Liber censuum is a tax book compiled in 1192 by the papal chamberlain Censius, later Pope honorius iii. It listed the various taxes, rates, and dues then owed to the Holy See throughout the Western world. It gave the dues owed by individual churches, monasteries, and others, diocese by diocese and province by province. Such lists were not new, but the Liber censuum by its thoroughness, well–ordered arrangement, and subsequent use is one of the outstanding documents of the financial history of the medieval papacy. It remained in use down to Eugene IV (1431–47).
A text of the original survives (MS Vat. lat. 8486), with some additions in the 13th century. Together with the list of dues, the manuscript contains five further pieces: (1) a list of exempt, i.e., papal, bishoprics and abbeys; (2) the Liber de mirabilibus urbis Romae; (3) an Ordo Romanus; (4) two lists of popes, one to Celestine III and the other to Eugene III; and (5) a cartulary of privileges and donations.
Various sources were used by Censius. There is some doubt as to the exact amount of direct or indirect use he made of the work of Cardinal boso, chamberlain to Adrian IV and Alexander III. One of his major sources was the Gesta pauperis scholaris Albini (Albinus, Cardinal Bishop of Albano, d. c. 1198). But there is no doubt that through these sources Censius took documents from the Collectio canonum of deusdedit (1083–86), the Liber politicus of Benedict Presbyter (1140–43), and the tax books of eugene iii (1145–53) and adrian iv (1154–59).
Certainly the Liber censuum was an achievement. But it is a misinterpretation of the facts to regard it as a record of financial success. Censius compiled it at a difficult time in papal financial history. It thus represents the determination of the Curia to keep alive its claims and to provide a basis for future action, especially toward overlordship in central Italy.
Bibliography: Text in p. fabre and l. d. duchesne, Le Liber censuum de l'Église romaine, 3 v. (Paris 1889–1910; v.3 ed. g. mollat, 1952). w. e. lunt, ed. and tr., Papal Revenues in the Middle Ages, 2 v. (New York 1934). h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 9: 180–220. m. michaud, Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 1935–65) 3:233–253. a. p. frutaz, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:1012–13. v. pfaff,"Der Liber censuum von 1192," Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial–und Wirtschaftsgeschichte 44 (1957) 78–96, 105–120, 220–242, 325–351.