Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603

By William Croft Dickinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
The Finances of the Crown

FROM TIME to time, as we have seen, attempts had been made to strengthen the finances of the crown -- for the king's revenue had to meet all the expenses incurred in the government of the realm as well as the needs of the royal household.

Under David II Parliament had twice endeavoured to check the alienation of crown lands so that the King could 'live of his own' -- that is, so that the revenue from the royal lands and the King's burghs together with the receipts from the customs, feudal casualties, the profits of justice and so forth would be sufficient for all crown purposes.1 James I had tried to improve the administration of the crown finances by dividing the work of the Chamberlain between two new officers -- a Comptroller, responsible for crown 'property', and a Treasurer, responsible for 'casualty'; he had striven to prevent the drain of money to Rome; and he had added, by forfeiture, a number of large estates to the crown.2 Under James II, the forfeiture of the Black Douglases had brought further estates to the crown; and, by a new enactment, the customs and certain lands and castles were henceforth to be 'annexed' to the crown -- another attempt to prevent alienation.

This new enactment, moreover, had opened with the words that, 'as the poverty of the crown is oft-times the cause of the poverty of the realm and many other inconveniences which are too long to express ...'; and those 'inconveniences' included taxation. Taxation was still regarded as an 'extraordinary' source of revenue, to which recourse should be had only for extraordinary needs. The 'ordinary' revenue of the crown should be sufficient for all ordinary needs. The King should be able to 'live of his own'.

But, with the development of the national economy, with increasing affairs of state, and, above all, with new methods of waging war, the ordinary revenue of the crown was proving hopelessly insufficient for crown needs.

In warfare the new and expensive weapon was artillery. Guns were expensive to make or to buy; they were expensive to move and expensive to fire; gunners, smiths, wrights, masons, quarrymen,

____________________
1
Supra, p. 185.
2
Supra, pp. 210-11, 266-68, 211-12

-290-

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