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
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998