The Common Good in Late Medieval Political Thought

By M. S. Kempshall | Go to book overview

10
The Life of Virtue--Giles of Rome, James of Viterbo, and John of Paris

Relations between Philip IV and Boniface VIII broke down on two occasions--in 1296, when the pope prohibited all taxation of the church which did not have his prior consent, and, more seriously, in 1301, when the king arrested the bishop of Pamiers on charges of treason. Philip IV's actions were guided, in each case, by counsellors who were trained in the study of law.1 Whilst it may be argued, therefore, that the political ideas of theologians, as opposed to jurists, had little direct influence on the conduct of events,2 this does not mean that theological opinion was not regarded as an essential source of legitimation by both the pope and the king. In 1296-7, for example, university masters were cited in Clericis laicos, alongside prelates, secular clergy, and members of religious orders, and threatened with excommunication if they failed to comply with the pope's injunctions. Not unnaturally, this precipitated a spate of discussion in Paris over the legitimacy of the king's exactions for his campaigns in Flanders and Aquitaine. In 1301, masters in theology were summoned by Auscultafili, again alongside archbishops, bishops, and abbots, in order to discuss Philip IV's government of his kingdom at a papal council to be held in Rome the following year. The king's response was to invite the university to sanction the legitimacy of his own proceedings against the pope in Paris at a series of general 'councils' in 1302 and 1303.

In practical terms, Parisian masters clearly found themselves, like the rest of the French clergy, in a deeply uncomfortable position, caught between their duty to obey the pope and their need to find some sort of accommodation with the king. The events of 1296-7 and 1301-3 had a correspondingly profound impact on the political and ecclesiological ideas which they put forward during these years. In theoretical terms, scholastic theologians were being forced to choose between competing claims to lordship (dominiun). The first dispute focused attention on the connection of dominiun with ownership of property and, as a result, scholastic discussion concentrated on the respective relations of pope and king to the material goods of the church and the laity. The second dispute extended this idea to cover jurisdiction as well. The broadening of the terms in which the second dispute was analysed mirrored the escalation of the means by which it was conducted. It also moved scholastic discussion

____________________
1
R. Scholz, Die Publizistik zur Zeit Philipps des Schönen und Bonifaz' VIII ( Stuttgart, 1903), 353-443; J. Favier, "'Les Légistes et le gouvernement de Philippe le Bel'", Journal des Savants, 1969, 92-108; F. Pegues, The Lawyers of the Last Capetians ( Princeton, 1962), 124-37.
2
J. R. Strayer, The Reign of Philip the Fair ( Princeton, 1980), p. xiii.

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