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Under The Yoke Devlog 9: Death and mostly taxes

It’s tax season! So what better time to talk about taxes in the medieval period? Taxes were as complicated back in the day as they are in the modern period, though they were levied in quite a different way.

Firstly you had the taxes that are largely similar to the taxes we have today, Heushire was essentially a tax on property but worked more as a rent charge on your cottage than modern property taxes. These would typically be in the form of a cash payment.

Farmland on the other hand was a different beast entirely, as plots of land had certain taxes associated with it. This was important as not all land was created equally, some would be in more fertile areas or easier to plough. The way you paid these taxes was equally as complicated, as some land needed to be paid for via week-work, the name for labour in lieu of cash, whereas other land would be paid for more simply via cash.


Then we get to the privileges, which are when medieval taxes start getting weird. If you’ve ever heard of people paying their taxes in eels or hides of wolves these were typically in exchange for certain rights.

You also had the one off taxes such as merchet (a marriage tax). Heriot, a type of inheritance tax which constituted the best beast or piece of clothing of a household. And an entry fee when coming into land.

Additional taxes could also be levied, especially in times of war, such as the geld or carucage, a one off tax based on a persons net worth.


Pretty complicated hey, so how are we going to model this system in Under The Yoke?

Taxes in Under The Yoke are paid shortly after the harvest, IE the time when you have access to the most capital. Taxes are levied based upon the Feudal Contract as mentioned in our previous blogpost.

In the event that a player is a Serf they will owe a certain amount of week-work which can be performed on the field, if they fail to meet their week-work obligation they will have to pay a penalty tax based on the outstanding amount of work.

Freemen on the other hand pay their taxes in cash. Save for the privileges which must be paid with their requisite goods or in cash if the player doesn’t have enough of the goods.

Cash is a loose term of course, especially in the illiquid Medieval times, a player can instead pay their taxes with a mixture of goods and cash, using a simple trade system which counts down the sum owed based on the goods handed over.

In the event that you are unable to pay your taxes however, there are some serious repercussions. These repercussions scale with each time you default on your debt, starting with a complete resetting of your lord’s respect, meaning no more amending your feudal contract.

The second time you may be put in the stocks, losing your reputation amongst your fellow villages. The third, lose your freedom if you’re a freeman, then your best beast, then your land, all the way up to lashings which can seriously effect the health of your character.

It is important then to remember not to bite off more than you can chew in your feudal contract, though you can always decrease your obligations if you’re finding tax season a little too strenuous.

That’s all for now in this blog post, sign up using the form below to receive all the oldest on Medieval history and all the latest on the development of Under The Yoke.