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The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West$
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Susan Wood

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206972.001.0001

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The Roman Empire and post-Roman Kingdoms

The Roman Empire and post-Roman Kingdoms

(p.9) 1 The Roman Empire and post-Roman Kingdoms
The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West

Susan Wood

Oxford University Press

At first it was churches in the original sense — communities of Christians, each with its bishop — that came into possession of buildings and land. Even before the end of persecutions, some Christian communities had what looks like corporate property in practice — a cemetery, a clergy-house, a building for worship; and under Christian emperors church property received special treatment in the law, so that something like civil personality, or property-owning capacity, was attributed to the church of each city. It was the multiplication of new churches and monasteries, each with its own property from the start, that reduced the centralized property of the mother church to an ever smaller proportion of ecclesiastical wealth. This is both background and symptom of the proprietary church; economic separation from the diocese made churches desirable objects of private property; treating them as property promoted this separation.

Keywords:   proprietary church, Roman empire, kingdoms, property, Catholic churches, lands, bishops, Spain

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