Electoral mining officials against the town of Marsberg in January 1600.
The background to a conflict over principles of mining rights in the Duchy of Westphalia
Friday, 21 January 1600. The administrative governor and seven councillors of the Duchy of Westphalia opened negotiations in Arnsberg Castle lasting several days, so-called hearing days, between the mining officials of the territory and representatives of the town of Marsberg. They gave the floor alternately to the parties in "a highly important, far-reaching mining matter", as one of the participants, the Bailiff of Bilstein and later administrative governor, Caspar von Fürstenberg, noted in his diary. After both sides had exchanged their arguments, the administrative governor and councillors, in consultation with the Elector, then found a compromise which could scarcely have satisfied all the parties, especially not the mining officials, for it was a matter of nothing less than the complete enforcement of the sovereign mining prerogative in the duchy. The compromise was recorded on 24 January 1600 in a settlement document. Two days later the town of Marsberg, in return, gave the financially weak Elector a loan of more than 1,500 Reichstaler.
In a rare case, the minutes of the hearing days at Arnsberg allow an examination of how, in a clerical territory, the theory and practice of mining rights were dealt with at the turn of the 16th to the 17th century. The article first presents the parties involved and then goes into the argumentation of the conflicting parties and the compromise that was reached, and finally undertakes an overall appraisal of the conflict.