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The Character of Papal Finance at the Turn of the Twelfth Century

Citation: Wiedemann, Benedict (2018) The Character of Papal Finance at the Turn of the Twelfth Century. English Historical Review, 133 (562). pp. 503-532.

B. G. E. Wiedemann - Character - VoR.pdf

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Recent approaches to twelfth-century papal finance have drawn a distinction between ‘voluntary’ gifts to the pope and the prescribed dues which clergy and laity across Europe were legally bound to pay. Such a distinction is often unhelpful; for both types of income, the onus and agency tended to be on the part of the payers themselves: most papal income was in fact voluntary. This had an effect on how income and expenditure were recorded in Rome. Since it was the payer who decided when to send money to the Curia, the papal financial administration had no consistent expectations of what their income might be. Consequently an itemised record of income was not a necessity in the later twelfth century. On the other hand, by the end of the twelfth century expenditure was being recorded in detail at the Curia: the Gesta of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216) includes a gift-list which has clearly been culled from a record of expenditure. As well as giving an insight into methods of accounting, this gift-list allows us to speculate about what forms—coins, fabrics, chalices—papal income took. Overall the character of papal finance is dissimilar to that of contemporary European monarchies because it depended to a greater extent on the will of the many people across Europe who chose to go to Rome.

Creators: Wiedemann, Benedict (0000-0002-5887-4697) and
Official URL:
Subjects: History
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
  • 25 March 2018 (accepted)
  • 2 June 2018 (published)


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