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Medieval History/Medieval "Tax" & "Role of a Sheriff"


Good Afternoon,

I am trying to explain what "tax" is in the medieval times as well as the "role of a sheriff" to a child with a learning disability. This child is a visual learner. Can you recommend a website with pictures? and brief descriptions in simple terms?


Hi Marla,
A sheriff's job hasn't changed that much in the last 8-900 years. The sheriff was a law enforcement officer, usually at county level, or in England they call them shires. When he wasn't enforcing the law the sheriff carried out other instructions of the king like posting public notices, or summoning men to court because the king wanted to talk to them for some reason. Unlike today, when sheriffs are elected, in Medieval England sheriffs were appointed by the king. Sheriffs were usually wealthy and powerful men, probably farther up the social ladder than sheriffs are today.

Medieval governments would tax anything they could, any activity that people had to do and so would pay the tax because skipping the activity to save the tax just was not possible. And sheriffs were responsible for collecting taxes. Taxes included things like road and bridge tolls, or the sheriff might take a percentage of the harvest to feed the army with. Licensing fees were common taxes such as a fee to get married or to receive an inheritance, usually a percentage of the inheritance. There was usually a hefty fee to start up a new business.

Images are a problem as what I found I could not verify were in the public domain.

Hope this helps,

Medieval History

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C.M. Aaron


I've been studying the early medieval period for almost 20 years. In particular, I've studied the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarian invasions/migrations, early barbarian law codes, the early medieval church, technology of the period, military campaigns and tactics, and some of the early barbarian dynasties, especially the Merovingians in Gaul (France).


Twenty years of self study. I also write historical fiction of this era.

Bachelor's degree.

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