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State Cash Resources and State Building in Europe 13th-18th century

Katia Béguin
Anne L. Murphy

Tax or Borrow or Borrow and Tax?

The Real Thing: the Pedidos of Portugal and the Demands for Extraordinary Revenues in the Later Middle Ages

Rodrigo da Costa Dominguez

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By the end of the 1450s, Portugal had a very serious issue to deal with: extraordinary expense and the almost constant necessity of extraordinary revenues, which resulted in great part from its military activity. This chapter reflects on Portuguese tax collection structures in the later medieval period and the dynamics of its revenues, and, based on mid-fifteenth-century documents, offers a brief comparison between extraordinary revenues and ordinary incomes, specifically during Afonso V’s reign.

Medieval monarchs regularly abused their power over their currency and Portuguese monarchs were no different. Understanding of the damage that could be done by the monarch’s arbitrary actions against the currency led to a preference for paying an extraordinary subsidy when the monarch was in dire financial straits. This led the so-called royal ‘requests’ (pedidos) or ‘loans’ (empréstimos), as they were known, to become a regular feature of Portugal’s fiscal system.

Yet the extraordinary use o...


Graduate in History from the University Center of Belo Horizonte (Brazil, 2001), Master in Medieval and Renaissance History (2006) and PhD in History (2013) both from the University of Porto (Portugal), former Research Fellow of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT-MCTES), Rodrigo da Costa Dominguez is now a CITCEM/FLUP Associate Researcher. He has recently published: ‘Echando la casa por la ventana: Alfonso V de Portugal y las demandas por crédito público a finales de la Edad Media’, Revista Signum. Associação Brasileira de Estudos Medievais, 13 (2), 2012, pp. 59–78; Mercadores e banqueiros: sociedade e economia no Portugal dos séculos XIV e XV, Brasília, Editora Hinterlândia, 2009; ‘Entre el discurso y la práctica: religión, comercio y negocios en Portugal a finales de la Edad Media’, in Juan Francisco Jiménez Alcázar, Jorge Maíz Chacón and Concepción Villanueva Morte (eds.), Actas del IV Simpósio Internacional de Jóvenes Medievalistas. Murcia, Universidad de Murcia, Ayto. Lorca-Real Acad. Alfonso X el Sabio-Fundación Cajamurcia-Lorcatur-SEEM, 2009, pp. 51–64.

© Institut de la gestion publique et du développement économique, 2017