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ince it was one of the major trading nations, France needed to raise most of its tax revenue internally, rather than through customs tariffs. Taxes on commerce consisted of internal tariffs among the regions of France. This set up an arbitrary tax- barrier (sometimes, as in Paris, in physical form) at every regional boundary, and these barriers prevented France from developing as a unified market.

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Collections of taxes, such as the extremely unpopular salt tax, the gabelle, were contracted to rivate collectors (“tax farmers”), who, like all farmers, preoccupied themselves with making their holdings grow. So, they collected, quite legitimately, far more than required, remitted the tax to the State, and pocketed the remainder. These unwieldy systems led to arbitrary and unequal collection of France’s consumption taxes. (See also Wall of the Farmers-General, Jean Chouan, Octroi, Claude Nicolas Ledoux, and the Indian salt tax. H?¶tel de la gabelle (House of the Salt Tax) in Bernay, Eure, Upper Normandy, built in 750 by Br?©ant and Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Peasants were also required to pay a tenth of their income or produce to the church (the tithe), a land tax to the state (the taille), a 5% property tax (the vingti?©me), and a tax on the number of people in the family (capitation). Further royal and seigneurial obligations might be paid in several ways: in labor (the corv?©e), in kind, or, rarely, in coin.

Peasants were also obligated to their landlords for: rent in cash (the cens), a payment related to their amount of annual roduction (the champart), and taxes on the use of the nobles’ mills, wine-presses, and bakeries (the banalit?©s). In good times, the taxes were burdensome; in harsh times, they were devastating. After a less-than-fulsome harvest, people would starve to death during the winter. Many tax collectors and other public officials bought their positions from the king, sometimes on an annual basis, sometimes in perpetuity. Often an additional fee was paid to upgr


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