Over the centuries, the Rhine developed into one of the most important economic areas of Germany, supported by the numerous tollstations along the river. By the 11th century the Rhine tolls were providing the area with essential and luxury goods. Ships carrying brassware from Belgium, fleece and leather from the Flemish counties, cheese and fish from Holland, and wax and wine from the lower Rhine, paid their tolls with a portion of the goods they carried. Wool, tin, lead and champagne from France were added, and a market system of fairs, based on the goods transported on the Rhine, developed. Holland was the destination of most of the goods, and a very important trading partner.
Over the centuries, the Rhine developed into one of the most important economic areas of Germany, supported by the numerous tollstations along the river. By the 11th century the Rhine tolls were providing the area with essential and luxury goods. Ships carrying brassware from Belgium, fleece and leather from the Flemish counties, cheese and fish from Holland, and wax and wine from the lower Rhine, paid their tolls with a portion of the goods they carried. Wool, tin, lead and champagne from France were added, and a market system of fairs, based on the goods transported on the Rhine, developed. Holland was the destination of most of the goods, and a very important trading partner.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Cologne

The busy trading city of Cologne, 1838

Artist: C. Stanfield
Sketches on the Moselle, the Rhine, and the Meuse, by C. Stanfield. London: Hodgson & Graves, 1838. Tiré de : Die illustrierten Rhein-Beschreibungen von Michael Schmitt; Köln: Weimar; Wien: Böhlau; 1996.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


In Medieval times, every kingdom along the river was allowed to set up its own tax and toll. In 200 years, the number of tollstations tripled. Every ship had to stop several times to pay tolls to the rulers of each city they passed. The princes who had residences and castles along the river lost power during the Middle Ages, and to keep up their wealth, they charged more and more. With the earnings of tolls and taxes the cities developed into large trade centres, and business flourished.
In Medieval times, every kingdom along the river was allowed to set up its own tax and toll. In 200 years, the number of tollstations tripled. Every ship had to stop several times to pay tolls to the rulers of each city they passed. The princes who had residences and castles along the river lost power during the Middle Ages, and to keep up their wealth, they charged more and more. With the earnings of tolls and taxes the cities developed into large trade centres, and business flourished.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

View from Andernach

Rhine boats, 1826

Artist: Robert Batty, Charles Heath
Scenery of the Rhine, Belgium and Holland, d'après des dessins du Capt'n Batty; gravure de Chas. Heath. London: Jennings, 1826. Tiré de Der Lauf des Rheines; W. Schäfke und Ingrid Bodsch, eds., Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, Köln 1993
c. 1826
© Kölnisches Stadtmuseum


Some skippers were charged as much as 150% of the value of their goods, which often caused them to interrupt their journey and offer their goods for sale. The Rhine was the most expensive waterway in Europe, but it was cheaper than transporting goods by land.
Some skippers were charged as much as 150% of the value of their goods, which often caused them to interrupt their journey and offer their goods for sale. The Rhine was the most expensive waterway in Europe, but it was cheaper than transporting goods by land.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Rhine Toll Station

The Pfalz, a toll station on the Rhine, c. 1822

Artist: Samuel Prout
Illustrations of the Rhine. Drawn from nature and on stone by Samuel Prout (Ill.). London: Ackermann, 1822-1824. Tiré de Der Lauf des Rheines; W. Schäfke und Ingrid Bodsch, eds., Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, Köln 1993
c. 1822
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Passenger ships also had to pay tolls to get through. So emigrants leaving the country had to stop and pay at many stations along the Rhine, including Wiesbaden, Mainz, Darmstadt, Mannheim, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, as well as several places in Holland.
Passenger ships also had to pay tolls to get through. So emigrants leaving the country had to stop and pay at many stations along the Rhine, including Wiesbaden, Mainz, Darmstadt, Mannheim, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, as well as several places in Holland.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

View of the City of Cologne

Cologne in 1798, with the tollhouse in the foreground

Artist: L. Janscha and J. Ziegler
Janscha, Laureny and Johann Ziegler: Collection de cinquante vues du Rhin les plus intéressantes et les plus pittoresques depuis Spire jusqu'à Dusseldorf dessinés sur les lieux d'après nature. Wien: Artaria & Co., 1798. Taken from: Der Lauf des Rheines; W. Schäfke and Ingrid Bodsch, eds., Köln 1993.
c. 1798
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Explain how rulers controlling land along the Rhine utilized the river to make money throughout history;
  • Describe how a ship carrying good or passengers along the Rhine would pay money;
  • Describe how those transporting goods or passengers reacted to the tolls that needed to be paid to travel the Rhine.

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