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 The Saladin Tithe

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Melisende
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PostSubject: The Saladin Tithe   Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:57 pm

The Saladin Tithe

The Saladin Tithe was introduced in England (1188) by King Richard I. It was a tax imposed to raise money to launch a new Crusade following the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin (1187).

The tax itself was set at 10% of all revenues and properties:
Each man shall give in alms a tenth of his revenue and movables with the exception of the arms, horses, and garments of the knights, and likewise with the exception of the horses, books, garments, and vestments, and all the appurtenances of whatever sort used by clerks in divine service, and the precious stones belonging to both clerks and laymen.

And collection of the tax was set out as follows:
Moreover, let this money be collected in each parish in the presence of the parish priest, the rural dean, one knight Templar, one Knight Hospitaller, a servant of the lord king and the king's clerk, a servant of the baron and his clerk, and the clerk of the bishop; excommunication having been previously pronounced by the archbishops, bishops and rural deans, each in every parish, upon anyone who shall not lawfully have paid the aforesaid tithe . . . and if anyone to their knowledge shall have given less than he ought, four or six lawful men shall be chosen from the parish, who shall declare upon oath what amount he ought to have declared; and this sum shall then be added to the smaller amount he has given.

Any man who joined the Crusade would be exempt from paying this tax - which meant that many joined up just to avoid payment.

The amount collected was recorded as follows by the Chronicler Gervase of Canterbury (1141 - 1210):
* Christians - 70 000
* Jews - 60 000

The tax was extremely unpopular and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Baldwin of Exeter was unduly blamed, which resulted in his self-imposed exile in Wales.

Richard was accused of spending the tax on his own provisions, and continued to tax the English people to fund this venture. Unfortunately, the Third Crusade did not achieve what it had set out - Jerusalem was not liberated from Saladin; Richard himself was imprisoned; and the Crusade on the whole was considered by many to be a complete failure.

Sources:
"Taxation in Medieval England" ed. Sidney Painte (Yale University Press 1951).
"England and the Crusades, 1095-1588" by Christopher Tyerman (University of Chicago Press 1988).

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