CAPITULATION (Lat. capitulum, a little head or division; capitulare, to treat upon terms), an agreement in time of war for the surrender to a hostile armed force of a particular body of troops, a town or a territory. It is an ordinary incident of war, and therefore no previous instructions from the captor's government are required before finally settling the conditions of capitulation. The most usual of such conditions are freedom of religion and security of private property on the one hand, and a promise not to bear arms within a certain period on the other. Such agreements may be rashly concluded with an inferior officer, on whose authority the enemy are not in the actual position of the war entitled to place reliance. When an agreement is made by an officer who has not the proper authority or who has exceeded the limits of his authority, it is termed a sponsion, and, to be binding, must be confirmed by express or tacit ratification. Article 35 of the Hague Convention (1899) on the laws and the customs of war lays down that "capitulations agreed on between the contracting parties must be in accordance with the rules of military honour. When once settled they must be observed by both the parties."
In another sense, capitulation is the name given to an arrangement by which foreigners are withdrawn, for most civil and criminal purposes, from the jurisdiction of the state making the capitulation. Thus in Turkey arrangements termed capitulations (q.v.), and treaties confirmatory of them, have been made between the Porte and other states by which foreigners resident in Turkey are subject to the laws of their respective countries. The term is also applied by French writers to the oath which on his election the Holy Roman emperor used to make to the college of electors; this related chiefly to such matters as regalian rights, appeals from local jurisdictions, the rights of the pope, etc.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)