In July 1787 the Prussian government commanded that a Royal Proclamation be read throughout the kingdom, ‘especially to the lower orders [niedere Volks-ClassenY. ‘We are’, said Friedrich Wilhelm II, ‘compelled to observe, with the highest displeasure, that in recent times lawsuits and quarrels between landlords and their subject villagers have greatly multiplied in many of Our provinces.’ The common people ‘very frequently’ succumbed to an ‘unbridled passion for litigation’, no matter how hopeless their case. Shady petition-writers (Winkel-Schriftsteller) forced their services on the peasants, and on the ‘common burghers’ as well, goading them into the courtroom. So too did other third parties, who vented ‘hateful insinuations and stir up unfounded mistrust towards higher authority’. The King menaced such troublemakers with ‘one, two, or more years of prison’. He ordered the people to present their complaints only to licensed attorneys, who must not allow ‘laziness or fear of other people’ to subvert their obligation to accept all admissible cases. Persons unable to pay lawyers’ fees could have the nearest court take their testimony free of charge, whereupon justice would promptly and fairly be done. Addressing ‘our loyal nobility’, the King reaffirmed his ‘well-founded confidence’ that they would not make themselves guilty of ‘any illegal oppression of Our subjects’.