[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