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Emperor Henry IV:
Revision of the Tolls of Utrecht, 1122

Excessive tolls tended to destroy the purpose for which the tolls were created by hampering trade to such an extent that the revenue obtained from them fell. Political and fiscal reasons were sufficient to bring the Emperor Henry IV to a more reasonable attitude on the rates. Note that the tolls appear to be heavier on those who come from greater distances.

Be it known to all, both present and future generations, that we have recognized the rights, customs, and privileges granted by Bishop Godebald to the people of Utrecht and to those who live in the vicinity. Moreover we have confirmed those privileges on condition that our people stand firm in their faith to us and our crown, by suppressing our adversaries with all their might, humiliating the infidel, and strengthening the faithful. Our faithful servants Giselbert Galo, our bailiff, and Arnold the castellan, and the honest citizens of Utrecht have complained to us of the violent injury sustained by them in the matter of the toll at Utrecht. They say that the exactions from merchants frequenting the city do daily become oppressive, and are contrary to the ancient constitution with which the city is furnished. We have therefore taken counsel with prudent men upon their ancient constitution and on the amount of toll to be justly paid. We have learned that we should define what reasonable toll should be taken; and therefore we have commanded that the ancient method and practice is as follows:

Whoever comes from beyond Duisburg bringing grain shall pay 8 denarii, but the eighth shall be returned to him; for cloth he will pay 2 denarii, for each muid 1 denarius.

Whoever comes from places decreed to be within Duisburg shall give 7 denarii, the seventh to be returned to him; 2 denarii for cloth and 1 for each muid.

Those bringing wine shall give 16 denarii for each vessel of whatever kind it be; the sixteenth shall be returned. If they have 10 vessels or more the toll on 1 vessel will be returned, commonly called vullewin; if they have less than 10, nothing shall be repaid.

If they buy herrings in order to sell them again, if the toll on fish be greater than that on wine, let them pay the toll on fish. Frisians bringing salt shall pay one handful of salt and 1 denarius; Frisians coming from Osterlant shall pay 24 denarii, and 4 shall be returned.

Those who come from Saxony shall pay 17 denarii and the seventeenth shall be repaid.

Those who bring food for sale shall pay a quarter of a mark on each last.

Danes who enter the city to trade pay 4 denarii as head-tax on those who are called masters of ships.

We learn that the Normans are free from all toll.

Whoever shall come within the limits of this toll, and be convicted of craftily avoiding payment thereof, shall pay 3 talents in the money of Tiel. Whoever enters the city for the sake of trade, together with his goods shall be under the protection of those who have sworn to judge fairly in public, i.e., the assessors.

And in order that this charter of confirmation may endure we have signed it with our hand and ordered that it be sealed with our seal. Witnesses, etc.


G. Waitz, ed., Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, (Kiel: Ernst Homann, 1875), Appendix 2; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 409-410.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998


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