GHDI logo

The Prussian Law on Freedom of Trade, signed by State Chancellor Hardenberg and King Frederick William III (September 7, 1811)

This important law reflected the Prussian state’s urgent need for a broader stream of tax revenue from the commercial-industrial sector, and it followed from Hardenberg’s broader financial reforms of 1810. But in its thorough elimination of artisan guild monopolies and other corporate restraints on trade and commerce (including officially or corporatively fixed prices), and in its opening of these fields to all entrepreneurs, it realized major postulates of the economic liberalism born of the Enlightenment. The text offers insight into the occupational and social structure of the time.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 8

Law on Police Conditions, in Reference to the Edict of November 2, 1810, Regarding the Introduction of a General Commercial Tax

We, Frederick William, by the Grace of God, King of Prussia, etc. etc.

Announce and hereby let it be known that we have found it necessary, in pursuance of the Edict of November 2, 1810, regarding the introduction of a general commercial tax, to issue the following, more detailed and special regulations:

1. The purchase of a trade license does not alter the obligation to become a citizen or join the community as a member and take on communal burdens. A trade that, according to general laws or local statutes, can be pursued only by citizens or members of the community can be practiced on the basis of a trade license only after the attainment of citizenship or community membership. However, if someone has won citizenship in one city and is impelled by circumstances to settle in another city, then this does not alter his obligation to become a citizen there as well and to contribute to the communal charges, but such a person shall not bear the burden of double expenses; instead, for the citizenship in his new place or residence he shall pay a supplement only to the extent that it is more expensive than the previous one.

2. If someone is legally barred from becoming a citizen or member of the community because of ill-repute, then he may not, on the basis of a trade license, practice any trade that requires citizenship or the joining of the community.

3. A trade license does not grant a conscript the right to independently pursue a trade prior to the end of his obligation to perform military service, and he may not be licensed to trade for his own account according to the military constitution.

first page < previous   |   next > last page