The term “Gabella” (from dialectal Arab gabēla, variant of qabāla, that means “payment”, through the medieval Latin form gabulum ) indicated, in the French and Italian tax law, a kind of indirect tax on trade and consumption of goods. These taxes were collected by particularly unpopular tax collectors, a profession that is nowadays similar to a public officer and a free agent. The taxes on food staples (wheat, etc. . ) were often very high-priced and unfair. Created in France during the fourteenth century, the tax on salt was sadly famous. The “emigrationis” tax was to be paid by an emigrant according to the amount of money he carried with him. The “hereditatis” tax was due to send a gift or an inheritance abroad.
The tax on salt in France, and also in Aosta Valley, was one of the most hated taxes, as well as one of the least equally distributed. Despite the disapproval of many reformers, the tax was abolished after 1790 by a decision of the Constituent Assembly. After a brief come back under Napoleon Bonaparte, this tax fell into disuse and was finally abolished in 1945.
Of Roman origin, this tax was reaffirmed between the twelfth and thirteenth century by the Crown : established as a temporary measure by Louis IX in 1246, then used by Philip IV in 1286, the tax became standing under the reign of Philip VI, who extended it to throughout the kingdom, with the order of 20th March 1343: salt became thus a monopoly of the state
In Aosta Valley, the name “Gabella” stood for the shop where tobacco and salt were sold, and thus the many taverns of the villages.