Emperors Decree that Roman Upper Class Cannot Avoid Civic Duties by Joining Monastic Orders

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Roman emperors Valentinian I and Valens decree that members of the Roman upper class will not be allowed to avoid their public duties by joining monastic orders. Any founding having done so must either be brought home by force or their property turned over to someone else who will fulfill the necessary pubic obligations.

The imperial decree states:

"Certain devotees of idleness have abandoned their compulsory services, have left for solitudes and secret places, and use the pretext of religion to justify joining bands of hermit monks. We command that they and others of this kind who have already been captured in Egypt must be removed from their hiding places and returned for the performance of the compulsory public services.

Or, alternatively, they must forfeit all their family property which will be handed over to those who will undertake the performance of their compulsory public services" [CTh 12.1.63]

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