[4.20] Marsilius of Padua on the Role the of Supreme Ruler

Marsilius of Padua (1243? – 1316) in the work Defensor pacis (1324) rejected the doctrine of absolute papal power of Boniface VIII. sustained by Giles of Rome. He thinks that:

  • There is one and only one supreme ruler who holds all coercive power in a community.
  • “The supreme ruler cannot be a cleric, since Christ has forbidden the clergy to become involved in temporal affairs (113–40/159–92). And the supreme ruler does not enforce divine law as such, since God wills that divine law should be enforced by sanctions only in the next world, to give every opportunity for repentance before death (164, 175–9/221, 235–9).”
  • Clerics, members of the general council, and the Pope all have doctrinal authority.
  • All people have the right to ownership and property except Clerics.
  • Coercive power, doctrinal authority, and property are subkinds of power.

See also Giles of Rome on Papal Power.

The following OntoUML diagram explains the view Marsilius of Padua power:

Marsilius on power
ClassDescriptionRelations
ChurchThe church has members.
PersonA human personmember of Church; has Powe
SupremeRuler“He argues that all coercive power comes from the people (44–9, 61–3/65–72, 88–90), and that no people can have more than one supreme ruler, who is the source of all coercive power in that community (80–6/114–22). The supreme ruler cannot be a cleric, since Christ has forbidden the clergy to become involved in temporal affairs (113–40/159–92). And the supreme ruler does not enforce divine law as such, since God wills that divine law should be enforced by sanctions only in the next world, to give every opportunity for repentance before death (164, 175–9/221, 235–9). The supreme ruler is therefore not an enforcer of religion and his rule is not subject to direction by the clergy.”role of Person
Cleric“the pope has from Christ no more authority than any other clericrole of Person
GeneralCouncilMemberMarsilius did believe that the Church exercised some authority over its members, but, so far as this was a doctrinal authority, it was exercised not by the pope but by a general council member (Marsilius held that the Bible and general councils are infallible, but not the pope (274–9/360–66)).”role of General Council Member
Pope“Within the Church, the Pope has from Christ no more authority than any other cleric. Christ did not appoint Peter as head of the Church, Peter never went to Rome, the bishop of Rome is not Peter’s successor as head of the Church (pp. 44–9/61–3)”role of Pope
CoercivePower“He argues that all coercive power comes from the people (44–9, 61–3/65–72, 88–90), and that no people can have more than one supreme ruler, who is the source of all coercive power in that community (80–6/114–22).” subkind of Power
DoctrinalAuthority“Marsilius did believe that the Church exercised some authority over its members, but, so far as this was a doctrinal authority, it was exercised not by the pope but by a general council (Marsilius held that the Bible and general councils are infallible, but not the pope (274–9/360–66)). Now that Europe is Christian a general council cannot be convened or its decisions enforced except by the Christian lay ruler (287–98/376–90).” subkind of Power
PropertyAll people have the right to ownership and property except Clerics.
“As for religious poverty, Marsilius sides with the Franciscans and takes their doctrine further: not only is it legitimate for religious to live entirely without ownership of property (they can use what they need with the owner’s permission), but this is what Christ intended for all the clergy (183–4, 196–215/244–6, 262–86). Thus on his view the pope and clergy should have no lordship at all, either in the sense of coercive jurisdiction or in the sense of ownership of property. His position is diametrically opposite that of Giles of Rome.”
subkind of Power
PowerPower

Sources

  • All citations from: Kilcullen, John and Jonathan Robinson, “Medieval Political Philosophy“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

First published: 4/4/2022

[4.19] Giles of Rome on Papal Power

Giles of Rome (1243? – 1316) in the work De ecclesiastica potestate defended the absolute papal power of Boniface VIII. He thinks that:

  • The sovereign Pope is the origin of all power on Earth and as such, holds absolute power.
  • Power exercised by sovereigns over persons is jurisdiction, while power exercised by persons (members of the church and mankind) over things is property.
  • The Pope delegates jurisdiction to (worldly) sovereigns to “fulfill his higher religious duties”.
  • The Pope legitimates property, and because this reason “property is not a natural institution, but only the consequence of human agreements, which lack any legitimacy unless they are recognized by the supreme religious power

See also Marsilius of Padua on the Role the of Supreme Ruler.

The following OntoUML diagram depicts Giles of Rome’s theory about the Papal power:

Giles of Rome on political philosophy
ClassDescriptionRelations
PersonA human personmember of Mankind; member of Church; owns Thing
Mankind; ChurchMankind; Church
SovereignSovereign is who rules persons.role of Person; rules Person
Pope“the pope, supreme authority of the Church but also of the whole of mankind, is the only legitimate origin of every power on earth, be it exercised — as jurisdiction — on persons, or — as property — on things. In his plenitude of power, the pope possesses an absolute supremacy both in the ecclesiastical and in the temporal sphere, and delegates the exercise of the temporal “sword” to lay sovereigns only in order to fulfill most properly his higher religious duties.”role of Sovereign; delegates Jurisdiction; legitimates Property; holds Power
Power“Any authority that does not recognize its dependence on the papal power is but usurpation. In Giles’ view, there is no space even for a partially autonomous temporal order.”
PropertyProperty is power exercised on things:
“Coherently, Giles maintains that no property rights are valid if they are not legitimated by papal authority. Interestingly enough, such a claim is also supported by his account of the origin of property, according to which property is not a natural institution, but only the consequence of human agreements, which lack any legitimacy unless they are recognized by the supreme religious power
subkind of Power; relates Person with Thing
JurisdictionPower on persons exercised as jurisdictionsubkind of Power; relates Sovereign with Person
ThingA thing

Sources

  • All citations from: Lambertini, Roberto, “Giles of Rome”The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

First published: 17/2/2022