The Basis for Direct Taxation in Southern French Towns in the Late Middle Ages from their Livres d’estimes

From an article First published as ‘L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans les villes du Midi français au bas Moyen Age d’après leurs livres d’estimes’ in S. Cavaciocchi (ed.), La fiscalità nell’economia europea secc. XIII-XVIII (Fiscal systems in the European economy from the 13th to the 18th centuries), Atti della Trentanovesima settimana di studi, 22-25 aprile 2007. ISBN 978-88-8453-703-4 (online), ISBN 978-88-8453-702-7 (print) (Florence University Press, 2008).

Abstract: 

Having long lagged behind in the study of fiscal and financial matters French historiography is beginning to make up lost ground. Even so, the domain remains wide open, especially with respect to taxation. This point has been very well understood by the Franco-Spanish team directed by D. Menjot and M. Sanchez Martinez who have been working for more than a decade now on taxation in cities of the Mediterranean rim in the Middle Ages. This research has been addressed in its many aspects and has proved most fruitful, for indirect and direct taxation alike. In the sector of direct taxation it has highlighted the problem of the tax base, which was a question that had all too often been left untackled until now. The gaps in our knowledge have been brought to light, as have the factors that might help to explain them. The main factor most certainly relates to the little interest that French tax historians, unlike their Italian counterparts, have taken in the essential source to be found in the livres d’estimes, nommées and compoix, despite their abundance for the communities of southern France for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Fulltext: 

Having long lagged behind in the study of fiscal and financial matters French historiography is beginning to make up lost ground. Even so, the domain remains wide open, especially with respect to taxation. This point has been very well understood by the Franco-Spanish team directed by D. Menjot and M. Sanchez Martinez who have been working for more than a decade now on taxation in cities of the Mediterranean rim in the Middle Ages[1]. This research has been addressed in its many aspects and has proved most fruitful, for indirect and direct taxation alike. In the sector of direct taxation it has highlighted the problem of the tax base, which was a question that had all too often been left untackled until now. The gaps in our knowledge have been brought to light, as have the factors that might help to explain them. The main factor most certainly relates to the little interest that French tax historians, unlike their Italian counterparts, have taken in the essential source to be found in the livres d’estimes, nommées and compoix[2], despite their abundance for the communities of southern France for the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This mediaeval Midi, defined in its broadest geographical sense—from the Rhône to the Atlantic and from Auvergne to the Mediterranean—abounds with them, whereas systematic inventories to measure their full scope are still lacking[3]. Despite its incomparable wealth, this enormous mass of records long held little attraction for researchers. Until around the 1960s, it was hardly known except for a few all too rare works of quality, all of which drew attention more to the interest of the material for economic and social history than as an outstanding source for fiscal and financial history, whether the publications by J. Deniau in 1930[4], E. Philipon and C. Perrat in 1937[5] or P. Wolff in 1956[6]. Those publications made some magnificent manuscripts available to researchers, which should have both sparked their curiosity for the subject and prompted new publications of source material. This was not to be, apart from a few postgraduate dissertations supervised by P. Wolff[7]. It was not until the 1970s that this type of source came in for renewed interest with several doctoral theses at the École nationale des Chartes supervised by R.-H. Bautier and J. Favier[8], and then for Favier himself in 1971 to draw the attention of researchers to the value of these sources for a better understanding of the tax base[9]. The call was heard and it prompted the publication of the livre d’estimes of the consuls (municipal officials) of Saint-Flour for the years 1380-1385[10], soon followed by the major symposium organized by J.-L. Biget on the old city land registries and computer processing of them[11], then by the fine thesis by M. Zerner on the Comtat Venaissin[12] and a seminal paper by N. Coulet on Provence[13]. After this bright spell, many years elapsed before French historians took any fresh interest in the livres d’estimes. This has now been done. Whether individually[14], or collectively[15], or at symposia[16], questions are now shooting from all sides to enquire into livres d’estimes and compoix. Taxation has pride of place in this, as is testified to by several recent publications[17].

Among the extremely diversified avenues for research opened up by work done in recent years on livres d’estimes and compoix, one of the main ones is certainly the thinking that has gone on about the basis for direct taxation. How better to investigate this than through these exceptional inventories of people and property that their records provide? What more relevant source could be found than the estimes or compoix for probing into the privacy of estates subject in their least components to the taxman’s scrutiny? This is highly promising ground through which a few French historians of taxation are systematically and painstakingly sifting. It is through the result of their work and the research I have been able to conduct through direct consultation of records such as those of Montpellier, Nîmes, Lyon, Le Puy, Saint-Flour, Albi, Castres, Rodez and Toulouse that I would like to try to provide a rapid summary of recent advances with respect to the direct tax base in the cities of southern France in the last three centuries of the Middle Ages.

What is the basis for direct taxation in the livres d’estimes of southern France in the late Middle Ages? That is the question I wish to review by showing the major advances of these past twenty years. They certainly cast fresh light on three big issues facing those enquiring into the basis for any tax. (1) How is the base established? (2) What is its content? (3) How is it processed?

1. Establishment

The French case is specific and atypical. While from the second half of the thirteenth century a centralized state was slowly being built and the financial needs of the monarchy were growing, the monarchy was unable to set up a fiscal system for the entire realm, capable of procuring the resources it required[18]. This was because it did not have the means to identify the taxpayers and their assets. It therefore had to turn to the country and accept, after some hard bargaining, the contributions it was willing to make[19]. At the same time, the towns whose autonomy was being increasingly asserted and to which royalty transferred a large share of the defence burden[20], were establishing their own ‘budgets’ and so an autonomous tax system[21]. Having an effective administration, they could easily draw up the list of their taxpayers, who could be identified easily enough in a relatively limited territory, as was the case in Toulouse, probably from 1264 onwards[22].

Such an operation was impossible on the scale of the entire kingdom, where at best a general census of hearths might be contemplated, as in 1328[23].

The same was true of knowledge of estates subject to taxation. It was hardly feasible to make any detailed inventory outside of towns[24]. It was in this context that the first livres d’estimes began to appear in the final decades of the thirteenth century, along the lines of what was happening in Italy. To date French historians have not sufficiently investigated the chronology and geography of the phenomenon. Limited as it was—it is now almost sure—to southern France, questions should be asked about the influences on it and the models adopted. In all likelihood the phenomenon could only have come from Italy. But the question remains wide open as to the channels by which livres d’estimes entered the lands of Occitania. Did they follow, for the Mediterranean part, the university pathway? It is not improbable if one relates the teachings of Placentin in Montpellier in the late twelfth century[25] and the charter wrested by the burgesses of the city from Pierre II of Aragon in 1204. Does article 94 of the charter not provide a system of taxation per solidum et libram?[26] Better still, it was stipulated that this tax was to be levied on the bona et facultates of each, after a commission with the assignment of indicare and manifestare had established the basis for taxation of each taxpayer and calculated their proportionate shares[27] ‘in accordance with the opulence, the mediocrity or the exiguity’ of their estate[28]. One should probably not overlook either the capital role of merchants in this Italian influence. Whether Italian or French, they traded along the Rhône corridor from the fairs of Champagne to Italy or from Italy to Champagne. In both cases they always attended the major events of the Montpellier and Pézenas fairs[29], where they did not fail to export or import Italian fiscal know-how. Turning to the Midi around Toulouse and the south-west of France, one is struck by the close kinship between the livres d’estimes of these regions and those of Catalonia. Although they did not appear in Catalan lands before the early fourteenth century, and so well after the earliest estimes of Toulouse, it may be wondered whether, once the Catalan system was fully developed, it did not in turn influence the techniques implemented in the western part of Languedoc[30]. Only a close chronological and geographical study of the propagation of the phenomenon will provide answers to this and inform us as to whether actual models of livres d’estimes were developed in this French Midi in line with the various influences from the different regions and over different time spans. The first attempts at this do suggest that this was what happened[31].

Whatever the origins and the stages in first implementing these techniques of systematic census taking of taxpayers and their property, there is no doubt at all that the first decades of the fourteenth century were a turning point for the cities of southern France. Livres d’estimes and compoix were then drawn up in series so as to better ascertain the basis for direct taxation and make it fairer. That is why these operations were always subject to ever more precise procedures, the results of which were often amazingly modern. Because French cities of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were part of the kingdom of France, they were called on to contribute to royal taxes. But also, because they were still only poorly integrated into the state, which was struggling to imagine a genuine system of fiscal law worthy of the heavy administrative machinery it put in place, the cities assumed great freedom with respect to taxation. The state therefore left the towns free rein to design and engineer in full an autonomous tax system, the first stage of which, whenever it was for direct taxation, naturally involved conducting a census of taxpayers and determining their estates with a view to establishing the basis for any tax.

In this specific area, French historiography had lost a lot of ground, which is now being made up thanks to the work of the last decade. It is by asking how the livres d’estimes and compoix were drawn up that the question naturally arose as to how the basis for direct tax came to be ascertained, and consequently how the census of people and property was conducted in the field. Whichever town is considered, an operation of the kind could only be undertaken by a decision of the competent authorities (1.1). The operation was entrusted to specialists (1.2) and was always conducted in accordance with strict rules (1.3).

1.1. Decision

The drawing up of most livres d’estimes and compoix in the fourteenth century seldom reflected a decision freely arrived at by the city authorities. It was more often than not the fruit of a hard-earned victory over the governing aristocracy by the least-favoured sectors of society, who were excluded from power. Everywhere their chief demand in their combat throughout the fourteenth century was for better knowledge of the tax base[32]. Examples abound all attesting that it was in this context of taxation poorly based on ill-assessed estates that the decision to draw up a livre d’estimes was often hastily taken. The livre d’estimes then became a makeshift solution, a way of provisionally averting serious social conflict, and for a while it became a factor of concord and an instrument of peace within the townships.

So almost everywhere these registers were drawn up under pressure from the common people. Being excluded from government of the city and therefore never allowed to share in the decision-making over direct taxation, the labouring classes—mostly under the control of the guilds—clamoured for fairer taxes. The first measure they thought was required was the resort to more democratic procedures at the time the basis for taxation was established. Instead of being secret and private as they were, and accordingly reserved to the governing aristocracy alone, the procedures had to be made open and public. Whereas knowledge of the composition and the valuation of the townspeople’s estates remained the prerogative of a privileged few who held power and set about these operations secretively, it was demanded that they ensure the details of everyone’s estate were henceforth recorded in a grand ledger. The ledger had to be maintained by the representatives of all the constituent parts of the city’s society and made available to all for inspection.

It was in this context of social crises and of contestation that most of the decisions to keep livres d’estimes were made throughout the fourteenth century. Purely local factors were continuously being compounded by the ever greater burden of royal taxation. Preparing the realm’s defences became the watchword of royal policy in the decade from 1340 to 1350. To transfer the expense of that to the urban communities, by asking them to restore their fortifications themselves, was all that could be done by a power whose coffers were empty. That contributed to making the pressure of taxation yet more unbearable within the city and to pushing all those who judged it was poorly apportioned to call for a more equitable tax base. Tension was at its height in the decade from 1370 to 1380[33].

No city illustrates this situation in the second half of the fourteenth century better than Béziers. Whereas the privileged prevented the drawing up of a livres d’estimes in 1360 and openly proclaimed they did so per so que hom no saupes lor estat[34], the common people did not intend to settle for this refusal. Revolt was permanently in the air and broke out twenty years later in the violent riot of 8 September 1381. Punctuated by massacres, the revolt also had as its outcome to force the elites in power to decide to draw up a compoix in the course of 1384[35]. A similar situation prevailed at the same time in Montpellier, where the drawing up of the compoix of 1380 was directly related to the revolt that had caused bloodshed in the city in October 1379[36]. The events that shook the municipal life of the small town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in those same years, while admittedly less violent, revealed an identical climate. The populares challenged the elites’ monopoly over the tenure of municipal offices, and the burden of tallage. Perhaps inspired by the sedition in Montpellier, they too rebelled in November 1379 and obtained, among other things, and end to the levying of the gabelle, followed some ten years later by the drawing up of a compoix in 1390[37].

If we move northwards to what were the northernmost fringes of Languedoc at its broadest, an identical pattern is found. The proud city of Saint-Flour was shaken from the 1360s by tremendous friction between the magna communitas, composed essentially of merchants and of men of law, and the parva communitas, made up of tradesfolk. The monopoly of public offices and the poor apportionment of taxation were, as elsewhere, at the core of the conflict. Despite an agreement reached in 1367, which seemed to have brought about permanent conciliation, the tension lasted and was even to grow worse. For nearly two decades the guild leaders constantly called for a fairer share-out of the tax burden. It was not until 1377 that the first inklings could be perceived of a victory of the labouring classes, who eventually obtained the drawing up of a livre d’estimes. The book of accounts for that year noted the expenses incurred for a dinner of the town officials with the comessaris que eron elegit per far la taxatio del bes de la viala. The drafting procedure was therefore underway. It continued throughout the following years, as attested to by the provision of wine to those who were occupied a far lestima. It was completed by 1380 at the latest, at which date the book of accounts spoke of a tallage levied segont lestima[38]. The year was noteworthy, being in close correlation with those that were significant for Béziers, Pont-Saint-Esprit and Montpellier and because it marked a turning point: the triumph of the populares, who managed to wrest from the governing powers the decision to do what was necessary so that the fortunes of all would be laid bare. Less than 100 kilometres from Saint-Flour, in the same decades, the same demands from the city guilds of Le Puy led to a similar outcome. The entire system of direct taxation was based there on a survey of hearths established in 1367 and which had become so outdated that it no longer corresponded to the real situation in the slightest. Worse still, it failed to take account of everyone’s estate in calculating taxes. These shortcomings triggered violent protests by those who were excluded from power but whose demands were eventually heard. The drawing up of the compoix of 1407[39] here again reflected their victory over a governing aristocracy whose members were less than willing to set out the composition of their estates for all to see[40].

There were rare exceptions to these contexts of crises that more often than not attended the production of livres d’estimes and compoix. That of the Comtat Venaissin in the early fifteenth century was certainly the most noteworthy. Meticulously researched by M. Zerner, it attests to an operation begun by the states in the course of the years 1413-1414 under the gaze of a papacy of ‘strong and uncontested power’ at the beginning of the operation but that was somewhat weakened subsequently. In December 1413, the rector—the governor of the Contat chosen by the camérier—mandated two agents to ascertain from the representatives of the judicature of Carpentras the true state of the contributory potential of all of the inhabitants (veritatem facultatum et bonorum). In doing so he was acting in the name of the assembly of the three states which had asked him to take measures of the sort further to repeated complaints from several communities about an unfair apportionment of the tallage. A record for the same period in the register of deliberations of the community of Valréas states that it had been decided to conduct a census of the property of all persons, whether clergy, nobles or commoners of all the communities. Letters of commission were issued in the months that followed for the various judges of the Comtat for them to make a start at drawing up land registers, an operation that truly began in April 1414. In fact, the term land register (cadastre) has only been used since the nineteenth century for the documents that were then drafted. The texts of the time spoke of liber universitatis, liber clericorum or of liber vassalorum. Then came the expression estima bonorum at the time they were being drawn up, and lastly the terms reparatio librorum, reparatio generalis or of libri reparationis during the updating and correction of these documents, the composition of which extended until 1418[41]. This type of undertaking that was invariably difficult to conduct and time-consuming could only be entrusted to experts.

1.2. Commissions

It was indeed a matter for specialists. Having remained for too long in the shadows and almost totally left by the wayside by researchers until recent years, often little is known of their profile and their know-how. And yet it was the men who carried out the estime and the compoix who gave these documents their meaning while their composition was a tremendous challenge for the authorities. It was on their skill and the standard of their work that the objectivity and rigour of the censuses depended and that determined the quality and reliability of the new tax base.

Any partisan surveys and short-sighted treatment by them might give rise to new contestation and to troubled times. In other words the urban leadership was under an obligation to make very judicious choices in the recruitment of its ‘estimators’. While this requirement was obvious enough, it was not always easy to meet since the operations involved divergent and often contradictory interests. The legitimate demands of the ordinary people that their representatives should sit on the census and appraisement commissions so that a fairer tax base could be established constantly met with the recalcitrance of the men in power, who were concerned above all with maintaining, or even freezing, a system that was favourable to them.

Under these circumstances, the choice of the men called upon to conduct these operations never obeyed strict rules. It invariably depended on the balance of power within the city between rich and poor, big and small. To that extent the composition of the commissions, at the time they were decided on, was more a reflection of the social and political situation of the city in question than a genuinely independent recruitment, even if the authorities called on to conduct the recruitment invariably announced their intent to act for the best. In such a context, designating those whom the records generally named extimatores, became a matter of power, of money too, which they were called upon to count to the last penny. All these points contributed to shape in practice a few rules that seem to have prevailed in the make-up of these commissions.

The first rule concerned the authorities recognized as competent to decide on the list of members called to sit. While the rule did not lay down any absolute principle, it did indicate a tendency. More often than not the decision came down to the city officials and their council. The consuls of the City of Rodez convened the general council to draw up the list of appraisers in 1355 and in 1471, while those of Millau did the same when in 1471 they convened the general council of l’Esquille to designate the persons to be tasked with drawing up the new compoix[42]. Somewhat similar practices were in use in the Lauragais. Consuls and council, sometimes extended to the general assembly, always played a leading role. This was attested to by numerous examples, like that of Montesquieu en Lauragais. The preamble to the livre d’estimes of 1485 tells us that ‘foc fayt lo present libre de estimas per mandament dels messors de cossols’ and that the appraisers ‘foguen elegitz per les dits messors de cossols e per le cossellh de tot le potble del present loc de Montesquieu’[43]. This rule was not a general one, though. In Lyon, for example, the consuls shared this competence with the guild masters and liked to repeat that the choices they were thus led to make always remained very open insofar as they could fall on ‘teulx clerc et estimateur que bon leur semblera’. At the same time, they took great care to recall that the agents thus recruited remained at all times their ‘commis et esleuz’, which authorized them to control their actions at any time and certainly compelled the commission thus designated to report very regularly on the state of progress of its work[44]. In the rural communities where the lord’s control often remained strong it was a very different way of choosing appraisers that was adopted. In the Vivarais, for example, the appraisement commissioners were usually designated by the lord or his representatives[45]. It could happen, however, that the designation procedure was far more open, as at Conques for the 1418 appraisement. No fewer than 56 people, probably designated from within the assembly of inhabitants, were tasked with making the choice of appraisers[46].

A second series of tendencies arose from the working practices of these commissions. It seems that everywhere they had only a limited number of members, tending always to be made up of competent appraisers[47]. Thorough knowledge of the management of land and real property, such as a long experience of business or notarial practice were very sound criteria for being chosen as an appraiser. The same applied to the know-how of all those who had given many years to the service of the city and who were often in the know about the wealth of its inhabitants. All qualities that made merchants, men of the law, representatives of the ars notariae and administrators natural candidates for the functions of appraiser[48]. At Saint-Flour the 1380 commission does not seem to have counted more than ten or so members, including a furrier, a councillor and at least five former consuls, three of whom were notaries[49]. Much the same was true of Lyon, where the consuls were careful to recruit, from among the guild leaders called to sit, only good technicians who were fully conversant with financial and administrative matters. And there again the notaries were still in the leading ranks. Whenever there was call to ‘reffaire les papiers du vaillant’ they were well placed among the ‘commis et esleuz’[50]. Similar practices prevailed in the Rouergue too, where the 1418 commission of Conques counted nine members supplemented by four consuls, one of whom was a notary who had already participated in drawing up a compoix, whereas the smaller commission of Rodez in 1449 counted three merchants and a notary[51]. In the smaller rural communities, as in the Vivarais during the drawing up of the 1464 estimes, it was often difficult to convene enough technicians. The agents of the lord chief justice were then called upon such as his bayle (bailiff) and his lieutenant, who were joined by several inhabitants of the parish who had sufficient property to have some skill in land matters and to have some interest in the operation[52].

A third series of major principles emerges from examination of the composition of these commissions. This was the determination, that was invariably forcefully proclaimed, to see them work at all times with complete objectivity and with the utmost honesty. That was why in most instances their members were required to swear an oath before taking office. They were then asked to give a solemn commitment to carry out the appraisement operations regardless of any consideration as to the persons concerned and to any particular interest. The capitouls of Toulouse were especially attentive to this requirement from the time they first started the census and appraisal operations for the city’s property. It was expressly stated that all the appraisers had to swear to carry out their mission by renouncing ‘tot odi, amor, favor e tota causa injusta’[53]. Better still, from 1459 they were made to take this oath before the finance generals and then immediately set about valuing their own property, at the head of the list and in the presence of their colleagues[54]. Equally significant and conveying weighty obligations was the content of the oath that the appraisers (compessaires) of Béziers had to take in 1390: ‘juraran et presteran sagramen losdits compessays, premieramen que ben et lialement els estimaran et compessaran los bes de las personnas taillablas de la vialle de Besiers o de faurs, rancor tota malenconia et amor cessan en lo peril de la lur anima’[55]. This same concern for objectivity dominated the work of the appraisers of the cities of Rouergue at the same period. Whether in Rodez, Millau or Saint-Félix-de-Sorgues, an oath was invariably required of the appraisers, who were often characterized as honourable and discreet because of their irreproachable moral standards. All undertook to work ‘without hatred, without rancour and ill will’, without bias and objectively[56]. And if we turn to the capital of the Rhône? It can be seen that the requirements were just as stringent. Anyone with ‘affinities’ in the city was thereby rendered ineligible to sit on the least commission of appraisers. And what if one were among those who could be recruited and to be tasked with being an appraiser? Then the new appraisers were asked ‘qu’ils fassent besogne sans fraude ou hargne’ and that they submit to a special commission, which was to ‘faire estimation de leurs biens et vaillens’[57]. In order to better ensure the commissions were neutral and objective, pretty much everywhere the topography of the city emerges among the cohort of criteria taken into consideration. So that the commissions would do a proper job and operate quite equitably, most urban administrations considered that they should reflect as accurately as possible the make-up of all the city’s districts, each of which should necessarily be represented. This concern was particularly perceptible in Toulouse. In 1391 the capitouls took great care to confer the appraisal operations on a commission composed of four appraisers per capitoulat, because the 1355 commission that had counted only twelve, one per capitoulat, could no longer cope with its new obligations[58]. The Lyon magistrates were equally scrupulous on the question, recalling incessantly, and not without pressing the point, the requirement to distribute the appraisers equitably among the districts of the kingdom and those that were lands of the empire[59].

Despite all these precautions, the actual make-up of the commissions did not always afford the degree of objectivity and impartiality hoped for. All too often their small size, which had the advantage of making them effective organs, also held the risk of seeing them become the prerogative of a privileged few under the control of the municipal aristocracy and exclusive representatives of the most well-to-do categories. This danger of slipping back into the erring ways that were so forcefully denounced by the common people throughout the fourteenth century were very much present everywhere. The often growing influence of the wealthiest within these commissions was in real danger of undoing what had become one of the most potent symbols of democratic conquest: participating in drawing up the estimes. Such a risk was seldom averted, as attests examination of the composition of some of these commissions which were mostly dominated by men of money, culture and power. While they did not control them systematically because of their representation, they often dominated them through their estates which they were always ready to spare from any tax investigation, which was an incentive to them to do everything they could to push any equitable representation of the common people into the shadows.

The Lauragais communities reflected this situation in many respects throughout the fifteenth century. Consuls and appraisers were always from the best-heeled sectors of the community, which permanently aroused the legitimate distrust of their fellow citizens[60]. The same was true of Saint-Flour in 1380. The commission of appraisers there was a largely faithful reflection of the consular oligarchy. It imposed its crushing numerical superiority duplicated by its supremacy of power and fortune, thus managing to almost entirely keep out the representation of the parva communitas[61]. Despite all the precautions of the Lyon magistrates, the position of their appraisers was not markedly any different. While always presented as ‘souffisans personnes’ their vaillant often featured among the most highly valued of the city despite some complacency in estimating it[62]. Everywhere, then the commissions had their failings. Everywhere too they accomplished an enormous task of inventory and appraisal, providing surveys of people and of property that had appeared unachievable until then. And they did so by implementing an ever more thoroughly tested working method.

1.3. Rules

There was nothing uniform about the rules that governed the drafting of this impressive mass of livres d’estimes and compoix throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The rules were never, or virtually never, laid down by the central authority but invariably left to the initiative of each city and each community. This relative disparity in know-how was only sometimes apparent, though. There was intensive communication among cities and frequent intercourse. So much so that slowly common models were shaped with regional connotations. While there was no code for drawing up the livres d’estimes—which would have been contrary to the profoundly pluralistic character of mediaeval law—it can certainly be asserted that there was a common know-how that was being constantly honed in accordance with the imagination and ingenuity of the merchants who travelled about[63], the men of the law who rubbed shoulders in the assemblies, and the administrators who were in constant consultation with each other. They were the ones to whom the task fell of implementing census procedures and methods of appraisal.

It did sometimes happen, although exceptionally, that a consular order—or an order from a regional authority, but the case of the Comtat Venaissin seems to be pretty much unique—was issued so as to regulate as a whole all of this fiscal alchemy. Under such circumstances, historians have valuable clues as can be seen from the current state of research for Castres[64], Casteljaloux[65], Toulouse[66], Albi[67], Béziers[68], Digne[69] and the Contat Venaissin[70]. It is not without interest to observe that the first five of these regulations were drawn up between 1380 and 1400, a period of intensive composition of livres d’estimes and compoix. Only those of Digne and of the Contat Venaissin were later, but only shortly so, as they date from 1408 and 1414 respectively. The rules were generally succinct and they set out in a few pages more the procedures of appraisement than the way to conduct a census of the various items composing the estates of those making the declarations. The preambles to the actual registers and the records of municipal debates often provided fortunately useful supplementary information that allows a fairly precise reconstruction of the sequence of procedures for conducting the surveys.

Once formed, the commissions generally worked within the city in a topographical order, by district or by ‘gache’, then within those units generally by street, which made it easier and more certain to identify taxpayers and also meant they could be more easily found from one year to the next, for as long as it was planned to make periodic revisions[71]. The second major principle that seems to have been very generally applied was the spontaneous declaration system, with returns made under oath by each taxpayer as to the composition of his estate. The same was true of Casteljaloux in 1386, where each burgess and each inhabitant was invited a jurar tot lo moble que ha[72]. Those of Albi were subject to the same regime and each taxpayer was called upon to make his return en sa bona fe[73]. In the Aveyron, the tiny community of Mouret adopted the same procedure. The 1451 compoix collated the sworn returns of all property owners in the jurisdiction[74], as at Saint-Flour, for which the 1380 livre d’estimes repeats insistently at the beginning of each declaration the wording tirelessly put to each taxpayer: dis per son sagramen se aver…[75]. The compilation of the registers for the Vivarais communities in 1454 did not escape the rule either. All the tax returns there were made under oath[76]. The technique of the declaration under oath was widely practised in the rural communities and small cities and it also won favour with governments of the major cities of Languedoc. The capitouls of Toulouse made wide use of its when they took to conducting the estime[77], and were soon imitated by the consuls of Montpellier, where the compoix regularly mention use of oaths[78]. The Lyon city councillors were not found wanting. When in 1464 they decided to renew the records of the ‘vaillant’, they planned for ‘la reffection desdiz papiers sur lesdiz meubles par reception de bons et fors seremens des parties’[79]. While widespread, the technique of the declaration under oath was not, however, absolutely ubiquitous, as attested by several communities in the Lauragais. Ordinary declarations were used alongside declarations for which it is specified that the declaring party a jurat e revelat[80].

It is not always easy to grasp just how, on these basic principles, the declarations of property-owners were actually made, and then the registers drawn up. For the declarations, two very different channels, in terms of the philosophy behind them, were open to the municipal authorities. They might either invite those making declarations to appear before them, using constraint in the event of refusal, or they might go from home to home to take statements. Often both methods were combined without it always being possible to tell them apart as the sources are not very clear in this respect[81]. In Toulouse, the ordinance of 1391 and the regulation of 1459 provided that the head of each household would have to provide the detailed list of his property in a declaration made before the appraisers, in public and possibly with witnesses in attendance who might be neighbours[82]. A fairly similar procedure was adopted in Béziers for the drafting of the 1383 regulation that stipulated that ‘touta persona de qualque condition et estat que sia porta sa designatio en escript de tous sos bens moebles et non moebles…’[83]. Nothing could be clearer about the requirement for each property holder to indicate himself the extent of his estate, as at Digne in 1408 where the returns furnished by the tax payers themselves were the basis on which the appraisers worked[84]. In the absence of any specific regulation, the municipal councillors often urged all property-owners to make their declarations themselves. This was what happened in Rodez in 1416 when they invited the townspeople to ‘manifester’ their property[85]. It was doubtless in the city of Millau in the mid-fifteenth century that this trend towards making taxpayers responsible for their own returns was strongest. While the new compoix of 1452 was still in the drafting, each taxpayer was asked to tally his own property and make it known to the drafters. All of the citizens of Millau seem to have complied with this requirement, with the result that 118 of these individuals declarations (out of 600 hearths subject to tallage) have been preserved, all containing extremely precise data about both the status of those making the declarations and the detailed composition of their estates[86].

These procedures, although relatively flexible, were not always observed. Many potential taxpayers cheated or refused to appear. Municipal authorities everywhere knew how to respond appropriately, making no bones about submitting the reluctant and the fraudsters to supplementary investigations, taking evidence from neighbours, and imposing fines. When confronted with the refusal by many taxpayers to comply with the duty to declare their property, the councillors of Albi went outside the narrow framework of the offenders’ neighbours to enquire of anyone who might be able to provide additional information about the make-up of manifestly under-evaluated estates. Better still, in urgent cases they themselves made the judgment by enquiring into the social position of the fraudulent taxpayer, based on outward signs of wealth and taking direct account of sas facultatz…besonhas ho mercadarias[87]. The capitouls of Toulouse did likewise. Whenever they suspected something amiss in a declaration, they immediately conducted an enquiry[88], while their opposite numbers in Montpellier asked that further evidence be provided[89]. In Béziers, the regulation of 1383 provided in minute detail for how the procedure for revising a declaration of chattels should be conducted if under-estimated. If it plainly appeared that the person making the declaration had not told the truth and if the appraisers (compessaires) were informed of this, they were to rally around them trustworthy people who were familiar with the taxpayer being investigated (lo faich del designan). They were to summon him too to hear his defence (el auziram en sa deffensas) and depending on his declarations and the information collated, they were to tax him consequently, in a greater or lesser amount, so that his property should be taxed at its true worth[90]. It sometimes came about that these different procedures, despite their stringent constraints, did not convince the most reluctant taxpayers. This then led the appraisers to make ex officio assessments. This was the attitude taken by the capitouls of Toulouse in 1459, considering that it was the only means they had to tax estates whose actual value was systematically concealed from them[91]. The consuls of Montpellier resorted to the same procedure, but toughening it up since they levied heavy fines on any taxpayer liable for an ex officio taxation of all of his property[92].

Everything was done then in these towns of Languedoc of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries for vast surveys to be conducted so as to be more conversant with taxpayers and their estates. Having the authority to launch such operations, the municipal officials endeavoured to see they were entrusted to experts who were able to see through the painstaking census work that was asked of them. The result was invariably recorded, generally by one or more notaries, in valuable registers that provide irreplaceable sources for precise knowledge of the composition of the direct tax base.

2. Composition

The livres d’estimes and compoix of the towns of Languedoc scarcely varied in their overall presentation. The objective for their drafters being above all to make as precise a census as possible of taxable people and property, all of them invariably gave—more often than not district by district or street by street—the list of potential taxpayers with, for each of them, the more or less detailed enumeration of the constituent parts of their estate. The starting point of the survey was not any particular item of property in itself, but always the identification of the person who owned it. This was probably the primary difference between the estime/compoix and the cadastre (land register). Whereas the estime/compoix was a process to identify and make and inventory of property starting with the owners, the land register technique was quite different and set about making a census of property first, and then asking about the identity of its owner. If the estime/compoix was the process that the towns of Languedoc first resorted to, it was certainly because of its greater simplicity and the convenience in implementing it. But it was also and above all because direct tax had a mixed basis in Languedoc and its base was in general both personal and real. Hence the absolute necessity that was very soon felt to identify in a single operation both people and their property, the merger of which was the basis for direct taxation throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Enquiring into its composition necessarily entails therefore looking into the particulars of the endless lists of potential taxpayers (2.1) and of property (2.2) that the livres d’estimes and compoix reveal to us.

2.1. Tax payers

In most towns of Languedoc in the late Middle Ages taxation first had a very personal basis, the personal, capitagium that became capage, capatge, cabatge or capitation, the tax that everyone paid, unless exonerated, simple because they existed[93]. As a poll tax it was initially usually levied as a uniform tax—this was its original characteristic and its reason for being—that might also, in some towns and after some time, be adapted in accordance with a person’s wealth. There was thus a gradual slide towards a tax that became mixed and that increasingly justified the municipal authorities, after having taken an interest in potential taxpayers, taking an interest in the composition of their fortune so as to introduce a genuine real property tax, that did not necessarily mean the disappearance of the poll tax. The poll tax subsisted in many cases and then appeared, at the same time, as a way to tax the nichil habentes. This was the case of the cabatge of Albi, which the ruling few constantly endeavoured to increase and even sought to have bear the entire burden of direct taxation[94].

This personal tax alone then would have sufficed to justify the detailed census of all the potential taxpayers of any rural community or any city. Such a census became even more imperious when an inventory of property and fortunes was launched entailing the identification of their owners. It even meant maintaining on these lists the names of the nichil habentes whenever a poll tax was levied. So in such commonplace situations, the livres d’estimes and compoix listed most of the community’s heads of households. And this survey was that much more exhaustive if those who were exempted were also listed. This was quite often the case. Until the foundation work by P. Wolff, these lists had not attracted much attention from historians who had even less asked what they contained. While taking more interest in the make-up of the estates and in the way they changed over time than in the composition of the body of taxpayers, the learned presentation he made in 1956 of the estimes for Toulouse marked a real beginning for the knowledge of the rules surrounding the progressive definition of a body of taxpayers in the city in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries[95]. Two other publications largely contributed to clarifying the question, even if they were not about livres d’estimes and did not necessarily concern towns in the South of France. In the rich commentary she made in 1965 of the tallage accounts for Périgueux in the fourteenth century, A. Higounet-Nadal laid the foundations for all the studies to come of any corpus of taxpayers. The meticulous pages she devoted to those who were liable to tallage, those who were exempted and to non-residents largely contributed to the awareness that many categories had to be distinguished within a community of taxpayers[96]. Which distinctions Jean Favier considerably refined in 1970 in studying Parisian taxpayers in three rolls of tallage. That study drew attention, among other things, to the status and importance of women in the mediaeval tax landscape[97]. All of these advances largely facilitated the publication in 1977 of the livre d’estimes of the consuls of Saint-Flour for 1380-1385. If its detailed presentation of the corpus of taxpayers has often served as a model for similar studies, it owes this to all those earlier works[98]. They had largely opened up a fertile avenue. This last decade has seen some fine new advances. The publications of the Franco-Spanish team[99], and a whole series of personal studies[100] or conferences[101] have made it possible to determine, though not without some regional variants, the composition of the lists of taxpayers that furnish page after page of the livres d’estimes and compoix.

Without going into the maze of nuances that each period, each city and each team of appraisers inevitably entails, it is important to make an inventory of all these taxpayers. In his Traicté des tailles published in 1576, the great fiscal scholar Jean Combes tells us who they were. Starting from the principle that all tallages were mixed, he concluded that they were levied at the place of domicile, with respect to all of the property and fortune of the taxpayer and that all the inhabitants resident in a parish on the first day of October were liable for tallage there for the remainder of the year, unless they enjoyed an exemption and immunity from paying tallage[102]. Hence any cap d’hostal, all those who were larem foventes at the time the estime was drawn up, were required to declare their property and therefore to feature in the register. Although their statuses varied infinitely, they all shared the same capacity, that of being in charge of a fiscal unit, a hearth, for which they had to make a declaration of property. Nonetheless, complying with the requirements of the assessment procedure did not entail automatic liability to tax, as there were reasons that might justify possible exemption, thus providing a potential taxpayer with a temporary or permanent exoneration. That is why most livres d’estimes and compoix list both occasional taxpayers (2.1.1) and permanent taxpayers (2.1.2).

2.1.1. Occasional tax payers

It is better to speak of occasional taxpayers than of exempted taxpayers. Complete and permanent exemption was more of a pipe dream than a real experience in the world of mediaeval taxation. Which of those nobles and ennobled, of those clerics and office-holders had never been forced to pay taxes on an occasional basis at one time or another? Holding property on which tax had been levied from time immemorial or living in times of war that required an all-round effort were surely the main reasons. It transpires from published or ongoing studies that the municipal authorities took different attitudes to these privileged taxpayers who did indeed only appear occasionally in the registers. Sometimes their inclusion broadened the personal and potential tax base, sometimes on the contrary their absence markedly narrowed it.

This was the case of the nobles. They rarely resided in town, usually had little real property there and were generally cut off from municipal life; city officials and appraisers varied in the interest they took in them. Quite often they omitted them and, should they take them into account, it was generally because they had some small property in the town. Their inclusion in the ledgers then merely reflected the real state of the tallage. This was the case at Saint-Flour where only two nobles were actually recorded for a modest house that was not even liable for tax[103]. Their fate was even clearer at Albi. The 1450 compoix did not include any nobles[104]. As for those of Périgueux, whenever there is any record of them, it is not even sure that they resided in the city[105]. The case of the nobility of Nîmes was quite peculiar. While their property was appraised in a secret compoix of 1367, they were officially too poor to be taxed since, in the years that followed, none of the compoix of 1380, 1386 and 1400 mentioned them[106]. They were scarcely more of a presence in the land registers of the Contat Venaissin since their property did not make up more than four per cent of the registered land[107], a state of affairs that the registers for the Bas Vivarais confirmed in every particular. While 3069 hearths were listed for the drafting of the estimes in 1464, only 41 nobles were included[108]. These data, which seem to have been quite general, did suffer some exceptions, though, as in the Lauragais where the towns and communities included nobles in their registers for their property subject to tallage[109]. But we have to turn to Toulouse to find, at least for the normative texts, the clearest state of affairs. Article 9 of the ordinance of 1391 stated that, for chattels, knights were bound, like other categories of the population, to make a declaration[110].

The fate reserved for clerics again varied greatly from one town to another. Still, what Jean Combes had to say about them summarized forcefully and clearly their fiscal standing throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. According to him, they were not forced to pay any tallage or ordinary contribution but had to pay extraordinary taxes, such as for repairing walls, paving and public lanes, poorhouses and plague houses. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that any exemption from ordinary tallage lapsed whenever they held common (non-noble) inheritances[111]. On the strength of that evidence, a major principle therefore governed the obligation upon clerics to comply with the assessment procedure: owning common (non-noble) property, which was often characterized as ‘biens d’antique contribution’. And a second obligation seemingly made them liable to ordinary tallage, this time in a personal capacity, whenever tallage was levied to finance developments or common services from which they benefited directly or indirectly, in particular fortifications. But in this case, they were under no duty to list their estate[112]. These simple rules were not always followed and everywhere clerics challenged their liability to ordinary tallage raised to finance operations of general interest from which they benefited directly. Trials were legion and had to be settled by the courts (parlement), without always providing any clear case law[113]. As for the requirement for them to declare ‘biens d’antique contribution’ that might be in their possession, it was very variously complied with. It was diversely enforced from town to town because of the still wavering attitude of the urban authorities. It was only very patchily observed at Saint-Flour on the drafting of the 1380 ledger and, plainly, the assets of the clerics who declared them, when they were appraised, were not assessed for tax, so that they escaped the tax[114]. The same situation prevailed at Le Puy-en-Velay in 1408 where it seems only a tiny part of the population of clerics was recorded in the compoix, with comparatively modest appraisements for the most part[115]. A similar impression arose in many other cities[116], especially in the Lauragais. Although churchmen often featured in the livres d’estimes, they were few in number and their property was invariably described summarily and the assessments small. Only the city of Castelnaudary seems to have been an exception. Probably because of their numbers, the clerics there were registered in a special ledger of las gens de la gleysa[117]. Some municipal boards attempted to take a clear stance on the assets taxed of old held by ecclesiastics. At Arles it was laid down that any cleric holding property personally had to be included in the register[118], while article 16 of the 1391 regulation of the Toulouse capitouls stipulated that all clerics and chaplains having acquired real property subject to tallage had to declare it[119]. The consuls of Béziers were even more specific and demanding in their regulation of 1383. They laid down that clerics would have to declare this type of property in a specific ledger indicating the name of the former owners. If those former owners had been liable to tallage for such property, the clerics who now owned it would then be taxed identically[120]. On a larger scale, the unique experience of the Contat Venaissin might be cited, where it was decided, when drafting the land registry of 1414, to compose specific registers for clerics. Although the project was successfully completed, it was not all plain sailing with particular resistance over the ambiguous status of property belonging to clerics[121].

The fate of royal and sometimes even seigniorial officers often raised problems for the appraisers who seem, once again, to have lacked any firm instructions, and the information that it has been possible to collate to date on the matter is too scant to reach any conclusions. We have to settle for impressions rather than any hard facts. What rare examples are known seem to indicate the rule of irregular inclusion of higher royal officers in the livres d’estimes. When they were included the declarations were always cursory and the property often under-estimated. All point to their capacity to escape the stringencies of the declaration, even if there were plenty of royal orders or bailiffs orders to remind them of their duties. At Le Puy-en-Velay, in the face of the permanent refusal of the most prominent office-holders to submit to the tax, and so to the assessment procedure, repeated royal orders of 1400, 1420 and 1434 compelled the notaries, sergeants, lawyers and royal officers to pay the tallage[122]. At Albi, the same royal officers regularly pleaded the personal immunity they enjoyed extended to the property they held that was liable for tallage. Despite repeated ordinances, both from the king and his seneschal of Carcassonne to bring them into line, they managed to escape the tax de facto in the end[123]. They met with a somewhat less favourable fate at Saint-Flour in 1380. Five lieutenants and three chancellors of the bailiwick were listed in the livre d’estimes. Their property was declared and subjected to the appraisal procedure, but on the whole was very lightly or only partially assessed for tax[124]. This was the rule that seems to have been adopted just about everywhere for sergeants. In the Vivarais, while they did not escape taxation they declared few assets[125]. At Le Puy-en-Velay too, the ten who were listed in the 1408 compoix declared only small estates[126], while their four counterparts in Saint-Flour in 1380 were compelled to declare their property but without being assessed for tax[127].

Occasional taxpayers was therefore a suitable term for these nobles, clerics and office-holders whose names sometimes figured in the livres d’estimes, other times not. Wavering and ever malleable rules, depending on the general situation and on local policies, shaped a fiscal status for them that lacked any certainty. Often by invoking their immunity from personal taxation that they tried to extend to their taxable property, they hoped at best not to appear in the registers or at the very least to have a partial record only, often followed by a nominal appraisement or assessment.

2.1.2. Permanent tax payers

Against these occasional taxpayers stood the closed ranks of the host of permanent taxpayers, although they were something of a mixed bag. The rule observed everywhere was that any individual who was neither noble, nor a cleric, nor an office-holder had to declare his assets. So it was the head of the household, le cap d’hostal, who was called on to make the declaration in the name of the tax unit—the hearth—that he represented and that had a roof in the town. This head of the household was in the vast majority, usually around 80 per cent, of cases a man. More often that not, he was also the father. Being at the head of the basic family unit, he was its natural representative, at the same time as the person responsible for what it owed to the taxman. For the remaining 20 per cent, there were many situations that could arise where the cap d’hostal was not necessarily a man and the hearth taxed was not necessarily represented by just one person, or those who composed it did not necessarily live in the town. The case also arose where the register included all those who, although having nothing to declare, were listed so they could be taxed on their captage alone. Research in the last thirty years in many towns has refined our knowledge of this specific corpus of taxpayers that did not fit into the category of those who were regularly represented by an adult male cap d’hostal, whether single or married.

Women were certainly the first to come in for attention. Depending on the towns, they often represented between 10 and 15 per cent of the caps d’hostal who made a declaration in their own names[128]. Several hypotheses arise and from recent work most of which have looked into the question, it can be deduced that three very different situations were involved. The first was that of women about whom it is specified that they were the wife of (la molher de) so and so, which was not unproblematic insofar as, in principle, married women did not make separate declarations from their husbands. The husband generally included in his declaration his wife’s dowry assets and her paraphernalia, that is, her property acquired before her marriage and that remained under her control, and her adventive property, that is, property that came to her during her marriage, by succession, donation or otherwise[129]. The separate declaration of a married woman could then only come from a woman who exercised her own activity, who no longer lived with her husband or who, the commonest state of affairs, represented him because he was momentarily away from the city for military reasons, for business, or on a mission for the city. This very satisfactory hypothesis has often been contemplated[130]. For widows, whose declarations make up the second possible case, their listing on the register was natural enough. As their husbands were deceased they quite naturally took over from them as heads of the household. In many instances, it was mentioned that they declared both their property and property having belonged to their husbands[131]. The third category includes unmarried women many of whom were designated as ‘the daughter of so and so’. Living alone further to the death of their parents and with no brother or any other close family member to include them in their hearth, they had the status of cap d’hostal and, as such, made their own declarations[132].

Those were the reasons, in broad strokes, that justified the listing of single women in the livres d’estimes and compoix. Those were just the main lines. There were endless variations from one town to the next and any more detailed explanation would require close studies of private law with respect to matrimonial regimes and family status, the outline of which is known to have been constantly shifting in mediaeval Languedoc.

After the case of women, the sometimes quite numerous references to heirs are of interest. In all cases, they were successions that were in the course of settlement, but that were worded differently. More often than not the heir or heirs were named. It may have been the widow, children or anyone the deceased had named in a will. In other instances, the simple indication ‘the heirs of so and so’ without further clarification suggests that if they were unnamed it might have been because there was no will and that therefore they had not yet been identified despite the efforts made to find them. If the heir were of unsound mind or not of age, then a guardian was designated to make the declaration[133]. Sometimes estates had been left without heirs. In such cases only the list of property was given with often a real concern, as in the compoix of Le Puy-en-Velay in 1380, to mention the name of the former masters of the property listed[134].

Another type of hearth displayed a very distinctive trait. That for which the declaration of property was made in the name of several taxpayers who together listed common assets, without any particular property being attributed to any specific declarer and with no distinction being made among them by the appraisers. It was therefore a single estate that was in question and it was treated exactly as if the declaration came from a single person. The only possible hypothesis—and often confirmed—can be that of individuals living in a community, whether a family or not, forming a single household, under the same roof, around a common estate. Such communities, which were common throughout the Mediterranean area, whether in Auvergne[135], Rouergue[136], Provence[137] or Tuscany[138] were invariably based on an agreement, generally to prevent the division of a family estate. Uniting brothers[139] and sisters, such agreements could also be made between father and son[140], mother and son[141], mother and daughter[142], uncle and nephew, among cousins or brothers-in-law, or even between people who were not blood relatives and who so formed what was almost a true society[143]. The co-contractors then solemnly declared that they wished to live in common ad unum panem et vinum. The consequences of such a union in terms of property were immediate as they supposed a common purse and the pooling of the proceeds of labour and of any acquisitions. The attitude of the tax authorities was clear. The members of the community were considered individually to be caps d’hostal and as such had to pay taxes individually, even if they were authorized to make a joint declaration, since their property formed a single mass, understood as a sort of collective contributive unit. In practice, the forms of declaration varied, ranging from the full enumeration of the names of the members of the community to a record of just the person who was assumed to be responsible for it and to manage it[144].

Another specific category of permanent taxpayers, non-residents, did not form fiscal units based on a real hearth insofar as they did not reside in the city. They simply had property there for which, because of the real and personal character of taxes, they had to make contributions[145]. This was a very old rule, directly taken from the Digeste which stipulated that any tax on real property was payable at its actual location[146]. Although clearly stated, this principle which was well known in all the communities of Languedoc of the closing centuries of the Middle Ages was the source of many difficulties whenever it had to be enforced. These difficulties arose above all in the big cities of which merchants and burgesses had invested heavily in the lands of the surrounding communities. There was endless conflict between the city which argued that the tax was a personal one so that property held outside was declared on its livres d’estimes and the surrounding communities which, arguing that the tax was on real property, did everything they could to compel each property holder, if not resident, to comply with the obligation to come and declare the property held in their territory with their appraisers. The case of Toulouse is well known, where despite support from royalty for the claims of the capitouls throughout the fourteenth century, many inhabitants of Toulouse continued to declare their property in the neighbouring consulate where the property lay and to pay their tallage there. The capitouls did not fail to riposte by adopting a similar attitude to the inhabitants of the seneschalcy who held property in their city. Finally the 1391 regulation exempted them from the personal tallage but compelled them to declare in Toulouse the property they held there and to pay the tax on that property in Toulouse[147]. Depending on the times and on the towns and communities, the property of non-residents seems to have been recorded sometimes more sometimes less thoroughly. In the Lauragais, they were fairly often listed, sometimes after the resident property holders, sometimes mixed in with them, sometimes in a separate ledger. A degree of flexibility and constant arrangements seem to have attended their fate[148]. The same rather loose and wavering policy seems to have been in fashion in the Vivarais at the same time with respect to the non-residents who were sometimes listed as ‘estrangiers’[149].

The final category of these permanent taxpayers—les nichils—was particularly shifting since the meaning of the term varied with place and period. In the initial and traditional usage, the term nichil meant those who had nothing (nichils habentes or nichils possidentes) and who consequently were not taxable with respect to any real property. If these nichils were listed in the livre d’estimes[150], it was merely for the general census conducted with a view to levying the capage, the poll tax on every individual. In many towns, the term nichil often had a second meaning, designating not just those who had no property, but also those whose estate failed to reach the minimum level to be taxable. They were then called nichils solvabiles. This minimum level varied greatly from one town to the next even if, for a long time and in accordance with royal instructions, most municipal boards set it at 10 livres in bonis et facultatibus[151]. In some towns things were more complicated still and the idea even more nuanced. Thus in the ledger for Saint-Flour of 1380 the appraisers established a subtle distinction between those who declared they had nothing at all and qui a lor sagrament au respos lor non aver nengun ben moble ni heretatges and those who, having but a few chattels, non au respos a lor sagrament per nengunas proprietats ni heretages et respondon per alcun moble[152]. The first category were genuine nichils possidentes, but were not overlooked when it came to paying the capatge[153], nor were the second category, while the modest value of their moble meant that they were mostly mere nichils solvabiles.

That reflected the primary concern of all municipal administrations that set about drawing up the livre d’estimes: to apprehend, even ahead of the property, all the fiscal units that might be liable for personal tax. The tax on property was only to follow as a second stage provided that the value of the entire estate met certain criteria as to thresholds. It was not easy to define such varied fiscal units and confronted with patchy legislation and constantly shifting case law, criteria had to be adopted that were as clear as possible for cutting through this juridico-fiscal jungle of nobles, clerics, office-holders, women, ongoing successions, family groupings, non-residents and nichils. Once identified and listed, all could be subject to personal taxation if it were decided to levy it and if the value of their estate exceeded the invariably low threshold set, assuming that this condition of a lower limit were imposed, which was not always so. For the real property tax, they remained potential taxpayers until such time as a meticulous inventory and precise appraisement of the property making up their estate had been made.

2.2. Property

In studying the estates declared in the estimes of Toulouse of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, P. Wolff had opened up the way to some fruitful questioning, which work of recent decades has considerably enhanced. Examination of new registers has provided additional answers so that the component parts of the direct tax base in the cities of the French Midi can now be ascertained with precision. In their vast majority, the drafters of the livres d’estimes currently known and studied set about listing the items that were taxable in an identical way. Virtually everywhere the extremely detailed and precise list of real property (2.2.1) contrasted with the sober presentation of personal property (2.2.2).

2.2.1. Real property

The most recent research is increasingly directed at using the livres d’estimes and compoix to study landscape and land use. This is a fruitful and extremely buoyant area of investigation, but it must not make us lose sight of the primary purpose of those documents. They were drawn up above all for tax purposes and were to allow the taxman to establish the basis for taxation as precisely as possible. So the drafters were concerned more about establishing precise lists of property and determining its value than with locating it precisely in space and describing its features. They often did so, but solely out of concern to obtain information that might contribute to determining the value of the property in question. The primary concern was not to describe the geography, nor to provide a land registry of the area but to list as precisely as possible all of the real property whether it was built land or not. To apprehend the town in the least features that made it a capital in itself, because of the wealth of its inhabitants—houses, workshops and stores, gardens too—that was the primary goal of the survey (a). Then to sweep the nearby countryside looking for manors, houses, country estates, fields, meadows, vineyards and woods that were evidence of the vitality of the city dwellers’ investments, that was the second part of the undertaking (b).

(a) When called on to provide a general inventory of their property, all potential taxpayers were generally invited to begin by listing their possessions in town. At the top of the list was always the dwelling house—hospicium, hostal or domum—of which it was usually specified that it was the main place of residence: hospicium in quo moratur[154], l’hostal en que esta[155], domum suum in quo moratur[156] with indications of the street in which it stood or, at the very least, a specific point of the city by which to locate it[157]. There followed a sometimes lengthy list of other houses or buildings for dwelling purposes owned by the person making the declaration, with again an indication of the location and sometimes also of the occupiers with a reminder of the dues (cens) and rents they paid. For each of these houses or large town houses, a description of the property might be provided. But it was always a summary one. The building might be large or small[158], old or new[159]. It was rare indeed that its size be specified as was sometimes done in Millau[160]. It might or might not have an upper floor[161], or be ringed by a garden[162]. It was possibly in the Vivarais that this sort of description went furthest, although without ever being extremely precise. Jean del Ichalier declared he had a dwelling house covered with straw and with two gardens, as well as another with a roof of lauses (limestone slating), while another taxpayer said his house had a vault[163] and at Arles some owners declared they lived in stone-built houses (hostal payroal)[164]. Any outbuildings or installations that might enhance the value of the house had to be listed too, for example a dovecote, oven or winepress[165]. Some livres d’estimes attached special importance to recalling the origin of title to the house in question, with a clear concern to its future with respect to the tax administration. At Le Puy-en-Velay similar indications were found to that in the declaration of Jean Marcel, un hostal que compret de sen Johan de Bonas or in another un hostal que fo de Johan Cambafort[166]. Wherever gardens were not beside the house, there was a garden elsewhere. They were numerous, especially outside the town walls, and contributed to shaping the countryside and supplementing the estate of their owners. The indications attesting their existence were so repetitive that they reflected, in all the livres d’estimes, the painstaking care the appraisers took in listing them. Alongside this detailed inventory of houses, anyone reading these livres d’estimes is struck to see pretty much everywhere many indications of ruined buildings, generally called chazals at Saint-Flour[167], at Le Puy-en-Velay[168] and at Albi[169], as hostal que tomba tot in Millau[170] or hostal fondut in Arles[171]. All these data are evidence of the sorry state of many towns around the 1400s.

The list of urban buildings other than houses generally followed[172], as set out, for example, in the 1398 regulation in Béziers[173]. While infinitely variable, the list always faithfully reflected the economic activities of each town. Industrial and commercial premises were listed among the property of the taxpayers, though not in any particular order. A few examples depict this situation. In Toulouse the 1335 estimes included tanneries belonging to people of the trade in the vicinity of the Garonne, pareries for shearing and finishing woollen cloth, kilns were recorded in quite large numbers, stalls for wares of all kind, and mills whether for corn, fulling, bark or pastel that the inhabitants usually held collectively, not forgetting of course, as elsewhere, the many shops and workshops specific to each trade[174]. The list was no less varied in small towns. Looking through the livre d’estimes of Le Puy-en-Velay in 1408, the attentive reader discovers a thriving economic activity, so numerous were the shops, workshops, stalls, vats, cellars, storerooms, presses, ovens and mills in the urban property of very many of those who made declarations. The obradors, which designated both workshops and shops, without it always being possible to tell them apart, clearly topped the list. They reflected the many facets of activity in the town around the year 1400. Tanners, parchment makers, mercers, shoe makers, packsaddle makers and goldsmiths were just the main representatives of these owners of multiple obradors with the activity of which the streets bustled. Stalls (taulas) were just as numerous. They were set up alongside houses or in serried ranks on the squares, they were again evidence of an intense economic activity of distribution, even if their purpose is almost never indicated. Cellars, storehouses and presses were the lively reminder that vines were everywhere in the area. Indications abound of houses that had presses (un hostal en que fait treulh), whereas storerooms (celers) for stocking wares and cellars (crotsas) where people packed in to drink them are commonly listed. Bread ovens, lime kilns and mills also round off this long list, as if to celebrate the intensity and wealth of the economic activities of this vibrant town[175]. A similarly varied enumeration was to be found in most of the taxpayers’ declarations for Saint-Flour of 1380. It merely confirmed, both the parallels in the economies of the two towns and above all the obvious kinship in the techniques implemented in drafting the livres d’estimes at an interval of less than thirty years in time and barely 90 kilometres in space[176]. Similar likenesses were often found in the listing of rural property.

(b) While always anxious to include with the municipal takings the tax income on property held by town-dwellers in the neighbouring countryside, the appraisers did their utmost to record such property systematically, even if the task was not an easy one for them. The dispersion of these rural possessions was often a cause of difficulty; as was the manifest will of the communities on whose territory the property was located to tax it directly themselves. Under the circumstances, it was pretty much inevitable that some proportion of this rural property, whether built land or not, would escape the appraisement procedure. It is not because it is impossible to put a figure on the phenomenon that its scope should be hidden, however. Despite these insufficiencies that necessarily skewed the surveys conducted by most appraisers, the livres d’estimes and compoix do provide valuable data about the basis for direct taxation in the countryside. Wherever they were able, appraisers conscientiously recorded houses, farms, barns, land and woodland of town-dwellers trying to describe, measure[177] and situate it[178]. These were precious data for historians of the countryside that need not be evoked in detail here. Historians of taxation have the job of teasing out from a nomenclature with endless variations, the lists of such rural property of town-dwellers that the appraisers often had such trouble in identifying.

Only a very general idea of it can be given because of the extreme variety of the types of land and the ways they were farmed that were so diverse in the Midi in the closing centuries of the Middle Ages. There is also the question of the survey radius set by the appraisers. Often they seem hardly to have gone beyond twenty to thirty kilometres around the town, suggesting that many rural possessions must have eluded the census. Needless to say that it is essential to be able to determine how far the appraisers took their investigations if we are to gauge with any precision the geography of taxation in the surrounding countryside which was in the hands of the burgesses. Given these reservations and the need to reduce highly varied information to a few unifying data, the pattern of rural appraisement can be grasped through a few specific examples.

Contrary to what one might expect, a document as rich as the estimes for Toulouse often remained largely silent about the precise characterization of the property making up the rural estate of the burgesses of the capital of the seneschalcy. While just outside the city walls there was a very clear predominance of vineyards over arable land and meadowland—all these categories were essentially free of tax—little information is given about the built land in the sector. Beyond the outskirts of the town, the property subject to the taxation by the capitouls represented a large proportion of the rural holdings, even if we know little about the kind of property involved. All too often the appraisers used unspecific wording such as pro illo quod habet in ... But what was that pro illo? A few more specific estimes show that it was often a house, a farmstead, a smallholding, a mill, a cohesive tract of land and pasture (fait), plough land, meadowland or plots of woodland[179].

Probably more precise and more relevant, the survey by the appraisers of Le Puy-en-Velay in 1408 sought to identify, situate and measure the least plots owned by the town’s taxpayers. Only woodland and rural holdings, all subject to the inventory, seem to have escaped the measure. As at Saint-Flour less than thirty years earlier[180], it seems from this vast survey that four categories of rural property were of interest to the appraisers. Farms, which were not very numerous, were characterized as boria when featured a large and coherent area such as that declared by Jacques Borel: sa boria a Merensas en que ha prat de huit seytoradas et champs et hostals[181]. Farms were simply a fait when they merely comprised more or less dispersed land, while the term terra might also be used to designate this type of holding, such as that of Guigue David taxed for la terra de don Peyre sobre Cobo, en que has hostal, coumber, pratz et champs[182]. Then came, if they were not part of a farm holding, meadows and fields. Always recorded with great care and as they were the pillars of the agri-pastoral economy of the region, the appraisers attached great importance to ascertaining them because of their high value, especially if they were located beside a river and had farm buildings, particularly barns and cattle sheds[183]. Vineyards and climbing vines, which were very common, were the third group of these rural possessions. The care with which appraisers located and measured them contrasts with the little interest they had in describing them, even if some were the subject of relatively high appraisements. Finally woodland, which was not common in the region and of little value, hardly seems to have concerned the tax authorities in Velay[184].

Scrutiny of other livres d’estimes leads to similar observations. This was the case in the Vivaras for the great operation of 1464. After listing the built property on which they lived and worked, taxpayers declared their other built property that they had in the immediate vicinity, such as houses, barns, mills or cattle sheds. Then came the inevitable list of unbuilt land such as vineyards, fields, meadows, woods, chestnut stands, olive groves, with a summary estimate of the area and sometimes an appraisement of quality, whether in terms of climate or the fertility of the land, which might be good, average or poor[185]. The rural property declared by taxpayers of the towns and communities in the Lauragais were not markedly different. Relatively large and undivided holdings (bordas or campmas) occurred less often in the declarations than isolated plots, which were invariably defined by the crops on them or whether they were meadowland, arable or woodland. As everywhere the declarations included any houses together with their assets such as ovens, pigsties, pigeon cotes, mills, fishponds or rabbit warrens[186].

This confirmed the uniform character for declarations of rural property used everywhere, whether for built or unbuilt land. It contrasted strongly with the endless variety of the items actually declared. While the main masses were identical—houses, farmsteads, land, fields and woods—the detail had to comply with the image of the local areas and reflect the variety of the habitat and take into account the wealth of its crops. These were all criteria the appraisers could ignore when trying to ascertain the composition of chattels.

2.2.2. Personal property

For a long time historians showed little interest in ascertaining what most estimes referred to as moble. On the pretext that this part of an estate was almost always estimated globally, without going in to the detail of the components parts, historians often thought that any enquiry into its actual composition would barely lead much further. This way of apprehending, individualizing and counting the items of personal property has changed since a special paper has been written on it[187]. Having been supplemented since, it provides greater insight into what lay behind this rather fuzzy concept. Let it suffice here to summarize this body of knowledge.

It is precisely because the moble was often the subject of a lump-sum estimate and its component parts were only exceptionally listed by appraisers that it is worthwhile scrutinizing those all too rare lists. It is essential too to include the prior and separate declarations of taxpayers, if any, and the rare municipal regulations describing the unfolding of appraisement operations, not forgetting to enquire of the jurists of the day about how they defined moble. Put end to end, analysed and compared, these data give some answers which did not seem obvious at the outset. They suggest that four main masses of property were generally included in the composition of moble.

The first heading was that of furniture and fittings, tools and miscellaneous equipment that the appraisers of Saint-Flour called mobles et ordilha, in 1380[188], while the appraisers of the Vivarais referred to bona mobilia et domus ustensilia in 1454[189]. If furniture and fittings often seem to have escaped taxation, it was not because they were not considered as part of the legal category of movable property. This is attested to by the author of Livres de Jostice et de Plet in asserting that ‘dras, linghe et lange, tote garnison d’ostel, or et argent…’ were indeed movable property[190]. Better still, in some towns, the appraisers established a detailed list that did not feature in the register but allowed them to estimate the overall value[191]. Chests, trunks, tables, basins, cloths were all meticulously tallied[192]. The same tolerance did not prevail with jewels and precious tableware that allowed taxpayers to capitalize in such items a considerable share of their estate, which might thus easily escape the taxman. That is why in the regulation of 1391, the capitouls of Toulouse provided that declarations must be made for any perlas, joyels, vayssera daur or dargent[193]. This provision, which was probably adopted in many other towns, was not pointless. Many declarations were made as in Albi[194], Saint-Flour[195] or Lyon that referred to jewellery and silver cups.

It is difficult to fathom the tax status of tools, heavy equipment and working instruments. Jurists themselves hesitated, considering them sometimes as part of the undertaking in which they were used and so taking them to be immovable property[196]. The consuls of Montpellier seemed to have asked fewer questions. In many instances they were careful to tax the equipment of some socio-occupational categories as chattels. Wine makers were often forced to declare their vats[197] and presses[198], while hoteliers had to provide an inventory of the beds on offer to customers[199]. Likewise ship-owners and fishermen of the city of Agde were invited to provide a detailed list of their boats and vessels to be taxed with the moble[200]. Even the working instruments of the liberal professions were included in the moble so they would not escape the clutches of the taxman. This was so for the records of notaries in Montpellier[201], the books of lawyers in Saint-Flour[202], or of the learned in Agde[203]. Being infinitely flexible the list of furniture and fittings, tools and equipment could be adapted at any time to local needs and to the fiscal wishes of the councillors in office.

The position seemed to be better defined and firmer with respect to stocks. Whatever their nature, stocks were always considered to be chattels of which they formed the second main block. The only stocks to escape tax were household supplies. All known regulations agreed on this point. In Castres, any stock that was oltra provisio was to be declared[204]. In Toulouse, the taxpayer did not need to reveal what was part of the provezio per un an per son hostal[205], a stance that was adopted too by the officials of Casteljaloux in deciding that cascun deu esser apetissat de son blat e de son vin, sa perbezition segont estat[206]. The practice in Montpellier was identical and required all stocks to be declared oltra sa provezion[207]. But what was the notion of taxable stock? Following the work of the appraisers, three categories were distinguished for traders, peasants and craftsmen.

There were situations where commercial stock was evoked without the least possible doubt. This was the case for mercadarias per vendre in Tououse[208], moble et mercadaria in Agde[209] or meuble et marchandise of the Lyon merchants[210]. Seldom, as in Toulouse in 1391, did the regulations further specify the notion by indicating that it covered cloth, woollens, pastels and autres mercadarias[211], or in Cordes when almost a century later the consuls included in the moble e cabal of merchants draps, coyran… et tota autra sorta de marchandisa[212]. Such discretion surely reflected the difficulties that municipal administrations had in ascertaining merchants’ stocks, a situation that was reflected by the paucity of information in the livres d’estimes on this question. It was rare to see merchants openly declaring, as at Annonay, coloured cloth and coarse cloth, mercery, rope, candles, earthenware, ironmongery and scrap metal, not forgetting salt which was commonly mentioned, while grain and wine were also well placed, without it always being possible to say whether or not they should be counted in household provisions[213].

Such hesitation was sometimes applicable with agricultural stocks of minor importance. However, no doubt was allowed when diversified products were listed in large quantities. Three groups were found whenever such lists were provided. Cereals figured prominently with barley, oats, rye and wheat[214]. Then came wines for which the appraisers in Montpellier readily multiplied the categories and qualities[215]. Meats and fats, with salt meat and lard, closed this list[216]. More irregularly vegetables, fruit, oil and cheese were also taken into account to give meaning to this idea of agricultural stock[217]. The thoroughness with which some appraisers drew up these inventories suggests they hoped to derive some real fiscal benefit from them.

Craftsmen’s stocks are less readily perceptible in the survey. It was often the stored raw material that seemed to hold the attention of appraisers insofar as the production was often sold off on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, because of the scarcity of references to this, we can legitimately wonder whether this type of stock really was taken into consideration. It is not the all too scarce indications of copper[218], iron or other materials[219] that allow us to assert these were indeed craftsmen’s stocks.

Despite this uncertainty, the general idea of stock to declare and liable for tax seems to have been clear in the minds of the urban administrators and appraisers. Anything beyond the reasonable provisions for a household matched that description.

Cash, claims and sometimes rents, those are the three components forming the third big block of moble. Despite several regulations about appraisements that provided for cash to be taxed[220], very few livres d’estimes reflect them because of the declared hostility of taxpayers to comply with this measure. In Montpellier, however, the rule seems to have been quite well observed. The appraisers there regularly listed deneiradas, deniers comtans and monedas[221], not even overlooking the cash a taxpayer held from his wife’s dowry (de la dot que ac en argent contans, tres cent l.)[222]. In Toulouse it was laid down that all amounts invested in societies (en commanda o en companha) were subject to declaration[223], as was the case most everywhere too for monies that were loaned and the interest they earned. The Montpellier ledgers often recorded them[224]. They even mentioned income from l’ezura[225], which the appraisers of Saint-Flour did when they recorded in the declaration of Jean Belet, lo gazahin que ha de largent que ten P. Taverna[226].

There was no question that the interest made from loans interested the tax authorities everywhere.

Claims seem to have been equally prized, but practices varied. While at Casteljaloux each taxpayer had to swear upon making his declaration that he would advise the appraisers of any settlement of a debt he might receive within the year and that would therefore be liable to tax[227], the capitouls in Toulouse demanded than any claim that became due within the year should be declared[228].

Lastly rents constantly posed a problem for appraisers who often hesitated to rank them with chattels or with real property and opened a special category for them. This was what the appraisers at Saint-Flour did. They never likened rents to chattels or real property, whether rendas based on rural holdings or deptals which were derived more from urban property. These deptals were certainly settled rents. They were invariably paid in silver and based on property that belonged to the debirentier, which excluded any rent from a lease, they were never classified as immovable property, even if the appraisers never went so far as to include them in bes mobles[229]. That is why they were a category apart, clearly raising the question of the movable or immovable character of the rent[230].

Listing what often counted as the fourth category of moble—animals—sometimes posed the same kind of problem. Many appraisers hesitated to classify them as chattels, even if the dominant doctrine did consider them such, as the author of the Livres de Jostice et de Plet for whom ‘totes bêtes privées ... sont mobles’[231] or J. Bouteiller who was equally clear on this point: ‘tout le bestial d’un manoir ou amassement est tenu pour meuble’[232]. Despite the shifting attitude of urban administrators, it does seem that animals were usually marked down with the moble and assessed with it overall. Although the few loose sheets of inventory of property of the few taxpayers conserved at Saint-Flour as preparatory documents mention the presence of animals, they did not feature in the final appraisement of the chattels which did include their value, however[233]. A similar procedure seems to have been used by the capitouls of Toulouse. The 1391 regulation stipulated that cows, sheep, oxen and horses had to be declared and appraised, except for those used for drawing ploughs. However, they did not feature in the list of chattels, but all the evidence is that their value was taken into account[234]. At the same time, the municipal order of Castres of 1383, which stated the values to be attributed to chattels, included all animals without exception[235], as was the case of the appraisers of Lautrec nearly a century later, and noting carefully in their registers bovine, equine, porcine, ovine and caprine animals[236]. The same was true in the Lauragais where all animals were carefully recorded, including draft animals and those used for ploughing[237]. This was not the case, however, of the livres terriers of Arles which systematically excluded all animals used for farm work and transport but made a meticulous record of all others[238]. Of all the registers currently known, it is surely those drafted in the Vivarais for the major census of 1464 that gave the most precise lists for animals. These were essentially rural appraisements and paid special attention to animals. Even animals for ploughing and cartage were counted alongside poultry and rabbits. All were usually listed under animalia which, alongside mobilia et ustensilia, amounted to all of the movable property[239]. The appraisement for Jean del Ichalier of the parish of Béage is an excellent example and lists in detail at the end of his declaration all of the animals he owned[240]. The importance thus attached to systematically recording livestock in rural parishes can be explained by these communities wanting to tax peasants who, often being leaseholders only, owned nothing but their animals.

Despite the wavering over whether to characterize rents, debtals and animals as movable or immovable property, the dominant tendency was to rank them as chattels or at least to put them in a separate category. Thus the moble was highly individualized. Although the appraisers only rarely set out its detailed composition, both because of the difficulties of recording it and the ease of concealing it, they always mentioned its aggregate value at least. The question then was whether it was to be taxed like the other items used as a basis for taxation, which in this perspective, was usually subject to complex processing.

3. Processing

Identifying as clearly and as fairly as possible all of the movable and immovable property of potential taxpayers was just a first step in establishing the basis of taxation for everyone. Now that they had been ascertained, all of the items that made up the estate had to be assessed (3.1). The values thus obtained were just gross values and it was mandatory to subject them to various, often complex operations that might vary endlessly with the nature of the property or of the fiscal policy pursued by the city officials. Time and place also provided their variants that made this point in the taxation process, allivrement or assessment for tax (3.2) one of the essential steps in the liquidation of taxation and that completed the computation of the tax and that the livres d’estimes and compoix never contain.

3.1. Appraisement

Valuing the mass of the aggregate wealth to be taxed was a capital operation insofar as it laid down the basis on which the appraisers were to set about their work. Where the city authorities had not laid down any regulation setting out the rules to follow—which was usually the case—it is never easy to discover the rules by which the appraisers worked. They can only be inferred from a meticulous examination of the documents. Only close reading of those documents can come up with the keys to the operations. While infinitely variable from one township to another, they were always related to the nature of the property in question, and the fiscal policy pursued by the governing elites that inevitably led to dealing separately and by different rules with the three major components of estates. The value of real property was set (3.1.1) whereas dues and rents were mostly evaluated on a capital basis (3.1.2) and personal property was assessed in terms of value (3.1.3).

3.1.1. Appraising real property

Whether for urban or rural property, city governments invariably resorted to two major systems at all times and places. Either they referred to the market price and so took the saleable value of property; or they took the rentable value. The second process, which appears to have been the least used, raises few difficulties, above all if the property in question was leased or occupied for dues. It sufficed to refer to the amount of rent of dues paid, always watching that the lessor and lessee or the tenant and landlord did not conceal the truth. It was a more intricate matter to set the saleable price of property. It always involved many factors and resulted ultimately from some tough negotiation between the taxpayer and the appraisers insofar as there do not seem to have been any stringent and reliable criteria.

Assessing the price of urban real estate was probably the operation that presented the least difficulty. The appraisers, who were often chosen from among circles of people in the business, such as notaries and lawyers, were fully versed in these techniques. And it may well have been that each taxpayer kept an eye on his neighbour’s appraisement. Suspicion and informing often interfered with the procedure[241]. So as to reach the most accurate appraisement possible, the appraisers took into account all manner of criteria, most of which are unknown to us because the extant regulations and the registers themselves barely mention them. The location of the property in the town, its state of repair, and its purpose were all decisive factors. All of the livres d’estimes that are known and studied reveal—this is a commonplace we need not dwell on—a hierarchy among the town’s districts that obviously dictated property values of the urban fabric[242]. The dwelling house always came first and it was in all likelihood with that that the appraisers began to list the value of the estate. Indications were made, as said, about the description of the property: if it was a mansion or a simple house, with one or more floors, whether it had a garden, a cellar and any outbuildings that might enhance its value. These standard and recurrent objective criteria were sometimes supplemented by more subjective and invariably disparaging observations that the appraisers noted at the request of the interested parties. The compoix of Millau were full of such remarks. The taxpayers emphasized that their house was located in a ‘bad street’ or that it was a hostalet ben petit, often it was in poor condition, fort antic e degastat or tot detruyt e vielh, and which consequently required a substantial amount of work doing[243]. It was therefore after having heard these remarks and the declaration of value of the property by the taxpayer, usually under oath, that the appraisers thought they were sufficiently informed to be able to set a price to serve for the assessment for tax. The same procedure was used for the other houses that the taxpayer may have owned in the town, as for all his other real property, in particular for premises used for industry, craft or commerce.

Reviewing rural real estate and assessing it was a complex and more intricate operation. The multiplicity of types of construction, the range of land quality, the division of holdings, the many types of orientation, the proximity to or remoteness from the town or the village were all factors that greatly complicated the appraisers’ task. And they were all parameters they had to count with and for which they seldom had any written instructions. In this domain, the regulation laid down for the Comtat Venaissin in 1414 stands out as an exception. Each community covered by the appraisement procedure had first to subdivide its territory into three parts in terms of remoteness: the closest (proximum), the in-between (medium) and the furthest away (remotum), which was naturally to be used to construct a scale of values for valuing each éminée of ploughland, each séchoyrée of meadowland, each fossoyrée of vineyard and each journal of olive trees or other fruit trees[244]. While attractive in theory, this rule requiring distance to be considered in determining shares, was sometimes circumvented in practice, where there was a tendency to use the quality of land as a distinctive feature. Even so, the break-down it allowed, usually meant that three concentric rings could be drawn around each community, within which rings the appraisement work was considerably facilitated. Apart from this exceptional instance, a reading of the livres d’estimes testifies always to the interest the appraisers took in distance and remoteness from the centre, whenever they were called on determine property values[245]. Naturally enough, all the parameters concerning the quality of the property, whether it was built land or not, were taken into account. Nothing was left to chance as to the nature of the land, its orientation, its yield capacity, its water supply and its state of repair, this last point being the essential one for built land[246]. So the criteria for setting the price of rural real estate, whether built land or not, varied endlessly. However many registers of estimes and compoix there were, there were as many ways of fixing prices, so diverse were the natural conditions and fiscal policies[247]. Each commission of appraisers seems to have been left with great scope for appreciation and the rare regulations that did exist almost never imposed predetermined prices for real property. One exception was that of Cordes of around 1475. When the consuls set out the main principles of the computation, they took the opportunity to set at three livres the value of a journal of meadowland and at two livres the sétérée of ploughland[248]. This was a form of authoritarian taxation. But was it actually observed? There are no registers to confirm this point.

3.1.2. Assessing dues, rents and deptals

It was certainly for assessing these items of estates that the rules were everywhere the most explicit or at the least the most readily perceptible. In the absence of any regulation, it is almost always possible to find the mechanisms used in assessing in capital the dues, rents and deptals. The solution of capitalizing all of these sources of income was generally the most commonly used. This capitalization was done on the basis of a pre-set scale. It seems it only varied slightly from one town to another. The livre d’estimes of Saint-Flour for 1380-1385 provides a very precise example of the procedure. Any dues paid in specie were immediately capitalized at the rate of 5%, which meant multiplying the payment by twenty. Were it paid in kind, then the capital value was expressed in money terms according to set rates, whether cereals (oats, rye, wheat) or poultry. The most commonly used bases were 25 sous for a quarton of wheat, 20 sous for rye and 15 sous for oats[249]. The rule laid down at Cordes in the late fifteenth century provided for a very similar system where all the suggestions are that it had already been in force before[250]. In Saint-Flour, rents and deptals were also subjected to the same pre-set system of capitalization, but it was not the same in both instances. Deptals, which were rents based mostly on urban property, were capitalized to the sixteenth denier (6.25%). Ordinary rents, based on rural property rather, were capitalized to the twentieth denier (5%)[251]. These figures seem to have been a little lower than those recorded elsewhere in the kingdom: in Lyon, for example, in the late fourteenth century where the tenth (10%) or twelfth denier (8.33%) was used for pensions in specie[252], and in Toulouse where the ratio between the rent and its price varied from 1 to 10 in the early fifteenth century[253]. This method of operation attests to a general intent on the part of urban governments to have sound and uniform bases from which to proceed as swiftly as possible to the tax assessment. This same concern to reduce things to a standard value was equally manifest with respect to the items of movable property.

3.1.3. Assessing the value of personal property

As with dues and rents, items of personal property could not be taxed, for those that had to be taxed, without a prior valuation in monetary terms. More often than not the details of the operation were not disclosed. There is no way to extract the scales of charges used when they were not set out in the regulation and a simple total amount was recorded in the livre d’estimes under the heading moble. This was often the position. Because of the difficulties in conducting detailed surveys of the various chattels, the appraisers often confined themselves to an overall estimation or they accepted the estimations provided by the taxpayers without scrutinizing them too closely.

Nonetheless, both because of progress in investigation techniques and because of the municipal administrations’ determination to improve the yield of taxation, some of them laid down regulations providing scales for assessing the most varied personalty. Although few such scales have been found, it is certain that many did exist. This can be ascertained from reading the lists of movable property where given in the appraisements. The unchanging character of the figures found is surprising. It can only be because there were specific rates. They imposed stringent rules on the appraisers and left them little freedom. These rules fell into two categories. Some provided generally for everything relating to the drafting of the registers and dealt only incidentally with the appraisement of moble. There were other regulations that were specifically about personalty.

The regulation of the capitouls of Toulouse was one of the general texts and said little of moble. This then left great leeway to the appraisers whenever they had to value gold, silver, jewels, stocks and merchandise. They were free to proceed at la valor que valdran. They were not bound by strict rates other than for the quarton of wheat set at one franc, all other cereals at one franc for two quartons, like the pipe of wine at the same price[254]. The letter of commission given to the appraisers of the Contat Venaissin in 1414 fitted into the same perspective. In its second paragraph on Extima bonorum mobilium et se moventium, it gave a typical list of chattels exempted from taxation and simply specified what type of livestock had to be included[255].

Regulations designed exclusively to set the appraisement rates for chattels alone were very different. The provisions set out by the municipal officials of Castres in 1383 were significant in this respect. Agricultural stocks were covered by nitpicking regulations and no category of cereals was omitted: a half-franc for a setier of wheat, to which were added broad beans, while three setiers of rye, barley oats, corn and paumelle barley were valued at one franc. Wine was not overlooked and rated one franc the muid (hogshead) of vi pur, nor was salted meat, which was charged at two francs per quintal. Then came oil, salt and pastel, products for which more leeway was allowed insofar as they could be assessed segon que valdra ad arbire dels estimadors. But things were more stringent for animals: six francs for a draught-ox, four for a cow and for any other cattle of more than two years of age. For younger cattle, the value was again left ad arbitre des estimadors, as it was for horses, mares, foals, asses, pigs and sows[256]. This attested to the will of the municipal officials to carry out, here as elsewhere[257], as through an appraisement as possible of all of the items making up the personal property of the taxpayers. This being so, personal property could at least in theory be subject in the same way as real property to the difficult operations of assessment.

3.2. Assessment for tax

The interest of certain livres d’estimes and compoix is sometimes that they go beyond the simple appraisement of property and to set about the first stage of liquidation of taxation, but never going so far as the final stage of assessment. This first step, known as allivrement, consisted in adapting the crude values of the property and income resulting from the appraisement to the fiscal requirements by applying various coefficients and reductions. This produced new values which, while they were a distorted image of the real situation were primarily designed to best and most accurately capture the contributive capacity of each taxpayer. They were both the reflection of the fiscal policy of the town and a more or less successful effort to see that the situation of each taxpayer might be adapted to the requirements of all.

From these new values, the assessment values, the tax due from each taxpayer could be computed. As with the appraisement of property and income, the livres d’estimes and compoix do not reveal the existence of a uniform system but rather a whole array of generally not very elaborate procedures. In the current state of study of documentation it seems that it was the livre d’estimes of the consuls of Saint-Flour for the 1380s that provided the most complete model in this domain. It is surprising that it was in a medium-sized town located on the northernmost edges of the Midi of France and moreover one that was not very open to outside influence that so effective a system was developed. It had probably been developed elsewhere long before. However, just where it had arisen and how it had reached Saint-Flour remains to be discovered.

Anyway, this mechanism of assessment from Saint-Flour shall be taken as the reference model, without omitting in describing each step in its operation to make comparisons with what is known for other towns. Most of the appraisements contained in the register allow us to affirm beyond a shadow of doubt that the assessment used at Saint-Flour was divided into three quite separate stages. First, from the appraisement values, a number of allowances were always made (3.2.1), followed by the deduction of charges on the capital if justified (3.2.2) which went along in some instances with relief for exceptional circumstances.

3.2.1. Allowances

There could be no question of taking as the basis for assessment the crude values of the appraisement without allowing for the nature, situation and use of the property of which it reflected the worth regardless for the time being of any consideration of the person who controlled that property. This is why the fiscal policy in force in most towns posited as an absolute rule the need to begin from this value and to include a number of allowances that were immediately applicable and that varied with the nature of the property in question. This was a rule that covered real property principally and rarely personal property.

The difficulties that urban administrations ran up against constantly in enquiring into the make-up of the moble was the ease with which taxpayers could conceal all or part of it, which often led the appraisers to make a simple lump-sum appraisement, which was generally far below the true value. Hence the stringency with which tax was generally computed on personal property. It was not often that allowances were made and the appraisement value was then used in full as the assessment value. There was not a single taxpayer in Saint-Flour whose chattels were not taxed at 100 per cent. The appraisement value of their bes mobles e ordilha was, without exception, taken as the assessment value[258]. Besides, there were towns where the officials were urged to tax the real property heavily insofar as it sometimes represented a very large proportion of the estate. This was the situation in Narbonne in the fifteenth century for example[259]. The practice at Albi was equally strict, with each taxpayer’s contribution being assessed for tot so moble[260]. The capitouls of Toulouse were a little more lenient and long just recorded two-thirds of the declared value, but not without using in exchange the full value of the appraisement as the basis for taxation, so as to correct for any possible fraud. All the evidence suggests, however, that this measure was not readily accepted since, from 1405 onwards, the assessment value of moble was set at just 50% of its declared value[261]. This procedure was adopted in other towns. This was the case of Pamiers in the fifteenth century[262] and of Cordes too, but only for taxpayers whose moble did not exceed 40 livres[263]. While the township of Rodez struck the same note by practising a generalized allowance of 50% this measure raised so many problems that the officials were compelled to lower it to 20% in 1416[264]. Many other urban governments wavered between firmness and flexibility. While the consuls in Montpellier in the early fifteenth century granted an allowance of just one-sixth of the declared value[265], those of Castres set the allowance at 25%[266]. Despite these somewhat fluctuating practices, the general tendency was indeed that of a degree of rigour with respect to the assessment of chattels. This was equally clear for dues and rents. Once capitalized, it was the rule in the tax law of Saint-Flour, to use their aggregate amount as the basis for assessment[267], a practice that was followed almost identically by the consuls of Cordes for the dues collected in kind and then assessed in terms of capital[268].

The assessment of real property, whether urban or rural, was not as stringent and it varied in accordance with many parameters. There were many criteria (nature, location, use) that might justify the most varied allowances. They meant that the tax that was based exclusively on land was subject to very marked variations. This posed the question first of all of the assessment of tax on the dwelling house. Often a very high allowance was applied: while invariably 50% for Saint-Flour[269], it was one-third at Cordes[270]. What must also be pointed out for Saint-Flour and that does not seem to have occurred elsewhere is that all the dwelling houses owned by a taxpayer, whether he lived in them or let them out, were entitled to the same allowance, which was an extraordinary premium for concentrating real property in the hands of a few big owners. The system in Toulouse was far less advantageous. Owner-occupied property located in town was taxed for the whole of its rentable value, which tax was set at three times the rentable value if given in dues, but which declined with distance from the town. Accordingly a house located in the gardiage was taxed half as much, a house in the viguerie a third as much, and one in the sénéchaussée just a quarter[271]. Despite these forms of relief, any house that was given out for dues was liable for more tax than houses that were owner-occupied. The same policy was practised at Cordes where the appraisers had to compute tax on, apart from the principal residence, any ‘autre hostal que tenga ... lo dit reden ... tota la soma del stima d’aquel hostal sans res rebatre[272]. This system of a basic allowance on dwelling houses, whatever the particular arrangements and the rate, was known and in force in many towns[273]. However, it was far from general. Thus, for example, the practice was totally unknown in the compoix of Le Puy of 1408, although that system was very carefully designed[274].

The basic allowances on real property for industrial, craft or commercial purposes were more varied still. They were genuine instruments of economic policy and were very variously used by urban governments. Here again, the massive use made of them by the officials of Saint-Flour may be cited as an example insofar as they managed to establish a fine graduation depending on the purpose of the property in question. Whenever the appraisers were faced with an estazo, that is, premises accommodating a craft or sometimes a near-industrial activity, such as tanneries or pelt works, the assessment value was the appraisement value, which amounted to assessing these premises on the basis of 100% of their saleable value. The only exceptions to the rule were ovens and mills. Whether in town or on the outskirts they were only liable for tax at 50% of their appraisement value. For premises for commercial activities, especially shops, or for liberal activities such as the offices of lawyers or notaries a substantial allowance (50%) was systematically applied. Should this be construed as a reflection of the fiscal policy of the aristocracy of merchants and jurists who heaped the heaviest tax burden on the craftsmen? There is every cause to think so. This favourable situation granted to those social categories was further exaggerated because the rural holdings they were particularly fond of in the surrounding countryside, whatever their nature, also benefited from the same 50% allowance[275]. A similar allowance policy was followed by the capitouls of Toulouse, with respect to many rural properties, allowing, as with houses, for distance from the town. This again provided a substantial fiscal advantage for the Toulouse burgher class that invested in rural property in the seneschalcy, although this tendency was tempered by the principle of tallage on real property that often forced these investors to pay a good proportion of tax instead of purchasing the property[276]. In the regulation they laid down in 1475 the consuls of Cordes also favoured such rural investments in the distant countryside. Any land that was londana de la vila enjoyed a far more advantageous rate of assessment than did nearby land and vineyards[277].

All of these examples—many others could be given and yet others remain to be discovered and studied—attest without the least doubt to a more or less tight control, depending on the town, over a technique of basic allowances in making the assessment. Those allowances were always adapted and perpetually adaptable to the nature and purpose of the property in question, and to the interplay and volition of the officials in power. This remark is even more valid for charges deductible from capital.

3.2.2. Charges deductible from capital

Once basic allowances had been deducted, which were identical for all property having the same characteristics, the question arose as to the specific deductible charges for each item of property. Any real property whatsoever was more or less chargeable for dues, rents, pensions, maintenance work and others. It was this range of charges that had to be identified for each property with a view to capitalizing them and deducting them from the declared value. This technique of deducting charges that weighed on capital was practised everywhere but to such varying degrees that it was a fiscal jungle that was hard to cut through.

Everywhere, dues, rents and debtals figured prominently. There was not an administration that did not identify them carefully and deduct them from the value of the property in question. If these charges were generally paid in money, they were easy enough to deduct. They were assessed in capital as a function of the rates that have been analysed and could then be automatically subtracted from the value of the asset concerned. The appraisers at Saint-Flour were past masters at this technique and there is no better evidence than a passage of the appraisement, like so many others, for the taxpayer Andrena Guaya: dis per son sagramen se aver un hostal en la dita chareira (de Saurel) estimat a 215 l., dona 30 s. deptals a mossenhor Steve Arnalt, de que son desdut 24 l., respont per 83 l. 10 s[278]. The operation is easy to follow. Having been appraised at 215 l., the house was first subject to the standard basic allowance of 50%, which gave a first assessment value of 107 l. 10 s. The 30 s. of debtal on the property were then appraised in capital at the sixteenth denier (6.25%), giving a deductible charge of 24 l. and so a final assessment value of 83 l. 10 s.[279]. Wherever charges were paid in kind (grain and poultry especially) they were immediately valued in money in accordance with lump-sum scales that replaced the rate of capitalization used for the dues and rents paid in money. The deduction was then made in an identical way[280]. The compoix of Le Puy-en-Velay revealed the use of an analogous system, which was sometimes even more intricate and refined[281]. A simple reading of the Nommées of the inhabitants of Lyon in 1446 attests that this practice was very much in use in the capital of the Rhone[282], as it was in Toulouse, although only the relatively important dues are mentioned, the others being there simply for recognition[283]. The consuls of Cordes were also very much attached to these deductions, as attested by the many reminders in the regulation of 1475 of the absolute requirement on appraisers to desdure lo ces after each appraisement[284]. The same was true of Rodez. All of the property was computed for tax atendut lo carc[285], which left great scope for dues and rents.

Once totalled up, all of the allowances and all of the deductible charges on an item of property might come to as much as or more than the value of the property in question. This was common for property that was heavily encumbered by dues and rents. In such circumstances, the assessment was zero, or even negative, meaning the property escaped any taxation. The appraisers of Saint-Flour were careful to show their calculations, and if they observed there was no cause to assess a property, specified that the taxpayer respont per non re on the property concerned[286]. The Nommées of Lyon are rife with similar situations. So many houses there were excessively burdened with pensions and servis and so escaped any assessment procedure that the situation became untenable in the late fifteenth century. The city council took notice, indicating in a 1493 text that ‘tant que touche les pensions d’or, d’argent, blé, vin, huile ou autres quelzconques, pour ce que cy devant il y en a grant et evident abuz et désordre au grand prejudice et dommaige de la dite ville le tout à cause de l’excessive et desordonnée extimacion des dites pensions, au moyen de quoy, les papiers des dites extimes ont este par cy devant amoindriz et diminuez ... pour le grant descharge qu’il convenait fere es impotz des debiteurs des dites pensions’[287]. The situation seems to have been much the same in Toulouse. Confronted with so much real property that was so heavily charged with dues and pensions, the appraisers often deemed it pointless recording it insofar as it could not be assessed for tax[288]. The Haut-Vivarais provided identical situations too. It was common for the capitalization of charges to make the appraisement value of property zero or negative[289], a situation that never occurred in the Bas-Vivarais where the appraisers deducted neither rent nor pensions from the capital[290].

All of these charges, whether rents, dues or debtals, based on a specific piece of property, were always automatically deducted from the value of the property, but of that item of property alone. Under no circumstances could they be passed on to another. The technique of relief for exceptional charges was quite a different matter.

3.2.3. Relief for exceptional charges

These again were deductions but that were not warranted by any charge upon a specific item of property. They were made as a result of special circumstances that required occasional substantial expenditure of such or such a taxpayer and that might entitle him to extraordinary relief in the assessment of his tax. It was therefore on this aggregate value, and not on the assessment of any particular item of property, that such relief was imputed. There were many grounds for such relief being granted and taxpayers were constantly dreaming up new ones, sometimes appealing directly and unreservedly to the clemency of the tax authorities. This was the case of taxpayers in Millau when, in the heading to their inventory, they unashamedly asked for the benevolence of the commission in quite explicit terms, such as ‘Veuillez avoir regard’ or ‘Tenez moi pour recommander’[291]. This often compelled the municipal administrations to very obviously customize taxes. While relief was generally recorded in sometimes long lists at the end of the appraisement, it might nonetheless be arranged into three main groups.

First were pious foundations, anniversary masses and the upkeep of lighting. There was not a town where a good number of its taxpayers did not try to pass on to the tax authorities all or part of this type of outlay. At Le Puy-en-Velay, the declarations of the compoix of 1408 were full of indications of gifts and legacies made to the town’s many churches, convents, abbeys and other institutions[292]. There was an outpouring of good deeds, the scale of which sometimes moved the tax officers. The same was true for Saint-Flour with the lhourasos that were nothing other than gifts in kind, of bread, wine or grain that many families of the town, and often ones of very modest means, regularly made to several churches. All carried a set rate and entitled the donor to a lump-sum deduction of 32 l. of his aggregate assessment for an ordinary lhourazo, and 48 l. for a lhourazo grossa. The obits, anniversary services for the souls of the deceased were charged at 10 s. for a net deduction of 10 l. at Le Puy-en-Velay. It was often the case that the deceased had provided a special capital sum for holding masses in their memory and their heirs were then authorized to deduct the annual amount thus spent from their assessment[293]. To all of these services to the church were added the provision of lighting. This, as for so many others, entitled Pierre Toret of Saint-Four to a deduction of 6 l. 10 s. per 8 s. que dona per chasun an a la chandela de Nostra Dona[294].

Help provided to family or friends always had a substantial place in the petitions designed to soften the harshness of the tax administration. One taxpayer of Millau underscored the woeful predicament of his family (non avem que mangen) while another highlighted the fees for educating his children and yet another, but not just anyone, the notary Johan Calmetas, member of the council and then a municipal official, who had no qualms about revealing the expenses for the upbringing of his seven children, five of whom lived with him, the other two being students[295]. Succour to needy family was regularly taken into account and often at fixed rates. It was worth a deduction of 106 l. on his tax bill for Guillaume Esclavi of Saint-Flour for an annual pension in kind and in money (4 l. and 4 setiers of barley) paid to his nephews, while leaving them full enjoyment of a house he owned[296]. The inhabitants of Le Puy-en-Velay were not left out and children helped out parents, such as Beneit Montagnac who paid to the hospital a pension of 10 s. for his father and gave 100 s. each year to his mother for her wardrobe, all with a life supply of a muid and a half of wine and 24 cartons of wheat. Nor did parents forget their children, like Jean de Bonas who provided an annual lifetime pension of 16 florins for his son[297]. All such payments gave entitlement to reduced assessment, but by methods that were not clearly revealed as they were a matter of direct discussion with the appraisers, and were less a matter of doctrine and law than of practice and tax favours. Illness[298] and death[299], and war damage[300] were also taken into account, as were happy events such as a daughter’s marriage. Laurent Blanc of Saint-Flour thus benefited from an allowance per las joyas de sa filha[301].

Finally there was a third category of possible exceptional tax relief. Being both less clear and less common, few examples have been encountered. These were for interest on borrowings. It can be guessed that because of the position taken by mediaeval doctrine on money lending, it was seldom spoken of. The livre d’estimes of the consuls of Saint-Flour nonetheless reported a few rare examples in 1380. Thus Jean Jouvenroux had no qualms about 102 l being deducted from his tax bill for the interest he paid each year to Jean Miguo[302]. Like the capitouls of Toulouse[303], the consuls of Saint-Flour considered that any payment made to a creditor in the course of the year ought to be taken into account and excluded from assessment[304]. And it was even considered that the debts themselves should be deducted, as suggested by the indication in the appraisement for Durant Vaisso: desdut sos debte[305].

This long list of forms of tax relief for exceptional charges, which could virtually be extended without end in practice because it was never codified, was almost always the outcome of direct negotiations with the tax administration. When capitalization rates were set for some forms of relief, they were generally very profitable and were directly deductible from the aggregate assessment, which meant that the sharpest taxpayers, and also the wealthiest of them, could always take ready advantage of them.

***

The research of French historians over the last thirty years into the livres d’estimes and compoix of the towns of Southern France in the late Middle Ages has re-opened an area of enquiry that had been abandoned for too long. Those interested in the history of taxation have found in those sources an essential and invaluable instrument for studying the basis for taxation. The technique of appraisement, which was considered above all to be a great social victory after the upheavals in urban societies in the second half of the fourteenth century, also heralded the victory of the survey, the triumph of figures, the will to see legal control exercised over the lands of the realm, and an insatiable desire to appropriate land. Above all, appraisement made it possible to render public, make visible and quantify the size of people’s estates, which had until then remained private, hidden and inaccessible to any valuation. Even if the surveys of people and property that the appraisement produced were still far from perfect, they were even so an enormous advance in the technique of taxation insofar as they irreversibly fulfilled the prior condition for an entire fiscal process that was intended to be consensus-based, more reliable and fairer. The techniques gradually implemented on the basis of these new data to establish a basis for calculating tax that was acceptable to all and by all varied a great deal from one town to the next and were constantly changing. Setting about assessment, or even confining oneself to the very first stage of the operation, was such an intricate undertaking and so risky that most drafter of the livres d’estimes did not dare venture beyond the simple valuation of property.

And if they did take that risk? Then it was the crucial question of the assessment for tax that was raised. How could one find a common denominator for the crude valuation data that varied infinitely with both the nature and the quality of the property and its location? To this question, which was as complex as it was riddled with ideological confrontations and conflicts of interests, the municipal boards provided an array of answers. They did so being conditioned, of course, by their own social backgrounds and depending on the options they had undertaken to defend, but also upon compunction to pay close heed to the pressure exerted on them by all those who, being excluded most of the time from holding power, had no other means of making their voices heard. After having initially called, with vigour that had often turned to violence, for the drafting of livres d’estimes, they then turned into watchful censors of the use that was made of them; indeed the methods employed became a true instrument of economic and social policy in the hands of the governing groups. All governments, whether on the scale of the town or of the state, invariably managed to make clever use of them ... with a greater or lesser degree of success.


[1] With five publications in ten years: D. Menjot, M. Sanchez Martinez (eds), La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge (France méridionale, Catalogne et Castille) 1, Étude des sources (Toulouse, 1996); La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge (Occident méditerranéen) 2, Les systèmes fiscaux (Toulouse, 1999); La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge (Occident méditerranéen) 3, La redistribution de l’impôt (Toulouse, 2002); La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge (Occident méditerranéen) 4, La gestion de l’impôt (Toulouse, 2004); D. Menjot, A. Rigaudière, M. Sanchez Martinez (eds), L’impôt dans les villes de l’Occident méditerranéen) xiiie-xve siècle, Colloque de Bercy des 3, 4 et 5 oct. 2001 (Paris, 2005).

[2] The distinction is never easy to make but it is slowly becoming clearer. On this important issue see E. Appolis, ‘Les compoix diocésains en Languedoc’ (1946) Cahiers d’histoire et d’archéologie, 81-93; M. Oudot de Dainville, Inventaire sommaire des archives départementales de l’Hérault, Série B. Cour des comptes, aides et finances de Languedoc, IV, (Montpellier, 1938) and ‘Remarques sur les compoix du Languedoc méditerranéen’ (1939) Folklore, 132-7. A decisive step forward on these questions is made by the very rich development by G. Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime au compoix/cadastre. L’exemple du Languedoc (xive-xve siècles)’, in A. Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre en Europe. Le Moyen Âge. Colloque de Bercy des 11, 12 et 13 juin 2003 (Paris 2006), p. 221-41. Larguier suggests a number of distinguishing criteria summarized in a table (p. 241). As the outcome of the comparison, it appears that the compoix was a more elaborate document than the estime, implying more especially a prior determination of a scale of taxes for different types of property, the systematic designation of expert valuers (surveyors and appraisers) by the city council whose work (surface areas and assessment) was made known to the interested parties, who could issue reservations, before the compoix was settled with a progressive distinction between a land-based compoix and a cabalist compoix. The term Nommée seems to be quite specific to the city of Lyon and to be a simple estime.

[3] One can only hope for more exemplary works like that of J. Le Pottier (ed.), F. de Cazanove, P. Fassina, F. Malet and J.-L. Biget, Compoix et cadastres du Tarn (IXV -XIX ). Étude et catalogue, accompagnés d’un tableau des anciennes mesures agraires (Albi, 1992).

[4] J. Deniau, Les Nommées des habitants de Lyon en 1446 (Lyon-Paris, 1930).

[5] E. Philipon, C. Perrat, Le livre du Vaillant des habitants de Lyon en 1388 (Lyon, 1937).

[6] P. Wolff, Les « estimes » toulousaines des xive and xve siècles (Toulouse, 1956).

[7] For example: F. Bertrand, Espalion en 1403 d’après un registre d’estimes, (Mém. DES, Toulouse 1959), typescript, conclusions published in Rouergues et confins, Actes des xxiie et xive Congrès de la FHLMR et de la Féd. des Soc. acad. et sav. Lang., Pyr., Gas., tenu à Rodez les 14 et 16 juin 1958 (Rodez, 1960), p. 215-41. G. Prat, La peste noire à Albi. Évolution de la société albigeoise de 1343 à 1357, Mém. DES, Toulouse, s.d., Conclusions published as ‘Albi et la peste noire (d’après les registres d’estimes de 1343 à 1357)’ (1952) LXIV Ann. du Midi, 11-22.

[8] D. Farcis, Étude sur le Bas-Vivarais d’après les estimes de 1464, (Thesis Éc. Nat. des Ch., 1974, typescript). R. Maury, Pamiers au début du xve siècle d’après le livre d’estimes de 1399, (Thesis, Éc. Nat. des Ch., 1975, typescript). C. Souchon, Études sur le Haut-Vivarais d’après les registres d’estimes de 1464, (Thesis, Éc. Nat. des Ch., 1970, typescript).

[9] J. Favier, Finance et fiscalité au bas Moyen Âge (Paris, 1971).

[10] A. Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle. Le livre d’estimes des consuls de Saint-Flour pour les années 1380-1385 (Paris, 1977).

[11] J.-L. Biget, J.-C. Hervé, Y. Thébert (eds), Les cadastres anciens des villes et leur traitement par l’informatique. Actes de la table ronde organisée par le Centre d’histoire urbaine de l’École normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud avec la collaboration de l’École française de Rome et du Centre national de la recherche scientifique (Saint-Cloud, 31 janv.–2 févr. 1985), (Rome, 1989).

[12] M. Zerner, Le cadastre, le pouvoir et la terre : le Comtat Venaissin pontifical au début du xve siècle (Rome, 1993).

[13] N. Coulet, ‘Les villages provençaux, le cadastre et la queste’, in J. Drendel (ed.), La société rurale et les institutions governementales au Moyen Âge, Actes du colloque de Montréal, (Montréal, 1996), p. 117-19.

[14] See for examples the work by J.-L. Labbé a glimpse of which can be found in ‘Fiscalité et espace agraire au Moyen Age : le miroir des estimes et compoix languedociens (Aude, Hérault, xive-xve siècle)’ or F.Hautefeuille, ‘Un exemple de compoix rural précoce (1451) : Mouret (Aveyron)’, in A. Rigaudière (ed.) De l’estime au cadastre, p. 501-22 and 523-52, respectively.

[15] The undertaking, supported by the CNRS, to digitize, partially transcibe and index the estimes of the Vivarais in 1464 is a fine illustration as shown by P.-Y. Laffont, ‘Les estimes de 1464 : forme et conditions d’une grande enquête fiscale en Languedoc à la fin du Moyen Âge’, in Rigaudière, De l’estime au cadastre, p. 245-61. Likewise we can refer to the master’s degree dissertations of Univerité Paul Valéry, Montpellier III supervised by J.-L. Abbé and E. Pélaquier listed in Abbé, ‘Fiscalité et espace agraire’, p. 506, fn 10.

[16] E. Pélaquier and A. Claveirole (eds), Le compoix et ses usages, Actes du collque de Nîmes des 26 et 27 nov. 1999, organisé par le lien des Chercheurs cévenols, (Montpellier, 2001). Rigaudière, De l’estime au cadastre en Europe.

[17] R. Valladier-Chante, Le Bas-Vivarais au xive siècle. Les communautés, la taille et le roi (Valence, 1988); Le Haut-Vivarais et la Bouitère au xve siècle, I-11, (Valence, 2005). F. Garnier, Un consulat et ses finances. Millau (1187-1461) (Paris, 2006. M.-C. Marandet, Les campagnes du Lauragais à la fin du Moyen Age (1380-début xvie siècle) (Toulouse, 2006).

[18] B. Chevalier, ‘Fiscalité municipale et fiscalité d’État en France du xive à la fin du xve siècle. Deux systèmes liés et concurrents’, in J.-P. Genet and M. Le Mené (eds), Genèse de l’État moderne. Prélèvement et redistribution, Actes du Colloque de Fontevraud, 1984 (Paris, 1987), p. 137-41.

[19] On this point see especially J.R. Srayer and C.H. Taylor, Studies in Early French Taxation (Cambridge Mass., 1939). J.H. Henneman, Royal Taxation in Fourteenth Century France. The Development of War Financing (1322-1356) (Princeton, 1971). A. Rigaudière, ‘L’essor de la fiscalité royale du règne de Philippe le Bel (1285-1314) à celui de Philippe VI (1328-1350)’ in Europa en los umbrales de las crisis (1250-1350), Semana de Estudios Medievales de Estella, (Pamplona, 1995), p. 323-91.

[20] J. Glénisson and C. Higounet, ‘Remarques sur les comptes et sur l’administration financière des villes françaises entre Loire et Pyrénées (xive-xvie siècles)’ in Finances et comptabilité urbaines du xiiie au xvie siècle, Colloque international de Blankenbergue, 1962 (Brussels, 1964), p. 31-74. P. Contamine, ‘Les fortifications en France au Moyen Âge : aspects économiques et financiers’ (1978) Rev. Hist., 23-47. A. Rigaudière, ‘Le financement des fortifications urbaines en France du milieu du xive siècle à la fin du xve siècle’ (1984) Rev. Hist., 19-95.

[21] For example, J.-P. Leguay, Un réseau urbain au Moyen Age. Les villes du duché de Bretagne aux xive et xve siècles (Paris, 19981). A. Rigaudière, Saint-Flour ville d’Auvergne au bas Moyen Âge. Histoire d’étude administrative et financière (Paris, 1982) and most recently Garnier, Un consultat et ses finances, op. cit.

[22] Wolff, Les « estimes », asserts p. 26 that Toulouse had registers of estimes from about 1264 onwards and notes p. 31 that in 1270 the capitouls ordered a general revision of estimes that could be five or six years old. He also observes that this process was certainly put into practice earlier by Alphonse de Poitiers, Count of Toulouse from 1249 to 1271.

[23] This is the only known example and it seems it was never repeated. F. Lot, ‘L’état des paroisses et des feux en 1328’, in B.E.C. (1929), p. 51-107 and 256-315.

[24] The great enquiry for the whole of the Vivarais in 1464 was quite exceptional and does not seem to have had any equivalent. See Laffont, ‘Les estimes en 1464’, who gives a full bibliography on the question, p. 245-61. Charles VII is attributed with intending to have a general review conducted in 1426 of all evaluations by which all subsidies would be based ‘par nombre de bellugues et chiefs d’hostel’ and ‘en fonction des facultés et chevanches’. In fact, the operation completed in 1428, covered at best the movable fortune and unbuilt property. On this point see A. Spont, ‘La taille en Languedoc de 1450 à 1515’ (1890) Ann. du Midi, 376 ff. Likewise it seems that Louis XI at one point contemplated having a land register drawn up for the entire kingdom: G. Dupont-Ferrier, Études sur les institutions finacières de la France à la fin du Moyen Age, I, Les élections et leur personnel (Paris, 1930), p. 10-11 and J.-F. Lassalmonie, La bôite à l’enchanteur. Politique financière de Louis XI (Paris, 2000), p. 146-7 and 474-5. This failed attempt was timidly taken up again by Charles VIII after the états de Tours of 1484, Spont, ‘La taille en Languedoc’, 380 and Dom Devic and Dom Vaissete, Histoire générale de Languedoc (republished Privat / C. Tchou, XI, 2004) p. 144-5.

[25] A. Gouron, ‘Autour de Placentin à Montpellier : maître Gui et Pierre de Cardona’ in A. Gouron (ed.), La science du droit dans le Midi de la France (London, 1984) (Variorum), III and ‘Comment dater la venue de Placentin à Montpellier’ in A. Gouron (ed.) Droit et coutume en France aux xiie et xiiie siècles (London, 1993) (Variorum), IV.

[26] From 1158 a proportional tax juxta modum possessionum unuscuisquecujusque pecunia was levied in the tiny community of Cailar (Gard, arr. Nîmes), A. Gouron, ‘L’« invention » de l’impôt proportionnel au Moyen Âge’, in (1994) CRAIBL, 247.

[27] A. Gouron, ‘De l’impôt communal à l’impôt royal. Le cas de Montpellier’, in Menjot et al. (eds), L’impôt dans les villes de l’Occident méditerranéen, p. 292. Article 94 may have been drafted or inspired by Guy Francesc, advisor to the bishop and to the last Guilhems or a causidici called to advise the consuls and disciples of Placentin, such as Jean de Lattes or the Lucien brothers, Gouron, ‘L’« invention »’, 258.

[28] P. Dognon, Les institutions politiques et administratives des pays de Languedoc du xiiie siècle aux guerres de religion (Toulouse-Paris, 1895), p. 294. This article 94 of the Montpellier custom seems to have become rapidly known of and enforced throughout Languedoc. Thus in 1237, bishop Durant, lord of Albi, decided in agreement with the prud’hommes and the inhabitants that any tax of 1000 s. de raimondins or more could only be levied per sol et per livra a la costuma e al for de Toloza o de Monpestlier, J.-L. Biget, ‘Les compoix d’Albi (xive-xve siècles)’, in Biget et al. (eds), Les cadastres anciens, p. 103, cross references n 44 to A. C. Albi CC 51; see also D. Neirinck and H. de Tarde, ‘A la costuma et al for de Toloza e de Montpetllier, in Rec. des Mém. et Trav. Publiés par la Soc. d’hist. du droit et des inst. des anc. Pays de droit écrit (1980), p. 53-63.

[29] On all these points see J. Favier, De l’or et des épices. Naissance de l’homme d’affaires au Moyen Age (Paris, 1987), especially p. 17-67. J. Combes, ‘Les foires en Languedoc au Moyen Age’, in Annales ESC (1958), p. 231-59.

[30] M. Turull Rubinat and J. Morello Baget, ‘Structure et typologie des « estimes-manifests » en Catalogne (xive-xve siècle)’ in Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre, p. 383-436. This meticulous summary show the far-reaching similarities between the Catalan system and the techniques used on the other side of the Pyrenees, even if the earliest outstanding livre d’estimes for Catalonia, that of Cervera, dates only from 1340 (p. 391, n. 29), which does not mean there might not have been earlier ones.

[31] See Abbé, ‘Fiscalité et espace’, p. 506-12 for estimes and compoix of the Aude and Hérault.

[32] The issue is now a familiar one: Dognon, Les institutions politiques, p. 57-94; P. Wolff, ‘France du Nord, France du Midi. Les luttes sociales dans les villes du Midi français. xiiie-xve siècles’ (1947) Annales ESC, 443-54. M. Mollat and P.Wolff, Ongles bleus, Jacques et Ciompi. Les révolutions populaires en Europe aux xive et xve siècles (Paris, 1970).

[33] For a keen analysis of this situation of crisis in Languedoc against a background of the pressure of taxation and contestation by the common people, see Challet, Mundare et auferre malas erbas. La révolte des Tuchins en Languedoc (1381-1384), Thesis (University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2002), p. 222-70 (Le cycle des révoltes urbaines en Languedoc).

[34] As related by J. Mascaro in ‘Lo libre de memorias’, (published by C. Barbier) in (1895) IV Revue des langues romanes, 25.

[35] See Challet, ‘Compoix et tensions sociales. L’exemple de Pont-Saint-Esprit (1390)’, in Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre, p. 290.

[36] See Challet, ‘Compoix et tensions sociales’, p. 290.

[37] Challet, ‘Compoix et tensions sociales’, p. 292-3.

[38] For all these indications, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. XI, art. 2, no 1, fol. 39 vo (comptes de 1376-1378), no 2, fol. 19 vo (comptes de 1378-1379) and no 3, fol. 12 vo (comptes de 1380-1381). For more on this episodes, the circumstances of the drafting of the ledger and the problems with dating it, see A. Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle. Le livre d’estimes des consuls de Saint-Flour pour les années 1380-1385 (Paris, 1977), p. 15-19.

[39] This document has comparatively recently been characterized on the top part of its cover as ‘compoix ou estime générale des maisons, terres, propriétes et autres domaines ruraux sis et situés dans le terroir et tabillabe de la ville du Puy’, A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21.

[40] E. Delcambre, Une institution municipale languedocienne. Le consulat du Puy-en-Velay des origines à 1610, (Le Puy-en-Velay 1993), p. 168 ff. A. Rigaudière, ‘L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix du Puy-en-Velay de 1408’, in La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Age (Occident mediterranéen), 2, Les systèmes, p. 306-7.

[41] For a detailed study of the circumstances in which these decisions were made and a precise analysis of their contents, see Zerner, Le cadastre, p. 15-61.

[42] F. Garnier, ‘La rédaction des compoix en Rouergue au Moyen Âge’, in Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre, p. 267, gives cross references to A.D. Aveyron, 2E212, CC1 and CC5 for Rodez and A.M. Millau, CC 4I for Millau.

[43] M.C. Marandet, ‘Les registres d’estimes du Lauragais ( e sicèle)’, in Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre, p. 464, cites many other examples in particular that of Fendeill in 1428 where he consults designated the estimators (elegiron lors stimadors) in agreement (ham cossentiment) with 17 people designated by name.

[44] Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 30.

[45] Laffont, ‘Les estimes’, p. 246. This was the case at Espalion in 1435. The members of the commission were named under the authority of the lord of Calmont.

[46] Garnier, ‘La rédaction des compoix’, p. 267.

[47] In Lyon for example the making up of the papers of the ‘vaillant’ of 1376 was entrusted to just four appraisers. And they were only six to revise it in 1423 and again just six to conduct the huge operation of the ‘nommées’ in 1446, Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 12-14.

[48] This tendency was found everywhere. For example in Rouergue where ‘persons selected to take part in drawing up the estimes and compoix often had good experience of financial matters because of their occupation, of their involvement in the mangament of the city monies or even an earlier estimation commission. Accordingly the appraisers of Rodez were characterized in 1449 as ‘hommes savants’ and those of Saint-Félix in 1437 as ‘in talibus expertis’, Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 268-9.

[49] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 21.

[50] On all these points many examples are given by Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 25-7; J. Rossiaud, ‘Problèmes fiscaux urbain à la fin du Moyen Âge’ (1964) XIV Cahiers d’histoire, p. 11 and R. Fédou, Les hommes de loi lyonnais à la fin du Moyen Âge. Étude sur les origines de la classe de robe (Paris, 1964), p. 244.

[51] Garnier, ‘La rédaction des compoix’, p. 268.

[52] Laffont, ‘Les estimes’, p. 246.

[53] A.M. Toulouse, CC3, fol. 83 ro. The appraiser in office in 1390 juraran que be et lialment stimaron totz los mobles he no mobles de cascun. An oath of the same kind was sworn by the appraisers of the community of Fandeille en Lauragais in 1466; ‘prometan e juran que be e lialmen stimaran e faran tam per lo paubre que per lo ric’, Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 465.

[54] Wolff, Les « estimes », p. 42. This provision was in a consular order of 1459 reorganizing the appraisement procedures.

[55] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 242-4, publishes the rule for the drawing up of the compoix of 1398 (A.M. Béziers, CC 95) of which he gives a detailed study elsewhere: ‘Règlement pour faire le nouveaux compoix de Béziers en 1398’, in Bulletin de la Soc. arch. sc. et litt. de Béziers, Neuvième série, VIII, 2003-2004, p. 23-9.

[56] Garnier, ‘La rédaction des compoix’, p. 269 gives all the references to support these assertions.

[57] On these points see Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 30 and Rossiaud, ‘Problèmes’, p. 7 who reports that in 1446 the appraisers swore ‘de bien et loyalement procéder à la reffections desdits papiers’.

[58] A.M. Toulouse, CC3, fol. 83 ro.

[59] Rossiaud, ‘Problèmes’, pr 246. In Millau too this will to represent all of the districts was asserted, especially from the 1450s. Under pressure from the common people, the consular aristocracy had to include in the commission two representatives from each of the eight districts and delegates from the various localities of the fiscal ‘strait’, Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 268.

[60] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 465 provides some very precise statistics on this showing that in almost all situations the value of the estates of the consuls and appraisers was very largely above that of the average of the inhabitants as a whole.

[61] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 21-22.

[62] Rossiaud, ‘Problèmes’, p. 10 reports, giving precis figures, in the appraisements of 1376 and 1388, the appraisers always declared very large fortunes. The same was true for 1446, Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 26.

[63] F. Hautefeuille, ‘Un exemple de compoix rural précoce (1451) : Mouret (Aveyron)’ in Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre, p. 527-8 notes that the early drafting of the register in the community of Mouret (1451) was probably partly due to there being many Rodez merchants among the property owners there.

[64] A.M Castres, BB 2, fol. 7 vo et 8 ro. Ordonnance consulaire de 1383.

[65] A. Higounet-Nadal, ‘Règlement pour l’estimation de la taille à Casteljaloux en 1386’, in Actes des XIV et XIV Congrès d’études régionales de la Fédération historique du Sud-Ouest et de la Fédération des Sociétés académiques et savantes Languedo-Pyrénées-Gascogne, in (1959) Bulletin de la Société arch., litt. et scient. du Gers, 237-43.

[66] A.M. de Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 ro-84 vo. Règlement de 1380.

[67] D. Neirinck, Études des documents relatifs à l’impôt direct à Albi (1326-1350), Thesis Éc. Nat. des Ch., 2 vol. typewritten, 1969, vol. 2 p. 416-17 : Instructions pour les experts de la rédaction du livre du meuble, vers 1390.

[68] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 242-4, règlement pour la confection du compoix de 1398 (A.M. Béziers, CC 95) and ‘Règlement pour faire le nouveau compoix’, p. 23-9.

[69] N. Coulet, ‘Le cadastre de Digne de 1408 et le problème de la ‘réduction’’, in Biget et al. (eds), Les cadastres anciens, p. 83-100.

[70] Zerner, Le cadastre, p. 605-6, publishes the letter of commission sent in 1414 to the judges of the three judicatures of the Comtat and that served as the regulation for drawing up the land registry (A.M. de Vaucluse, C 78 and C 100).

[71] This was the method used at Saint-Flour, for example, for the 1380 livre d’estime. Taxpayers were systematically grouped by district and by street. The same applied for the tallage rolls, Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, passim. The same happened at Le Puy, Rigaudière, ‘L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix du Puy-en-Velay de 1408’, in La fiscaité des villes au Moyen Âge, 2, p. 307 and in Montpellier, A.-C. Marin, ‘Les premiers compoix montpelliérains (1380-1450). Leur rôle dans la fiscailité municipale’, in Bulletin historique de la ville de Monpellier, 13, 1990-1999, p. 6. The Lauragais communities also very broadly adopted this method, where the examples of Fandeille and Castelnaudary are particularly significant. In Castelnaudary ‘the appraiser did his work street by street and one could even note how he moved around them, from the fronts of the houses’, Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 468. The rules was not a general one, however, as attested by Narbonne, where it is not known whether the appraisers ‘worked over the entire city, whether they shared out the districts, whether they were ascribed certain blocks of houses or whether they had jurisdiction over particular categories of inhabitants’, Larguier, ‘Génèse, structure et évolution de la fiscalité à Narbonne’, in La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge, 2, p. 132.

[72] Higounet-Nadal, ‘Le règlement’, p. 242.

[73] Neirinck, Étude, p. 426.

[74] Hautefeuille, ‘Un exemple’, p. 528.

[75] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. 1, art. 2, no 2, passim.

[76] By way of example, estimation of the property of the parish of Vernon, A.D. Ardèche, C 570, fol. 22 ff.

[77] Wolff, Les « estimes », p. 27 and 42.

[78] For example, the compoix of the La Palissade district, A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, passim.

[79] Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 242.

[80] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 467.

[81] The towns of the Rouergue provide many examples of the two methods being combined. At Saint-Félix-de-Sorgues, in 1437, a sergeant summoned the inhabitants to appear to declare their possessions before the bailif and the aldermen mandated to draw up the livre d’estimes. In Rodez in 1449 the inhabitants of the city had to appear one after the other to set about the nominacion of their property. Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 271.

[82] On all of these points see Wolff, Les estimes, especially p. 29-30, 42-43 and 51 where the articles of the regulations of 1390 and 1459 are mentioned and commented upon.

[83] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 242.

[84] Coulet, Le cadastre, p. 88.

[85] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 271, cross-reference to A.M. Cité Rodez, BB1, fol. 34 ro.

[86] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 272-9, analyses these declarations in detail.

[87] Neirinck, Étude, p. 158 and 416-17.

[88] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 249.

[89] A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, folo 73.

[90] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 243.

[91] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 42.

[92] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, e.g. folo 15vo, 79 vo and 106 vo.

[93] J. Favier, Finance et fiscalité au bas Moyen Âge (Paris, 1971), p. 172.

[94] J.-L. Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette et de la perception des impôts à Albi et à Rodez au bas Moyen Âge’, in La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge, 2, p. 117-18 and J. Neyer, ‘L’impôt direct à Albi d’après les comptes de 1359 et 1360’, in La fiscalité des villes au Moyen Âge, 2, p. 46-57.

[95] Wolff, Les estimes, especially p. 30 and p. 53-5.

[96] A. Higounet-Nadal, Les comptes de la taille et les sources de l’historie démographique de Périgueux au xive siècle (Paris, 1965), especially p. 46-57.

[97] J. Favier, Les contribuables parisiens à la fin de la guerre de Cent ans. Les rôles d’impôt de 1421, 1423 et 1438 (Paris, 1970), especially p. 11 ff.

[98] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct, especially p. 34-56.

[99] See note 1. Volume 2 on fiscal systems addresses these issues more especially.

[100] For example, Zerner, Le cadastre, especially p. 245-329; F. Garnier, Un consulat, especially p. 731 ff; Marandet, Les campagnes.

[101] Pelaquier and Claveirole (eds.) Le compoix et ses usages; Rigaudière (ed.), De l’estime au cadastre.

[102] J. Combes, Traicté des tailles et autres charges et subsides tant ordinaires que extraordinaires qui se lèvent en France et des offices et estats touchant le maniement des finances de ce royaume avec leur institution et origine (Paris, 1573), p. 63.

[103] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle. They were the lord of Lastic (register, fol. 60 r , estime n 473) and the lord of Melet (register, fol 174 vo, estime no 522). All the evidence suggests there were few nobles in the city. Questioned about this when a procedural note was being drafted in the late fifteenth century, a witness stated about the nobles: ‘il n’a sceu aucun que ait demouré au dit Saint Flour’, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. 1, art. 4, no 26. At Le-Puy-en-Velay there situation is not easy to ascertain in the compoix of 1408, but it seems to have been quite similar. Judging from their titles (often uncertain), at most they reached a little more than double figures out of 1430 taxpaying units; Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 317-18.

[104] Neirinck, Étude, p. 51.

[105] Higounet-Nadal, Les comptes, p. 51.

[106] M. Gouron, ‘Estimation des biens des nobles nîmois en 1369-1370’, in Rec. des Mém. et Trav. Publiés par la Soc. d’hist. du droit et des inst. des anc. Pays de droit écrit, II, 1951, p. 29-35.

[107] Zerner, Le cadastre, p. 308.

[108] L. Cornu, ‘Qui figure aux estimes ? Le cas du Vivarais en 1464’, in Rigaudière, De l’estime au cadastre, p. 163.

[109] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 471.

[110] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 30. The officials of Arles seem to have imposed more stringent regulation on nobles in that all Arlesian lay persons including nobles had to declare all of their property without distinction; L. Stouff, ‘Les livres terriers d’Arles du xve siècle’ in Rigaudière, De l’estime au cadastre, p. 213.

[111] Combes, Traicté des tailles, p. 70-71.

[112] However, this rule was not all black or white, as attested by the example of Tarascon in 1393. The states of Provence had decided in 1391 to levy a tax to finance defence operations, which the clergy were to pay too, but refused to do so. Further to the rule being upheld by the states of Avignon in 1393, the city officials took the opportunity to list the ecclesiastics, with all their property, in the land registry in November 1393; M. Hébert, Tarascon au xive siècle. Histoire d’une communauté urbain provençale (Aix-en-Provence, 1979), p. 76.

[113] Examples abound. In Saint-Flour a lengthy dispute ran between clerics and consuls. It was only ended by a decision of the Parlement in 1379, A.M. X1a fol. 204 ro – 260 vo, 23 June 1379. Albi was a particularly interesting case. After long and repeated conflict, the canons of Sainte-Cécile cathedral concluded in 1493 an agreement with the consuls by which they were entitled only to a house located fora de carrieyras marchandas, a garden and a vineyard. This property alone was to be exempt from tallage and for the remainder of their personal property, clerics were to pay coma los autre; Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette’, p. 121-2. That study also examines the dispute in Rodez at the same time between clerics and consuls over direct taxation. For other examples, see P.-C. Timbal, La guerre de Cent ans vue à travers les registres du Parlement (Paris, 1961), especially p. 232 ff.

[114] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 37-40.

[115] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 319-20.

[116] As for example at Périgueux where the major clerics progressively moved from a privileged position to an affirmed exemption, Higounet-Nadal, Les comptes, p. 52.

[117] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 471.

[118] Stouff, ‘Les livres terriers’, p. 213.

[119] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 30.

[120] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 244.

[121] Zerner, Le cadastre, p. 79 and more generally p. 77-81 and 281-308 throughout which this issue is entirely renewed on the basis of outstanding documentation and exemplary rigour.

[122] E. Delcambre, Une institution municipale languedocienne. Le consulat du Puy-en-Velay des origines à 1610 (Le Puy-en-Velay, 1933), p. 172.

[123] Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette’, p. 122.

[124] For a detailed study of these five cases which were not all treated in the same way see Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 172.

[125] Cornu, Qui figure aux estimes, p. 172.

[126] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 320.

[127] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du XIVe sicèle, p. 40-41.

[128] Neirinck, Étude, p. 137 reports 98 female caps d’hostal listed as such in the livre d’estimes of 1357 out of 921 taxpayers. They numbered 21 out of 569 in 1450. At Le Puy-en-Velay they represented 10.7% of taxpayers listed in the compoix of 1408; Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 309. They appeared also but to a far lesser extent in the estimes of the Bas-Vivarais of 1464, where they came to just 107 out of 3069 taxpayers, or less than 3.5%, Valadier-Chante, Le Bas-Vivarais, p. 263 and 266. An identical proportion was found in the country towns of the Lauragais in the fifteenth century with less than 4%, except for Castelnaudary and Fandeille where the figure exceeded 8%; Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 475-6, with indications about the legal status of the property declared.

[129] Combes, Traicté des tailles, p. 99.

[130] Higounet-Nadal, Les comptes, writes that these women ‘took on a responsibility in place of their husbands away on military operations or on missions’. Favier, Les contribuables, notes that in the tallage role of 1421 for Paris, they seem to have had husbands who were alive but out of Paris, or lived separately from their husbands.

[131] For example, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, fol. 57 vo, estime no 198: Jona, relicta de Johan Gerart, per se coma per los bes deldit Johan, dis per son sagramen se aver...

[132] On the specific situation of women in the livres d’estimes, that of Saint-Flour in 1380, provides precise information, Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 44-9. The same is true of Le Puy-en-Velay in 1480; Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 309-13.

[133] Examples can be found in the livre d’estimes of Saint-Flour in 1380, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, no 2, fol. 3 vo, estime no 8, Hereters de Matheu Aimerit. Thomas Aymerit, curador dels hereters and fol. 150 ro, estime 443, Hereter de Flori Sauvry. P. Celhos coma tutors.

[134] A.M Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, for example, fol. 58 ro (lo fait que fo de Bouci en Seguret) and 9 ro (lo fait que fo de maystre Bartholmeu Mayner).

[135] L. Bouyssou, ‘La condition juridique du foyer rural en Haute-Auvergne au xve siècle’, in R.H.D.F.E., 1942, p. 52-66 and above all L. Bouyssou, ‘Étude sur la vie rurale en Haute-Auvergne. La région d’Aurillac au xve siècle’ in Rev. de la Haute-Auvergne, XXX, 1939-45, p. 101-54, 223-233, 271-89, 336-49 and XXXI, 1945-46, p. 47-63 and 74-86.

[136] A.-M. Landes-Mallet, La famille en Rouergue au Moyen Âge. Étude de la pratique notariale (Rouen, 1985).

[137] R. Aubenas, ‘Le contrat d’affarairamentum dans le droit provençal au Moyen Âge’, in R.H.D.F.E., 1933, p. 478-524. J. Hilaire, Le régime des biens entre époux dans la région de Montpellier du début du xiiie siècle à la fin du xve siècle (Paris, 1957).

[138] C. Klapisch and M. Demonet, ‘”A uno pane e uno vino“. La famille rurale toscane au début du xve siècle’, in Annales ESC, 1972, p. 873-901.

[139] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 91 vo: Johan Grant et Peyre Grant son frayre chapelers.

[140] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 18 ro: Johan Rabani et Laurens son filh alias Jimonet and fol. 18 ro: Johan de la Barra et Peyre son filh.

[141] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, no 2, fol. 58 vo estime no 201: Durant Bonafos, per se et per sa maire, dis per son sagramen... and A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 128 vo: Pons Beneyt et dona Catherina de Chasals sa mayre.

[142] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, fol. 177 ro, estime no 532: Las filhas de Chapus. Li mayres respont, dis pers son sagramen...

[143] Bouyssou, La condition juridique, p. 60 and A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, for example fol. 302 vo: la compania de Jacme Long, sen Johan Muret et Guigo David.

[144] Listing the names seems to have been the rule. Even so, at Albi for example, just one of the members of the association was considered the cap d’hostal and appeared in the tallage registers; Neirinck, Étude, p. 277-8.

[145] This was the classical definition of the non-resident. But the term might sometimes mean something different and designate inhabitants living outside the walls or in the surrounding villages that made up the parocha forana, who often had to pay taxes in the town for the service it could provide, especially for defence. Thus for example A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. XI, art. 2 no 40, fol. 2 ro, tallage account for 1428 which lists the taxpayers for the nearby villages.

[146] D. 50.4.2.3, Is qui agrum in alia civitate habet, in ea civitate profitari debet in qua ager est.

[147] For all the conflicts and trials arising from this rule see Wolff, Les estimes, p. 28-37.

[148] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 473-5, studies this issue in detail and provides some interesting clarifications.

[149] Cornu, Qui figure dans les estimes, p. 164, studies several localities and gives precise statistics.

[150] The rule was far from a general one. The Lauragais registers, for example, seem never to have mentioned them, Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 47-471.

[151] This limit of ten livres was long used by royal administrators tasked with ruling on applications from communities in reparation for hearths. It was set, in all likelihood, by a royal regulation of 13 April 1363, and seems to have prevailed for decades in all fiscal policy with respect to the direct tax base. In 1367, for example, it was the basis for the revision of hearths at Le Puy-en-Velay, Delcambre, Une institution municipale, p. 117-30 of the p.j. that partly published the text of the revision and specified that the 1363 regulation was appended (A.M. JJ99, 13) that it did not publish. On the question of the limit and the meaning of decem libras in bonis et facultatibus, Col. Borelli de Serre, Recherche sur divers services publics du xiiie au xviiie siècle (Paris 1909), III, p. 393 ff and p. 417. This limit must be understood as both capital and income. Although used at Albi in the fourteenth century it was reduced in the next century to six livres, Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette’, p. 117. A similar change was seen at Toulouse, where it was set at 10 livres in the 1330s and lowered to six by the 1391 regulation (art. 23), Wolff, Les estimes, p. 27 and 30.

[152] These two categories of taxpayers are clearly shown in the livres d’estimes for 1380 at the end of the estime of each district, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, no 2, passim.

[153] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2. At the end of the estime for each district, the following wording regularly appeared almost identically: Aisi apres si conten et sensegon li nom de las gens et personas habitans, de la dita chareira que a lor sagramen au respos lor non aver nengun ben moble ni heretatges et per so devon respondre tant solament per lo capatge se non que fossont gens ben guasanhans (fol. 40 ro, end of the assessment for the Muret district).

[154] Wolff, Les estimes, passim.

[155] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I art. 2, livre d’estimes of 1380, passim.

[156] Laffont, ‘Les estimes de 1364, p. 260. Declaration of Jean del Ichalier (A.D. Ardèche, C 616 fol. 11 vo).

[157] For example in the compoix of Le Puy-en-Velay of 1408, A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 24: Maistre Beraut Rochat, un hostal en la traversa appelat Badafol, or again fol. 23 vo: Raymont Pencheant, un hostal en la charreyra Orba. For other taxpayers the location was on the contrary far less precise, so and so lived in a hostal davant lo cossolat (fol. 199 ro) and someone else une maison sobre laygua (fol. 438 vo).

[158] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 404 ro. In Millau the indications petit hostal, hostalet and hostalet ben petit were commonplace, F. Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 277.

[159] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21. Pierre Beu declared a hostal nov (fol. 402 vo) as did Jean Pomier (fol. 425 ro).

[160] Thus the widow of the notary Jean Mercier declared she had a small work room two canes long by two canes wide, F. Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 276 (A.M. Millau CC 243 II, liasse de Palière).

[161] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21: J. Chambonne lived in un hostal sobeyra (fol. 232 vo) and G. Chadeu, un hostal au sol (fol. 174 vo).

[162] At Le Puy-en-Velay the indications un hostal et un hort are commonplace; Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 324.

[163] Laffont, Les estimes de 1364, p. 260, Declaration de Jean del Ichalier (A.D. Ardèche, C 616, fol. 11 vo), and p. 248.

[164] Stouff, ‘Les livres terriers’, p. 214.

[165] Examples abound in the compoix of Le Puy-en-Velay, A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 194 ro, 241 vo, 246 ro (un hostal am lo fort); 131 ro and 23 vo (colombier); fol. 170 ro (un hostal davant lo cossolat en que fey treulh) and fol.

223 vo (un hostal et un treulh).

[166] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 119 ro and 24 vo.

[167] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, passim.

[168] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, passim.

[169] Neirinck, Étude, p. 192-3.

[170] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 277.

[171] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 60-2.

[172] There were exceptions, though. In the Lauragais, for example, the estimes of the town and communities did not include shops, workshops or cellars. These items seem not to have been separated from l’ostal, which was accordingly more heavily taxed. At Castelnaudary, nonetheless, the taulas (stalls) were mentioned; Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 480.

[173] Larguier, ‘Du compoix/estime’, p. 242. So es assaber que en la designation metra premieramen hostals et apres possessions que aura enfra la viela et terratori de Bezes...

[174] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 60-2.

[175] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, compoix of 1408, passim and Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, passim.

[176] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estime de 1380, passim and Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du XIVe sicèle, passim.

[177] Abbé, Fiscalité et espace agraire, passim.

[178] On this fundamental issue see P. Portet, ‘Recherches sur la notion de précision dans la mesure médiévale, in Rigaudière, De l’estime au cadastre, p. 151-60, and above all P. Portet, Bertrand Boysset arpenteur arlésien de la fin du Moyen Âge (vers 1355/1358-vers 1416) et ses traités techniques d’arpentage et de bornage. Étude, édition du texte provençal d’après le manuscrit Carpentras, bibl. mun. no 327 et commentaire de La siensa de destrar et de La siensa d’atermenar, Thesis, Toulouse II Le Mirail, 1995).

[179] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 66-71 details the make-up of this rural property.

[180] On the composition of the rural land tax base at Saint-Flour in the 1380s see Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 60-63.

[181] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, compoix de 1408, fol. 217 vo.

[182] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, compoix de 1408, fol. 125 vo.

[183] On all these characteristics, see for example A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, compoix de 1408, fol. 52 ro, 130 vo, 132 ro, 133 ro, 165 vo, 173 vo, 225 vo, 359 ro, 380 vo and 451 ro.

[184] For a detailed examination of all these factors that made up the rural tax base at Le Puy-en-Velay, see Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt dans le compoix, especially p. 327-30.

[185] Laffont, ‘Les estimes de 1464’, p. 248-9.

[186] For a detailed analysis see Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 480-1.

[187] A. Rigaudière, ‘Connaissance, composition et estimation du moble à travers quelques livres d’estimes du Midi français (xive-xve siècle)’ in Biget, Hervé and Thébert (eds.), Les cadastres anciens, p. 41-81.

[188] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2. This expression is used in all the declarations that mention chattels.

[189] For example, A.D. Ardèche, C 570, estmation of the property of the parish of Vernon, fol. 22 vo; C 580, parish of Joyeuse, fol. 33 ro. This expression is very common and appears in many declarations.

[190] Li livres de Jositce et de Plet (Paris, Rapetti, 1850), Liv. XII, tit. XXVIII, p. 268.

[191] This is evidenced by the loose sheets inside the livre d’estimes de Saint-Flour of 1380, especially for the estimes of Jean Cruvelier and Jean Estival, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, fol. 107 ro and 243 ro.

[192] This was the case at Saint-Flour for the estimes mentioned in the note above. Similar indications are frequent in the estimes of the Vivarais. A.D. Ardèche, parish of Saint-Jean de Malbos, estime of Antoine Nathalis whose bona mobilia included items of this type. See also fol. 5 vo, the estime of Jean Rontort.

[193] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 vo.

[194] In Albi many inventories after death list jewels, silver boxes and valuable tableware that made up a large proportion of the chattels, Neirinck, Étude des documents, p. 160.

[195] For a list of significant examples see Rigaudière, Connaissance, p. 57, n. 64.

[196] Li livres de Jostice et de Plet considered them clearly as movable property, Liv. XII, tit. XXVIII, p. 268 whereas J. Bouteiller, La somme rural ou le grand coustumier général de practique civil et canon (Lyon, 1621), tit. LXXIV, p. 734 made a subtle distinction between a wine press and everything that belonged to it that was fastened to the ground was immovable whereas if it was off the ground it was movable, such as the barrels and vats.

[197] A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, compoix de Saint Jacques de la Palissade, fol. 47 vo and 48 ro.

[198] A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, compoix de Saint Jacques de la Palissade, fol. 21 ro.

[199] A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, compoix de Sainte Croix, fol. 28 vo, 80 vo, 95 vo and 114 ro.

[200] A. Castaldo, Seigneurs, villes et pouvoir royal en Languedoc: le consulat médiéval d’Agde (xiiie-xive siècles) (Paris, 1974), p. 248 ff.

[201] A.M. Montpellier, B 241, compoix de Sainte-Croix, fol. 18 vo, 56 vo, 52 ro and 119 vo.

[202] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livres d’estimes de 1380: fol. 100 ro, Jean Bélughe saw sos libres avaluat a moble; fol. 146 vo, the chattels of G. Teysseidre were assessed comptant sos libres.

[203] Castaldo, Seigneurs, p. 260.

[204] A.M. Castres, BB 2, fol. 8 ro.

[205] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 ro.

[206] Higounet-Nadal, ‘Règlement pour l’estimation’, p. 242-3.

[207] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, fol. 80 ro.

[208] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 vo.

[209] Castaldo, Seigneurs, p. 254.

[210] A.M. Lyon, CC 3, Nommée de 1446, fol. 311 ro.

[211] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 vo.

[212] C. Portal, Histoire de la ville de Cordes (1222-1799), 2nd edn. (1965), p. 604 (Assiette et répartition des deniers royaux vers 1475).

[213] Souchon, Étude sur le Haut-Vivarais, p. 77.

[214] The regulations for assessments for Castres, Casteljaloux and Toulouse regularly refer to these products. The same goes for the assessments of Montpellier, A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, compoix de Sainte Croix, passim.

[215] It is recalled, for example, that this was vin per vendre. It could be red, rosé or white, vielh, amar, sotil, mudat, agre ou girat. For all of these characterizations, see A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, compoix de Sainte Croix, fol. 24 vo, 28 vo, 51, 54 vo, 58 vo, 114 and 119.

[216] For example, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 24 ro and A.M. Montpellier, B 241, compoix de Sainte-Croix, fol. 38 vo and 80; BB 240, compoix de Saint-Jacques de la Palissade, fol. 19.

[217] A.M. Montpellier, BB 240, fol. 19, 20 and 46; B 241, fol. 30, 80 and 83.

[218] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, fol. 73.

[219] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 107 ro.

[220] In listing them logically in the category of chattels, they merely followed the dominant practice as expressed unambiguously by Bouteiller, La Somme rural, tit. LXXIV, p. 39: ‘Item or ou argent monnayé est meuble’.

[221] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, compoix de Sainte-Croix, fol. 6 ro, 28 ro, 32 ro.

[222] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, compoix de Saint-Mathieu, fol. 29.

[223] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 vo.

[224] A.M. Montpellier. Many indications, for example, BB 240, compoix de Saint-Jacques de la Palissade, fol. 57 vo; BB 241, compoix de Sainte Croix, fol. 1 vo and 3 ro.

[225] A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, fol. 55.

[226] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 180 ro.

[227] Higounet-Nadal, ‘Règlement pour l’estimation’, p. 243, art. 15 of the regulation of 1386. The practice must have been very similar at Saint-Flour at the same time. The livres d’estimes of 1380 often mentions recent payment made to certain taxpayers. They were then included immediately in the tax base, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, fol. 17 vo (estime de Jacme Marty) and fol. 64 vo (estime de Jean Targhanayra).

[228] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 vo, règlement de 1391.

[229] For more on this issue see Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt à la fin du xive siècle, p. 62-4.

[230] On these matters see P. Petot, Questions relatives aux biens dans l’ancien droit français (Paris, 1954-1955) (DES lectures), p. 14-21 and P. Ourliac and J. de Malafosse, Histoire du droit privé. Les biens (1961), p. 395-9.

[231] Li livres de jostice et de Plet, Liv. XVI, ch. XXVIII, § 673, p. 34. The author comments on this issue in depth. On this see Rigaudière, Connaissance, p. 65-6 and n. 112.

[232] Bouteiller, La somme rural, tit. LXXIV, p. 738.

[233] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380. In fol. 107 ro and 243 ro are listed, exceptionally and on loose sheets, the chattels of Jean Cruvelier and Jean Estival which speak of horses, goats and other animals.

[234] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 84 ro, règlement de 1391.

[235] A.M. Castres, BB 2, fol. 7 vo and 8 ro, gives a long list ranging from poultry to oxen and including horses, asses, sheep and pigs.

[236] A.-M. Bled, ‘Le consulat de Lautrec de 1447 à 1477. Démographie et fortunes’, in Castres et pays tarnais. Actes du XXVIe Congrès d’études régionales organisé à Castres les 5-7 juin 1971 and Revue du Tarn (1972), p. 68, 76 and 81-2. In some parishes animals made up almost all the moble that sometimes amounted to 17% of the taxpayers’ total wealth.

[237] Marandet, ‘Les registres’, p. 482.

[238] Stouff, ‘Les livres terriers’, p. 214.

[239] For example, A.D. Ardèche, C 570, paroisse de Rocles, fol. 9 ro, 14 vo, 15 ro, 21 vo and 59 ro; paroisse de Vernon, fol. 22 vo and C 580, paroisse de Joyeuse, fol. 33 ro.

[240] Laffont, ‘Les estimes de 1464’, p. 260, gives an excerpt from this assessment in the appendix.

[241] To avoid such practices, the regulation laid down by the capitouls of Toulouse in 1391 provided that any property that was not declared would be assessed under their supervision by two ‘good people’ of the district that they designated, assisted by two other ‘good people’ of a neighbouring district. If anything had been concealed, the capitouls would investigate and confiscate the property involved in the fraud, the proceeds of which would be assigned to works of fortification, see Wolff, Les estimes, p. 31.

[242] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 53-86; Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 69-90.

[243] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 277.

[244] Zerner, Le cadastre, p. 63 ff and p.j., p. 605-6: Lettre de commission ordonnant l’estimation générale des biens (1414).

[245] This concern is especially well put in the regulation laid down by the consuls of Cordes around 1475 (art. 23), see Portal, Histoire, p. 606.

[246] For examples of the importance of these criteria at Le Puy-en-Velay, see Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans les compoix, p. 327-30.

[247] Most of the contributions to the conference De l’estime au cadastre, help to measure this diversity from specific examples. The same is true of all studies made so far of livres d’estimes and land registers and that have often been cited in the foregoing notes.

[248] Portal, Histoire, p. 605, règlement de 1475, articles 12 and 13.

[249] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, passim.

[250] Portal, Histoire, p. 605, règlement de 1475, artc. 15. Rates are set for all dues paid in wheat, barley, oats, walnuts, poultry, rabbits and wine.

[251] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, passim. This difference was common practice in rent law where the rate of capitalization of settled rents was always higher than for rentes à bail d’héritage. In Paris, these rates were 8.3-10% and 6.25% respectively. On all these points see B. Schnapper, Les rentes au xvie siècles. Histoire d’un instrument de crédit (Paris, 1957), p. 50.

[252] R. Fédou, Les hommes de loi lyonnais à la fin du Moyen Age (Paris, 1964), p. 219, also specifies that the rate was cut to 6.66% in 1446.

[253] P. Wolff, Commerces et marchands de Toulouse (vers 1350-vers 1450) (Paris, 1954), p. 458.

[254] A.M. Toulouse, CC 3, fol. 83 ro and 84 vo.

[255] Zerner, Le cadastre, p.j. p. 606: Lettre de commission ordonnant l’estimation générale des biens (1414).

[256] A.M. Castres, BB 2, fol. 8 ro.

[257] In 1386, the officials of Casteljaloux adopted a very similar scale of charges: ten francs for an ox, six for a cow, five sous for ewes and goats, ten for pigs and sows of more than one year old. Horses, lambs and piglets were not assessed if less than one year old. Horses and mares were taxed on the basis of declarations made on oath by taxpayers, see Higounet-Nadal, ‘Règlement’, p. 243, art. 16 of the 1386 regulation.

[258] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, passim.

[259] Larguier, La fiscalité à Narbonne, p. 139-44.

[260] D. Neirinck, Étude, p. 37.

[261] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 29, 33, 37-40.

[262] R. Maury, Pamiers au début du xve siècle d’après le livre d’estimes de 1399 (1979) 2 vols., typescript, p. 161.

[263] Portal, Histoire, p. 606, Règlement de 1475, art. 19, se es que le reden bayla et jura que no ha que quaranta lieuvras en moble, los dits ausidors devon debatre de aquela soma XX l. per la mitat et en ayssi ne respondra seno que per XX l.

[264] Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette’, p. 115.

[265] In a dispute between the town and Y. Tenchurier, we learn that the consular administration deffalcat la seysena partida coma feron a totz autras, A.M. Montpellier, BB 241, compoix de Sainte Croix, fol. 107 vo.

[266] A.M. Castres, BB 2, fol. 8 ro. Ordonnance de 1383.

[267] Examples abound in A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380. See especially the assessment of Jean Belina (fol. 60 v0) and the heir of Pierre Granolha, fol. 102 vo.

[268] Portal, Histoire, p. 605, Règlement de 1475, art. 15.

[269] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, passim, attests that the rule was an absolute one. There was just one exception. The houses of non-residents were taxed 100%. It was then always specified, in such cases, quar es fores.

[270] Portal, Histoire, p. 604, Règlement de 1475, art. 9: de la dita somma deuran rebatre per sa habitatiou la tersa part.

[271] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 33.

[272] Portal, Histoire, p. 605, Règlement de 1475, art. 10.

[273] Coulet, Le cadastre, p. 89-90 notes that allowances of the kind were common in lower eastern Provence. In 1471 they were 50% for personal and real property at La Ciotat and Martigues, then a third at Marigane, a quarter at La Cadière and a fifth at Graveson. The ‘reduction’ of Digne in 1408 was, as the author clearly explains, a far more intricate matter, p. 86 ff.

[274] Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 350.

[275] On all these points see A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, passim and Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct à la fin du xive siècle, p. 92-3.

[276] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 33.

[277] Portal, Histoire, p. 606, Règlement de 1475, art. 23.

[278] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 42 ro, estime no 129.

[279] A similar example can be given for the garden of Géraud Crosilh: estimat a 4 l., dona 6 d. de ces a Anthoni Vaicera, de que son desdut 8 s., respont per 1 l. 12 s. The dues were capitalized here too at 6.25%. A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 37 ro.

[280] For example, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 74 vo, estime de Robet Dobax: for a field at Montagut, estimat a 3 l., dona un carto de segel de ces a mossenhor de que es desdut 1 l., respont per 10 s.

[281] For a detailed examination, Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 351-6.

[282] Deniau, Les Nommées, passim.

[283] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 58.

[284] Portal, Histoire, p. 605-10, Règlement de 1475, passim.

[285] Biget, ‘Formes et techniques de l’assiette’, p. 115.

[286] Indications of the kind abound in the livre d’estimes of 1380, A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, passim.

[287] Deniau, Les Nommées, p. 43 and 59.

[288] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 57-9.

[289] Souchon, Étude sur la répartition, p. 165.

[290] Farcis, Étude sur le Bas-Vivarais, p. 93.

[291] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 274-5.

[292] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, passim and Rigaudière, L’assiette de l’impôt direct dans le compoix, p. 358.

[293] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 60 ro and 336 ro.

[294] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 31 vo, estime no 103.

[295] Garnier, La rédaction des compoix, p. 275.

[296] A.M Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 11 ro, estime no 118. For other examples of the same type, fol. 75 ro, estime no 247 (Guillaume Dobax), fol. 55 vo, estime no 194 (Pierre Mercier).

[297] A.M. Le Puy-en-Velay, CC 21, fol. 144 vo and 122 vo.

[298] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 83 ro, estime 270; D Gurassalt obtained a deduction on his moble per so que avia gusatat per la seboltura et malautia de sa molher.

[299] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 100 vo, estime no 330 and fol. 146 vo, estime no 433: J. Blaela and G. Teissedire claimed for expenses incurred for their mothers’ funerals.

[300] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 174 vo, estime no 543, G. Rigual obtained a deduction per perdoa de 2 bestias. This system of deduction for losses was also found in Toulouse, Wolff, Les estimes, p. 56.

[301] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 179 vo, estime no 543.

[302] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 103 ro, estime no 336.

[303] Wolff, Les estimes, p. 30.

[304] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 10 ro, estime no 33: D Gandilhon had 10 l deducted from his computation further to the payment of a debt. Fol. 113 vo, estime no 348: A. Fabre obtained an allowance of 60 fr on his moble for liquidation of a claim.

[305] A.M. Saint-Flour, ch. X, tit. I, art. 2, livre d’estimes de 1380, fol. 181 ro, estime no 549.

 

Issue: 
2012