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Introduction—The Federal Act of 1815–The Diet—The Plenum
these wide regions, it was clearly necessary to create something new.” The reorganisation of Germany formed then one of the principal subjects of negotiation at the Congress of Vienna, and the result of the labours of the statesmen and diplomatists engaged on this work was the Federal Act, bearing date June 8, 1815, and which was placed under the guarantee of eight great European Powers. Without examining the negotiations which led to the formulation of the Federal Act (Bundes-Akte), on which was based the German Confederation, we will turn to the Act itself, and sketch some of its principal features. The object of the Confederation was stated to be the maintenance of the external and internal security of Germany, and the independence and inviolability of the several German States. The affairs of the Confederation were entrusted to an assembly, of which Austria was president, and which is best known under the name of the Diet. The Diet consisted of seventeen members, the larger States having each one vote, and the smaller ones voting in groups. The votes were divided in the following ratio : Austria 1; Prussia 1 ; Bavaria 1; Kingdom of Saxony 1; Hanover 1; Wurtemburg 1; Grand Duchy of Baden 1; Electorate of Hesse 1; GrandDucal Hesse 1 ; Denmark, for the Duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg, 1 ; the Netherlands, for Limburg and Luxemburg, 1 ; the Duchies of Saxe-Mein
char. — —
1 Sketches in European Politics, by Grant Duff, p. 257.
ingen, Saxe-Coburg Gotha, and Saxe Altenburg 1;
Brunswick and Nassau 1 ; Mecklenburg Schwerin ---
and Mecklenburg Strelitz 1 ; Oldenburg, Anhalt,
an absolute majority was sufficient to decide a ques
tion, while in the Plenum a two-thirds majority was always necessary. The seat of the Diet was to be at Frankfort-on-the-Main. The right to form alliances with foreign powers and with each other was reserved to members of the Confederation, with the proviso that such alliances were not detrimental to the general interests. Provision was made for a court which could settle differences between members of the Confederation, but the proposal to create a real court of arbitration failed, owing to the opposition of Wurtemburg,
CHAP. Bavaria, and Hesse Darmstadt. This court was -- termed Austrăgal Instanz.
1815. When two confederate States had disputes between each other, they chose the highest court of Justice of some third State, which was then called Austrägal Gericht, to which was entrusted the settlement of the dispute. The execution of its decrees was in the hands of the Diet.
* Each State was to establish representative pro
vincial diets. The attempts made by Austria, Prussia, and Hanover, that the constitution and functions of these representative assemblies should be submitted to the approval of the Diet, were defeated by Bavaria, Wurtemburg, and others, who considered it a question which each State should settle for itself, and they would only permit of an article being inserted in the Federal Act stating that these assemblies were to be established throughout Germany. This article (Article 13) gave considerable trouble to the several States. In most States these assemblies were not instituted; at any rate, not on the intended basis; some old representative bodies were revived, and in certain instances some feeble uncertain steps were made towards the formation of a representative system, but nothing more. In Prussia a deputation was sent by the Government into the provinces to sound the feelings and opinions of the people in this matter. Other articles in the Federal Act related to the establishment of tribunals of justice, to the position
and privileges of the several princely houses, of the