Sacred Trust

Sacred Trust : The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm

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The Church dominated society in the Middle Ages and functioned as a quasi-government, providing public and private goods. This book is the first to examine specific institutions in the Church in the Middle Ages in economic terms. Other books have argued generally that the Church either had a positive or negative effect on economic development. The authors of this book look more closely at the actual Church institutions and practices and describe how each functioned as a part of the larger economy of the time. They focus especially on marriage, usury, heresy, the crusades, and the monasteries. It is not their purpose to reject or impugn religious motives that may be advanced by theologians and historians. Their goal is to bring a fresh perspective to the role of institutions of the medieval Church in economic more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 163.8 x 243.1 x 22.6mm | 522.53g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • tables
  • 0195103378
  • 9780195103373
  • 1,456,185

Back cover copy

In Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm, five highly respected economists advance the controversial argument that the story of the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages is in large part a story of supply and demand. Without denying the centrality - or sincerity - of religious motives, the authors employ the tools of modern economics to analyze how the Church's objectives went well beyond the realm of the spiritual. They explore the myriad sources of the Church's wealth, including tithes and land rents, donations and bequests, judicial services and monastic agricultural production. And they present an in-depth look at the ways in which Church principles on marriage, usury, and crusade were revised as necessary to meet - and in many ways to create - the needs of a vast body of consumers. Along the way, the book raises and answers many intriguing questions. The authors explore the reasons behind the great crusades against the Moslems, probing beyond motives of pure idealism to highlight the Church's concern with revenues from tourism and the sale of relics threatened by Moslem encroachment in the holy lands. They examine the Church's involvement in the marriage market, revealing how the clergy filled their coffers by extracting fees for blessing or dissolving marital unions, for hearing marital disputes, and even for granting permission for blood relatives to wed. And they shed light on the concept of purgatory, showing how this "product innovation" developed by the Church in the twelfth century - a form of "deferred payment" - opened the floodgates for a fresh market in post-mortem atonement through payments on behalf of the deceased. Finally, the authors show how thecumulative costs that the faithful were asked to bear eventually priced the Roman Catholic Church out of the market, paving the way for Protestant reformers like Martin more

About Robert B. Ekelund

Robert B. Ekelund is Lowder Eminent Scholar in Economics at Auburn University. Robert D. Tollison is Duncan Black Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Gary M. Anderson is Professor of Economics at California State University, Northridge. Robert F. Hebert is Russell Foundation Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies at Auburn University. Audrey B. Davidson is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Louisville."show more

Review quote

This is a courageous and fascinating book. * James Buchanan, George Mason University, USA *show more

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