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Also known as Romscot, Rom-scot or Church Scot.

Peter's Pence was an annual contribution or tax for the support of the Papacy paid by every English householder traditionally at the rate of one silver penny for every family occupying land worth thirty pence a year.

It was instituted by either;

The first clear evidence of such a payment dates to the reign of Cnut and specifically the year 1031 when Cnut wrote in reference to denarii quos Romae ad Sanctum Petrum debemus or "the pennies which we owe to Rome at St. Peter's" and indicated that it was an ancient practice at that time.

A useful source of revenue for the Papacy who sought to extend the practice wherever possible; in the tenth century it was introduced into Poland, Prussia and the Scandinavia countries, Pope Gregory VII attempted to extract it from France and Spain and it was extended to Ireland under the bull Laudabiliter issued by Pope Adrian IV to Henry II in 1155.

In England however a succession of monarchs used the threat of withholding Peter's pence as a means of leverage against the Pope and the monarchy often fell many years in arrears as a result of such actions as well as a general shortage of funds

Naturally Henry VIII stopped paying completely in 1534 when he created the Church of England.

Not to be confused with the annual tribute of l,000 marks that king John committed the monarchy to pay to the Papacy in recognition of the feudal dependence of his kingdom.


In the modern Roman Catholic Church it refers to the Peter's Pence collection, instituted by Pope Pius IX in the 1860's which is an annual special appeal for voluntary contributions from the Catholic faithful to help support the charitable works of the Pope.


SOURCES

  1. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica at http://44.1911encyclopedia.org/P/PE/PETER_S_PENCE.htm
  2. History of Peter's Pence from The Seraph - Catholic History, May 1996, Vol. XVI No. 9 at http://friarsminor.org/xvi9-2.html
  3. The Archiocese of Portland in Oregon website at http://www.archdpdx.org/news2001/june-aug01/peters-pence.htm

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