Feudal compensation

Recently many of the century old debts got reclaimed.

The owners of a medieval castle east of my beloved Utrecht are pressing ahead with plans to make dozens of locals pay towards the upkeep of the property – using a local tax dating back at least five centuries. Several people living in the village of Kamerik have been sent final demands for the payment, known as the ‘dertiende penning’ or ‘13th penny’. The letters have been sent by the trust which runs Kamerik’s castle Renwoude, owned by a Dutch noble family. The trust plans to use the money to renovate the castle, parts of which date back to the 13th century. The tax dates back to the time when the area around Utrecht was uncultivated. People who wanted to buy land had to have permission from their feudal overseer and pay him a percentage of the purchase price. That right still exists today in several places near Utrecht although it will be abolished in 2015 after a long campaign by protestors.

The House of Plantagenet ruled England, among other lands, from 1154 through 1485. In 1499, Edward Plantagenet was beheaded in the Tower of London, bringing his line to an end. The French city of Angers, the ancesteral home of the Planganets, is still peeved over the affair. It wants compensation from the current occupant of the English throne. Specifically, it wants Queen Elizabeth II’s crown jewels: “As redress for the execution of Edward, Angers today demands that the Crown Jewels of England be transferred to Angers,” reads a petition posted on the city’s official website. Recalling 25-year-old Edward’s “unfair and horrible death” at the hands of henchmen working for Henry VII, England’s first Tudor king, the city believes it is owed an apology and 513 years’ worth of compensation. This would amount to billions in today’s currency, but Angers is prepared to accept the jewels to cover it all.

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