part, and twelve deniers for every house that had belonged to her. But
this was only a palliative, and did not remove the disorder.
Nay, it met with opposition, and Pepin was obliged to make another
capitulary, in which he enjoins those who held any of those
benefices to pay this tithe and duty, and even to keep up the houses
belonging to the bishopric or monastery, under the penalty of forfeiting
those possessions. Charlemagne renewed the regulations of Pepin.
That part of the same letter which says that Charlemagne promised both
for himself and for his successors never to divide again the
church-lands among the soldiery is agreeable to the capitulary of this
prince, given at Aix-la-Chapelle in the year 803, with a view of
removing the apprehensions of the clergy upon this subject. But the
donations already made were still in force. The bishops very justly
add that Louis the Debonnaire followed the example of Charlemagne, and
did not give away the church-lands to the soldiery.
And yet the old abuses were carried to such a pitch, that the laity
under the children of Louis the Debonnaire preferred ecclesiastics to
benefices, or turned them out of their livings without the consent
of the bishops. The benefices were divided among the next heirs, and
when they were held in an indecent manner the bishops had no other
remedy left than to remove the relics.
By the Capitulary of Compiègne it is enacted that the king's
commissary shall have a right to visit every monastery, together with
the bishop, by the consent and in presence of the person who holds it;
and this shows that the abuse was general.
Not that there were laws wanting for the restitution of the
church-lands. The Pope having reprimanded the bishops for their neglect
in regard to the re-establishment of the monasteries, they wrote to
Charles the Bald that they were not affected by this reproach, because
they were not culpable; and they reminded him of what had been
promised, resolved and decreed in so many national assemblies. In point
of fact, they quoted nine.
12. Establishment of the Tithes. The regulations made under King Pepin
had given the church rather hopes of relief than effectually relieved
her; and as Charles Martel found all the landed estates of the kingdom
in the hands of the clergy, Charlemagne found all the church-lands in
the hands of the soldiery. The latter could not be compelled to restore
a voluntary donation, and the circumstances of that time rendered the
thing still more impracticable than it seemed to be of its own nature.
On the other hand, Christianity ought not to have been lost for want of
ministers, churches, and instruction.
This was the reason of Charlemagne's establishing the tithes, a new
kind of property which had this advantage in favour of the clergy, that
as they were given particularly to the church, it was easier in process
of time to know when they were usurped.
Some have attempted to make this institution of a still remoter date,
but the authorities they produce seem rather, I think, to prove the
contrary. The constitution of Clotharius says only that they shall
not raise certain tithes on church-lands; so far then was the
church from exacting tithes at that time, that its whole pretension was
to be exempted from paying them. The second council of Mâcon, which
was held in 585, and ordains the payment of tithes, says, indeed, that
they were paid in ancient times, but it says also that the custom of
paying them was then abolished.
No one questions but that the clergy opened the Bible before
Charlemagne's time, and preached the gifts and offerings in Leviticus.
But I say that before that prince's reign, though the tithes might have
been preached, they were never established.
I noticed that the regulations made under King Pepin had subjected those
who were seized of church lands in fief to the payment of tithes, and to
the repairing of the churches. It was a great deal to induce by a law,
whose equity could not be disputed, the principal men of the nation to
set the example.
Charlemagne did more; and we find by the capitulary de Villis that
he obliged his own demesnes to the payment of the tithes; this was a
still more striking example.
But the commonalty are rarely influenced by example to sacrifice their
interests. The synod of Frankfort furnished them with a more cogent
motive to pay the tithes. A capitulary was made in that synod,
wherein it is said that in the last famine the spikes of corn were found
to contain no seed, the infernal spirits having devoured it all,
and that those spirits had been heard to reproach them with not having
paid the tithes; in consequence of which it was ordained that all those
who were seized of church lands should pay the tithes; and the next
consequence was that the obligation extended to all.
Charlemagne's project did not succeed at first, for it seemed too heavy
a burden.107 The payment of the tithes among the Jews was connected with
the plan of the foundation of their republic; but here it was a burden
quite independent of the other charges of the establishment of the
monarchy. We find by the regulations added to the law of the
Lombards the difficulty there was in causing the tithes to be
accepted by the civil laws; and as for the opposition they met with
before they were admitted by the ecclesiastic laws, we may easily judge
of it from the different canons of the councils.
The people consented at length to pay the tithes, upon condition that
they might have the power of redeeming them. This the constitution of
Louis the Debonnaire and that of the Emperor Lotharius, his son,
would not allow.