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The Donatist ChurchA Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa$
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W. H. C. Frend

Print publication date: 1985

Print ISBN-13: 9780198264088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198264088.001.0001

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North Africa in the Fourth Century a.d.

North Africa in the Fourth Century a.d.

(p.60) V North Africa in the Fourth Century A.D.
The Donatist Church

W. H. C. Frend

Oxford University Press

The existence of personal rivalries between the Numidian and Carthaginian clergy and the development of different types of society near Carthage and in Numidia form part of the background to the misunderstandings that led to the outbreak of the schism. Morever, the prevailing economic conditions in Africa during the fourth and early fifth centuries are clearly relevant towards understanding the nature of Donatism. The main trends in Africa during this period were the irrevocable decline of the Roman cities, and with it the pagan culture of the middle classes; the increase of taxation and the unrelieved oppression of the peasantry; and, finally, the growth of a small group of wealthy landowners who were largely able to avoid taxation and to live a life of comparative leisure. In the resulting social conflicts, the Donatists and Catholics took different sides.

Keywords:   Donatists, Catholics, Roman cities, religious discontent, African economy

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