1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Annates

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ANNATES (Lat. annatae, from annus, “year”), also known as “first-fruits” (Lat. primitiae), in the strictest sense of the word, the whole of the first year’s profits of a spiritual benefice which, in all countries of the Roman obedience, were formerly paid into the papal treasury. This custom was only of gradual growth. The jus deportuum, annalia or annatae, was originally the right of the bishop to claim the first year’s profits of the living from a newly inducted incumbent, of which the first mention is found under Pope Honorius (d. 1227), but which had its origin in a custom, dating from the 6th century, by which those ordained to ecclesiastical offices paid a fee or tax to the ordaining bishop. The earliest records show the annata to have been, sometimes a privilege conceded to the bishop for a term of years, sometimes a right based on immemorial precedent. In course of time the popes, under stress of financial crises, claimed the privilege for themselves, though at first only temporarily. Thus, in 1305, Clement V. claimed the first-fruits of all vacant benefices in England, and in 1319 John XXII. those of all Christendom vacated within the next two years. In those cases the rights of the bishops were frankly usurped by the Holy See, now regarded as the ultimate source of the episcopal jurisdiction; the more usual custom was for the pope to claim the first-fruits only of those benefices of which he had reserved the patronage to himself. It was from these claims that the papal annates, in the strict sense, in course of time developed.

These annates may be divided broadly into three classes, though the chief features are common to all: (1) the servitia communia or servitia Camerae Papae, i.e. the payment into the papal treasury by every abbot and bishop, on his induction, of one year’s revenue of his new benefice. The servitia communia are traceable to the oblatio paid to the pope when consecrating bishops as metropolitan or patriarch. When, in the middle of the 13th century, the consecration of bishops became established as the sole right of the pope, the oblations of all bishops of the West were received by him and, by the close of the 14th century, these became fixed at one year’s revenue.[1] A small additional payment, as a kind of notarial fee, was added (servitia minuta). (2) The jus deportuum, fructus medii temporis, or annalia, i.e. the annates due to the bishop, but in the case of “reserved” benefices paid by him to the Holy See. (3) The quindennia, i.e. annates payable, under a bull of Paul II. (1469), by benefices attached to a corporation, every fifteen years and not at every presentation.

The system of annates was at no time worked with absolute uniformity and completeness throughout the various parts of the church owning obedience to the Holy See, and it was never willingly submitted to by the clergy. Disagreements and disputes were continual, and the easy expedient of rewarding the officials of the Curia and increasing the papal revenue by “reserving” more and more benefices was met by repeated protests, such as that of the bishops and barons of England (the chief sufferers), headed by Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln, at the council of Lyons in 1245.[2] The subject, indeed, frequently became one of national interest, on account of the alarming amount of specie which was thus drained away, and hence numerous enactments exist in regard to it by the various national governments. In England the collection and payment of annates to the pope was prohibited in 1531 by statute. At that time the sum amounted to about £3000 a year. In 1534 the annates were, along with the supremacy over the church in England, bestowed on the crown; but in February 1704 they were appropriated by Queen Anne to the assistance of the poorer clergy, and thus form what has since been known as “Queen Anne’s Bounty” (q.v.). The amount to be paid was originally regulated by a valuation made under the direction of Pope Innocent IV. by Walter, bishop of Norwich, in 1254, later by one instituted under commission from Nicholas III. in 1292, which in turn was superseded in 1535 by the valuation, made by commissioners appointed by Henry VIII., known as the King’s Books, which was confirmed on the accession of Elizabeth and is still that by which the clergy are rated. In France, in spite of royal edicts—like those of Charles VI., Charles VII., Louis XI., and Henry II.—and even denunciations of the Sorbonne, at least the custom of paying the servitia communia held its ground till the famous decree of the 4th of August during the Revolution of 1789. In Germany it was decided by the concordat of Constance, in 1418, that bishoprics and abbacies should pay the servitia according to the valuation of the Roman chancery in two half-yearly instalments. Those reserved benefices only were to pay the annalia which were rated above twenty-four gold florins; and as none were so rated, whatever their annual value may have been, the annalia fell into disuse. A similar convenient fiction also led to their practical abrogation in France, Spain and Belgium. The council of Basel (1431-1443) wished to abolish the servitia, but the concordat of Vienna (1448) confirmed the Constance decision, which, in spite of the efforts of the congress of Ems (1786) to alter it, still remains nominally in force. As a matter of fact, however, the revolution caused by the secularization of the ecclesiastical states in 1803 practically put an end to the system, and the servitia have either been commuted via gratiae to a moderate fixed sum under particular concordats, or are the subject of separate negotiation with each bishop on his appointment. In Prussia, where the bishops receive salaries as state officials, the payment is made by the government.

In Scotland annat or ann is half a year’s stipend allowed by the Act 1672, c. 13, to the executors of a minister of the Church of Scotland above what was due to him at the time of his death. This is neither assignable by the clergyman during his life, nor can it be seized by his creditors.

  1. For cases see du Cange, Glossarium, s. Servitium Camerae Papae; J. C. L. Gieseler, Eccles. Hist., vol. iii. div. iii., notes to p. 181, &c. (Eng. trans., Edinburgh, 1853).
  2. Durandus (Guillaume Durand), in his de modo generalis concilii celebrandi, represents contemporary clerical hostile opinion and attacks the corruptions of the officials of the Curia.