hof-Buch- und Kunsthandlung, Cologne, 1858
  13. ^ a b Heinrich Veith: Deutsches Bergwörterbuch mit Belegen. Verlag von Wilhelm Gottlieb Korn, Breslau 1871
  14. ^ a b c Johann Samuel Schröter: Mineralisches und Bergmännisches Wörterbuch über Rahmen, Worte und Sachen aus der Mineralogie und Bergwerkskunde. First Volume, bei Barrentrapp und Wenner, Frankfurt am Main, 1789
  15. ^ Hans Ladstätter: Zur Geschichte des Bergbaues in Defereggen. In Osttiroler Heimatblätter Archived 6 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 23 August 2011)
  16. ^ Bundesberggesetz Online (accessed on 23 August 2011)
  17. ^ Österreichisches Mineralrohstoffgesetz – MinroG. Online Archived 7 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 23 August 2011)
  18. ^ Vollzugsverordnung zur Verordnung über das Bergregal und die Nutzung des. Untergrundes 1. (dated 30 May 2000). Online Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 23 August 2011)
  19. ^ Kurt Bächtinger: Lagerstättenbildung und Anfänge des Bergbaues in der Schweiz aus neuen Erkenntnissen Archived 29 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed on 23 August 2011)
Air rights

Air rights are the property interest in the "space" above the earth's surface. Generally speaking, owning, or renting, land or a building includes the right to use and develop the space above the land without interference by others.

This legal concept is encoded in the Latin phrase Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos ("Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell."), which appears in medieval Roman law and is credited to 13th-century glossator Accursius; it was notably popularized in common law in Commentaries on the Laws of England (1766) by William Blackstone; see origins of phrase for details.


A Bergamt or mining office is a mining supervisory authority in German-speaking countries below the level of the state. It exercises immediate supervision of all activities, facilities and equipment associated with mining. This includes the promotion and monitoring of operational safety and workplace safety.


A Bergmeister (Latin: Magister montium) was a mine manager or foreman in German-speaking Europe who, along with the Bergvogt, was one of the officials serving on a mining court (Berggericht). There were Bergmeisters in every mining district in Germany. In Austria the Bergmeister was also called the Obristbergmeister.


The Bergordnung were the mining regulations or law enacted in order to exercise the royal mining rights or Bergregal in central Europe in medieval times.

Customary land

Customary land is land which is owned by indigenous communities and administered in accordance with their customs, as opposed to statutory tenure usually introduced during the colonial periods. Common ownership is one form of customary land ownership.

Since the late 20th century, statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge. The gap between formally recognized and customarily held and managed land is a significant source of underdevelopment, conflict, and environmental degradation.In the Malawi Land Act of 1965, "Customary Land" is defined as "all land which is held, occupied or used under customary law, but does not include any public land". In most countries of the Pacific islands, customary land remains the dominant land tenure form. Distinct customary systems of tenure have evolved on different islands and areas within the Pacific region. In any country there may be many different types of customary tenure.The amount of customary land ownership out of the total land area of Pacific island nations is the following: 97% in Papua New Guinea, 90% in Vanuatu, 88% in Fiji, 87% in the Solomon Islands, and 81% in Samoa.

Droit de régale

Droit de régale (French: [dʁwa də ʁeɡal]) is a medieval legal term and originally denoted rights that belonged exclusively to the king, either as essential to his sovereignty (jura majora, jura essentialia), such as royal authority; or accidental (jura minora, jura accidentalia), such as the right of the chase, of fishing, mining, etc. By abuse, many sovereigns in the Middle Ages and in later times claimed the right to seize the revenues of vacant episcopal sees or imperial abbeys. Gradually, jus regaliae came to be applied almost exclusively to that assumed right.

Intangible property

Intangible property, also known as incorporeal property, describes something which a person or corporation can have ownership of and can transfer ownership to another person or corporation, but has no physical substance, for example brand identity or knowledge/intellectual property. It generally refers to statutory creations such as copyright, trademarks, or patents. It excludes tangible property like real property (land, buildings, and fixtures) and personal property (ships, automobiles, tools, etc.). In some jurisdictions intangible property are referred to as choses in action. Intangible property is used in distinction to tangible property. It is useful to note that there are two forms of intangible property: legal intangible property (which is discussed here) and competitive intangible property (which is the source from which legal intangible property is created but cannot be owned, extinguished, or transferred). Competitive intangible property disobeys the intellectual property test of voluntary extinguishment and therefore results in the sources that create intellectual property (knowledge in its source form, collaboration, process-engagement, etc.) escaping quantification.

Generally, ownership of intangible property gives the owner a set of legally enforceable rights over reproduction of personal property containing certain content. For example, a copyright owner can control the reproduction of the work forming the copyright. However, the intangible property forms a set of rights separate from the tangible property that carries the rights. For example, the owner of a copyright can control the printing of books containing the content, but the book itself is personal property which can be bought and sold without concern over the rights of the copyright holder.

In English law and other Commonwealth legal systems, intangible property is traditionally divided in pure intangibles (such as debts, intellectual property rights and goodwill) and documentary intangibles, which obtain their character through the medium of a document (such as a bill of lading, promissory note or bill of exchange). The recent rise of electronic documents has blurred the distinction between pure intangibles and documentary intangibles.


Jeseník (Czech pronunciation: [ˈjɛsɛɲiːk]), Frývaldov until 1948 (Czech pronunciation: [ˈfriːvaldof]; German: Freiwaldau) is a town in the Olomouc Region of the Czech Republic, the administrative capital of Jeseník District.

List of types of formally designated forests

This is a list of types of formally designated forests, as used in various places around the world. It is organized in three sublists: by forest ownership, protection status, and designated use.

Mineral rights

Mineral rights are property rights to exploit an area for the minerals it harbors. Mineral rights can be separate from property ownership (see Split estate).

Mining act

The main purpose of mining acts (German: Berggesetze) in law is to govern the structure of mining authorities and their responsibilities, the entitlement to mining and the oversight of safety in and around the mines. With the introduction of parliamentary legislative powers, they replaced the earlier mining regulations issued by royalty or nobility to their states and territories.

Mining community

A mining community, also known as a mining town or a mining camp, is a community that houses miners. Mining communities are usually created around a mine or a quarry.

Mining law

Mining law is the branch of law relating to the legal requirements affecting minerals and mining. Mining law covers several basic topics, including the ownership of the mineral resource and who can work them. Mining is also affected by various regulations regarding the health and safety of miners, as well as the environmental impact of mining.

Nalžovské Hory

Nalžovské Hory is a town of Klatovy District within the Plzeň region of the Czech Republic. The municipality was established in 1951 by the merger of Stříbrné Hory (German: Silberberg) with Nalžovy (Ellischau).

Property rights (economics)

Property rights are theoretical socially-enforced constructs in economics for determining how a resource or economic good is used and owned. Resources can be owned by (and hence be the property of) individuals, associations or governments. Property rights can be viewed as an attribute of an economic good. This attribute has four broad components and is often referred to as a bundle of rights:

the right to use the good

the right to earn income from the good

the right to transfer the good to others

the right to enforce property rightsIn economics, property is usually considered to be ownership (rights to the proceeds generated by the property) and control over a resource or good. Many economists effectively argue that property rights need to be fixed and need to portray the relationships among other parties in order to be more effective.

Right of coinage in the Holy Roman Empire

The right of coinage in the Holy Roman Empire (in German Münzregal) was one of the so-called regalia (also called royal privileges or sovereign rights). It consisted of the right to issue regulations governing the production and use of coins. It covered the specification of currency, the right to mint and the right to use coins and the profit from minting. It is variously referred to in English sources as the "right of coinage", "coinage regality", "regality of coinage", "minting privileges" and "coinage prerogative".

Saxon Mining Office

The Saxon Mining Office (German: Sächsisches Oberbergamt) is the executive authority for mining rights in the German state of Saxony. It is also responsible for all non-metallic mineral resources on the terrain of the former East Germany.

Tangible property

Tangible property in law is, literally, anything which can be touched, and includes both real property and personal property (or moveable property), and stands in distinction to intangible property.In English law and some Commonwealth legal systems, items of tangible property are referred to as choses in possession (or a chose in possession in the singular). However, some property, despite being physical in nature, is classified in many legal systems as intangible property rather than tangible property because the rights associated with the physical item are of far greater significance than the physical properties. Principally, these are documentary intangibles. For example, a promissory note is a piece of paper that can be touched, but the real significance is not the physical paper, but the legal rights which the paper confers, and hence the promissory note is defined by the legal debt rather than the physical attributes.A unique category of property is money, which in some legal systems is treated as tangible property and in others as intangible property. Whilst most countries legal tender is expressed in the form of intangible property ("The Treasury of Country X hereby promises to pay to the bearer on demand...."), in practice banknotes are now rarely ever redeemed in any country, which has led to banknotes and coins being classified as tangible property in most modern legal systems.


The Vogtland (German pronunciation: [ˈfoːktlant], Czech: Fojtsko) is a region reaching across the German free states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia and into the Czech Republic (north-western Bohemia). It overlaps with and is largely contained within Euregio Egrensis. The name alludes to the former leadership by the Vögte (approximately "advocates" or "lords protector") of Weida, Gera and Plauen.

Nowadays Vogtland also serves as a common colloquial abbreviation for Vogtlandkreis.

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By nature
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