Æthelwulf, King of Wessex:
Grant of a Tenth of Public Land, 854
Though apparently one tenth of the Kingdom of Wessex was given to the Church, King
Athelwulf was really making a grant out of public land. Such a grant was an actual
conveyance of real property rather than a gift of a tithe of the produce of the land.
For which cause, I, Athelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, with the advice of my
bishops and nobles, for a remedy thereof have adopted the wholesome expedient of granting
forever some portion of my kingdom to God and the holy Mary, and all saints; to wit, a
tenth part of my land, free and quit of all secular services, king's tribute both great
and small, and the taxations we call witeredden; and for the good of my soul and
the remission of my sins, let it be wholly free for the service of God alone, exempt from
military service, the building of bridges and castle-ward, to the end that prayers may
ascend without ceasing unto God for us, and so much the more diligently as we in aught
remit the services of those who offer them....
This charter of donation was written in the year of grace 854, in the fourth indiction,
of the ninth day of November, in the city of Winchester, before the greater altar of the
blessed apostle Peter.
J. A. Giles, ed., Roger of Wendover's Flowers of History, (London: H. G. Bohn,
1849), Vol. I, p. 183; reprinted in Roy C. Cave & Herbert H. Coulson, A Source Book
for Medieval Economic History, (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1936; reprint
ed., New York: Biblo & Tannen, 1965), pp. 380-381.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by
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© Paul Halsall, October 1998