The English exchequer was the central board responsible for all in comings and out goings into the royal treasury. It arrived with the Normans and was the first system of centralized revenue extraction to appear that although crude was a direct predecessor to the modern one.
The information on how the Exchequer functioned as a method of institutionalised revenue extraction is from the OeThe course of the ExchequerÃÂ¹ written by Richard son of Nigel. The text provides a one sided argument into the merits of the Exchequer as Richard himself is the treasurer. The text is written in a typically classical dialogue style with a OemasterÃÂ¹ dictating to his OescholarÃÂ¹. Richard also presents himself as a well educated and intelligent man through his grasp of Latin and his quotations from Biblical and classical texts as well as alluding to philosophy through his talk of logic.
The interesting proposition therefore is who was interested in such a complicated text and why was it produced.
The system of the Exchequer was a complex one that would have been understood by few at the time. By attempting to describe this system in a way that presents it as equitable, it could have convinced the Barons and others paying taxes of the validity and fairness of a system of which they would have had little comprehension. This would also be helped by Richards apparently good grasp of the area.
The Exchequer board was the highest office that could be obtained in the royal circle and was the most powerful and prestigious as it presided over all financial matters. It allowed records to be formed and general standards to be maintained. The ultimate power of the exchequer is aptly put in the text...ÃÂ¹where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
The Exchequer had...