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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 May 2011

Royal Holloway, University of London
Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, TW20


In 1787, Frederick William II of Prussia made substantial changes to the urban excise. These changes were largely the result of public pressure. Urban tax-payers had resisted the tax in different ways since Frederick II had reformed it in 1766 in order to extract more revenue from Prussia's towns. The article explores the motives that led to tax-payer criticism and resistance and the ways in which urban tax-payers opposed the state's growing fiscal appetite. The success of urban tax-payers in this political conflict with the Prussian state suggests that Prussia's burghers were important actors within the Hohenzollern polity and that they wielded considerable political power. The events described here resembled not only other contemporary conflicts over fiscal matters in the Atlantic world, but were also interconnected with debates and events outside Prussia through exchanges of individuals, arguments, and publications.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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Work on this article has greatly benefited from a research fellowship at Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, and the generous support of the library's friendly staff. I would also like to thank the staff at Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin-Dahlem; Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Milan; British Library, London; and Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. This article was greatly improved by discussions with colleagues in the research seminar in Wolfenbüttel, at the conference ‘Tax revolts in Europe, the United States and colonial empires’ (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, Oct. 2010) and other occasions where I have presented my work. In particular, I would like to thank Avi Lifshitz who commented on an early draft and Mark Spoerer who made unpublished statistical material available to me.


1 See for example Andreas Nachama, Ersatzbürger und Staatsbildung: zur Zerstörung des Bürgertums in Brandenburg-Preussen (Frankfurt am Main, 1984), and Johannes Ziekursch, Das Ergebnis der friderizianischen Städteverwaltung und die Städteordnung Steins. (Jena, 1908). The view of a retarded development of the Prussian bourgeoisie was also part of the Sonderweg thesis; see the bibliographical survey in Kocka, Jürgen, ‘German history before Hitler: the debate about the German Sonderweg’, Journal of Contemporary History, 23, (1988), pp. 316CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Even where original documents have been consulted, references to sources are to modern editions, where possible, to facilitate access for readers. Much relevant material is in Hugo von Rachel, ed., Die Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik Preußens (Berlin, 1928), and Johann Preuß, ed., Urkundenbuch zur Lebensgeschichte Friedrichs des Großen (Berlin, 1833), which also include archival material subsequently lost. Despite these advantages certain problems are associated in particular with the use of Rachel's edition. Mittenzwei and others have rightly pointed to the ‘pro-state’ bias of the collection. Ingrid Mittenzwei, Preußen nach dem Siebenjährigen Krieg: Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Bürgertum und Staat um die Wirtschaftspolitik (Berlin, 1979), p. 7. The drift of the present argument, however, runs counter to this bias by emphasizing the weakness of the state in the face of popular opposition. In the present context, the problems associated with the editor's bias are therefore smaller than they would be, for example, in the context of a classic institutional study of state-building. The problems associated with Rachel's bias are further limited by the fact that the edition has been used in conjunction with extensive archival research. In all references Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin-Dahlem is abbreviated GStAPK; Kabinettsorder is abbreviated as CO following the contemporary spelling. All citations have been translated by the author to promote accessibility for readers without knowledge of German and French.

2 Mark Spoerer, ‘The revenue structures of Brandenburg-Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria (fifteenth to nineteenth centuries)’, in Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., La fiscalitá nell'économia europea secc. XII–XVIII (Florence, 2008), p. 789. In the article statistical data is only presented in the form of graphs. I am grateful to Mark Spoerer who made the statistical tables on which the graphs are based available to me.

3 Eckart Schremmer, ‘Taxation and public finance: Britain, France and Germany’, in Peter Mathias and Sidney Pollard, eds., The Cambridge economic history of Europe (8 vols., Cambridge, 1966–89), viii, pp. 316, 326, 370, 415.

4 Schmoller cites a contemporary population statistic compiled for Frederick that puts the share of the urban population at 43 per cent which Schmoller considered to be too high. Based on his own caculations he indicated the size for the urban sector for the Prussian provinces that range from 20 to 43 per cent but does not indicate a share for all of Prussia. Using different sources Kurt Hinze indicated 28 per cent as the average share of urban population for all Prussian provinces. (Schmoller's numbers are for 1748, Hinze's for 1778. Hinze's calculation does not include Silesia.) Since the size of the urban sector differed substantially in the Prussian provinces I have calculated the country/town population ratio only for the areas in which the Régie operated based on the statistical tables provided by Büsching for the year 1775. This material shows a 28 per cent share of the urban population. The ratio in these provinces is thus almost exactly the same as Hinze's Prussian averages and within the range of Schmoller's numbers. NB: (1) Silesia and the Netze district, for which Büsching does not provide numbers of urban populations, were excluded from my calculation although the Régie operated there. (2) The term ‘urban’ is used here to refer to settlements that were considered towns by contemporary legal and political standards. Most Prussian towns had significant agrarian elements and did not display many of the characteristics that may be associated with the term urban in other contexts. See Hinze's discussion. Gustav Schmoller, Deutsches Städtewesen in älterer Zeit (Aalen, 1964), pp. 288–9. Kurt Hinze, ‘Die Bevölkerung Preußens im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert nach Quantität und Qualität’, in Otto Büsch and Wolfgang Neugebauer, eds., Moderne preußische Geschichte (Berlin, 1981), pp. 308–10; Anton Friedrich Büsching, Zuverläßige Beyträge zu der Regierungs-Geschichte Königs Friedrich II. von Preußen: vornehmlich in Ansehung der Volksmenge, des Handels, der Finanzen und des Kriegsheers; Mit einem historischen Anhange (Hamburg, 1790), pp. 156–7.

5 Büsching, Beyträge, pp. 160–3; Koser, Reinhold, ‘Zur Bevölkerungsstatistik des preußischen Staates von 1756–1786’, Forschungen zur Brandenburgischen und Preussischen Geschichte, 16, (1903), pp. 583–9Google Scholar.

6 On one hand the number of tax payers liable to pay taxes administered by the Régie was probably somewhat lower than the number of urban dwellers: most towns were subject to the excise but some were not and towns in the western provinces paid excise but were only briefly administered by the Régie. In addition some inhabitants of the towns and certain urban institutions were exempt from the excise. On the other hand also individuals who were not liable to pay excise were subject to the controls and procedures of the Régie when entering or leaving a town thus increasing the number of those affected by the Régie beyond the number of ‘exciseable’ urban dwellers.

7 Schmoller, Städtewesen, p. 289. In this context Schmoller also points out that the relative size of the towns was not smaller in the eighteenth century than in the late nineteenth century, a period for which modern research places Prussia as the second most urbanized country in Europe. Richard Lawton and Robert Lee, ‘Introduction: the framework of comparative urban population studies in western Europe, c. 1750–1920’, in idem, eds., Urban population development in Western Europe from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century (Liverpool, 1989), p. 12.

8 Christopher Clark, Iron kingdom: the rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947 (London, 2007), p. 148.

9 Mittenzwei, Preußen, p. 37. Other authors who have examined the development of the Régie in the whole of Prussia have not systematically addressed the causes of popular discontent. Mostly fiscally oriented are discussions of the Régie in Walther Schultze, Geschichte der preussischen Regieverwaltung von 1766 bis 1786 (Leipzig, 1888), and Schmoller, Gustav, ‘Einführung der französischen Regie durch Friedrich den Grossen 1766’, Sitzungsberichte der Königliche Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, 1, (1888), pp. 6379Google Scholar. The conflict is interpreted primarily as friction between branches of the Prussian administration by Hans Rosenberg, Bureaucracy, aristocracy and autocracy, 1660–1815 (Cambridge, MA, 1958), and Hubert C. Johnson, Frederick the Great and his officials (New Haven, CT, 1975). The Régie is seen more positively as an attempt to promote economic development in W. O. Henderson, The state and the industrial revolution in Prussia, 1740–1870 (Liverpool, 1958).

10 Stéphane Van Damme, ‘Farewell Habermas? Deux décennies d’études sur l'espace public', in Patrick Boucheron and Nicolas Offenstadt, eds., L'espace public médiéval (Paris, forthcoming). Currently available online at Cahiers de Griehl (17 Sept. 2010).

11 Eckhart Hellmuth, ‘Towards a comparative study of political culture’, in idem, ed., Studies of the German Historical Institute London (Oxford, 1990), p. 3.

12 Contemporary commentary on taxation is occasionally mentioned, but never systematically explored. See, for example, Günter Birtsch, ‘Die Berliner Mittwochsgesellschaft’, in Hans Bödeker and Ulrich Herrmann, eds., Über den Prozess der Aufklärung in Deutschland im 18. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1987), p. 101; Hellmuth, Eckhart, ‘Aufklärung und Pressefreiheit: Zur Debatte der Berliner Mittwochsgesellschaft während der Jahre 1783 und 1784’, Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung, 9, (1982), pp. 315–45Google Scholar; Möller, Horst, ‘Wie aufgeklärt war Preußen?’, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 6, (1980), pp. 176201Google Scholar, at p. 179. Rudolf Vierhaus, ‘The Prussian bureaucracy reconsidered’, in Eckhart Hellmuth, ed., Rethinking Leviathan (Oxford, 1999), p. 163.

13 Michael Kwass, Privilege and the politics of taxation in eighteenth-century France (Cambridge, 2000).

14 Jürgen Habermas, The structural transformation of the public sphere (Cambridge, 1989), p. 22. Among empirical studies confirming this view see Möller, ‘Wie aufgeklärt war Preußen’, pp. 178–82; Richard van Dülmen, Die Gesellschaft der Aufklärer (Frankfurt, 1986); Birtsch, ‘Die Berliner Mittwochsgesellschaft’.

15 Hans Bödeker, ‘Prozesse und Strukturen politischer Bewußtseinsbildung der deutschen Aufklärung’, in Hans Bödeker and Ulrich Herrmann, eds., Aufklärung als Politisierung (Hamburg, 1987), p. 10.

16 T. C. W. Blanning, The culture of power and the power of culture: old regime Europe, 1660–1789 (Oxford, 2006), p. 12.

17 Bödeker, ‘Prozesse und Strukturen’, p. 10.

18 Joseph Schumpeter, ‘The crisis of the tax state’, in R. Swedberg, ed., Economics and sociology of capitalism (Princeton, NJ, 1991), p. 110. For a history of the ‘tax state’ as a concept, see Florian Schui, ‘Zum Begriff des Steuerstaats’, in Peter Becker, ed., Sprachvollzug im Amt. Kommunikation und Verwaltung im Europa des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (Bielefeld, 2011), pp. 107–30.

19 Mittenzwei, Preußen, passim.

20 Blanning, Culture of power, pp. 12–13.

21 ‘The lack of able men … and of precision in the execution’ was the fiscal administration's primary problem in Frederick's eyes (CO to De la Haye de Launay, 7 Jan. 1767, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 166.)

22 Schmoller sees the excise administration as the origin of Prussia's loyal civil servants (‘pflichttreue Beamten’); von Schmoller, Gustav, ‘Die Epochen der preußischen Finanzpolitik’, Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich, 1 (1877–1912), pp. 32114Google Scholar at p. 63.

23 ‘Seiner königl. Majestät in Preußen Allergnädigst neu approbirtes Reglement und Verfassung des ganzen Accise-Wesens, dero Vor- und Hinter-Pommerschen Städten … De dato Berlin, den 28. Febr. 1749.’ GStAPK, HA ii, Abt. 12 Pommern Materien, General Accise Sachen, Nr. 20a.

24 Ibid., fos. 3–10.

25 Employees who interacted in ‘unacceptable’ ways with tax-payers could be dismissed, but employees who were ‘insulted’ by tax-payers whilst properly carrying out their duties were assured that offenders would be appropriately punished. Ibid., fos. 7, 11, 62.

26 The professionalization of the Prussian excise administration also benefited from the employment of military veterans. Military drill had trained them to separate their private persona from that of the soldier, a process similar to what was required in the formation of professional tax administrators. Edgar Kiser and Joachim Schneider have argued that the veteran's loyalty resulted mainly from the lack of alternative employment but this, rather bravely, assumes full rationality on the veteran's part. Edgar Kiser and Schneider, Joachim, ‘Bureaucracy and efficiency: an analysis of taxation in early modern Prussia’, American Sociological Review, 59, (1994), pp. 187204Google Scholar.

27 Habermas, Structural transformation, p. 24.

28 Schultze, Regieverwaltung, pp. 25–7; Heinrich von Beguelin, Historisch kritische Darstellung der Accise- und Zollverfassung in den preussischen Staaten (Berlin, 1797), p. 111. Honoré Gabriel Riquetti Comte de Mirabeau, De la monarchie Prussienne, sous Frédéric le Grand (4 vols., Paris, 1788), iv, p. 403.

29 Schultze, Regieverwaltung, p. 46.

30 Frederick regarded the French fiscal system as one of the most sophisticated and well administered. In retrospect, his opinion may appear surprising although it has to be remembered that administrative inefficiency was perhaps the least problematic aspect of the French system.

31 Gustav von Schmoller, Preußische Verfassungs-, Verwaltungs- und Finanzgeschichte (Berlin, 1921), p. 144.

32 Schultze, Regieverwaltung, pp. 140–1. Schultze's numbers need to be read with great caution for two reasons. First, it is impossible to distinguish to what extent fluctuations of revenue are attribuable to the creation of the Régie. Changes in economic growth and patterns of trade and consumption had a significant impact. For example, harsh winters and wars disrupted trade significantly and consequently lowered certain types of fiscal revenues administered by the Régie. Second, the source basis of this statistical information is sketchy. See Schultze's comprehensive discussion of the sources on pp. 141–170 and 383–93. No attempt will be made here to re-evaluate critically Schultze's numbers for two reasons: first, it is even more difficult today to distill firm data from the sources than it was in Schultze's time because of the losses of archival material in the meantime. Second, and more importantly, the focus on the fiscal performance of the Régie has obscured rather than helped our understanding of the institution's failure. While we cannot know the numbers with precision, it is clear that a substantial increase of revenue occured under the Régie. We therefore need to shed light on the paradox of an institution that failed despite the fact that it successfully fullfilled the task for which it was designed. The answer, it is suggested in this article, cannot be found in the account books of the Régie but in the way contemporaries perceived the institution.

33 CO to Horst, 21 Mar. 1766, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 144.

34 See, for example, Frederick II cited in Marc Antoine de la Haye de Launay, Justification du système d'économie politique et financière de Frédéric II., roi de Prusse: pour servir de réfutation à tout ce que M. le Comte de Mirabeau a hazardé à ce sujet dans son ouvrage de la monarchie prussienne (n.p., 1789), pp. 57–59. Adrian Heinrich von Borcke, Was ist für, und was ist gegen die General-Tabaks-Administration zu sagen (n.p., 1786), pp. 7, 11.

35 Hagen, Immediatbericht, 28 Feb. 1766 in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 143.

36 CO to General Direktorium, 1 Mar. 1766, in ibid.

37 Mittenzwei, Preußen, pp. 51–70.

38 Reports reflected tax-payers' mood, but were also instrumental in the power struggle between established branches of administration and the Régie. Conflicts over areas of competence and administrative hierarchies were as much at stake as the merchants' and consumers' concerns. The alliance of local administrations and tax-payers against the Régie was, however, not purely opportunistic. The Kammern and other local administrative bodies were often largely composed of members of local elites where loyalties were more with private or local interests than with the king's. Frederick was well aware of this ‘connexion’ and repeatedly warned the Kammern not to plead ‘en faveur’ of local merchants. The Kammern were to refrain altogether from commenting on matters in which they were unable to judge, but no royal rebuke could prevent local administrators and tax-payers from voicing criticism. Schmoller, Preußische Verfassungs-, Verwaltungs- und Finanzgeschichte, pp. 145–51. CO to Dachroeden, 17 July 1766, CO to Auer, 11 Aug. 1766, CO to Horst, 3 Jan. 1767, CO to Domhardt, 8 June 1767, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, pp. 156, 180.

39 Report of Kriegsrat Gossler, Sept. 1786, in ibid., p. 172.

40 CO to Horst, 27 June 1770, in ibid., p. 227.

41 Brauordnung, 17 June 1771, in ibid., p. 237.

42 Relation der Königsberger Kammer, 6 Feb. 1767, Klagen der Ostpreußischen Kammer, Aug. 1767, CO to Hoym, 3 Aug. 1770, Circular de General-Administration, 12 Jan. 1779, in ibid., pp. 168, 182, 229, 273. Reports also frequently include warnings that commerce would inevitably suffer or be destroyed if the vexations and the increased tax burden did not cease, ‘merchants and professionals (‘professionisten’) suffer extraordinarily', said one report. Dohm, Pro-Memoria, 22 Aug. 1766, Relation der Königsberger Kammer, 6 Feb. 1767, Instruction, 2 Mar. 1767, CO, 29 July 1767, General-Direktion and General-Administration, 17 Jan. 1770, in ibid., pp. 161, 168, 172, 174, 221.

43 Johanna Schopenhauer, Im Wechsel der Zeiten, im Gedränge der Welt (Munich, 1986), p. 86. NB.: Danzig became part of Prussia only in 1793 but already since 1772 the city was surrounded by Prussian territory and citizens were submitted to excise controls when they left the city. Schopenhauer wrote her memoirs after the Prussian annexation of the city and the Napoleonic wars; changed attitudes towards Prussia and France may have affected her memories.

44 CO, 16 June 1772, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 250.

45 On this occasion, the king re-iterated the Régie's objectives: besides raising higher revenue and shifting the tax burden away from the poor the main aim was to ‘direct the merchants’, i.e. to guide commerce and industry. In particular, the ‘encouragement of domestic manufacturing’ through protective tariffs and the control of grain prices in order to avoid pressure on wages were priorities. A far-reaching claim to regulate the sphere of production and consumption is implicit in these objectives. Interferences that the merchants, brewers, and others across Prussia regarded as excessive were not accidental by-products of a new tax regime. From businessmen's complaints and from the instructions to the excise officials emerges an agreement about the boundary that separated state and private spheres, but the exact delineation of this boundary and the degree and ways in which the state could cross this boundary were contentious and formed the core of this controversy. CO, 19 June 1769, in ibid., 216.

46 Borcke, General-Tabaks-Administration, p. 3.

47 De La Haye De Launay, Justification, p. 26.

48 Frederick II cited in ibid., pp. 56–61, especially p. 60.

49 For another example of the explosive implications of shortages of ‘luxury goods’ in the eighteenth century, see Colin Jones and Rebecca Spang, ‘Sans-culottes, sans café, sans tabac: shifting realms of necessity in luxury in eighteenth-century France’, in M. Berg and H. Clifford, eds., Consumers and luxury: consumer culture in Europe, 1650–1850 (Manchester, 1999), pp. 37–62.

50 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv, p. 142.

51 Beguelin, Accise- und Zollverfassung, p. 135.

52 CO, 18 Mar. 1776, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 266.

53 CO, 22 Mar. 1784, in ibid., p. 306.

54 CO, 27 Feb. 1768, CO, 18 Jan. 1784, in ibid., pp. 195, 305. In such instances the Régie could not always count on the loyalty of other organs of the state. In more than one case, soldiers and officers sided with the ‘contrebandiers’ and even arrested tax officials. CO, 2 Oct. 1767, CO, 15 June 1771, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, pp. 182, 235. For a discussion of other cases of collective and violent resistance against the state in early modern Germany, see the excellent discussion of conflicts over military drafts and soldiers' pay in Peter Wilson, War, state and society in Württemberg, 1677–1798 (Cambridge, 1995).

55 CO, 17 July 1766, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 156; CO, 19 June 1769, in ibid., p. 216.

56 Johan Georg Hamann to Friedrich Carl von Moser, 11 Sept. 1763, in Johann Georg Hamann, Briefwechsel, ed. Walther Ziesemer and Arthur Henkel (7 vols., Wiesbaden, 1955), iii, p. 19.

57 Arthur Henkel, ‘Vorwort’, in ibid., vi, p. 12.

58 On the importance of networks of correspondence for contemporary debate in Germany see: Hans Bödeker, ‘Lessings Briefwechsel’, in idem and Herrmann, eds., Über den Prozess der Aufklärung in Deutschland im 18. Jahrhundert, pp. 113–38.

59 Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 2 Jan. 1778, in Hamann, Briefwechsel, iv, p. 2. Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 11 Nov. 1782, in ibid., iv, p. 447.

60 Hamann to Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 12 Nov. 1782, in ibid., iv, p. 450.

61 Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 1777 (probably March), in ibid., iii, p. 356.

62 Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 11 Nov. 1782, in ibid., iii, p. 447.

63 Hamann to Johann Gottfried von Herder, 12 April 1780, in ibid., iv, p. 183. In some translations Exodus 36, 29. Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 1777 (probably March), in ibid., iii, p. 356.

64 Johann Georg Hamann, ‘Au Salomon de Prusse’, in Johann Georg Hamann and Josef Nadler, eds., Schriften über Sprache, Mysterien, Vernunft, 1772–1788 (Vienna, 1951), pp. 60, 423.

65 Hamann's notes refer to this edition: Guillaume Thomas François Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique, des établissemens & du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes (6 vols., Amsterdam, 1772).

66 The ‘financier de Pe-Kim’ of the title is the highranking excise official de Lattre who, needless to say, was not in Beijing but in Berlin. See the editorial notes in Johann Georg Hamann, ‘Lettre à un financier de Pe-Kim’, in Hamann and Nadler, eds., Schriften über Sprache, Mysterien, Vernunft, pp. 419–20.

67 Hamann, ‘Lettre à un financier de Pe-Kim’, p. 304.

68 Hamann, ‘Au Salomon de Prusse’, pp. 60, 423.

69 Hamann, ‘Lettre à un financier de Pe-Kim’, p. 303.

70 Hamann to Baron von W., 22 Sept. 1958, in Johann Georg Hamann, Schriften, ed. Friedrich Roth (8 vols., Berlin, 1821–43), i, p. 304.

71 Hamann uses a modified citation from Raynal to express his views. Hamann, ‘Lettre à un financier de Pe-Kim’, p. 303.

72 Ibid.

73 Jean-Louis Moreau de Beaumont, Mémoires concernant les impositions et droits en Europe (Paris, 1768).

74 Florian Schui, ‘Observing the neighbours: fiscal reform and transnational debates in France after the Seven Years’ War', in Gabriel Paquette, ed., Enlightened reform in southern Europe and its Atlantic colonies, c. 1750–1830 (Farnham, 2009), pp. 271–86.

75 Johann Georg Hamann, ‘Beylage zum 77., 78., 80., 87. Stück, 25., 28. Sept. 5., 30 Okt. 1775 (Hamann's translation of excerpts from Discours sur le commerce des bleds)’, in Hamann and Nadler, eds., Schriften über Sprache, Mysterien, Vernunft.

76 Rudolf Vierhaus, ‘“Patriotismus” – Begriff und Realität einer moralisch-politischen Haltung’, in Rudolf Vierhaus, ed., Deutsche patriotische und gemeinnützige Gesellschaften (Munich, 1980), p. 60.

77 Hamann to Johann Friedrich Reichardt, 1777 (probably March), in Hamann, Briefwechsel, iii, p. 356.

78 Note that Kant uses the term ‘bürgerlicher Posten, oder Amt’ in the original; evidently the holding of a public office did not exclude ‘Bürgerlichkeit’ in his view.

79 Immanuel Kant, ‘What is Enlightenment?’, in Lewis White Beck, ed., Foundations of the metaphysics of morals (Chicago, IL, 1950), pp. 287–9.

80 On the same issue see Sauter, Michael, ‘The Enlightenment on trial: state service and social discipline in eighteenth-century Germany's public sphere’, Modern Intellectual History, 5, (2008), pp. 195223CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Hunter, Ian, ‘The history of philosophy and the persona of the philosopher’, Modern Intellectual History, 4, (2007), pp. 571600CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

81 See n. 71. Hamann – like an increasing number of Prussians at the time – was still part of the commercial sphere as a consumer and as someone who made a living partly from selling his articles and books.

82 CO to de Launay, 30 Mar. 1783, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, p. 296.

83 Schultze, Regieverwaltung, pp. 105–28.

84 CO to de Launay, 28 Feb. 1783, in Rachel, ed., Handels-, Zoll- und Akzisepolitik, pp. 292–3.

85 Schultze, Regieverwaltung, pp. 119–21.

86 Former barriers that the respect of the great monarch had imposed on public opinion during his lifetime were no more; his successor, who later earned the popular nickname ‘the fat good-for-nothing’ (‘der dicke Lüderjahn’), was not as awe-inspiring as his uncle. Johann Georg von Zimmermann, Fragmente über Friedrich den Grossen zur Geschichte seines Lebens, seiner Regierung, und seines Charakters (3 vols., Leipzig, 1790), iii, p. 227.

87 von Struensee, Carl August, ‘Über den freien Getreidehandel in den preußischen Staaten’, Berlinische Monatsschrift (1787), pp. 414, 425Google Scholar.

88 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv, p. 145.

89 The first piece in this series was von Struensee, Carl August, ‘Über den neuesten Finanzzustand Frankreichs’, Berlinische Monatsschrift (1788), ii, pp. 399427Google Scholar.

90 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv, p. 1.

91 Anton Friedrich Büsching, Anton Friderich Büschings: Beschreibung seiner Reise von Berlin über Potsdam nach Rekahn unweit Brandenburg (Leipzig, 1775). See Mirabeau's comments in Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, pp. 106, 191. In 1790 Büsching complemented his statistical travel narrative with a statistical handbook about Frederick II's reign. Anton Friedrich Büsching, Zuverläßige Beyträge zu der Regierungs-Geschichte Königs Friedrich II. von Preußen: vornehmlich in Ansehung der Volksmenge, des Handels, der Finanzen und des Kriegsheers (Hamburg, 1790).

92 Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg, ‘Sur la véritable richesse des états, la balance du commerce et celle du pouvoir. Dissertation qui a été lue … le 26. de Janvier 1786’, in Nouveaux mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres (Berlin, 1786).

93 It is difficult to establish whether Borcke wrote before or after the edict. The title of his book gives 1786 as the date of publication and the edict abolishing the monopoly was dated January 1787. In his last chapter, however, Borcke mentioned that abolition of the monopoly had already been signed into effect, meaning that he was either writing in the period between signature and publication of the edict, or that he began his work before the edict and completed it only after the king had decided.

94 Frederick William II, ‘Declarations-Patent wegen Aufhebung der General-Tabacks-Administration und Caffeebrennerey-Anstalt auch Heruntersetzung der Cafee-Accise. De Dato Berlin den 6 Januarri 1787.’, in Novum Corpus Constitutionum Prussico-Brandenburgensium Praecipue Marchicarum (12 vols., Berlin, 1751–1810), viii, p. 243.

95 Borcke, General-Tabaks-Administration, p. 20.

96 Ibid., p. 66.

97 Ibid., pp. 46–57.

98 Anon., Beantwortung und Wiederlegung der Schrift, Was ist für und was ist gegen die General-Tobaks-Administration zu sagen (Berlin, 1787), pp. 23, 25, 62.

99 Ibid., pp. 1–2, 20.

100 This was, however, no dogmatic defence of free trade. In other cases, the author argued, protectionist measures might be in the common interest of state and merchants. Anon., Gedanken eines Patrioten über die Schrift: Was ist für und was ist wider die General-Tobacks-Administration zu sagen (Berlin, 1787), pp. 20–46, 50.

101 Honoré Gabriel de Riqueti Comte de Mirabeau, Lettre remise à Fréderic Guillaume II, roi régnant de Prusse, le jour de son avènement au trône (n.p., 1787). Also published in German as Honoré Gabriel Riquetti Comte de Mirabeau, Schreiben an Friedrich Wilhelm II. (Paris, 1787).

102 Other matters played a role in this debate, but as Zimmermann pointed out, ‘the greatest part of the accusation that has been levelled against Frederick relate to the French Régie’. Johann Georg von Zimmermann, Vertheidigung Friedrichs des Grossen gegen den Grafen von Mirabeau (Hanover, 1788), p. 34.

103 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv, p. 113. Zimmermann saw Mirabeau's work as a joint effort of the ‘clique’ of the ‘Berlin Enlightenment synagogue’ which had very quickly adopted Mirabeau and made him its spokesman; Zimmermann, Fragmente, iii, p. 258.

104 Zimmermann, Vertheidigung Friedrichs des Grossen; de la Haye de Launay, Justification, also published in German as Marc Antoine de la Haye de Launay, Friedrichs des zweyten, Königs von Preussen, ökonomisch-politisches Finanzsystem (Berlin, 1789); Ewald Friedrich von Hertzberg, ‘Discours qui a été lu dans l'assemblée publique de l'Académie des Sciences de Berlin le 26 Septembre 1788’, in Nouveux mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres (Berlin, 1788).

105 Friedrich Nicolai, Freymüthige Anmerkungen über des Ritters von Zimmermann Fragmente (Berlin, 1791); Johann Heinrich Friedrich Quittenbaum, Zimmermann der I, und Fridrich der II (London (?), 1790); Carl Friedrich Bahrdt, Mit dem Herrn [von] Zimmermann Ritter des St. Wladimir-Ordens von der dritten Klasse deutsch gesprochen (n.p., 1790).

106 Needless to say, the debate cannot be discussed in its entirety, including the issue of nationalism. It hardly played a role in early debates about the Régie but begins to appear more frequently in the debate from 1787. In part, the concept of the nation (conceptualized varyingly as a Prussian, German nation or simply as a ‘non-French’ nation) developed as an important part of the challenge to royal authority. If the king could not legitimately legislate to interfere with certain matters then sovereignty in such matters must reside elsewhere. Another motive for an increased interest in the issue of nationality was that ideas about nationality and sovereignty, developed in the context of the French Revolution from 1789 onwards, made their way into Prussia where they were received either positively or negatively, requiring an effort to put as many intellectual barriers between events in France and the reality of the Hohenzollern polity; for contemporary conceptualizations of patriotism, see, among others, Vierhaus, ‘“Patriotismus”’.

107 Mirabeau, Lettre, pp. 45–53.

108 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv p. 142.

109 Ibid. This central point is already familiar from earlier parts of the controversy over the Régie and is later repeated by Nicolai and Beguelin.

110 Marc Antoine de la Haye de Launay, ‘Compte rendu au roi’, in ibid., pp. 258–87, at p. 284.

111 Ibid., pp. 51–6.

112 See discussion of older political theories on the issue in Eckhart Hellmuth, Naturrechtsphilosophie und bürokratischer Werthorizont (Göttingen, 1985).

113 De la Haye de Launay, Justification, p. 58. Zimmermann, Fragmente, ii, p. 72.

114 De la Haye de Launay, Justification, pp. 43, 48, 59–60 and passim.

115 Ibid., pp. 69, 36, 40, 51–69, 36, 75, 60.

116 Zimmermann, Fragmente, ii, p. 75.

117 Mirabeau, De la monarchie prussienne, iv, p. 172. Hertzberg, ‘Discours’.

118 Mirabeau, Lettre, p. 15.

119 Ibid., p. 59.

120 William, Frederick II, ‘Verordnung für sämmtliche Provinzen diesseits der Weser, wegen einer neuen Einrichtung des Accise- und Zoll-Wesens. De Dato Berlin, den 25sten Jan. 1787’, in Novum Corpus Constitutionum Prussico-Brandenburgensium Praecipue Marchicarum (12 vols., Berlin, 1751–1810), viii, pp. 255–68Google Scholar.

121 Wilhelm von Humboldt, Ideen zu einem Versuch die Gränzen der Wirksamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen (Breslau, 1851), p. 172.

122 Montesquieu, Charles Louis Secondat Baron de, De l'esprit des lois (2 vols., Paris, 1995), i, p. 430 (book xiii, ch. 14). For a summary of contemporary views of indirect taxes see Fritz Mann, Steuerpolitische Ideale (Jena, 1937), pp. 50–73.

123 Parts of the manuscript were published in 1792. See among others von Humboldt, Wilhelm, ‘Über die Sittenverbesserung durch Anstalten des Staats’, Berlinische Monatsschrift (1792), pp. 419–43Google Scholar, and von Humboldt, Wilhelm, ‘Wie weit darf sich die Sorgfalt des Staats um das wohl seiner Bürger erstrecken?’, Neue Thalia (1792Google Scholar).

124 See among others: Clark, Iron kingdom, pp. 270–3; Hunter, Ian, ‘Kant's religion and Prussian religious policy’, Modern Intellectual History, 2, (2005), pp. 127CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Michael Sauter, ‘The Prussian monarchy and the practices of enlightenment’, in Hans Blom, John Laursen, and Luisa Simonutti, eds., Monarchisms in the Age of Enlightenment (Toronto, 2007), pp. 217–39.

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