Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 203
The law concerning issues of possession of ecclesiastical property by clerics and their families. The codification known as Lex Visigothorum (issued and re-edited in several redactions between AD 569 and 702).
De rebus ecclesie ab his possessis, qui sunt ecclesie obsequiis mancipati.
Heredes episcopi seu aliorum clericorum, qui filios suos in obsequium ecclesie conmendaverint, et terras vel aliquid ex munificentia ecclesie possiderint, si ipsi in laicis reversi fuerint aut de servitio ecclesie, cuius terram vel aliquam substantiam possidebant, discesserint, statim quod possidebant amittant. Sed et de omnibus clericis, qui de rebus ecclesie quecumque possederint, servetur hec forma; ne quamvis longa possessio dominium ecclesie a rebus sibi debitis quandoque secludat, quia et canonum auctoritas ita conmendat. Sed et vidue sacerdotum vel aliorum clericorum, que filios suos in obsequium ecclesie conmendant, pro sola miseratione de rebus ecclesiasticis, quas pater tenuit, non efficiantur exteri.
(ed. K. Zeumer 1905: 209)
On Church property possessed by those who were given to the service of the Church.
If the heirs of a bishop or of other clerics who gave their sons to the service of the Church have in their possession land or other resources of the Church, and then become lay persons again or abandon the service of the Church whose land or other wealth they hold, they shall at once be deprived of them. But let this rule apply also to all clerics who possess anything from Church property, so that even long possession would never deprive the Church's domain from the things due to it. The authority of the canons also commends it. But the widows of priests and other clerics, who gave their sons to the service of the Church, solely out of pity should have a share in the ecclesiastical property which was held by the father.
(trans. M. Szada)


See also the law from the Code of Euric ([201]).
It seems that a person in the service of the Church did not necessarily have to be a cleric. These might have been tenants who held some part of ecclesiastical property in exchange for their labour.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Gaul

About the source:

Title: Lex Visigothorum, Liber iudiciorum, Liber iudiciorum sive Lex Visigothorum
Origin: Iberian Peninsula
Denomination: Arian, Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Lex Visigothorum is a codification of law first composed during the reign of King Leovigild (569-586) on the basis of the Code of Euric, but the basis of all extant manuscripts is its revised version from the reign of King Reccesvinth (649-672). The codification was also enlarged in the times of Kings Ervig (680-687) and Ecgica (687-702).
K. Zeumer ed., Liber iudiciorum sive lex Visigothorum, Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Leges nationum Germanicarum 1, Hannover, Leipzig 1902, 33-456.
The Visigothic Code (Forum Judicum), trans. S.P. Scott, Boston 1910
Leges Visigothorum in: Bibliotheca legum regni Francorum manuscripta,  Karl Ubl (Ed.) assisted by Dominik Trump and Daniela Schulz, Cologne 2012. URL:


Social origin or status - Clerical family
    Family life - Marriage
      Family life - Offspring
        Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
          Described by a title - Clericus
            Ecclesiastical administration - Administering Church property
              Private law - Secular
                Economic status and activity - Ownership or possession of land
                  Economic status and activity - Inheritance
                    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER203,