What part of a King's administrative structure ensures that the Treasury functions as expected, without employees taking advantage of their position (like manipulating accounts and stealing treasure, which in turn leads to the kingdom's collapse)? What stops people from stealing from the treasury, if the king is not going to be there to check all the activities all the time?

I've asked this question in the hope that, the answer to how the King controls his treasury may shed light on how he ensures stability.

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    Welcome to HistorySE, @Sreram! What has your research shown you so far? Where have you already searched? Please help us to help you. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and help center. You may improve your question to comply with site guidelines with an edit and the help of How to Ask. Thanks! – Mark C. Wallace Jun 26 '19 at 20:32
  • Hi @MarkC.Wallace! I have been trying to find an answer on google, but I have found none after searching for a long time. My question is not about specific events or historical facts, but an inference from past monarch administrative structures. I couldn't find any sources on the internet that explains the mechanism that leads to the stability of kingdoms, or how kings in the past managed to make all their subjects listen to them. I'll edit my question to make this more clear. – Sreram Jun 26 '19 at 20:43
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    Why should a kingdom be different from any other enterprise? Those who embezzle from the enterprise get punished if they're caught, whether it's the "Off with his head!" of the absolute monarch, or arrest & trial in a western democracy, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Crundwell The fear of punishment (along with basic honesty and/or loyalty) tends to deter most would-be thieves. – jamesqf Jun 27 '19 at 5:33
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    It was common to assume that royal officials embezzled a lot of money. When King James VI & I visited his lord treasurer's vast Audley End mansion he said it was too big for a king, but doubtless just right for a lord treasurer, and later had him imprisoned for embezzlement. Louis XIV's finance minister Nicholas Fouquet had a similar downfall with his estate at Vaux-le-Vicomte. James Brydges became so rich as paymaster during the War of the Spanish Succession he was made Duke of Chandos, and it was assumed he embezzled his wealth. – MAGolding Jun 27 '19 at 18:31
  • Hi! I've edited the question, in the hope that it fits the community (Now the question asks for just one thing: about how a king secures the treasury) Please tell me if there is any other change I must do, to ensure that this question fits the community guidelines. – Sreram Jun 29 '19 at 13:52

Some related situations:

The tower of London or other similar fortresses and castles were used to store money. The crown jewels are still stored there.

Obviously, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" is an old problem, but they had, e.g., locks with could only be opened with 2 or more different keys. One example, during the famous indulgence controversy around Martin Luther time, the money chests always had 2 keys held by different persons, to avoid abuses.

The Templars transported money for the king (e.g., moving a chest full of gold coins from Paris to somewhere in France to pay soldiers during a war). The Templars charged a fee for this service, as they always needed income to finance their own army in the Holy Land. Presumably, the King trusted a knight's oath more than his own soldiers.

Another common situation is not to have any large treasury to be guarded. Portugal was in debt for long periods, thus any income would be quickly expended and there were no really large reserves, only current income/payments flows - i.e., bankers were the reserve and the real big money was in the banks.

For example, after 30y of deadlocked war against the Dutch in Brazil, the king made a conscious decision of borrowing money all around Europe - knowing that it would take decades to pay back - to break the deadlock by financing the army that kicked the Dutch from Brazil in 1650. Do not expect a large royal treasure in Portugal for the next decades - the bankers had everything - a thief would rather dream of robbing the Fuggers than the king.

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  • Thanks! "How do you guard the guards who guard the treasury" was exactly my question! From the outside, the king's administrative structure seems quite stable, but thinking about it even little further leads to a lot of similar loopholes and paradoxes. After all the "King" is just one man. But it is everyone else who do all the work for him. Stability in such a situation just feels impossible. – Sreram Jun 26 '19 at 21:42
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    except by the tech (such as 2-key locks), the paradoxes are the same today, as human nature is the same. – Luiz Jun 26 '19 at 21:45
  • Yes that's true. The paradoxes exists, but I think it has taken a different form today. Because today, "money" is just a number in a database record. Fractional reserve actually artificially create more money instantly, at any given time. Today, money is just a concept, not something we can hold on to. So basically, the guards will be the ones guarding a server. Even if they break open the server, it will be impossible for them to steal the money or at-least make sense of all the encrypted information! Just thinking about it makes me wonder how far humanity has come. – Sreram Jun 26 '19 at 22:35
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    @Sreram ok, the next time I go to my bank office I will tell them to open the vault and let me in, as "money is just a number in a database record" and "money is just a concept" and "it will be impossible [...] to steal the money". I will tell you how well it works... – SJuan76 Jun 26 '19 at 22:39
  • Business who sell share create money (or something similar to money), in the form of shares. And they give their "money" (their shares) value by making the business succeed. Today, "the guards who guard the treasury" are directly the ones who made the rules, and now the part of "guarding the guard" no longer takes the form where the lowest level employees are involved in this. It is all the highest level we must worry about. – Sreram Jun 26 '19 at 22:39

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