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Fourth Council of Toledo:
Division of the Tithe in Spain, 633

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.

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 has been consumed by priestly avarice. Therefore, it is decreed by the present council that they shall not presume to take away these things by right but, according to the decrees of former councils, they shall have a third part of the offerings as well as of the tithes and of the products of the fields. And if anything which had been previously taken by them should remain, let it be restored by the council, either to those who apply for its restitution, provided they were the original benefactors, or to their nearest relations if these benefactors have departed this life. Let the founders of churches know that they have no power whatever over the gifts they have conferred on these same churches. Rather let them know that, in accordance with the decrees of the canons, the gift and the church itself belong to the management of the bishop.


J. D. Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio, (Paris: H. Welter, 1901), Vol. X, p. 628; 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), pp. 377-378.

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