Thursday, 29. November 2018, 16:30

The Early Medieval West as a Temple Society

Lecture by Ian Wood

The purpose of this lecture is to consider the post-Roman West in the light of criteria that have been used to analyse the Temple societies of southern India, and especially to consider the endowment of churches within a system of economic redistribution. The scale of church endowment (amounting perhaps to a third of western Europe by the year 700), and the uses to which church income was put (support for the bishop and clergy, financial provision for the building and upkeep of churches, and the distribution of funds to the poor, widows, orphans and captives) is noted. So too, an estimate is made of the numbers of clergy, monks and nuns, suggesting that taken together they constituted a similar proportion of the population in the seventh century as the army had constituted in the early fourth century.  This is followed by comment on the relative insignificance of military activity in the post-Roman West during the seventh century. The combination of these points leads to the conclusion that the post-Roman West fits the criteria applied to Temple societies in southern India.