Property, Social Status, and Church Building in Visigothic Iberia

Rural Christian basilicas become increasingly visible in both the archaeological record and literary sources of the sixth- and seventh-century Iberian Peninsula. Wealthy private donors were chief agents behind the process of church building insofar as we can reconstruct this process. Proprietary rights over these churches were never clear, as the ultimate proprietor of a foundation was the individual church itself. Bishops kept control over the management of these churches while donors maintained some rights of control over the endowment. This particular proprietary configuration worked for the social benefit of both the landowners who funded these constructions and the Christian Church. Through the endowment of rural basilicas, pious laity were able to mark high social standing in a world with few legal demarcations between elite and nonelite. At the same time, episcopally led Christianity was able to extend its infrastructural reach into the countryside. Rather than opposition between donors and bishops, then, the specific proprietary configuration of Visigothic rural churches ultimately served the needs of these two groups simultaneously.

Citação completa

FERNÁNDEZ, Damián. Property, Social Status, and Church Building in Visigothic Iberia. Journal of Late Antiquity, Baltimore, v. 9, n. 2, p. 512-541, 2016.