The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power

The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power

The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power

The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages: A Study in the Ideological Relation of Clerical to Lay Power

Excerpt

There are probably fewer topics in history which have attracted greater attention than the perennial problem of the relations between Church and State. For the medieval period, however, it is increasingly recognized that this modern dichotomy has little, if any, meaning. At the same time it is generally recognized that the medieval papacy, certainly after the late eleventh century, exercised considerable governmental authority over empires, kingdoms, princedoms, and so forth.

What this book attempts to do is to trace the development of papal governmental authority. Roughly speaking, the period which witnessed this evolution was that between Emperor Gratian and Master Gratian. By the time of Master Gratian the development was virtually concluded: the period from the mid-twelfth century onwards, beginning with Alexander III's pontificate, shows the papal government at work through the agency of the law -- the canon law -- the scientific elaboration of which owed so much to the monk of Bologna. In the last chapters I have found it advisable to indicate in the notes how the one or the other point developed in the later period.

This essay is not written from the papal, or imperial, or royal or any particular point of view; nor does it try to justify or to refute any standpoint or theory or ideology, past or present. It tries, with the limited resources accessible to a mere student of history, to find an answer to the question of how this papal government grew, what factors contributed to its growth, what obstacles it had to overcome, what were its essential features, and so forth. The problem of the secular power is most intimately linked with these central questions: what functions did papal doctrine attribute to a king or an emperor, and why was he to assume a position of inferiority -- these and numerous other topics are so essential to the theory of papal government that they are part and parcel of the central theme. Therefore, this essay is not a history of the medieval papacy or of the medieval Church, but is concerned with the development of the basic principles upon which rested the governmental authority of the Roman Church in the medieval period. A very modest attempt is here made to explain this development . . .

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