An Unfortunate Fate of Tobias Fiedler from Vernéřov Estate (1680)

It rarely happens that „great and small history“ intersect in the person of one man and in one land record. Yet, here is an example of such a case.

At the beginning of 1680, the first rebellions of the subjects came to the Bohemian lands. One estate after another rose up in a chain reaction. Their subjects rebelled against the new requirements imposed on them by their vrchnosti (pl.). Despite the traditional interpretation of this historical episode, in most cases, it was not the unbearable burden of robota and religious oppression, but a series of rather minor, sometimes even negligible duties. The estates where the robota was quite large surprisingly stayed out of the rebellions.

Speaking of peasant rebellions, these were not William-Wallace-style uprisings. The most frequent form of resistance of the subjects were petitions, which they sent to their vrchnosti and especially to the ruler, the Emperor and King Leopold I, who was in Bohemia at that time, having fled from Vienna from the spreading plague. The flood of complaints addressed to the sovereign was even so great that in March 1680 he issued a ban on petitions addressed and delivered to the emperor. These were to be sent to the regional authorities, who were to carefully investigate and decide the complaints. The subjects also did not hesitate to resort to passive resistance. They refused to work for the authorities, to pay the compulsory levies or taxes. Only exceptionally, in about two or three cases, was there an armed clash with the military. In all cases, the subjects left the field in defeat.

The uprisings on the individual estates did not last long. Official commissions accompanied by military units investigated the validity of the complaints and very often found them to be unjustified. The subjects suffered from the accommodation of the troops in their homes and very quickly returned to normal order and the performance of their duties. The commissions thus sought out and investigated the culprits of the rebellions. Many of them were punished with fines, imprisonments, corporal punishments or even the death penalty. By the end of 1680, the kingdom was quiet again.

A trace of the uprising of 1680 can also be found in this record from Vernéřov estate. In a record about the purchase of a farm of Tobias Fiedler to Georg Resche we read the following:

To help you practise working with the Czech or German text, in addition to the translation, I also provide the transcription of the original language and a „translation“ into contemporary Czech. The end of lines of the original record are indicated.


[folio 167]

Georg Reßche Kauff

Heundt dato am Tag Sancti Vity den 15. Juny Anno 1680 | Ist auf gℓ. befehl gℓ. obrigkeit, als der wohledlge- | bohrene frauen frauen Magdalena Ellisabetha Jullia- | na D. Eckhin, gebohren Proyin von Zeyfelsberg und | hinckelstein, frauen auf Wernsdorf, Laucha, unnd | Bashwitz, landtäfliche Constituirte vor munderin | der Scheindegräbnerischern Erben, den Georg Reschen | des Tobias Fiedlers hoff, sambt einer hueben feldt | /: aus ursache weillen Er Tobias Fiedler, wider Ihro | Kayℓ. und Köngℓ. Mayℓ. dero ergangene allergnä- | digste Patenta, undt gnädige grundeobrigkeit sich der | absheulichen Rebellion thailhaffig gemacht, und sogar | auch nit allein der Erste Rädl führer und auf wakhler | deß dorffs Wenstdorf, dessen zugehörige und | andere herrschafts benachbarte dorfschaften beson- | dera auch Solicitator in Prag geweßen, auch mit der | gℓ.  obrigkeit gehaltene 12 Raumstein, der von Er | ohne bewust einigen Menschen 9 ausgehabt und | in gℓ. obrigkeit feldt geworfen, wo durch ein nit al- | lein sein haab und Guth, sondern Leib und Leben | verlohren hatte :/ In beysein Joseph Patzelt Richter | allhier, Hanß Sauer, Richter zu Schönbach, Christoph | Reichman Richer Laucha, Georg Khro, Richter zu

[folio 167pv]

Tomitshan, nebst andern geshworene mehr, verkaufet | worden, nembℓ. wie eß der Tobiaß Fidler genutzet | hat /: biß auf ein stückhl felds, von vier strichen auß- | saath, so an gℓ. obrigkeit  felde anstossent aber halb | deßwegs :/ sambt allen zugehörigen wißmathen, | und obst gärthen, gestrirf(?), unde ein soyl holtz, sambt | aller übrigen gerechtigkeiten, wie solches in Räinen | und Stäin̄en alles werfasset, unde zwischen gℓ. | grunth obrigkeit, und Christian Hallers Räinung | gelegen,  Pro und umb Ein Taußend undsechtzig | Schockh Meyßℓ. haubt unde SamSum̄a(?) /: wir wollen | solches Gueth(?) vor hero den Tobia Fidler umb 1100 ß | ist verkaufet word. khombt anjetzo die kauff Sum̄a | umb 40 ß geringer, ursachen weillen er Tobias Fid- | ler wie vor hero gemeldt, wider gℓ. obrigkeit so gröb- | lichen sich versündiget, unde in seiner groß vatters furß- | storsen fleißig eingetretten, wie in altern gerichtsbuch | Folio zu finden daß gℓ. obrigkeit genug samb be- | fugt were gewesten, daß gantze Gueth an sich zu zieg. | Jedoch auß hohen Genaden solches nit thuet, sondern deß- | sen Kinder von der Ersten Ehe, und andere Erben | mehr, welcher diser Rebellion nicht vorsach seint, beden ??? | nur allerin diß stückhl felde, so  gℓ. obrigkeit felde | anstosset, nach vier strichen Außssath an sich zieget. | bey den vorigen Kauf seiet den Tobias Fidler

[folio 168]

verblieben und nit übergeben worden [ … ] 

SOA Litoměřice, Vs Vernéřov, inv. č. 7, fol. 167

English translation

The English translation was quite challenging as the whole first page is made by one sentence. Also some German terms were difficult to read or translate into contemporary language. Yet, generally the content of the land record is more than clear.

[folio 167] 

[On] Today’s date, on the day of St. Vitus, on 15 June Anno 1680 on the gracious order of the vrchnost, highborn lady lady Magdalena Ellisabetha Julliana D. Eckhin, born Proyin von Zeyfelsberg and Hinckelstein, Lady of Vernéřov, Louka and Bohušovice, guardian of Scheindegräbner’s orphans constituted [by recording in] desky zemské, the farm of  Tobias Fiedler was sold to  Georg Reschen, together with one lán of the fields. [This happens] for the cause that he, Tobias Fiedler, participated in the detestable Rebellion against His Imperial and Royal Majesty’s enacted most gracious Patent, and gracious vrchnost, and even not alone [he was] the first leader and rouser of the village Vernéřov, its residents and other villages of the neighbouring estates. In particular, [he] was also Solicitor [= negotiator] in Prague, [and he] also pulled out 9 out of 12  boundary stones of the gracious vrchnost without knowledge of any person and threw them on the field of vrchnost. For [all] that he lost not only his property and goods but also body and life. 

[This purchase happened]  In presence of Joseph Patzlet, rychtář of  here [= this place], Hans Sauer, rychtář in Schönbach, Christoph Reichman, rychtář in Louka, Georg Khro, rychtář in   

[folio 167pv] 

Tomičany, and more other konšelé. [The farm is sold] as Tobias Fiedler used it /: apart from a small piece of field of [the acreage of] four strychy, which connects to the field of the gracious vrchnost but half [is a] road :/ together with all belonging meadows, orchard, ……., and a … forrest., together with all remaining  …….. as specified by balks and [border] stones and situated between the gracious vrchnost und balks of Christian Haller. [It is sold] for one thousand and sixty Schock of Maisen [= kop míšenských] as the main and total sum /: we want this farm was sold to Tobias Fiedler for 1100 ß. However, the purchase price is now 40 ß lower, because he, Tobias Fiedler, as it was stated here,  sinned grossly against gracious vrchnost and he diligently stepped into wrongdoings of his grandfather’s as one can find in the old judicial book fol. so that the gracious vrchnost would have been sufficiently justified to appropriate the whole farm. However, from great mercy, it [= the vrchnost] does not do so, but his children from the first marriage and other heirs, who did not participate in this rebellion,  it [= the vrchnost] is content only to attract this small piece of field of four strychy which connects to the field of the gracious vrchnost. […]   

I am not familiar with the rebellion on the Vernéřov Estate, however, it most probably followed the universal pattern. The group of initiators persuaded their neighbours – by eloquence, persuasion, or threats – that their situation was unbearable and unjust and that the emperor would help them and would get rid of their burdens. Tobias Fiedler was one of such initiators. In the record, we read that he was the leader and rouser in Vernéřov and other villages. He was even the Solicitator in Prag, a deputy who was seeking a lawyer who would write down the complaints of the villagers. Tobias Fiedler even committed an act of personal rebellion, when he pulled out most of the boundary stones and threw them in the field of the vrchnost. That was a very symbolic act. It’s seemingly a small thing, but it’s a die-hard attitude that didn’t help Tobias in the final reckoning. For his acts and deeds, he was the obvious target of the investigating commission, which found him guilty of the rebellion and betrayal of the vrchnost and sentenced him to death. In addition to his life, Tobias Fiedler also lost his property. On the second page of the records, the vrchnost of the Vernéřov Estate reminds us that the treason of Tobias Fiedler’s betrayal was so serious that his property could have been seized without further consideration. Nevertheless, the authorities decided to show mercy and not to punish the perpetrator’s relatives, who had nothing to do with the rebellion (the children from his first marriage are specifically mentioned). Fidler’s farm was confiscated and then sold to another holder. Only a part of the field adjacent to the manor yard was given to the estate. Instead, the vrchnost settled for a fine of 40 ß, by which the purchase price was reduced. The rest was normally sold to Georg Resche and the heirs of Tobias Fiedler received their inheritance shares of the purchase price.

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