(German: Frankfurter Reichsverfassung, FRV)
of St. Paul's Church (Paulskirchenverfassung),
officially named the
Deutschen Reiches) of 28 March 1849, was an unsuccessful attempt to
create a unified German nation state in the successor states of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
organised in the German Confederation. Adopted and
proclaimed by the
after the Revolutions of 1848,
the constitution contained a charter of fundamental rights and a
democratic government in the form of a constitutional monarchy. King
Frederick William IV of Prussia
Frederick William IV of Prussia
was designated head of state as
"Emperor of the Germans" (
der Deutschen), a role he rejected.
The constitution is called by its more common names in order to
distinguish it from the
1871 and initiated by Otto von Bismarck.
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Constitution was proclaimed by the Frankfurt Parliament,
during its meeting in the
Paulskirche church on 27 March 1849, and
came in effect on 28 March, when it was published in the
Reichs-Gesetz-Blatt 1849, p. 101-147. Thus, a united German
Empire, as successor to the German Confederation, had been founded de
jure. De facto, however, most Princes on German soil were not willing
to give up sovereignty and resisted it, so it did not succeed on land,
German Confederation being restored a year later. On the
other hand, this first and democratic German Empire, with its small
Reichsflotte (Imperial Fleet) founded a year earlier, fought the First
War of Schleswig at sea with the Battle of Heligoland. The fleet's
black-red-gold war ensign was one of the first instances of the
official use of the modern republican Flag of Germany.
After long and controversial negotiations, the parliament had passed
the complete Imperial
Constitution on 27 March 1849. It was carried
narrowly, by 267 against 263 votes. The version passed included the
creation of a hereditary emperor (Erbkaisertum), which had been
favoured mainly by the erbkaiserliche group around Gagern, with the
reluctant support of the Westendhall group around Heinrich Simon. On
the first reading, such a solution had been dismissed. The change of
mind came about because all alternative suggestions, such as an
elective monarchy, or a Directory government under an alternating
chair were even less practicable and unable to find broad support, as
was the radical left's demand for a republic, modelled on the United
The constitution's text opens with § 1 Sentence 1: "Das deutsche
Reich besteht aus dem Gebiete des bisherigen deutschen Bundes." ("The
German Empire consists of the area of the hitherto existing German
Confederation"). The Frankfurt deputies had to answer the German
question, i.e. the debate whether a unified
Germany should comprise
those Austrian crown lands included in the Confederation's territory
or not. As the Habsburg emperors would never renounce any constituent
lands of their multinational state, the delegates with the designation
of King Frederick William IV opted for a Prussian-led "Lesser German
solution" (Kleindeutsche Lösung), though the
reserved the participation of the Austrian lands.
The German people were to be represented by a bicameral parliament,
with a directly elected Volkshaus (House of commons), and a
Staatenhaus (House of States) of representatives sent by the
individual confederated states. Half of each Staatenhaus delegation
was to be appointed by the respective state government, the other by
the state parliament. Sections 178 and 179 called, at one and the same
time, for public trials, oral criminal proceedings, and jury trials
for the "more serious crimes and all political offenses." The
introduction of the jury trial was followed by its adoption by the
overwhelming majority of German states, and continued with the
German Empire Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz (GVG) of 27 January
1877, and would last until the
Emminger Reform of 4 January 1924
during the Weimar Republic.
Schematic set-up of the Imperial Constitution
War Ensign as used by the
Reichsflotte (Imperial Fleet), 1848–1852
Frederick William IV toying indecisively with the imperial crown
offered to him by the Frankfurt National Assembly
Basic Law for the Federal
Republic of Germany
^ Verfassung des Deutschen Reichs ("Paulskirchenverfassung") vom 28.
^ Casper, Gerhard; Zeisel, Hans (January 1972). "Lay Judges in the
German Criminal Courts". Journal of Legal Studies. 1 (1): 137.
doi:10.1086/467481. JSTOR 724014.
^ Casper & Zeisel 1972, p. 137.
^ Casper & Zeisel 1972, p. 138.
^ Wolff, Hans Julius (June 1944). "Criminal Justice in Germany".
Michigan Law Review. 42 (6). footnote 7, pp. 1069-1070.
^ Casper & Zeisel 1972, p. 135.
Jörg-Detlef Kühne: Die Reichsverfassung der Paulskirche. Neuwied
1998, ISBN 3-472-03024-0.
Karl Binding: Der Versuch der Reichsgründung durch die Paulskirche.
Schutterwald/Baden 1998, ISBN 978-3-928640-45-9
(in German) Originaltext der Verfassung des Deutschen Reichs
("Paulskirchenverfassung") vom 28. März 1849 (auf documentArchiv.de)
(in German) Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches
("Paulskirchen-Verfassung") vom 28.03.1849 in Volltext
Constitutions of Germany
Constitution of 1815
Constitution of 1849
Constitution of 1867
Constitution of 1871
Constitution of 1919
Enabling Act of 1933
Basic Law of 1949
Constitutions of East Germany
Constitution of 1949