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Gregory of Tours:
Opposition to Royal Taxation, c. 575-580

Kings who tried to preserve society by maintaining order and keeping some semblance of national unity, found the cost of government heavy and the opposition to their taxes great. When their taxes seemed to their subjects to be too exorbitant, scenes of violence ensued such as occurred at Limoges.

Book V. Chapter 21:

But King Chilperic ordered new tax rolls to be made in all his kingdom in such a way that the taxes would be very burdensome to the people. Wherefore many left their cities and their possessions and, seeking other kingdoms, thought it better to live abroad than to submit to such oppression. For it was decreed that each proprietor should pay one amphora of wine for each arpent of land. Many other taxes were imposed on lands and serfs and they were impossible to pay. The people of Limoges, when they perceived with what burdens they were oppressed, assembled on the first of March and wished to slay the referendary, Mark, who had been ordered to do these things; and they would have done so if Bishop Fereolus had not freed him from his imminent danger. Having seized the tax rolls, they burned them; whereat the king was very angry, and sending men there from his court, he inflicted great losses on the people, humbled them with punishments, and sent many to their death. They say that these emissaries of the king made false charges that priests and abbots were accomplices of the people in burning the tax rolls during the rebellion; it is said that they stretched the clergy on posts, subjecting them to divers torments, and also, that afterwards, still heavier taxes were imposed.


J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1849), Vol. LXXI, p. 346; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 353-354.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998