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
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
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
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998