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Peter's Pence

A tax sent from England to the pope in Rome avowedly with the purpose of helping poor English pilgrims resident in the Schola Saxonum. Its origin is not clear, but probably the custom was begun by King Offa of Mercia in 787 on the occasion of the visit of two papal legates when the archdiocese of Lichfield was being created. Supposedly one penny was raised on each hearth (i.e., house). After the Norman conquest the tax continued to go to Rome, but now, it appears, exclusively for the pope. By agreement, £199.6s.8d. was the figure sent from England. After the rejection of papal supremacy by Henry VIII* and his Parliament, Peter's Pence was abolished in 1534.