In the year 1207

Henry III was born in Winchester on this day, 1 October. Says the Dunstable annalist, “In the year 1207 a legitimate son was born to John king of England, and was called Henry. In the same year the king was given a thirteenth throughout England.” That last is an understatement, because it marked the first time a national tax on movables was collected, yielding nearly £60,000. Having lost Normandy, and the revenue it brought in, John needed to raise a lot of money to win it back. He didn’t, and the prospect of more taxation, along with other harassment, led the barons to revolt, to Magna Carta, to John’s untimely death and his nine-year-old son Henry succeeding him in 1216. The legacy of that tax and Magna Carta forced Henry to have to summon large assemblies of barons and clergy to get similar money. These assemblies are known today as Parliament, and ain’t we lucky for them.

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