History of political ideas
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DESCRIPTIONHistory of political ideas. 2nd lecture. Political ideas of Medieval Europe Lecturer: Marosn, Bence. Constantine the Great, and the Edict of Milan. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
History of political ideas2nd lecture. Political ideas of Medieval EuropeLecturer: Marosn, Bence
Constantine the Great, and the Edict of MilanUnder Constantine the Great (272-337, 313) Christianity became the official religion of Roman Empire, though the tension between Christianity and pagan religions remained long after this event.The Edict of Milan (313) which was signed by Constantines Fellow-emperor of the Eastern parts of Roman Empire, Licinius (263-325), granted a freedom of religious practice and religious conscience for every citizens of the Roman Empire. It is a fundamental document of religious tolerance of the Roman Empire.
Two periods of medieval thoughtThe early period of medieval thinking or philosophy is called: Patristics, or the period of early Christian writers. It begins with the first founders of Church, 1st century AD and lasts till the late 9th century, till the time of Johannes (John) Scotus Eriugena (cca. 815-877), who is considered as the last pater (founding father) of Church. So: Patristics is between 1-9 Century AD.The second period of medieval thought is called scholasticism. The name comes from the latin scola, school; scolasticus in Latin means: that which belongs to the school.Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics (scholastics, or schoolmen) of medieval universities in Europe from about 11001500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of, and a departure from, Christian monastic schools (Source: Wikipedia).We could date the period of scholastic philosophy between the late 11st and late 16th century.
Saint Augustine (354-430AD)Augustine was born in 354, and till his conversion in 386 he lived a libertine way of life. He died as the bishop of Hippo in 430.The state, according to Augustine, lacks the special moral value and rank that was attributed to it by the ancient Greek (and Roman) philosophers. Man could gain salvation only as the citizen of the City of God. The earthly, mundane manifestation of the City of God is the Church.Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus est he said. Outside the Church there is no salvation. The earthly, mundane, profane state possesses only a relative value: it has value only in that respect and for that degree if it is pervaded by the Church, and if it is governed according to Christian rules and values.
The City of GodAugustine wrote his ideas about this question mainly in his last main work, The City of God, De civitate Dei, 413-426.The city of God evolves amongst the frames of the profane state. Thus tranforms the Roman Empire into a Christian one, while it is a bearer of a special historical mission.This conception is expressed with the term Holy Roman Empire.But the man, according to Augustine, is an originally wicked being, he is burdened by the original sin, and he is needed to be disciplined. This disciplining is practiced by the forcing institutions and laws of the mundane state. The fundament of state thus is the originally wicked human nature, the self-love, and the peace is nothing else than a cessation of arms dictated by the stronger one. In this way one must always subordinate the mundane state to the Christian state, to the state of God. This conception foreshadows the medieval conflicts between State and Church.
Conflict of Church and State in the Middle AgesThe Medieval Ages could be characterized with the rivalry of State and Church.In the beginning there were serious debates concerning the question who possesses the power? also in the Church. Many told that during the chaotic times of their age (early Middle Age) only a sovereign with a divine legitimation and authorization could make an order. Other tried to hold the Church apart from the mundane power.
The Investiture ControversyThe rivalry of Church and State culminated in the Investiture Controversy in the early Middle Age. The investiture controversy was about the question that who has the right to nominate the bishops in a country: the king or the pope?Pope Gregory VII (cca. 1015/1028-1085) declared that he, as the head of the Church, is the only one who has the ultimate right to nominate a bishop and to call him back.Henry IV Holy Roman Emperor (1050-1106) tried to confront the Pope in this question with the assistance of his loyal bishops, but Gregory VII declared the detronization of Henry IV, who was forced to retreat in this confrontation and he must make his walk to Canossa.
Relationship of ecclesiastic and profane power. The two approachesPope Gregory VII referred to the brief of Pope Gelasius (V. century, AD), denying that the king would be the supreme leader of human community, and arguing for that the kings gain all their power from God through the Church.On the opposite, a contemporary anonymous author (XI. century, AD) defended the absolute rights of king against the ecclesiastic power of pope, saying that the king has a twofold personality: one is due to his human nature and the other is due to his divine mission.The king is the immediate servant of God, minister Dei, and as such he is the mundane regent of Christ, vicarius Christi on Earth, consequently the sovereign is a king and a priest, rex et sacerdos in one person.In the end the majority who participated in this debate saw a counter-balance in the ecclesiastic power of the Church and of the pope in particular, against the possibly tyrannic power of the king.
Conflict between Henri IV and Thomas Becket, (1170-1174)The archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, would not be here. He was in the throes of a quarrel with his old friend, King Henry; a quarrel so bitter and fierce that the archbishop had been forced to flee the country, and had taken refuge in France. They were in conflict over a whole list of legal issues, but the heart of the dispute was simple: Could the king do as he pleased, or was he constrained? It was the dispute William himself had had with Prior Philip. William took the view that the earl could do anything-- that was what it meant to be earl. Henry felt the same about kingship. Prior Philip and Thomas Becket were both bent on restricting the power of rulers. Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth, 1990: 614
John of Salisbury. The right of TyrranicideThe experience of conflict of mundane (profane) and ecclesiastic power motivated Salisbury to write his work Policraticus, (On Tyrranicide, 1159). John of Salisbury made a difference between tyrant and monarch. The king is not bounded by the positive laws of the states, but he must act in accordance with the divine laws. If the king strives to realize the laws of divine justice on Earth, then his dominance is legitimate, and he is a monarch. But if he follows only the laws of his own selfish desires, and breaks the divine law of heavenly justice, then he is a tyrant, and it is just to kill him.
The assasination of Thomas Becket, mentor of John of SalisburyHis mentor was Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. John of Salisbury worked as Beckets secretary from 1161. He followed his master to exile to France, when the conflict between Beckett and Henri became very tough, (1170-1174).Thomas Becket returned with John to England in 1174, but at the commands (or explicit suggestion) of Henrik II of England he was murdered, before the very eyes of his discipline, right at the altar of the Church. This experience made John even more convinced that the mundane, profane political power must be subordinated to the ecclesiastic power, and controlled by it.
The special importance of the conflict between State and ChurchThese conflicts had a special role in the evolution of division of power and in the emergence of modern institutions of public administration.Several factors made successful the modern Europe. One of them was the idea of autonomous institutions in the society, which enjoyed a complete sovereignty over and against the state. In this way e.g. the medieval Universities had a special autonomy and sovereignty.The conflict between Church and State made the kings aware for the first time that they cannot do everything they want, and even their power is restricted by other branches of power.
The divine source of political legitimacyIn the Medieval Ages appeared a third modell of political order and legitimacy over and above the afore mentioned two: the divine source of political power.With the spread and rise of Christianity emerged the discipline of political theology.According to this modell: God is the ultimate source of every power, no matter it is mundane or transcendent, physical or political.Saint Paul: There is no sword nor power but through God.
Saint Augustine (354-430). De Civitate Dei, City of GodSaint Augustine, the bishop of Hyppo (North-Africa), was the first one who articulated a systematic theory of political theology in his lenghty (ten volumes long) book: The City of God, (De Civitate Dei).Saint Augustine divided the universe to two regions: Civitate Dei (City or Domain of God) and Civitate Diaboli (City or Domain of the Devil). Every region of the world which is under the reign of the Catholic Church is under the sovereignty of God. Every part of the world outside the sovereignty of Church is under the influence of the Devil, is the City of Devil. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus est he said. Outside the Church there is no salvation.The borders between the City of God and City of Devil are invisible. If one lives according to the rules and laws of the Catholic religion, then s/he is a citizen of the City of God. If one does not follow the rules of the only true religion, then s/he is a citizen of the City of Devil.A form of state is legitimate if and only the state serves the goals of salvation and is under the reign and sovereignty of the Church. If a state does not serve the aims and goals of Church and through it the matter of salvation, then its rulership is illegitimate.The source of political power is the Church and ultimately God himself.
The double power in the world. Letter of Pope Gelasius I.According to Gelasius there could be found two powers in the world: the power of Monarch and the power of the Church.According to Gelasius the secular, mundane power is subordinated to the power of Church, because salvation could be hoped only through the latter. This was a main problem in the political thinking of Medieval Ages. To whom is responsible the king? To the Church or only to God himself immediately?The Church as a matter of course officially taught the first view-point. Political legitimacy everywhere every time subordinated to the Church. The kings over and over again through the Medieval Ages tried to grasp the ultimate and exclusive power to themselves.In this way the Church functioned many occasions as the control of the power of king. Thus the conflict between Church and State was an important source and forerunner of modern division of powers.
The medieval view of society. Saint Thomas of Acquinas (1225-1274)According to medieval autors (among others: Saint Thomas of Acquinas) the structure of human and non-human society was organic and hierarchic. The human society was the mirror image of the entire universe. The universe was a hierarchy with God on the top of it. (Then Archangels, Angels, humans, animals, plants and unanimate things).The human world is just like a hierarchy with the king, with the Monarch on the top. (Then the nobles, their vassals, bondmen, etc.).But just as the created world is subordinated to the transcendent divine world, the secular, non-ecclesiastic, mundane world must be subordinated to the Church. Otherwise it would be a violence against the divine laws of the Universe.
The idea of tyrannycide. John of SalisburySalisbury witnessed that his mentor and master, Thomas Beckett (Archbishop of Canterbury) was slaughtered at the orders of king (Henry II.), at the alter of the Cathedral.This happened after he wrote his book Policraticus (On Tyrranycide, 1159) but this event convinced him even deeper concerning the truth of his ideas.According to Salisbury one must make a difference between the monarch and the tyrant. The monarch subordinates himself to the rules and laws of Church, seeks to fulfill the divine justice, and strives after the happiness of his people in this world and the next.The tyrant follows only his desires, violates the laws and rules of the Church, and does not deal with the happiness and well-being of his people.The monarch regards the political power as a mean to make a just and happy society. Does not follow his own selfish interest on the first hand. The tyrant regards the political power as a goal in itself, or as something which has the only function to fulfill the selfish desires of the tyrant himself.The monarch creates the City of God. The tyrant brings the City of Devil. According to Salisbury it is just revolt against the tyrant, even to kill him.