Acts of Giving examines the issues surrounding donation - the giving of property, usually landed property - in northern 'Christian' Spain in the tenth century, when written texts became very plentiful, allowing us to glimpse the working of local society. Wendy Davies explores who gives and who receives; what is given; reasons for giving; and the place of giving within the complex of social and economic relationships in society as a whole. People gave land for all kinds of reasons - because they were forced to do so, to meet debts or pay fines; because they wanted to gain material benefits in life, or to secure support in the short term or in old age. Giving pro anima, for the sake of the soul, was relatively limited; and gifts were made to lay persons as well as to the church. Family interests were strongly sustained across the tenth century and did not dwindle; family land was split and re-assembled, not fragmented. The gender and status of donors are key themes, along with commemoration: more men than women took steps to memorialize, in contrast to some parts of western Europe, and more aristocrats than peasants, which is less of a contrast.
Donation as a type of transaction is also examined, as well as the insights into status afforded by the language and form of the records. Buying and selling, giving and receiving continued in the tenth-century as it had for centuries. However this period saw the volume of peasant donation to the church increasing enormously. It was this which set the conditions for substantial social and economic change.