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The Prussian Finance Edict of 1810, signed by State Chancellor Hardenberg and King Frederick William III (October 27, 1810)

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Incidentally, it goes without saying that the high dues on colonial goods that have now become necessary through the Continental System include provisions for lowering them to the intended rates.

As it is, the oppressiveness of these new impositions shall be moderated as much as possible in that we intend, by means of a comprehensive reform of the tax system, to have all of them borne by everyone based on the same principles for our entire monarchy. In the shortest order, a new land register will therefore also be drawn up in order to determine the land tax based on it.

Our intent is by no means to increase the land tax that has been levied until now, only to ensure the equal and proportionate distribution among all those liable to the land tax. However, all exemptions that are no longer compatible with either natural justice or the spirit of administration in neighboring states shall be abolished. That is, properties that have hitherto remained exempt from the land tax shall be taxed without exception, and we wish that it also be done specifically on our own demesne possessions. We hope that those to whom this measure will be applied can find comfort in the fact that in the future they can no longer be accused of evading the public burden at the expense of their fellow subjects, and in these considerations: that the land tax to be paid by them in the future is not equal to the expense they would incur if one demanded from them the knightly service obligations that were originally attached to their estates, in return for which the existing, quite disproportional dues are dropped; also, that free use of the landed property, complete commercial freedom, and exemption from other burdens that would otherwise have been necessary shall be granted; finally, that the land tax is already being borne by the owners of estates in a large part of our monarchy.

For we wish to implement complete commercial freedom in return for the payment of a moderate patent tax and the cessation of the existing trade taxes, simplify the customs system, abolish soccage, and where a loss is genuinely proved in accordance with the principles to be prescribed, the state will pay compensation in exchange; [we wish] to grant and secure property to that segment of our subjects who have not hitherto enjoyed its possession, also to completely abolish a number of oppressive institutions and imposts. [ . . . ]

We have the intent, as the territorial ruler, to designate our demesnes for the repayment of state debts. To that end, we have decided on their gradual sale. [ . . . ].

In addition, we have decided to secularize the spiritual estates in our monarchy and to have them sold, and at the same time to have the proceeds thereof devoted to paying off state debts by ensuring the complete pensioning of the current prebendaries and the generous endowment of parishes, schools, and foundations. Here we have in mind not only the example of nearly all states and the general Zeitgeist, but also the conviction that we are acting far more in accordance with justice if we use those estates for the salvation of the state under the conditions mentioned above, than if we intended, to this end, to draw more strongly on the wealth of our loyal subjects.

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