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The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West$
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Susan Wood

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206972.001.0001

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(p.1) Prologue
The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West

Susan Wood

Oxford University Press

The term ‘proprietary church’ originated from the German word Eigenkirche, coined in 1894 by Ulrich Stutz to denote a church that was some person's or group's ‘own’ (eigen): a possession comprising not only the church building with its contents but its land, buildings, and stock, its tithes, dues, and offerings, and the appointment of its priest. Stutz argued that the proprietary church system crippled the diocesan bishops' control of clergy, churches, and church property over some five centuries, spread eventually to higher churches, and almost engulfed the church of Rome itself. Much of Stutz's ideas have now to be questioned or rejected. This book presents the concept of proprietary church as a fluid set of attitudes and practices taking shape as customary law, shows how this worked in practice, and discusses the interests, values, and ideas behind it and how these changed over time, until the patronage system largely superseded it.

Keywords:   proprietary church, Ulrich Stutz, property, lands, Western Europe, Catholic churches

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