Meile

In German-speaking areas in Europe, 1st – 20ᵗʰcenturies, a unit of itinerant distance, varying with time and location, but generally about 7.5 kilometers.

The word is derived from a form of the Latin mille passus, (thousand paces). It entered German (without the passus) in the first century ce, about the same time as Strasse (street) came in from the Latin strata (road)¹, perhaps filling related needs. Latin mille is the source of the name of a unit of itinerant distance in many European langages, including the English “mile”. The various Meiles, however, are much larger than the English mile or the Roman mille passus. Its magnitude corresponds more closely to the French lieue, and it was formerly called the Rast. It may be a survival of a unit that preceded the Roman occupation unit. The French retained the Celtic name. They were so insistent upon retaining their measure that the Roman conquerors finally adopted it for Gaul. See leuca.

1. Friedrich Kluge.
An Etymological Dictionary of the German Language.
John Francis Davis, translator, from the fourth German edition.
London: George Bell and Sons, 1891.

Locale Equivalents Magnitude,
in kilometers
Sources
deutsche or geographische 1/15 grad of equator 7407.41 Ha148
Ansbach
Beyreuth
= 2 Stunden = 2400 Ansbacher Ruthen = 26,400 Fuss
13 = 1 grad of equa
  Ne20
Hannover Polizeimeile = 2274 Hanoverian Ruthes = 36,384 Zell Fuss 10.5878 K191, D210
Hannover
19 Aug 1836
Neue Postmeile = 1587½ Ruthen = 25,400 Fuss 7.419206 Do229, Ha120, D210
Hamburgh same as Prussian = 2000 Rhineland Ruthen 7.538 K172
Wroclaw (Breslau)
Silesia
1820
legal Silesian Meile  = 30 Gewend = 150 Ketten = 1500 Ruthen = 11,250 Silesian Ellen = 22,500 Breslau Fuss.
1½ Silesian Meile = 1 Saxon Meile[?]
6.476 K52, Ne66
Gdańsk = 1800 Ruthen = 27,000 Gdańsk Fuss 7.749 K83, D211
Stuttgart
Wurtemberg
= 260 Ruthen = 26000 Fuss    
Prussian
adopted 16 May 1816
= 2000 Rhineland Ruthes 7.532484  
Vienna
Austria
Polizeimeile = 4000 Viennese Klafter = 24,000 Fuss 7.58663 D209, Do501
Postmeile = 2 Meile    
metrische Meile 1 Ha193
Bohemia   6.9459  
grosse Meile, = 2 Stunden 9.2612 D209
Braunschweig
30 Mar 1837
= 1625 Ruthen 7.419422 Do145
Darmstadt
10 Dec 1817
= 3000 Klafter 7.500 Do165
Karlsruhe
Baden
10 Nov 1810
= 2 Wegstuden. Do144: Stunde is 4.4454, Meile 8.8907 km. D202(trans): "One ordinarily takes this Meile, assuming the degree [of the meridian] is 111,111¹⁄₉ meters, for 8.88889 kilometers." In  that case Stunde is 4.44444 km. 8.88889 Do144, D209
Weimar = 1632 Ruthen = 26,112 Fuss 7.363024 Do486
Saxony Polizeimeile = 2000 Ruthen = 32,000 Dresden Fuss = 28,880 Rhineland Fuss 9.0594 D211
Postmeile = 1500 ruthen = 24,000 Dresden Fuss 6.7946 D211
Mecklenburg = 2000 perch = 24,000 Rhineland Fuss 7.5325 D210, Ha169
Westphalia = 2 Stunden 11.1134 D211
Saxe-Weimar = 1631 Ruthen = 26,096 Fuss 7.3585 D211
       

key to source abbreviations

In the table, the numbers following the symbols listed below are page numbers.

K Kelly, 1820.

Ne Nelkenbrecher, 1820

Ha Handels Almanach, 1838.

D Doursther, 1840.

Do Doring, 1854.

N Nelkenbrecher, 1890.

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