Initial thoughts on Andreas Knichen

I’ve been slowly struggling my way through Andreas Knichen’s 1600 book, De sublimi et regio territorii iure synoptica tractatio. Knichen was a German jurist and political advisor. Some thoughts:-

– Knichen explicitly links the notion of Landeshoheit with superioritas territorialis. This is important in terms of bringing together distinct lineages of thought, which reoccurs in the treaties of Westphalia in 1648. He also discusses superioritas and iurisdictione in relation to Landes Obrigkeit. Thus there is a relation between Landes and territorium, on the one hand; and Hoheit/Obrigkeit and superioritas/iurisdictione on the other. Lots of conceptual nuances to work through here.

– He makes an important distinction between the majestatem of the Emperor and the Roman Empire and the plurimum iura territorii of the Princes within it.

– While Bodin uses the Latin majestas and the French souveraineté as equivalents, Knichen can be seen as beginning the separation between majesty and sovereignty, which Leibniz would make explicit. Or, at least, Knichen distinguishes between majestas and superioritas, which seems to be a stage in that separation.

for Knichen, jurisdiction and territory inhere in each other. This is a common claim in the 14th century post-glossators, particularly in Baldus (who likens it to mist in a swamp), but here it is given a political, as opposed to largely legal, reading.

– Knichen’s relation to Baldus and Bartolus is ambivalent. On the one hand he regularly cites them in support of his argument, but on the other he suggests that too much “lamp-oil and labour [oleum & operam]” is expended on them (I know the feeling), finding arguments in their work that relate to the situation when he is writing. Instead the basis of claims for ius superioritatis should be on the specific legal codes in existence.

Knichen uses the tradition Latin language of terminatio, limites, fines and finibus in relation to territorium, to set out the limits both of the territorium itself and the extent of jurisdiction.

– he provides a very brief discussion of the etymology of territorium; drawing on Isidore of Seville (though unnamed he is easily recognisable through the discussion); Cicero and Varro in De lingua Latina (two of the few instances in classical Latin of the use of the word). He also draws on the definition offered by Pomponius which appears in Justinian’s Digest.

There is, as far as I can tell, very little discussion of Knichen in the secondary literature. I don’t think Quentin Skinner ever discusses him, for instance. There is a very brief mention in a sentence or two in Kleinschmidt, Understanding the Middle Ages (this was the original text that alerted me to Knichen). Willoweit’s entry for ‘Territorium’ in the Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte stresses Knichen’s importance but doesn’t say a whole lot. Michael Stolleis, Geschichte des öffentlichen Rechts in Deutschland Erster Band: Reichspublizistik und Policeywissenschaft 1600-1800, has a couple of references; and he is referred to in passing in Almut Höfert’s essay “States, Cities, Citizens in the Later Middle Ages”, which is in a collection co-edited by Skinner.

But if I’m even broadly correct in seeing his importance – and the way he is referred to by thinkers who came immediately afterwards seems to indicate this is not completely off – it seems remarkable that there is no modern edition of the text, let alone a translation, and that he has been almost wholly neglected in the literature.

This entry was posted in Andreas Knichen, Baldus de Ubaldis, Bartolus of Sassoferrato, Gottfried Leibniz, Jean Bodin, Quentin Skinnner, Territory, The Birth of Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

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