Southold has always been a serf-based agrarian economy; but the last century has seen great increases in mining, shipbuilding, craftsmanship, and international commerce. Indeed, Southold has the makings of an economic powerhouse. This combined with the military tradition of Southold's feudal system made Southold the rising Great Power in Arik. It has even borne the strains of years of war with the Cortals well.
The foodstuff grown on the fertile plains of Southold are mainly the grains; wheat and corn primarily, with some barley and oats. Indeed, Anorien (which is essentially one big wheatfield) produces enough wheat alone to feed the entire nation. The orchards of the Creswell Fields provide numerous fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, and the like. The South Sea, Lake Amsorak, and the numerous rivers and lakes also provide for a thriving fishing industry. The forests produce timber, utilized at the major ports for ship construction, an relatively new industry whose profits increase with every year. Mining has also played an important role in the rise of Southold as an economic power; gold and iron from the Veronian mines are usually found in high-purity ores, while copper, silver, granite, and even some minor gemstones are mined in the Marston Peaks, Cruth Mountains, and Wyrmsteeth Range. There are also the numerous luxury items that Southold's relative affluence have produced; Bywater beer, Tavistockian pipe-weed, Balar wine, Bylot parchment, Alcestert rum, and several others. Indeed, with the export of these and many other products, Southold is even beginning to challenge the Minoan traders for control of commerce.
Much of the increased productivity of the last century has been attributed to changing social mores, and magic. The freeman class is no longer simply tolerated by the nobility, it is now essential to Southold's stability and continued growth. The rise of the freemen has led to the rise of the cities, which are the centers for the increased commerce. For centuries, trade in Southold was generally kept within the borders, between nearby nobles, along with a few luxury items, spices, precious metals, etc. imported at great expense from out of the country. However, the general abandonment of the need for self-sufficiency has led to greatly increased imports, as the web of trade connects many cultures.
Magic, which the superstitious Southolders held in fear and contempt for centuries after the Cataclysm, has nearly become an accepted part of life in the last two hundred years. True, mages are looked upon with suspicion and awe, but no longer are they persecuted. Mages have harnessed their Art to help the country in many ways, including several primitive industries (a prime example is the making of Bylot parchment, where mages are kept on staff to cast a specially researched spell that removes all acidity from the parchment.) Druids have helped maintain the fertility of the fields and conserve the timber in the forests. Mages have likewise greatly strengthened the defenses of Southold's cites, and augmented its attacking ability.
Common imports include spices, silks, jewelry, and other exotic items from the many Huler caravans that pass through Southold. These caravans are very important to both countries, for in the Hulers, Southold has a market to sell its vast stores of food, and it in turn purchases the superior craftsmanship and luxuries of that ancient land. Grain is also sold to Minos, most of whose land is rather poor for growing, and Tara. Gold and works of art go mainly to the distant Green Isles and Tara. The many ships built by Southold join the merchant fleet or are sold to foreign merchants. Of course, trade flourishes with the elves and dwarves on Southold's northern border, but the natives of this country have little of interest to trade with the demi-humans in return. The second greatest exporter to Southold is, after Hule, Minos, whose merchant ships ply the trade routes of the South Sea and beyond. Minoan wine and art is greatly appreciated, as are her fine weapons. Though of late, prices of steel weapons have risen dramatically, an unpopular Minoan move to profit from the civil strife.
Of course, the discovery of the continent of Aztaltica in 1512 has sent shock waves through the economy. On one hand, trade has flourished, particularly in Dunthrane where most of the goods are unloaded, and Bywater which serves as a major distribution center for the rest of Arik, as foreign merchants flock in to buy and sell these exotic wares. Luxury goods of particular note have been the cacahuhel drink (popular among the nobility), dried chilis (an acquired taste for the Southron palate, but indulged by rich merchants), indigo (by far better than the weak purple Arik dyes), tobacco (superior even to halfling pipeweed), native art in jade, gold, and featherweaving, as well as some drugs like Devilweed (strength enhacer, but nasty side effects), Baccaran (hallucinogen), Redflower leaves (aids concentration), and some very rare desert dwarf fungi and exotic poisons such as Devilseye, Sasson Juice, and Lifebane. In the other direction, good shipped south include weapons, armor, and raw steel, as well as livestock—horses, cattle, pigs, and sheep, all of which are new to Aztaltica—wagons, tools, and various odds and ends that cannot be found in the Aztaltica.
But the biggest impact has been the millions of nobles worth of gold flowing back from New Southold. Inflation in two years has doubled most prices. The rises have been crippling for many—the dwarves of Rockhome are furious with the Southrons over it. Gems have kept their value though, as there isn’t a huge amount coming out of Aztaltica. Naturally, barter has reestablished its preeminent position in the economies of Arik due to the disruption.
Coinage in Southold has been around since the founding of the country in 1066. The coins are primarily made of silver and bronze with some gold and platinum ones as well. The coins are dated and engraved with the face of the current reigning King on one side and the Cross of Southold on the other. These are all cast at one of six mints, in the capital city of each province (the province crest is stamped on each coin beneath the Cross of Southold). These mints are well guarded, as are the plates used in the coins' molding.
Since 1407, when Southold was in dire financial straits after the Cortalish Occupation and coin shaving was common, King Canute introduced a feature Huler coins had for millennia, demarcations to expose shaving. There are four major coins; the first is the Penny, a bronze coin of little value. Next is the most common Southolder coin, the Noble, which is worth 20 pennies. The gold coin of Southold, the Sovereign, is rather large (as gold coins go) and is equal to 10 nobles. The platinum piece, the Crown, is extremely rare (probably since there is only one platinum mine in all of Southold, near the Shrine of Nevron) and worth 5 sovereigns. Nobles are the day to day currency of the freemen, with the more affluent, especially merchants, using the sovereign. The crown is of such value that only the rich and nobility use it. Few serfs have even seen such a valuable coin. Of course, despite the advanced coinage
system, the dominance of feudalism ensures that much of commerce is conducted by barter.
Indeed, speaking alternative methods, there is a curious, some say archaic way of writing I.O.U.'s in Southold. These are known as "blood-notes", as they must be signed in blood by both parties and then taken to the local Lord for the affixing of the Royal seal. This is not the only type of "paper money," for bills of exchange have been on the rise for the last few centuries.
Bills of Exchange are pieces parchment ordering the said amount (rarely over 1,000 gold sovereigns) to be paid to the possessor of the bill. The nobles rarely apply their seal to a bill of exchange, for they must pay whoever "cashes it"; an exception is the King, whose treasury is large enough to cover these. It is the large moneylending firms that guarantee these bills, and it is their seals being affixed to them. In order to trade a given amount of coin into a bill of exchange, the coin is given to the moneylender (who charges an average of 10% fee) and the bill is given back. This is a great boon for merchants, who can make large transactions without carrying lots of coin. However, anyone can claim the bill, and theft of a single piece of parchment is much easier than that of a huge hoard.
Finally, there is some use of trade bars, invariably cast in silver or electrum. These trade bars are ingots of the particular metal in denominations of 100, 250, or 500 silver nobles. Their weight and the trail mark of the particular merchant or company that cast them is engraved on the bottom.
The feudal tax system in Southold is not as harsh as that of the nearby Cortalish Empire, but it is strict nonetheless. The burden on serfs isn't that bad, but rich freemen, adventurers, outlanders and nobles are taxed highly. The Lord High Chamberlain, Rolf Geraldor is officially in charge of all tax collecting, which is done by the Royal Exchequer's Office. This department sends Agents of the Exchequer to all major settlements to collect the taxes. Unlike many other parts of Southolder government, Southold's tax collectors sometimes get a bit overzealous, taking in more money than required and keeping the difference. This corruption is rarer in royal collectors, but is rather common in the local collectors in money-starved baronies. Whether overzealous or not, the Southolder tax system is quite effective. The following are Southold's taxes.
This section details the taxes which are collected whenever they are applicable.
Though there is no "consumption" or "sales" tax in Southold, there is a luxury tax on certain expensive items. Rare furs, jewels, or ornamental crests are considered to be luxuries. They are charged a penny for every noble spent (5%). Only merchants with Trade Licenses can charge this, and charge it they must. At the end of each month, the merchants must deposit the taxes along with a record of purchases, with the Exchequer's Office.
All wealth and property inherited by a person is subject to a tax of one noble per sovereign (10%). This is a one-time tax only, though the same property may be taxed again if it is passed on to a new beneficiary.
This toll is paid at most bridges; it is usually 1 penny per person for freemen, 2 for a wagon. Serfs and nobles are not charged.
This is a fee paid by freemen to avoid military service in the fryd (militia). If a general call-to-arms has been issued, and all able-bodied men are being conscripted, the fee is doubled. The scutage is as follows; 2 sovereigns (conveniently out of reach of most Southolders) for normal freemen. Professional adventurers must pay 5 sovereigns per level to avoid military service, double that if spell casters. Note that women and nobles are not subject to conscription and hence, immune to this tax. Paying the scutage makes the person exempt from military service for a year.
This type of tax is collected once per month. Southold only has one such tax.
Every town and city has a monthly market day (usually the first of the month) when all the local citizens come from far and near to see the wares being sold and to hawk their own. Serfs, in particular, value this day as they can sell any surpluses they have accumulated. The fee is but one penny.
The King’s Fifth
All treasure, wealth, or goods of any kind flowing out of the new land of Aztaltica (minus only personal possessions and items, and those goods documented by a scribe as originally having been brought into Aztaltica from Arik) is subject to a 20% tax due to the Southold Crown, evasion of which is considered Treason. In fact, Viceroy Cordell was wrongly relieved of his post by Baron Warwick in 1513 because of concerns over just this crime. The tax is generally administered at Port Nuada, which is fairly effective as this is the only current deep water port for Arikers and magical transport is blocked by the Hellstorm. Nonetheless, evasion has been known to occur, facilitated by various magicks.
These taxes are only collected once a year, during a given season. Often tax collectors are busy preparing weeks, if not months, in advance.
Hearth Tax - Spring
Every dwelling, whether serf's hovel or duke's castle is assessed a Hearth Tax. They were recently increased by decree of the King to fund the War with the Cortals. This amount varies according to means.
Type of Structure Tax
Simple dwelling 5 pennies
Large dwelling 10 nobles
Inn 5 pennies per room
Manor 2 sovereigns
Castle 20 sovereigns
Land Tax - Summer
This is a big income source for the king, and shows why land is such a valuable commodity in the feudal system. Every acre is assessed a function and the legal owner of that acreage is assessed a rated tax. In general, the more useful or developed the land is, the more heavily it is taxed.
Land Type Tax/acre
Barren 1/2 penny
Pond or Lake 1 penny
Uncultivated 1 penny
Woodland 1 penny
Cultivated 2 pennies
Town 1 noble
Fortified 2 nobles
Nobility Tax - Fall
Each family that wishes to display a coat-of-arms within Southold must pay 5 sovereigns per year for the King's graciousness. This is one reason why the King likes creating new nobles whenever he can; it adds to the Kingdom's income.
Poll Tax - Winter
Every head in the realm is taxed according to the following scale. This tax was introduced during the reign of King Harold to fund the upkeep of a regular army.
Child 1 penny
Marketable beast 1 penny
Adult 2 pennies
Riding Horse 1 noble
All magic items (that are identified as such) are taxed 5% on their sale. This can only be done legally once a year, and a receipt is given. As most tax collectors lack the means to identify such magicks, this tax is the most flaunted. Yet, due to the rarity of magic items, not much revenue is lost.
Every weapon in Southold is taxed. This is a means of making a little extra money as well as keeping track of the relative power of arms around the realm. People in trouble spots buy up weapons at an alarming rate and a good tax collector knows how to see the signs of a rebellion. The tax is merely one noble per weapon longer than a dagger, paid at purchase.
It is necessary for the king to keep informed about the growth of commerce and industry, if he is to retain his monopolies.
Introduced in the reign of the fiery and short-lived Edmund Ironsides, this fee must be paid by all adventuring companies. The fee is as follows, 2 nobles per person per level (double for spell casters) totaled to obtain the fee. This charter must be renewed at the beginning of each year. Additionally, adventurers must pay 5% of their earnings to the Crown. This is often charged at the gates or docks of a city, and mistakes about what was recently earned and what was previously owned are common. Many adventurers, especially those that travel or lose their tax receipts, find their earnings taxed over and over. Thus many adventuring companies either operate secretly or smuggle their earnings into cities.
Begging has always been a fine way to make a living, and the Crown has long realized this. All beggars must purchase a begging license or get thrown in jail. The license costs 1 penny and must be renewed every season.
Any manufacturer of goods must have a license. It costs a sovereign a year, but does not include fair competition or Guild dues.
Anyone wanting to open a school of any kind must pay one sovereign to the King per year. Or, for a one time fee of 100 sovereigns, the school can purchase a King's License, which lasts indefinitely.
Much like the previously mentioned Manufacturer's License, tradesmen who
create perishable commodities must also have a license to do so, as must all hawkers of wares. The fee is one sovereign.
These fees must be paid by guild members to the Crown. The tax is 5% of all profits yearly. In return, the Crown sanctions the guilds' monopolies. This brings the Treasury much money, and does not significantly detract from the profitability of being a guild member.
Legal Fees and Duties
Unlike most countries, there is no cost to bring a suit before the courts, as they are run by the priesthood of Tyr. However, the loser of the case must pay the King an extra 10% of the money awarded. On the other hand, the winner of the suit must pay any suitable taxes on his award, as it is considered taxable income.
These taxes relate directly to doing business in feudal Southold.
All goods imported into the kingdom are assessed an average tax rate of one penny per 100 pounds of cargo.
Every ship is charged one noble per day for a berth in the public harbor. Private anchorages cost much more.
Every shipment of goods brought into the country must have a license. Normal goods cost about one sovereign to register, while valuable commodities like spices and wines often cost twice that amount.
"Coming and Going" Tax
Naturally, any ship or caravan leaving the country is charged 1 noble per vehicle.
Moneylenders are taxed about 5% of their profits every year.
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