Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Tribute (from Latin tribulum, contribution) refers to an amount of wealth one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often case in historical contests, of submission or allegiance.

Various ancient states exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer. In case of alliances, lesser parties gave tribute to the dominant parties as a sign of allegiance and for the purposes of financing the agreed projects - usually raising an army. The term may also be used on religious tax used for maintenance of temples and other sacred places.

Athens received tribute from the other cities of the Delian League. Empires of Babylon, Carthage and Rome exacted tribute from their provinces and subject kingdoms. Roman republic also exacted tribute in the form of equivalent to proportional property taxes for the purpose of waging war.

Tribute was not always money but also valuables and people that were effectively hostages kept in exchange of good behavior.

Various medieval lords extorted tribute from their vassals or peasants, nominally in exchange of protection. That system evolved into medieval taxation.

Raiders, like Vikings and celtic tribes, could also exact tribute instead of raiding the place if the potential targets agreed to pay a agreed-upon amount of valuables.


In modern parlance, tribute used as a positive term often refers to a phrase, action or product that is intended as a sign of respect or admiration. Tribute band, for example, sings songs and even uses the costumes of the original band.

In negative sense, the term refers to its original meaning and hints that payment - taxation or otherwise - is excessive or gained through extortion or similar means.

This article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by fixing it.


There is also a movie called Tribute