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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 question of origins

The question of origins

(p.92) 4 The question of origins
The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West

Susan Wood

Oxford University Press

Ulrich Stutz argued that the proprietary church originated in the primitive ‘household priesthood’ of heathen Germans: the father of a family offering prayer and sacrifice to the gods on behalf of his household. This, he thought, changed its character with the rise of chieftains among the heads of households. A lord with dependants too numerous to meet in his hall for worship would build a temple as an outbuilding, to which neighbours as well as dependants might come, and where he might delegate priesthood to a servant. When lords and their followers were converted, during or after their migrations, they continued these customs as Christians. Thus, the landlord's church is the successor of a barbarian lord's temple for his followers, while the independent priest's church is the survival of the plain householder's smaller-scale priesthood. This theory, with modifications, has been tenaciously maintained, but rests on little evidence.

Keywords:   proprietary church, Ulrich Stutz, Germany, parish churches, Catholic churches, private churches, property, barbarians, lands

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