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A precaria is a contract granting to a petitioner the use and usufruct of a revenue-bearing ecclesiastical property for a specified time, or during the life of the grantee, and principally for services rendered the Church. This contract (tit. XIV, lib. III of the Decretals) is based on the "precarium" of the Roman Law (De precario, XLIII, xxvi); it differed from it inasmuch as the "precarium" could have for its object either moveable or fixed goods and was revocable at the pleasure of the proprietor. Both contracts left to the owner the proprietorship of the goods. This contract, beside depriving the Church of its revenues, threatened the extinction of her proprietary rights, especially when she was compelled to grant the precaria, at royal request, or rather order (precaria verbo regis). The Council of Meaux (825) prescribed for this reason the renewal of these concessions every five years. It ceased at the death of the grantee, or at the expiration of the allotted period, after which it could be revoked at the desire of the grantor.
See FRANKS; LAICIZATION; PROPERTY, ECCLESIASTICAL; also the canonists on De Precario, lib. III, tit. xiv.
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