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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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The question of origins

The question of origins

Chapter:
(p.92) 4 The question of origins
Source:
The Proprietary Church in the Medieval West
Author(s):

Susan Wood

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206972.003.0005

Ulrich Stutz argued that the proprietary church originated in the primitive ‘household priesthood’ of heathen Germans: the father of a family offering prayer and sacrifice to the gods on behalf of his household. This, he thought, changed its character with the rise of chieftains among the heads of households. A lord with dependants too numerous to meet in his hall for worship would build a temple as an outbuilding, to which neighbours as well as dependants might come, and where he might delegate priesthood to a servant. When lords and their followers were converted, during or after their migrations, they continued these customs as Christians. Thus, the landlord's church is the successor of a barbarian lord's temple for his followers, while the independent priest's church is the survival of the plain householder's smaller-scale priesthood. This theory, with modifications, has been tenaciously maintained, but rests on little evidence.

Keywords:   proprietary church, Ulrich Stutz, Germany, parish churches, Catholic churches, private churches, property, barbarians, lands

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