Death and Taxes

 Richard the Lion Heart is angry with his knights.
“We need more money for the Crusade.  What we have will barely cover our duty-free and get us on the ferry!”

“But Sire, we’ve taxed the population of France, England and Ireland into the ground.  To get more would be like getting blood from a small rock,” said Knight Otto of Poitou.

“Did you just make that saying up?”
“Yes, Sire.”
“It needs some work if it’s going to stand the test of time.”

Richard paces up and down, desperately trying to think of a way to fund his war.
“I’ve got it!”
“Yes, Sire?”
“We will start a Lottery!  The Chinese did it to help build their Great Wall and the Romans did it to finance repairs to their cities.”
“A lottery, sire?”
“All the citizens put one Mark into the lottery, we have a draw to choose a winner and they get a prize.  The rest of the money goes to the Crusade fund.”

“Isn’t that just another way of taxing everybody?”
“Yes, but the greedy idiots will be so desperate for the chance to crawl out of the slime of their daily existence that they’ll cough up the cash without thinking!”

And so Richard’s plan was put into place and tickets for the Lottery were sold throughout the Angevin Empire.  A complicated Lottery machine was fashioned out of oak and ash by the finest carpenter in the land.  On the day of the Great Draw, King Richard stood before the machine and turned a handle to produce numbered balls that gave the winning ticket number.

“The winning combination of numbers is 1, 2, 6, 13, 38 and 43,” announced Duke Ferdinand of Rouen.
A ripple of disappointment ran around the crowd, out of the door and across the Empire.
Only one man was pleased; Eric of Ely, a man suspected in the past of murder, rape and blasphemy had got his hands on the golden ticket and would now be set up for life.

“This is so unfair, Sire.  The money could not have gone to a worse person!  The population will see the immorality of the scheme and rebel and riot.”
“No, Ferdinand, you are wrong.  The punters will soon forget and be queuing up for more tickets.”
“You are right King Richard.  They are easily led, like sheep.  Especially the English, is there nothing those fools will not put up with, Sire?”

“Just don’t tell them I’m French,” said the Coeur de Lion, climbing onto his chevaux.


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