A toll castle (German : Zollburg) is a castle that, in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, guarded a customs post and was intended to control it. They were typically found in the Holy Roman Empire. Toll castles always stood in the vicinity of an important long-distance trade route over, for example, the Alpine passes or the Middle Rhine. Such castles were usually placed at strategic locations, such as border crossings, river crossings or mountain passes, and were manned by armed guards. The actual toll-collecting point lay below at the road or river and was often linked by walls to the castle itself.
Toll castles belonged to the respective territorial lordsor to vassals, to whom the duty and right to collect the toll had been delegated by these lords. Most toll castles also had additional administrative and other functions, as border watch posts or residences, such as for example Stahleck Castle above Bacharach on the Rhine. Some, such as Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhine near Kaub, were, however, purely customs points and only collected tolls.
The Rhine is one of the major European rivers. The river begins in the Swiss canton of Graubünden in the southeastern Swiss Alps. It forms part of the Swiss-Liechtenstein, Swiss-Austrian, and Swiss-German borders. After that the Rhine defines much of the Franco-German border, after which it flows in a mostly northerly direction through the German Rhineland. Finally in Germany, the Rhine turns into a predominantly westerly direction and flows into the Netherlands where it eventually empties into the North Sea. It drains an area of 9,973 sq km and its name derives from the Celtic Rēnos. There are also two German states named after the river, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate.
A robber baron or robber knight was an unscrupulous feudal landowner who, protected by his fief's legal status, imposed high taxes and tolls out of keeping with the norm without authorization by some higher authority. Some resorted to actual banditry. The German term for robber barons, Raubritter, was coined by Friedrich Bottschalk in 1810.
Bacharach is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It belongs to the Verbandsgemeinde of Rhein-Nahe, whose seat is in Bingen am Rhein, although that town is not within its bounds.
The Zollverein, or German Customs Union, was a coalition of German states formed to manage tariffs and economic policies within their territories. Organized by the 1833 Zollverein treaties, it formally started on 1 January 1834. However, its foundations had been in development from 1818 with the creation of a variety of custom unions among the German states. By 1866, the Zollverein included most of the German states. The Zollverein was not part of the German Confederation (1815-1866).
Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley at Bacharach in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It stands on a crag approximately 160 metres (520 ft) above sea level on the left bank of the river at the mouth of the Steeg valley, approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Koblenz, and offers a commanding view of the Lorelei valley. Its name means "impregnable castle on a crag", from the Middle High German words stahel (steel) and ecke. It has a water-filled partial moat, a rarity in Germany. Built on the orders of the Archbishop of Cologne, it was destroyed in the late 17th century but rebuilt in the 20th and is now a hostel.
Lahnstein is a verband-free town of Rhein-Lahn-Kreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated at the confluence of the Lahn with the Rhine, approximately 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of Koblenz. Lahnstein was created in 1969 by the merger of the previously independent towns of Oberlahnstein on the south side of the Lahn and Niederlahnstein on the north side. In 2020, it had a population of 18,030.
Between Bingen and Bonn, Germany, the river Rhine flows as the Middle Rhine through the Rhine Gorge, a formation created by erosion, which happened at about the same rate as an uplift in the region, leaving the river at about its original level, and the surrounding lands raised. This gorge is quite deep, about 130 metres (430 ft) from the top of the rocks down to the average water-line.
Kaub is a town in Germany, state Rhineland-Palatinate, district Rhein-Lahn-Kreis. It is part of the municipality (Verbandsgemeinde) Loreley. It is located on the right bank of the Rhine, approx. 50 km west from Wiesbaden. It is connected to Wiesbaden and Koblenz by railway. Population 1100. It has a Roman Catholic and an Evangelical church, and a statue of General Blücher. Historically, trade mainly consisted of the wines of the district.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle on the Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island in the River Rhine near Kaub, Germany. Known as "the Pfalz", this former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting.
Zons, formerly known as Feste Zons(Fortress Zons), today officially called Stadt Zons is an old town in Germany on the west bank of the Lower Rhine between Cologne and Düsseldorf. It has been a part (Stadtteil) of the town of Dormagen since 1975. In 2020 its population was 5,452.
Solre-sur-Sambre Castle is a water castle in Solre-sur-Sambre in the municipality of Erquelinnes, province of Hainaut, Wallonia, Belgium. It is one of the oldest fortified castles in Hainaut, and the property of the Princes de Merode.
The term lowland castle or plains castle describes a type of castle that is situated on a lowland, plain or valley floor, as opposed to one built on higher ground such as a hill spur. The classification is extensively used in Germany where about 34 percent of all castles are of the lowland type.
A hillside castle is a castle built on the side of a hill above much of the surrounding terrain but below the summit itself. It is thus a type of hill castle and emerged in Europe in the second half of the 11th century. As a result of the particular danger to the site from attacks on the castle from the rising ground above it, this weak point is usually strongly protected by a shield wall or a Bergfried. Often a combination of these two passive defensive works were used.
A Ganerbenburg is a castle occupied and managed by several families or family lines at the same time. These families shared common areas of the castle including the courtyard, well, and chapel, whilst maintaining their own private living quarters. They occurred primarily in medieval Germany.
The road toll was a historical fee charged to travellers and merchants in return for permission to use the roads and waterways of the country or state concerned. It was reinforced in the Holy Roman Empire by the law of Straßenzwang which meant that traders in certain goods had to use specified roads. In return, they were usually guaranteed safe passage under the right of escort or Geleitrecht. The road toll was widespread especially in medieval times, and, in addition to the payments from the staple rights, was an important source of income.
A Landesburg or landesherrliche Burg was a castle that a territorial lord, such as a prince-bishop, duke or prince built for the defence or expansion of his sovereign estates. They were thus the central and most important castles of the great princely territories. The Landesburgen were usually the property of the territorial lord, but they sometimes referred to castles that he did not own, but were available to him as a safe house (Offenhaus). The large castles of the 8th to 10th centuries, east of the Rhine and outside the towns were often described as Landesburgen because they performed important functions in the control of the state.
The terms landwehr, landgraben and landhege refer to border demarcations or border defences and enclosures in Central Europe that were either built by settlements with the right of enclosure or to mark and defend entire territories. These measures, usually comprising earthworks or dykes as well as ditches and impenetrable lines of hedging, for protecting towns and villages date mainly to the High and Late Middle Ages and consist, in some cases, of systems over a hundred kilometres long. Comparable earthworks have been recorded since Antiquity. The Roman limes are the best known examples of earlier landwehrs. The Danewerk is another example of this type of barrier.
A toll is a fee charged for the use of a road or waterway.
The dice toll was a regional supplement to the Leibzoll with which Jews had to buy free passage across regional borders. It was widespread in certain regions of Europe from the Middle Ages until the 17th century. While the Leibzoll was a monetary payment, the dice toll was comparatively worthless. The dice payment was often demanded of Jews crossing customs borders, and also played a role outside of the official customs trade as a popular form of anti-Jewish harassment.