Galicyjski kataster podatkowy jako źródło do badania struktury społecznej wsi
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The Galician Tax Cadastre as a Source for Investigating the Social Structure of the VillageThe year 1849 marks the end of the process of formulation of the universal Galician tax document. The above evolutionary process had led to the creation of the so called permanent tax cadastre, or a modern system of land tax collection which is based on the taxpayer’s net income. The initial caesura in the above process is marked by the year 1787, when the Austrian government undertook actions aimed at creating a modern and universal tax system which would extend to the whole of the Habsburg monarchy. The income criterion had been based on profits obtained by the taxpayer in natural products, after prior deduction of production costs. In the process of calculating the final tax, tax officials took into consideration the surface area of the land, the prices of agricultural produce as well as the prices of staple foods in a given district. The “Josephine measure”, as the first Galician cadastre came to be known to historians, met with dissatisfaction of the peasants and especially of the nobility, as it increased the level of the tax. Following the protests, the authorities temporarily returned to the old system based on taxpayers’ tax declarations (so called tax returns). Another transitional stage was the adoption of the so called “Franciscan measure” which operated since the year 1820; the latter had been based on the principles introduced by Josephine, yet was devoid of its errors. However, the “Franciscan measure” retained the system of land measurement, based on taxpayers’ declarations, criticised by some scholars. The scholars argued that the system lowered the credibility of censuses as a historical source. Ultimately, the process of tax calculation ended in the year 1849 with the creation of the so called permanent tax cadastre, which was devoid of all the system imperfections characteristic of the measurements (tax returns and land measurements carried out by the taxpayer).The importance of the cadastre as a historical source is considerable. Its significance is due to its almost surgical precision (particularly with regard to the so called permanent cadastre) and mass character. The above precision allows one to trace the dynamics of structural change on the example of a single farm in a given village or else town property over the period of nearly 200 years. This is made possible by the uniform character of the main tax books (reports relating to land plots and building sites) which did not undergo any serious changes relating to their content over the years; if anything, they became more precise and scrupulous over the years. This creates propitious conditions for investigating the processes of inheritance both in villages and towns, and consequently, it makes it possible for scholars to trace the process of comminution of country property, which had its grave consequences, particularly in the Galician villages. It also allows one to trace the intensity of this process in different part of the Galician province as well as in other provinces of the Austrian state.The cadastre documents give one an opportunity not only to investigate the spatial as well as property structure of Galician towns and villages in the 18th–19th centuries, but in combination with the analysis of the earlier (old-Polish) and later (mortgage books) tax documents, it offers one a chance to analyse these factors over the span of 5 centuries which constitutes an invaluable historical source. Moreover, the more or less uniform structure and above all, the mass character of the above-mentioned cadastre documents, is of tremendous importance for social and economic research.
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