Skip to main content

1833 - The plonk riot

PlonkThe local market gardeners and winemakers used to drink a wine that was made purely to quench their considerable thirst. This rough plonk called Bubberi in the local dialect, had little to do with normal wine and was not to be found outside the local haunts. One day in 1833, th e tax authorities decided that it would be a good idea to slap a hefty 22 sols per hectoliter tax on the stuff, the same as for normal wine.

The idea backfired. At the end of October, discontent grew into open revolt and spread from the Krutenau to the centre of the city, where the winemakers and market-gardeners were joined by workers from local factories.

Barricades were thrown up and stones hurled at the local soldiery, called out to control the crowd. The enraged townsfolk threatened to drag the Head of Taxation, the vicomte de Croismare, out into the street, throw him into a barrel of Bubberi and then pour the whole lot into the Sinn (the local river). The national guard was summoned, but they steadfastly refused to charge their fellow-citizens. It was finally only with the intervention of the Prefect and the army that order was restored. The Viscount was dismissed, the tax abolished and the imprisoned ringleaders acquitted. No one would ever again try to tax the Bubberi.