Taxed beyond Endurance

In reading Sir Thomas More’s History of Richard III recently, Dalrymple discovered a passage on taxation that still resonates today:

For who was there of you all that would reckon himself lord of his own goods, among so many snares and traps as were set therefor, among so much pillaging and plundering, among so many taxes and tallages, of which there was never end and often time no need, or if any were, it rather grew of riot and unreasonable waste than any necessary or honourable charge?

So that there was daily plundered from good men and honourable, great substance of goods, to be lavished among unthrifts so extravagantly that Fifteenths sufficed not, nor any usual names of known taxes; but under the easy name of “benevolences and goodwill,” the commissioners of every man so much took, as no man with his good will would have given. As though the name of benevolence had signified that every man should pay, not what himself of his good will was pleased to grant, but what the King of his good will was pleased to take. Who never asked little, but every thing was raised above the measure: amercements turned into fines, fines into ransoms, small trespass to misprision, misprision into treason.

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