Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/41

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31
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

quered, that the gallant Mexicans might. . . cease to destroy them:" clearly showing that they were at first propitiatory presents. Further we read that "in Meztitlan the tribute was not paid at fixed times. . . but when the lord wanted it. . . . They did not think of heaping up the tribute, but they asked what was wanted at the moment for the temples, the festivals, or the lords." Of the tributes throughout the country of Montezuma, consisting of "provisions, clothing, and a great variety of miscellaneous articles," we are told that "some of these were paid annually, others every six months, and others every eighty days." And then of the gifts made at festivals by some "in tokens of their submission," Toribio says: "In this way it seems manifest that the chiefs, the merchants, and the landed proprietors, were not obliged to pay taxes, but did so voluntarily."

The transition from voluntary gifts to compulsory tribute is traceable in early European history. Among the sources of revenue of the Merovingian kings, Waitz enumerates the free-will gifts of the people on various occasions (especially marriage), besides the yearly presents made originally at the March gatherings, but afterward at other periods about the beginning of the year—voluntary when they began, but increasingly becoming a fixed tax. And then, speaking of these same yearly presents of the people in the Carolingian period, the same writer says they had long lost their voluntary character, and are even described as a tax by Hinckmar. They included horses, gold, silver, and jewels, and (from nunneries) garments, and requisitions for the royal palaces; and he adds that these dues, or tributa, were all of a more or less private character; though compulsory, they had not yet become taxes in the literal sense. There is evidence that the voluntary presents, made by towns to potentates on their entry, similarly passed from the voluntary to the compulsory. According to Leber, the express orders of the king were needed to make Paris give presents to the Duke of Anjou in 1584, as also on other occasions to embassadors and foreign monarchs.

In proportion as money-values became more definite, and payments in money became easier, commutation resulted: instance in the Carolingian period, "the so-called inferenda—a due originally paid in cattle, now in money;" instance in our own history, the giving of money instead of goods by towns to a king and his suite making a progress through them. The evidence may fitly be closed with the following passage from Stubbs:

"The ordinary revenue of the English king had been derived solely from the royal estates and the produce of what had been the Folkland, with such commuted payments of feormfultum, or provision in kind, as represented either the reserved rents fron ancient possessions of the crown, or the quasi-voluntary tribute paid by the nation to its chosen head."

In which passage are simultaneously implied the passage from voluntary gifts to involuntary tribute and the commutation of tribute into taxes.