Chapter 11

The Strasbourg Ordinances (1563)


The 16th century was a period of spiritual and religious ferment. In Germany came the creation and the development of the Protestant Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther (1483-1546), who did not hesitate in 1517 to stand against Pope Leo X in condemning commercial sales of papal indulgences. 

In 1523, Martin Bucer (1491-1551) moved to Strasbourg (Strasburg) to preach for twenty years, during a revolt involving the Roman Catholic Church, and its clergy, accused of corrupt living and moral loss. In 1529 in Basel, and Zurich in 1531, the Reformation firmly established its foundation. 

The era of the great cathedrals therefore seemed to be part of the past. In Strasbourg, where John Calvin (1509-1564) married in 1540, the Protestant faith and practice replaced officially the Roman liturgy, including in the tallest cathedral of Europeo(1), near which still met, however, the members of the Grand Lodge of Steinmetzen (stone masons).

The document - On the day of Michaelmas 1563 (September 29), there was held an important assembly of German stone masonso(2), coming from cities like Colmar, Basel, Stuttgart, Berne, Zurich, etc.. 

On this occasion the Regulations established a century earlier in Regensburg (1459) were reviewed and supplemented, and became naturally the Strasbourg Ordinances. 

Their application was to last for over two centuries, in spite of the fact that the province of Alsace was to become part of France in 1648 and Strasbourg remained a free city of the Holy Roman Empire, until 1681.

It should be noted that the Strasbourg Ordinances, which constitute the last official document of the German stone masons, also carry the titles of Book of the Brothers or Book of Rules. Transcription from German.

The Text




His Imperial Majestyo(3), our most gracious lord, having in this one thousand five hundred and sixty-third year most graciously renewed, confirmed, and approved to the general fellowshipo(4) and brotherhood of the Stonemasons in German lands their regulations and duties,

And whereas for some time past many irregularities and bad habits have arisen and become common in the craft of Masonry, therefore many Masters and fellows of the aforesaid craft and fraternity, as they are named hereafter, met together in the aforesaid sixty-third year at Bale on St Bartholomew’s Day, and at Strasbourg on St Michael’s Day, in order to clarify and improve the aforesaid Ordinances and Articles of the Craft and Brotherhood, and the aforesaid have clarified and improved said Ordinances, and settled that they shall be as hereafter follows; and no one who is of this guild shall do or act contrary thereto.

The first Article of these Ordinances,

1. - That if any Article in this book be too hard or heavy, or any be too light, then those who are of our guild, being in a majority, may alter, lessen, or increase such Articles, according to the times, the necessities of the land, and the course of affairs. And when there is a general summons they shall meet together in chapter form, according to the contents of this book; and that [their resolutions] shall be kept on the oath which each one has taken.

Of the duties of those who are of this Guild.

2. - Whoever comes into this guild of his own will, as hereafter stands written in this book, shall promise to keep every point and article if he is of our craft of Masonry. Those shall be Masters who can erect costly buildings and similar work, which they are authorized to do, and perform no other craft unless they choose so to do. 

And whether they are Masters or fellows, they shall and must conduct themselves honorably, and they shall not wrong anyone; therefore we have taken authority in these Ordinances to punish them on the occasion of every such act.

Such works as are journey work shall be allowed to remain so.

3. - Whatever regular buildings are now under journey work, such as Strasbourg, Cologne, Vienna, and such works, and in the lodges belonging to them, as according to custom have previously been completed by journey work, such buildings and work shall remain under journey work, and in no case shall a contract be made, in order that the work, so far as possible, shall not be cut short by reason of the contract.

Who may aspire to work on a building.

4. - If any craftsman who has a regular job should die, then any craftsman or Master who understands masonry, and is competent and able to do the work, may aspire to and apply for the work, so that the Lords who have such work in hand and direct it may again be supplied according to the necessities of masonry. So also may any fellow do who understands masonry.

Work shall be given in journey work.

5. - Any Master who may find it necessary, beyond his own work, to undertake another work, or any other Master who may find it necessary, though he have no such work in hand, such Master shall, as best he can or may, in good faith provide for and continue such work or building by journey pay, so that there will be no danger of the work being cut short, according to the right and usages of masonry. And if a Master does not make use of this [method of payment], for the persons who cause the work to be done, and if this is found out based on trustworthy information, then the said Master shall be taken to task by the craft, corrected and punished after it is proved against him. But if the Lords do not wish to do it in this way, then he may he act according to the Lords’ desire.

When a Master dies during a building project.

6. - If a Master who has taken on a building project and begun it should die, and another Master comes and finds hewn stonework, whether it be set or unset, such Master shall not pull down the set stonework, nor shall he in any way cast away the unset hewn stonework, without the counsel or agreement of other craftsmen, so that the Lords and other honorable persons who caused such building to be raised will not be put to unjust expense, and so that the Master who left such work after his death shall not be defamed. But if the Lords wish such work to be removed, then he may allow it to be done, provided he seek no dishonest advantage thereby.

How stone hewing and building are to be conducted.

7. - Every Master who has practiced masonry for five years with a stonemason, shall be permitted and have power to hew stones and build by contract or journey work, if he chooses, without fear of violating the articles written previously, or hereafter.

When a Master gives a plan for a work.

8. - If anyone contracts for a work, and gives a plan for it how it shall be made; the work shall not be cut short of anything in the design, but he shall execute it according to the plan which he has shown to the Lords, cities, or people, so that nothing is altered on the building. Unless it should be that the Lords will it so, then he may alter it according to the Lords’ wishes, but without seeking undue advantage.

What sort of work two Masters may have in common.

9. - No two Masters shall have one building or work in common, unless it be a small building that may be brought to completion in the space of one year; such he may have in common with him who is a fellow citizen.

If a work requires Masons.

10. - A Master may grant employment as follows: should it be that masons are required, for example for foundations, or to build a wall, for which they are capable, the Master may give them employment, so that the Lords are not delayed on their works; and those who are employed shall not be subject to these Ordinances; but they shall not be set to hew additional stones, because they have not served according to our Ordinances.

Who removes another from a work.

11. - Anyone, either Master or fellow, who shall oust from his work another Master who is of this guild of craftsmen, or shall apply, whether in secret or openly, without his knowledge and consent, for the work that he possesses, whether it be large or small, the same shall be brought to task; and no Master or fellow shall have any communion with him. 

And no fellow who is of this guild shall enter into his employ so long as he possesses the work which he has dishonorably obtained; nor until he shall have made restitution and given satisfaction to the one who was thus dispossessed of the work; and also until he shall have been punished by the Masters who are authorized so to do by the guild.

Who shall accept carved or planned stonework.

12. - Should there be one who would undertake carved or designed stonework, not knowing how to execute it from the ground plan, not having served his time to a craftsman or been employed in a lodge, he shall not  under any conditions undertake the work. 

But should he so venture, then no fellow shall stand by him, or enter his employment, in order that the Lords be not put to unseemly expense by such a foolish Master.

Who may be taught to execute work from the ground plan or other carved work.

13. - And no craftsman, warden, or fellow shall teach anyone, whoever it may be, that is not of our craft, to make extracts from the ground plan or other usages of masonry, who has not practiced masonry in his day, or not served long enough with a stonemason according to our craft, customs, and ordinances.

No Master shall teach a Fellow anything for money.

14. - No craftsman or Master shall take money from a fellow for showing or teaching him anything touching masonry. In like manner no warden or fellow shall show or instruct anyone for money in carving as aforesaid. Should, however, one wish to instruct or teach another, he may properly do it, one piece for the other, or for the sake of friendship, or to serve their Master.

How many Apprentices a Master may have.

15. - A Master who has only one building or work may have three apprentices, two rough and one art apprentice, so that he may also employ fellows in the same lodge, that is, if his superiors permit. If he has more than one building he shall not have more than two apprentices on the first works and buildings, so that he does not have more than five apprentices on all his buildings. Nevertheless, so that each may serve his five years on that building and work on which he serves.

Who openly lives in concubinage.

16. - No craftsman or Master of masonry shall live openly in adultery. If, however, such a one will not desist therefrom, no traveling fellow or stonemason shall stay in his employ, or have communion with him.

Who does not live as a Christian, and does not go yearly to the Holy Sacrament.

17. - No craftsman or Master shall be received into the guild who does not go yearly to the Holy Sacrament, or does not keep Christian discipline, and squanders his money in play. But should any one be inadvertently accepted into the guild who does these things, no Master shall keep company with him, nor shall any fellow stand by him until he shall have ceased so to do, and been punished by those of this guild.

If a fellow work for a Master who has not been advanced in this Guild.

18. - If a fellow takes work from a Master who has not been advanced in this guild of craftsmen, he shall not be punishable therefore. In like manner, if a fellow goes to a city Master, and there obtains employment, he may properly do so, so that every fellow may find work. 

But nevertheless, the fellow shall keep the Ordinances as previously and hereafter written. And what he ought to give to the guild he shall do, even though he is not in one of the guild lodges, or with his fellow brothers. But if a fellow wants to take to himself a lawful wife, and not being employed in a lodge wants to establish himself in a city, he shall on every Ember-weeko(5) pay four pennieso(6), so long as he is not employed in one of the lodges.

How complaints are to be heard, judged, and conducted.

19. - If a Master has a complaint against another Master for having violated the regulations of the craftsmen, or in the same way a Master against a fellow, or a fellow against another fellow, whatever Master or fellow is concerned therein shall give notice thereof to the Masters who hold these books of the regulations. And the Masters who are informed thereof shall hear both parties, and set a day when they will hear the cause. 

Meanwhile, before the fixed or appointed day no fellow shall avoid the Master, nor Master the fellow, but shall render services mutually until the hour when the matter is to be heard and settled. And this shall all be done according to the judgment of the craftsmen, and what is adjudged shall be observed accordingly. Moreover, where the case arose is where it shall it be tried, by the nearest Masters who hold the book of these regulations, and in whose district it occurred.

Concerning driving away.

20. - It is also further decided as regards driving away: if it happens that anything is reported of a Master or fellow, a matter of hearsay, repeated from one to the other, as so long as it is not certain, and the aforesaid not properly convicted of it, he shall be avoided by or driven away by no one, but shall pursue his work until such time as he is tried, and he is properly convicted. An exception is that if he will not yield obedience to the laws of the craft, such a one shall go idle according to our aforesaid Ordinances.

Not to appeal.

21. - It is also decided, where a matter begins and takes its rise, that is where it shall be settled, or in the nearest lodge where a book lies. And neither party shall appeal until the complaint and answer take place and are heard, nor carry the matter further than aforesaid, unless it is rejected there.

What Master has power to hear complaints.

22. - Every Master of work who has employment in his lodge, and to whom this writing of the Ordinances and power shall be entrusted, shall have power and authority in that district to hear and to punish all complaints and causes that affect masonry. And all Masters, wardens, and fellows shall be obedient to him in such matters.

Every Master shall conduct himself, and be guided by these Ordinances.

23. - On this day at Strasbourg A.D. 1563 it is also decided: that every Master who has in hand a building that is permanent and not momentary, be it in princedoms, lands, cities, institutes, or cloisters, shall hold and judge according to our ordinances; for thereby their advantage shall be greatly advanced, who have to build, and harm avoided. 

Therefore each one shall have a book, and be acknowledged as superior of his circuit and district by all the Masters and fellows of that province. He shall also have perfect power, which is given to each at this assembly, and enjoined upon him, together with his fellow Masters, by virtue of their superiority, to firmly rule this craft, to punish his subjects, accept brothers, help the sick, to call a general assembly of his neighborhood, nevertheless that in any case no part of the Ordinances shall be cut short.

Wherever there is a Book, there shall be a collection for the Poor and Sick Brothers.

24. - All those to whom books of the ordinances are given, shall faithfully collect the weekly penny from the fellows; and if a fellow becomes sick, shall assist him. Likewise, where such a superior has a Master under him, having employment and fellows, he shall order him to collect the weekly pennies in a box, and give him a box for that purpose, which box shall be emptied by and accounted for to each superior of a district every year, and be employed for the assistance of the poor and sick of our craft who are under him.

And every Master who has a box, and has received account every year from his neighbors of their boxes, shall send a bohemiano(7) every year at Michaelmas to the chief lodge at Strasbourg, with a ticket showing where it comes from, as a sign of obedience and brotherly love; that it may be known that all things listed above have been carried out.

The places which, having Books, are subject to the Chief Lodge at Strasbourg.

25. - Speyer, Zurich, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Ulm, Heilbrunn, Blassenburg, Dresden, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Menz, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Basel, Hanau, Schletstadt, Regensburg, Meisenheim, Munich, Ansbach, Konstanz.

Of a Fellow who wishes to serve a Master for a time.

26. - If a fellow has traveled and served the craft, and is also previously of this guild, and wishes to serve a craftsman for a time, the said Master and workman shall not accept each other for less than one year or thereabouts.

Of a Master or Fellow who should disobey these Ordinances.

27. - All those, whether they are Masters or fellows, who are of this guild, shall shall hold in obedience all points and articles, both those before and hereafter written. 

But if anyone should perchance break one of the points and become punishable, if afterwards he is obedient to the regulations by performing whatever he has been ordered to do as a penalty he shall have done enough, and shall be released from his vow as regards the article for which he has been punished.

How the Masters of this Guild shall preserve the Book

28. - The Master who has charge of the book shall, on his oath to the guild, take care that it is not copied either by himself or by any other person, or loaned; so that the books remain in full force, as resolved by the craftsmen. 

But should anyone be in need of one or two articles more or less, any Master may give it to him in writing. And every Master shall cause these Ordinances to be read every year to the fellows in the lodge,

Concerning punishments that may result in expulsion from the Craft.

29. - If a complaint be laid before a Master, which would result in a greater punishment; for instance, if anyone is to be forbidden to work in the craft, that complaint the Master of a district shall not hear or judge alone, but shall  call to his aid the two nearest Masters, who also possess a book and authority according to these ordinances, so that there may be three of them, and also the fellows that are in the employment where the complaint arose, and whatever these three, together with the fellows, unanimously or by a majority, shall then decide on their oath and to the best of their judgment, that shall thereafter be maintained by the whole body of craftsmen.

When quarrels arise, not concerning Masonry.

30. - Should it happen that two or more Masters who are of this guild are in disagreement or discord about matters which do not concern masonry, they shall not on account of this difference summon one another anywhere but before the craft and brotherhood; and they shall judge and reconcile them to the best of their ability, so that the matter be settled without prejudice to the rights of those Lords or cities where the matter arose.

What each Master or Fellow shall contribute to this Guild.

31. - Now in order that these ordinances may the more honestly be kept with service to God and other necessary and seemly things, every Master who has lodge employment, and practices masonry, and belongs to this guild, shall first, on his admission, pay one Guldeno(8), and every year thereafter two bohemians or blapperts into the craft box, and a fellow five bohemians, and an apprentice also the like amount when he has served his time.

Of which Masters shall have boxes, and what is to be given thereto.

32. - All Masters and craftsmen who are of this guild, and have lodge employment, shall each possess a box, and every fellow shall pay into it every week one penny, and every Master shall faithfully collect such money and whatever else may be due, and annually account for it to the guild where the nearest book lies, that the poor may be relieved, and the necessities of our guild provided for.

When a Master does not do his duty to a Fellow who is an Apprentice.

33. - Should an apprentice consider that his Master does not, in whatsoever respect it be, perform his full duty towards him, as he has engaged to do, the apprentice may bring the matter before the craftsmen and Masters, who are resident in the neighborhood, in order that his instruction may be completed, and his travels take place according to circumstance.

Should any become sick in this Brotherhood, what is then to be done.

34. - Should a Master or fellow fall sick, or a fellow of this guild who has in his time lived uprightly in masonry, and lays so long sick that he lacks sustenance and the necessities of existence, the Master who has the box of the guild in his charge shall help and assist him with a loan from the box, if he otherwise can, until he recovers from his sickness; and he shall vow and promise to repay the money lent into the box. 

But if he die in his days of sickness, then shall so much be retained from what he leaves after death, be it clothing or otherwise, till that is again made good which had been lent him, if so much there be,

Should any one defray anything on account of the Brotherhood.

35. - Should it be that a Master or fellow be put to expense, or defray anything on account of the guild, and notice be given how the same occurred, such expenses, be they large or small, shall be returned to such Master or fellow out of the guild box. Also if any one comes to grief with justice or other things touching this guild, then shall every one, be he Master or fellow, be helpful to the other, and lend him assistance on his oath to the guild. 

Nevertheless, no one shall of his own accord, without the advice of other Masters and fellows, put the Brotherhood to any expense.

How a disobedient one shall be punished.

36. - Whatever Master, warden, or apprentice shall offend against these or the hereafter-written points and articles, and not keep them, either collectively or any one in particular, and it is discovered on reliable information, he or they shall be for such offence called before the craft, and questioned thereon. 

And the punishment and penalty that may be judged against them, they shall be obedient to, on the oath and vows that each one has taken to the guild. 

But should any one ignore the punishment or summons without good cause, and not appear, whatever shall then be judged against him as a punishment for his disobedience he shall give, although he was not present. And if he will not do it, then he shall be allowed to go idle, and no stonemason shall stand by him till he become obedient.

Who shall be superior Judges in this Craft.

37. - Marx Schan, Workmaster of the high Foundation of our dear Lady at Strasbourgo(9), and all his successors.

This district belongs to Strasbourg.

38.o-oAll the country above the Moselle, and Franconia as far as the Thuringian Forest, and Babenberg as far as the Bishopric of Eichstatten, and from Eichstatten to Ulm, from Ulm to Augsburg, from Augsburg to the Adelberg, and as far as Italy, the Lands of Misnia, Hesse, and Swabia, these shall be obedient to these Ordinances.

This district belongs to Vienna.

39. - To the Workmaster of the building of St Stephen at Vienna belong: Lampach, Styria, Werkhausen, Hungary, and the Danube downwards.

This district belongs to Cologne.

40. - To the Workmaster of the foundation at Cologne and to all his successors, to him shall be obedient in a like manner and belong: the remaining territory downwards, whatever work and lodges there are in it, who are of this guild, or may hereafter join it.

This district belongs to Zurich.

41. - Bern, Basel, Lucern, Schaffhausen, St Gall, etc., and all work at this time in the Confederacy, or hereafter to arise, shall be obedient to the Master at Zurich.

Ordinances of the Wardens and Fellows of the Stonemasons’ Craft.

42. - Every warden shall hold his Master in honor, be willing and obedient to him, according to the rule of masonry, and obey him with undivided fidelity, as is proper and of ancient usage. 

And a fellow shall also do likewise.

If any wish to travel, how he shall take his leave.

43. - And when it is necessary for a fellow to travel farther, he shall part from his Master, lodge, and living quarters in such a way as to remain indebted to no one, and so that no man have any grievance against him, as is proper.

How the Fellows shall be obedient to the Masters and Wardens.

44. - A traveling fellow, in whatever lodge he may be employed, shall be obedient to his Master and warden, according to the rule and ancient usage of masonry, and shall also keep all the regulations and privileges which are of ancient usage in the said lodge.

No Fellow shall criticize his Master’s Work.

45. - A fellow shall not criticize his Master’s work, either secretly or openly, in any way; unless it should be that the Master violate or act contrary to these Ordinances; that anyone may say of another.

No Fellow to be employed who lives in adultery.

46. -  No Master or craftsman shall employ any fellow who consorts with a woman in adultery, or who openly lives a dishonorable life with women, or who does not go to holy communion according to Christian discipline, or one who is so foolish as to gamble away his clothing.

If a Fellow without good cause takes leave.

47. - If any fellow should want only to take leave from a head lodge, or from any other lodge, the Master and fellows of the said lodge shall not let him depart unpunished.

Not to discharge except on a pay evening.

48. - Should it be that a craftsman or Work Master have a traveling fellow in his employment, and wishes to discharge him, he shall not discharge him except on a Saturday or pay evening, that he may know that he should travel on the next day; unless he has given cause of offence. The same shall also be done by a fellow, if he demands his discharge.

To ask no one for employment except the Master or Warden.

49. - No fellow shall ask any one else in the lodge for employment, except the Master on the work or the warden: neither secretly nor openly, without their consent.

To make no league.

50. - Likewise the fellows shall in the future make no more mutinies or conspiracies to leave any employ collectively, and thus delay a building; for up to the present the profits of our brotherhood have come from the Lords and cities almost entirely; but should a Master behave otherwise than right in any case, he shall be summoned before the craft, and submit to its judgment. 

And in case of a pending judgment no such Master shall be avoided by his fellows until the matter is adjudged, unless it be that such a one is disobedient to the judgment; in that case he may well be left to go idle.

Not to leave the Lodge without permission.

51. - No fellow shall go out from the lodge without leave, or if he go to his broth or any other meal, remain out without leave; nor shall any one leave work on Holy Monday. If any one do so, he shall stand to punishment by the Master and fellows, and the Master shall have power to discharge him in the week whenever he chooses.

No more beatings.

52. - In the future, in no lodge, no matter for what cause, shall any one be beaten without the knowledge and consent of the Work Master. And there shall not in any employment or elsewhere, be anything judged or heard by either Masters or fellows, without the superior Workmaster’s knowledge and consent, in the judgment of the penalty.

Not to run together in the Lodge.

53. - In the future the fellows shall wait in the lodge at their piece of stone, and no longer run together to chatter, so that the Lords are not hindered in their work. 

What an Apprentice shall do to the Craft when he has served his time and is declared free.

54. - In the first place, every apprentice when he has served his time, and is declared free, shall promise the craft, on his truth and honor, in lieu of oath, under pain of losing his right to practice masonry, that he will disclose or communicate the mason’s greeting and grip to no one, except to him to whom he may justly communicate it; and also that he will write nothing thereof. 

• Secondly, He shall promise as aforesaid, to be obedient to the craft of masonry in all things concerning the craft, and if he should be sentenced by the craft he shall conform wholly to such sentence, and yield obedience thereto. 

• Thirdly, He shall promise not to weaken but to strengthen the craft, so far as his means may extend. 

• Fourthly, No one shall stand by another to hew stones who is not honestly of the craft; and no Master shall employ any one to hew stones who is not a true stonemason, unless it has been previously permitted .to him by a whole craft.

55. - No one shall alter of his own will and authority his mark which has been granted and lent him by the craft, but if he ever desires to alter it he shall only do it with the knowledge, will, and approval of a whole craft.

56. - Every Master, who has apprentices, shall earnestly enjoin and invite each one when he has completed the above-written five years to become a Brother, by the oath which each one has taken to the craft and is offered to each.

57. - No craftsman or Master shall appoint as warden any one of his apprentices whom he has taken from his rough state, who is still in his years of apprenticeship. 

58. - No craftsman or Master shall appoint as warden any apprentice whom he has taken from his rough state to apprentice, even if he has served his years of apprenticeship, unless he has also traveled for one year.

Ordinances of the Apprentices.

59. - Whoever, from this time forward, shall accept an apprentice, shall not accept him for less security than twenty florins, and he shall deposit at least that much security with one who is a resident of such place, in order that if the Master dies before the apprentice has served his time, the apprentice may serve the craft with some other true Master, and complete the full term of five years. 

But if he does not complete them, he shall forfeit the twenty florins to a craft for the craft’s expenses and loss, in the same manner as he would be indebted to the Master if he left him without cause during his apprenticeship; in order that the apprentices may the more readily remain and become true stonemasons.

60. - No craftsman shall knowingly accept an apprentice of illegitimate birth, but shall have made earnest inquiries before accepting him, and shall ask the apprentice on his truth whether his father and mother have lived together in wedlock.

61 - It is also decreed that no craftsman shall accept an apprentice in the rough otherwise than for five years, and in the future no one shall pay any money for time which he has not served, but shall completely serve his five years. Nevertheless, what has previously been done, that shall so remain, but in the future it shall only be done as aforesaid.

62. - A father, being himself a mason, shall have power to bind one or more of his sons for five years and to complete their instruction, but only in the presence of other stonemasons; and such an apprentice shall not be under fourteen years of age.

63. - If any one has served for any time a mason who is not a stonemason, that time shall not count, or be deducted from any apprentice’s five years; but for five years shall he serve a stonemason, as aforesaid.

64. - From this time forward no Master shall accept a rough apprentice, or declare him free, except in the presence of a craft, and the fellows who are at that time employed in the lodge, in order that if variances or errors arise they may the more easily be adjusted.

65. - Every apprentice shall promise the craft, on his truth and honor, to hold his Master, during the five years that he is bound to him, in all due obedience, loyal service, truth, and faith, to further his advantage and avert his loss, so far as he may or can, without any exception or reservation.

66. - And the Master, on his part, shall give his apprentice, during said five years, according to ancient usage and custom of the craft, ten florins, namely, every year two florins, as his wages, beside his keep and maintenance.

67. - He shall also promise to be true and obedient to a worthy craft in all things concerning the craft, and if he should fall into variance or discord with his Master or any other stonemason, or craft apprentice, to lay all matters connected therewith before a craft to be adjudged and reconciled, that in all things, for good or ill, he may obtain justice and judgment according to craft usage, and not to appeal against the sentence thus pronounced, but to strictly submit himself thereto.

68. - Furthermore, nothing shall be withheld from any one who has been accepted and pronounced free, but whatever ought to be told or read to him, shall be be told and communicated to him, in order that no one may excuse himself, or complain that, had he previously known of it, he would not have joined the craft.

69. - In every case two carved tickets [a system of “tally”] of the same meaning shall be prepared, of which one shall be deposited with the lodge, the other with the security, in order that each side may know how to conduct himself.

70. - Every Master who accepts an apprentice shall pay to the craft not more than five bohemians or blapperts. In like manner, an apprentice, when he has been declared [literally “knocked”] free, shall be indebted to the craft one florin, and shall not be required to give more. And that may be expended [literally consumed, “spent in drink”, etc.], in witness thereof, by those who are present at the giving of the freedom.

71. - And no Master shall extend the [preliminary] trial of a rough apprentice, who is old enough according to the articles, for a longer space than fourteen days, unless he is his own son, or the Master have a proper cause for delay, on account of the security, for instance, and he seeks nothing wrong thereby.

When any one leaves during his Apprenticeship.

72. - Should it happen that an apprentice leaves his Master during his years of apprenticeship, without proper cause, and does not serve him for his full time, no Master shall employ such apprentice. And no one shall stand by him, or have fellowship with him in any way, until he shall have served his years honorably with the Master whom he left, and have made full atonement, and bring information thereof from his Master as is aforesaid.. 

And no apprentice shall ransom himself from his Master unless he enters into wedlock with his Master’s consent, or has other righteous cause that compels him or his Master to do so, and it shall take place with the knowledge of the brotherhood, according to the judgment of the stonemasons.

Not to entice away an Apprentice.

73. - No Master or fellow, whatever his name, shall entice or lead away any apprentice from him who has bound him, or received him. from elsewhere into his employment, unless he [the apprentice] has previously complied with his Master’s wish, in order that he may leave him without any complaint. But should such occur, he shall be summoned before the craft and punished.

These are the Names of the Masters and fellows who, at Strasbourg and Basel, unanimously helped to Establish, Order, Renew, and Confirm, the aforewritten Ordinances and Articles: 

Marx Schan, Work Master of the High Foundation, Strasbourg; Hans Frewler, city Work Master of the same place; Jacob Noggi, city Master at Zurich; Georg Luthener, city Master at Spiers; Hans Lorner, city Master at Frankfort; Simon Zwiezel, city Master at Augsburg; Nicholas of Lindau, on the part of Frederick, city Master at Ulm; Conrad Herman, city Master at Leipzig; Master Stephen Ziegler, Master builder at Schletstatt; Hans Ulberger, city Master at Schletstatt; Balthasar Wolff, Work Master at Heilbronn; Wolffgang Loscher, city Master at Nurnberg; Gilg Grassenberger, city Master at Regensburg; Hans Bernhardt, city Master at Colmar; Nicolas Stattner, city Master at Heidelberg; George Kanpff, city Master on the foundation at Freyburg; Hans Lacher, city Master at Basle; Peter Hildebrandt, city Master at Lindau; Blesy Berwart, Work Master at Stuttgart; Master Martin Berwart of Brackenheim; Master Jacob Dieter of Landau; Master Conrad Heckner of Weissenburg; Master Lorenz Klein of Hanau; Master Werner Branner of Sennen; Master Michael Ulrich of Colmar; Master Mathew Gasser of Werde; Master Mathew Gerber of Basle; Master Sebastian Keuffer of Stutgart; Hans Han of Brunnenfelz, delegate from Mayence; Wolff Biseneck, delegate from Blassenburg; Master Christopher Stromeyer of Saarbrucken; Master Rudolph Knatscher of Frankfort; Master Hans Meyer of Berne; Master Frederic Kessler of Weilburg; Pangratz Seyle of Landau; Thomas Fideler of Dresden, from Weyer; Master Caspar Erles, at Etlingen; Master Nicholas Henssler of Stein; Master Wolff Vogle of St Gall; Master Jacob Alther of Boschach; Master Hans Weysskopff of Merseburg; Master Hans Ortlin of Zell; Master Melchior Schertzinger of Schaffhausen; Master George Maurer of Constance; Master Michael Wummen of Biel; Master Veltin Gessler of Basle; Master Albrecht Geyss of Bruck; Master Hans Ruch of Freiburg; Master Hans Schwerter of Zurich; Master Mathew Lang of Weltkirch; Master Hans Zipfle; Master Laurence Degen; Master Daniel Heintz; Master Hans Dagsperger; Master Henry Entzberger; Conrad Gurtler; Jacob of Andlau; Hans of Putengen; Lux Kienheim; Wolff Wildermeier; Hans Hertz; Wolff of Ipffhoffen; Klaus Nasser; Lux Furnkorn, Henry of Heidelburg; Hans Beck of Mayence; Adam Zwick; Hans of Ingolstadt; Haps Kien; Hans Buchs of Hanau; Conrad Krauss.

The fellows:

Andrew of Burn; Wolff Geiger of Schaffhausen; Nicholas of Biseneck; Heinrich of Cassel; George of Sinssen; George Suter of Langenargen; Jacob Werckwiler of Offenburg; Hans Rudolff of Rotenburg; Lenhart Frumm of Halle, in Suabia; Peter Lutzel of Siburg [probably Siegenburg in Bavaria]; Balthasar Koller of Grossen Bodmen; Lawrence Steinberger of Neuburg; Peter Brack of Geneva; Jost Hussler of Landau; Mathew Muss of Hanau; Hans Isenman of Bressmel; Roland Munch of Sesserich; Jacob of Burn; Nicholas Hussler of Arlen; George of Landsperg; Jacob Hiltebrand of Rotenburg; Jacob of Rappoldsweiler; Velten Donnecker of Strassburg; Hans Decker of Netzerbolchen; Frederick Baltz of Wachenheim; Michael of Bisantz; Michael Extlin of Strassburg; Thomas Weybel of Strassburg; Hans Blum of Strassburg; Claude Jackome of Lausanne.


1. - Since the beginning of the thirteenth century, the construction and maintenance of the Strasbourg Cathedral (completed in 1439) has been under the authority of the Fondation de l’Oeuvre de Notre-Dame, a foundation which, acting as a Work Master, remains today fully active. From 1525 to 1682, the cathedral was a Protestant place of worship.

2. - When the Ordinances were written, the city was, as a German free city, called Straßsburg; after it had been attached to France in 1648, it was Strasbourg – Strasburg for the English people. Nowadays, the European Union calls it officially Strasbourg, in French as well as in English.

3. - In 1563, the Holy Roman Emperor was Ferdinand I (1503-1564), who had succeeded his brother, Charles, in 1556.

4. - Words such as Fraternity, Brotherhood, Guild, Community, and Craft are used interchangeably in the text.

5. - Pfennig - Medieval currency used by most states and provinces of the Roman Empire, including Alsace.

6. - The Ember Days, in the Catholic liturgical calendar, are a time of fasting (three days) occurring at the beginning of the four seasons.

7. - Bohemian - Medieval currency in use in the Holy Roman Empire.

8. - Gulden, florin, blappert - Other medieval coins of German states.

9. - Built in the gothic style, the headquarters of the Fondation de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame, located a short distance from the cathedral, was built in 1347; partially destroyed when Allied aerial bombing occurred in August 1944, it still displays the chamber where the German stone masons held, for several centuries, their Grand Lodge assemblies.

© Guy Chassagnard 2016