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high-finance-art - 11/2/02


"A Boke on the Financing of Warre, of Courtes and the Other Divers Expenditures of Princes" by Lord Anton de Stoc.


NOTE: See also the files: warfare-msg, coins-msg, p-prices-msg, firearms-msg, commerce-msg, p-Engsh-coins-lst, p-spice-trade-msg, courts-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


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Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org




A Boke on the Financing of Warre,

of Courtes and the Other Divers

Expenditures of Princes



by their servant Anton de Stoc






It is to the glory of


Gawain and Eves,


Prince and Princess of Lochac,


that I humbly dedicate this book to,


in the hope that it may lead to understanding by their servants,


and thereby help enrich the Principality,


and to allow the realme to be growne in honour.



Book I ; On war, courtes and money


His Most Catholic Magesty, Phillip II, King of Spain, King of Naples, Protector of Milan, Flanders and many other places was at one time at war with the King of France, and in the Year of Our Lord 1557 had defeated the French most soundly in battle at St Quentin. His army was victorious, in good order and the road to Paris lay open.


It is said at this point that he turned to his council and said 'Everything will be well, as long as we dont run out of money'.


As it was, Dame Fortune smiled upon the French rather than upon him, and he did run out of money, and this caused a delay such that the French were able to call the Duke of Guise back from Italy, form together another army, and prevent the conquest of France.


The Peace of Cateau-Cambresis was therefore less favourable for the Spainiard, and more favourable to the Frenchman, than would have been thought possible after the battle.


Similarly, in times past the English King had held the Duchy of Gascony since the time of Henry II, and had held the Duchy of Normandy from the days of Henry V, yet under Henry VI they lost each in a single campaign - Normandy in 1450, Gascony in 1453 - for they had not the money to pay for soldiers, nor for horses, nor for artillery, and the French King Charles VII did.


Therefore, if you would go to war, remember that the war will end when the silver runs out.


Also a King is, his court is, and to keep the King, the Queen and their courts in a fitting state will require a river of silver, for all Italy turns it's invention to new brocades, velvets, the cunning and nice cutting of stones and so on, all to prick the vanity of courtiers, and to bring splendour to courts.


The only court I know of that will dress in good sober black is that of His Most Catholic Magesty, while all others try to shine brighter than the sun.


Therefore money is neccessary not just in war but in peace, to maintain the court and the household in royal style.


In times of dearth and poor harvets, there may also be a need for great amounts of money, to buy grain so that the poor of a land do not starve. This is the common practice in Italy, where every towne has a Grain Office, or something like that but by another name.


I would therefore speak a little, so that a greater understanding may be gained of what might be done to pay for all of this.



Book II ; On feodum, or Service in exchange for Lands


As I first spoke of war, it may well be said that a King could do as Charlemagne did, and give his men landes to support themselves, in return for a their solemn promise to serve him for thirty or sixty days on campaign each year in time of war. In this way, his troops need not be paid in cash, but rather may serve in return for their living.


In return for this, I would say that sometimes a prince would wish to have more troops than he has lands, for battles are more often won by those with more men - to quote Viscount Cornelius 'The best way to defeat three men on your own is to run away, and come back with ten of your mates', and that is as well said for hundreds or thousands.


Sometimes also a prince may wish to take landless men into his household, or to hire Lombards or Free Companies, but not to have them in his realm at the end of the campaign.


I would also say a thing that will strike those of you who have been on campaign in Italy or in some other place as tryth, which is that to be on campaign for your Prince is to need remounts, for a knight without a horse is a shadow of himself, and much less to be feared on the field of battle, for without a good mount he may not pursue a beaten enemy, and is in all ways much less to be feared.


Also, men in an army need to be fed and given wine, and that will cost silver as well, especially if a strong place is being besieged and food and wine must be brought in from other places, and artillery, especially of the modern sort, costs money, for powder and shot must be bought, and many horses contracted to carry it.


Fortifications must also be built and repaired, as artillery of the modern sort may overthrow a place previously reckoned as strong in an afternoon, and many places must have bastions made, walls thickened and so on according to the new Italian way, and this all requires many horses, stone and labouring men, and therefore if it is to be done quickly, money must be found for this.


Finally, if a Prince takes a man's hands between his, and gives him great lands, and that man takes other mans hands in his, then those men will owe loyalty to their lord, rather than to that lord's lord, and if there is a quarrel between the King or Prince and the great men of a realm, then those magnates may have an army loyal to them rather than to the ultimate prince, and for these reasons, it has been found that in these times service in exchange for lands is not sufficient in itself to maintain an army.



Book III ; On Ordinary Finance


There are several sources of ordinary finance for most princes, but this will vary from place to place, and a man to a new courte should beware of customs that differ from his homeland.


The first is their own private revenues from their own lands, and as all others, they should ensure that their stewards are overlooked by trusted reeves, and that their lands are not ruined for the benefit of the steward, no matter what estate that person may be, and it is not prudent for a prince to use his own lands for patronage, for there are times when a prince may need to dispose of what is his, for example if money is very short and funds cannot be obtained for other sources.


The second is the profits of justice. In most places it has been the custom for fines from wrongdoing to be paid directly to the Prince, and this may be a most useful source of silver, and to this end it is prudent if this is the case to ensure that justices and bailiffs are paid on time and appropriately to their station, for penury can cause an otherwise honest man to resolve cases not in the interest of justice but to his own profit, or in return for presents given to him by plaintiffs ; a wise prince will appoint his own men to these positions, and men not of that district or parish. This is the way of the Great Khans of India, and also of the Grand Turk.


The profits of justice may also include the administration of lands belonging to minors, or to widows, as this can be a most useful source of income, especially if the agreement of the prince must be gained for an heir or heiress to marry. Regard also that the profits of the lands of a minor may also be able to be resumed to the Prince, with an allowance for the living of the heir deducted, and consideration should also be given to whether the lands of those who die without heirs could be resumed to the Prince, or if a tenth or so of the estate should be paid to the Prince in such a case.


Close watch should be kept on these wardships by a prudent prince, and care also taken that so much is not taken from a ward that a viper of hate for their prince begins to swell in their breast.


Also, it may be that a Knight's Fee must be paid to the Prince on the assumption of any person to such an estate, and this may also be a useful source of money.


The third is customs duties on various goods and commodities. This is to be commended, as it is easier to see when a good comes into, or leaves, a realm than it is to see if they have been sold, although that is the case in Spain with the alcabalas, the taxes on sales.


The customs duties on wool exported from England to Calais were the rock upon which the English king Henry V's finances were built, and this plentitude of money made it possible for him to make war on the King of France.


A wise prince should of course be aware of the greed and cupidity of customs men, and place honest inspectors to keep watch upon them and examine their accounts.


A tax on sales is possible for His Most Catholic Magesty, because the merchants and resellers of Spain are well enough versed in the merchant's arts to keep correct and accurate accounts, which may therefore be inspected to ensure that the correct amount of tax has been paid. This would work less well in a place where accounts are not kept as well, such as Polonia or England.


Finally, certain sorts of direct taxes and subsidies may be properly regarded as ordinary measures in some places, for example in the Kingdom of England a tenth part of many ecclesiastical revenues was agreed to by the Convocations of Canterbury and York.


Direct taxes on weath, income and property are more usually extraordinary measures, and will be dealt with in that book.



Book IIII ; Extraordinary Measures


As can clearly be understood, when royal marriage is to take place, or if preparations for war are to be made, or if a war has begun, then the ordinary measures described before will not suffice. Therefore, extraordinary measures must be resorted to.


A prudent prince will ensure the consent of his subjects before resorting to extraordinary measures. If the need is there in good concience, then an assembley of some sort will be able to be convinced of the need for the measures, or the consent of the subjects shown in some other way.


In England and France parlements are called of the estates, with in England there being two estates for the whole realme, one for the commons and one for the nobility, while in France there is a parlement for Paris, another for Dijon and so on and so forth, with the nobility, the clergy and the common people forming three estates. Most cities of Italie have a greater assembley and a smaller, which in Florence is selected by lotte, and in Milan at the worde of the Duke.


There is no realme out of Westerealme and the kingdoms that formed from it's olde extents where the worde of the crowne alone is enough for law.


The first extraordinary measure to be considered should be the extention of  ordinary measures. A heiress in wardship may be married somewhat younger than is usual, in order to bring forward the return from her wardship, or customs and excise duties may be raised for some limited time. As men are already accustomed to ordinary measures, they will not display as much resistance as if other new inventions are put upon them.


A direct tax upon the subjects of of a prince may be considered. While this can raise great sums and has other advantages, it can also lead to revolts and other disturbances, as is part of the history of the Kingdom of England, where attempts to impose a poll tax on the head of every subject has led to revolts and disturbances whenever it was assayed.


A better tax is one upon aliens of the realm, such as Lombards, Italians, Hanse or Jews, for their community may be assessed as a whole, the money received from their leaders and it is then their responsibility to be reimbursed by their fellows. It was by the means of a florin per head on every Jew in Poland that the costs of bringing the Duke d'Anjou to Polonia to be their King were paid.


Extraordinary rates of customs and excise may also be considered on merchandise owned by aliens, for the consent of men is easier to get when the costs fall on others.


A tax upon the income of the subjects of a prince may also be considered. In England, it was the custom for Parliament to approve the levy of taxes of a tenth or a fifteenth of income for a year as an extraordinary measure.


A little thought will see the issue with this, for every man will cry poor, or will see that his brother, who collects the tax, ensures that he writes as little as possible into his account, or will try to appeal to the greed and cupidity of the collector.


Therefore, it is more usual to assess each town as a whole, collect the agreed sum from that town, and leave it to the mayor and great men of the town to reimburse themselves as they would.


A wise prince will therefore in ordinary times ensure that he knows what the assessment would be for all towns in his realm, for when extraordinary measures are needed one does not wish to be arguing over how much cloth is sent from this place to that place.


Another extraordinary measure is to place a tax upon all real property, that is to say all land, at an agreed sum per acre, perhaps with river meadows and other good lands paying more. While a man may quibble and argue over his income, it is hard to dispute what lands he owns.


For this reason, once in ancient times the Duke of Normandy did conquer England, he did order the Doomsday book, to record the rightful owner, value, mills, and so on of all of his new realm.


Those who owe service to the prince for their landes may also seek to pay scutage, so that they pay in silver for another knight or knights to take their place on campaign.


An extraordinary measure that may be considered is reducing the amount of silver minted into each coin. If two hundred and twenty pennies are minted from a pound of good silver, then a little admixture of copper may allow two hundred and fifty pennies to be minted from the same silver. It can be clearly seen that by this the same debts or expenses may be paid by a prince for less actual silver. Consideration should be given to re-minting old coins at the new weight or purity.


If a prince owes debts that are to be repaid at a particular fair, then the prince may consider delaying that fair for some months, so that time may be gained to raise the money, without actually breaking his promise to repay.


It is a base thing for a prince to do, but not unknown, for him to imprison his banker, and refuse to repay the debt on some charge of heresy, treason or some such pretext. This was the sad fate of Jacques Coeur, after he had loaned the cash to the King of France to extend his dominion throughout France, to the great disadvantage of the King of England.


A prince may also change the value of a certain coin, so that less coin is needed to pay a debt, for if twelve shillings make a florin, and a prince owes six thousand florins, then he must pay 72 thousand shillings, however if ten shillings are decreed to make a florin, then he must pay only 60 thousand shillings.


A prince may also wish to sell particular offices or titles for money, so that extraordinary expenses may be met. Consideration should be given to the creation of new titles as well, for the vanity of Genoese especially may be pricked in this way.


In time of war, a prince may wish to treat the ransoms of captives as extraordinary income, however a wise prince will realise that a man held at his court will never lead an army against him. For this reason, it is the declared by both the Hugenots and the Royalists in the Wars in France that they shall kill their captives rather than ransom them, although at times it is the need for cash rather than Christian charity that causes them to keep prisoners alive for ransom.


Finally, a prince may wish to spend such coin as he has in his strongbox or treasury, sell any jewels or other things of value, and in other ways turn things that are not needed into money for extraordinary expenses.



Book V ; On the Farming of Measures


A prince may have great resources from ordinary and extraordinary measures, but in war especially the need is for hard and timely cash. Therefore, it is often the case that a particular customs or excise duty, or a particular tax is sold to some man for a time, in exchange for a sum in cash.


It may be said that this is an extraordinary measure in itself, but it is rather a thing by itself, for it is not a measure itself, in the same way that the cutting of cloth by a tailor is not the cloth.


A prince must often resort to this expedient, for money from taxes and excises is slow and irregular, while a farm on a tax is in the hand and known.


A prudent prince will ensure that his tax farmers take only what is due to them, and that they grow not too rich. To this end, any request by a man to place his own men to collect the excises or other revenue should be regarded most carefully.


A wise prince will ensure that the same farm is not sold to two men.



Book VI ; On Loans


As may be evident, cash in time is worth thrice more than money that will arrive too late. This is most especially true in war, but it is also true when extraordinary expenses, such as a royal wedding or a great tournament to celebrate the coming of age of an heir, must be made.


Only an imprudent prince would borrow to cover ordinary expenses, for if they do this, then when extraordinary expenses must be paid for, then their credit will be exhausted.


This is the way in which Henry VI of England lost the lands of the House of Lancaster in Normandy and Gascony, for he had spent so much more than his ordinary income that is credit was exhausted, and he was unable to borrow enough to recruit soldiers to man the various fortresses, and pay for the other expenses of war.


When money is needed, three sorts of loans may be recoursed to.


The first is a simple loan, where a particular sum is borrowed, and there is the agreement that it will be repaid at a later date, usually at a particular fair, usually with usury.


This sort of loan may be offered to great men of a realm, for they may show their love for their prince by how much they agree to lend him.


Jews, Lombards, merchants in general, the Reformed in Catholic lands or the Catholics in Reformed lands may also be forced to lend sums on the threat of reprisals.


The second sort is a loan secured on some sort of revenue, as the Most Catholic King does with juros. This paper is offered for the life of the purchaser, or for some time, or in perpetuity, and is secured on some single source of revenue, so one man may have a juro on the customs revenue of the Estramura, another on the alcabas from Salamanca and so on. This paper may often be sold to others, so that the King sells a great number of juros to the Genoese, and they then act as shopkeepers and sell them on to smaller men.


The third sort is the sort used by many of cities of Italy, where shares are offered in the debt of the place, and each year a certain sum is agreed to be paid by the council of the city, and that sum divided in proportion between the holders of these shares. This debt relies entirely on the faith men had in the city, and it's willingness to pay interest, and is therefore most suitable in a republic, where the council men are also the sharers, as is the case in Genoa and most other places in Italy.


The Florentines for some time offered a dowry-bond, where in exchange for a certain sum, the city would undertake to pay a larger sum as a dowry for a girl on her marriage in ten or more years, but if she would die or join a convent then no sum would be paid. The citie of Florence was placed in much difficulty over this, for more girls became wives than those who planned the bank had thought.


A prudent prince may also consider that rather than sending money in cash to a particular place it is needed, that he rather borrows it in that place, and repays the sum somewhere else. By this means does His Most Catholic Magesty get the pays for his army in Flanders to Flanders, without running the risks of the seas or of the Reformed in France, for it is borrowed from the Genoese in gold in Antwerp, and repaid in silver in Milan.


A prudent prince should also consider those who he has shown favour to when borrowing, for such men should be prepared to reach deep into their purses when their prince is in need of funds.


A prudent prince should be aware of who he may borrow off at need, and ensure that he maintains good relations with them, whether they be at his court, or at another court, or be Jews, Lombards, Genoese, Albertines or some other people. The impositions and slights paid by the English to the Italians in the time of Henry VI made them inclined to advise their brothers in Italy not to lend to that king when he needed money to hold his lands in France, and thus those lands were lost.


A prince may also consider appropriate gifts, exemptions, privileges or such for those who loan him sums, such as for example a lesser rate of customs or excise duties from a particular port or ports for a particuar time. These gifts may avoid the paying of usury on royal loans.


To have a court banker, as the Fuggers served Charles V, Jacques Coeur served Charles VII of France is a wise thing, for such men grow to like and trust their prince, and the more they owe, the more they are inclined to lend to secure their fortune.


While jews have been found useful to borrow from by the Republic of Venice, it is more usual that they lend to mean people, by pawnshops and such, and are thus unlikely to be able to lend sufficient sums to princes.


The great banking houses of Italy are the best recourse for a prince, for the Alberti, Medici or Strozzi of Florence, the Grand Duke of Tuscany and so on have millions at the fairs.

As has been written in the book of extraordinary measures, a prince may do several things to his advantage and the disadvantage of those who loaned him money, yet a prudent prince knows that to treat too harshly with those who may lend to him will mean their purses stay shut when he is in need, as the Italians did to Henry VI of England in his wars in France.


Therefore, if a prince is as great as His Most Catholic Magesty, then he may indeed do things that a lesser prince would not, such as to simply refuse to pay certain debts, or to offer juros in exchange for unpaid dents, or to offer a smaller sum in cash rather than a larger sum than is truly owed.





Braudel 'The Wheels of Commerce'


Braudel 'The Meditteranean in the time of Phillip II'


RA Griffiths 'The Reign of Heny VI' (Sutton, 1998)


Mahoney 'Madame Catherine : The life of Catherine de Medici' (Gollancz, 1976)


Menning "Charity and State in Late Renaissance Italy" (Cornell UP, 1993)


Geoffrey Parker 'The Grand Strategy of Phillip II'


Busbeq 'Letters'


Keen 'Medieval Warfare'


de Roover "The rise and decline of the Medici Bank'


de Roover "Trade, credit and banking in medieval Bruges"


Pullen "Rich and Poor in Renaissence Venice : The Social Institutions of a Catholic State" (Basil Blackwell, 1971)



Copyright 2002, Ian Whitchurch, 27 Atherton St Downer ACT 2602 Australia <Ian.Whitchurch at dewrsb.gov.au>. Permission granted to reproduce for not-for-Profit purposes, provided that the work is properly attributed.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org