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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 241: Laws against Donatists

Extract

ARTICLE 241

Laws against Donatists

Donatists may well have thought they had caused as much damage to the Catholic Church by the death of Marcellinus as Marcellinus had caused them. However God soon showed them that he, after having defended the Church before Marcellinus came on the scene, had no less power to defend it after his death. On June 22, 414 Honorius enacted a law against Donatists that closely followed the law of January 30, 412, but sharply increased its severity.1 The law of January 30 had stipulated a fine of a mere fifty librae of gold from the most notable Donatist leaders while the new law required two hundred. Moreover the new law ordered everyone to pay the amount of his tax liability each and every time he participated in schismatic rites. If there were more than five relapses, the court would be informed and a more rigorous punishment would be exacted. According to the new law, property owners who did not punish their managers allowing Donatists to meet on their property would be obliged to pay one year’s revenue from their lands. Members of the Donatist clergy were to be deprived of their goods before exile. All Donatists were to be declared outlaws, banished from society, rendered incapable of taking an oath, and deprived of the right to enter into contracts. On August 30, 414 Honorius approved the acts of the conference of Carthage of 411.

As Augustine had begun De...

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