Imágenes de páginas

annual, and some of them at the increased rate of two and a half marks. Under the pressure of such demands it was that the baronage in their great struggle with John in 1215 exacted from him articles 12 and 14 of the Great Charter, which pro- articles 12 vided that no scutage or aid, except the three regular feudal the Great

Charter, aids, should be imposed but by the common counsel of the

and finally nation, and that such common counsel could only be taken in in a national council duly summoned under writs regularly issued 2 The fact that these vital clauses were invariably omitted from all subsequent issues of the Great Charter tends to show that the declaration of the baronage was premature, - that for such an absolute assertion of the right of self-taxation the tax-payers themselves were hardly prepared. Not until eighty years after the issuance of the Great Charter did the nation finally win, through the Confirmatio Cartarum, a the Conpermanent constitutional guarantee that taxes should never be firmatio

Cartarum; imposed by the unaided force of the royal authority.3

The grants made by the lay and spiritual baronage in the separate negreat council were absolutely binding only on themselves. with clergy Before contributions could be drawn from the inferior clergy, mons; separate negotiations had first to be conducted with the archdeacons of each diocese representing the spiritual estate; and in like manner with the representatives of the commons in the county courts. The agents intrusted by the Conqueror with the collection of the taxes due from the local communities to the crown were the sheriffs, who twice in each year accounted to the Exchequer for the several kinds of revenue due from their respective shires. But as local disputes continually arose fiscal visits out of that method of collection, it became necessary to send from the detachments of officers from the Exchequer to settle its busi- Exchequer; ness in each shire.

As early as the reign of Henry I. such officers were frequently sent through the country to assess the revenue, and in the reign of Henry II. this custom was enforced with systematic regularity. These exchequer officers, while dealing with the shire communities, sat in the county courts, and there debated “with the landowners the number of hides for which they owe Danegeld, or the number

1 As to the pressure of taxation under 8 Ibid., pp. 418-423. Richard and John, see vol. i. pp. 358–

4 Ibid., p. 483. 363 374

5 Ibid., pp. 316-319. Ibid., p. 387.


council a

fiscal expe

of knights' fees from which aids and reliefs are due; they likewise assess the towns, which are now becoming important contributors to the revenue.”1 The county courts which thus met the itinerant justices from the Exchequer were not only popular but representative assemblies, county parliaments in which the reeve and four men appeared as representatives

from every township, and twelve burghers as representatives election and from each borough in the shire.2 Into both the fiscal and represen judicial work of the shire election and representation entered the shire

as familiar principles, and both were constantly applied to the

work of assessing and collecting the revenue. There can be representa- no doubt that representatives were first summoned from the tianoin the shires to the great council as a mere matter of fiscal expe

diency. Instead of sending officers of the Exchequer down dient; into the shires to there negotiate separately as to the amount

each would give, it was found more convenient for each shire
court to send representatives to the national council, armed
with power to express its corporate assent to whatever tax the
general voice might there impose. The transition was an easy
and natural one. When John in 1213 summoned for the first
time “the four discreet men ” from each county to
the great council, he simply applied to national purposes a
system of representation that had existed from the earliest
times. “The four men and the reeve had from time imme-
morial represented the township in the shire-moot; now the
four men and the sheriff represent the shire-moot in the
national council."'4 The same general causes which brought

about the appearance in parliament of the elected knights also presented. brought about, at a somewhat later day, the appearance of

the elected representatives from the borough communities.

To Earl Simon's famous parliament of 1265 were summoned liament of not only the two discreet knights from the shires, but also, for 1 265; the first time in English history, two representatives from Edward I.'s the cities and towns. Not, however, until the meeting of the model pari model parliament of Edward I. in 1295 were the representa

tives from the boroughs recognized as an integral part of

first the shires ;

Ppear in

then the towns re

Earl Si. mon's

1295 ;

1 Select Charters, p. 18. “The ear- adopted until the reign of John.”. lier method by which the king treated Ibid., p. 460. with the several local communities

2 Vol. i. p. 320. through his officers or through their 3 Ibid., p. 484. own magistrates had been generally

4 Select Charters, p. 287.

nation to tax itself

rum ,

parliament; from that time their representation has been continuous, or nearly so.1 In the parliament of 1295 the three estates appeared in person or by representatives : the lay and spiritual baronage represented themselves, the inferior clergy and the commons, each as an estate of the realm, appeared through their chosen representatives. Two years after the national assembly was thus constituted, the long struggle of right of the the nation for the right to tax itself was closed at the end of the "Barons' War" by the Confirmatio Cartarum, wherein settled by

ConfirmaEdward I. was made to promise the clergy, the barons, and tio Carta“all the commonalty of the land, that for no business, from henceforth will we take such manner of aids, tasks, nor prizes, but by the common assent of the realm, and for the common profit thereof, saving the ancient aids and prizes due and accustomed.” Under that saving clause the crown attempted for a time to talliage the cities and towns upon the royal demesnes, without parliamentary authority; but after 1332 that effort was abandoned.2 Thus before the close of the reign of Edward III. the exclusive right of parliament to authorize every form of direct taxation was fully and finally established, not only in principle but in practice. In that reign it was that even the right of each estate to assent separately in parliament to the quota of the general contribution to be borne by it passed out of view. The financial pro- transitions ceedings which took place in the parliament of Edward I. in from local 1282–83 marked "the point of final transition from the system assent, and of local to that of central assent to taxation;" 4 the giving up to national by the estates in the reign of Edward III. of the right of separate assent in parliament finally transformed the older feudal taxes resting upon the theory of personal consent into the new national taxes resting upon the fact of general consent.5

While the principle was thus becoming settled that the the customs crown could impose no kind of direct taxes — not even talliage upon ancient demesnes — without parliamentary author

to central



1 Vol. i. pp. 465-469.

over, and the day had come when the 2 Ibid., pp. 423, 487, 488.

strangely various elements of English 8 Ibid., p. 490.

population were at last organized into 4 Select Charters, p. 460.

a body politic, and could thus simulta5 “The time for merely granting spe- neously share in the advantages and in cial privileges by charter and for rely- the burdens of government." — Cun. ing on occasional contributions from ningham, Hist. of English Industry and particular groups of tenants was now Commerce, vol. i. p. 242.

ity, the royal right to impose indirect taxes became subject to

the same limitation. Although the historical origin of the its probable customs is very obscure, their beginnings may be traced with origin;

reasonable certainty to the ancient right of the Old-English
kings to impose a tax or toll directly upon each ship upon its
entry into the harbor, as the equivalent from the merchant for
the right to bring his goods into the realm and to trade under
the king's protection. It is likely that the duties on imports
are thus older than those on exports, which did not become
important until wool, skins, and leather became subjects of
exportation. Whatever may have been the origin of the cus-
toms, it is clear that prior to the date of the Great Charter
the levy of tolls at the ports had become customary at fixed
amounts or rates. To secure the foreign merchant against

all additional exactions imposed by the king's officers, article article 41 of 41 of the Great Charter, after denouncing the same as evil or the Great unjust tolls, provided that merchants entering and leaving

the realm should pay only the ancient and just customs.3
The next memorable effort to limit the customs occurred in the
reign of Edward I. after the export tax on wool and leather,
the principal products of the kingdom, had become an impor-
tant item in the royal revenue. After these tempting com-
modities had been for a long time subject to all kinds of irreg-
ular seizures and exactions, the export tax upon them was
definitely settled upon a legal basis by the parliament of 1275,
which gave to Edward a custom of half a mark on each sack
of wool, three hundred woolfells, and a mark on the last of
leather. As Edward's reign drew to a close, he departed from
the settlement thus made by exacting from the merchants in
1294 an additional toll on wool, woolfells, and leather; and by
the seizure of all the wool in their hands in 1297, in order to
enforce a toll of 40 s. the sack. This last exaction led to the
provision in the Confirmatio Cartarum which, after denoun-
cing the new demand of 40 s. the sack on wool, provided that
the royal right of taxing wool should not be exercised “with-
out their common assent and good will; saving to us and our


1 Vol. i. p. 299. As to the character the Custom-Revenue of England, pp. of the evidence touching the existence 56–59. of a customs revenue during the cen 2 Dowell, History of Taxation, p. 76. tury and a half which follows the Con 8 “Sine omnibus malis toltis, per anquest, see Hubert Hall, A History of tiquas et rectas consuetudines.”

ancient custom of

small cus

tom of

heirs the custom of wools, skins, and leather granted before by the commonalty aforesaid.” A return was thus made to the tolls as fixed by the parliament of 1275, which were known henceforth as the great and ancient custom magna great and et antiqua custuma. In 1302 Edward made a final assault upon the foreign merchants by offering to commute his pris- 1275 ; age on wine (the right to take from each English or foreign wine ship one cask out of every ten) for a fixed duty or rate, provided they would agree to certain additional duties on wool and other goods. In view of certain advantages promised for their trade the foreign merchants accepted the offer and conceded the further duties, which came to be known as the new or small custom nova or parva custuma as opposed to new or the magna et antiqua custuma of 1275.2 In the commutation then made of prisage at the rate 2 s. the tun on wine we 1302; find the origin of butlerage or tonnage; in the tax of 3 d. on origin of

tonnageand the pound value of all goods and merchandise not enumerated,

poundage; exported and imported by the foreign merchants, we find the origin of poundage. When the attempt was made to induce the native merchants to assent to the new arrangement they refused, and continued to pay prisage. “Such was the origin summary; of (1) the ancient or great customs on wool, woolfells, and leather ; (2) the new or small customs payable, in addition to the ancient or great customs, by the foreign merchants; (3) prisage on wine imported by denizens; (4) butlerage or tonnage on wine, payable in lieu of prisage by the foreign merchants; and (5) the poundage on goods inwards and outwards, payable by the foreign merchants." 4 Early in the reign of Edward II. the new customs on wine and merchandise were declared illegal by the Ordainers, and their collection was suspended in 1311; but after the king's victory in 1322 they were promptly reëstablished. In the year which followed the accession of Edward III. the customs, as reëstablished in 1322, were after 1322

the customs confirmed, and from that time they became a part of the per- a part of manent revenue of the crown, and as such they received the the permasanction of parliament in the Statute of Staples, enacted in enue; 1353.5 To the permanent and ordinary revenue thus composed i Vol. i. p. 489.

4 Dowell, Hist. of Taxation, vol. i. p. 2 Ibid.

81. 3 To the colloquium held at York

6 Vol. i. p. 490. forty-two towns sent representatives.

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