Tallage or talliage (from the French tailler, i.e. a part cut out of the whole) may have signified at first any tax, but became in England and France a land use or land tenure tax. Later in England it was further limited to assessments by the crown upon cities, boroughs, and royal domains. In effect, tallage was a land tax.
Land taxes were not unknown in England, as the Anglo-Saxon kings had periodically levied a Danegeld on that basis, but tallage was brought to England by the Normans as a feudal duty. Under the sons of Henry II it became a common source of royal revenue. It was condemned in the Magna Carta of 1215, and was abolished in England in 1340 under Edward III.
The famous statute of 25 Edw. I. (in some editions of the statutes 34 Edw. I.), De Tallagio non Concedendo, though it is printed among the statutes of the realm, and was cited as a statute in the preamble to the Petition of Right in 1628, and by the judges in John Hampden's case in 1637, is probably an imperfect and unauthoritative abstract of the Confirmatio Cartarum. The first section enacts that no tallage for aid shall be imposed or levied by the king and his heirs without the will and assent of the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates, the earls, barons, knights, burgesses, and other freemen in the kingdom.
Tallagium facere was the technical term for rendering accounts in the exchequer, the accounts being kept by means of tallies or notched sticks. The tellers (a corruption of talliers) of the exchequer were at one time important financial officers. The system of keeping the national accounts by tallies was abolished by 23 Geo. III. c. 82 and the office of teller by 57 Geo. II. c. 84.
Tallage and Jews
The tax was frequently levied on English Jews during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A tallage of £60,000, known as the "Saladin tallage", was levied at Guildford in 1189, the ostensible object being preparation for the Third Crusade. It is reported that John tallaged Jews in 1210 to the extent of 60,000 marks (£40,000). There are likewise records of tallages under Henry III of 4,000 marks (1225) and 5,000 marks (1270). Important tallages were made by Edward I in the second, third and fourth years, (£1,000) and in the fifth year (25,000 marks), of his reign. These taxes were in addition to the various claims which were made upon Jews for relief, wardship, marriage, fines, law-proceedings, debts, licenses, amercements etc. and which Jews paid to the English exchequer like English subjects. It has been claimed that the loss of the income from Jews was a chief reason why Edward I was obliged to give up his right of tallaging Englishmen in general.
Tallage lasted much longer in France, where it was a royal tax and one of estate owners with tenants. It came to be called 'taille' and was much used during the Hundred Years' War. It was not abolished in France until the French Revolution.
Tallage never became significantly developed in the German states. It remained a small tax owed to a feudal lord in lieu of other feudal duties, dying out along with other feudal duties.
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- Fuller, E.A. (1895) "The Tallage of 6 Edward II., and the Bristol Rebellion" Transactions of the Bristol and Gloustershire Archaeological Society 19: pp.171-278.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Baynes, T.S.; Smith, W.R., eds. (1888). "Tallage". Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 (9th ed.). p. 29.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Tallage". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.