English Public Finance from the Revolution of 1688: With Chapters on the Bank of England

By Harvey E. Fisk | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
Revenues of the Anglo-Saxon Kings

WHEN William the Conqueror arrived from Normandy, what revenue system did he find and what new ideas did he bring with him from his Norman home?


The King's Demesne

First of all he found that Alfred, and Edward (called "the Confessor") and his son Harold had enjoyed great landed possessions, and flocks and herds. They had possessed rude castles, jewels and richly embroidered robes of state. They had had a royal hoard kept in the King's castle where there were leather bags filled with the roughly minted silver coins of the time.

The germ of the feudal system was there also.


Trinoda Necessitas

The revenues of the Anglo-Saxon kings were derived from their estates, from fines imposed as penalties for the infraction of the rude laws of the times, and from certain taxes to which every land owner was subject. These taxes, known as the trinoda necessitas, were at first exacted in kind; every freeman when legally called upon was obliged to appear in person for the purpose of repelling the enemy, here-geld; or when a city, town or castle or a fortress for the public defense was to be built or repaired, burg-bote; or when bridges necessary for the internal commerce of the country were to be built or repaired, brig-bore. In time it came about as a matter of convenience that for payments in personal services or materials a money equivalent was given.

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