A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages

By Walter Ullmann | Go to book overview

10

Central Government and the Papal Curia

THE EARLY THIRTEENTH century provides a good vantage point from which to survey the institutional structure of the curia in the high Middle Ages. The term signified the totality of the offices, departments and special institutions which dealt with the legislative, financial, administrative and executive work of the papacy as the central point of Western Christendom. Further, the curia-as any other court-also contained departments which dealt with judicial business and the preparation of those cases which came before the supreme tribunal presided over by the pope, as well as those organizational and administrative sections which any Ruler-then as now-had to have in order to fulfil his functions. As the universal Ruler the pope was especially in need of a well-organized court, for to the papacy was subjected the whole of Christendom in one way or another. This itself necessitated a network of offices, quite apart from those which the administration of the city of Rome and of the papal state demanded.

As monarchic Ruler the pope claimed not only the ownership of all islands (on the basis of the Donation of Constantine), but he was also, as already indicated, the feudal lord of a great many countries. As the general 'overseer' (the speculator) he was entitled to depose princes, release subjects from their oaths of allegiance, confer crowns by making kings (as evidenced in Croatia-Dalmatia, Sicily, Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and so on) and to dispose of territories, as illustrated by Languedoc (after the Albigensian wars) and by Estonia, Russia, etc. In this same capacity as 'over-seer' he could order the despatch of troops in support of a Ruler or prohibit further military engagements or refuse any additional armed help, as instanced in Georgia under Gregory IX. He could order the preservation of the legal systems of countries conquered or invaded, as was the case in Ireland. He could transfer

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A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface to the Reprint vi
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction x
  • 1 - The Papacy in the Late Roman Empire 4
  • 2 - The Papal Conflict with the Imperial Government 28
  • 3 - The Papacy and the Conversion of England 51
  • 4 - The Western Orientation of the Papacy 71
  • 5 - The Papacy and Latin Europe 91
  • 6 - The German Monarchy and the Papacy 116
  • 7 - The Gregorian Age 142
  • 8 - Tensions and Conflicts 173
  • 9 - The Zenith of the Medieval Papacy 201
  • 10 - Central Government and the Papal Curia 227
  • 11 - Gradual Decline of Papal Authority 251
  • 12 - Avignon, Rome and Constance 279
  • 13 - The Last Phase of the Medieval Papacy 306
  • Abbreviations 333
  • Bibliographical Notes 337
  • Appendix 367
  • List of Medieval Popes 372
  • Index 377
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