Tallage - Encyclopedia

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TALLAGE (med. Lat. tallagium, Fr. tallage, from late Lat. talare, taleare, Fr. tailler, to cut, classical Lat. talea, a cutting, slip; cf. "tally" and the French taille, q.v.), a special tax in England paid by cities, boroughs and royal demesnes. The word, variously interpreted as a part "cut off" from the property taxed, or as derived from the tally (q.v.), first appears in the reign of Henry II. as a synonym for the auxilium burgi, which was an occasional payment exacted by king and barons over and above the annual firma burgi from burgage tenants, since all boroughs after the Norman Conquest came to be regarded as in some lord's demesne. The tax displaced the Danegeld so far as the towns and demesne lands of the Crown were concerned in the second half of the 12th century, and gradually the barons were deprived of the right of tallaging their respective demesnes without royal authorization. The imposition of tallage continued under the immediate successors of Henry II.; the barons failed to secure its prohibition or even limitation at Runnymede, and Henry III. levied it frequently. The amount to be paid was determined during this time by officials of the exchequer in special fiscal circuits through separate negotiations with the various tax-paying communities, the towns usually raising their quota by means of a capitation or poll tax. Its imposition practically ceased by 1283 in favour of a general grant made in parliament, and the king's retention of tallage seemed particularly unnecessary and illogical after burgesses were summoned to parliament. The opinion used to be held that tallage was forbidden by the Confirmatio cartarum, but the Latin version of that document which bears the title De tallagio non concedendo, although cited as a statute in the preamble to the Petition of Right in 1627 and in a judicial decision of 1637, was merely a chronicler's summary of the purposes of the official French document, which did not mention tallage by name. After 1297, however, there were only three levies of the tax: one by Edward. I. in 1304; again in 1312 by Edward II. despite the protests of London and Bristol; and finally in 1332, when Edward III. encountered such opposition from parliament that he withdrew the commissions and accepted in its place a grant of a tenth-and-fifteenth. The last time that the king granted leave to the barons to tallage their demesnes was in 1305. The second statute of 1340 formally enacted that the nation should thenceforth not "make any common aid or sustain charge," including tallage, without consent of.parliament.

r See William Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, vol. i. sect. 161, vol. ii. sect. 275; D. J. Medley, English Constitutional History, 3rd ed. (London, 1902); Pollock and Maitland, History of English Law, vol. i., 2nd ed.; S. J. Low and F. S. Pulling, Dictionary of English History.

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