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Edict Protecting the Brandenburg Woolens Industry (March 30, 1687)

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Yet since We have experienced that the application of such paternal solicitude has not achieved the desired end, but that the buying up and pre-emption of wool has steadily increased, through the connivance and negligence of Our officials appointed to control it, in particular the customs officials, controllers, and police, the wool has been sorted, the best taken out of the country, and the bad sold to the clothmakers, in consequence whereof the cloth made out of it has been unserviceable, and the merchants have turned to neighboring countries, the cloths maufactured in foreign towns out of the exported wool has been reimported into Our Lands, and very great sums of money have gone out in return, unaccompanied by any other commodities, and further, the previous number of clothworkers (especially up to 1680) has gradually and perceptibly diminished and dwindled, to the patent detriment of Our towns, and this branch of manufacture totally ruined.

Consequently, We, out of paternal solicitude for the conservation and promotion of Our subjects, have considered such measures as We feel Ourselves entitled to take in virtue of natural and other right, and first must find means whereby the good wool, wherewith Divine providence has so richly endowed Our Land, may as far as possible be processed in Our Electoral Lands, and the cloths, fabrics, and stuffs made out of it consumed and used not only there but also in Our other Duchies, Principalities, Provinces and Lands, and also that other foreigners may be encouraged by its good quality to purchase and export it.

Accordingly, We do hereby most graciously and earnestly command, enact, and will, of Our sovereign Power and Highness, that none of Our subjects, military or civil servants, burghers of towns or landsmen, but in particular no merchants, pedlars, tailors, clothworkers, or any other persons who have hitherto had any dealings in foreign cloth, shall as from the beginning of next July bring into the land or the towns any cloths manufactured in neighboring or other foreign places of which they cannot at once prove that the ell cost them to buy more than 1 thaler, 12 groschen, under pain of confiscation of the cloth for the first offense and a further punishment at Our discretion, in case of repetition. We do not, however, wish free trade in such cloths between foreigners and foreigners, or between Our subjects and foreigners, wholesale, or if the purchasers collect a quantity of pieces and have them made up into bales–this only at the fairs–to be in any way prohibited or impeded, but wish it to go on unimpeded as heretofore, but subject to the condition that the merchants report all foreign cloths to Our tax officials, have them made up into bales by a sworn packer, and sealed on the spot at which the bales or packages are made up with a seal of lead bearing a scepter and round it the words, “Foreign cloths in transit”; neither foreigners nor Our subjects may then open such bales in Our Lands, and Our customs officials–and in the case of native merchants, the tax collectors–are to see carefully whether the seals have been broken or opened.

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