One of the labours from the cycle *The Farmer’s Year*, gouache, 3rd quarter of 18th century

No Borders But There Are Restrictions

One Sovereign Territory But There Are Borders


It was not really a matter of pure philanthropy when Maria Theresia had some high customs tariffs abolished – more a calculated move based on considerations of economic policy and power politics. The numerous customs duties and tolls which had to be paid between and within the individual lands of the Habsburg Monarchy were of course very lucrative for the authorities from the financial point of view. However, they made trade in goods difficult and expensive and were one reason for the economic fragmentation of the Monarchy. The collection of tolls and the establishment of customs areas were above all political instruments used to demarcate, exclude or, when deemed necessary, include people, goods and regions. Maria Theresa and Joseph II reformed the tariffs for customs duties and tolls: while the former were abolished within the Habsburg territories, export and import duties were retained or even introduced in order to seal off the economy of the Monarchy.

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