Sund inches

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Kronborg Castle - Customs post on the sound

The Sundzoll ( Danish : Øresundstolden, Swedish : Öresundstullen ) was a shipping tariff that non-Danish ships crossing the Öresund had to pay in Helsingør . The tax was introduced by King Erik VII of Denmark in 1426 and levied until 1857.


The Sundzoll was one of the most important sources of income for the Danish crown over the centuries and thus secured the independence of the Danish kings from the nobility and imperial council . It was the reason for a perpetual dispute with the rest of the Baltic Sea countries, in particular the Hanseatic cities , who appealed against this levy to the freedom of the seas and tried several times - first from 1426 in the Sund Customs War , last until 1536 in the Count's feud - to gain possession of the Sundschlösser reach. The cannons of Kronborg Castle enforced the levy at the narrowest point of the Oresund.

The sound duty also had to be paid when crossing the Great and Little Belts . From 1645 onwards, Swedish ships were exempted from the Sundzoll due to the Peace of Brömsebro , but Sweden lost this privilege in 1720 due to the Peace of Frederiksborg .

In 1567 the type of survey was changed. From then on the cargo of the ships was taxed. As a result, the sound tariff increased threefold. When calculating shiploads in the port of Helsingør , a simplified calculation method was used in which the ships were only roughly measured. Until 1699, the size of the ship deck was included in the calculation of the Sundzoll, which even had an impact on the shape of the ship types built at Lübeck shipyards, where the response to this was to ensure a favorable ratio of storage space to deck size. Nevertheless, the calculation was quite arbitrary and was also based on national affiliation. Denmark did not set binding tariffs for German ships until 1821.

For Denmark the customs on the Sound were of great importance until the 19th century, as they were one of the main sources of income for the empire and at times generated one eighth of the Danish state's income. In the hundred years from 1557 to 1657 alone, almost 400,000 ships sailed the strait. During the Napoleonic Wars , however, traffic fell sharply. After 12,000 ships had passed the Danish customs station in 1802, there were only 121 ships in 1808, and 379 in the following year. After the wars, the numbers rose sharply again. In the decade from 1816 to 1825, over 10,000 ships passed the strait annually. For the year 1845 the customs registers record 15,950 ships in the Sound and in 1853 even 24,648.

After the maritime powers had brought the piracy in the Atlantic and Mediterranean to a standstill in the 1840s , the sound tariff was increasingly perceived as a nuisance that had to be eliminated. In 1839 and 1843 there were threats from Sweden and the USA to try to force the “robber state Denmark” to give in by force of arms.

The Sundzoll kept the parliaments and governments of the seafaring nations busy, for example the Prussian cabinet in 1838 and the British parliament three years later at the instigation of the port city of Hull . In 1841, England , Sweden and Russia signed another treaty with Copenhagen, which included further recognition of the sound tariff for partially reduced rates, for example for English manufactured goods. Russia, as Denmark's protective power, was not interested in its complete abolition, and neither was England, because part of its income was pledged to London banks.

In addition, Denmark also levied transit duties on land in Holstein , in particular from Lübeck , for road use on the Chaussee to Hamburg , the Stecknitz Canal and the Lübeck-Büchener Railway . It was one of the last successes of Lübeck's foreign policy that Mayor Theodor Curtius, together with his envoy Friedrich Krüger , succeeded in convincing the European powers to link the transit tariff issue with the sound tariff issue. The transit duties to be paid to Denmark for the movement of goods could thus be reduced to 20% of the initial value.

In 1842 the Sundzoll was initially reduced to 1 percent of the value of the goods for all ships regardless of their country of origin due to international pressure. Finally, Denmark agreed to the replacement of the sound tariff in the Copenhagen Convention of March 14, 1857. The one-off transfer fee of 30 million Danish Reichstalers (around 23 million Taler Prussian Kurant) had to be raised by the sea powers according to their previous quota. Lübeck and Hamburg participated with 102,996 and 107,012 Danish Reichstalers respectively (77,000 and 80,000 Taler Prussian Courant (see also Kurant )).

The Sundzoll Register as a historical source

The register in which the revenue from the Sund toll is entered is now in Rigsarkivet , the most important of the Danish State Archives ( Statens Arkiver ) in Copenhagen. It is a historical source of extraordinary importance to European economic and trade history as it recorded around 1.7 million passages through the sound over a period of 360 years (from 1497 to 1857). Specified are u. a. the starting point and the destination of the voyage, the home port of the ship and usually also its cargo.

In 2007 the Sundzoll Register was declared a World Document Heritage. Since 2009, the Sundzoll Register in the Netherlands has been digitized by the University of Groningen and Tresoar , the Center for Frisian History and Literature in Leeuwarden . The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020.


  • Tabeller over skibsfart and varetransport named Øresund 1661–1783 and named Storebaelt 1701–1748 , ed. by Nina Ellinger Bang, København 1906ff. (Danish)
  • Antjekathrin Graßmann (Ed.): Lübeckische Geschichte , 1989, ISBN 3-7950-3203-2
  • Hermann Scherer: The Sundzoll . Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1845
  • C [hristian] F [riderich] Wurm: The Sundzoll and its transplantation on German soil , Hamburg 1838
  • Carl Friedrich Wehrmann : The participation of Lübeck in the replacement of the Sundzolls , in: Journal of the Association for Lübeckische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Vol. 6, Lübeck 1892, pp. 405-430
  • Emil Ferdinand Fehling : Fifty years ago. In memory of Friedrich Krüger and Lübeck's politics on the Sunde , in: Hansische Geschichtsblätter Vol. 33 (1906), pp. 219–243
  • Alfred Wünsche: The Sund - a traffic geographic study , Rostock 1937
  • Stefan Kroll , Karsten Labahn: The "Dutch Sundregister" as a source for long-distance trade in the port cities of the Baltic Sea region during the 18th century. Rostock University

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Petter: German fleet armor from Wallenstein to Tirpitz. In: Hans Meier-Welcker (founder), Friedrich Forstmeier (ed.): Military History Research Office (ed.): German military history in six volumes 1648-1939. Vol. 5, Section VIII: German Naval History of Modern Times. Pawlak, Hersching 1983, ISBN 3-88199-112-3 , p. 39.
  2. Werner Scheltjens: The volume of Dutch Baltic shipping at the end of the eighteenth century. A new estimation based on the Danish Sound Toll Registers . In: Scripta Mercaturae , vol. 43 (2009), issue 1/2, pp. 74–110, here p. 87 (English).
  3. Sound Toll Registers. Documentary heritage submitted by Denmark and recommended for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register in 2007 , accessed on July 18, 2015.
  4. Sound Toll Registers online , accessed on July 18, 2015 (English).