From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights: Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, 1300-1600

From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights: Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, 1300-1600

From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights: Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, 1300-1600

From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights: Late Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought, 1300-1600

Synopsis

Part One examines the late medieval northern Italian city-state republics and the humanist depiction of their form of polity. Part Two reviews the legal (principally canonical) and political thought behind the development of a theory of popular consent and limited authority employed to resolve the Great Schism in the Western church. Part Three describes sixteenth-century Spanish neoscholastic political writings and their application to Reformation Europe and Spanish colonial expansion in the New World. Part Four examines the political thought of some of those who responded to new problems in church/state relations caused by the fracturing of medieval Christendom in the West: Luther, Calvin, and other Reformation writers; the Protestant resistance pamphleteers; and Richard Hooker. Featuring an extensive bibliography, From Personal Duties towards Personal Rights will be of specific interest to intellectual historians as well as historians of political ideas and political theories and students in history, political science, and religious studies.

Excerpt

The task of an historian of late-medieval political thought is not unlike that of the zealous and erudite canonical glossators of the fourteenth century who strove to formulate an ecclesiology. a vast cornucopia was available from which to extract earlier views on the nature and structure of the Church, and of the character and authority of the various elements of which it was constituted: pope, college of cardinals, bishops and other ranks of clergy, the laity, the Roman church and the Church universal. Withal, however, the sources were not only polyglot but even contradictory. the plethora of papal decretals and other canonical legislation that had blossomed in the two centuries after Gratian's Decretum was published in the 1140s, and, even more significantly, the mountains of glosses and interpretive literature to which the new ecclesiastical legislation gave rise, provided a trove from which many precious stones could be mined. By no means, however, were all of these sources mutually consistent or even obviously interconnected.

How, then, to make coherent sense of such disparate material? How, moreover, to present a general picture and identify at least the major outlines of an historical continuity? Any attempt might assume a false principle of interpretation, namely, that there was something in the way of a consistent picture or pattern. Better, perhaps, just to point to what was there.

Political thought in western Europe in the fourteenth century can be found in a variety of sources and was stimulated by a variety of events. From largely if not exclusively academic sources came a continuing supply of treatises, tracts, and occasional individual random thoughts from various representatives of university-based scholasticism. Commentaries on the Politics of Aristotle appeared in a regular stream, as . . .

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