Taxes, Clergy Excepted From

Taxes, Clergy Excepted From By the favor of Christian emperors, the clergy were exempt from some of the taxes which were laid upon the rest of the Roman empire. They did not, however, claim this exemption as a divine right, but freely acknowledged it to be owing to the pious munificence and favor of the Christian princes. Baronius does the clergy great injustice in pretending that they claimed a freedom from tribute by the law of Christ; and that no emperor ever imposed any tax upon them except only Julian the Apostate, Yalens the Arian, and the younger Valentinian, who was wholly under the influence of his mother, Justina, an Arian empress (An. 378, 4:538). Bellarmine asserts (De Clericis, 1, 28) that the exemption of the clergy in political matters, whether relating to their persons or their goods, was introduced by human right only, and not by divine. The following is a table of the taxes levied in the empire showing the exemptions of the clergy:

1. Census Capitum (or personal tribute). Clergy exempted.

2. Jngatio, Juga, Capitatio, etc. (tax on lands, etc.). Clergy exempted in special cases.

3. Anruim Tiroenicum etc. (soldiers and horses furnished to the emperors). Clergy (probably) exemptedini special cases.

4. Chrysargyrum (or Lustral Tax). Clergy exempted.

5. Metatum (entertaining emperor or retinue). Clergy exempted.

6. Superiudicta et Extraordinaria (or special taxes). Clergy exempted.

7. Road and Bridge Tax. Clergy sometimes exempted.

8. Anyarise et Parlingariae (conveying corn for the army). Clergy sometimes exempted.

9. Denarismus, or Ulcise, and Descriptio Lucratiornm (tax paid to the curia of every city). Clergy exempt under Justinian. The clergy were also exempt from all civil personal offices; from all sordid offices (e.g. building and repairing roads, etc.), both predial and personal; and from all curial or municipal offices. In order to check the practice of rich men seeking to avoid taxes by taking orders, Constantine made a law that no rich plebeian who was qualified by his estate to serve in curia and bear civil offices in any city should become an ecclesiastic. The laws respecting exemption of the clergy were frequently changed, but the above is their general tenor. See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. bk. 5, ch. 3.

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