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It is difficult to record the history of the land taxes of England known as the geld or Danegeld because they were either not levied regularly or, at least, such events are not recorded. We have to rely on such records of these levies as are recorded for posterity and these records show them to be sporadic.

What is certain, however, is that the amounts of revenue raised by these taxes were huge. The first mention of such a tax appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 991AD when a tribute of �10,000 was paid to the Danes.

The sums raised increased quite dramatically over the years for in 994AD it amounted to �16,000, then �24,000 in 1002 and �30,000 in 1007. Kent alone paid �3,000 in 1009 and �21,000 was raised in 1014.

1018 saw Cnut or Canute crowned King of England and, in addition to the �11,000 paid by London, the new monarch raised �72,000. Under the Danish kings, the geld seems to have been levied occassionally as a source of revenue to finance wars. Twenty-two years later, Canute's son Harthacnut raised �21,099 and, on addition, �11,048 to pay for thirty-two ships.

It is thought that Edward the Confessor levied such a land tax more than once but he abolished it in the eighth or ninth year of his reign.

One of the first acts of the Conqueror on being crowned King was to order a "geld exceeding stiff" on his new English subjects and, in the following year, he again set "a mickle geld". Indeed, the new King of England must have been very well-pleased with the huge amounts raised, not only by himslef, but also within living memory by his predecessors.

The document known as The Exon Domesday which pertains to the counties of Cornwall, Devonshire and parts of Dorset and Wiltshire, provides us with accounts of a great geld of seventy-two pence (six shillings) payable on each hide which William I levied in the winter of 1083-4.

For all the revenues raised by the gelds, WIlliam I probably saught to re-arrange or scrap alltogether the old assessments and re-assess the realm for land tax; over the decades, many land-owners had gained exemption from the gelds and whilst in many cases, the assessment was far overvalued, it is equally to that in many others it was woefully inadequate. Perhaps with this in mind, the in the winter of 1085, the monarch ordered the compilation of a survey of the realm which was recorded in the The Domesday Book. Despite this, it is doubtful whether either William I or his successors succeeded in reforming the system.

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1136Stephen repeals the forest laws, provides for immediate elections of bishops and abolishes the Danegeld

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