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Chapter 41 – Traitor1
The neighboring Kingdom of Estoani originally ruled the Estoa duchy, which was located next to Deal duchy. However, it was under the Carling Empire’s control at the moment, with Estoa duchy filled with vassal counts of the Carling Empire.
While I could no longer declare war on the emperor’s vassals, I could, however, declare war on another nation.
And there was a certain person who managed to make a comeback as a count—one Agnes Reuter. I slayed his parents, but he managed to become Count Deal thanks to the split inheritance system and Duchess Poitiers captured Deal county, so he became homeless. Under such circumstances, not killing the other lord was rare. Duchess Poitiers expelled him because she didn’t see him as a threat, but I could use this guy.
First of all, I would ask this Agnes-kun to defect to the Estoani Kingdom and support him with money so that he could become a baron. Barony was a peerage that money could buy. Depending on the nation or region, it would be no different to a simple village head. After that, I would have him invade Zaire county within the Estoa duchy, which effectively separates the territory from the Carling Empire’s clutches.
Then, I would have him do what I did and unify the Estoa duchy, become Duke Estoa, and return the duchy to the Estoani Kingdom. At the end of it, I would declare war on him, and he would be defeated by me. The only concern in this strategy was the possibility of Agnes-kun betraying me the moment he became Duke Estoa, but since the core of his army would be the slave soldiers I lent him, he would die the moment he tried anything funny.
If Agnes died, Agnes’ son would inherit his whole property, which was convenient for me since the son had been living in my mansion as a hostage. Said son was still 2 years old, so he still didn’t understand what being a hostage meant.
Ultimately, I promised Agnes-kun Reuter county as part of the deal, and the plan was carried out, but it might take several years before it came to fruition. Therefore, I had no choice but to settle domestic affairs until then.
There were a lot of things I wanted to do. Like producing mayonnaise, grain flails (senbakoki), water mills, steam engines, electricity, glasswork, generating public labor… Now that I became Duke Deal, there was only one thing to do.2
“I’ll decide the yield of the field. I will survey the land and hire tax collectors. And make sure there won’t be any tax fraud.”
That was to collect taxes properly. Bluntly put, nations that could do this properly were few, even on modern earth. Even in modern Japan, omission and leakage of taxes occurred easily. I think anyone who has ever filed a final tax return would know, but very few had a correct grasp of their income.
Therefore, I wanted to clean it up properly and, if possible, make my tax income constant. That said, it was impossible to commit to a 100% tax collection rate in this era, so I had no choice but to compromise to some extent.
Then another thing to do was to set up toll gates. They would charge money from passersby and even more money from merchants. This nation had good trade traffic with a lot of people coming and going. This was still quite an annoying task to do in establishing domestic affairs because it would make information spread too quickly.
In order to prevent that from happening, I would strictly monitor anyone who enters and inspect their luggage. Another reason for doing so was to make sure I wouldn’t let any important people or criminals slip in unnoticed. It would also help in preventing spies. I think a lot of them already came from Wagner.
That said, there were already quite a lot of toll gates to some extent, so I would increase the number of them and completely lock the economic zone in. This would come in handy later. After all, the Carling Empire would suffer a recession soon. Or rather, I will make it happen. I will cause inflation on purpose. I won’t let other people have a good economy.
When I told Duchess Poitiers about my strategy, it seemed that Poitiers duchy also increased the number of toll gates to protect its economic zone, so she seemed to agree with me. As for the Schult ducal family… Well, I could leave them alone. Linde-san was desperately writing letters at the moment after all.
“To think you’re scheming to produce counterfeit currency, misfortune will definitely strike us later!”
“So you understand well. Ah, I’m not making counterfeit currency. I’m just lowering the gold and silver content within the currency, and telling the whole nation about it.”
“If you do that, it will affect the state of things here as well!”
“It won’t. Hyperinflating with countermeasures readied beforehand would be no different from a festival. Worst case scenario, we have stored enough food, so we won’t starve.”
Linde-san was pretty angry about it, but I just told her what I was going to do. The fact that she could already expect what might happen because of it was impressive. Seeing how she understood without any prior information on hyperinflation showed how smart Linde-san was. I guess she didn’t spend her early years as a bookworm for nothing.
I bought food from other territories at a high price to hoard it, but I would resell it later at a hundred times the price, so there was no problem. There was definitely no deeper meaning in buying so much food from Wagner’s territory… Well, if I bought them just after the harvest season and brought them into my territory, perhaps that was enough to cause damage?
Well, I guess I should cause as much harassment as possible. Even if it doesn’t go well, it would serve as insurance against the incoming inflation, so it wouldn’t be a waste.
Though I knew the protagonist is an ambitious person in terms of morals, the fact he didn’t mind sacrificing the innocent for his benefit is really a turn off for me. It might come off late since he already enslaves people and sells them for money, but hyperinflation is a disaster of a different scale with many suffering since no one expected it.
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