Peter-pence is the annual tribute of one penny from every Roman Catholic family, paid at Rome at a festival of the apostle Peter. It is offered to the Roman pontiff in reverence of the memory of St. Peter, of whom that bishop is believed to be the successor. From an early period the Roman see had been richly endowed; and although its first endowments were chiefly local, yet as early as the days of Gregory the Great large estates were held by the Roman bishops in Campania, in Calabria, and even in the island of Sicily. The first idea, however, of an annual tribute appears to have come from England, and is by some ascribed to Ina (A.D. 721), king of the West Saxons, who went as a pilgrim to Rome, and there founded a hospice for AngloSaxon pilgrims, to be maintained by an annual contribution from England; by others, to Offa and Ethelwulf, at least in the sense of their having extended it to the whole of the Saxon territory. But this seems very uncertain; and although the usage was certainly long anterior to the Norman conquest, Dr. Lingard is disposed not to place it earlier than the time of Alfred. The tribute consisted in the payment of a silver penny by every family possessing land or cattle of the yearly value of thirty pence, and was collected in the five weeks between St. Peter's and St. Paul's Day and August 1. In the time of king John, the total annual payment was £199 8s., contributed by the several dioceses in proportion, an account of which will be found in Lingard's History of England, 2:330. The tax called Romescot, with some variation, continued to be paid till the reign of Henry VIII, when it was abolished. Pope Gregory VII sought to establish the Peter-pence for France: and other partial or transient tributes are recorded from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Poland. This tribute, however, is quite different from the payments made annually to Rome by the kingdoms which were held to be feudatory to the Roman see — as Naples, Aragon, England under the reign of John, and several other kingdoms, at least for a time." — Chambers. The pope having suffered a considerable diminution of his own revenue since the revolution of 1848, an effort has been made in several parts of Europe to revive this practice. In some countries it has been very successfully carried out, and the proceeds have been among the chief of the resources of Pius IX, as he has steadfastly refused to accept any support from the new kingdom of Italy, since his temporalities were merged in it. See Thompson, Papal Power (N.Y. 1877,1 2mo); Riddle, lrist. of the Papacy; Hefele, Conciliengesch. volume 5; Ranke, Hist. of the Papacy in the 16th and 17th Centuries, 1:21, 37, 230; Inett, Ch. Hist. of England (see Index).

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