Tithes and Taxes in Aerdy
There are not tax or tithe ratings in the gazetteers, simply because this is unnecessary. PCs won’t be living in these lands, although they may fall foul of special or unique taxes specified in some lands (tolls, etc., have already been noted).
Almost everywhere, taxes and tithes are high, and rulers extract all they can get, unless noted otherwise. Still, there is much variation between lands. The old system of taxes is worth understanding, not least because the House of Naelax wove their cunning into this as they did into everything else in affairs of state.
The taxation system of the Great Kingdom had many of the elements found in other nations once under its control. Each landowner had to pay a set of taxes and tithes to the crown, based upon the extent and richness of his lands. The chancellors of the overking inspected estates and holdings every seven years to determine these taxes. These monies were then used to maintain the imperial army and navy, to support the expenses of the crown in Rauxes, and for purposes such as magical espionage, maintaining a network of spies abroad, and the like. Information gained from spies, in theory, was made available to those nobles who needed to know.
In turn, landowners received taxes and tithes from their liegemen and their own peasants and serfs. Their liegemen also extracted such taxes to pay their lords, of course. In towns and cities, taxes were raised in standard ways – hearth taxes on stone houses, artisan licenses, guild membership fees, free-sword taxes on mercenaries, and more.
Travel taxes – on tolls along the dirawaen roads, and on import and export of goods – were generally low. They were split between the crown and the local landholders, with most going to the landholders. The overking had the right to levy special taxes for rebuilding any city in the kingdom struck by disasters, such as floods or fire. Too, he could raise taxes to cover the costs of warfare and recruitment of mercenary armies.
The full details do not concern us here, since – as noted – what tax collection comes down to now is how much can be extracted. However, some tax changes which were made by the House of Naelax deserve special attention.
First, the Naelax overkings tended to reduce land taxes on nobles because they had revenues from “royal trust” lands. This made them popular with landholders – or, more likely, stopped them from becoming too unpopular too quickly.
Second, they balanced this by using taxation as a way of keeping nobles in check. The simplest example of this is the Castle Tax introduced by Ivid I in CY 486. Outside of “strategic” areas bordering on other states, a tax on stone castles and keeps was introduced. This was a small payment for existing fortifications, but it was a much heavier financial burden for those with new constructions.
The tax was justified as a way of paying for new castles in North Province, where it could be claimed that they were needed to protect the electrum mines of Bellport from humanoid attacks. Of course, such castles were built in lands mostly owned by Naelax nobles.
The effect elsewhere, however, was to make landholders refrain from building stone castles of their own – which would have been the most effective constructions for resisting any siege initiated by forces of the overking bent on appropriating lands and placing them in “royal trust.”
Ivid made sure that his noble subjects’ ability to resist his own troops suffered as a consequence of his new tax. Again, it was some while – too long – before this ruse was seen through. By that time, the tax had been in effect for a while and the weight of tradition could be said to be behind it. It is still on the statute books in Rauxes. However, certain nobles did find ways to circumvent it, as the bizarre Sand Castle of Rinloru, the Coral Towers of Winetha, and other strange constructions of Aerdy show.