Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A History of Honey and Its Use in Period: (Part 3 of 6): Dues and Taxes

This is the third part in a series of entries on the use of honey in pre-1600's history.

Honey was used as payment of dues and taxes. In Medieval Wales, honey was a common payment for rent. “After Muslin Arabs conquered Spain in 711 AD, a list of dues payable in Murcia includes honey, wax and slaves paid half as much as other” (Crane 1999, 490). Around the same time in Ireland, if a bee stung a man, the owner of the bee had to give him, “a man’s full meal of honey”. (Crane 1999, p490) In England, under the law of King Ine of Wessex, the annual rent for ten hides of land was ten vats of honey. One hide of land would support a free family and its dependents.

Charlemagne refers to dues paid in mead, wax, and honey in his Capitulaire de Villis. In Poland, serfs who owned hives had to pay dues. Owners of upright log hives paid in liquid honey. Those who owned horizontal log hives paid in comb honey. The Domesday Book, compiled between 1087 and 1187, has many references to dues paid in honey, but not wax. This suggests that the dues were of a pre-Christian origin, as wax was required by the Church to make candles. (Fraser 1958, 21)

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