Montesquieu

It was these exces­sive tri­bu­tes1 that ena­bled the strange faci­lity the Mohammedans found in their conquests. Instead of that conti­nual suc­ces­sion of extor­tions which the subtle ava­rice of the empe­rors had thought up, those peo­ples found them­sel­ves sub­jec­ted to a sim­ple tri­bute, easily paid and simi­larly recei­ved, being bet­ter off obeying a bar­ba­rian nation than a cor­rupt govern­ment under which they were suf­fe­ring all the disad­van­ta­ges of a liberty they no lon­ger had along with all the hor­rors of a pre­sent ser­vi­tude.

See in history the greatness, the bizarreness, and even the folly of these tributes. Anastasius thought up one for breathing the air : ut quisque pro haustu æris penderet.