Golden Bull of 1242

Golden Bull of 1242
Zlatna bula Bele IV.gif
Created16 November 1242
LocationZagreb State Archive
Author(s)Béla IV
PurposeBéla IV proclaimed Gradec a royal free city

The Golden Bull of 1242 was a golden bull or edict, issued by King Béla IV of Hungary to the inhabitants of Gradec (part of today's Zagreb, the capital of Croatia) during the Mongol invasion of Europe. By this golden bull, King Béla IV proclaimed Gradec a royal free city.[1] The document was issued on 16 November 1242 in Virovitica and reaffirmed in 1266.[2] The original is written on a piece of parchment 57 by 46 centimetres (22 by 18 in) in size, and is kept in strictly controlled conditions in the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb, while a copy is exhibited in the Zagreb City Museum.[3]


The Golden Bull declared and proclaimed "a free royal city on Gradec, the hill of Zagreb". The town was to be presided by a "city judge" (Croatian: gradski sudac, Latin: iudex), who was elected yearly by the citizenry and fulfilled the role of the mayor. In addition, eight jurors (Latin: jurati) and twenty city councillors were elected each year on 3 February, the Feast of St. Blaise.[4] Gradec remained ruled by the iudex until 1850, when Gradec, Kaptol and several other municipalities were formally unified into a new royal city of Zagreb.[5]

The edict brought many benefits and freedoms to Gradec's inhabitants. Among others, it stated that the towns were subject directly to the King, not to the nobles whose estate they were situated on. This also brought it outside the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Zagreb, which collected revenue from large land holdings, and was headquartered on the neighbouring hill of Kaptol; during the Middle Ages, conflicts would often break out between the citizens of Gradec and canons of Kaptol, sometimes resulting in civil wars.[4][6] Citizens also gained freedom of movement, free use of their property,[7] and the freedom to freely draw up their own testament. In addition, they were absolved of paying road and bridge tolls in the Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom.[2]

In return for the privileges gained, the citizens were required to erect fortifications around the town at their own expense, which they did in 1266.[5] They were also required to supply the king with "12 oxen, 1000 loaves of bread and 4 barrels of wine"[8] in case of a royal visit, and ten armed soldiers in case of war. The latter requirement was repealed by the king in 1266. The citizens also had to provide for a visit by the Duke of Slavonia or Ban of Croatia (only one visit for the Ban).[2]

The bull also defined the borders of land controlled by Gradec—the city was entitled to land south of the ridge of the Medvednica mountain, west of Vrapčak stream and north of the Sava River.[2]