Marsilius of Padua

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Miniature on the first page of a luxury manuscript of the Defensor pacis (15th century). Marsilius is shown presenting a copy to the Emperor Marsilius, Defensor pacis, Paris, Lat. 14620.jpg
Miniature on the first page of a luxury manuscript of the Defensor pacis (15th century). Marsilius is shown presenting a copy to the Emperor

Marsilius of Padua (Italian: Marsilio or Marsiglio da Padova; born Marsilio dei Mainardini or Marsilio Mainardini; c. 1275 c. 1342) was an Italian scholar, trained in medicine, who practiced a variety of professions. He was also an important 14th-century political figure. His political treatise Defensor pacis (The Defender of Peace), an attempt to refute papalist claims to a "plenitude of power" in affairs of both church and state, is seen by some authorities as the most revolutionary political treatise written in the later Middle Ages. It is one of the first examples of a trenchant critique of caesaropapism in Western Europe. [1]

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a regional or a traditional language in these countries, where Italians do not represent a historical minority. In the case of Romania, Italian is listed by the Government along 10 other languages which supposedly receive a "general protection", but not between those which should be granted an "advanced or enhanced" one. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

The tract Defensor pacis laid the foundations of modern doctrines of popular sovereignty. It was written by Marsilius of Padua, an Italian medieval scholar. It appeared in 1324 and provoked a storm of controversy that lasted through the century. The context of the work lies in the political struggle between Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Pope John XXII. The treatise is vehemently anticlerical. Marsilius' work was censured by Pope Benedict XII and Pope Clement VI.

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Contents

Early years

Marsilius was born in Padua, an important Italian city, circa 1275-1280. He probably studied medicine at the University of Padua [2] and later went to the University of Paris, where he became a devoted admirer of Aristotle, whom he called 'the divine philosopher". [3] He served as rector of the University of Paris in 1313.

Padua Comune in Veneto, Italy

Padua is a city and comune in Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 214,000. The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) which has a population of c. 2,600,000.

University of Paris former university in Paris, France from 1896 to 1968

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.

Rector (academia) Academic official

A rector is a senior official in an educational institution, and can refer to an official in either a university or a secondary school. Outside the English-speaking world the rector is often the most senior official in a university, whilst in the United States the most senior official is often referred to as President and in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations the most senior official is the Chancellor, whose office is primarily ceremonial and titular. The term and office of a rector can be referred to as a rectorate. The title is used widely in universities in Europe. and is very common in Latin American countries. It is also used in Brunei, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Israel and the Middle East. In the ancient universities of Scotland the office is sometimes referred to as Lord Rector, is the third most senior official, and is usually responsible for chairing the University Court.

Political theory and later years

Marsilius wrote Defensor pacis in 1324. [4] This treatise was written in the context of a power struggle between Pope John XXII and Louis of Bavaria (or Ludwig of Bavaria), the elected candidate for Holy Roman Emperor. Louis' policies in the Italian peninsula, where the Empire had important territories, threatened papal territorial sovereignty. In 1323 Louis had sent an army to Italy to protect Milan against the powerful Kingdom of Naples. Naples, along with France, was a strong ally of John XXII. John excommunicated Louis and demanded that he relinquish his claim to the imperial crown. Louis responded to John XXII with fresh provocations.

Pope John XXII pope from 1316 to his death in 1334

Pope John XXII, born Jacques Duèze, was Pope from 7 August 1316 to his death in 1334.

Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Louis IV, called the Bavarian, of the house of Wittelsbach, was King of the Romans from 1314, King of Italy from 1327, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1328.

Holy Roman Emperor emperor of the Holy Roman Empire

The Holy Roman Emperor, officially the Emperor of the Romans, and also the German-Roman Emperor, was the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and the early modern period. The title was, almost without interruption, held in conjunction with title of King of Germany throughout the 12th to 18th centuries.

In Defensor pacis, Marsilius sought to demonstrate, by arguments from reason (in Dictio I of the text) and by argument from authority (in Dictio II) the independence of the Holy Roman Empire from the Papacy and the emptiness of the prerogatives alleged to have been usurped by the Roman pontiffs. A number of Marsilius's views were declared to be heretical by Pope John XXII in 1327. [4]

Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics and art, and is normally considered to be a distinguishing ability possessed by humans. Reason, or an aspect of it, is sometimes referred to as rationality.

Authority is the right to exercise power, which can be formalized by a state and exercised by way of judges, appointed executives of government, or the ecclesiastical or priestly appointed representatives of a God or other deities. Authority, in the sense of "authorization", can also mean the right to complete an action or execute an order.

Holy Roman Empire Varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Most of Defensor pacis is devoted to theology. Relying heavily on Scripture, Marsilius seeks to show that Jesus did not claim to possess any temporal power and that he did not intend his church to exercise any. [5] On the contrary, Scripture teaches that the church should be thoroughly subordinate to the state in both secular and spiritual matters. All authority in the church lies with the whole body of the faithful, the secular ruler who acts as the people's representative, and general councils called by the secular ruler. [6] Some of Marsilius's arguments on these themes had a marked influence during the Reformation. [7]

Today, Marsilius's Defensor pacis is best remembered not for its theology but for its political philosophy and legal theory. Marsilius agrees with Aristotle that the purpose of government is the rational fulfillment of humans' natural desire for a "sufficient life". [8] However, he goes beyond Aristotle in embracing a form of republicanism that views the people as the only legitimate source of political authority. Sovereignty lies with the people, and the people should elect, correct, and, if necessary, depose its political leaders. [7] Democracy, Marsilius argues, is the best form of government because it tends to produce the wisest laws, protects the common benefit, promotes "sufficiency of life", and produces laws that are most likely to be obeyed. [9]

Marsilius and John of Jandun, who has sometimes been credited as a co-author of Defensor pacis, left France for Louis' court in Bavaria. Louis admitted Marsilius and John to his circle. Others were also under his protection, including Michael of Cesena and the philosopher William of Ockham, an advocate of an early form of church and state separation. In 1326, Marsilius accompanied Louis to Italy, where he preached or circulated written attacks against the pope. The Lord of Milan Galeazzo I Visconti, suspected of conspiring with John XXII, was deposed and Louis was crowned King of Italy in Milan in 1327.

In January 1328 Louis entered Rome and had himself crowned emperor by the aged senator Sciarra Colonna, called captain of the Roman people. Three months later, Louis published a decree declaring "Jacque de Cahors"Pope John XXIIdeposed on grounds of heresy. He then installed the Franciscan Pietro Rainalducci as Nicholas V. Nicholas was deposed upon Louis's departure from Rome in 1329.

In Bavaria, as imperial vicar, Marsilius persecuted the clergy who had remained faithful to John XXII. In recompense for his services, he was appointed archbishop of Milan, [10] and John of Jandun obtained from Louis IV the bishopric of Ferrara.

Marsilius also composed a treatise De translatione [Romani] imperii, which some authorities consider is a rearrangement of a similar work by Landolfo Colonna called De jurisdictione imperatoris in causa matrimoniali. This work, and Marsilius's variation, sought to justify the exclusive jurisdiction of the emperor in matrimonial affairs: Louis of Bavaria had recently annulled the marriage of the son of the King of Bohemia.

Death

Marsilius died in Munich around 1342, still unreconciled to the Church.

Legacy

Some authorities consider Defensor pacis one of the most important political and religious works of fourteenth-century Europe. In the Defensor minor , Marsilius completed and elaborated on different points in the doctrine laid down in the Defensor pacis. He dealt here with problems concerning ecclesiastical jurisdiction, penance, indulgences, crusades and pilgrimages, vows, excommunication, the general church council, marriage and divorce, and unity with the Greek Orthodox Church. In this work he even more clearly articulates imperial supremacy over the Church. [11]

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References

  1. Hahn, Scott & Wiker, Benjamin (2013). Politicizing the Bible: The Roots of Historical Criticism and the Secularization of Scripture 1300-1700. Chapter 2: "The First Cracks of Secularism: Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham": Herder & Herder. pp. 17–59 passim.
  2. Alan Gewirth, "Marsilius of Padua," in Paul Edwards, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 5. New York: Macmillan, 1967, p. 166.
  3. Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of Peace. Translated by Alan Gewirth. New York: Harper & Row, 1967, p. 38.
  4. 1 2 Lee, Hwa-Yong, Political Representation in the Later Middle Ages: Marsilius in Context (New York etc., Lang, 2008)
  5. Marsilius of Padua, DefensorPacis, pp. 113-126.
  6. Marsilius of Padua, Defender of Peace, Discourse II.
  7. 1 2 Gewirth, "Marsilius of Padua," p. 167.
  8. Marsilius of Padua, Defensor Pacis, p. 13.
  9. Marsilius of Padua, The Defender of Peace, pp. 46-47.
  10. Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Marsilius of Padua"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  11. Lee, Hwa-Yong, Political Representation in the Later Middle Ages: Marsilius in Context (New York etc., Lang, 2008)

Further reading

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Marsilius of Padua". Encyclopædia Britannica . 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 775–776.