Hierocracy (medieval)
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

In the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, hierocracy or papalism''Hierocracy'' is sometimes construed as a more radical, specifically late medieval variant of ''papalism''. . was a current of Latin
legal Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. ...
and
political thought Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. Its topics include politics, l ...

political thought
that argued that the
pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Cathol ...

pope
held supreme authority over not just spiritual, but also temporal affairs. In its full,
late medieval The Late Middle Ages or Late Medieval Period was the Periodization, period of European history lasting from AD 1300 to 1500. The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern period (and in much of Eur ...
form, hierocratic theory posited that since
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...

Christ
was lord of the universe and both king and priest, and the pope was his earthly
vicar A vicar (; Latin: ''vicarius'') is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or wiktionary:agent, agent for a superior (compare "vicarious" in the sense of "at second hand"). Linguistically, ''vicar'' is cognate wit ...
, the pope must also possess both spiritual and temporal authority over everybody in the world.. Papalist writers at the turn of the 14th century such as Augustinus Triumphus and
Giles of Rome Giles of Rome Order of Saint Augustine, O.S.A. (Latin: ''Aegidius Romanus''; Italian language, Italian: ''Egidio Colonna''; c. 1243 – 22 December 1316), was a Medieval philosophy, Medieval philosopher and Scholasticism, Scholastic theologi ...
depicted secular government as a product of human
sinfulness
sinfulness
that originated, by necessity, in tyrannical usurpation, and could be redeemed only by submission to the superior spiritual
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, Social constructionism, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
of the pope. At the head of the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...

Catholic Church
, responsible to no other jurisdiction except God, the pope, they argued, was the monarch of a universal kingdom whose power extended to Christians and non-Christians alike. The hierocrats limited their extensive conception of the pope's authority by acknowledging that the day-to-day exercise of temporal power belonged, in general, to secular princes, albeit under the guidance of the pope. Hierocracy was criticised at the time from a pro-royal perspective by John of Paris, in defence of the universal monarchy of the
Holy Roman emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as the Roman-German Emperor since the early modern period ( la, Imperator ...
by
Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...

Dante Alighieri
, and by critics of
papal supremacy Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, the visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful, and as pastor of the ...
over the Catholic Church itself such as
Marsilius of Padua Marsilius of Padua (Italian: ''Marsilio'' or ''Marsiglio da Padova''; born ''Marsilio dei Mainardini'' or ''Marsilio Mainardini''; c. 1270 – c. 1342) was an Italian scholar, trained in medicine, who practiced a variety of professions. He ...
. Though hierocracy continued to influence papal policy until the time of the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in ...

Reformation
, by the 17th century the doctrine was generally rejected by Catholic theologians.


History

Medieval hierocratic theory originated with the
Gregorian Reform The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the Roman Curia, papal curia, c. 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy. The reforms are consider ...
of the mid-11th century. Since the pontificate of
Gregory I Gregory I may refer to: * Gregory the Illuminator Gregory the Illuminator (Classical Armenian orthography, Classical hy, Գրիգոր Լուսաւորիչ, Armenian orthography reform, reformed: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ, ''Grigor Lusa ...

Gregory I
at the start of the 7th century, successive popes had rarely felt the need to assert the principle of
papal primacy Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the bishop of Rome, is a Roman Catholic ecclesiological doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the pope from other bishops and their episcopal sees. The doctrine is accepted a ...
explicitly. The growing frequency of papal intervention in church government incentivised medieval canonists to clarify the relationship between the pope and the
bishops A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of Episcopal polity, authority and oversight in a religious institution. In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or offic ...
, and by the 11th century this articulation of papal primacy had begun to extend to the pope's authority in the secular sphere as well. In his 1075 '' Dictatus papae'',
Pope Gregory VII Pope Gregory VII ( la, Gregorius VII; 1015 – 25 May 1085), born Hildebrand of Sovana ( it, Ildebrando di Soana), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 April 1073 to his death in 1085. He is venerated as a saint ...

Pope Gregory VII
gave the principle a detailed legal form that sought to translate the abstract theory of primacy into concrete government policy. Once the pope's internal monarchy within the church itself had been firmly established under
Pope Innocent III Pope Innocent III ( la, Innocentius III; 1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216), born Lotario dei Conti di Segni (anglicized as Lothar of Conti di Segni, Segni), was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1198 to h ...

Pope Innocent III
at the beginning of the 13th century, the canonists could direct their attention further towards temporal affairs. The mid-13th century elaboration by the canonist Hostiensis of the pope's , "plenitude of power", was an important milestone in the development of hierocratic theory.. Hostiensis noted the traditional Christian argument that all political power derived from God, but argued that the pope had a special status: as God's vicar, the pope, when he exercised his office and did not sin, acted ''as'' God. The pope's power was "miraculous"; he could issue dispensations at will from any
positive law Positive laws ( la, links=no, ius positum) are human-made laws that oblige or specify an action. Positive law also describes the establishment of specific rights for an individual or group. Etymologically, the name derives from the verb ''to posit ...
, rendering bastards legitimate, for example, and restoring the reputation of the infamous.
Pope Innocent IV Pope Innocent IV ( la, Innocentius IV; – 7 December 1254), born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25 June 1243 to his death in 1254. Fieschi was born in Genoa and studied at the universitie ...

Pope Innocent IV
, who reigned from 1243 to 1254, gave papal policy an increasingly hierocratic direction by asserting that the pope had the right to elect a monarch himself if any Christian kingdom should fall vacant. Hierocratic ideas developed further at the time of the struggle between
Pope Boniface VIII Pope Boniface VIII ( la, Bonifatius PP. VIII; born Benedetto Caetani, c. 1230 – 11 October 1303) was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 December 1294 to his death in 1303. The Caetani, Caetani family was of b ...

Pope Boniface VIII
and
Philip IV of France Philip IV (April–June 1268 – 29 November 1314), called Philip the Fair (french: Philippe le Bel), was King of France from 1285 to 1314. Jure uxoris, By virtue of his marriage with Joan I of Navarre, he was also King of Navarre as Philip&nb ...

Philip IV of France
, and received their ultimate official formulation in Boniface's 1302 bull ''
Unam sanctam ' is a papal bull that was issued by Pope Boniface VIII Pope Boniface VIII ( la, Bonifatius PP. VIII; born Benedetto Caetani, c. 1230 – 11 October 1303) was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 24 December 129 ...

Unam sanctam
'', which pronounced that the "spiritual power has to institute the earthly power and judge it" and that "it is entirely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff". Elaborate expositions of the hierocratic theory were composed at around the same time, such as
Giles of Rome Giles of Rome Order of Saint Augustine, O.S.A. (Latin: ''Aegidius Romanus''; Italian language, Italian: ''Egidio Colonna''; c. 1243 – 22 December 1316), was a Medieval philosophy, Medieval philosopher and Scholasticism, Scholastic theologi ...
's ' ("On Ecclesiastical Power") in 1301 and
James of Viterbo James of Viterbo ( it, Giacomo da Viterbo;  – ), born Giacomo Capocci (nicknamed ''Doctor speculativus''), was an Italian Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , establish ...
's ' ("On Christian Government") in 1302. Boniface's eventual defeat dealt a blow to hierocratic aspirations from which they would not recover; nonetheless, hierocratic theory continued to influence the papacy well into the 16th century, as shown by the
Fifth Lateran Council The Fifth Council of the Lateran, held between 1512 and 1517, was the eighteenth ecumenical council An ecumenical council, also called general council, is a meeting of bishops and other church authorities to consider and rule on questions ...
's republishing of ''Unam sanctam'' shortly before the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and in ...

Reformation
and
Pope Pius V Pope Pius V ( it, Pio V; 17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri, Dominican Order, O.P.), was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1566 to his death in M ...
's attempt to depose
Elizabeth I of England Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was List of English monarchs, Queen of England and List of Irish monarchs, Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death in 1603. Elizabeth was the last of the five House of Tudor monarchs and is ...
in his 1570 bull ''
Regnans in excelsis ''Regnans in Excelsis'' ("Reigning on High") is a papal bull that Pope Pius V issued on 25 February 1570. It excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I of England, referring to her as "the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime", declared he ...
''. Despite their sweeping conception of the authority of the papal office, the hierocratic theorists did not believe that the pope should, in the ordinary course of events, directly exercise temporal power himself. Though inferior to the pope, they held that the office of the secular prince was nonetheless ordained by God, and the pope's temporal authority was to be exercised indirectly through his guidance and direction of princes. The hierocratic canonist Augustinus Triumphus, in his 1326 ' ("Summary Account of Ecclesiastical Power"), argued that the pope had universal jurisdiction in both temporal and spiritual matters across the whole world (), but his immediate temporal administration extended only to the lands then believed to have been granted to him by the ''
Donation of Constantine The ''Donation of Constantine'' ( ) is a Forgery, forged Roman imperial decree by which the 4th-century emperor Constantine the Great supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the Western Roman Empire, western part of the Roman Empire to th ...
''. Originally this was the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprised the western provinces of the Roman Empire at any time during which they were administered by a separate independent Imperial court; in particular, this term is used in historiography to describe the period fr ...
, but when later monarchs arose and unjustly carved out territories for themselves, the pope had chosen to suffer their claims to sovereignty to avoid
schism A schism ( , , or, less commonly, ) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name and tradi ...
among the faithful, and subsequently limited his administration in practice to
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
—without, however, renouncing any rights.


Critiques

Medieval opposition to hierocracy, insisting on a clear separation of temporal and spiritual power, is often termed "dualism": in practice hierocratic and dualist positions often overlapped, with hierocrats acknowledging the distinct authority of secular princes while dualists accepted the pope's overall leadership of the Christian community. Hierocracy was critiqued by other medieval writers on a number of fronts. Writing in the context of the dispute between Boniface and Philip of France, John of Paris argued in his 1303 ' ("On Royal and Papal Power") that Christ's kingship was not of this world, and could not be interpreted as temporal jurisdiction. Moreover, while spiritual authority was united in the church and its steward the pope, political authority was naturally plural. In his ', composed roughly around 1310,
Dante Alighieri Dante Alighieri (; – 14 September 1321), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (, ), was an Italian people, Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Comedy'', origin ...

Dante Alighieri
adopted a different line of attack, defending the universal authority of the
Holy Roman emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator Romanorum, german: Kaiser der Römer) during the Middle Ages, and also known as the Roman-German Emperor since the early modern period ( la, Imperator ...
: it was against nature for the church to exercise temporal power, but also for political authority to be divided.
Marsilius of Padua Marsilius of Padua (Italian: ''Marsilio'' or ''Marsiglio da Padova''; born ''Marsilio dei Mainardini'' or ''Marsilio Mainardini''; c. 1270 – c. 1342) was an Italian scholar, trained in medicine, who practiced a variety of professions. He ...
, in his 1324 ' ("The Defender of the Peace"), rejected the entire basis of the papacy as a divinely sanctioned office, arguing that it was a political office like any other and that the pope's illegitimate claims to universal authority were a cause of civil discord. Hierocratic arguments were discredited in later Catholic theology. Cardinal
Robert Bellarmine Robert Bellarmine, SJ ( it, Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino; 4 October 1542 – 17 September 1621) was an Italian Jesuit and a Cardinal (Catholicism), cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was canonization, canonized a saint in 1930 and named ...
attacked the hierocratic conception in his 1610 work ' ("On the Power of the Supreme Pontiff") on the basis that the pope's duties descended from Christ as a mortal man, not as God, and the
Jesuit The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of clerics regular of pontifical right for men in the Catholic Church headquartered in Rom ...
theologian Francisco Suárez argued around the same time that the pope could not infringe, even in extraordinary cases, on the supremacy of secular sovereigns in worldly affairs. Hierocracy had very few notable supporters by the early 17th century, and these critiques were concerned less with refuting it as a live position than with reassuring secular rulers that Catholicism would not undermine their authority..


See also

*
Decretalist In the history of canon law Canon law (from grc, κανών, , a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical jurisdiction, ecclesiastical authority (church leadership) for the government of a C ...
*
Guelphs and Ghibellines The Guelphs and Ghibellines (, , ; it, guelfi e ghibellini ) were Political faction, factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in the Italian city-states of Central Italy and Northern Italy. During the 12th and 13t ...
* Sun and Moon allegory * Alvarus Pelagius


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * {{cite book, last=Wilks, first=Michael, year=1963, title=The Problem of Sovereignty in the Later Middle Ages: Papal Monarchy with Augustinus Triumphus and the Publicists, place=Cambridge, publisher=Cambridge University Press Catholicism in the Middle Ages History of the papacy Medieval philosophy Papal primacy Catholicism and politics Canon law history