Temporary confiscation of church property for reasons of military necessity was tantamount to a form of land tax on that property.
We have also decreed with the advice of the servants of God and of our Christian people, on account of threats of war and the attacks of other peoples who are on all sides, that we shall take temporarily, with God's indulgence, for the support of our army some part of the property of the church to be distributed as precaria for a rent. This will be done on condition that every year there shall be paid to the church or monastery one solidus from every holding, i.e., twelve denarii; and it shall be done in such a way that if he who receives the land should die, the church shall regain its property. And further, if necessity should demand it, the king may order the precarium to be renewed and surrendered again. And it shall be carefully observed that the churches or monasteries whose property has been granted as precaria do not suffer penury or poverty; but the whole possession shall be restored to the Church and house of God, if their poverty should demand it.
J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologiae Cursus Completus, (Paris, 1862), Vol . XCVI, p. 1504; 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. 358-359.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998