Sunday, September 17, 2017

Financing the Crusades - general taxation

"A "first crude experiment" in compulsory almsgiving, the levy of 1166 begins the history of general taxation for financing the crusades.

The peril of the Holy Land again evoked an extraordinary levy in 1183, when king Baldwin IV with the consent of a general council imposed a tax on the kingdom of Jerusalem. It was levied at the rate of one bezant on a hundred of movables and debts (and income of mercenary soldiers) and of two bezants on a hundred of the revenues of churches, monasteries, barons, and their vassals. The poor were to pay a hearth tax of one bezant or what they could; the unfree were to be taxed by their lords at the same rate. Four men were chosen in each civitas of the realm to assess and collect the tax, but the taxpayer might declare under oath that he was over-assessed and pay according to his own declaration.Altogether the levy showed considerable development beyond that of 1166.

The kings of England and France followed the new model in levying another crusade tax on their subjects in 1185. The unit of one hundred was employed, and the annual rate was roughly the same as in Jerusalem, but the levy was taken for three years and so was the heaviest thus far collected. The sanctions remained ecclesiastical, and the tax was still administered by the clergy, though the bishops were replaced as collectors by a Templar and a Hospitaller appointed in each diocese. The exemptions of goods necessary to the taxpayer's profession presaged the Saladin Tithe"

Blog quotes from Zacour, N. P.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The impact of the Crusades on Europe  (1989), Chapter IV, "Financing the Crusades". The quotes presented here focus on the situation in the first half of the 12th Century. Illustration Norwich Tollhouse source

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