I’m kicking myself for boxing up my Medieval, Tudor, Stuart and Reformation history books last night, because they would’ve been a better resource than what the internet provides.
In the UK, official statistics suggest around £77bn is passed on in inheritance each year (tax avoidance means the real amount could be even higher). That’s money that no living being has a moral claim to, according to standard justifications of wealth inequality and private property. Were that money redistributed by the state, it would cover the cost of adult social care several times over. It could plug gaps in NHS, education and police funding. It could provide the kind of comprehensive welfare state that meant nobody had to worry about their family after they passed away – because there would always be a safety net.
Why not fund the welfare state with a 100% inheritance tax?, Abi Wilkinson, The Guardian, 24 July 2017.
One of the ancient feudal revenue sources for the English Crown involved wardship over the orphaned children of rich landowners. On the death of their parents, the orphaned children of the marriage would become wards of the Crown and their revenues would support the royal family. As well, upon coming of age, the orphans would have to pay to receive their land back.
The crown’s claim to feudal incidents developed out of the Norman system of land tenure whereby the tenant held land of the monarch in return for military service. In theory the tenant’s interest in his property was little more than a life interest, the land reverting to the crown on death; the monarch assuming a certain interested responsibility for the heir. Gradually the obligation to perform military service for land evolved into an obligation to pay to inherit. By the twelfth century, the tenant’s heir could inherit by paying a relief to the crown (livery), while the king’s prerogative rights to the custody and marriage of minor heirs, as well as to the profits of their lands, were being sold to interested parties (wardship).
Since this was essentially taxation without any Parliamentary oversight, the Crown hardly needed to convene or rely on the Members. Yadda yadda yadda, Oliver Cromwell.