Zweihänder, 1596/1605 (Oberhausmuseum Passau).
Copyright: Oberhausmuseum Passau
The slogan "No blood for oil" was used to protest against the Gulf Wars of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. 400 years earlier, "Blood for Salt!" would have been conceivable as a warrior slogan: In 1611 the so-called salt war broke out in the so-called salt triangle of Bad Reichenhall (Duchy of Bavaria), Dürrnberg and Hallein (Salzburg archbishopric) and Berchtesgaden (Prince Provostry).
The value of salt can only be understood against the background of the economic conditions at that time: Salt was indispensable for preserving many foods. This, in turn, was a prerequisite for bridging seasonal and economic shortages. Without salt there was no stock - and without it "every poor harvest inevitably resulted in hardship and death. With this knowledge of the outstanding value of salt, the attribute of power was attached to every place where salt was extracted". (Johannes Lang 2016)
In the Middle Ages, the Bavarian ducal Reichenhall had a regional monopoly in salt extraction and trade. At the end of the 12th century, salt extraction began in Hallein and Berchtesgaden. Later consolidated as clerical countries, the archbishopric of Salzburg with Hallein and the Prince's provost's abbey Berchtesgaden established themselves as "players" on the market. After mining in Hallein had become more efficient thanks to the innovative mining technology of the Sinkwerk process and the Salzburg Archbishop had destroyed Reichenhall by attack, Salzburg gained the upper hand. Salt from Hallein now dominated the market and Salzburg the trade routes via Salzach, Inn and Danube.
In the last two decades of the 16th century, the market was literally flooded with salt from the archbishop's Hallein salt works. Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria reacted with a 100 percent toll surcharge on Hallein salt. This prompted Salzburg's Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau to commit an act of war in 1611: the Bavarian Prince's Provostry Berchtesgaden was occupied by troops of Salzburg. The Bavarian duke took this opportunity to attack Tittmoning Castle (without success, but causing severe damage to the castle) and take Salzburg with Bavarian troops.
Then negotiations took place - with the result that forced contracts to the detriment of Salzburg. That resulted in a regional shift of the salt trade and as a result salt from Hallein suffered a massive decline in prices. The victorious Bavaria was now able to put an end to disputes over customs duties and Hallein mine yields, control trade on the Salzach and strengthen its influence on Berchtesgaden.