|« Prev||The Financial Policy of the Avignon Popes||Next »|
§ 9. The Financial Policy of the Avignon Popes.
The most notable feature of the Avignon period of the papacy, next to its subserviency to France, was the development of the papal financial system and the unscrupulous traffic which it plied in spiritual benefits and ecclesiastical offices. The theory was put into practice that every spiritual favor has its price in money. It was John XXII.’s achievement to reduce the taxation of Christendom to a finely organized system.
The papal court had a proper claim for financial support on all parts of the Latin Church, for it ministered to all. This just claim gave way to a practice which made it seem as if Christendom existed to sustain the papal establishment in a state of luxury and ease. Avignon took on the aspect of an exchange whose chief business was getting money, a vast bureau where privileges, labelled as of heavenly efficacy, were sold for gold. Its machinery for collecting moneys was more extensive and intricate than the machinery of any secular court of the age. To contemporaries, commercial transactions at the central seat of Christendom seemed much more at home than services of religious devotion.
The mind of John XXII. ran naturally to the counting-house and ledger system.165165 Haller says, p. 103, the characteristic of John’s pontificate was finance, der Fiskalismus. Tangl, p. 40, compares his commercial instincts to the concern for high ideals which animated Gregory VII., Alexander III., and Innocent III. See vol. V, I., pp. 787, sqq. He came from Cahors, the town noted for its brokers and bankers. Under his favor the seeds of commercialism in the dispensation of papal appointments sown in preceding centuries grew to ripe fruitage. Simony was an old sin. Gregory VII. fought against it. John legalized its practice.
Freewill offerings and Peter’s pence had been made to popes from of old. States, held as fiefs of the papal chair, had paid fixed tribute. For the expenses of the crusades, Innocent III. had inaugurated the system of taxing the entire Church. The receipts from this source developed the love of money at the papal court and showed its power, and, no matter how abstemious a pope might be in his own habits, greed grew like a weed in his ecclesiastical household. St. Bernard, d. 1153, complained bitterly of the cupidity of the Romans, who made every possible monetary gain out of the spiritual favors of which the Vatican was the dispenser. By indulgence, this appetite became more and more exacting, and under John and his successors the exploitation of Christendom was reduced by the curia to a fine art.
The theory of ecclesiastical appointments, held in the Avignon period, was that, by reason of the fulness of power which resides in the Apostolic See, the pope may dispense all the dignities and benefices of the Christian world. The pope is absolute in his own house, that is, the Church.
This principle had received its full statement from Clement IV., 1265.166166 Licet ecclesiarum. See Lib. sextus, III. 4, 2. Friedberg’s ed., II. 102, Lux, p. 5, says romanus pontifex supremus collator, ad quem plenaria de omnibus totius orbis beneficiis eccles. dispositio jure naturo pertinet, etc. Clement’s bull declared that the supreme pontiff is superior to any customs which were in vogue of filling Church offices and conflicted with his prerogative. In particular he made it a law that all offices, dignities, and benefices were subject to papal appointment which became vacant apud sedem apostolicam or in curia, that is, while the holders were visiting the papal court. This law was modified by Gregory X. at the Council of Lyons, 1274, in such a way as to restore the right of election, provided the pope failed to make an appointment within a month.167167 Lux, p. 12; Hefele: Conciliengesch. VI. 151. Boniface VIII., 1295, again extended the enactment by putting in the pope’s hands all livings whose occupants died within two days’ journey of the curia, wherever it might at the time be.168168 Lux, p. 13; Friedberg: Reservationen in Herzog, XVI. 672. Innocent IV. was the first pope to exercise the right of reservation or collation on a large scale. In 1248, out of 20 places in the cathedral of Constance, 17 were occupied by papal appointees, and there were 14 "expectants" under appointment in advance of the deaths of the occupants. In 1255, Alexander IV. limited the number of such expectants to 4 for each church. In 1265, Clement IV forbade all elections in England in the usual way until his commands were complied with, and reserved them to himself. The same pontiff, on the pretext of disturbances going on in Sicily, made a general reservation of all appointments in the realm, otherwise subject to episcopal or capitular choice. Urban IV. withdrew the right of election from the Ghibelline cities of Lombardy; Martin IV. and Honorius IV. applied the same rule to the cathedral appointments of Sicily and Aragon; Honorius IV. monopolized all the appointments of the Latin Church in the East; and Boniface VIII., in view of Philip IV.’s resistance, reserved to himself the appointments to all "cathedral and regular churches" in France. Of 16 French sees which became vacant, 1295–1301, only one was filled in the usual way by election.169169 Lux, p. 17 sqq., and Haller, p. 38, with authorities.
With the haughty assumption of Clement IV.’s bull and the practice of later popes, papal writers fell in. Augustinus Triumphus, writing in 1324, asserted that the pope is above all canon law and has the right to dispose of all ecclesiastical places.170170 Verum super ipsum jus, potest dispensare, etc. Quoted by Gieseler, II. 123. The papal system of appointments included provisions, expectances, and reservations.171171 A provision that is providere ecclesiae de episcopo signified in the first instance a promotion, and afterwards the papal right to supersede appointments made in the usual way by the pope’s own arbitrary appointment. The methods of papal appointment are given in Liber sextus, I. 16, 18; Friedberg’s ed., II. 969. See Stubbs, Const. Hist., III. 320. "Collations" was also used as a general term to cover this papal privilege. The formulas of this period commonly ran de apostol. potestatis plenitudine reservamus. See John’s bull of July 30, 1322, Lux, p. 62 sq. Rogare, monere, precipere are the words generally used by pope Innocent III., 1198-1216, see Hinschius, II. 114 sq. Alexander III. used the expression ipsum commendamus rogantes et rogando mandantes and others like it. Hinschius, III. 116, dates insistence on reservations as a right from the time of Lucius III., 1181-1185.
In setting aside the vested rights of chapters and other electors, the pope often joined hands with kings and princes. In the Avignon period a regular election by a chapter was the exception.172172 Haller, p, 107. The Chronicles of England and France teem with usurped cases of papal appointment. In 1322 the pope reserved to himself all the appointments in episcopal, cathedral, and abbey churches, and of all priors in the sees of Aquileja, Ravenna, Milan, Genoa, and Pisa.173173 Lux, p. 61 sq. This author, pp. 59-106, gives 57 documents not before published, containing reservations by John XXII. and his successors. In 1329 he made such reservation for the German dioceses of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, and in 1339 for Cologne.174174 Kirsch: Kollektorien, p. xxv sq. There was no living in Latin Christendom which was safe from the pope’s hands. There were not places enough to satisfy all the favorites of the papal household and the applicants pressed upon the pope’s attention by kings and princes. The spiritual and administrative qualities of the appointees were not too closely scrutinized. Frenchmen were appointed to sees in England, Germany, Denmark, and other countries, who were utterly unfamiliar with the languages of those countries. Marsiglius complains of these "monstrosities "and, among other unfit appointments, mentions the French bishops of Winchester and Lund, neither of whom knew English or Danish. The archbishop of Lund, after plundering his diocese, returned to Southern France.
To the supreme right of appointment was added the supreme right to tax the clergy and all ecclesiastical property. The supreme right to exercise authority over kings, the supreme right to set aside canonical rules, the supreme right to make appointments in the Church, the supreme right to tax Church property, these were, in their order, the rights asserted by the popes of the Middle Ages. The scandal growing out of this unlimited right of taxation called forth the most vigorous complaints from clergy and laity, and was in large part the cause which led to the summoning of the three great Reformatory councils of the fifteenth century.175175 See Hergenröther-Kirsch, II. 762. K. Müller: Kirchengesch., II. 45. Kirsch: Finanzverwaltung, p. 70. Pastor, in the 1st ed. of his Hist. of the Popes, I. 63, said das unheilvolle System der Annaten, Reservationen und Expektanzen hat seit Johann XXII. zur Ausbildung gelangt.
Popes had acted upon this theory of jurisdiction over the property of the Church long before John XXII. They levied taxes for crusades in the Orient, or to free Italy from rebels for the papal state. They gave their sanction to princes and kings to levy taxes upon the Church for secular purposes, especially for wars.176176 The course of Clement V., in allowing grants to Philip the Fair, Charles of Valois, and other princes, was followed by John. In 1316 he granted to the king of France a tenth and annates for four years, in 1326 a tenth for two years, and in 1333 a tenth for six years. The English king, in 1317, was given a share of the tenth appointed by the Council of Vienne for a crusade and at the same time one-half of the annates. Again, in the years 1319, 1322, 1330, a tenth was accorded to the same sovereign. See Haller, p. 116 sq. In the bull Clericis laicos, Boniface did not mean to call in question the propriety of the Church’s contributing to the necessities of the state. What he demanded was that he himself should be recognized as arbiter in such matters, and it was this demand which gave offence to the French king and to France itself. The question was much discussed whether the pope may commit simony. Thomas Aquinas gave an affirmative answer. Alvarus Pelagius177177 De planctu eccles., II. 14, papa legibus loquentibus de simonia et canonibus solutus est. thought differently, and declared that the pope is exempt from the laws and canons which treat of simony. Augustinus Triumphus took the same ground.178178 V. 3, certum est, summum pontificem canonicam simoniam a jure positivo prohibitam non posse committere, quia ipse est supra jus et eum jura positiva non ligant. The pope is not bound by laws. He is above laws. Simony is not possible to him.
In estimating the necessities of the papal court, which justified the imposition of customs, the Avignon popes were no longer their own masters. They were the creatures of the camera and the hungry horde of officials and sycophants whose clamor filled the papal offices day and night. These retainers were not satisfied with bread. Every superior office in Christendom had its value in terms of gold and silver. When it was filled by papal appointment, a befitting fee was the proper recognition. If a favor was granted to a prince in the appointment of a favorite, the papal court was pretty sure to seize some new privilege as a compensation for itself. Precedent was easily made a permanent rule. Where the pope once invaded the rights of a chapter, he did not relinquish his hold, and an admission fee once fixed was not renounced. We may not be surprised at the rapacity which was developed at the papal court. That was to be expected. It grew out of the false papal theory and the abiding qualities of human nature.179179 Kirsch: Kollektorien, p. xii sq. and other Catholic writers make some defence of John’s financial measures on the ground that the sources of income from the State of the Church dried up when the papacy was transferred to Avignon.
The details governing the administration of the papal finances John set forth in two bulls of 1316 and 1331. His scheme fixed the financial policy of the papacy and sacred college.180180 For the details, see Tangl, p. 20 sqq. The sources from which the papacy drew its revenues in the fourteenth century were: (1) freewill offerings, so called, given for ecclesiastical appointments and other papal favors, called visitations, annates, servitia; and (2) tributes from feudal states such as Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and England, and the revenues from the papal state in Italy.181181 See vol. V. 1, p. 787 sqq. The moneys so received were apportioned between four parties, the pope, the college of cardinals, and their two households. Under John XXlI. the freewill offerings, so called, came to be regarded as obligatory fees. Every papal gift had its compensation. There was a list of prices, and it remained in force till changed on the basis of new estimates of the incomes of benefices. To answer objections, John XXII., in his bull of 1331, insisted that the prices set upon such favors were not a charge for the grace imparted, but a charge for the labor required for writing the pertinent documents.182182 Non habita consideratione ad valorem beneficii, de quo fiet gratia sed ad laborem scripturae dumtaxat. See Tangl, p. 21. But the declaration did not remove the ill odor of the practice. The taxes levied were out of all proportion to the actual cost of the written documents, and the privileges were not to be had without money.
These payments were regularly recorded in registers or ledgers kept by the papal secretaries of the camera. The details of the papal exchequer, extant in the Archives of the Vatican, have only recently been subjected to careful investigation through the liberal policy of Leo XIII., and have made possible a new chapter in works setting forth the history of the Church in this fourteenth century.183183 Woker took up the study in 1878, and has been followed by a number of scholars such as Tangl, Gottlob, Goeller, Haller, Baumgarten, Schulte, and especially Dr. Kirsch, professor of church history in the Catholic University of Freiburg, Switzerland. See, for a full description, Baumgarten, pp. v-xiii. The subject involves a vast array of figures and commercial briefs of all kinds, and includes the organization of the camera, the system of collection, the graduated scales of prices, the transmission of moneys to Avignon, the division of the receipts between the pope and the cardinals, the values of the numerous coins, etc. Garampi, a keeper of the Vatican Archives, in the eighteenth century arranged these registers according to countries. See Kirsch, Kollektorien, p. vii, and Rückkehr, p. xli-l; Tangl, vi sqq.; Baumgarten, viii, x sqq.
These studies confirm the impression left by the chroniclers and tract-writers of the fourteenth century. The money dealings of the papal court were on a vast scale, and the transactions were according to strict rules of merchandise.184184 Kirsch: Kollektorien, p. vii, note, gives four different headings under which the moneys were recorded, namely: (1) census and visitations; (2) bulls; (3) servitia communia; (4) sundry sources. He also gives the entries under which disbursements were entered, such as the kitchen, books and parchments, palfreys, journeys, wars, etc. Avignon was a great money centre. Spiritual privileges were vouched for by carefully worded and signed contracts and receipts. The papal commercial agents went to all parts of Europe.
Archbishop, bishop, and abbot paid for the letters confirming their titles to their dignities. The appointees to lower clerical offices did the same. There were fees for all sorts of concessions, dispensations and indulgences, granted to layman and to priest. The priest born out of wedlock, the priest seeking to be absent from his living, the priest about to be ordained before the canonical age, all had to have a dispensation, and these cost money.185185 Tangl, 74 sq The larger revenues went directly into the papal treasury and the treasury of the camera. The smaller fees went to notaries, doorkeepers, to individual cardinals, and other officials. These intermediaries stood in a long line with palms upturned. To use a modern term, it was an intricate system of graft. The beneficiaries were almost endless. The large body of lower officials are usually designated in the ledgers by the general term "familiars" of the pope or camera.186186 As an example of the host of these officials who had to be fed, see Tangl, pp. 64-67. He gives a list of the fees paid by agents of the city of Cologne, which was seeking certain bulls in 1393. The title "secretary" does not occur till the reign of Benedict XII., 1338. Goeller, p. 46. The notaries, or copyists, received stipulated sums for every document they transcribed and service they performed. However exorbitant the demands might seem, the petitioners were harried by delays and other petty annoyances till in sheer weariness they yielded.
The taxes levied upon the higher clergy were usually paid at Avignon by the parties in person. For the collection of the annates from the lower clergy and of tithes and other general taxes, collectors and subcollectors were appointed. We find these officials in different parts of Europe. They had their fixed salaries, and sent periodical reckonings to the central bureau at Avignon.187187 One of the allowances made by John XXII. for collectors was 5 gold florins a day. Kirsch: Kollektorien, VII. sqq., XLIX. sqq. Kirsch gives the official ledgers of papal collectors in Basel, pp. 4-32, and other sees of Germany. Sometimes the bishop acted as collector in his diocese, Goeller, p. 71. The transmission of the moneys they collected was often a dangerous business. Not infrequently the carriers were robbed on their way, and the system came into vogue of employing merchant and banking houses to do this business, especially Italian firms, which had representatives in Northern and Central Europe. The ledgers show a great diversity in the names and value of the coins. And it was a nice process to estimate the values of these moneys in the terms of the more generally accepted standards.188188 For elaborate comparisons of the value of the different coins of the fourteenth century, see Kirsch, Kollektorien, LXXVIII. and Rückkehr, p. xli sqq. Gottlob, pp. 133, 174 sq., etc. Baumgarten, CCXI sqq. The silver mark, the gold florin and the pound Tournois were among the larger coins most current. One mark was worth 4 or 6 gold florins, or 8 pounds Tournois. The grossus Turonensis was equal to about 26 cents of our value. See Tangl, 14. For the different estimates of marks in florins, see Baumgarten, CXXI. The gold florin had the face value of $2.50 of our money, or nearly 10 marks German coinage. See Kirsch, Kollektorien, p. Ixx; Rückkehr, p. xlv; Gottlob, Servitientaxe, p. 176; Baumgarten, p. ccxiii; Tangl, 14, etc. Kirsch gives the purchasing price of money in the fourteenth century as four times what it now is, Finanzerverwaltung p. 56. The gold mark in 1370 was worth 62 gold florins the silver mark 5 florins, Kirsch: Rückkehr, p. xlv. Kirsch: Rückkehr, pp. l-lxi, gives a very elaborate and valuable list of the prices of commodities and wages in 1370 from the Vatican ledger accounts. Urban V.’s agents bought two horses for 117 florins gold and two mules for 90 florins. They paid 1 gold florin for 12 pairs of shoes and 1 pair of boots. A salma of wheat—equal to 733 loaves of bread—cost 4 florins, or $10 in our money. The keeper of the papal stables received 120 gold florins a year. The senator of Rome received from Gregory XI. 600 gold florins a month. A watchman of the papal palace, 7 gold florins a month. Carpenters received from 12-18 shillings Provis, or 60-80 cents, 47 of these coins being equal to 1 gold florin.
The offerings made by prelates at their visits to the papal see, called visitationes,189189 Visitationes ad limina apostolorum, that is, visits to Rome. were divided equally between the papal treasury and the cardinals. From the lists, it appears that the archbishops of York paid every three years "300 marks sterling, or 1200 gold florins." Every two years the archbishops of Canterbury paid "300 marks sterling, or 1500 gold florins;" the archbishop of Tours paid 400 pounds Tournois; of Rheims, 500 pounds, Tournois; of Rouen, 1000 pounds Tournois.190190 See Baumgarten, CXXI.; Kirsch: Finanzverwaltung, p. 22 sq. The archbishop of Armagh, at his visitation in 1301, paid 60 silver marks, or 250 gold florins. In 1350 the camera claimed from Armagh back payments for fifty years.191191 Baumgarten, p. cxxii. Presumably no bishop of that Irish diocese had made a visit in that interval. Whether the claim was honored or not, is not known.
The servitia communia, or payments made by archbishops, bishops, and abbots on their confirmation to office, were also listed, according to a fixed scale. The voluntary idea had completely disappeared before a fixed assessment.192192 Gottlob, Servitien, p. 30 sqq., 75-93; Baumgarten, p. xcvii sqq. Such a dignitary was called an electus until he had paid off the tax.193193 Gottlob, p. 130. In certain cases the tax was remitted on account of the poverty of the ecclesiastic, and in the ledgers the entry was made, "not taxed on account of poverty," non taxata propter paupertatem. The amount of this tax seems to have varied, and was sometimes one-third of the income and sometimes a larger portion.194194 Kirsch: Finanzverwaltung, and Baumgarten, p. xcvii, make it one-third. Gottlob, p. 120 says it was sometimes more. In the fourteenth century the following sees paid servitia as follows: Mainz, 5,000 gold florins; Treves, 7, 000; Cologne, 10,000; Narbonne, 10,000. On the basis of a new valuation, Martin V. in 1420 raised the taxation of the sees of Mainz and Treves to 10,000 florins each, or $25,000 of our money, so that they corresponded to the assessment made from of old upon Cologne.195195 Baumgarten, p. cvi, Schulte, p. 97 sq. Cases are also reported of the reduction of the assessment upon a revaluation of the property. In 1326 the assessment of the see of Breslau was reduced from 4, 000 to 1, 786 gold florins. Kirsch: Finanzverwaltung, p. 8. When an incumbent died without having met the full tax, his successor made up the deficit in addition to paying the assessment for his own confirmation.196196 For cases, see Baumgarten, p. cviii. Attempts to get rid of this assessment were unavailing. The bishop of Bamberg, in 1335, left Avignon without a bull of confirmation because he had not made the prescribed payment. The reason is not recorded, but the statement is spread on the ledger entry that episcopal confirmation should not be granted to him till the Apostolic letters pertaining to it were properly registered and delivered by the Apostolic camera. Goeller, p. 69.
The following cases will give some idea of the annoyances to which bishops and abbots were put who travelled to Avignon to secure letters of papal confirmation to their offices. In 1334, the abbot-elect of St. Augustine, Canterbury, had to wait in Avignon from April 22 to Aug. 9 to get his confirmation, and it cost him 148 pounds sterling. John IV., abbot-elect of St. Albans, in 1302 went for consecration to Rome, accompanied by four monks. He arrived May 6, presented his case to Boniface VIII. in person at Anagni, May 9, and did not get back to London till Aug. 1, being all the while engaged in the process of getting his papers properly prepared and certified to.197197 Gesta Abb. monaster. S. Albani, II. 55 sq. See Gottlob, Servitien, p. 174 sqq. for the full list of his expenses. The expense of getting his case through was 2,585 marks, or 10,340 gold florins; or $25,000 of our money. The ways in which this large sum was distributed are not a matter of conjecture. The exact itemized statement is extant: 2,258 marks, or 9,032 florins, went to "the Lord pope and the cardinals." Of this sum 5,000 florins, or 1,250 marks, are entered as a payment for the visitatio, and the remainder in payment of the servitium to the cardinals. The remaining 327 marks, or 1,308 florins, were consumed in registration and notarial fees and gifts to cardinals. To Cardinal Francis of St. Maria in Cosmedin, a nephew of Boniface, a gift was made costing more than 10 marks, or 40 florins.
Another abbot-elect of St. Albans, Richard II., went to Avignon in 1326 accompanied by six monks, and was well satisfied to get away with the payment of 3,600 gold florins. He was surprised that the tax was so reasonable. Abbot William of the diocese of Autun, Oct. 22, 1316, obligated himself to pay John XXII., as confirmation tax, 1,500 gold florins, and to John’s officials 170 more.198198 The contract is printed entire by Kirsch, Finanzerverwaltung, pp. 73-77, and Gottlob, p. 162 sqq.
The fees paid to the lower officials, called servitia minuta, were classified under five heads, four of them going to the officials, familiares of the pontiff, and one to the officials of the cardinals.199199 See Gottlob, pp. 102-118; Schulte, p. 13 sqq. The exact amounts received on account of servitia or confirmation fees by the pope and the college of cardinals, probably will never be known. From the lists that have been examined, the cardinals between 1316–1323 received from this source 234,047 gold florins, or about 39,000 florins a year. As the yield from this tax was usually, though not always, divided in equal shares between the pope and the cardinals, the full sum realized from this source was double this amount.200200 Baumgarten, p. cxx.
The annates, so far as they were the tax levied by the pope upon appointments made by himself to lower clerical offices and livings, went entirely into the papal treasury, and seem to have been uniformly one-half of the first year’s income.201201 John XXII., 1316, Benedict XII, 1335, Clement VI., 1342, and Boniface IX., 1392, issued bulls requiring such appointees to pay one-half the first year’s income into the papal treasury. See, on this subject, Kirsch, Kollektorien, p. xxv sqq. He mentions the papal collector, Gerardus, who gives a continuous list for the years 1343-1360, of such payments of annates, fructus beneficiorum vacantium ad Cameram Apostolicam pertinentes. The annates, or annalia, were originally given to the bishops when livings became vacant, but were gradually reserved for the papal treasury. See Friedberg, Kirchliche Abgaben, in Herzog, I. 95. They were designated as livings "becoming vacant in curia," which was another way of saying, places which had been reserved by the pope. The popes from time to time extended this tax through the use of the right of reservation to all livings becoming vacant in a given district during a certain period. In addition to the annate tax, the papal treasury also drew an income during the period of their vacancy from the livings reserved for papal appointment and during the period when an incumbent held the living without canonical right. These were called the "intermediate fruits"—medii fructus.202202 Kirsch: Kollektorien, p. xxvi. Benedict, 1335, appropriated these payments to the papal treasury.
Special indulgences were an uncertain but no less important source of revenue. The prices were graded according to the ability of the parties to pay and the supposed inherent value of the papal concession. Queen Johanna of Sicily paid 500 grossi Tournois, or about $150, for the privilege of taking the oath to the archbishop of Naples, who acted as the pope’s representative. The bull readmitting to the sacraments of the Church Margaret of Maultasch and her husband, Lewis of Brandenburg, the son of Lewis the Bavarian, cost the princess 2000 grossi Tournois. The king of Cyprus was poor, and secured for his subjects indulgence to trade with the Egyptians for the modest sum of 100 pounds Tournois, but had to pay 50 pounds additional for a ship sent with cargo to Egypt.203203 Tangl, pp. 31, 32, 37 There was a graduated scale for papal letters giving persons liberty to choose their confessor without regard to the parish priests.
To these sources of income were added the taxes for the relief of the Holy Land—pro subsidio terrae sanctae. The Council of Vienne ordered a tenth for six years for this purpose. John XXII., 1333, repeated the substance of Clement’s bull. The expense of clearing Italy of hostile elements and reclaiming papal territory as a preliminary to the pope’s return to Rome was also made the pretext for levying special taxes. For this object Innocent VI. levied a three-years’ tax of a tenth upon the Church in Germany, and in 1366 Urban V. levied another tenth upon all the churches of Christendom.204204 Kirsch: Kollektorien, pp. xx, xxi.
It would be a mistake to suppose that the Church always responded to these appeals, or that the collectors had easy work in making collections. The complaints, which we found so numerous in England in the thirteenth century, we meet with everywhere during the fourteenth century. The resistance was determined, and the taxes were often left unpaid for years or not paid at all.
The revenues derived from feudal states and princes, called census, were divided equally between the cardinals and the pope’s private treasury. Gregory X., in 1272, was the first to make such a division of the tribute from Sicily, which amounted to 8000 ounces of gold, or about $90,000.205205 Kirsch: Finanzverwaltung, p. 3; Rückkehr, p. xv. The payment to Urban V. in 1367 and its division into equal shares is a matter of record. In a ledger account begun in 1317, and now in the Vatican, an ounce of gold was estimated at 5 florins, a pound of gold at 96 florins. See Kirsch, Finanzverwaltung, p. 71; Baumgarten, p. ccxi. In the pontificate of John XXII. there is frequent mention of the amounts contributed by Sicily and their equal partition. The sums varied from year to year, and in 1304 it was 3000 ounces of gold. The tribute of Sardinia and Corsica was fixed in 1297 at the annual sum of 2000 marks, and was divided between the two treasuries.206206 Baumgarten, p. cxlii sq. The papal state and Ferrara yielded uncertain sums, and the tribute of 1000 marks, pledged by John of England, was paid irregularly, and finally abrogated altogether. Peter’s pence, which belongs in this category, was an irregular source of papal income.207207 Baumgarten, CXXVI. sqq.
The yearly income of the papal treasury under Clement V. and John XXII. has been estimated at from 200,000 to 250,000 gold florins.208208 Ehrle: Process über d. Nachlass Klemens V., in Archiv, etc., V. 147. The revenue of Philip the Fair amounted in 1301 to 267,900 pounds. See Gottlob, Servitien, 133. Gottlob, p. 134, says the cardinals received as much more as their share. In 1353 it is known to have been at least 260,000 florins, or more than $600,000 of our money
These sources of income were not always sufficient for the expenses of the papal household, and in cases had to be anticipated by loans. The popes borrowed from cardinals, from princes, and from bankers. Urban V. got a loan from his cardinals of 30, 000 gold florins. Gregory XI. got loans of 30,000 florins from the king of Navarre, and 60, 000 from the duke of Anjou. The duke seems to have been a ready lender, and on another occasion loaned Gregory 40,000 florins.209209 Haller, p. 138. It was a common thing for bishops and abbots to make loans to enable them to pay the expense of their confirmation. The abbot of St. Albans, in 1290, was assessed 1300 pounds for his servitium, and borrowed 500 of it.210210 Walter de Gray, bishop of Worcester, is said to have borrowed 10,000 pounds at his elevation, 1215. Roger de Wendover, as quoted by Gottlob, p. 136. The passage runs obligatus in curia Romana de decem millibus libris, etc. Gottlob understands this to refer to Roman bankers, not to the Roman curia. The habit grew until the time of the Reformation, when the sums borrowed, as in the case of Albrecht, archbishop of Mainz, were enormous.
The transactions of the Avignon chancellory called forth loud complaints, even from contemporary apologists for the papacy. Alvarus Pelagius, in his Lament over the Church, wrote: "No poor man can approach the pope. He will call and no one will answer, because he has no money in his purse to pay. Scarcely is a single petition heeded by the pope until it has passed through the hands of middlemen, a corrupt set, bought with bribes, and the officials conspire together to extort more than the rule calls for." In another place he said that whenever he entered into the papal chambers he always found the tables full of gold, and clerics counting and weighing florins.211211 De planctu eccl. II. 7, quum saepe intraverim in cameram camerarii domni papae, semper ibi vidi nummularios et mensas plenas auro, et clericos computantes et trutinantes florenos. See Döllinger-Friedrich, pp. 86, 420. Of the Spanish bishops he said that there was scarcely one in a hundred who did not receive money for ordinations and the gift of benefices. Matters grew no better, but rather worse as the fourteenth century advanced. Dietrich of Nieheim, speaking of Boniface IX., said that "the pope was an insatiable gulf, and that as for avarice there was no one to compare with him."212212 Insatiabilis vorago et in avaricia nullus ei similis. De schismate, Erler’s ed., p. 119. The sacra auri fames prevailed at Avignon. To effect a cure of the disease, which was a scandal to Christendom, the popes would have been obliged to cut off the great army of officials who surrounded them. But this vast organized body was stronger than the Roman pontiff. The fundamental theory of the rights of the papal office was at fault. The councils made attempts to introduce reforms, but in vain. Help came at last and from an unexpected quarter, when Luther and the other leaders openly revolted against the mediaeval theory of the papacy and of the Church.
|« Prev||The Financial Policy of the Avignon Popes||Next »|