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an annual value of ten shillings or personal property below five marks, were exempted from the tax 1.
The system of fifteenths and tenths continued during the Tudor sixteenth century, but side by side with it there also grew up under the Tudors a new form of taxation known as the Subsidy, which supplemented but did not supersede the existing taxes. In 1514 a general subsidy of sixpence in the pound was granted, and the practice became common; while in 1544 a full subsidy, as it was called, of four shillings in the pound on lands and two shillings and eightpence on goods was made. In 1597 this 'full' subsidy yielded only £80,000, a sum notoriously out of all correspondence with the real wealth of the country. Sir Walter Raleigh raised a vigorous protestation against this under-assessment: Our estates that be £30 or £40 in the queen's books are not the hundredth part of our wealth "2, and Bacon also asserted that "the more gentlemen ever the lower books of subsidies "3. The fate which had befallen the fifteenths and tenths overtook the subsidy. The highest recorded amount produced by a subsidy was £120,000, but the assessment for each locality grew fixed once and for all, and a subsidy became 'a fiscal expression' for £80,000. The words applied in 1500 by a Venetian 5 to the older tax could be applied a century later to the subsidy: "this tithe is not taken according to the real property of either the clergy or the laity, but by an ancient assessment of the kingdom". Whenever a larger sum of money than £80,000 was needed, a number of subsidies was granted simultaneously.
Another branch of the royal income in the Middle Ages Custom was the custom-revenues. Their early history is obscure, and it is difficult to discover the principle upon which they were originally exacted. One authority 6 would regard customs as in the nature of a fine offered by merchants to obtain the king's protection; the toll is represented as a
1 Dowell, Taxation, i. 112 (1432); 120 (1463).
2 Ibid. i. 130 (1514); 140, 152 (1544); 150 (1597); 150 (Raleigh's protest in 1601).
3 Bacon, Works, vi. 94. Tudor subsidies should not be confused with custom subsidies: infra, p. 523. 4 Dowell, Taxation, iii. 71; i. 154.
Italian Relation of England, 52.
6 Dowell, Taxation, i. 75.
premium paid for insurance against molestation or injury.
At first the exactions levied by the Crown upon native or Custuma. foreign commodities were arbitrary, but gradually they became fixed and definite. Magna Carta ordered that customs dues should be reasonable 3 (per antiquas et rectas consuetudines), but the vague injunction was no restraint upon a needy monarch. However, between 1215 and 1275, a recognized scale of duties was established. It became 'customary' to take half a mark on a sack of wool, a mark on a last (twelve dozens) of hides, and threepence upon a pound of lead or tin. There was also a recta prisa 5 of wine ; one cask or two at the most for every cargo. These rates constituted the Antiqua Custuma which were ratified by parliament in 1275, and any excess was called a maltolte and raised opposition. The maltolte sometimes amounted even to forty shillings the sack of wool, and this arbitrary levy unfortified by parliamentary sanction met with resist
1 Hall, History of the Custom Revenue of England, i. 58, 64.
4 Hall, op. cit. i. 66.
3 Magna Carta, c. 41; see supra, p. 449.
5 The prise of wine was the right of purchasing a fixed quantity of wine at a certain price which was below the market price.
And apparently 6 marks on the last of leather-but the term maltolte
was applied to any arbitrary exaction: Hall, op. cit. ii. 169.
ance. In the Confirmatio Cartarum Edward I. was compelled to abandon his right of increasing the custom-revenues at will. The triumph of the baronage, the Church and the merchants, who had combined to force the king's hand, was at once a sign and a pledge of constitutional and economic advance. The native merchants were now protected from the arbitrary impositions of the Crown, though the king's revenue was still augmented, when need arose, by increased duties. But henceforth the increase was made by parliament, and the maltolte was replaced by the subsidy. Besides the subsidy on wool and leather, there was a subsidy on wine-imposed in addition to the prisage in kind paid by natives and the butlerage in money paid by aliens-called tunnage, and a subsidy upon general commodities known as poundage 1.
The king's rights over foreign merchants remained Nova unaffected; and he was still in a position to levy undefined custuma and irregular charges. However, aliens were not likely to come freely to these shores so long as their obligations were liable to capricious fluctuations, and it was also to the interests of a stable fiscal system that the custom-revenues should be settled on a proper basis. Accordingly in 1303 the king entered into an arrangement with merchant strangers, known as the Carta Mercatoria-the Magna Carta of foreign traders. This agreement 2 established the Nova or Parva Custuma by which aliens were required to pay ten shillings on a sack of wool, one and a half marks (twenty shillings) on the last of hides, a butlerage' of two shillings beyond the old custom on every tun of wine instead of the prisage' levied in kind, two shillings upon every scarlet or cloth dyed in grain, eighteenpence upon every cloth dyed partly in grain, twelvepence upon cloths without grain, and threepence in the pound on general merchandise plus the ancient custom. Although the new rates were heavier, they enjoyed two advantages over the Antiqua Custuma: they were paid in money and covered
1 A subsidy represented an addition of at least 25 per cent. (ibid. i. 74). For tunnage and poundage, see ibid. ii. 146; and Atton and Holland, The King's Customs, i. 25. 2 Supra, p. 451 (n. 7).
Profils of jurisdiction.
every kind of commodity. An attempt was made to extend the Nova Custuma to native merchants 1, when the king tried to win their consent to the commutation of the prisage of wine. But the English merchants refused and displayed considerable antagonism to Edward's financial expedients, inspired partly no doubt by the lavish concessions with which Edward had rewarded the compliancy of foreign traders. The weakness of his successor proved their opportunity, and in 1309 they were suspended by Edward II. and in 1312 abolished by the Lord Ordainers on the ground that they encouraged the settlement of aliens and raised the prices of commodities. "Foreign merchants", complained the Ordinances, "abide longer than they were wont to do", and "things become more dear than they were wont to be "2. Here the very charge is brought against aliens which was so often directed against native traders, namely, that they enhanced the prices of commodities. There was doubtless truth in the allegation that the new rates fell ultimately upon the consumer, and for this reason also parliament under Edward III. sought to check the king's practice of concluding separate arrangements with merchants. However in 1323 Edward II. marked his restoration to power by reviving the Nova Custuma, and they continued henceforth undisturbed. They were confirmed by act of parliament in 1353 3.
The profits of justice constituted an important source of Crown revenue. Among the ancient Germans a system of pecuniary composition for crimes was already in existence; and the community allowed the offender to buy back the peace he had broken' and make an atonement with a money fine. The fine was always twofold: the bot or payment to the injured, called wergild in the case of homicide, and the wite or payment to the king. A fixed scale of pecuniary penalties was evolved for all offences save treason, and the amount of the fine varied according to the status of the injured and the nature of the offence. The older penalties
1 Dowell, Taxation, i. 80; Hall, Custom Revenue, ii. 102.
2 Hall, Custom Revenue, i. 89, 92, and Appendix, 208-209; ibid. ii. 137. 3 Stubbs, Constitutional History, ii. 553.
attached to wrong-doing were completely superseded, whether outlawry, by which society made war upon the wrong-doer ; or the blood-feud, by which the law left the offender at the mercy of the wronged. Subsequently the system of bot and wite died out, and was replaced by arbitrary amercements assessed at the discretion of the court. The growth of feudal tendencies in England was marked by the lavish alienation of Crown prerogatives, and grants of jurisdiction or the profits of jurisdiction were made to churches and individuals. After the Norman Conquest these tendencies received an immense impetus, and a struggle ensued between royal justice and private justice, in which the central court of the king gradually encroached upon the local courts until there was but one common law throughout the land.
The intervention of the Crown in provincial administra- Judicial reforms of tion began with the movement to reserve criminal cases to Henry II. the king alone as ' pleas of the crown'. Once the monopoly of criminal justice was established, the next step was to summon civil cases to Westminster whenever the suitor possessed the means of purchasing a writ, taking the case out of the lower courts for trial in the king's court. The reforms carried out by Henry II. completely reorganized the judicial system; he established the curia regis upon a new footing and made important changes in the machinery of government. His work was inspired by a dual motive, the desire to weaken the old feudal baronage which for a century had menaced the Norman dynasty, and at the same time to augment the financial resources of his Exchequer. The king dealt a deadly blow at the feudal system because he struck at its foundation, the private courts, and his resolution was stimulated by the consciousness that to transfer all judicial control into his own hands meant a great accession of revenue and power. Henry's design was to weaken the seigniorial courts by entering into competition with them for the acquisition of judicial business. He was the first king who made an organized effort to destroy feudal jurisdiction, and in order to accomplish this he admitted all suitors to his own court. But to attract litigants to the central court it was first necessary to carry out reforms in legal procedure;