(507 words)
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Historical Context Note

The word “tithe”, deriving from the Old English teogothian, a “tenth”, signified the 10% of gross agricultural product which Europeans paid to the church until this tax was replaced with more systematic church taxes, usually in the late nineteenth century. The tithe was intended to enable the construction and maintenance of religious buildings, provide benefices to the clergy, and fund succour for the poor. As the church was responsible for many aspects of local government, law and administration, tithes may be seen as a precursor of modern income taxes.

Tithing spread with Christianity, becoming general throughout Europe by the 8th century and being made obligatory in England under …

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Editors. "Tithes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 July 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1452, accessed 30 June 2015.]