Tithes and Spiritual Dues

R. H. Helmholz

in The Oxford History of the Laws of England

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780198258971
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681882 | DOI:

Series: The Oxford History of the Laws of England Series ISBN 0-19-961352-4

Tithes and Spiritual Dues

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The classical canon law was concerned with the payment of tithe, a basic ecclesiastical tax paid by the laity, as an expression of the duty all men owed to God and God's representatives on earth, the clergy. The evident need to support the clerical order, an order Jesus himself had instituted, and the prohibition against clerical participation in gainful, secular employment, made the tithe a matter of necessity, even of divine command. This was as close as the church came to an income tax, and just as consequential. The revenue it produced furnished a primary source of the income of the parochial clergy. It helped support the whole clerical order. Tithing is mentioned at several points in the Anglo-Saxon laws; payment of tithes had been treated as a legal obligation from at least the mid-10th century. There were many scriptural endorsements from which the canonists drew a duty to pay tithes. These were used to justify the tithe, and also the other monetary dues that were enforced in England by the ecclesiastical courts.

Keywords: tithes; canon law; clergy; church; Anglo-Saxon; scripture

Chapter.  21976 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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