Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/446

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was no single responsible financial officer. Jacques de Beaune (sieur de Semblencay, 1510-23) enjoyed a certain priority of dignity, but exercised no unifying authority. Once a year the treasurers and g&n&-raux, "Messieurs des finances" met in committee and drew up in concert the budget for the year. So much being expected as receipt from domaine, aides, and gahelle, and so much anticipated as expenditure,—then the faille must be so much to meet the balance. And to a certain extent the Council of State kept its hand on finance, assisted at need by the financial officers specially convened. But unity of management and administration was conspicuously wanting.

The expenditure of the four Kings cannot, on the whole, if tried by a royal standard, be called extravagant. The most questionable item is that of pensions. Pensions were not only used to reward services, and gratify courtiers, but were also given on a large scale to Princes of the Blood and considerable nobles. Historically such pensions may be regarded as some compensation for the loss of the right of raising aides and taille in their own domain, which had once belonged to personages holding such positions, but which since 1439 had remained categorically abolished. With the fall of Charles the Bold and the absorption of Britanny the last examples of princes enjoying such rights unquestioned disappeared. Politically such pensions were intended to conciliate possible opponents and enemies, for the great princes, though stripped by law of their chief powers, still possessed in spite of the law sufficient influence and authority to raise a war. How strong such influence might be we see in 1465, when not only Britanny and Burgundy, but Bourbon, Armagnac, and d'Albret, found their subjects ready to follow them against the King.

Such pensions were an old abuse. Louis XI found in them one of his most powerful political engines, and distributed them with a lavish hand. The pensions bill rose under him from about 300,0001.1. to 500,000. In addition there were the great English pensions, and the pensions to the Swiss. The totals were probably not much less under Charles VIII; but Louis XII reduced them at one time so low as 105,000 and seems to have effected a substantial average diminution. However, the practice of charging pensions on local sources of revenue, especially the greniers of salt, prevents the whole magnitude of this waste from coming into view.

The expenses of the Court, largely military, rose under Louis XI from about 300,000 to 400,000 U.; and seem to have been reduced by half or more by Louis XII. Military expenses are of course the chief item of the budget. The constantly increasing expenditure of Louis XI is chiefly due to the cost of the army. The establishment rose from 2000 lances to 3,884 in 1483, when there was also a standing army of 16,000 foot at Pont de l'Arche in Normandy, including 6,000 Swiss. The cost of the army on a peace footing is not less in this year than 2,700,000 l.t.