Chapter

North Africa in the Fourth Century <span class="smallCaps">a.d.</span>

W. H. C. Frend

in The Donatist Church

Published in print November 1985 | ISBN: 9780198264088
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682704 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198264088.003.0006
North Africa in the Fourth Century a.d.

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The existence of personal rivalries between the Numidian and Carthaginian clergy and the development of different types of society near Carthage and in Numidia form part of the background to the misunderstandings that led to the outbreak of the schism. Morever, the prevailing economic conditions in Africa during the fourth and early fifth centuries are clearly relevant towards understanding the nature of Donatism. The main trends in Africa during this period were the irrevocable decline of the Roman cities, and with it the pagan culture of the middle classes; the increase of taxation and the unrelieved oppression of the peasantry; and, finally, the growth of a small group of wealthy landowners who were largely able to avoid taxation and to live a life of comparative leisure. In the resulting social conflicts, the Donatists and Catholics took different sides.

Keywords: Donatists; Catholics; Roman cities; religious discontent; African economy

Chapter.  7048 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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