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Thread: Taxes

  1. #1
    Oyvind Gronnesby


    In the medieval time in europe there was several 'techniques' of gathering
    taxes. Now, the first thing you need to understand is that the cash flow in
    the middle ages was very small, so mostly taxes was paid in corn etc.

    Method #1:
    Usually the feudal system based on that knights demanded taxes from the
    peasants, lords demanded taxes from the knights, and so on, until it
    reached the vassal king (either you call him baron or whatnot in Birthright).
    France, which was the leading nation of feudalism, could only gather it's
    own army for 40 days, since that was all the king could expect his subjects
    to be away from his lands.
    This method obviously demands the control of the military (knights) to get
    you money, or otherwise the chain would obviously just stop.
    If you want your country controlled by this method, I, as GM, would demand
    that you control law holdings (and maybe even have a military unit in the
    province) to get your own taxes.

    Method #2:
    England developed a way to collect taxes with sheriffs. The sheriff was
    responsible for upholding the lords (baron, earl, landed knight) law and
    gather taxes in one shire (the title sheriff thereof). This system would
    allow a lord to hire proffessional soldiers (Infantry, E. Infantry,
    Pikemen, Archers etc.) on a permanent basis. Though, these soldiers would
    usually be used to harass peasents that does not pay.
    The feudal king, though, still had to collect taxes from his lords in the
    usual manner.

    Method #3:
    Many noble lords went around their land with a part of their army to visit
    their vassals. In their visit it was expected that the vassal to feed and
    house his lord and his men. This would often, in short time, deplete the
    funds of the vassal. Satisfied with work done, the lord would then continue
    to his next vassal.

    Actually you do not see that kind of centralized government that exists in
    Birthright until the 14th century (whereas is started to appear in the
    13th). In this system red-tape startet appearing, and paper money started
    be valuable. But the lands of Cerilia has not reached this waypoint yet.

    So you see, it ends up with being 'might is right' and the person with the
    army is the person to collect taxes. Therefore law holdings is imperative
    to collecting taxes (but not in the game system).

    In our campaign we started using a percentage of the income being gold, the
    rest of it is food, ale, animals, etc. This would mean that actions we
    deemed required cash (like raising units, though not paying their upkeep)
    had to be paid by our scarce cash funds.
    And remember, folks, that many soldiers in the middle ages wanted their
    wages paid in ale :-)

    If you are interested in how the feudal system works, and how to put into a
    game system I recommend you take a look at 'Lordly Domains', a supplement
    to Pendragon.

    Oyvind Gronnesby

  2. #2
    Jim Cooper


    Gary V. Foss wrote:
    > This may be true, but their right to collect the taxes came from the guy who ruled. In BR terms, even if a law holding does collect all the gold (which I'm still not 100% convinced of) if they tried to
    > keep it all, they'd be using their authority unlawfully, as a result the people would flip out and stop paying their taxes and the rightful ruler would actually support them.

    Not exactly (what you said is true, but not what Duatha was trying to
    get at, IMHO) - at least if one considers historical reality. Heh -
    point one: peasants don't have a choice - they are supposed to pay taxes
    and not complain about who collects them like good little serfs, no? :D
    But, humor aside, perhaps I should've used an example:

    Boeruine controls _all_ the law in Seaport, a province in the domain of
    Talinie. Therefore, (according to my understanding of law holdings, and
    what I think Duatha was trying to point out), not only can Boeruine
    lawfully collect *all* of the taxes generated from the province, but he
    has a legal right to them as well. In other words, the Thane of Talinie
    has no right to complain about losing out on the (admittedly) meager tax
    revenue generated by Seaport, even though he exerts his dominion over
    the province (ie, claims the regency of the province).

    The above is a classic example of feudalism and the relationship between
    vassal and lord. A vassal does not own the land, but he does own all
    the granted benefits collected from this land. But the vassals right to
    do so came from his lord. But once an oath of fealty and homage was
    taken with the lord, the lord had no legal right to take those rights
    back unless the vassal did something extreme. This is feudalism at its

    However, this is BR, so play BR feudalism as you will! :D


  3. #3
    Jim Cooper


    Dom wrote:
    > A law holder could using an Espionage action steal money from the
    > province regent, and would be assisted by the level or his law holding
    > making it easier. In addition if the law holder other than a regent
    > is not supporting the regents levels of taxation then there may be
    > a lot of unrest in the provinces affected.<

    This is also true. But, in this case, I would say that his lord (the
    province ruler) has a legal right to levy fines (or in the extreme, take
    away title to the land) against his aberrent vassal. So, if the law
    holder wants to keep his job, he wouldn't do such a thing.

    Now in the case above with the peasants, rebellion would occur because
    they see that some other bloke is trying to get them to give said bloke
    their life savings, rather than to *their* lord, who is the one who
    rules the land they work, so in effect what's happening is that they are
    being asked to be taxed twice (even though, in game terms, you don't see
    this happening). Remember its not the province's ruler who is supposed
    to collect the taxes - he's got vassals closer to the tax base to look
    after that job. All the prov. ruler does is say: "I want XXX amount of
    coin and goods from you this year, vassal" and the vassal better pay -
    so, he goes to the tax base and levies said amount, taking a portion
    agreed upon for himself. Heh - not only that, but feudal rights
    maintain that the vassal can also levy whatever additional tax he can
    squeeze from his workers too (within limits, of course - it doesn't do
    to starve your workers, you see). :D

    Now, in the case of a lord holding land (law holdings) in another lords'
    county/barony/duchy/(province), the province ruler doesn't own that land
    and so has no legal right to collect taxes from it (from the land the
    law holdings control). The tax belongs to the overlord of the vassal
    who sits on that land. Therefore, as in the case of Boeruine/Talinie,
    Boeruine ought to collect all the taxes from Seaport, even though
    Seaport falls in Talinie's domain, because its his money (as far as I am
    concerned re: definition of law holdings). Talinie is free to collect
    whatever he can from what little land he does own in Seaport (which, in
    game terms, is why he can only levy light taxes there - because he
    hardly owns any tax generating land to support anything 'higher' than


  4. #4


    The best province to see various regents with law holdings collecting
    non province taxes is probably the Imperial City, and I would guess that
    a lot of what is available to tax from the various guilds and temples
    depends on the initiative of the regents. It is likely however that
    the Chamberlain will get first taxation of the guilds and temples,
    with Boeruine, Avanil and Diemed all getting the scraps. However
    looking briefly at the chances of getting GB it seems unlikely in
    any event.

    - --- or

  5. #5
    Jim Cooper


    Oyvind Gronnesby wrote:
    > If you are interested in how the feudal system works, and how to put into a game system I recommend you take a look at 'Lordly Domains', a supplement to Pendragon.<

    I concur - Chaosium did very good work with their Arthurian Pendragon
    line (in terms of explaining such confusing terms as feudalism and the
    rights and obligation thereof).


  6. #6
    Tim Nutting


    Rather than creatively withold the taxes, it would perhaps be more correct
    to say that they just take a little more. I would bet 10:1 that some penny
    pincher in the capital will notice when the taxes are short. :)


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