Of Waves and Dragons
Other Sources of Income
Simply living off the taxes on the commoners can be a slow a fickle way to raise ones status in life. Bad weather, poor management, bandits, raiders and wars can all cripple you lands and you lively hood. Instead of sitting around and hoping for a good growing season to make you wealth Knights have a few other options.
Many Knights who go on dangerous quests return weigh down with treasures from ancient kingdoms, secrets hordes or across the seas. While every adventure doesn’t end in riches there is always the possibility that the next one could make you a wealthly and prosperous knight. Of course there is always the potential to never come home at all, no guts no glory.
Fighting in a successful campaign will often bring you a pile of riches. As you sack the lands you conquer each new battle bring the potential for even more wealth. However fighting in a losing campaign can be disastrous as your enemies will sack you lands.
A little short on funds? Why not have a go at another lord riches? Raids can be a quick way to bolster your coffers by attack another Knights lands. You should be careful not to piss off the wrong people as the backlash can be disastrous.
This is perhaps the foulest way of all to get more riches. Knights that are in desperate need of a some libra can barrow it from the merchant class. All nobles look down on this practice and barrowing money will lose you points of honor. Only the truly desperate will go this route.
Another method of taxation, called tallage, can be invoked any time a lord needs to raise extra money. The purpose might be anything to raise an army, whether to invade an enemy or to defend the realm; to build ships; to finance a tournament; to build a town; or to outfit an expedition. The lord calls together those knights and lords who hold land rights from him and the leading citizens of his towns (those commoners who control the mercantile wealth) and, either in one group or separately, pleads his case to them. The vassals and citizenry discuss the situation, and return their verdicts to the lord.
Results of the request can vary widely. The court might agree to make the payments and, if inspired (perhaps by the threat of an oncoming army), might even volunteer more money or additional labor. They might pay part of the request simply because they like or respect their lord. They might pay half, but only if the lord makes some sort of con- cessions in return. They might not pay anything because they don’t like him, or because they too are impecunious, or because they disagree with the intent. Many factors affect their decision.
An impost is yet another kind of tax imposed upon the commoners. It can be used to describe a legitimate fine, perhaps imposed for violating the lord’s law, or it may be entirely arbitrary (as was all too common historically).
Imposts are simply declared and then collected from the commoners with whatever force is necessary. The only cost is the undying hatred of the people who supply the lord’s daily bread.
Service at Court
Noblemen holding high offices get income for holding down an extra job or two, for such key offices are lucrative. These include the offices of seneschal, marshal, tax collector, sheriff, and so on. However these jobs are often tedious for Knights as they usually require the Knight to spend most of his time attending to the needs of the court.
Some tournaments can be expensive for losers, who forfeit horses and equipment and might even be captured for ransom. Some noblemen make a profession of conquer- ing their opponents at tournaments just for the money.
One abhorrent method of raising money is through the selling of titles. This method is generally limited to kings, who have many lands and titles to sell. (These are usually vacant through the lack of a heir and have thus reverted to the crown.)
At other times, an unscrupulous king might even in- vent new titles to sell. These usually go only to established nobles who have the means to purchase them and thus in- crease their rank. However, a king may also sell knightly titles to rich merchants.
War leaves many widows, and lords without sons may have only marriageable daughters for heirs. A marriage can earn a wise knight a great deal of money through a gener- ous dowry, as well as lands and titles.
Randsom is probably the best way to make money.
Also Knights can call upon the Four Universal Aids to help bolster their coffers in times of need.