1188 – Saladin Tithe | One of the First Recorded Taxes on Income

1188 – Saladin Tithe | One of the First Recorded Taxes on Income

Saladin Tithe

One of the first recorded taxes on income was the Saladin tithe introduced by Henry II in 1188 to raise money for the Third Crusade. The tithe demanded that each layperson in England and Wales be taxed one tenth of their personal income and moveable property.

The tithe was assessed by dioceses, rather than by shires and was collected by the local priest or bishop, the dean of the local church, the local baron, a sergeant of the king, a Knight Templar and a Knight Hospitaller. Assessments were made by oaths in rural areas, and by a jury in urban areas. This was the largest ever tax collected in England and raised £70,000 from the Christians and another £60,000 from the Jews. All landowners, both clerics and laymen, had to pay and if anyone disagreed with the assessment of their property they were imprisoned or excommunicated.

Naturally, the tithe was extremely unpopular, despite the general acknowledgement that it was, in English eyes, for a worthy cause. Anyone who joined the crusade was exempt from the tithe altogether and this encouraged participation in the crusade to avoid the tillage.

In the end, Henry never went on a crusade and in 1189 was involved in a war with Philip and his own son, Richard the Lionheart, before dying later in the year before the crusade was underway. The subsequent Third Crusade helped capture the Mediterranean coast for the remnant of the Kingdom of Jerusalem but King Richard could not conquer Jerusalem. 

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