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Medieval Sourcebook:
Council of Agde:
Concerning Slaves of the Church, 506

Manumitted slaves were given as freedmen reasonable liberty and holdings sufficient for their sustenance. Freedom, once granted, was irrevocable, though excessive privileges were not allowed. Moreover, those freed in the church had a guarantee of its protection and the right of appeal to the bishop.

7. Concerning slaves of the Church, if any bishop shall reasonably have bestowed liberty freely upon well-deserving cases, it is pleasing that the liberty conferred should be cared for by his successors, with whatever the manumitter conferred on them in granting liberty; yet nevertheless we order him to give them the sum of twenty solidi and to set bounds to their lands, little vineyards, or house. Whatever was given above this the Church will revoke after the death of the manumitter. But little things, or things less useful to the Church, to pilgrims, or to the clergy, we permit to remain for their use, saving the right of the Church.

29. The Church shall take care of freedmen legitimately freed by their masters if necessity demands it; but if any one presume to plunder them or to oppress them before the hearing of their case, he shall be prevented by the Church.


From: J. D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, (Paris: H. Welter, 1901), Vol. VIII, pp. 325, 329; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, eds., A Source Book for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 280-281.

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

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. 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