The first recorded taxation systems were imposed by the Roman occupation . However, when the Roman empire declined, Saxon kings imposed the Danegeld tax which were levied on property and land . With time, when the English Monarchy was established after the Norman's conquest, custom duties on imported goods were imposed. In 1377, the poll tax was levied on individuals in a progressive manner where poor people paid less whilst richer people paid more
In the reign of King Charles I in the 1600s, he argued for high taxes because he claimed it was the divine right of the king . With time, the Parliament got upset with his requirement because he was demanding a progressive taxation system whereby the rich would pay more whilst the poor would pay less . Since most of the parliamentarians and nobles were going to be affected by this new arrangement, the disagreement went on and on until King Charles I was charged with treason by parliament and executed in 1647 . Eventually, this led to a period where the monarchy was suspended and replaced by Parliament and a Prime Minister.
This paper examines two critical incidents in England at the end of the medieval period and the renaissance which shaped the taxation system of Britain as we have it today. It examines the Smithfield riots and the Napoleonic wars and their influence on Britain's taxation system. The Smithfield riots are connected with the rule of Oliver Cromwell whilst the taxation regime instituted by the Napoleonic war was under the mandate of William Pitt the Younger. The background to the Smithfield Riots Oliver Cromwell took over power as the dominant leader when the monarchy was abolished briefly after the death of King Charles I8. This was as a result of the power vacuum that came with the disagreements between the King and Parliament. One of the main issues that led to the disagreement had to do with taxation. The King wanted everyone in the country to pay taxation proportionate to his income. This was one of the first cases of a progressive taxation system. However, the nobles and the leaders who had most of the wealth felt they would be affected significantly. So this and other incidents led to the execution of the King. Oliver Cromwell was a military commander who gained full charge over England's wars in 16429. Once Cromwell began the wars against the Scots and other nations mainly on the British Isles, it was necessary for the war to be given the necessary funding to ensure the victory of the English troops10. Eventually, Cromwell had to appeal to Parliament to help him to raise funds to support the war effort of the nation. In 1643, parliament imposed excise taxes on essential commodities like grain, meat and other basic necessities which ensured that the necessary funds could be raised11. This was essentially higher than the taxes proposed by King Charles I which led to his execution. The significant difference was that it was regressive in nation. In other words, the nobles and leaders of the country were not affected much because the taxes were mainly on basic goods and they needed just a little. However, the properties and land of the nobles were not significantly affected. On the other hand, the commoner bore more taxes because such persons relied heavily on grains and meant for their everyday livelihood. In other words, a significant amount of their revenue was spent on basic necessities like food and