A Source Book for Medieval Economic History

By Roy C. Cave; Herbert H. Coulson | Go to book overview

SECTION II
TITHES

Introduction

It is supposed that the collection of the tithe has its origin in Mosaic Law. In Christian times, from being a voluntary payment, it became a permanent tax, and it persisted throughout the Middle Ages. In it is to be found one of the origins of taxes on movables and, according to some economists, of general property taxes. The keynote to a proper understanding of the transition to secular taxation is found in the Saladin Tithe. As a source of Church revenue the tithe was of great importance, and since the Church exercised many of the functions now assumed by the state, it is conceivable that it should be regarded as a tax from the time when compulsion was first introduced into the collection of it.


1. Division of the Tithe in Spain

It is well known that tithes were levied from the earliest times in the Christian era, and Pope Gregory I made a division of the proceeds of the tithe among the following: (a) the bishop, (b) the parish clergy, (c) church fabric, (d) the poor. By the Fourth Council of Toledo, however, the tithe, which had been appropriated by the lower clergy, was put under the special care of the bishops, who supervised its proper distribution. It was only one of the three sources of income which the clergy enjoyed in the seventh century.

Source: Mansi J. D., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Ampissima Collectio, Vol. X, p. 628 ( H. Welter, Paris, 1901). -- A.D. 6 33).

33. Avarice is the root of all evil, and its thirst grips even the minds of the priests. Many of the faithful, out of love for Christ and the martyrs, construct churches in the parishes of the bishops, and gather offerings which are taken by the priests and appropriated by them for their own use. Hence it is that worshipers of things holy become disheartened at the loss of their funds. Hence also the ruins of tottering churches are not repaired because all the money

-377-

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A Source Book for Medieval Economic History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Part I - Agriculture, Forestry, And Extractive Industries 1
  • Section I - The Barbarians 3
  • Section II - Villa and Manorial Organization 14
  • Section III - Cultivation 37
  • Section IV - Produce 56
  • Section V - Forests 70
  • Section VI - The Extractive Industries 76
  • Part II - Commerce 87
  • Section I - Trade and Exchange 89
  • Section II - Fairs and Markets 112
  • Section III - Money and Prices 126
  • Section IV - Shipping and Inland Transportation 148
  • Section V - Loans and Usury 169
  • Section VI - Partnerships 183
  • Part III - Town Economy 191
  • Section I - Towns and Gilds 193
  • Section III - Craft Gilds and Industry 234
  • Appendix - Florentine Crafts Subject to Tax 258
  • Part IV - Slavery and Serfdom 261
  • Section I - Roman Law 263
  • Section II - Barbarian and Feudal Laws 270
  • Section III - Church Councils 280
  • Part V - Wealth and Property 303
  • Section I - Forms of Wealth 305
  • Section II - Private Property 325
  • Section III - Inheritance 334
  • Part VI - Taxation 347
  • Section I - Taxes and Feudal Dues 349
  • Section II - Tithes 377
  • 8- Fine of the Abbot of Croyland To Recover His Lands 391
  • Section IV - Tolls 398
  • Glossary 423
  • Bibliography 435
  • Index 447
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