Chapter 36: The Lord of Treasury’s Appeal
According to the gossip of the maids, the two archdukes had no choice but to adjust their itinerary despite their busy schedules after the sudden selfishness of the Emperor.
… Look who’s speaking! They were both on board with this from the start. They can entertain the Emperor and make a good impression while he was in their fief, and do whatever they pleased in the capital while he was away. There was no way those two wouldn’t take advantage of such a good deal.
I, on the other hand… met with bitter opposition from a certain aristocrat.
“Please reconsider Your Majesty! The Empire’s treasury is already empty. We can’t afford for you to tour the nation!!”
Count Geoffroi de Newnbal. This man is a neutral aristocrat with the position of Lord of Treasury. According to Count Palantine Vedett, he was the ‘Empire’s last defence’.
He has managed to keep the Empire afloat amidst the financial crisis that has persisted since the time of the previous emperors and can even be called the most loyal subject of the Empire. Well, it’s better to be criticised in this way, so I’ll continue my act.
“It’s your duty to do something about it.”
“I have already done all that I can!”
Yup, you’ve done a great job. I know your scalp is sad because of all that hard work, that you suffer from constant stomach aches and that you always have dark circles under your eyes because you don’t sleep well… but I can’t do anything about that right now.
There are currently three problems with the Empire’s finances: the nation’s inability to ‘mint money’, ‘severe inflation’ and continuous ‘budget deficits’. It wouldn’t be surprising to say that the Empire has reached its limits.
The ‘minting money’ problem originated with Emperor Edward III’s reign. His follies are too numerous to mention, but I believe his name would have gone down in history even if he just ‘sold the rights to mint’. It was the first time in history that someone did something so foolish. I didn’t study economics in my previous life, so I know very little about it… but I still can’t believe he did that.
The previous Emperor, Edward IV, tried to issue coins during his reign, but gave up… due to the obstruction of the two archdukes. Most importantly, the deathblow was that they not only took the minting facilities, but also the personnel. Minting is kept under strict surveillance in every nation to prevent counterfeits, and their production methods are also top secret. So, only the people who worked in these facilities knew how to make it. Apparently, there was no time to train people from scratch.
It might have worked out if only money couldn’t be issued. Barter is still an excellent means of payment between the commoners, and it is also possible to collect tax by having people pay grains to the government and using that as ‘wages’ for the soldiers… Though it would be horribly inefficient and would severely reduce the tax collected.
The problem was that the mint was purchased by Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl. As a result, the two began issuing money that they wanted as Empire currency.
In other words, money that wasn’t being issued by the Empire was being engraved with the Empire’s symbol, and there were two different types of symbols… People would get confused by this. Moreover, the two stingy men have lowered the value of gold and silver in the Empire.
As a result, the ‘credibility’ of the ‘Empire’s gold coins’ issued by Lord Raul, and the ‘Empire’s silver coins’ issued by Lord Aquicurl… is as good as trash; they have no value as currency.
That was the cause of the ‘severe inflation’. Inflation sets in when the value of money declines. Even I know this. I also know that many nations perish because of inflation.
By the way, even though the ‘Raul gold coins’ and the ‘Aquicurl silver coins’ have no value as currency, the soldiers and servants of the Empire are still being paid in these coins. Foreign currencies are reserved for paying merchants.
Ordinary merchants wouldn’t accept ‘bad money’ but merchant associations under the patronage of Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl allow it. That means that the soldiers and servants can only shop with merchants under the influence of Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl. As a result, even those who were loyal to the Emperor became their private soldiers.
And that leads to the third issue, the ‘budget deficit’. Because the officials are at the mercy of Lord Raul and Lord Aquicurl, taxes are declared ‘less’ than the amount that should have been paid. Naturally, the same thing happens in the fiefs of the aristocrats who are under the two factions. Thus, the ‘floating’ tax then goes to the local aristocrats and the Emperor receives very little of it. Even so, the ‘Imperial Aristocrats’ would steal the Empire’s meagre budget under the guise of ‘famine relief’ or ‘disaster recovery’. Thus, with almost no income, the deficit increases year by year as expenditure piles up.
Now here comes the question. Why hasn’t the Empire been destroyed despite its terminal situation?
The answer is simple, because the neighbouring nations won’t benefit from destroying the Empire.
If the Empire were to fall now, it would only create two almost unharmed nations, Aquicurl and Raul, so the neighbouring nations don’t want the Empire to be destroyed even if they aim to take our land. I think they’d prefer that we stay ‘dying’ and less threatful. They are cautious about ceding fief as well just because they might accidentally destroy the Empire. In that case, it would give the newly created nations, Aquicurl and Raul, a good cause for reverse invasion.
As for why Lord Aquicurl and Lord Raul haven’t gone independent yet… Well, there could be several reasons for this, but I think the biggest reason is that they are getting more money than they should be earning. There was no need for them to go independent when they’re enjoying the good life. The politics of the Empire is also in the hands of these two men.
Count Newnbal oversees the Empire’s finances. Him looking unhealthy in a situation like this is normal.
I’m not an expert at this, but I do have some ideas… ideas that can be called a ‘political affairs cheat’, but if I were to carry out those plans in this situation, it will only go to the two of them since the officials do what the Chancellor and the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies says. Nothing will start… Unless I destroy the two archdukes first.
The purpose of this tour is also to find people who will help me. That’s why I don’t intend to cancel it.
“Calm down, Count Newnbal. Do not raise your voice at His Majesty.”
Count Newnbal swallowed hard as he listened to Count Palatine Vedett.
I knew that the Lord of Treasury would come to protest, so I had Count Palatine Vedett act as a mediator.
“The merchants have already refused to give us a loan. Please do not spend any more money.”
“Hmm, I understand what you’re trying to tell me.”
I heard the sound of teeth grinding together. Dammit, I must have agitated him.
“Count Newnbal, calm down.”
Count Palatine Vedett reprimanded. I’m really sorry.
“You need money to go on a tour. We do not have the money for it, so please stop.”
I felt a tremendous pressure, maybe because Count Newnbal’s eyes were fixed on me.
He had a good opinion. It’s the job of the Lord of Treasury to try and improve the finances as much as possible. I really appreciate his work ethic.
But I don’t think the situation would get better even if I skimped on the tour costs.
“Oh, is it like that? Then rest assured, Lord of Treasury. I will only visit the fief of the person who is paying when it comes to visiting the Chancellor’s or the Chief of the Ministry of Ceremonies’s fiefs.”
“… Just that, please just stop that Your Majesty! If we owe them any more money, then they will completely take over.”
Count Newnbal desperately appealed. His voice even sounded teary.
It seems that the Empire has already borrowed a good amount of money from the two of them… His beliefs were reasonable and understandable since he is an Imperial aristocrat and the Lord of Treasury.
But no matter how much Count Newnbal continues to struggle, he is only prolonging the Empire’s destruction. That won’t do. The Empire must make a fresh start.
“Those two are my loyal subjects. They will do no such thing.”
Count Palatine Vedett replied to my words.
“Then let me go and tell them, Your Majesty.”
“Lord Vedett! You are–!!”
Count Newnbal glared at Count Palatine. The two neutral aristocrats who are active in the capital are at odds with each other.
“Shut up. That’s enough, you may leave.”
Count Newnbal was about to say something in response to the Emperor’s words, but he suddenly looked resigned, then he bowed and left.
This is my room, so the maids are here at this time. This conflict between the two neutral aristocrats will soon spread to the Chancellor and Regent factions, and they will think that the neutral faction wouldn’t unite for a while.
And the vigilance directed towards the neutral aristocrats will drop even more… The same goes for the vigilance that is directed at Rosalia and the others.
Everything was going according to plan… Yup. Count Newnbal, who hadn’t heard of my plan, was honestly disappointed and angry.
I’m going to reward you handsomely when I take over, so please bear with me… I don’t think you’ll get this message though.