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The tithing system was first suggested by Red Hanrahan to Paul Benden as Red began his new hold at Ruatha. The system was formalized when Sean Connell expanded from one weyr (Fort Weyr) to four (Benden Weyr, Telgar Weyr, and Ista Weyr).
Northern Weyrs, being built in dormant volcanoes and mountain ranges, were unable to support agriculture, and most herdbeasts at a Weyr were used to feed the dragons. Thus, Weyrs were completely dependent on the generosity of those who tithed to them. Traditionally, tithes consisted of the best provisions a Hold or Craft had to offer. It was the responsibility of the Weyrwoman to monitor incoming tithes and monitor supplies. Tithes were often given less willingly during an Interval, as holds and crafts saw dragonriders as less useful, causing supply problems.
In the Southern Continent, tithes were not as necessary for Weyr Survival. Weyrs in the South were built on open ground, with dragonriders making use of local plants and animals for food, shelter and other provisions. Southern dragonriders who came north found that they had to adjust to a life dependent on tithes, as Weyrs in the South are more independent.
Because the Ninth Pass was to be the last Pass on Pern, tithes were scheduled to end with the Pass's end. Thus, a portion of the South was set aside for dragonriders, so that dragon and riders could have their own holds to support themselves.
During the Eighth Interval, most Holds stopped tithing, as most Pernese believed Thread was not coming back. Only Benden Hold, Bitra Hold, and Lemos Hold continued to tithe, however, the goods they sent were not the best those holds had to offered. This forced dragonriders of Benden Weyr to forage for meat and vegetables themselves. Supplies dwindled over time until it seemed that the Weyr would be forced to barter for their needs. Near the end of the Interval, several Lord Holders would arrive at Benden Weyr in an attempt to force the Weyr to agree to the end of tithes. However, they backed down after F'lar, Benden's new Weyrleader, held the Lord Holder's wives hostage. Upon the return of thread, Tithes resumed as Lord Holders realized the importance of the dragonriders.
Conflict resumed between the Holds and Weyrs as the Oldtimers, who had arrived from the past, abused the system of tithes to take whatever they wanted. Benden Weyr notably was in better regard as they respected the rights of craft and hold. Eventually, all who did not wish to follow Benden's lead were exiled to the Southern Continent.
After AIVAS's plan to end Thread was successful, it was decided that Tithes would end after the Pass's end. Instead, dragonriders would be able to take holds in the South to support themselves.