Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 148
Canon 10 of the Council of Tarragona (Iberian Peninsula) in AD 516 forbids clerics to accept payment for delivering a judgment or defending someone in court.
Canon 10
Vt nullus episcopus pro iudiciis munera accipiat.
Obseruandum quoque decreuimus ne quis sacerdotum uel clericorum more saecularium iudicum audeat accipere pro inpensis patrociniis munera, nisi forte in ecclesia oblata gratuita, quae non fauore muneris uideantur accepta, sed collatione deuotionis illata. Quia si quis ista probantur accipere, ueluti exactores fenoris aut usurarum possessores secundum statuta Patrum se nouerint denegandos.
(eds. Martínez Díez, Rodríguez 1984: 277-278)
Canon 10
That no bishop shall accept remuneration for judging.
We decided that it shall be observed that no priest or cleric dare to accept remuneration for taking his or her part [in court] as secular judges do, unless perhaps it is obtained without payment in church and does not appear to be accepted as remuneration, but rather as a tribute of devotion. If it is proved that they accepted remunerations, let them know that they shall be rejected, as gatherers of unjust profits and possessors of usuries according to the statutes of the fathers.
(trans. by M. Szada)


The title of the canon suggests that it concerns the bishops who accept money for delivering a judgment in favour of one party. The text of the canon itself mentions however also other clerics (quis sacerdotum vel clericorum). It may still speak about their authority as judges, because of the comparison with the secular judges. But it also explicitly mentions the action of defending (patrocinium). It seems most probable that the canon is directed against the judges who are accepting bribes for a favourable verdict. See also Canon 4 of the Council of Tarragona [142] that mentions that bishops and presbyters have the right to judge civil cases and to settle quarrels (cf. Orlandis, Ramos-Lissón 1986: 105-106).
Secundum statuta Patrum may refer to Canon 20 of the Council of Elvira [62] and to Canon 14 from the collection known as the Second Council of Arles [548].

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Tarragona

About the source:

Title: Council of Tarragona, Concilium Tarraconense
Origin: Tarragona (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
In AD 516 the provincial council was held in Tarragona which at the time was ruled by the Ostrogothic King Theodoric (he acted as a guardian for the King of Spain Amalaric). The anomalous presence of two bishops is worth noting - Hector of Cartagena and Orontius of Grenada. Their episcopal sees were outside the province of Tarragona.
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez, eds., La colección canónica Hispana, v. 4 Concilios Galos. Concilios Hispanos: primera parte, Madrid 1984.
J. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, Barcelona-Madrid 1963.
J. Orlandis, D. Ramos-Lissón, Historia de los concilios de la España romana y visigoda, Pamplona 1986.


Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
    Described by a title - Clericus
      Public law - Secular
        Economic status and activity - Loans
          Economic status and activity - Gift
              Administration of justice - Demotion
                Economic status and activity
                  Legal practice
                      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER148,