Venetian Memorandum of the power and revenues of the states of Europe in the 1420s

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Niccolo and Donkey
A Venetian Memorandum of the power and revenues of the states of Europe in the 1420s

["Statistical Documents of the Middle Ages," Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History , Dana Carleton Munro, ed., vol. 3, no. 2 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1907), pp. 13-18].

The memorandum here quoted is by an unknown hand. It was affixed to the document from which Muratori derives his information before 1450. It may be regarded in the light of a contemporary estimate of the relative strength of European nations. The excellent system of reports by which the Venetian ambassadors kept the home government informed as to the doings of foreign powers is a guaranty that the statement represents the best available information. The section relating to Venice naturally assumes a higher degree of probability. While in some respects it is vague and indefinite it yet gives us an excellent idea of the budget of receipts of that commonwealth.

Income of all the Christian powers and what they are able to do.
  • The king of France with all his force and the feudal services of princes, dukes, marquises, counts, barons, knights, bishops, abbots, canons, priests, and citizens, can in his own country raise 30,000 horsemen skilled in arms. If desiring to send them out of the country the said realm could not, sines the costs would be doubled, send more than 15,000 horse Before the war with their own countrymen, it could have raised 100, 000, for that war destroyed both Church and revenues. In the total therefore 15,000 horse.
  • The king of England with the power of his revenues, and the feudal services of princes and others as above could, paying them every month, raise at home 30,000 horsemen skilled in arms. In making the test of war these powers are equal. They have always been powerful in their undertakings. And if one of these forces had been greater than the other, one would have been destroyed. The English were overcome, after the division occurred in England, and they could not make provision for their forces. This was before 1414. They had 40,000 horse. Wars have weakened these countries, their men and their revenues, so that now wishing to send a force out of the country it is agreed that they have the half, i. e., 15,000 horsemen.
  • The king of Scotland who is lord of a great country, and of a people of so great poverty that he would not be able to maintain with his revenues and the taxes and dues of the clergy and laity, 10,000 horsemen skilled in arms in his own country; outside of the country on account of the great cost, 6,000 horse.
  • The king of Norway who is lord of a great country, and a people equally poor could not maintain at home with his revenues and the taxes and dues of clergy and laity 10,000 horsemen skilled in arms, abroad 5,000 horse.
  • The king of Spain with all his revenues and feudal dues of clergy and laity, with all his forces 30,000 horsemen skilled in arms. In 1414 he paid for 20,000. Wishing to maintain themout of the country at double cost they would be 15,000 horsemen.
  • The king of Portugal with all his revenues from clergy and laity, with all his force, would have, if he paid every month, at home 6,000 horsemen skilled in arms, abroad 3,000 horse.
  • The king of Brittany with all his revenues and feudal dues of clergy and laity, paying every month, could maintain at home 8,000 horsemen skilled in arms, abroad 4,000.
  • The master of St. James with all his farce of men skilled in arms, at home 4,000 horsemen, abroad 2,000.
  • The duke of Burgundy with all his force as above at home 3,000 cavalry. In 1414 he held 1,000. But war has destroyed the country. Abroad 5,000 men.
  • The king Rene [of Provence] with all his revenues would be able to raise at honue 6,000 horse, abroad 3,000.
  • The duke of Savoy with all his revenues would be able to raise at home 8,000 horse, abroad 4,000.
  • The marquis of Montferrat would be able to hold 2,000 horse at home, 1,000 abroad.
  • The count Francesco Sforza, duke of Milan, with all his force could hold as mercenaries l0,000 horse at home and 5,000 abroad.
  • The signory of Venice can, with all its force pay for 10,000 horsemen skilled in arms at home, and 5,000 abroad.
  • The marquis of Ferrara at home 2,000 horsemen, abroad 1,000.
  • The marquis of Mantua, at home 2,000, abroad 1,000.
  • The signory of Bologna 2,000 at home, 1,000 abroad. The community of Siena at home 2,000, abroad 1,000.
  • The Signory of Florence with all its revenues of 1414 could place 1,000. At present through the wars it can place 4,000 horsemen at home and 2,000 abroad.
  • The Pope with all his revenues of his States of the Church, and with the profits of churches which he receives, was able in 1414 to raise 8,000 horsemen; at present at home 6,000 horsemen, abroad 3,000.
  • The king of Aragon in the Realm of Naples can raise with all his revenues 1o,000 horsemen at home and 6,000 abroad. The princes of the Realm are able with all their revenues to raise 4,000 horsemen at home,2,000 abroad.
  • The Community of Genoa were al)le in 1414 to maintain 5,000 horsemen. But through their present dissension and the wars they are only able to maintain at present 2,000.
  • The Barcelonians with all the community and the lord of Catalonia, counting citizens and knights, can at home paying every month maintain 12,000 horsemen, and abroad 6,000.
  • All Germany with the lordstemporal and spiritual, the free and the other cities, north and south Germany, and the Emperor who is German, can raise with all their resources and revenues 60,000 horsemen at home and 30,000 abroad.
  • The king of Hungary, with all the dukes, lords, princes, barons, prelates, clergy and laity, and with all his resources and revenues can raise at home 80,000 horsemen, abroad 40,000.
  • The grand master of Prussia with all his revenues, 30,000 horsemen. In 1414 he had 50,000. But war has weakened him. Abroad 15,000 horsemen.
  • The king of Poland with all his revenues with dukes, marquises, barons, cities and boroughs can raise at home 50.000 horsemen, abroad 25,000.
  • The Wallachians with all their revenues and feudal service, at home 20,000 horsemen, abroad 10,000.
  • Morea with its resources of 1414 could raise 50,000 horsemen. War has weakened them. At present at home 20,000, abroad 10,000.
  • All Albania, Croatia, Slavonia, Servia, Russia and Bosnia with all their revenues at home 30,000, abroad 15,000.
  • The king of Cyprus with all his revenues can raise in the island 2,000, abroad 1,000.
  • The duke of A7icae in the Archipelago with all his power ean pay for 2,000 horsemen at home, 1,000 abroad.
  • The grand master of Rhodes with all his revenues and feudal dues of his liegemen, clergy and laity of the island, would be able to raise 4,000 horsemen at home, 2,000 abroad.
  • The lord of Mitylene 2,000 horsemen, abroad 1,000.
  • The emperor of Trebizonde with all his power could raise at home 25,000 horsemen, abroad 15,000.
  • The king of Georgia with his revenues of 1414 raised 30,000 horsemen. At present he can raise at home 10,000 horsemen, abroad 5,000.
  • The emperor of Constantinople can only raise * * * .
Power of the Infidel Monarchs.
  • The Turk can in all his dominions raise 40,000 horsemen, valiant men to defend him against the Christians.
  • The Caraman with all his power can raise at home 60,000 horsemen, abroad 30,000.
  • Ussun Cassan with all his power can raise at home 20,000 horsemen in the service of Mahomet, abroad 10,000.
  • The Caraifan with all his resources at home 20,000, abroad 10,000.
  • Tamer]and with all his Tartar power can raise at home 1,000,000 horsemen, abroad 500,000.
  • The king of Tunis, of Granada and the other cities of Barbary who have galleys and boats to the injury of Christians, at home are 100,000 horsemen, abroad 50,000.
Revenues of some Christian princes in the year 1423.
  • The king of France in the year 1414 had 2,000,000 ducats ordinary revenues But the wars which have continued for forty years have reduced the ordinary revenues to 1,000,000 ducats.
  • The king of England had 2,000,000 ducats ordinary revenue. The continued wars have desolated the island. At the present time he has 700,000 ducats revenue.
  • The king of Spain had in 1410, 3,000,000 ducats ordinary revenue, but the continued wars have reduced it to 800,000 ducats.
  • The king of Portugal had in 1410, 200,000 ducats revenue. By the wars it is reduced to 140,000 ducats.
  • The king of Brittany in 1414 had 200,000 ducats revenue. By the wars it is reduced to 140,000 ducats.
  • The duke of Burgundy had in 1400, 3,000,000 ducats. By the wars it is reduced to 900,000 ducats.
  • The duke of Savoy as a free country has 150,000 ducats revenue.
  • The marquis of Montferrat as a free country has 100, 000 ducats revenue.
  • Count Francesco, duke of Milan (in 1423 duke Filippo Maria had 1,000,000 ducats revenue) has at present on account of the wars only 500,000 ducats.
  • The signory of Venice had in 1423 1,100,000 ducats ordinary revenue. By reason of great wars which have destroyed commerce it has 800,000 ducats ordinary revenue.
  • The marquis of Ferrara had in 1423, 70,000 ducats ordinary revenue. Through the Italian wars he has by remaining at peace 150,000 ducats.
  • The marquis of MontMerrat had in 1423, 150,000 ducats, to-day 60,000 ducats.
  • The Bolognese had in 1423, 400,000 ducats ordinary revenue. But by the wars it has come to 200,000 ducats.
  • Florence in 1423 had a revenue of 400,000 ducats. But since then, through the great wars it is reduced to 200,000 dueats. The pope, though formerly he had none, has 400,000 ducats ordinary revenue.
  • The Genoese through the great division among them are reduced to 130,000 ducats.
  • The king of Aragon, in all his realm with Sicily, though at first he had considerably more, has a revenue of 310,000 ducats.
Revenues of our signory on the main-land and the cost of these domains.
  • The country of Friuli gives annually 75,000 ducats. Its costs are annually 6,330 ducats. There remains net 1,170 ducats.
  • Trevigi and suburbs 40,000 ducats, costs 10,100 ducats, remainder 29,900 ducats.
  • Padua and suburbs 65,500 ducats, costs 14,000 ducats, remainder 51,500 ducats.
  • Vicenza and suburbs 34,500 ducats, costs 7,600 ducats, remainder 26,900.
  • Verona and suburbs 52,500 ducats, costs 18.000 ducats, remainder 34,000 ducats.
  • Brescia and suburbs 75,500 ducats, costs 16,000 ducats, remainder 59,500 ducats.
  • Bergamo and suburbs 25,500 dueats, costs 9,500 ducats, remainder 16,000 ducats.
  • Cremona and suburbs 7,400 ducats, costs 3,900 ducats, remainder 3,500 ducats.
  • Ravenna and suburbs 9,000 ducats, costs 2,770 ducats, remainder 6,230 ducats.
  • Sum of the above 317,400 ducats, costs 88,200 ducats, remainder 229,200 ducats.
  • Revenues of Venice.
  • The intendants of the revenues levy every year 150,000 ducats.
  • The Salt office levies every year 165,000 ducats.
  • Eight offiees connected with the Bureau of Taxes levy per year 233,500 ducats.
  • Offices connected with the Arsenal levy annually 73,280 ducats.
  • From the profits of the Bureau of Taxes per year 150,000 ducats and salaries 26,500 ducats, leaving 611,600 ducats.
  • Maritime possessions yield annually 180,000 ducats.
Other extraordinary revenues.
  • Revenue of the tithe of houses and possessions in the Duchy 25,000 ducats.
  • For the clergy who pay in cash half the tithe, the other being held by the Bureau of Taxes, 15,000 ducats. Possessions abroad and foreign stations 5,000 ducats.
  • Priests, for their revenues 22,000 ducats.
  • Seafaring Jews two-tenths per year 600 ducats.
  • Land Jews 500 ducats for the tithe, and 1,000 ducats for the two-tenths.
  • The tithe of the merchants 16,000 ducats.
  • Revenue of Noli and Gioje 6,000 ducats.
  • Poll taxes and exchange 20,000 ducats.
  • Note that we must subtract from these the following namely:
    • for the persons who are unable to pay the the tithe of the houses, it cannot be exacted 6,000 ducats;
    • for the half of the tithe of the profit of the Bureau of Taxes, 7,500 ducats;
    • for the priests, to be deducted for the Patriarchate 2,000 ducats;
    • for the merchandise for the revenues 6,000 ducats;
    • for Noli and Gioje 4,000 ducats; for poll-tases anal exchange 12,000 ducats.
Niccolo and Donkey
Niccolo and Donkey

Tax collecting was a very profitable business. That said, it was effectively legitimizing the local or powerful nobles's cut so the King (Republic) and payor had a reasonable understanding of taxes to be paid and received.