Pragmatic Sanction (Gr. , a deed or act), a state ordinance decreed by the monarch or legislature. The phrase seems to have originated with the Byzantine monarchs, but was early introduced into France, and is now applied to several state decrees which have become historical. I. The ordinance of Louis IX. (St. Louis) in 1269, by which the liberties of the Gallican church were established. II. That of Charles VII. of France, proclaimed at Bourges in 1438, confirming the decrees of the council of Basel, and thereby authorizing the election of bishops by cathedral chapters, etc.
It was abandoned by Louis XL, but after his quarrel with the pope it had again the force of law until in 1516 Francis I. substituted for it his concordat with Leo X. Ill The ordinance confirming the decrees of the same council, adopted in Germany in 1439 by the diet of Mentz. It was abandoned in 1448 by Germany in consequence of negotiations with Pope Nicholas V. IV. The instrument by which the emperor Charles VI., of the house of Haps-burg, in default of male heirs, endeavored to secure the succession in his Austrian dominions to his heirs of the female line. This ordinance was ratified by the estates of the principal countries subject to the Austrian crown, and by most of the sovereignties of Europe from 1720. In consequence of this, Charles's daughter Maria Theresa, wife of Francis of Lorraine, ascended the throne on his death in 1740. The attack of Frederick the Great of Prussia on the Austrian province of Silesia was the signal for a violation of the instrument and for a general war throughout Europe. V. The instrument by which Charles III. of Spain, in 1759, settled the right of succession to the throne of the Two Sicilies upon his third son and his descendants.