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Privy Office Seal of Karl I  of Braunschweig (1713-1780)Case Studies

The duke and the poachers

The duke in question is Karl I (1713-1780) of Braunschweig which, via the dialectical variant Brunswiek, has comes into English as Brunswick and in that form features as a place name in various parts of the English-speaking world. On the 18th of February 1768 Karl issued a regulation concerning mushroom collecting. It occupies four pages, the first of which is basically a title page and states the intent of the document: Decree concerning mushroom hunting in forests.

The other three pages present the body of the regulation and here is a translation, followed by some comments:

CARL, by the grace of God, Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg, etc, etc. It has been observed that poaching has become rampant in Our forests of the Weser District. Poachers, when worried that they are about to be caught, hide their weapons and crawl about in the forest pretending that they are looking for mushrooms. We hereby decree that from now on nobody will be allowed to search for mushrooms in the forests of Our lands unless they have a written Permit from the Senior Foresters, to be produced each time. In future all those who contravene this regulation will be detained and dealt with by the Tribunal.

All Our Forest and Hunting officials, both Supervisors and workers and all other officials are to obey: and this decree of Ours is to be made known through print and to be posted up at the appropriate public places.

Authenticated by signature with Our own hand and the impressed royal privy office seal.

Given in our city of Braunschweig, 18th February 1768.


The German original is composed of complex sentences but I have given a translation in shorter sentences, keeping the sense, rather than one that's too literal. Some of the German terms undoubtedly had precise legal meanings in the duke's administration and three (Districts, Concession and Inquisition) were printed in a font different to that of the rest of the document. I have left Districts unchanged, translated Concession as Permit and Inquisition as Tribunal. The word Permit seems a logical modern equivalent and the use of Tribunal removes any possible confusion with the religious Inquisitions. There are other legal or bureaucratic terms where I have given just the sense, rather than looked for precise translations in a specialist dictionary. To give one example, consider the term Oberforstbedienten. Taken literally the three parts of this compound noun could be translated as "senior-forest-servants" - so I've translated this as Senior Foresters.

Those interested can see the original pages and transcriptions by continuing down this web page.

Original and transcription

The regulation is printed on two sides of one sheet of paper, which was then folded once to give the four pages, each about 17.5 x 20.5 centimetres in size. Below there is link to a view of each page of the original, followed by a transcription, in which I have kept the original line breaks. You'll note that where the original puts a small "e" above an a, o or u I have used "ae", "oe" or "ue" in the transcription. (click pages to enlarge)

Title page

Schwamm=Suchen in den
Forsten betreffend.
   = = = = = = = =
De dato Braunschweig, den 18. Febr. 1768


click to enlarge

Page 2

Von Gottes Gnaden,
CARL, Herzog
zu Braunschweig u. Lueneburg etc. etc.
Da bey der in Unsern Forsten des
Weser = Districts ueberhand nehmen =
den Wilddieberey bemerket worden,
das Wilddiebe, wann sie ergriffen
zu werden, besorgt, ihre Gewehre
verstecket, in den Forsten umher ge =
krochen und vorgegeben, daß sie
Schwaemme suchten; als verord =
nen Wir hiedurch und wollen, daß
von nun an sich niemand ferner ohne
eine von den Oberforstbedienten er =
haltene schriftliche und jedesmahl
vor =


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Page 3

vorzuzeigende Concession unter =
stehen solle, in denen Forsten Un =
serer Lande Schwaemme zu suchen,
und daß alle diejenigen, welche sich,
diesem entgegen, in Zukunft darue =
ber betreten lassen, zur haft ge =
bracht, und mit der Inquisition ge=
gen sie verfahren werden solle.
Es haben sich also saemtliche Un =
sere Forst = und Jagdbediente, auch
Ober = und Beamte und uebrige
Obrigkeiten hiernach gehorsamst zu
achten: Und ist diese Unsere Verord =
nung durch den Druck bekannt zu
machen, und an gehoerigen Orten
oeffentlich anzuschlagen. Urkundlich
Un =


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Page 4

Unsrer eigenhaendigen Unterschrift
und beygedruckten Fuerstl. Gehei =
men Kanzley = Siegels. Gegeben
in Unsrer Stadt Braunschweig, den
18ten Febr. 1768


click to enlarge