Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Unceasing Strife, Unending Fear: Jacques De Thérines and the Freedom of the Church in the Age of the Last Capetians

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Unceasing Strife, Unending Fear: Jacques De Thérines and the Freedom of the Church in the Age of the Last Capetians

Article excerpt

Unceasing Strife, Unending Fear: Jacques de Thérines and the Freedom of the Church in the Age of the Last Capetians. By William Chester Jordan. (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. 2005. Pp. xiv, 154. $29.95.)

In this volume William Chester Jordan writes history in the mode of conducting a concerto for violin and orchestra. The soloist is the relatively unknown Cistercian monk Jacques de Thérines, who was a master of theology at Paris before becoming abbot of Chaalis in 1310 and of Pontigny in 1318 prior to his death in 1321. Jacques originated from Thérines in the Beauvaisis, attended the Cistercian Collège de Saint-Bernard by 1293, and was regent master of theology by 1305, in which capacity he was consulted by both king and pope. His principal writings consist of some forty quodlibetal questions that reported a biannual academic exercise in which the pros and cons of any question were publicly debated. Most of Jacques's quodlibets treated abstract, philo-theological issues such as the essence and existence of God, the hypostatic union or the beatific vision, all framed in Aristotelian terminology. Jordan certainly would not have chosen Jacques as soloist because of this abstruse repertory, but what caught the maestro's attention were rare questions of current political or social concern in the tradition of Pierre the Chanter a century earlier, who, incidentally, also originated from the Beauvaisis. It is remarkable that the Chanter's engaged approach to current issues was still alive in a Paris dominated by abstract Aristotelianism.

Three noteworthy questions appeared in 1306. As Philip the Fair was expelling the Jews from his kingdom, Jacques raised the question of its legitimacy and concluded that it was allowed, provided the measure was temporary and executed with deliberation. At the same time he queried whether the newly elected pope Clement V could remain temporarily at his archiepiscopal see of Bordeaux until Rome had been cleared of the heresy of Fra Dolcino. More important, he also defended the exempt status of the Templars on the eve of Philip the Fair's attack against the order. The following season he debated the question whether the pope could dissolve solemn oaths such as those taken by monks like the Templars. …

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