Friday, December 09, 2016

A tax I hadn't heard of...

Beachcomber has a short post about a 19th century rumour, at least amongst the poor in one area, it seems, that Queen Victoria was about to order all children under 5 to be put to death, due to "scarcity of provisions."   He writes:
Scarcity of provisions was a factor even in the 19C in England: and Ireland was, in 1847, about to begin the most brutal experience in its history because of a lack of food. But where on earth would the rumour come from that Queen Victoria was going to get all King Herod on her subjects? Leaving aside the fact that 19C Britain would not have tolerated this and that Parliament not the Queen would have made this kind of a decision, the rumour is reminiscent, in a way, of some medieval gossip that give the state or the ‘crown’ exaggerated powers and interests in the private life of the peasantry. The classic example is the longstanding conviction among the French and some German peasants that the royal authorities wanted to tax sexual relations between men and women, including between husband and wife. This conviction and piffling ‘proofs’ led to periodic continental riots and rebellions.

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