LEIBZOLL (Ger., "body tax"), a special tax levied on Jews in Europe. Known under a variety of names – Judengeleit, Leibmauth, Judenzoll, péage corporel, etc. – it was first levied by the three landgraves of Thuringia in 1368, and became more common after the major expulsions of the 15th and 16th centuries. Principalities which excluded Jews issued, for a fee, a ticket of passage or limited sojourn which guaranteed their safety, enabled the authorities to control their coming and going, and was also a source of income. Due to the political fragmentation of Europe, having to pay the Leibzoll (in addition to the regular customs duties) was for the Jews a moral degradation as well as an economic burden, for the Leibzoll was accompanied by humiliating legal formulas. In addition, it was levied many times within one political or provincial unit, according to local usage. Thus a Jew going from Goerlitz in Silesia to the Leipzig fair in Saxony (a distance of about 110 mi.) had to pay eight times for himself alone a total of 14 different payments of between two and 12 groschen each, a total of two thaler, 11 groschen, and three pfennig. At the fair itself he had to pay twice that amount or more. Nonetheless, rich and privileged Jews often succeeded in freeing themselves from the obligation.
The Leibzoll was known as Leibmauth in Vienna "and was introduced not as a financial but as a police measure, to keep away a considerable number of useless Jews, and to supervise
their conduct" (A. Pribram, Urkunden und Akten (1918), 423). By the *Toleranzpatent of Joseph II it was abolished (1782), but Joseph reserved the right to exact its equivalent. Ten years later *Francis I introduced the Judenbolleten for the same purposes; it survived until 1848. The tax was abolished in Prussia in 1787, in Bavaria in 1799, and in most of the other German states in the first decade of the 19th century, either through direct French occupation or through the activity of leading Jewish financiers and *Court Jews . Israel *Jacobson succeeded in abolishing it in Brunswick, and Wolf *Breidenbach devoted himself to inducing Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Homberg, Nassau, and other states to abolish it. The Russian form, the Geleitzoll, used to regulate passage across the Polish-Russian border, was abolished in 1862. The authorities often leased the collection of tax to a Jew, who could more easily supervise his brethren. The much-hated péage corporel of Strasbourg was leased in 1784 by Louis XVI to Herz *Cerfberr , one of the central figures in the struggle for its abolition.
L. Horwitz, in: Im deutschen Reich, 17 (1911), 417–27; A. Pribram, Urkunden und Akten (1918), index, S.V. Leibmaut, Bolletin; H. Schnee, Die Hoffinanz und der moderne Staat, 3 (1955), 127ff.; S. Stern, Der preussische Staat und die Juden (1962), index, S.V. Leibzoll; Z. Szajkowski, Franco-Judaica (1962), 38–42; A. Hertzberg, The French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index, S.V. Body Tax; R. Markgraf, Zur Geschichte der Juden auf den Messen in Leipzig (1894), 83ff.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.