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The Rise of the Fiscal State in Europe c.1200–1815$
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Richard Bonney

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198204022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198204022.001.0001

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England in the Middle Ages

England in the Middle Ages

(p.18) (p.19) Chapter 1 England in the Middle Ages
The Rise of the Fiscal State in Europe c.1200–1815

W. M. Ormrod

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the development of the fiscal system in medieval England. It identifies three important general themes which recur in many of the ensuing medieval and early modem case studies. Firstly, even very early monarchical states could create highly sophisticated and productive systems for raising revenue which not only reflected the political authority of the king but also tapped some of the most important sources of wealth in the society and economy over which he ruled. Secondly, there was a strong tendency for precocious and successful tax systems to become ossified and increasingly to serve the interests not of the state but of its more powerful subjects. Thirdly, the medieval idea that a ruler had a right to dispose of his resources as he willed continued even after the shift away from the exploitation of prerogatives to the negotiation of taxes, thus slowing down the emergence of a genuine system of public finance based on a declared budget, a permanent mechanism allowing for public accountability and, perhaps above all, the establishment of a public debt.

Keywords:   fiscal system, fiscal history, medieval England, taxation, tax systems, medieval finance

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