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The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788–1792A Political History$
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Richard Butterwick

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199250332.001.0001

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Tax or offering?

Tax or offering?

(p.79) 4 Tax or offering?
The Polish Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1788–1792

Richard Butterwick

Oxford University Press

Some of the hardest fought debates of the Four Years' Sejm concerned the taxation of the clergy. After a period of preparation for battle, especially by the episcopate, three sessions between 12 and 16 March 1789 were needed to establish that the clergy would pay 20 per cent of their income, euphemistically described as an ‘offering’, in addition to their existing commitments. The bishops capitulated only when threatened with an arbitrary imposition. The details of the clerical contribution took up five more sessions, before the sejm euphorically acclaimed an ‘offering’ of 10 per cent from noble lands on 26 March. These debates reveal rhetorical and procedural strategies used to induce or delay decisions, and a rich seam of noble expectations of the clergy. The chapter also considers the implementation of the clerical and noble ‘offerings’ and the controversies over the alleged transfer of the burden to the enserfed peasantry.

Keywords:   Four Years' Sejm, taxation, rhetoric, sovereignty, clergy, nobility, peasants, bishops, Wojciech Suchodolski, Jacek Jezierski

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