Bolt of Lightning

Counting costs

In the smashed throne room the new king stood next to the Lord Treasurer who was supporting himself with his back to the table. The new king was holding another partisan and was listening attentivly.

"The treasury is in very good shape. We finished this years tax collections last month, so we aren't obliged to use the new coinage, perhaps until late summer. Of course, most of the new coinage will come right back, and there is nothing to prevent that." The treasurer spoke easily, enjoying the fact he had an attentive audience for once. "Of course, that supposes you can get a new Sabor Naroda to approve the customary duties. Until the new Sabor Naroda approves them, we can't collect them"

"I am king, I can collect what taxes I want."

"The late king used to say that a great deal, which explains why we are now referring to him as the former king, rather than his highness. The next problem we have there is the Sabor Naroda is called to the capital by order of the Grand Chancellor, whose head is on a partisan next to his king. The Grand Chancellor is appointed by the Sabor Naroda."

"He didn't bother with that nicety either" The king responded to the treasurer's look with "Point taken."

The treasure continued. "What works in our favor is until the next Sabor Naroda, all goods arrive in the kingdom duty free. The Lord Mayors of the nine key cities have the right to call for a Sabor Naroda if all nine agree. In three, maybe for months maximum all nine will be desperate to call the new Sabor. The guilds that elect the Lord Mayors survive on their monopolies, and being four months without that monopoly power will make them interested and amenable. You will have to invite them here. The late king knew of this authority and regarded any correspondence between the Lord Mayors as treasonous. But they can call for the Sabor Naroda without the approval of the King or the Grand Chancellor. If you recognize that authority, you will have to submit to it later when you might not like it."

"We will have to deal with that problem sometime, but if we manage things well, it should be less of a problem. It must have been 7 years since the last Sabor Naroda. I don't ever remember seeing one. Who will be there? And what the heck do they do?"

"The late king only allowed the one. The city representatives and the bishops made too many demands, and so sent them home and tried to ignore it. There will be four representatives from the capital, three each from the other eight key cities and 2 each from each of the 20 free cities. Then each of the twenty four counties will send several, depending on how many qualified voters are in each county. They get to send one member for each 90 voters. In order to qualify a landlord has to have a rent roll of 30 gold talents. I believe the largest county delegation last time was five, but rents have increased, so there might be some counties that will have as many as seven next time. There will also be the twelve bishops, the six Dukes, the thirty barons and the forty viscounts. The Assembly grants majesty to the king and confirms the Grand Chancellor in office. In addition they are the highest court of appeal and they must approve all patents of nobility and knighthoods. They are supposed to confirm the authority of the nobles as well, but since it has been abeyance for twenty seven years the nobility has just muddled on. They pass all taxes, and historically they have used that authority to write laws. The taxes exist as long as the laws exist. In addition they must confirm all laws promulgated by the sovereign since the last assembly"

"In theory, we don't have any authority until the Sabor Naroda grants it to us, no power to collect taxes"

"You have your army, but you see how well that worked for the last guy. Also the status of the nobility needs to be regularized as well. Their majestesus as nobles needs confirmation. There have been roiling peasant revolts over the matter for years. When the Sabor Naroda meets, you get your position confirmed, the nobles get their patents confirmed, and then we get the customary taxes. I don't believe we will need the special taxes the late king felt he had to impose over the years."

"Why not? I am going to have to maintain a bigger army. I am going to need extra taxes to support it."

At this moment, the lieutenant returned. "We have found the Queen, the countess Lyubovonochka, the princess Melliska, the king's son Rurik, the kings daughter Erika, the king's daughter Helnika, the king's daughter Tamarinka. They have all been beheaded and the heads are on pikes at the top of the great tower. The King's daughter Nadia, the king's daughter Kimeaka, and the Prince Sophon have not been found."

The new king marched toward the lieutenant in a rage. "What do you mean Sophon has not been found! He is the one child who most definitely must be dead!"

The lieutenant stood his ground with a nervous gulp. "All of the servants tried to flee. We caught several. They are still alive if you wish to question them. Some of the servants believe they saw the Kings's daughter Nadia and Prince Sophon in the servants hallways, but they did not see them come down. They also believe that Princess Nadia was carrying and infant, who is probably the King's daughter Kimeaka. "

The king overmastered his passion. "They are probably still in the palace somewhere. They must not escape. I don't know how many little nooks and crannies there are in this rockpile, but you must turn over every single pebble till you find them, and they must not escape. I will not have my kingdom threatened because somewhere there is a snot nosed brat running loose who someone wants to play regent over. They must die and they must be seen by the whole city to be dead. If their heads are not being held up on pikes on the tower, then ours will be. Gather more soldiers. Check every corner, check every servant, check every closet, every cupboard, every box, every wagon everything that can contain anything else. Nothing leaves this castle unless we have looked into it." The lieutenant saluted and marched off

The lord Treasurer had watched this with a sardonic smile. When the king turned around to him he changed his expression to one of disinterested attention. The king marched back and lay his partisan on the table. "You said we could pay for the larger army without new taxes. I am interested in your plan."

"If you will follow me sire" The Lord Treasurer left the throne room. As the king left, he stopped and told one of the guards at the door "Gather some servants and get the mess in there cleaned up. I will be using it tomorrow, and I want it spotless."

The king followed the Treasurer through several rooms. Finally they came to a large hall with several large windows and more chandeliers than usual. "This is the state dining room. And here" He moved a hidden panel and placed a key in a lock at knee level "we have the state dinner service." He opened up the two heavy metal doors which displayed shelves of gold and silver plates and racks of silverware."There are 30 gold place settings and 60 silver place settings. The gold settings weigh about 12 talents each and are of a purity of 9/10. That is substantially higher than the purity of our coin. The old standard of coinage was 7/8ths pure. The new standard is ¾ pure. Currently the army pays about five gold talents to equip a swordsman and he gets a wage of two silver talents. A long bowman costs 20 copper marks to outfit and gets a wage of ¼ silver talents per month. A partisan costs 1 gold talent to make and the man carrying it gets ¼ of a talent in silver plus 4 copper marks. A crossbowman costs 7 silver talents to outfit and gets 1 silver talent. A cavalryman gets paid two silver talents, but feeding his horse costs three more. Knights are supposed to equip themselves, and they get paid in a grant of land by the crown, but their attendants get paid 15 copper marks each. We don't pay for more than four All those wages are current coinage. But you do realize that they would be a bit more loyal if they were paid with coins to the old standard. The late king showed the folly of trying to short change your troops. I understand most of them went over to you. We have four sets of silverware. We can melt down three of them and leave the last set. I would recommend using porcelain for your state dinner service. The food stays warm and tastes better on porcelain. For some reason food goes cold immediately on gold or silver plate. I believe there is twelve silver talents per place setting and there are 60 settings for each set. That is 720 silver talents per set in weight, which can be converted into 781 silver talents in coin to the old standard, after we figure the costs of minting the coins, which runs about 1/20 the cost of the coinage. With the silver plate can be made into an additional 781 silver talents. So we can coin about 3,124 silver talents and 781 gold talents out of this cupboard. I think you could pay for your entire army for three months from here.

"You seem to have spent a lot of time working this out. How soon can we melt this down and begin coining it?"

"For the old king, we still have the dies we made for the new coinage. We can start first thing tomorrow. If you want new dies, it will take about six weeks. Depending on if the mint staff survived the attack. If they didn't, we will have to get new staff, and that will be expensive."

"What about the cups up there?"

"Oh, will you forgive an old man in his dotage. I had forgotten them. The thirty gold cups weigh six talents, but they are only a little more than ½ pure, so there is a little more than 90 talents of gold in them. The Silver cups are about ¾ pure and there are 120 of them. They are about 7 talents weight each. Maybe you can get 630 talents there."

"That is one more battalion of pikemen."

"The late king could have used them"

Several soldiers came marching into the room. The king looked at them quizzically. Their captain saluted and said "We are here to search this area for the Kings Daughter Nadia"

The king nodded. "Good work, but right now I need a new detail. Put a guard on this room so no one passes through it. Get about a dozen more more men and transfer all this to the mint under the Treasurer's supervision. Check to make sure it is secure. Put guards on it as well. Make sure everything silver in this room goes, candlesticks, snuffers... the lot. Also take the copper serving ware along the walls. Leave no copper, silver or gold in this room, take it all to the mint" The king looked toward the serving doors. Was someone moving behind the shutters?

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