« Prev Literary Attacks against the Papacy Next »

§ 5. Literary Attacks against the Papacy.

Nothing is more indicative of the intellectual change going on in Western Europe in the fourteenth century than the tractarian literature of the time directed against claims made by the papacy. Three periods may be distinguished. In the first belong the tracts called forth by the struggle of Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII., with the year 1302 for its centre. Their distinguishing feature is the attack made upon the pope’s jurisdiction in temporal affairs. The second period opens during the pontificate of John XXII. and extends from 1320–1340. Here the pope’s spiritual supremacy was attacked. The most prominent writer of the time was Marsiglius of Padua. The third period begins with the papal schism toward the end of the fourteenth century. The writers of this period emphasized the need of reform in the Church and discussed the jurisdiction of general councils as superior to the jurisdiction of the pope.3535    I have followed closely in this chapter the clear and learned presentations of Richard Scholz and Finke and the documents they print as well as the documents given by Goldast. See below. A most useful contribution to the study of the age of Boniface VIII. and the papal theories current at the time would be the publication of the tracts mentioned in this section and others in a single volume.

The publicists of the age of Boniface VIII. and Philip the Fair now defended, now openly attacked the mediaeval theory of the pope’s lordship over kings and nations. The body of literature they produced was unlike anything which Europe had seen before. In the conflict between Gregory IX. and Frederick II., Europe was filled with the epistolary appeals of pope and emperor, who sought each to make good his case before the court of European public opinion, and more especially of the princes and prelates. The controversy of this later time was participated in by a number of writers who represented the views of an intelligent group of clerics and laymen. They employed a vigorous style adapted to make an impression on the public mind.

Stirred by the haughty assertions of Boniface, a new class of men, the jurisconsults, entered the lists and boldly called in question the old order represented by the policy of Hildebrand and Innocent III. They had studied in the universities, especially in the University of Paris, and some of them, like Dubois, were laymen. The decision of the Bologna jurists on the field of Roncaglia was reasserted with new arguments and critical freedom, and a step was taken far in advance of that decision which asserted the independence of the emperor. The empire was set aside as an antiquated institution, and France and other states were pronounced sovereign within their own limits and immune from papal dominion over their temporal affairs. The principles of human law and the natural rights of man were arrayed against dogmatic assertions based upon unbalanced and false interpretations of Scripture. The method of scholastic sophistry was largely replaced by an appeal to common sense and regard for the practical needs of society. The authorities used to establish the new theory were Aristotle, the Scriptures and historic facts. These writers were John the Baptists preparing the way for the more clearly outlined and advanced views of Marsiglius of Padua and Ockam, who took the further step of questioning or flatly denying the pope’s spiritual supremacy, and for the still more advanced and more spiritual appeals of Wyclif and Luther. A direct current of influence can be traced back from the Protestant Reformation to the anti-papal tracts of the first decade of the fourteenth century.

The tract writers of the reign of Philip the Fair, who defended the traditional theory of the pope’s absolute supremacy in all matters, were the Italians Aegidius Colonna, James of Viterbo, Henry of Cremona, and Augustinus Triumphus. The writers who attacked the papal claim to temporal power are divided into two groups. To the first belongs Dante, who magnified the empire and the station of the emperor as the supreme ruler over the temporal affairs of men. The men of the second group were associated more or less closely with the French court and were, for the most part, Frenchmen. They called in question the authority of the emperor. Among their leaders were John of Paris and Peter Dubois. In a number of cases their names are forgotten or uncertain, while their tracts have survived. It will be convenient first to take up the theory of Dante, and then to present the views of papal and anti-papal writings which were evidently called forth by the struggle started by Boniface.

Dante was in nowise associated with the court of Philip the Fair, and seems to have been moved to write his treatise on government, the De monarchia, by general considerations and not by any personal sympathy with the French king. His theory embodies views in direct antagonism to those promulged in Boniface’s bull Unam sanctam, and Thomas Aquinas, whose theological views Dante followed, is here set aside.3636    The date of the De monarchia is a matter of uncertainty. There are no references in the treatise to Dante’s own personal affairs or the contemporary events of Europe to give any clew (sic). Witte, the eminent Dante student, put it in 1301; so also R. W. Church, on the ground that Dante makes no reference to his exile, which began in 1301. The tendency now is to follow Boccaccio, who connected the treatise with the election of Henry VII. or Henry’s journey to Rome, 1311. The treatise would then be a manifesto for the restoration of the empire to its original authority. For a discussion of the date, see Henry: Dante’s de monarchia, XXXII. sqq. The independence and sovereignty of the civil estate is established by arguments drawn from reason, Aristotle, and the Scriptures. In making good his position, the author advances three propositions, devoting a chapter to each: (1) Universal monarchy or empire, for the terms are used synonymously, is necessary. (2) This monarchy belongs to the Roman people. (3) It was directly bequeathed to the Romans by God, and did not come through the mediation of the Church.

The interests of society, so the argument runs, require an impartial arbiter, and only a universal monarch bound by no local ties can be impartial. A universal monarchy will bring peace, the peace of which the angels sang on the night of Christ’s birth, and it will bring liberty, God’s greatest gift to man.3737    Libertus est maximum donum humanae naturae a Deo collatum, I. 14. It is a striking coincidence that Leo XIII. began his encyclical of June 20, 1888, with these similar words, libertas praestantissimum naturae donum, "liberty, the most excellent gift of nature." Democracy reduces men to slavery. The Romans are the noblest people and deserve the right to rule. This is evident from the fine manhood of Aeneas, their progenitor,3838    ii. 3. Dante appeals to the testimony of Virgil, his guide through hell and purgatory. He also quotes Virgil’s proud lines:—
   "Tu regere imperii populos, Romane, memento.

   Haec tibi erunt artes, pacisque imponere morem

   Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos."

   Roman, remember that it was given to thee to rule the nations. Thine it is to establish peace, spare subject peoples and war against the proud.
from the evident miracles which God wrought in their history and from their world-wide dominion. This right to rule was established under the Christian dispensation by Christ himself, who submitted to Roman jurisdiction in consenting to be born under Augustus and to suffer under Tiberius. It was attested by the Church when Paul said to Festus, "I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged," Acts 25:10. There are two governing agents necessary to society, the pope and the emperor. The emperor is supreme in temporal things and is to guide men to eternal life in accordance with the truths of revelation. Nevertheless, the emperor should pay the pope the reverence which a first-born son pays to his father, such reverence as Charlemagne paid to Leo III.3939   ii. 12, 13; iii. 13, 16.

In denying the subordination of the civil power, Dante rejects the figure comparing the spiritual and temporal powers to the sun and moon,4040    This last section of the book has the heading auctoritatem imperii immediate dependere a Deo. and the arguments drawn from the alleged precedence of Levi over Judah on the ground of the priority of Levi’s birth; from the oblation of the Magi at the manger and from the sentence passed upon Saul by Samuel. He referred the two swords both to spiritual functions. Without questioning the historical occurrence, he set aside Constantine’s donation to Sylvester on the ground that the emperor no more had the right to transfer his empire in the West than he had to commit suicide. Nor had the pope a right to accept the gift.4141    iii. 10, Constantinus alienare non poterat imperii dignitatem nec ecclesia recipere. In the Inferno Dante applied to that transaction the oft-quoted lines:4242    xix. 115 sqq. Ahi, Constantin, di quanto mal fu matre,
   Non la tua conversion, ma quella dote

   Che da te prese il primo ricco padre!

   In the Purgatorio, xvi. 106-112, Dante deplores the union of the crozier and the sword.

"Ah, Constantine, of how much ill was cause,

Not thy conversion, but those rich domains

Which the first wealthy pope received of thee."

The Florentine poet’s universal monarchy has remained an ideal unrealized, like the republic of the Athenian philosopher.4343    With reference to the approaching termination of the emperor’s influence in Italian affairs, Bryce, ch. XV., sententiously says that Dante’s De monarchia was an epitaph, not a prophecy. Conception of popular liberty as it is conceived in this modern age, Dante had none. Nevertheless, he laid down the important principle that the government exists for the people, and not the people for the government.4444    Non cives propter consules nec gens propter regem sed e converso consules propter cives, rex propter gentem, iii. 14.

The treatise De monarchia was burnt as heretical, 1329, by order of John XXII. and put on the Index by the Council of Trent. In recent times it has aided the Italian patriots in their work of unifying Italy and separating politics from the Church according to Cavour’s maxim, "a free Church in a free state."

In the front rank of the champions of the temporal power of the papacy stood Aegidius Colonna, called also Aegidius Romanus, 1247–1316.4545    Scholz, pp. 32-129. He was an Augustinian, and rose to be general of his order. He became famous as a theological teacher and, in 1287, his order placed his writings in all its schools.4646    Chartul. Univ. Paris., II. 12. In 1295 he was made archbishop of Bourges, Boniface setting aside in his favor the cleric nominated by Coelestine. Aegidius participated in the council in Rome, 1301, which Philip the Fair forbade the French prelates to attend. He was an elaborate writer, and in 1304 no less than 12 of his theological works and 14 of his philosophical writings were in use in the University of Paris.

The tract by which Aegidius is chiefly known is his Power of the Supreme Pontiff—De ecclesiastica sive de summit pontificis potestate. It was the chief work of its time in defence of the papacy, and seems to have been called forth by the Roman Council and to have been written in 1301.4747    Jourdain, in 1858, was the first to call attention to the manuscript, and Kraus the first to give a summary of its positions in the Oesterr. Vierteljahrsschrift, Vienna, 1862, pp. 1-33. Among Aegidius’ other tracts is the "Rule of Princes,"—De regimine principum —1285, printed 1473. It was at once translated into French and Italian and also into Spanish, Portuguese, English, and even Hebrew. The "Pope’s Abdication"—De renunciatione papae sive apologia pro Bonifacio VIII.—1297, was a reply to the manifesto of the Colonna, contesting a pope’s right to resign his office. For a list of Aegidius’ writings, see art. Colonna Aegidius, in Wetzer-Welte, III. 667-671. See Scholz, pp. 46, 126. It was dedicated to Boniface VIII. Its main positions are the following: —

The pope judges all things and is judged by no man, 1 Cor. 2:15. To him belongs plenary power, plenitudo potestatis. This power is without measure, without number, and without weight. 4848    Aegidius quotes the Wisdom of Solomon 2:21 It extends over all Christians. The pope is above all laws and in matters of faith infallible. He is like the sea which fills all vessels, like the sun which, as the universally active principle, sends his rays into all things. The priesthood existed before royalty. Abel and Noah, priests, preceded Nimrod, who was the first king. As the government of the world is one and centres in one ruler, God, so in the affairs of the militant Church there can be only one source of power, one supreme government, one head to whom belongs the plenitude of power. This is the supreme pontiff. The priesthood and the papacy are of immediate divine appointment. Earthly kingdoms, except as they have been established by the priesthood, owe their origin to usurpation, robbery, and other forms of violence.4949    See Scholz, p. 96 sqq. This author says the de regimine principum of Aegidius presents a different view, and following Aristotle, derives the state from the social principle. In these views Aegidius followed Augustine: De civitate, IV. 4, and Gregory VII. The state, however, he declared to be necessary as a means through which the Church works to accomplish its divinely appointed ends.

In the second part of his tract, Aegidius proves that, in spite of Numb. 18:20, 21, and Luke 10:4, the Church has the right to possess worldly goods. The Levites received cities. In fact, all temporal goods are under the control of the Church.5050    Sub dominio et potestate ecclesiae. As the soul rules the body, so the pope rules over all temporal matters. The tithe is a perpetual obligation. No one has a right to the possession of a single acre of ground or a vineyard without the Church’s permission and unless he be baptized.

The fulness of power, residing in the pope, gives him the right to appoint to all benefices in Christendom, but, as God chooses to rule through the laws of nature, so the pope rules through the laws of the Church, but he is not bound by them. He may himself be called the Church. For the pope’s power is spiritual, heavenly and divine. Aegidius was used by his successors, James of Viterbo, Augustinus Triumphus and Alvarus, and also by John of Paris and Gerson who contested some of his main positions.5151    Scholz, p. 124.

The second of these writers, defending the position of Boniface VIII., was James of Viterbo,5252    See Finke, pp. 163-166; Scholz, pp. 129-153. d. 1308. He also was an Italian, belonged to the Augustinian order, and gained prominence as a teacher in Paris. In 1302 he was appointed by Boniface archbishop of Beneventum, and a few months later archbishop of Naples. His Christian Government—De regimine christiano — is, after the treatise of Aegidius, the most comprehensive of the papal tracts. It also was dedicated to Boniface VIII., who is addressed as "the holy lord of the kings of the earth." The author distinctly says he was led to write by the attacks made upon the papal prerogative.

To Christ’s vicar, James says, royalty and priesthood, regnum et sacerdotium, belong. Temporal authority was not for the first time conferred on him when Constantine gave Sylvester the dominion of the West. Constantine did nothing more than confirm a previous right derived from Christ, when he said, "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." Priests are kings, and the pope is the king of kings, both in mundane and spiritual matters.5353    Scholz, pp. 135, 145, 147. These two prerogatives are called potestas ordinis and potestas jurisdictionis. He is the bishop of the earth, the supreme lawgiver. Every soul must be subject to him in order to salvation.5454    Scholz, p. 148. By reason of his fulness of power, the supreme pontiff can act according to law or against it, as he chooses.5555    Potest agere et secundum leges quas ponit et praeter illas, ubi opportunum esse judicaverit. Finke, p. 166.

Henry of Cassaloci, or Henry of Cremona, as he is usually called from his Italian birthplace, d. 1312, is mentioned, contrary to the custom of the age, by name by John of Paris, as the author of the tract, The Power of the Pope—De potestate papae.5656    Finke, pp. 166-170; Scholz, pp. 162-1S6. Finke was the first to use this Tract. Scholz describes two MSS. in the National Library of Paris, and gives the tract entire, pp. 459-471. He was a distinguished authority in canon law and consulted by Boniface. He was appointed, 1302, a member of the delegation to carry to Philip the Fair the two notorious bulls, Salvator mundi and Ausculta fili. The same year he was appointed bishop of Reggio.5757    A contemporary notes that the consistory was reminded that the nominee was the author of the De potestate papae, "a book which proves that the pope was overlord in temporal as well as spiritual matters." Scholz, p. 155. The tract was written, as Scholz thinks, not later than 1301, or earlier than 1298, as it quotes the Liber sextus. The papal defenders were well paid.

Henry began his tract with the words of Matt. 27:18, "All power is given unto me," and declared the attack against the pope’s temporal jurisdiction over the whole earth a matter of recent date, and made by "sophists" who deserved death. Up to that time no one had made such denial. He attempts to make out his fundamental thesis from Scripture, the Fathers, canon law, and reason. God at first ruled through Noah, the patriarchs, Melchizedec, and Moses, who were priests and kings at the same time. Did not Moses punish Pharaoh? Christ carried both swords. Did he not drive out the money-changers and wear the crown of thorns? To him the power was given to judge the world. John 5:22. The same power was entailed upon Peter and his successors. As for the state, it bears to the Church the relation of the moon to the sun, and the emperor has only such power as the pope is ready to confer. Henry also affirms that Constantine’s donation established no right, but confirmed what the pope already possessed by virtue of heavenly gift.5858    Constantinus non dedit sed recognovit ab ecclesia se tenere—confitetur se ab ecclesia illud tenere. See Scholz, p. 467. The pope transferred the empire to Charlemagne, and Innocent IV. asserted the papal supremacy over kings by deposing Frederick II. If in early and later times the persons of popes were abused, this was not because they lacked supreme authority in the earth5959    Non defectus juris, sed potentiae. or were in anywise subject to earthly princes. No emperor can legally exercise imperial functions without papal consecration. When Christ said, "my kingdom is not of this world," he meant nothing more than that the world refused to obey him. As for the passage, "render to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s," Christ was under no obligation to give tribute to the emperor, and the children of the kingdom are free, as Augustine, upon the basis of Matt. 27:26 sq., said.

The main work of another defender of the papal prerogatives, Augustinus Triumphus, belongs to the next period.6060    Four of his smaller tracts are summarized by Scholz, pp. 172-189. See § 8.

An intermediate position between these writers and the anti-papal publicists was taken by the Cardinals Colonna and their immediate supporters.6161    Scholz, pp. 198-207. In their zeal against Boniface VIII. they questioned the absolute power of the Church in temporal concerns, and placed the supreme spiritual authority in the college of cardinals, with the pope as its head.

Among the advanced writers of the age was William Durante, d. 1381, an advocate of Gallicanism.6262    Scholz, pp. 208-223. He was appointed bishop of Mende before he had reached the canonical age. He never came under the condemnation of the Church. In a work composed at the instance of Clement V. on general councils and the reformation of Church abuses, De modo generalis concilii celebrandi et corruptelis in ecclesiis reformandis, he demanded a reformation of the Church in head and members,6363    Tam in capite quam in membris. Scholz, pp. 211, 220. The tract was reprinted at the time of the Council of Trent and dedicated to Paul III. using for the first time this expression which was so often employed in a later age. He made the pope one of the order of bishops on all of whom was conferred equally the power to bind and to loose.6464    The words Matt. 16:19, were addressed to the whole Church, he says, and not to Peter alone. The bishops are not the pope’s assistants, the view held by Innocent III., but agents directly appointed by God with independent jurisdiction. The pope may not act out of harmony with the canons of the early Church except with the approval of a general council. When new measures are contemplated, a general council should be convened, and one should be called every ten years.6565    Scholz, p. 214.

Turning now to the writers who contested the pope’s right to temporal authority over the nations, we find that while the most of them were clerics, all of them were jurists. It is characteristic that besides appealing to Aristotle, the Scriptures, and the canon law, they also appealed to the Roman law. We begin with several pamphlets whose authorship is a matter of uncertainty.

The Twofold Prerogative—Quaestio in utramque partem — was probably written in 1302, and by a Frenchman.6666    This date is made very probable by Scholz, p. 225 sqq. Riezler, p. 141, wrongly put it down to 1364-1380. Scheffer-Boichorst showed that the author spoke of the canonization of Louis IX., 1297, as having occurred "in our days," and that he quoted the Liber sextus, 1298, as having recently appeared. The tract is given in Goldast: Monarchia, II. 195 sqq. The tract clearly sets forth that the two functions, the spiritual and the temporal, are distinct, and that the pope has plenary power only in the spiritual realm. It is evident that they are not united in one person, from Christ’s refusal of the office of king and from the law prohibiting the Levites holding worldly possessions. Canon law and Roman law recognized the independence of the civil power. Both estates are of God. At best the pope’s temporal authority extends to the patrimony of Peter. The empire is one among the powers, without authority over other states. As for the king of France, he would expose himself to the penalty of death if he were to recognize the pope as overlord.6767    Scholz, p. 239. On Feb. 28, 1302, Philip made his sons swear never to acknowledge any one but God as overlord.

The same positions are taken in the tract,6868    It is bound up in MS. with the former tract and with the work of John of Paris. It is printed in Dupuy, pp. 663-683. It has been customary to regard Peter Dubois as the author, but Scholz, p. 257, gives reasons against this view. The Papal Power,—Quaestio de potestate papae. The author insists that temporal jurisdiction is incompatible with the pope’s office. He uses the figure of the body to represent the Church, giving it a new turn. Christ is the head. The nerves and veins are officers in the Church and state. They depend directly upon Christ, the head. The heart is the king. The pope is not even called the head. The soul is not mentioned. The old application of the figure of the body and the soul, representing respectively the regnum and the sacerdotium, is set aside. The pope is a spiritual father, not the lord over Christendom. Moses was a temporal ruler and Aaron was priest. The functions and the functionaries were distinct. At best, the donation of Constantine had no reference to France, for France was distinct from the empire. The deposition of Childerich by Pope Zacharias established no right, for all that Zacharias did was, as a wise counsellor, to give the barons advice.

A third tract, one of the most famous pieces of this literature, the Disputation between a Cleric and a Knight,6969    Disputatio inter clericum et militem. It was written during the conflict between Boniface and Philip, and not by Ockam, to whom it was formerly ascribed. Recently Riezler, p. 146, has ascribed it to Peter Dubois. It was first printed, 1476, and is reprinted in Goldast: Monarchia, I. 13 sqq. MSS. are found in Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, and Prag. See Scholz, p. 336 sqq. An English translation appeared with the following title: A dialogue betwene a knight and a clerke concerning the Power Spiritual and temporal, by William Ockham, the great philosopher, in English and Latin, London, 1540. was written to defend the sovereignty of the state and its right to levy taxes upon Church property. The author maintains that the king of France is in duty bound to see that Church property is administered according to the intent for which it was given. As he defends the Church against foreign foes, so he has the right to put the Church under tribute.

In the publicist, John of Paris, d. 1306, we have one of the leading minds of the age.7070    Finke, pp. 170-177; Scholz, pp. 275-333. He was a Dominican, and enjoyed great fame as a preacher and master. On June 26, 1303, he joined 132 other Parisian Dominicans in signing a document calling for a general council, which the university had openly favored five days before.7171    Chartul. Univ. Paris., II. 102. His views of the Lord’s Supper brought upon him the charge of heresy, and he was forbidden to give lectures at the university.7272    De modo existendi corporis Christi in sacramento altaris. Chartul. II. 120. He appealed to Clement V., but died before he could get a hearing.

John’s chief writing was the tract on the Authority of the Pope and King, —De potestate regia et papali,7373    First printed in Paris, 1506, and is found in Goldast, II. 108 sqq. For the writings ascribed to John, see Scholz, p. 284 sq. Finke, p. 172, says, ein gesundes beinahe modernes Empfinden zeichnet ihn aus. His tract belongs to 1302-1303. So Scholz and Finke. John writes as though Boniface were still living. He quotes "the opinions of certain moderns" and Henry of Cremona by name. The last chapter of John’s tract is largely made up of excerpts from Aegidius’ De renuntiatione papae. Scholz, p. 291, thinks it probable that Dante used John’s tract. — which almost breathes the atmosphere of modern times.

John makes a clear distinction between the "body of the faithful," which is the Church, and the "body of the clergy."7474    Congregatio fidelium ... congregatio clericorum. The Church has its unity in Christ, who established the two estates, spiritual and temporal. They are the same in origin, but distinguished on earth. The pope has the right to punish moral offences, but only with spiritual punishments. The penalties of death, imprisonment, and fines, he has no right to impose. Christ had no worldly jurisdiction, and the pope should keep clear of "Herod’s old error."7575    Scholz, p. 315. Constantine had no right to confer temporal power on Sylvester. John adduced 42 reasons urged in favor of the pope’s omnipotence in temporal affairs and offers a refutation for each of them.

As for the pope’s place in the Church, the pope is the representative of the ecclesiastical body, not its lord. The Church may call him to account. If the Church were to elect representatives to act with the supreme pontiff, we would have the best of governments. As things are, the cardinals are his advisers and may admonish him and, in case he persists in his error, they may call to their aid the temporal arm. The pope may be deposed by an emperor, as was actually the case when three popes were deposed by Henry III. The final seat of ecclesiastical authority is the general council. It may depose a pope. Valid grounds of deposition are insanity, heresy, personal incompetence and abuse of the Church’s property.

Following Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, John derived the state from the family and not from murder and other acts of violence.7676    Finke, p. 72; Scholz, p. 324. It is a community organized for defence and bodily well-being. With other jurists, he regarded the empire as an antiquated institution and, if it continues to exist, it is on a par with the monarchies, not above them. Climate and geographical considerations make different monarchies necessary, and they derive their authority from God. Thus John and Dante, while agreeing as to the independence of the state, differ as to the seat where secular power resides. Dante placed it in a universal empire, John of Paris in separate monarchies.

The boldest and most advanced of these publicists, Pierre Dubois,7777    See Renan: Hist. Litt. XXVI. 471-536; Scholz, pp. 374-444. was a layman, probably a Norman, and called himself a royal attorney.7878    Advocatus regalium causarum. As a delegate to the national council in Paris, April, 1302, he represented Philip’s views. He was living as late as 1321. In a number of tracts he supported the contention of the French monarch against Boniface VIII.7979    For these tracts, see Renan, p. 476 sq.; Scholz, p. 385 sqq. France is independent of the empire, and absolutely sovereign in all secular matters. The French king is the successor of Charlemagne. The pope is the moral teacher of mankind, "the light of the world," but he has no jurisdiction in temporal affairs. It is his function to care for souls, to stop wars, to exercise oversight over the clergy, but his jurisdiction extends no farther.

The pope and clergy are given to worldliness and self-indulgence. Boniface is a heretic. The prelates squander the Church’s money in wars and litigations, prefer the atmosphere of princely courts, and neglect theology and the care of souls. The avarice of the curia and the pope leads them to scandalous simony and nepotism.8080    Scholz, p. 398. Constantine’s donation marked the change to worldliness among the clergy. It was illegal, and the only title the pope can show to temporal power over the patrimony of Peter is long tenure. The first step in the direction of reforms would be for clergy and pope to renounce worldly possessions altogether. This remedy had been prescribed by Arnold of Brescia and Frederick II.

Dubois also criticised the rule and practice of celibacy. Few clergymen keep their vows. And yet they are retained, while ordination is denied to married persons. This is in the face of the fact that the Apostle permitted marriage to all. The practice of the Eastern church is to be preferred. The rule of single life is too exacting, especially for nuns. Durante had proposed the abrogation of the rule, and Arnald of Villanova had emphasized the sacredness of the marriage tie, recalling that it was upon a married man, Peter, that Christ conferred the primacy.8181    Contulit conjugato scilicet beato Petro primatum ecclesiae, Finke, p. clxxiii. Arnald is attacking the Minorites and Dominicans for publicly teaching that the statements of married people in matters of doctrine are not to be believed, conjugato non est credendum super veritate divina.

Dubois showed the freshness of his mind by suggestions of a practical nature. He proposed the colonization of the Holy Land by Christian people, and the marriage of Christian women to Saracens of station as a means of converting them. As a measure for securing the world’s conversion, he recommended to Clement the establishment of schools for boys and girls in every province, where instruction should be given in different languages. The girls were to be taught Latin and the fundamentals of natural science, and especially medicine and surgery, that they might serve as female physicians among women in the more occult disorders.

A review of the controversial literature of the age of Philip the Fair shows the new paths along which men’s thoughts were moving.8282    See the summary of Scholz, pp. 444-458. The papal apologists insisted upon traditional interpretations of a limited number of texts, the perpetual validity of Constantine’s donation, and the transfer of the empire. They were forever quoting Innocent’s famous bull, Per venerabilem.8383    It is quoted again and again by Henry of Cremona. See the text in Scholz, p. 464 sq., etc. For the text of the bull, see Mirbt: Quellen, pp. 127-130. On the other hand, John of Paris, and the publicists who sympathized with him, as also Dante, corrected and widened the vision of the field of Scripture, and brought into prominence the common rights of man. The resistance which the king of France offered to the demands of Boniface encouraged writers to speak without reserve.

The pope’s spiritual primacy was left untouched. The attack was against his temporal jurisdiction. The fiction of the two swords was set aside. The state is as supreme in its sphere as the Church in its sphere, and derives its authority immediately from God. Constantine had no right to confer the sovereignty of the West upon Sylvester, and his gift constitutes no valid papal claim. Each monarch is supreme in his own realm, and the theory of the overlordship of the emperor is abandoned as a thing out of date.

The pope’s tenure of office was made subject to limitation. He may be deposed for heresy and incompetency. Some writers went so far as to deny to him jurisdiction over Church property. The advisory function of the cardinals was emphasized and the independent authority of the bishops affirmed. Above all, the authority residing in the Church as a body of believers was discussed, and its voice, as uttered through a general council, pronounced to be superior to the authority of the pope. The utterances of John of Paris and Peter Dubois on the subject of general councils led straight on to the views propounded during the papal schism at the close of the fourteenth century.8484    Scholz, p. 322; Schwab: Life of Gerson, p. 133. Dubois demanded that laymen as well as clerics should have a voice in them. The rule of clerical celibacy was attacked, and attention called to its widespread violation in practice. Pope and clergy were invoked to devote themselves to the spiritual well-being of mankind, and to foster peaceable measures for the world’s conversion.

This freedom of utterance and changed way of thinking mark the beginning of one of the great revolutions in the history of the Christian Church. To these publicists the modern world owes a debt of gratitude. Principles which are now regarded as axiomatic were new for the Christian public of their day. A generation later, Marsiglius of Padua defined them again with clearness, and took a step still further in advance.

« Prev Literary Attacks against the Papacy Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection