Peasants' Revolt - Poll Taxes of 77,79 & 81

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Poll taxes in 1377, 79 and 80
The poll taxes of 1377, 1379, and 1381 taxed householders, wives, dependants and
servants independently.
A record of parliamentary discussion in 1377 states that when, after rejecting an income tax
and a purchase tax, it was decided to
levy the flat rate of 4d. A head ('poll')
from everyone over the age of 14 who
was not a beggar.
People paid the tax because they were
concerned about the growing power of
the French. (whom King Edward wished
to raise money to attack)
Edward III passed away in June, 1377
so the throne passed to his 10 year old
son, Richard. However, his uncle, John
of Gaunt, made all of his important
decisions.
In 1378, John of Gaunt led an
expedition to France but this was
unsuccessful so therefore they
returned.
John of Gaunt then asked parliament to
impose another poll tax in 1379.
The tax was decided by parliament to
be graduated, (the richer you were,
the more tax you paid)
Only one receipt has survived from
the 1377 collection in Lincolnshire.
The money raised by the poll tax was
used to pay for another attack on
France.
However the English army was
unsuccessful and in 1379 plans were
made to attack France once again.
In 1380, it was decided that the people
of England would have to pay another
poll tax although this time the rate was
increased to 12d. (A shilling) per
head.
However; everybody had to pay the
same amount, whether rich or poor.
For many, the only way some families
could pay the tax was by selling their
possessions.

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