A Grant of One Tenth of the Land. King Athelwulf ‘s gift to the Church

In 854AD King Athelwulf issued a Grant of One Tenth of the Land in Wessex to the church. The grant is significant as it was handing over the physical property to the church, rather than gifting a tithe. This increased the wealth of the church and set a precedent that would be continued up to the Norman Conquest in both Wessex and later, across England.

English: Miniature of King Æthelwulf of Wessex in the Genealogical roll of the kings of England
English: Miniature of King Æthelwulf of Wessex in the Genealogical roll of the kings of England, c1320

Source: A Grant of One Tenth of the Land. 854AD, King Athelwulf of Wessex

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)

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