A precaria is a form of land tenure in which a contract grants the right to use ecclesiastical property for a specific amount of time, for the duration of the grantee's life, offered for services rendered to the church. In feudalism the use of church lands to support warriors contributed to the growth of precaria in the eighth century. Late historians have called these lands fiefs; however, to the extent that they were church property and not property of the lord or king—a flexible distinction in the ninth and tenth centuries—they were not fiefs. The lord or king often paid a fixed rent annually to the church or monastery for the land. The vassal or knight using the land, did not hold it outright, but—somewhat precariously—during the lord's pleasure he enjoyed all the profits and advantages of the land and its buildings, normally intended to supply the wherewithal required to maintain him and his retinue. If the church did not have enough funds to stay out of poverty the entire land under precaria could be restored to the church. Precaria not only refers to the contract, but also the land under the contract, the benefice.