Rumor About Church Taking Land from Pagans for Not Tithing During Middle Ages?

Someone told me that, during the Middle Ages (“AD 400-1600”), the Church confiscated land from pagans as punishment for their not tithing. Is this true? I don’t have time to read extensively about the Middle Ages to determine the veracity of rumors. If it’s false, how do we know beyond a reasonable doubt?

Unfortunately, I don’t know who gave me this idea, so I won’t be able to follow up with him. I am interested in learning more about this, however. Your thoughts? :slight_smile:

I highly doubt that. How can the Church punish pagans for a Church offering when they don’t even believe in the Church teachings or don’t consider themselves part of the congregation? :confused:

Take a pagan’s land for not tithing? II is an unusual charge. Could you narrow it down a bit in terms of what country or province and the approximate years this practice may have occurred?

Once in control, I think Christian countries poorly tolerated paganism, often making it illegal. And its entirely possible that the penalty might include forfeiture of property or even life.

Here is a taste from what is now France and Spain, in 590 AD:

A provincial council held at Narbonne in the year 590 gives us an insight into the types of paganism which were being practiced in Septimania, and probably also in parts of Spain. The bishops there censured the practice in vogue among some people of not working on [118] Thursday in honor of Jupiter. (42) Henceforth the council ordered that those who refused to work on this day, except on the occasion of a church festival, were to be excommunicated and to do penance for one year. Slaves were to receive one hundred lashes and their masters were to see to it that they did not repeat this crime…

[119] The same council of Narbonne also took action against soothsayers and those who harbored them in their homes and consulted them. (44) The soothsayers were to be publicly flogged, even though they were free-born, and afterwards sold into slavery, and the money distributed to the poor. Those who gave them shelter and consulted them whether “Goths, Romans, Syrians, Greeks or Jews” were not only to be excommunicated, but also to pay a fine of six ounces in gold to the comes civitatis. (45)

This is easy to negate but require lengthy examination.

If you study the period of the ‘charge’ it is about 1200years and there is ample material available to scrutinize the struggles of the church throughout that period. Interestingly, toward the 1000 - 1600year mark the prelates were selling Indulgencies etc.

You don’t resort to that if you can just confiscate or take property etc.

Throughout history there have been Catholic kings and queens, emperors, country leaders. Some of these sovereigns had bishops at their beg and call and the bishops influenced some of the stately decisions, which may include, where to build a church and what religion the populace were to practice, etc.

There are instances in history of forced tax payment and mass punishment for non compliance, but I have yet to encounter any punishment meted out by The Church for non-tithing.

Globally, you will not find any evidence that The Universal Church ever commissioned or approved such a thing.

The rumour, therefore, is without base.


I cannot clarify or elaborate on the rumor I posted initially; I found it written down as an email draft, sitting in my drafts folder for who knows how long. It was something that came up in conversation and I made a note however long ago to look into it later.

I have heard that Christians would burn heretics at the stake, with the understanding that it’s better for them to repent of mortal sin under pain of death than die comfortably and spend eternity separated from God. I don’t know what the teaching of the Magisterium was during these times. I would not be surprised if pagans were deprived of property by virtue of their resistance to Christian missionaries for similar reasons, but again have no idea what the official teaching of the Church would have been during such times.

It seems we must learn more history and theology than ever before, to confront secularists and Muslims in our current society that values knowledge more than morality. Prayer is useful in honing my personal character, but I wish I could see God answer my prayers in those for whom I pray.

I wish I could edit the poll; I realize now it is too limited. I would like to add “Probably” and “Probably not”, to give more degrees of confidence to the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ sentiments.

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