Privilegium maius. Front cover of the copy for Emperor Maximilian I, 1512.
Privilegium maius (Großer Freiheitsbrief), forged charter commissioned by Duke Rudolf IV and fabricated in 1359, by which he claimed enormous privileges: holding of fiefs in his land, sovereignty symbols (crown and sceptre), administration of justice without appeal to the emperor, succession as defined by primogeniture and in the female line. The Duchy of Austria and the domains connected to it were to be indivisible, compulsory military service against Hungary with only 12 men for the period of one month. At ceremonies the duke was to be considered an archduke palatine and be seated to the Emperor´s right, directly after the electors. The object of the forgery was to reduce the duties of the imperial princes. Altogether Rudolf IV had 5 documents forged, the so-called Henricianum (dated 1056) even includes documents allegedly dating back to Julius Caesar and Emperor Nero.
On F. Petrarca´s advice, Emperor Karl IV was not prepared to accept the Privilegium maius but it was sanctioned by Friedrich III as King in 1442 and as Emperor in 1453. Rudolf II confirmed the document in 1599 and Karl VI in 1729. The Privilegium maius lost its constitutional significance in 1804 and the documents were exposed as forgeries by W. Wattenbach in 1856.
Literature: A. Lhotsky, Das Privilegium maius, Geschichte einer Urkunde, 1957.