Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 August 2018


A Dictionary of World History


The buying and selling of spiritual or Church benefits. It is taken from the name of Simon Magus who, according to an account in the New Testament of the Bible, tried to buy spiritual powers from St Peter. It came to mean the purchase of any office or authority within the Roman Catholic Church. The Church’s policy that its benefices should not be sold for money was often jeopardized because many secular lords claimed that they were theirs to dispose of as they wished. Wealthy families bought offices for their members and used them as a form of patronage. Simony was one of the abuses criticized at the time of the Reformation.