12th century English taxation in action

Roger De Hoveden

The Annals vol.2., 1198 AD


"In the same year, Richard, king of England, levied from each carucate or hide of land through­ out all England five shillings as an aid ; for the purpose of collect­ing which, the said king sent through each county of England one clerk and one knight ; who, with the sheriff of the county to which they were sent, and lawful knights elected for the purpose, making oath that they would faithfully perform the king's business, caused to appear before them the seneschals of the barons of the said county, and the lord or bailiff of every vill, and the reeve, together with the four lawful men of the vill, whether freemen or villeins, as also two lawful knights of the hundred, who made oath that they would faithfully and without fraud declare what was the amount of carucates in each vill that were in tillage ; namely, how many were held in demesne, how many in villanage, and how many in almoign be­ stowed on religious orders, which the givers thereof were bound to make warranty of, or to pay for, or for which the said religious were bound to do service ; and upon each carucate in tillage, by the king's commands, they first levied two shillings and then three shillings ; all of which was reduced to writing. Of all this the clerk had one register, the knight another, the sheriff a third, and the seneschals of the barons a fourth regis­ter as to the land of their lords.


This money was received by the hands of two lawful knights of each hundred, and by the hands of the bailiff of the hundred, and they were answerable for the same to the sheriff, and the sheriff answerable for the same according to the before-mentioned registers to the exchequer, in presence of the bishops, abbots, and barons appointed for the purpose.


Also, for the punishment of the jurors who, contrary to their oath, should be guilty of concealing anything in the said matters, it was enacted that whatever villein should be con­victed of perjury he should forfeit to his lord the best ox of his plough, and should, out of his own property, be answerable for as much money for the use of our lord the king as should be proved to have remained concealed by means of his perjury ; but if a free man should be convicted, he was to be amerced by the king, and was to refund as well out of his own property as much as had been concealed by him, in the same manner as the villein.


It was also enacted, that every baron should, with the aid of the sheriff, make levies upon his tenants ; and, if by default of the baron, such levies should not be made, then there was to be taken from the demesne of the baron, what should re­main payable by his tenants, and the baron was to take the same from his tenants. Frankfees of parish churches were ex­emptied from the said tallage; and all escheats of barons which were held in the lands of our lord the king contributed thereto. But serjeanties of our lord the king, which were not attached to knights' fees, were excepted, although they were placed' on the register, as also the number of the carucates of land, the values of their lands, and the names of those holding by serjeanty ; and all those so holding, were summoned to be at London on the octave at the end of Easter, to hear and per­form the king's commands.

The persons who were chosen for that purpose, and appointed by our lord the king, according to the estimation of lawful men, set down a hundred acres of land for each carucate of land in cultivation."

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