Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/441

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The revenue, as collected in the latter half of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, is classed as ordinary and extraordinary. The ordinary revenue is the ancient heritage of the Kings of France, and comes from the domain lands and rights, being increased on the one hand by the acquisitions of the sovereigns, and diminished on the other by war and waste, extravagant donations, and from time to time by grants of appanages to the members of the royal house. A variety of profits accrue to the King from his position as direct proprietor of land, or as suzerain. Rents and fines, reliefs and escheats, sale of wood, and payments made in kind form one class of domain receipts; while the official seal required to authenticate so many transactions brings a substantial income, and the King still makes a profit by the fines and forfeitures decreed by his prevots and baillis in his local courts. The inheritance of foreigners (aubaine), and of bastards, is yet another valuable right. Regales, Jrancs-Jiefs, droits d'amortissements, are further items in a long list bristling with the technicalities of feudal law, as developed by the Kings with a single-minded attention to their own interest. Language, if not public feeling, still insists that this revenue is to be regarded as ordinary, while other revenue is in some sort extraordinary, if not illegitimate; but a King who should attempt to live upon his ordinary receipts would be poor indeed. The expenses of collecting the domaine are heavy, the waste and destruction of the Hundred Years' War and the extravagant administration of successive Kings have reduced the gross returns, until under Charles VII the domaine is estimated at no more than 50,000 clear annual livres tournois*; and although under Louis XI it may have risen to 100,000, under Louis XII to 200,000 or more, the total is insignificant compared with the needs even of a pacific and economical King.

To his assistance come the aides, gabelle, and tattle. The aides are indirect taxes, formerly imposed by the Estates General, but levied since Charles V by royal authority. There is a twentieth levied on the sale of goods, and an eighth, sometimes a fourth, on liquors sold retail. There are many kinds of duties and tolls levied on goods in transit, not only on the frontiers of the kingdom, but at the limits of the several provinces and elsewhere. These imports, multiplex as they are, and oppressive as they seem, bring in, from the farmers who compound for them, no more than 535,000 livres tournois in 1461; and in 1514 their return has not risen above 654,000 l.t. Languedoc has its separate excise duty on meat and fish, known as the equivalent, and collected by the authority of the Estates.

The gabelle du sel, once a local and seigniorial tax, has, since the time of Philippe de Valois, become a perpetual and almost universal