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Gregory of Tours:
Exemption of Tours from Poll Tax, c. 585

The poll tax, of primitive origin, was direct and personal, and by its nature, therefore, was likely to cause more resentment than an indirect tax. It was sometimes levied in order that aliens and those without property might not altogether escape taxation. At first it probably made no distinction between persons except that it might be levied on the heads of free families and coloni.

Book IX. Chapter 30:

Now King Childebert, on the request of Bishop Maroveus, ordered assessors to go to Poitiers; namely, Florentianus, Mayor of the palace, and Romulfus, Count of the palace, so that the people might pay the poll-tax as they had done in the time of his father. For many of the people had died so that the burden of the tribute was indeed great on this account to the widows, orphans, and infirm; but the assessors, taking each person in turn, relieving the poor and the sick, wrote taxes against those, who, by reason of justice, ought to give tribute; and so they came to Tours. But when they wished to place our people under tribute, saying that they had brought with them the tax roll whereby they had paid in the time of previous kings, we replied, saying: "It is clear that the city of Tours was assessed in the time of King Lothar, and that the assessment rolls were taken away to the king's presence; but, since the king feared the wrath of the holy Bishop Martin, they were burned. But after the death of King Lothar, the people (of Tours) took the oath to King Charibert; and he also promised on oath that he would not burden the people with new laws and customs, but he would retain only those under which they had previously lived in the time of his father; and he promised that he would not impose upon them any new ordinance which would result in loss to them. But Gaiso, at that time count, having taken the capitulary, which we recalled previous clerks had made, began to exact tribute; but having been forbidden by Bishop Eufronius, he went into the presence of the king with the money he had wrongfully taken, showing him the capitulary in which the assessment for the tribute was contained. But the king, sighing, and fearing the wrath of St. Martin, destroyed the capitulary; he sent back to the church of St. Martin the gold which had been taken, declaring that none of the people of Tours should pay any tax to the fisc. King Sigebert held the city after the death of Charibert, nor did he place any burden of tribute upon it. Childebert, reigning now m the fourteenth year after the death of his father, has exacted nothing, nor has this city groaned under the burden of any tribute."


J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1849), Vol. LXXI, p. 507; 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. 355-356.

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
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