#52 | Passing The Collection Plate: Papal Taxes in Medieval Ireland

The Irish for tax is cáin… not to be confused with caoin, which is crying. In life the two great certainties are death and taxes, which is fitting given that many forms of taxation were first introduced to pay for wars.

Today’s Vatican City is a fragment of the Papal States, a temporal political entity that governed a portion of Italy larger than Ireland for a thousand years – from the era of Brehon Law until the age of the Home Rule movement. Records of taxes levied by the Papal States represent a uniquely continuous archive of Ireland during this period of economic, civic, political and linguistic change. This week’s guest is Chris Chevalier, a PhD candidate in Trinity whose research uses these records as a source for measuring the distribution of wealth in Ireland in the medieval period. He chats to fellow medievalist Éimear and fellow tax nerd Darach about who had cash to splash in the 14th century, papal audits (and punishments) and the Spielberg-esque adventures involved in chasing research materials from one European city to the next.

You can find out more about Chris’s work here: https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/articles/researchers-use-papal-tax-assessments-to-map-medieval-economy-of-ireland/