Medieval History

Selected Sources Full Text Sources Saints' Lives Law Texts Maps Medieval Films Search Help

Selected Sources Sections Studying History End of Rome Byzantium Islam Roman Church Early Germans Anglo-Saxons Celtic World Carolingians 10 C Collapse Economic Life Crusades Empire & Papacy France England Celtic States Nordic Europe Iberia Italy Eastern Europe Intellectual Life Medieval Church Jewish Life Social History Sex & Gender States & Society Renaissance Reformation Exploration
IHSP Credits

Medieval Sourcebook:
The Collection of Tithes in Ireland, 8th Century

The tithe was not always clearly defined. In this case the clergy appear to be taking issue with the jurists as to whether the collection of the tithe should be made only once, or once annually, and giving an explanation of what the tithe ought to be. The tithe applied to the produce of the soil and to livestock.

1. The jurists say that tithe of cattle should be offered once and on that account it will be most holy, i.e., the tithe should not be offered again. But others of the true faith affirm that we should give tithes of living and mortal things to God every year, since every year we enjoy His gifts.

2. Also, of all fruits of the soil a tithe ought to be offered once a year to the Lord, for as it is said: "Whatever has been once consecrated to God, will be most holy in the sight of the Lord." For the tithe should not be offered repeatedly from those things, as the learned Columman has taught. But of the fruits of the soil a tenth part ought to be offered every year, because they are produced every year.

3. Also, tithes are from all living things. So the first fruits of everything, and the animal that is born first in the year should be given. For the first born of animals are like first fruits; and the first born of men and of animals may be offered.

4. Also, concerning tithes in herds and first fruits. First born are those which are born before any others are born in that year. It should be known how great is the weight of the first fruits, i.e., nine or twelve measures. Hence, the measure of the offering should be sufficient material for nine or twelve loaves. But of vegetables it should be as much as can be carried in the hand. It ought to be paid at the beginning of the summer, just as it was offered once a year to the priests of Jerusalem. But in the New Testament each would offer it to the monastery to which he belongs. And toward this would be especially charitable; of the first-born let males, never females, be offered.

5. Also, if any have less substance than the tithe they shall not pay the tithe.

6. Also, in order that all might find it convenient to offer tithes in some way to God, if they have only one cow or ox, let them divide the price of the cow into ten parts and give a tenth part to God. And so let it be done for other things....


From: J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1862), Vol. XCVI, pp. 1319-1320, 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. 378-379.

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.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall, September 1998
[email protected]


The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 5 June 2023 [CV]