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Leges Edwardis Confessoris:
Tithable Products of the Land, [Written post 1115]

The Norman conception of whence tithes should come is found in great detail in the so-called Laws of Edward the Confessor. Lapse of tithes and reasons for their more strict enforcement are mentioned in the last paragraph.

7. From all harvest the tenth part must be paid to Holy Church. If any one have a herd of horses, let him pay the tenth colt; he who has only one or two horses shall pay a penny for each colt; he who has many cows, the tenth calf; he who has one or two, an obole for each; and if he make cheese from their milk, the tenth cheese, or the milk of the tenth day.

8. The tenth lamb, the tenth sheep's hide, the tenth cheese, the tenth part of the butter, the tenth hog; from bees, according to what they make for themselves for one year; also from woods, meadows, waters, mills, parks, warrens, fisheries, thickets, gardens, trade, and from all similar things which God has given, let a tenth be returned; and he who refuses, by justice of the king and Holy Church, if it be necessary, shall be forced to pay. St. Augustine has said these things before, and these have been granted by the king and confirmed by barons and people; but afterwards, at the instigation of the devil, many refused and priests who were rich and not very careful to require them thus began to be impoverished; because in many places there are now three or four churches where there was formerly only one.


Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1840), p. 442; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), p. 385.

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, October 1998