Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Discourses, Rites, and Representations (Medieval and Early Modern Political Theology) (Medieval and Early Modern Political Theology, 1) 9782503568348, 2503568343

This book aims to provide a new perspective on the subject, dealing with the events (historical events and intellectual

534 103 3MB

English Pages 397 [400] Year 2017

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Discourses, Rites, and Representations (Medieval and Early Modern Political Theology) (Medieval and Early Modern Political Theology, 1)
 9782503568348, 2503568343

Citation preview

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Medieval and Early Modern Political Theology Historical and Theoretical Perspectives Volume 1 Series Directors Jaume Aurell, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona Montserrat Herrero, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona Editorial Board Martin Aurell, Université de Poitiers António Bento, Universidade da Beira Interior, Covilhã William T. Cavanaugh, DePaul University, Chicago, IL Hent de Vries, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD Brad S. Gregory, Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, IN Paul W. Kahn, Yale University, New Haven, CT Julia R. Lupton, University of California, Irvine, CA Francis Oakley, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA Heinrich Meier, Karl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung/ LudwigMaximilians-Universität, München Teófilo F. Ruiz, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe Discourses, Rites, and ­Representations

Edited by

Montserrat Herrero, Jaume Aurell, and Angela C. Miceli Stout



© 2017, Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. D/2017/0095/36 ISBN 978-2-503-56834-8 eISBN 978-2-503-56857-7 DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.110678 Printed in the E.U. on acid-free paper

Contents Introduction Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell9 Part One The Theory: The Shaping of the Concept Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: The Magic of a Phrase Montserrat Herrero23 The Mystical and the Real: Putting Theology Back into Political Theology William T. Cavanaugh43 From the Medieval Church as a ­Mystical Body to the Modern State as  a Mystical Person: Ernst ­Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt António Bento65 Part Two The Practice: Modes of Transferences and Interferences I. Discourses Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century: The Political Theology of Royal ­Wisdom Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña


Is Political Theology an Oxymoron? Radical Criticism of the Crusades in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Martin Aurell111 Regnum and Sacerdotiumin John of ­Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali José Maria Silva Rosa129



Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act in Baruch Spinoza and John Locke Montserrat Herrero149 Early Modern Political Theology and the Question of China: Bayle, Leibniz, and Montesquieu Simon Kow173 Religious Rupture and Administrative Continuity in Tocqueville’s The Old Regime And The Revolution Rafael García Pérez191 The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State? Critics, Reforms, and Abolitions of the Inquisition in the Enlightenment Europe Juan Pablo Domínguez209 II. Rites Invoking the Name of the King: Context and Meaning in Late Medieval Portugal Rita Costa Gomes229 The Self-Coronation of Frederick II: A Non-Sacred Consecration Jaume Aurell245 The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’: The Theological Use of an Art Object as a Political Symbol Vinni Lucherini267 III. Representations Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux: An Original System of Theological-­Political Representations between Self-Celebration and Propaganda Xavier Barral i Altet287 The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms in Medieval Europe Laurent Hablot313



Rex et Sacerdos: A Veiled Ideal of Kingship? Representing Priestly Kings in ­Medieval Iberia Marta Serrano-Coll337 Transference of Authority: Spiritual Tradition as Foundation for State Construction and Preservation in Medieval and Early Modern Russia Elena Kashina363 General Index


Introduction Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell


ccording to contemporary standards, political theology is a powerful and useful hermeneutical tool that allows for the integrated approach to the paradoxes of spiritual and temporal, soul and body, heaven and earth, virtue and sin. These authentic paradoxes depend both on the most selfless and generous contemplation of God, on the one hand, and on worldly ideologies and propaganda that make it possible to take, exercise and keep power, on the other. The ambivalence of the questions raised by political theology accounts for its richness and perhaps also its potential to bring together different disciplines, while facilitating a larger comparative approach in geographical and chronological terms. Considering that the variety of theories and practices of political theology requires (and provides the key for) an interdisciplinary approach, this volume has brought together political philosophers, historians, theologians, art historians and jurists in order to make a more comprehensive approach to this concept, its historical developments, its iconographical representations, and its symbolical meanings. As the contributions of this collective volume show, political theology marries meta-narrative (the aprioristic, abstract, an-historical, and general idea about the progressive secularization of politics and the profane encapsulation of Christian symbolism) to small-scale narrative (the precise examples and stories researchers use to support their theses). Such a broad and varied theme fosters interdisciplinary collaboration between theologians, philosophers, historians, legal historians, and art historians. Indeed the level of abstraction on which theologians and philosophers remain, and the more concrete and sometimes positivistic approach adopted by historians, art historians, and law historians led to some marked contrasts, which are impressed in the different contributions and in the chapter structure of this book. Although such a varied approach may, at first glance, seem unyielding, such ‘cross-fertilization’ offers one of the most creative ways to progress and innovate in the humanities. This approach ultimately gives us a g­ eneral ­picture of

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 9–20 ©  DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111243



Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

the subject, and highlights some of the common arguments connected with the theory and practice of political theology. *** This volume is devoted to the theory and the practice of political theology in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity. It uses as the primary sources the narratives (philosophical and theological discourses), the rites (royal and liturgical ceremonies), and the representations (different kinds of images) from the Middle Ages to the twentieth-century. Thus, this book also examines the prism from which these primary sources have been analysed by scholars during the twentieth and twentieth-first century under the methodology also known as ‘political theology’. The notion of political theology was actually introduced into scholarly research in 1922 by the German philosopher and law-theorist Carl Schmitt. In fact, some contributors to this volume have quoted as foundational Schmitt’s words for the shaping of this concept, providing scholars with a fertile methodological tool: All significant concepts of the modern theory of state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development — in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver — but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts.1

These two spheres of political theology mentioned by Carl Schmitt — the practical-historical (‘the historical development’) and the theoretical-­ speculative (‘their systematic structure’) — are conveyed in the structure of the book. Part One, ‘The Theory: The Shaping of a Scholarship Concept’, centers on the formation of the concept in modern academia, particularly focusing in the authors such as Carl Schmitt, Enrst Kantorowicz, and Henri de Lubac. Part Two, ‘The Practice: Modes of Transferences and Interferences’ analyses some of the ‘historical developments’ in which these interchanges between the temporal and the spiritual have been manifested through discourses, rites, and representations during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. The transcendence of this concept for twentieth century scholarship, and its  ability to legitimize academic discourse in different disciplines is 1  Carl Schmitt, Political Theology. Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 36 (originally published in 1922).



c­ onfirmed by the fact that, more or less explicitly, it has been revisited and applied, using all its inductive potentiality by some significant historians such as Ernst H. Kantorowicz, anthropologists such as Clifford Geertz, theologians such as Henri de Lubac, historians of the religions such as Mircea Eliade, and philosophers such as Ernst Cassirer. Their scholarship has demonstrated the fecundity of this concept in their different (but fundamentally connected) areas of the humanities and social sciences. For example, in his ground-breaking book The King’s Two Bodies (1957), Ernst H. Kantorowicz, emphasized not only the secularization of the medieval theory of government in modern ideologies, but also its evident and persistent sacralisation. His work and insights placed the topic of political theology into modern historical scholarship. Some years after its publication, the influential medievalist Jacques Le Goff argued that Kantorowicz had ‘restored to its general historical background the conception of political theology which is an essential key to the understanding of the Middle Ages’ (emphasis added).2 As William Cavanaugh argues in this same volume, Henri de Lubac, in his Corpus Mysticum (1944), shows how the dynamic relationship between the liturgical action of the Eucharist and the formation of the church community was gradually reduced until the community-forming power of the sacrament was borrowed by the nascent state and the Eucharist became an individualized, miraculous spectacle that served to reinforce clerical power. Thus, in addition, many other scholars have begun to explore the same thought and ideas of Henri de Lubac as a source for a radical political theology. Other relevant twentieth century scholars have dealt, in one form or another, explicitly with political theology. Leopold von Ranke conceived history ‘as a perpetual conflict between great political and religious ideas’. This historian, founder of the German historicism, was interested in analysing the historical development of the tension between politics and religion, and to describe ‘all the actors in this historical play’.3 Other prominent scholars, such as Ernst Cassirer, Mircea Eliade, and Clifford Geertz, have also explored the boundaries and the transferences between the temporal and the spiritual, between politics and religion. Cassirer was particularly interested

  Jacques Le Goff, ‘Is Politics Still the Backbone of History?’, Daedalus 100 (1971): 1–19, here 8. 3  Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man. An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944), 188. 2


Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

in the relationship and transferences between ‘the sacred and the profane’, arguing that: [T]his division between the two worlds [the sacred and the profane] does not exclude a perpetual transition between them, an enduring interaction and mutual assimilation. On the contrary, the sacred reveals its power precisely by its immediate sensuous domination of every single physical thing and physical event — which it is always prepared to seize upon as an instrument for its own purpose. Thus, every thing, however particular, accidental, and sensuous, possesses at the same time a magical-religious ‘significance’; indeed, this very particularity and accidental character becomes the distinguishing mark by which a thing or event is withdrawn from the sphere of the commonplace and transferred to that of the sacred. […] Here again the transition is not immediate; between the two extremes there lies a kind of intermediary attitude. In religion the sensuous and the spiritual by no means coincide, but nevertheless they point continuously to one another. They stand to one another in a relationship of analogy, by which they are both interrelated and separate.4

The Rumanian-American historian of the religions, Mircea Eliade, insists on the utility of the analysis of these transferences between the spiritual and the temporal for historical knowledge, and he even applies this methodology to the study of historical and political eschatologies: [F]or in the course of time cosmic renewal, the ‘Salvation’ of the World, came to be expected from a certain type of King or Hero or Saviour or even political leader. Although in strongly secularized form, the modern world still keeps the eschatological hope of a universal renovation to be brought about by the victory of a social class or even of a political party or p­ ersonality.5

Finally, the symbolic anthropologist Clifford Geertz is convinced of the reality of the tension between the political and the religious meanings — although his method led him to the analysis of the cultural meanings rather than political options or social systems. In his ground breaking study about the dramatic consequences of the transferences between politics and religions in a funeral in contemporary Java, he concludes that,

 Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. Volume Two: Mythical Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955, 255. 5  Mircea Eliade, ‘Dimensions religieuses du renouvellement cosmique’, Eranos-Jahrbüch, XXVIII (1960), , p. 271. 4



The [religious] rites themselves become matters of political conflict; forms for the sacralization of marriage and death are transformed into important [political] party issues. In such an equivocal cultural setting, the average kampong Javanese finds it increasingly difficult to determine the proper attitude toward a particular event, to choose the meaning of a given symbol appropriate to a given social context. The corollary of this interference of political meanings with religious meanings also occurs: the interference of religious meanings with political ones. Because the same symbols are used in both political and religious contexts, people often regard party struggle as involving not merely the usual ebb and flow of parliamentary manoeuvre, the necessary factional give-and-take of democratic government, but involving as well decisions on basic values and ultimates. […] Politics thus takes on a kind of sacralized bitterness.6

Thus, for scholars such as Cassirer, Kantorowicz, De Lubac, Eliade, and Geertz, the concept of ‘political theology’ (i.e. the analysis of the tension between the spiritual and the temporal in its very different spheres) is the key to the solution of the historical problems they confront. It not only enabled them to organise the thousands of data they have collected in their research (particularly impressive in all of these scholars) in accordance with this concept but, as any good theoretical concept would do, it disclosed a wider range of data or facts to be taken into the understanding and interpreting. *** These prominent scholars, coming from the disciplines of political history, symbolic anthropology, dogmatic theology and anthropological philosophy, have shown the ability of political theology for deep interpretative analysis of historical and philosophical issues, and have explored some key subjects such as the rule of the monarchy on traditional societies, the social tensions produced when politics and religion are dysfunctional, the relationship between the mystical and the political body, and the function of symbols for recreating new political and religious concepts, values, and practices. Yet the different nature of the themes and diverse disciplinary origins of the contributions included in this volume suggest other perspectives to approach historical events and ideas about the concept of political theology. For example, as contributions to this volume reveal, the celebration of the monarchy, but also of the power of smaller princes, lords and more modest knights, is the result of propaganda profoundly impregnated by religion; political theology 6  Clifford Geertz, ‘Ritual and Social Change: A Javanese Example’, in The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 167.


Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

of a speculative nature is mainly disseminated through written documents or oral performances. There are other media, however, such as rituals which display visuals gestures of dominance: coronations, dubbings, funerals and processions; finally, the emblems, insignia and mottos also visually show power. Discourses, rituals, and visual representations, as the subtitle of this book emphasises, converge. Christianity is at the heart of all these communication systems. Nevertheless, ideological manipulation endures regular criticism from clerical intellectuals, who propose, on the basis of a literal exegesis of the Gospels, a clearer distinction between the spiritual and the temporal, a less rigid social hierarchy, or a more tolerant attitude to the non-believer. The discursive reactions against the Crusades, for instance, or the transgressive rituals of self-coronation, form part of this questioning, which was frequent in the Middle Ages. Indeed, debate arises continually during this period. The interdisciplinary peculiarity of this book explains why it contains two types of essay. To use somewhat inadequate labels, we could call these the positivistic and speculative chapters or, perhaps more adequately, the articles that are more or less close to these two opposite poles. The same tension would appear in the approach to political theology by Ernst Kantorowicz, Henri de Lubac and by Carl Schmitt, by the historian, by the theologian and by the jurist. In fact, the book does not aim to present a complete story of the theological-political dynamics and the relationship between the political and the theological, but an analysis of some relevant cases in which that relationship — manifested essentially in the transferences and inferences between the two spheres — is particularly intensive. Among the historical studies that use documentary evidence and analyse one singular event, we highlight the articles on Frederick  II’s (1229) and Peter  IV of Aragon’s (1336) self-coronations, and Ivan  IV of Russia’s and Charles I of Hungary’s (1309) coronations, in which the body language of ceremony is more performative than argumentative, yet its efficiency is immense. Other contributions have analysed some medieval laws, such as the Sicilian Liber augustalis (1231) or the Portuguese Ordinações Alfonsinas (1433–37), founded the institution of clamor, the possibility of appealing to the king. In Portugal, the legal sentence to call him is ‘Aqui d’el rei!’ To invoke somebody else instead of him would be punished with banishment. There is something of an incantation in this use of a quasi-sacred word. Ernst Kantorowicz understood well the efficiency of invoking a name, even in the absence of the entity, which it ‘re-presents’, in the double signification of ‘legal substitution’ and ‘making present’. In the sixth century, Cassiodore spoke of tuitio nominis regis, ‘protection of the name of the king’. Not only



by pronouncing it, but even by carving it on statues or on coins, sound and vision gave an ubiquity to his person, which was heard and seen everywhere. These representations affirm the uniqueness of royal power, which has not necessarily to be shown by the physical presence of the king’s visit. The king’s ubiquitous presence has more to do with Roman law than with the Eucharist. Yet, evidence also shows the priestly nature of the kingship, such as the example of Peter  IV (1336–87) of Aragon, whose very rich documentary and artistic evidence (in particular, seals, miniatures and sculptures) show the sacred aspect of his function. In some ceremonies, he wears a dalmatic and stole and he preaches from the pulpit. Thus his people perceive him like a priest in a church. But of course we know that he is not permitted to celebrate Mass or to administer any other sacrament. It is nonetheless obvious that caesaro-papist emperors and kings of the Late Middle Ages often tried to take advantage of sacrality to give a supplementary aura to their authority. The main theme and guiding principle of our book is that political theology was an essential aspect of their legitimating strategies. Yet, this renewed interest by historians and art historians to approach singular events using symbolic anthropology as a disciplinary escort are complemented in this book by the approaches on visual culture, particularly through iconography and architecture. The artistic monument well reflects its etymology from moneo, related to counsel and advice, and also to memory and commemoration. The Bayeux tapestry narrates history, legends and literature. Its serial presentation of images repeats symbols, some of them strongly political. At the same time, the embroidery borrows themes and forms from older works of art. The Trajan column, for instance, shows a certain parallelism with it, even if its language is heliacal, not flat. The selection of the area and the criteria of construction of the monumental architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin were dictated by natural geography, and the position it offered for defence: the top of a steep hill at the confluence of two rivers. The original construction was successively completed by new fortifications in order to mirror a change in the status of the ruler and the principality, and to project an image of cosmopolitanism or despotism. Its ability to allow for varied functions, such as the political, the administrative and the spiritual is the best image for the theological-political nature of Russian concept of authority. Similar ‘visual narrative discourses’, with all its symbolic power, can be found in heraldry, even if it concerns a single and purely symbolic image, not a sequence of scenes of events. Most medieval kings’ armoires mix politics and kingship with religion, asserting thus the theological foundation of their


Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

authority. This tendency is particularly active in all late medieval and early modern European monarchies. Departing from the monuments (this time, monumenta in the sense of writings) in order to reach general conclusions, we also may approach the tendency of late medieval monarchy to move from the model of holiness to the model of wisdom. The discourse of the intellectuals at that time, usually writing around the royal courts, allows us to enter the topic of royal knowledge and wisdom, be it religious, human or scientific, but that in any case fits perfectly with a theological-political propaganda, exalting the leadership of the kings and their gifts for government. More complex discourses appear in political philosophical texts around 1700. The interpretation of these discourses, authored usually by political philosophers and theologians, complement the task done by historians in the interpretations of events and by art historians in the interpretation of the visual evidence. One of the chapters shows how the vision of the Chinese regime, mainly known from the journal of the Jesuit Matteo Ricci († 1610), was used by free thinkers in order to contest or support European absolutism. Pierre Bayle insists on the tolerance of the Chinese Middle Kingdom. He thinks that the Jesuits were allowed to preach there because of atheistic or at least pagan respect for conscience on the part of the Chinese elites. On the other hand, for Leibniz, the emperor was perceived by his subjects as the image of God, divinely ordained to seek their good thanks to Confucianism, which is a kind of civil religion. The philosopher was indeed fascinated by the ‘son of Heaven’s’ sense of justice and wide knowledge of science. More perspicuous are the criticisms of Montesquieu against Bayle and Leibniz. On the authority of constitutionalism, he accuses both ‘enlightened’ philosophers of being partisans of Eastern despotism. These examples show how useful the application of the concept of political theology could be to scholars to analyse written, ritual, or visual discourses. The philosophers in the volume adduce a real reflection on the founding fathers of this notion. Several contributors have discovered several important pieces, mainly a table of contents of a book never written, in the archive of Ernst Kantorowicz. By investigating his personal papers, we have shown that the author of The King’s Two Bodies voluntarily concealed his debt to Carl Schmitt. In fact, by writing this book, Kantorowicz wanted to overturn the commitments of his youth and the success of his Frederick II (1927) among Nazi rulers and thinkers. The intellectual relationship between Schmitt and Kantorowicz is manifested in the inductive application by the latter to the theoretical concepts of the former. Thus, Kantorowicz’s analysis



of the transition from ‘mystical body’ (corpus mysticum) to ‘mystical person’ (persona mystica) is essential to understand how the medieval Church gave way to the early modern state. On the basis of Christianity, the Incarnation makes political theology possible, as a real assemblage of opposites (complexio oppositorum). It gives a time and a space to God, making history essential to Christianity and the narrative essential to the Gospel. Schmitt and Kantorowicz foster a variety of philosophical and theological interpretations, but always in contact with human, social and political realities. Ernst Kantorowicz stressed not only the ruptures but also the continuities between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. For him, the Middle Ages were a key moment in history that marked both the process of secularization and the rise of political theology. Some articles in our book accept the idea of a deep break between the two periods, but also the intensive and progressive interaction, assumption, and transference between the spiritual and the temporal in both directions and not only in one, as the ‘process of secularization’ proclaimed by the philosophy of history assumes. One of the authors in this volume, points to the use of the Scriptures by the (supposed) secularized early modern thinkers such as Spinoza and Locke. In spite of the medieval maxim Ecclesia semper est reformanda (‘The Church has always to be reformed’), Protestantism broke with the tradition of the Church but continued to base its argumentations on Holy Scripture. Its new Biblical exegesis was based on Sola Scriptura, the interpretation of the revealed Book by the unique individual. This modern option became synonymous with religious freedom, and so with rejection of the Catholic Church and the monarchy that was closely tied to it. Thus, according to Spinoza and Locke, Holy Scripture turned into a tool to undermine the foundations of traditional societies. Admittedly, this shift in the use of Scriptures was probably one of the most important one in the West, since it opened the world to modern freedom, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, but, paradoxically, used religion as a tool for revolution in politics. At the same time, Scripture kept all its potential as the basis of intellectual and doctrinal propositions. Like many anti-liberals, Carl Schmitt used to express grief about the disappearance of groups, institutions and communities which integrate, protect and supervise individuals in an ancient, hierarchical society. For him, this loss was one of the ‘blind spots’ of modernity and of liberal democracy. We try to recuperate in our book this idea in a subtle way. The triumph of ‘bureaucratic closure’ progressively annihilates the profound solidarity of medieval societies, founded on the Christian idea and practice of s­ olidarity.


Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

By recovering Henri de Lubac’s masterwork Corpus Mysticum (1944), we recall an important shift of meaning from Eucharist to Church, which occurred in the Middle Ages. The ambivalence of both mysticum and verum bodies, that of Christ and that of God’s people, has to be related with another binomial scheme, essential in Kantorowicz’s thought. It concerns the transformation by modernity of ‘the God given one’ into ‘the man-made reality’. There is no destruction of myth, but political theology remains nowadays in another symbolic fashion. However, modernity has ruined the cohesion and integration of ancient society. It would be superficial to merely describe this criticism of modern structures as reactionary. For instance, it is present in several works by Michel Foucault (1926–84), showing how our time has not necessarily improved, but sometimes dehumanized or concealed the repression of crimes, the prison system or the treatment of insanity and marginality. Based on this textual, ritual, and iconographical evidence, this book challenges the meta-narrative thesis of the progressive secularization of the modern world. The authors of this book argue that, at least, secularization does not have to be taken for granted. Firstly, if modernity appears as the original moment of secularization, it must be argued that the Middle Ages also saw some important changes. In political philosophy, we should mention the move from Platonism to Aristotelianism, from idealism to realism and from theocracy to caesaro-papism. The Dominican John of Paris († 1306) is a good example of this evolution. His De Potestate regia et papali defends the respective and entire autonomy of each royal and pontifical authority, challenging the position of Innocent III who taught that the kings possess their own power only by delegation of the Pope. Certainly, before the end of the thirteenth century, few intellectuals dared to contest papal political primacy. But most of them used Platonic categories to describe kingship. Ernst Kantorowicz was very familiar with Plotinus, Porphyry, Augustine, PseudoDionysius and Scotus Eriugena, and The King’s Two Bodies releases an air of Neo-Platonism. Philosophers of the Early Middle Ages considered that the philosopher king should possess wisdom (σοφία), which was identical to virtue (ἀρετή). The translation into Latin of Aristotle’s main texts transformed wisdom into prudence (φρόνησις), which enables man to behave well. Sapientis est ordinare, says Aquinas. Consequently, according to the political Aristotelianism of the Late Middle Ages, kings should act rather than contemplate. And they act, as the mentioned examples of self-coronations show, arguing a full autonomy in front of ecclesiastical potestas when they



deal with temporal matters. Another case of supremacy of the temporal over the spiritual is the content of the banquet of Archbishop Odon of Rouen in the Bayeux tapestry, which depends more on profane models of commensality than on representations of the Last Supper. The most ordinary body of the king prevails here over the sacred one. In the late-modern period, one of the most powerful thinkers of the American and French Revolutions insisted on the continuity of religious values in nineteenth-century political philosophy. Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) not only demonstrated that the legacy of absolutism to democracy was administrative centralisation. He also showed the very close relationship between political society and the holy city. Indeed, he wrote that the human spirit tends always to ‘harmonize earth with heaven’. While in the United State of America, Tocqueville himself experienced how ‘to regulate the temporal and spiritual institutions of society in a uniform manner’. Even in contemporary America, religiosity contrasts with the laicism which is so rooted in French public life. It proves perhaps that modernity can find a balanced way of integrating or ‘enculturating’ religion in a smooth and efficient manner. We will never know if the new forms of devotion and Scriptural interpretation of modernity has led to increase intimacy with God by believers. We can nonetheless note the reduction of external and social expressions of devotion in the public space and in rulers’ discourses. This consideration leads us to three binomial schemes used by the editors and the contributors of this book: civil versus ecclesiastical, temporal versus spiritual, and profane versus sacred. We could add a fourth one, which coincides with the end of Middle Ages and with the beginning of modern times: Christendom versus Christianity: the first concept emphasizes the exterior manifestation of religious beliefs in social life, because of the bond of charity or grace tying the people, exclusively made up of the baptized; the latter, stress the private devotional life limited to personal experiences. Does the duality of sacrality and sanctity overlap in Christendom versus Christianity? A saintly king like Louis IX of France imitated Christ by washing the feet of the poor, by feeding them, by kissing lepers or by praying during night. At the same time, he was an anointed king asking to copy and to illuminate in a rich manuscript the ceremony of the royal coronation. He cured scrofula by touching the diseased. Even in terms of Christian practices and beliefs, his sacred and thaumaturgic power probably had more to do with sacrality, with the pagan nuance of the word, than with sanctity, at least according to modern standards. Sanctity involves another type of


Jaume Aurell and Martin Aurell

experience. It has to do with the ‘relationship’ every believer can have with God. The perception and analysis of this personal ‘religion’ (which ‘relates’to the Almighty) is certainly beyond the historian’s, or even the a­ nthropologist’s competence. It concerns the intimate religious life and its history that would be impossible to write. By contrast, all manifestations of political theology are within our grasp. They constitute an inexhaustible subject for philosophy, theology, history, art history, history of law, and anthropology.

Part One The Theory: The Shaping of the Concept

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology: The Magic Of A Phrase Montserrat Herrero


he phrase ‘political theology’ appeared probably for the first time in Simon van Heenvliedt’s book Theologico-Politica Dissertatio, which was published in 1662 in Utrecht.1 Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, published in 1670 repeats the same expression, although it is not clear if this repetition was intentional since it is possible that the expression was already widely used in the seventeenth century. Certainly, Hobbes had already used theo-political strategies in his Leviathan, published in 1651. In this respect, Hobbes and Spinoza argued that a theological reformation was necessary for Christianity to permit a purely secular policy. Such a reformation would only be effective, they thought, through the political sovereign’s appropriation of sacred history’s interpretation. Hobbes and Spinoza, among many other early modern authors, undertake the task of interpreting the Scriptures in order to rid the Pope of political power (in the case of Hobbes), as well as the Calvinist theologians (in the case of Spinoza). The former defends the English Monarchy, the latter republicanism against the Orangists. In both cases, different as they may be, their theoretical arguments result in a political formula where the suprema potestas, the sovereign, has both the potestas spiritualis and the potestas civilis for the sake of the salus publica.2 This step reinvents the sacralization of political power, placing it this time in the hands of the sovereign; it is an anti-Catholic thesis meant to revive a kind of ‘civil theology’ in Christianity. Furthermore, this approach separates public confession and private faith in

  Simon van Heenvliedt’s Theologico-Political Dissertatio, ( Jacob Watermam, Utrecht, 1662).  Looking at these examples, it is difficult to support Victoria Kahn’s thesis on the early modern period as a total break from the older form of political theology that entailed the theological legitimization of the state. Even if the contemporary revision of this epoch aims to view things otherwise, following the texts it is difficult to avoid this fact. See Victoria Kahn, The Future of Illusion: Political Theology and Early Modern Texts (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014).

1 2

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 23–41 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111244



Montserrat Herrero

order to preserve freedom. Over the course of time, the Pope was meant to transform into a private interpreter of the faith and a private governor with no political relevance whatsoever. Far from being secularized, early modern politics, as Hobbes and Spinoza understood it, relocated the unit of power, both spiritual and political, in a single head, that of the political sovereign. Considering these precedents from the Early Modern Period, and the ­intellectual and scholarship evolution that followed, this chapter aims to recon­sider Carl Schmitt’s twentieth-century reformulation and re-­foundation of the concept of political theology. I will particularly focus on the meaning of the phrase political theology in the context of his writings and on some of the scholarly debates that emerged from the launching of his theory. Political Theology as a Theoretical Field: The Origin of the Concept Carl Schmitt discovered the magic of Spinoza’s phrase and used it as the title of his book Political Theology in 1922.3 Therein, he proposes the concept of political theology for the first time as a theoretical field useful for understanding early modern historical and political phenomena. Schmitt’s approach to the significance of this expression is based on his definition of the concept of sovereignty: ‘Sovereign is he who decides on the exception’.4 Why does he ground his reflection on this concept? If we look at the final paragraph in the last section of Political Theology, he argues that the key concept of early modern political philosophy is that of the ‘sovereign’, which is understood as a potestas absoluta in terra without limits. Jean Bodin was the first to define this key concept, although Hobbes and Spinoza rounded it off in different ways. He who makes the law is beyond the law. In this sense Carl Schmitt  Carl Schmitt, Political Theology. Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), and Carl Schmitt, Political Theology II. The Myth of the Closure of Any Political Theology, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008). A detailed analysis of Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology can be found in Montserrat Herrero, The Political Discourse of Carl Schmitt. A Mystic of Order (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015); and also in Heinrich Meier, The Lesson of Carl Schmitt.Four Chapters on the Distinction between Political Theology and Political Philosophy (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998). Carl Schmitt’s use of this phrase is similar to Spinoza’s use of it; it is not consistent with the meaning of theology as the Catholic Church usually understands it, as for example in Erik Peterson’s Essay ‘What is Theology?’, in Theological Tractates (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011). The reflection offered in this chapter puts aside the strictly orthodox theological tradition of whatever brand. 4  Schmitt, Political Theology, 5. 3

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


argues, noting, ‘The exception in jurisprudence is analogous to the miracle in theology’.5 Projecting this analogy onto the first definition in a reciprocal manner, we could say that, ‘God is He who decides on miracles’, such that it must be true that the sovereign takes on the role of God in the early modern political world and decides on the exception. This idea establishes the effective formulation of early modern political theology in which political concepts take over the significance of theological ones and, in particular, the sovereign takes on the role of the Absolute God himself. This substitution represents the beginning of the early modern political era and it made many other functional substitutions possible. It thus became a general hypothesis to the extent that Carl Schmitt claims that, All significant concepts of the modern theory of state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development — in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver — but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these concepts.6

He proposes a research field for adequately understanding juridical or political concepts that are highly significant in modern contexts and deems it necessary to establish such systematic and methodological analogies. All of these analogies show that, The metaphysical image that a definite epoch forges of the world has the same structure as what the world immediately understands to be appropriate as a form of its political organization.7

This hypothesis defines Schmitt’s political theology as a methodology. Two different assumptions can be found in this general hypothesis; the first relates to the secularization thesis — i.e., all significant concepts within the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts — and the second one relates to the structural analogy. For Schmitt, these two different facets are confusingly connected to the point that the latter seems to have been deduced from the first. Concerning the latter assumption, in Political Theology, he draws an analogy between God and the sovereign through four development stages.

 Schmitt, Political Theology, 36.  Schmitt, Political Theology, 36. 7  Schmitt, Political Theology, 46. 5 6


Montserrat Herrero

Firstly, the sixteenth-century authoritarian monarch cannot be entirely understood without an idea of God distinguishing between potentia absoluta and potentia ordinata. Secondly, in the seventeenth century, the State ascribes God’s position to the Cartesian metaphysical system of the sovereign. Thirdly, in the eighteenth century, Rousseau attributes the deistic idea of God to the sovereign, i.e., the machinery of the State functions by itself once it has been set in motion. Lastly, in the nineteenth century, God is transformed into mankind; the new political structure follows the immanentist metaphysics of the time.8 Even if the theological-political method as such could be open to the possibility of transferring between political and theological concepts — based on the potential analogy between God, the church or religious rites and the sovereign and the whole sphere of the power —, in both senses, that is, from the theological to the political and vice versa, Schmitt’s secularization thesis seems to oblige him to consider transferring in just one direction: from the theological to the political, only in Early Modernity and only as a historical explanation of a single process. This unidirectional manner of considering the theo-political relationship makes it necessary to adopt the so-called ‘process of secularization’ as a way of explaining historical changes and their political meaning. Hans Blumenberg criticizes Schmitt’s first Politische Theologie in his Die Legitimität der Neuzeit,9 arguing that to defend theo-political analogies it is not necessary to accept the secularization thesis. In effect, as Hans Blumenberg points out, for the simple analogy to be a feasible method, it is only necessary to recognize the shared absoluteness of the theological and political phenomena with no historical derivation. Even if there were a transferring of roles, for example in the case of sovereignty applied to both God and the political representative, this does not imply the transformation of a single substance in which God disappears in the sovereign’s countenance. In this sense, Blumenberg affirms that  Schmitt, Political Theology, 46–51.  Hans Blumenberg, Die Legitimität der Neuzeit (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1966). JeanClaude Monod’s book, La querelle de la sécularisation: théologie politique et philosophies de l’histoire de Hegel à Blumenberg (Paris:Vrin, 2002) is particularly interesting for following the discussion between Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg on the topic of secularization. The correspondence between Carl Schmitt and Hans Blumenberg, edited by Alexander Schmitz and Martin Lepper, is also worth taking into account: Hans Blumenberg. Carl Schmitt. Briefwechsel (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2007). 8 9

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


political theology makes sense only as a metaphorology.10 The progressive worldliness of humanity as a metamorphosis of one identical substance that transforms itself to acquire new forms is a false assumption and Blumenberg accuses Schmitt of getting caught in this trap.11 Nevertheless, what Schmitt argues is that the identity that remains permanent in this process of transformation is not one of substance, but rather one of function. The content of this function is quite different in the distinct steps of the process, depending on the diverse interpretations of the world and of humankind. Even if, contrary to Blumenberg’s assumption, Schmitt thinks in terms of a transformation of function and not of substance, it is true that he assumes a process of secularization as historical explanation and, accordingly, he limits the theo-political method as such to historical research of Early Modernity, even though it would otherwise be perfectly possible to apply it to the Medieval Age12 or to the supposed Postmodern Age, as many contemporary intellectuals have shown.13 The dogma of secularization— interpreted as an ‘expropriation’ and involving the idea of ‘historical injustice’14 — is a

 In ‘Blumenberg and Schmitt of the Rhetoric of Political Theology’, in: Political Theology and Early Modernity, eds Graham Hamill and Julia R. Lupton (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 2012, 84–101), Graham Hammill points out the significance of Blumenberg’s article ‘An Anthropological Approach to the Contemporary Situation of Rhetoric’ in After Philosophy: End of Transformation? eds Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, Thomas McCarthy (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1987, 454) from 1971 for a new and precise criticism of Schmitt. In this article, Blumenberg conceives rhetoric as a metaphorical practice: ‘a mode of understanding circumstances, events and problems by means of other circumstances, events and problems that seems to resemble them’. Schmitt’s theo-political analogies are therein described and he implicitly admits that Schmitt’s political theology is pure rhetoric. 11  Blumenberg, Die Legitimität, 19: ‘Der Aufweis der Verwandlung, Umbildung, Verformung, Überführung in neue Funktionen einer identifizierbaren, im Prozess sich durchhaltenden Substanz’. 12  As is the case of Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), as well as of many of the articles in this book, for example the one by Jaume Aurell. 13   There are many contemporary authors that are still applying the theo-political method, such as Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben or Slavoj Žižek, as we will see in the final section of this article. 14  Blumenberg, Die Legitimität, 73: ‘Säkularisierung ist eine theologische bedingte Unrechtskategorie’. 10


Montserrat Herrero

construction of the philosophy of history and Schmitt agrees with this point of view.15 According to Blumenberg this characterization is ideological and it misinterprets the very concept of history. Modernity should not be defined in relation to the past or to an origin that it betrays, but rather should be defined in its presence alone.16 The Modern Age is the moment in which reality is justified because of its very existence and not because there is a transcendental or precedent order, a reference that justifies this present order. Immanence is the modern category par excellence and Modernity affirms its autonomy and its authenticity through science and technology.17 Modernity claims its own legitimacy through a discontinuity with the Middle Ages.18 As a response to his critics Schmitt wrote his Politische Theologie II some decades later, in 1970,19 in which he insists that all he has said on the topic of political theology can be reduced to a jurist’s writings on the systematic structural affinity between theological and juridical concepts involved in juridical and political practices.20 With that, it is arguable that he renounced the ‘secularization thesis’. In fact, in Politische Theologie II, Schmitt no longer insists on the secularization thesis. Rather, he only focuses on the analogical aspect of the method, although it is also true that he does not explicitly retract his earlier opinions. In any case, Schmitt argues against Blumenberg claiming that it is very naïve to postulate that arguing for Modernity as discontinuity and rejection of God is not in itself a political-theological thesis. Without transcendence politics would no longer exist and human matters would be arranged as a

15   See Karl Löwith, Meaning in History. The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 1949). In this study, he makes the road to secularization manifest in the philosophy of history, in which the philosophy of history really comes to substitute eschatology. Carl Schmitt’s in his writings refers frequently to this particular part of Löwith’s work. 16  Blumenberg, Die Legitimität, 72. 17  Victoria Kahn also tries to show this thesis by appealing to literature and art as a force for secular liberal culture in Early Modernity. Khan, The Future of Illusion. 18  In his correspondence with Hans Blumenberg, Carl Schmitt advocates for continuity against discontinuity since continuity alone allows for juridical experience and juridical conceptualization. Alexander Schmitz und Martin Lepper Hrsg, Hans Blumenberg. Carl Schmitt. Briefwechsel, 125: Letter of 27/11/1974. 19  Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie  II. Die Legende von der Erledigung jeder Politischen Theologie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1996). 20  Schmitt, Politische Theologie II, 79.

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


function of science, technology and economics. Representation, the key concept behind politics, implies some idea of transcendence. In a radically immanent world, the pre-eminence of the political sphere is out of the picture since the very concept of politics is substituted by purely economic and technological organization. Schmitt’s second Political Theology presents an interesting picture of political theology as a method in that he focuses not on the study of historical causes or historical explanations, but on structural parallels involving the transference of meanings between the two different spheres (the spiritual and the temporal/the theological and the political) that aspire to be absolute and that share the same context of meaning in a given age. In this sense, as Paul W. Kahn affirms, political theology is a kind of genealogical thinking.21 It should not assume that there are historical derivations or that political actors hold theological-political intentions. Moreover, if we take the method of structural analogy apart from the secularization thesis, the resulting enquiries are not interested in determining historical processes from one age to another or in transporting meanings from one field to another. Rather, they center on exhibiting the structural affinity between theology and politics, which are grounded in a shared concept of power and allow for a deep comprehension of politics in every age. Schmitt, by proposing the ‘structural analogy’, shows that the relationship between politics and religion will always be present, that it will always remain open, and that each historical moment is charged with responding to this relationship in its own unique way. The way in which each moment responds generates new ways of interpreting history, politics and religion. Furthermore, Schmitt does not propose seeking derivations from dogma, as could be achieved in an ‘affirmative political theology’.22 However, in his discussion with Erik Peterson in Political Theology  II, he plays devil’s advocate, arguing for the possibility of deriving political 21   See Paul  W. Kahn, Political Theology. Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 108. 22   This argument goes against many interpreters’ theses that claim that Schmitt intended to justify the specific policy of his times and, in this sense, his writings about political theology originated from transporting theological concepts to politics in order to legitimize the actions and plans of a definite political regime. For a good summary of this discussion, see Jacob Taubes (ed.), Der Fürst dieser Welt. Carl Schmitt und die Folgen, (München/Paderborn: Finck/Schöningh, 1983) and, in particular, Peter Koslowski, ‘Politischer Monotheismus oder Trinitätslehre? Zu Möglichkeit und Unmöglichkeit einer christlicher Politischen Theologie’, 26–44.


Montserrat Herrero

consequences not only from the divine Monarchy, but also from the Trinitarian dogma. While this topic goes beyond the scope of this article,23 it is important to note that Schmitt did not promote ‘affirmative political theology’ as a way to practice political theology, even if he practiced several political theologies beyond the initial discovery of political theology as a method. Hence, throughout Carl Schmitt’s work, we can differentiate between the general methodological account and the different political theologies he assessed in his works. Carl Schmitt’s Political Theologies Schmitt not only theorizes that political theology represents a methodology that can be used for researching the history of ideas — an idea that has held long and deep influence in twentieth- and twenty-first-century scholarship — but he also initiates four theological-political genealogies. Beyond contemporary critics’ tendency to center Schmitt’s political theology exclusively on the sovereign, I will show that Schmitt opened up the path for four different theo-political genealogies, each of which is based on a different theological-political analogy, including a ‘political theology of the sovereign’, a ‘political theology of state’s representation’, a ‘political theology of revolution’ and the ‘political theology of the Katechon’. The first is based on an analogy between God and the modern sovereign; the second focuses on an analogy between ecclesiastical representation and the modern State’s political representation; the third is based on an analogy between the Trinitarian relationship and a fundamental criteria of the political sphere, the friend-enemy relationship; finally, the fourth is based on an analogy between the biblical figure of the Katechon and the figure of political power. The three first analogies presuppose the modern construction of the State and, consequently, are valid only in the context of modernity. The latter is applicable throughout time. The ‘political theology of the sovereign’ presupposes a functional analogy between God and the political sovereign. This is the best known of Schmitt’s political theologies, developed in the first formulation of his  I have done so in ‘On Political Theology: The Hidden Dialogue between C. Schmitt and Ernst H. Kantorowicz in The King’s Two Bodies’, History of European Ideas, vol. 41, issue 7 (2015).


Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


theory. Through this analogy, he tries to discover the potentiality of the exceptional political decision in modern political construction. The analogy allows him to understand the sovereign as a supreme power, legibus solutus, just as Jean Bodin characterizes the supreme power in the Six livres de la république. The Modern State was born under the auspices of the same kind of political power, i.e., absolute. This State decides in the case of exception, which is a situation where no current law applies. Historically, nobody at that time had experienced such absolute political power and even if theorists like Bodin or Hobbes were able to imagine such power, it could only manifest itself by transferring the theological power of God. At that time, the idea of God and the sovereign’s political capabilities were dependent variables. Rousseau, for example, attributes the deistic idea of God to the sovereign and the nineteenth century transformed God into mankind with consequences for the political idea. In addition, the twentieth century saw the emergence of Rechtsstaat’s juridical theory, which can be seen in the perspective of this kind of political theology, such as Hans Kelsen’s positivist paradigm or Hugo Krabbe’s construction, embodied in many twentieth-century European states. Schmitt discovers the fictional character of the modern Rechtsstaat’s immanentism that hides under formal legal finery the absolute decision-making on the part of the person who decides. Despite those theories’ attempts, power and law are two necessary dimensions of the same political reality and it is impossible to annul any part of that reality, for example, the power to decide. Moreover, in any case, neither decision (a concept related to the power) nor norm (a concept related to the law) can be eradicated from a constitutional order. In fact, each modern state’s political order depends upon a political decision. The sovereign’s decision precedes statute law in modern constitutional states. This idea is seen in the distinction between pouvoir constituant and pouvoir constituée. Following this line of thought, could we say that Schmitt is a defender of absolute political decision? Must the State representative be an absolute power? The fact is that this tended to be the case in the philosophical conditions of Early Modernity and, in Schmitt’s view, this type of state power represents a functional secularization of God’s power. While religion has been privatized, political power has at the same time become absolute and Schmitt at least acts as a witness to this transition. Schmitt’s political theology of the sovereign is not a normative proposal for acting in politics, but rather a descriptive account of modern politics.


Montserrat Herrero

The ‘theology of representation’ highlights a second analogy24 between juridical representations in both the Church and the State. Following the specific Christian theological-political idea, Schmitt wrote a small booklet entitled Roman Catholicism and Political Form,25 which was first published in 1923, shortly after his Political Theology. His thesis consists in defining the Church as a supernatural institution, the head of which is Christ himself and whose representative is the Pope. Yet, as a historical institution, the Church has a political form and its own public law, i.e., canon law. This supernatural institution, when experienced in history, has to necessarily coexist with the political community’s specific forms, such as the kingdom or the state. Here, Schmitt puts the theological-political problem in Augustinian terms. In the first pages of his short essay about the Church, he notes that Catholicism holds no specific political idea, but rather, as history has shown, Catholicism and its specific juridical form — the Church — can coexist with almost any political idea. Thus, in his view, the Catholic Church’s almost perfect bureaucracy and its universal organization poses a risk, i.e., it incites political fear as a potential usurper of political power. Carl Schmitt recognizes an ‘antirömiches Affekt’ (anti-Roman temper), that is, different political interests’ persecution of the Catholic Church over the last centuries, including that of Gladstone, Bismarck and Cromwell. In Schmitt’s view, the Church’s supposedly perfect organization results from the force of its ‘representation’ that is due to the mediation it offers between the world as such and the world of grace. The Church’s representatives are not mere civil servants, but rather individuals with a personal remit that comes to them through an interrupted chain starting with Christ himself. A personal relationship from above spreads to the lowest members of society through these representatives. Authentic representation’s existence implies that a representative’s actions cannot be separated into an inner and the outer being. In the case of the Church, the inner sense consists of personifying Christ. In this case, the theological-political analogy functions in two senses. Schmitt affirms that the Roman Catholic Church ‘has perpetuated the

24  Antonio Bento’s chapter in this book largely explores this second form of political theology that Carl Schmitt proposed. 25  Carl Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996). In the introduction, Gary L. Ulmen, who is also the translator, supposes that the essay was written as a response to Max Weber’s sociological interpretation of Protestantism, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. See p. XIX.

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


u­ niversalism of the Roman Empire’,26 that is, that there is continuity or an analogy between both. In this case, the analogical transference goes from the political sphere to the religious one; this does not apply to Early Modernity, but rather beforehand. As a contra-movement, Schmitt sees the model of an authentic representation of the Modern State in the Roman Catholic Church. This idea is threatened by an economic and technological way of thinking and acting, which is incapable of generating representation beyond a trivial commercial version.27 As Kantorowicz (who was, in my view, inspired by Schmitt) showed years later in his theological-political treatise on the Middle Ages,28 the theological doctrine on the Church as a corpus mysticum, the head of which is Christ, was appropriated by the jurists to consolidate the idea of a State in which the head is the king. The kings of England from the latter Middle Ages took on this juridical praxis, which resulted in the subsequent ‘embodiment’ of the modern English state. In harmony with Schmitt’s analogy, Kantorowicz shows that the parallels with the Church center on the body and not on the person of the sovereign. Kantorowicz argues that unlike the State’s head, the body does not die, although this continuity is a fiction built for the State through dynastic continuity, thanks to the theological intermediation of the Church’s eternal constitution, whose head and body does not die. Even if Schmitt were not aware of Kantorowicz’s research (which was published in 1957, thirty four years after Schmitt’s tractate) when he wrote his short essay on Catholicism, he argued that in the transfer from the juridical configuration of the Church to the State, ‘embodiment’ came at the cost of ‘personifying’ and hence, its representation is not as authentic. In comparison to the authentic representation of the Church, the representation constituted by the State’s apparatus is merely technical-instrumental. Within the State, the personal relationship disappears, becoming merely functional; the civil servant does not commit his inner self and it is sufficient for him to act outwardly as a servant of the State. Beyond these patent differences, the Modern State is analogous to the Church in its institutional construction. It is clear that Schmitt is nostalgic for authentic representation. The third theological-political analogy developed in Schmitt’s Political Theology II must be included in the context of his response to Erik Peterson’s  Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, 5.  Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, 9–10; 25. 28  Ernst  H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A  Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1997). 26 27


Montserrat Herrero

criticism of the first Political Theology in Peterson’s treatise Monotheismus als politisches Problem. His argument is based on the impossibility of deducing the divine monarchy of the Emperors from belief in the Trinitarian dogma. His main thesis is that if the Trinitarian dogma is accepted, as it is in the Catholic Church, then God can have no parallel figure within the political world. A Trinity cannot be translated into a political analogy. Political theology can only be pagan or heretic, as Peterson concludes.29 As a response to Peterson, Schmitt develops a ‘political theology of the revolution’ which results in a political theology developed from an analogy with the Trinitarian dogma. Trinity means that, in God’s unity, three different relationships exist harmoniously: fatherhood, filiation and love between the Father and the Son. In so far as these relationships are real in God, three different persons exist within just one God, including the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Schmitt takes Gregory of Nazianzus’s expression to support his theological-political analogy: ‘to Hen stasiatson pros heauto’.30 Stasis means, first of all, peace or rest; status, means calm, position, as well as its antonym, agitation or anxiety; kinesis refers to ‘political agitation’,31 civil war or enmity. Hence, he concludes, the one God is continually being raised dialectically against himself and at the same time being reconciled. Transferring the there-in-one God’s unity to the world can be considered, on earth, as a kind of ‘stasiology’, a continued possibility of revolution between parties at the core of unity. Thus, the friend-enemy relationship, which defines a specific political criterion, must be understood as a worldly analogy of the Trinitarian theological premise.32 He did not further develop this analogy. In many of his writings, Schmitt also mentions the Katechon as a theopolitical category. The concept of Katechon refers to Saint Paul’s famous passage in II Thessalonians, chapter 2, verses 3 to 9.33 Therein, Saint Paul relates how, before the coming end of the world, an adversary will come to try to remove God from His throne: ‘Et nunc quid detineat scitis, ut revelatur in suo tempore. Nam mysterium iam operatur iniquitatis: tantum ut qui tenet nunc, tenent, donec de medio fiet’. History, which peaked with the

29  Erik Peterson, ‘Monotheism as a Political Problem’, in Theological Tractates (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 2011), 68–106, 104. 30  Schmitt, Politische Theologie II, 116. 31  Schmitt, Politische Theologie II, 117. 32   For a more extended analysis of this issue, see Montserrat Herrero, The Political Discourse of Carl Schmitt. A Mystic of Order (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 396–411. 33   Schmitt, ‘Drei Stufen Historischer Sinngebung’, Universitas 5 no. 8, (1950), 927–31, 929.

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


coming of Christ, will end with the coming of the Antichrist. Saint Paul makes an assumption when he says, ‘you all know’ what has held him back until now, preventing his coming until it is time. The mystery of iniquity is really already at work; he who is holding the Antichrist back just needs to be removed from the middle.34 This force that stops the Antichrist plays a transcendental-­historical role, that is, it is providential. It is, therefore, a ­political-theological figure that connects historical events with the hereafter; it makes transcendence relevant in the course of history. One of Schmitt’s best-known quotes on Katechon is as follows from ­Glossarium: On the Katechon: It is the only way for me to understand history as Christian and encounter its full meaning […] I would like to hear from you: who today is the Katechon? It cannot be considered Churchill or John Foster Dulles […] Its place has never been empty, otherwise we would not be here anymore.35

Among those who have occupied the place of the Katechon, Schmitt elsewhere cites Hegel and Savigny and he explains why in the following line: These two were genuine Katechon halters (Aufhalter) in the true sense of the word, both were halters who freely or even without free collaboration accelerated the functionalization without loopholes.36

The Katechon does not have to be a political force, but it can be. As Schmitt shows, interpreters from every era have seen the Roman Empire as the figure of that force. Legitimacy in the case of this analogy is found in the opposition to an absolute foe embodied in the devil, who is not a historical foe, but can be incarnated in historical figures. Within this context, we better understand Schmitt’s assertion that, for the Christian conscience, salvation is the meaning that decides world history.37 The force that stalls evil is the real

34  Schmitt argues with historical examples: ‘The medieval kingdom of German lords historically understands itself as Katechon. Even Luther understood this, thus Calvin took a decisive turn by making the Katechon no longer the Empire, but the preaching of the word of God’. Schmitt, ‘Drei Stufen historischer Sinngebung’, 929–30. 35  Schmitt, Glossarium. Aufzeichnungen der Jahre 1947–1951 (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1991), 63. 36  Carl Schmitt, Die Lage der europäischen Rechtswissenschaft, in Verfassungsrechtliche Aufsätze, ed. C.  Schmitt (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1958), 386–430, 429. There is no English translation of this note. 37  Schmitt, Land and Sea (Washington: Plutarch Press, 1997), 45.


Montserrat Herrero

ruler of history.38 Eschatological power, the final judgment of every man’s salvation and damnation, governs history in two ways. This first is properly historical, made up with the effective force of events and providence and the second is transcendental, giving meaning to history, i.e., making a moral judgment on it. However, the meaning of each historical event can only be clearly understood when the history of salvation is complete. Meanwhile, historical, political and moral judgments are not necessarily linked in the course of history and, hence, the transcendent meaning of historical events in time is always an open question until the end. If we accept that this interpretation is contained in the concept of Katechon, it can be recognized as the theological-historical category par excellence, i.e., as a concept that describes history’s true modus operandi.39 Prospective Political Theologies Carl Schmitt explored a pathway for the Early Modern Age, which contemporary thinking has also taken up, opening new perspectives for political theology a part from those that Schmitt offers. This development is clear, for example, in what we can call the recently renewed ‘affirmative political theology’. In the 1960s, ‘affirmative’ political theologies were the ‘Theology of Revolution’40 and Jürgen Moltmann’s ‘Theology of Hope’.41 Both consider

  This is present when Schmitt argues that any political decision is ultimately resolved in the decision for good or evil in the sense that it represents an approach taken (or not) to the coming of the Antichrist, i.e., the end times. Carl Schmitt, ‘Coloquio sobre el poder y el acceso al poderoso’, Revista de Estudios Políticos 52, no. 78 (1954), 3–20, 14. 39  Schmitt, Glossarium, 63. For an account of the meaning of this category, see the correspondence between Carl Schmitt and Álvaro d’Ors, Montserrat Herrero ed. Carl Schmitt und Álvaro d’Ors Briefwechsel (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2004), particularly the following letters: 13. 9. 1951, 17. 12. 51, 29. 2. 1952. In this respect, the previously mentioned correspondence with Hans Blumenberg is also of interest, Hans Blumenberg. Carl Schmitt. Briefwechsel. In addition, the critical account of Heinrich Meier in the last edition of The Lesson of Carl Schmitt, Four Chapters on the Distinction between Political Theology and Political Philosophy, Expanded Edition (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 2011), is worth exploring because he comments on Blumenberg and Schmitt’s relationship, focusing the theory of Katechon. 40  Trutz Rendtorff and Heinz Eduard Tödt, Theologie der Revolution. Analysen und Materialen (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1968). 41   Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (London: SCM Press, 1967). 38

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


theology as an instrument for transforming the world. They try to deduce political consequences from dogmatic assertions. A more recent example of an ‘affirmative’ political theology in the context of Christianity can be found in the analogies that William  T. Cavanaugh ­proposes in his Theopolitical Imagination.42 He advocates for making use of theological concepts in the political context, to reverse the t­ heological-political secular movement that originated with modernity. The sacred realm, he proposes, could provide us with concepts that serve as political ideas, although this is possible only if we rouse our theological imagination. For example, in his theo-political imagination, he proposes focusing this method on the Eucharist. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock followed a similar path. They belong to ‘radical orthodoxy’, a movement that tries to renew theology by presenting a third way between historicist and pragmatic Christian philosophy (Maurice Blondel) and ‘nouvelle théologie’ (Marie-Dominique Chenu, Henry de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar). This movement mainly claims that the world is not a neutral objective reality, but rather a reality that refers to another transcendent reality. Ontology and theology are not two independent fields, but rather are actually interdependent. No one can describe a reality in a purely rational way without taking into consideration the divine aspect of it.43 It seems that these authors use Metz’s concept of political theology,44 while unaware of Schmitt’s political theology.45 Yet,   William T. Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination. Discovering the Liturgy as a Political Act in an Age of Global Consumerism (London, New York:T & T Clark, 2002). 43   John Milbank, ‘The Program of Radical Orthodoxy’, in Radical Orthodoxy? — A Catholic Inquiry, ed. Lawrence P. Hemming (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000). 44  Johann Baptist Metz, ‘Politische Theologie in der Diskussion’, Stimmen der Zeit 184  (1969): 289–308. Johann Baptist Metz, Zum Begriff der neuen Politischen Theologie 1967–1997 (Mainz: Grünewald, 1997). 45  Cavanaugh, Theopolitical Imagination, 62: ‘Metz new version of political theology considers the old versions of Bonald, Donoso Cortés, Schmitt and others — which believe that theology can politicize directly — to be precritical because they do not accept the Enlightenment critique of religion’. As seen, in my view, this is a misinterpretation of the Schmittian thesis explained above. In the same way, Milbank declares: ‘It is not, as for Hobbes or Foucault, that the essence of all politics is power, but rather, as for de Maistre, de Bonald and Carl Schmitt, that all politics invents power by proclaiming a religion which channels the mythical power of a fictive God or gods […] The perfect form of politics, as of religion, argues Bernard Hénry-Lévy, in the wake of Carl Schmitt and the Catholic positivist tradition, is monotheism, because this posits a single, absolute source of power’. Also see, John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994) 319. He also associates Schmitt with 42


Montserrat Herrero

Carl Schmitt did not begin to practice political theology with ‘affirmative political theology’46 since he did not consider derivatives from dogma; rather, he first concentrated on the sacralization of politics in the Modern Age due to its appropriation of the religious sphere through new political re-­conceptualizations. Michel Foucault’s way of explaining governability is also a conceivable path to exploring theo-political possibilities. In his view, every act of power seeks to be inscribed in ‘rituals of manifestation of truth’.47 He designates ‘alèthurgie’ as the manifestation of truth that appears to correlate with power. In his Collège de France’s lectures of 1979–80, Foucault analyzed the ‘régimes de verité’ within primitive Christianity. Consciously or unconsciously, he outlines a theo-political genealogy, even if he does not refer directly to Schmitt’s phrasing. Through this genealogy, he shows how Christianity’s two different truth systems, faith and confession, operate in order to achieve governability. Explicitly referring Schmitt’s method, Slavoj Žižek, Eric L. Santner and Kenneth Reinhardt explore the persistence of the theological in the political by analyzing the biblical teaching to love one’s neighbor as oneself.48 This idea echoes Schmittian political theology by referring to the friend-enemy distinction. They ask after the derivations of the theological love of one’s neighbor in politics and they try to trace its consequences for a new political theology. Reinhardt, for example, underlines the implicit violence in every form brought about by the impossibility of finding the enemy and he discovers a new theology of the neighbor, rather than that of the enemy. Santner analyzes the role of the exception in the context of historic materialism and, finally, Žižek interprets the political theology of the neighbor as an ‘ethical turn’ based on the idea of ‘excess’. Giorgio Agamben has also very explicitly exploited the idea of political theology in his book The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy Donoso Cortés and his idea of a dictatorship contributing to the advent of fascism and National Socialism. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory, 97. 46   This idea goes against many interpreters’ theses, which purport that Schmitt’s intention was the justification of a concrete contemporary policy and, in this sense, his writings about political theology resulted in the absolute secularization of theological concepts. For a good summary of this discussion, see Taubes, Der Fürst dieser Welt, 26–44. 47   Michael Foucault, Du gouvernement des vivants. Cours au Collège de France 1979–1980 (Paris: Gallimard/Seuil, 2012), 7. 48   Slavoj Žižek, Eric  L. Santner and Kenneth Reinhardt, The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


of Economy and Government,49 referring directly to Schmitt’s methodology. In Agamben’s theological imagery, the doctrine of the Trinity was introduced to explain the ‘economy of divine life’ in the sense of the governance of the house of God. This idea, combined with that of providence, guides many categories within modern politics, such as the division of powers, the invisible hand, and the ideas of order and security. In addition, Agamben situates the inherent quality of glory that government implies as a ‘native’ theological category, as well as ceremonial and liturgical. He produces a ‘political theology of the divine economy’ implicit in the Trinitarian dogma. In so doing, he tries to reach a supposedly anti-Schmittian conclusion, i.e., that Christian political theology is, at its origin, an economic-governmental political theology more than a political-state oriented one. His conclusion also follows the path opened up by Foucault’s idea of governmentality. Eric Jacobson speaks about political theology in referring to Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem’s early work.50 The idea expressed in Jacobson’s book’s title perhaps comes from the title of one of the Benjamin’s short fragments from early 1921, entitled the ‘Theological-political fragment’. While the text comes from 1921, Theodor Adorno titled it in the first edition of Benjamin’s writings in 1955, as Jacobson confirms.51 Adorno’s intentions in employing such a phrase is unclear, but Jacobson insists that, in Benjamin’s and Scholem’s works, the term ‘political theology’ has nothing to do with the Schmitt’s work. This seems to be clear when Benjamin writes, ‘The order of the profane cannot be built on the idea of the kingdom of God’.52 In the specific way that both Benjamin and Scholem understand this concept, political theology begins with the Torah and can only exist in the context of a theocracy.53 When Jacobson refers to the term political theology, he states: ‘It stems from a desire for a concise phrase to serve as an umbrella for subject matter related to messianism, speculations on divine language and on justice’.54 In this case, for the sake of precision, perhaps the title of the book should rather be, ‘The Theocracy of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Sholem’.

 Giorgio Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics, 2011). 50  Eric Jacobson, The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003). 51  Jacobson, The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin, 23. 52  Jacobson, The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin, 20. 53  Jacobson, The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin, 6. 54  Jacobson, The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin, 5. 49


Montserrat Herrero

In his Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, Paul W. Kahn tries to rewrite Schmitt’s political theology by looking to liberal politics in the United States. His thesis is that liberal politics has an underlying political theology, even if liberalism thinks that it is neutral in theological terms. The sacred survives in our immanent world. Kahn’s work offers a vindication of Schmitt’s theo-political method. He explains that political theology does not imply causality since it is not a medium of historical or sociological explanation.55 The relationship originated by putting an idea into practice; it is a discursive relationship and not a procedural one with an effective result. Practices carry out meanings, as Kahn argues.56 Political practices also enact theological meanings and vice versa. The intrinsic shared world of meanings allows for the transfer of concepts and roles between the theological and political. Schmitt establishes a genealogy of ideas— not of facts— and, in so doing he constructs a historical narrative as an act of appropriation.57 Analogy and genealogy are intermingled in order to offer a narrative. Kahn insists that this kind of genealogy does not construct a historical explanation, even if for Schmitt it is taken as proof of the secularization process. Kahn saves the argument by stating that the connections found in narrative are rhetorical and not explanatory: ‘Rhetoric’s product is a narrative, not proof ’.58 Narrative makes sense of things, but it does not explain facts. Meaning is created with analogies. The importance of narrative is found in its capacity to persuade, not to explain. Kahn considers the possibility of thinking in theo-political terms in a postmodern world,59 where metaphysical significance is no longer available and where coherence is not a necessary attribute for reasoning; rather, the driving forces are diversity, contingency and bricolage.60 Moreover, we live in a world where meaning is

55   Paul W. Kahn, Political Theology. Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011). 56  Kahn, Political Theology, 99. 57  Kahn, Political Theology, 104. 58  Kahn, Political Theology, 107. 59  Kahn, Political Theology, 116. 60  Kahn, Political Theology, 118: ‘In the postmodern world, the sources of fundamental belief, the diversity of metaphysical approaches, the conflicts between religious and secular outlooks, and even the conflicts between the biological and physical sciences are just to many and too deep to think that we can offer a single theoretical model to characterize the epoch. Perhaps we should say that we live in a “postepochal” age’.

Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology


splintered into diverse language games. In this context, his response consists in finding the ultimate sacred experience that remains in sacrifice.61 Graham Hamill and Julia Reinhard Lupton, in Political Theology and Early Modernity,62 also consider contemporary political theology a valuable research field. Within ‘political theology’ they tend ‘to identify the exchanges, pacts and contests that obtain between religious and political life, especially the use of sacred narratives, motifs and liturgical forms to establish, legitimate, and reflect upon the sovereignty of monarchs, corporations, and parliaments’.63 They take political theology ‘as a critical discourse in the humanities today but also for the essential role that Renaissance and Baroque literature and thought have played and have yet to play in its contemporary articulations’,64 in order to organize a research field. These last words validate the use of a methodology involving political theology prospectively, as well as retrospectively, as a critical discourse in the humanities. While the possibilities of this methodology go outside the scope of this article, it has firmly established that political theology originates in one of the most significant, even if also controversial, thinkers of the ­twentieth century.

 Kahn, Political Theology, 121.  Hamill and Lupton, Political Theology and Early Modernity. 63  Hamill and Lupton, Political Theology and Early Modernity, p. 1. 64  Hamill and Lupton, Political Theology and Early Modernity, p. 7. 61 62

The Mystical and the Real: Putting Theology Back into Political Theology William T. Cavanaugh


ne of the most remarkable features of the recent interest in political theology is the sharp bifurcation of the field between those who do theology — that is, reflection on God — and those who do not. The bifurcation is, furthermore, asymmetrical. Theologians who do political theology — people like Stanley Hauerwas, Kathryn Tanner, and Graham Ward — read the likes of Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, and Paul Kahn, but as far as I can tell, the reverse is not the case. Indeed, if there is one subject that is taboo in much political theology, it is theology. The introduction to a recent collection of essays entitled Political Theology & Early Modernity begins the volume with these words: ‘Let’s get this straight. Political theology is not the same as religion. Instead, we take it to name a form of questioning that arises precisely when religion is no longer a dominant explanatory or life mode’.1 The introduction goes on to say that political theology ‘confronts its readers as crisis and not content’2 and later claims that ‘What is at stake for political theology is not the truth of religion but the status of theology as operative fiction’.3 We are warned that political theology is not a ‘turn to religion’ because an attempted return to the past produces fundamentalist brutality, and even if we could return ‘the religions of the past would fail to meet our expectations of coherence and community. In effect, we have never been religious’.4 Despite the breakdown of the religious/secular dichotomy that political theology seems to recognize, ‘religion’ nevertheless reappears as the Other from the past against which political theology must guard.

 Graham Hammill and Julia Reinhard Lupton, ‘Introduction’ in Political Theology & Early Modernity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 1. 2  Ibid., 3. 3  Ibid., 5. 4  Ibid., 6. 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 43–63 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111245



William T. Cavanaugh

In this chapter, I want to explore this peculiarly modern anxiety to segregate political theology from theology. I will argue that, far from opening up liberating political possibilities beyond the modern religious/secular divide, this type of political theology tends to reinforce the homogenization of social space that is part of the modern project. I will trace the fiction/reality dichotomy in Ernst Kantorowicz and Paul Kahn, and show how Carl Schmitt and Henri de Lubac challenge that dichotomy. De Lubac, in particular, retrieves an early medieval view of sacramental action to challenge the immanent/ transcendent and fiction/reality distinctions. I suggest that an incarnational and sacramental theology can open avenues for a radical democratic practice of post-secular politics, beyond the closure of the liberal state. Myth-Making Political theology in the last century can be appreciated in part as an attempt to understand secularization as something more than what Charles Taylor calls the ‘subtraction’ of God from public life, but as itself theologically motivated. The first use of the term ‘secularization’ in sixteenth century France referred to the transfer of property from ecclesiastical to civil control.5 The historical work of Ernst Kantorowicz in particular showed that modernity, at least in its early forms, was not the simple shedding of theological ways of handling the organization of society, but was rather marked by the migration of certain theological ideas from the church to the nascent state, a ‘secularization’ of theological concepts, in the original sense of the term. Secularization is not then — at least not yet — marked by the mere absence of God.  In Carl Schmitt’s famous early exploration of political theology, however, he contends that ‘All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development — in which they were transferred from theology to the theory of the state, whereby, for example, the omnipotent God became the omnipotent lawgiver — but also because of their systematic structure, the recognition of which is necessary for a sociological consideration of these ­ istorical concepts’.6 I have highlighted the phrase ‘not only because of their h

 Jan  N. Bremmer, ‘Secularization: Notes Toward a Genealogy’ in Hent de Vries, ed., Religion: Beyond a Concept (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 433. 6  Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 36, italics added. 5

Putting theology back into political theology


development’ because it seems to mark an important division in ways of approaching the task of political theology. One could make political theology the subject of a demythologizing genealogical narrative, whereby the modern state develops out of its theological past. One could, on the other hand, concentrate in the present on what Schmitt calls the ‘systematic structure’ of political theology and argue that contemporary politics in the West are just as theological as they have ever been, whether that fact is recognized or occluded. We have never really not been theological. Kantorowicz does not seem to fit neatly on either side of this distinction. In his foreword to Alain Boureau’s biography of Kantorowicz, Martin Jay calls Kantorowicz both ‘mythmaker’7 and part of a ‘larger movement of demythicization’.8 Jay suggests, as does Boureau’s, that Kantorowicz’s later work, including The King’s Two Bodies, is part of a repudiation of his early career, in which he fell under the influence of the romantic nationalism of Stefan George, wrote an overblown biography of Frederick II as charismatic spiritual leader of the German nation, and fought for Germany in World War I and as part of a right-wing militia against the Polish uprising immediately thereafter. Despite his ardent nationalism, the Nazi regime refused to see him as anything but a Jew, so he fled to the United States, where Jay and Boureau paint him as both disillusioned and yet nostalgic for the idea of a communion unavailable to modernity.9 Where mythmaker and demythicizer come together is in Kantorowicz’s idea of fiction. Kantorowicz seemed to buy into the Weberian notion that the modern world had been disenchanted; his Oxford lectures in 1934 took the theme of the ‘secularization of the world’ that had been accomplished by the profane requisition of Christian language.10 At the same time, however, Weber’s grim portrait of the iron cage of bureaucratic rationality, soaked in the acids of modernity, was belied by a Durkheimian strand of sociology that saw the sacred not as simply absent but as immanent to the social process. Religion marks out boundaries between the sacred and the profane, but those boundaries are man-made, not discovered. Religion is a society’s representation of itself to itself. Kantorowicz seems to fit within this Durkheimian intellectual trajectory. The sacredness of the social bond is something   Martin Jay, ‘Foreword’ in Alain Boureau, Kantorowicz: Stories of a Historian (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), viii. 8  Ibid., x. 9   e.g., Boureau, Kantorowicz, 86–87. 10  Ibid., 88. 7


William T. Cavanaugh

to which Kantorowicz still aspires, but he sees it as an entirely immanent process, composed at least in part of the kinds of fictions and metaphors that he explores in The King’s Two Bodies. Kantorowicz seeks to show how certain ‘vertical’ theological terms were transmuted into ‘horizontal’ terms; most especially corpus mysticum ‘acquired a corporational character signifying a “fictitious” or “juristic” person’.11 The corpus verum was contrasted with the ‘corpus fictum, the corporate collective which was intangible and existed only as a fiction of jurisprudence’.12 To see these social processes as fictions is to acknowledge their positive social function while simultaneously liberating them from being fixed and immutable; they are neither God-given — as the medievals thought — nor are they inscribed in nature, as in Nazi jurisprudence.13 Kantorowicz saw the separation of the person of the king from the crown — what he calls ‘The Crown as Fiction’ — as a way, in the long run, of undermining the divinity of the monarchy.14 Kantorowicz is mythmaker in his appreciation of the social function of fiction, but demythologizer in his reduction of myth to something merely man-made, and therefore not ‘real’ in any metaphysical sense. The key distinction, then, is not between mythicizing and demythicizing political theology, but between seeing myth as God-given and seeing it as man-made. Kantorowicz’s genealogy of political theology reinforces rather than questions the binaries of modern thought: fiction/reality, religion/secular, mysticism/politics, mysticism/reason. The Introduction to the King’s Two Bodies begins ‘Mysticism, when transposed from the warm twilight of myth and fiction to the cold searchlight of fact and reason, has usually little left to recommend itself ’.15 Kantorowicz signals the havoc that political mysticism can wreak, and refers to ‘That kind of man-made irreality — indeed, that strange construction of a human mind which finally becomes slave to its own fictions — we are normally more ready to find in the religious sphere than in the allegedly sober and realistic realms of law, politics, and constitution’.16 Kantorowicz goes on to vindicate the kind of

 Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A  Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), 209. 12  Ibid. 13   Boureau, 106. 14   Kantorowicz, 336–83. See also Victoria Kahn, ‘Political Theology and Fiction in The King’s Two Bodies’, Representations 106, no. 1 (Spring 2009), 84–85. 15   Kantorowicz, 3. 16  Ibid., 5. 11

Putting theology back into political theology


useful fictions borrowed from the mystical and religious realms, but he never questions the basic dichotomy between mystical and rational, according to which the Church became a ‘rational monarchy on a mystical basis’ while the State became a ‘mystical corporation on a rational basis’.17 Despite the borrowing back and forth across the divide, the Church remains the realm of ‘religion’ and the mystical, while the basis of the State, as ‘political’ and ‘secular’ remains reason. Despite Kantorowicz’s explicit disavowal of contemporary political relevance for his historical study as anything more than an ‘afterthought’,18 recent commentators have seen Kantorowicz’s work as a subtle attempt to undermine Carl Schmitt. Whereas for Schmitt, the Incarnation imposes a personal unity of divinity and humanity on the political form, for Kantorowicz the Incarnation is a useful fiction by which the attributes of divinity were transferred to humanity. Kantorowicz’s study ends with Dante as a representative of the new humanism whose divinized humanity would outlive a man’s or woman’s mortal body. In Virginia Kahn’s view, Schmitt’s personalist and decisionist view of political sovereignty is undercut by what she calls Kantorowicz’s ‘constitutionalism’, the idea that politics is about a people’s selfrepresentation. The idea that the crown was a fiction allowed for a kind of ideological critique of the divinity of kings, since the king’s immortal body was in fact both a creation of and a representation of the body politic, that is, we the people.19 Likewise Richard Halpern sees in the fiction of the king’s two bodies a constitutionalist rebuke to Schmitt’s decisionism. The fiction is meant to provide continuity upon the death of the king, and could also limit the power of the king; if lands belonged to the crown, rather than to the king, the king could not sell them, since they belonged in a sense to all. Similarly, Kantorowicz traces the use of the fiction to turn royal taxation in times of emergency into a routine, annual guarantor of the crown’s finances. According to Halpern, Kantorowicz thus ‘offers a kind of anti-Schmittian parable in which the sovereign’s power to decide states of emergency cedes to bureaucratic regularity and continuity long before the modern era’.20 The bureaucratization of Church and state required a deistic God, one who does not intervene with miracles, but rules instead like the chairman of a c­ orporate  Ibid., 193–94, 206.  Ibid., viii. 19   Kahn, “Political Theology”, 81–88. 20  Richard Halpern, ‘The King’s Two Buckets: Kantorowicz, Richard  II, and Fiscal Trauerspiel’ in Representations 106, no. 1 (Spring 2009), 71. 17 18


William T. Cavanaugh

board. Halpern draws parallels between Kantorowicz’s work and the genre of Trauerspiel, or bourgeois tragedy, where the sovereign cannot act decisively because access to transcendence and heterogeneity have been cut off, leaving only a natural world of meaning fabricated by creatures.21 Paul Kahn’s recent book Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty is a much more explicit and appreciative appropriation of Carl Schmitt, but one which draws the fiction/reality dichotomy in much the same way as Kantorowicz. Kahn’s purpose is to show how even liberal nation-states like the United States have taken on the aura of the sacred and have perpetuated a theology and practice of blood sacrifice. For Kahn, the modern American nation-state occupies the place of the sacred for its citizens: the constitution carries ‘forward the religious concept of the covenant’, ‘revolution is a secularized form of revelation’, and so on.22 Kahn attacks Mark Lilla’s notion of the Great Separation on historical grounds. Lilla thinks that secular, liberal government is a decisive break with political theology,23 while Kahn contends that the break never happened; liberal government is the continuation of political theology under a different guise. ‘The serious claim of political theology today, however, is not that the secular should yield to the church — whatever church that might be, but rather that the state is not the secular arrangement that it purports to be. A political life is not a life stripped of faith and the experience of the sacred, regardless of what we may believe about the legal separation of church and state’.24 While thus apparently transgressing the religious/secular boundary to show that what is taken as a secular government really is religious, Kahn nevertheless goes to great lengths to reinforce the idea that political theology as he understands it is a purely secular discourse that can have nothing to do with theology proper, that is, theology as a discourse about the reality of God. ‘If political theology is about empowering theologians politically or theoretically, it has no future in the West’.25 Christian political theology must be kept quarantined from what Kahn considers political theology. Kahn insists ‘The latter is an entirely secular field of inquiry, while the former

 Ibid., 72.   Paul Kahn, Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 2. 23   Mark Lilla, The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West (New York: Vintage, 2007). 24  Kahn, Political Theology,18. 25  Ibid., 3–4. 21 22

Putting theology back into political theology


expresses a sectarian endeavor that is no longer possible in the West’.26 Similarly, ‘We are well past the era in which theology could draw upon reason to support the sacred. Indeed, that separation of reason from revelation may be a more important “great separation” than that of which [Mark] Lilla writes. We will not be convinced by any logical arguments for the existence of God, whether the god of politics or that of religion’.27 For Kahn, the religious/ secular divide stands as firmly as it does for Lilla. It is simply that Kahn and Lilla locate American liberal constitutional government on opposite sides of the divide. For Kahn, political theology does not question the religious/ secular divide, but is rather a secular strategy of unmasking, a hermeneutics of suspicion, that spies religion still lurking where it is said to be banished. Using a functionalist understanding of ‘religion’, the American political order is really religious, though it claims to be secular. Though Kahn claims that his project is purely descriptive, he also makes clear that political theology in his sense is ‘part of the modernist project’ insofar as it wants to ensure that ‘no religious authority has a privileged place in setting the political agenda’.28 Political theology rejects the liberal conception of the state as in fact secular; ‘This difference at the level of theory, however, does not necessarily produce any tension between political theology and the political practices of liberalism’.29 Christian theology has been banished from politics, and Kahn considers this a gain. He contrasts the ‘largely secular society’ of Western Europe with America, where we are ‘not yet released from the burdens of faith’.30 Kahn fully embraces the modernist dichotomy between faith and revelation on the one hand and reason on the other. This, he maintains, is the crucial ‘great separation’. Nevertheless, it is faith in God, not faith as such, that Kahn would ban from political life. Against liberal theory, Kahn is not trying to establish politics on a rational basis: ‘Politics is not striving to be a perfect system of reason’.31 As in Kantorowicz, there is something of the mythicizer in Kahn, who concludes that ‘Politics is a structure of the imagination’.32 Kahn embraces Schmitt’s decisionism, the idea that it is will, not reason, that characterizes

 Ibid., 124.  Ibid., 25. 28  Ibid., 19. 29  Ibid., 24. 30  Ibid., 17. 31  Ibid., 157. 32  Ibid., 156. 26 27


William T. Cavanaugh

the truly political. ‘A politics of the exception is one that relies on revelation and faith rather than argument and reason. It is, as Schmitt writes, a politics of the miraculous, but — and this is the most important point — it is also an experience of freedom’.33 This is the most important point, because for Kahn ‘revelation’ has nothing to do with something received from God. Revelation is something we construct out of our own human freedom. Freedom is precisely why the anti-liberal Schmitt becomes a support for liberal political practice, though not liberal theory, in Kahn’s view. For Kahn, the most important part of liberal politics is the freedom to make it all up on our own; this becomes the moment of sovereign decision. Kahn draws the fiction/reality dichotomy in the same way as Kantorowicz. Political theology is all about unmasking theologies as human creations. ‘The point of a contemporary political theology must be just the opposite of those premodern political theologies of which Lilla writes: not the subordination of the political to religious doctrine and church authority, but recognition that the state creates and maintains its own sacred space and history’.34 Not only the state’s political theology but theology as a whole is fictional. Kahn has a thoroughly pragmatist view of truth. We decide among ‘models of order’ not by their approximation to, or distance from, some ‘independent facts of the matter;’ they become true as we use them to convince ourselves and others.35 Kahn tells us that metaphysics is just a rhetorical device. ‘In a godless world, that is, a world with no normative significance whatsoever, there is nothing that nature has to teach us in thinking about how to order the political, except that it is entirely up to us’.36 The one thing forbidden — the one thing not entirely up to us to choose — is theology, that is, the kind that entertains the possibility of God. The price of admission to the modern and postmodern worlds is the banishment of theology to the medieval past. The immanent frame defines us, but Kahn does not think it confines us. It is rather the condition of our freedom to become convinced that we are making it all up.

 Ibid., 157.  Ibid., 19. 35  Ibid., 111. 36  Ibid., 116–17. 33 34

Putting theology back into political theology


Theology and Sociology Interpreters of Schmitt today often read him as if he does not challenge the modern reduction of transcendence to a merely immanent sacrality. Paul Kahn’s re-reading of Schmitt for the American context, for example, opens the possibility of radically rethinking the religious/secular divide, but then slams that door shut by circumscribing political theology into a purely ‘secular’ field of inquiry which cannot allow the possibility of theology as theologians understand it. Kahn adopts Schmitt’s ‘sociology of juristic concepts’ as if sociology were exclusive of theology, describing a purely immanent social process. Schmitt, on the other hand, is considerably more nuanced. In his extensive comments on the sociology of concepts in chapter three of Political Theology, Schmitt dismisses both materialist (e.g. Marxist) reductions of metaphysics and theology to material causes and any attempt to create a sociology of concepts that is spiritual as opposed to material. Schmitt writes ‘Both the spiritualist explanation of material processes and the materialist explanation of spiritual phenomena seek causal relations. At first they construct a contrast between two spheres, and then they dissolve this contrast into nothing by reducing one to the other. This method must necessarily culminate in a caricature’.37 Schmitt clearly rejects the ‘contrast between two spheres’. His eschewing of causal relations here furthermore avoids the choice of either creator God or homo faber. Schmitt also rejects the fiction/ reality dichotomy. ‘It is thus not a sociology of the concept of sovereignty when, for example, the monarchy of the seventeenth century is characterized as the real that is “mirrored” in the Cartesian concept of God’.38 Sociology and theology or metaphysics are not dichotomized but rather united: ‘The presupposition of this kind of sociology of juristic concepts is thus a radical conceptualization, a consistent thinking that is pushed into metaphysics and theology’.39 When Schmitt gives examples of positivistic thinkers who ridicule their opponents with the charge of doing theology,40 he never tries to defend himself from such charges, as Kahn does, by making clear that the kind of political theology he is doing is a purely ‘secular’ exploration of certain myths that people create for themselves. A sociology that is properly radical, that has  Schmitt, Political Theology, 43.  Ibid., 45. 39  Ibid., 46. 40  Ibid., 38–40. 37 38


William T. Cavanaugh

been properly pushed into metaphysics and theology, is an exploration of the ‘general state of consciousness’41 of an epoch, but Schmitt carefully avoids any reductionist indication that any such state is simply man-made. When Schmitt continues ‘The metaphysical image that a definite epoch forges of the world has the same structure as what the world immediately understands to be appropriate as a form of its political organization’,42 there is no warrant for the assumption that the metaphysical image is wholly and simply a product of human consciousness that forms a mirror of human consciousness. Such images are not necessarily man-made fictions. It is the ‘epoch’ that forges the image, not ‘man’ or any other such immanent causal agent. When Schmitt returns to political theology in the generally-neglected Political Theology  II, published in 1970, he does not merely open a space for theology, but offers an idiosyncratic reading of Incarnation and Trinity: ‘At the heart of the doctrine of Trinity we encounter a genuine politico-­ theological stasiology’,43 where stasis indicates both rest and ‘uproar’. The project of the book is both to resist Erik Peterson’s attempted closure of political theology within Christian theology, and to resist the external hominization which replaces the Christ-Adam figure with an ‘unplanned, arbitrary product of the process-progress of himself ’.44 This process-progress, Schmitt claims, ‘is the opposite of creation out of nothing, because it is the creation of nothingness as the condition of possibility of the self-creation of an ever new worldliness’.45 Carlo Galli has rightly seen that Schmitt’s view of modernity is tragic because in modernity humanity must attempt the construction of a political form in the ruins of medieval society from nothing at all, an impossible task.46 For Schmitt, the form of Christ’s person was a complexio oppositorum that reconciled all antitheses: God and Man, eternity and time, faith and reason, heaven and earth, and so on. With the collapse of the medieval order, the

 Ibid., 45.  Ibid., 46. 43  Carl Schmitt, Political Theology II: The Myth of the Closure of any Political Theology, trans. Michael Hoelzl and Graham Ward (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008), 123. 44  Ibid., 128–29. 45  Ibid., 129. 46   This summary of Galli’s thought on Schmitt is taken from Adam Sitze, ‘The Tragicity of the Political: A Note on Carlo Galli’s Reading of Carl Schmitt’s Hamlet or Hecuba’, in Hammill and Lupton, eds, 48–59. 41 42

Putting theology back into political theology


mediating reality of the person of Christ was lost, and politics has become a ceaseless reflection on conflict and the possibility of reconciliation. With Hobbes, the state begins anew, but power is based on no agreed good. The formal equality of all people before the law is insufficient to fund the social process of reconciliation formerly founded in the person of Christ. The personal decision of the sovereign and the identification of public enemies thus become an essential strategy of modern politics, but these are for Schmitt only a simulacrum of complexio oppositorum formerly located in Christ, who has been banished from secular politics. In Galli’s reading, Schmitt’s decisionism is tragic because it aims at the goal of reconciliation without being able to attain it, and Schmitt realizes this. For Galli, it is not that Schmitt is nostalgic for the medieval synthesis; he has simply identified the ‘blindspot in modern mediation’. That blindspot is unseen because modern humanity has enclosed itself in an immanent box of its own making. [M]odern politics is structured like a game because its players are able to represent their most serious decisions only with reference to rules that are at once self-enclosed yet arbitrary, totalizing yet lacking any reference to a ‘transcendental signified’. What is unthinkable and unspeakable in these terms is that the very keystones of modern politics — peace on earth, reconciliation, order — are genealogically derived from a mode of representation (the complexio) that, precisely because it is grounded in a ‘transcendental signified’, is fundamentally incommensurable with modern mediation, indeed, is mutually exclusive with it.47

Pace Kantorowicz and Kahn, the ‘discovery’ that we are making it all up is limiting rather than liberating. Kahn’s declarations of the impossibility of theology appear as an unnecessary and unwarranted self-confinement. What is potentially liberating about the critical process of political theology carried out in Schmitt’s wake is the way it undoes the religious/secular dichotomy that modernity has constructed for itself. Secular political theology claims boldly to transgress that dichotomy by identifying the deeply theological structures of supposedly secular politics. But at the same time, much secular political theology reinforces that dichotomy by claiming adamantly that it is a secular, not religious, discourse. The secular reappears as a neutral standpoint from which to carry out ideological critique, the unmasking of politics as deeply theological, and the unmasking of theology as fiction. But the identification of fictions is a two-edged sword. Is the reality/

 Ibid., 56.



William T. Cavanaugh

fiction dichotomy not itself a fiction? If secular discourse must insist that all myth is man-made, are not the secular/religious and immanent/transcendent divides equally capable of being unmade? Kahn’s apparently flexible and pragmatic conception of truth becomes perfectly inflexible on this point: we have discovered the objective truth that we are making it all up, and there is therefore no way to return to theology proper. But a truly critical genealogy can and should unmask the dichotomies on which Kahn relies as themselves products of a political process. The religious/secular dichotomy is a thoroughly contingent set of affairs that arises in the process of the creation of the modern state; it is not simply the way things are. Any critical political theology needs to be aware of all of the work that has been done over the last few decades on the genealogy of the religious/ secular divide.48 The concept of religion as something essentially distinct from secular aspects of human life such as politics and economics is a modern Western concept. There simply was no such divide before modernity — reli­ gious and secular named two different kinds of priests in the medieval period — nor is there any such divide in cultures that have not been ­significantly Westernized. Kahn’s ‘great separation’ between reason and faith, secular and religious, is not akin to the European ‘discovery’ of ­America, as if it were something that one simply bumps into when trying to get somewhere else. The ‘great separation’ was a political effect of the triumph of state power over ecclesiastical power in the early modern period. A functionalist reading of secular politics — say American nationalism — as a religion is inadequate because, as Talal Asad puts it, ‘it takes as unproblematic the entire business of defining religion’.49 A functionalist expands the definition of religion beyond the usual suspects (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism,  etc.) and uses it to encompass things that are normally considered ‘secular’ (American nationalism, Marxism, capitalism, etc.). The problem is that functionalism is still searching for religion as an essential human phenomenon. It is more profitable and critically aware to see religion and the secular as phenomena constructed by and for certain political arrangements. A constructivist approach does not go searching for signs of religion in the

48   For a compendium of such scholarship, see chapter 2 of my book The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), or more recently Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012). 49  Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 189.

Putting theology back into political theology


secular, but asks why and under what conditions certain phenomena are labeled ‘religious’ and others ‘secular’. Why is American nationalism considered ‘secular’ in constitutional law, and yet American presidents can speak of patriotism as a ‘living faith’? The answer is not that religion sometimes escapes its cage and runs amok in the secular. As Asad writes, ‘‘the secular’ should not be thought of as the space in which real human life gradually emancipates itself from the controlling power of ‘religion’ and thus achieves the latter’s relocation. It is this assumption that allows us to think of religion as ‘infecting’ the secular domain or as replicating within it the structure of theological concepts. The concept of ‘the secular’ today is part of a doctrine called secularism’.50 Secularism is an ideology which constructs ‘the secular’ as a neutral, rational location from which to position ‘religion’. ‘In the discourse of modernity “the secular” presents itself as the ground from which theological discourse was generated (as a form of false consciousness) and from which it gradually emancipated itself in its march to freedom. On that ground humans appear as the self-conscious makers of History… and as the unshakable foundation of universally valid knowledge about nature and society’.51 When the political history of this ideology is traced, however, it becomes apparent that ‘secular’ discourse is no more grounded than ‘religious’ discourse; the myth of homo faber is no more grounded than the myth of the creator God. The task of political theology, then, is not only to expose the hidden theology behind so-called secular forms of power, but also to ask what kinds of political power are being established and reinforced by the banishment of theology from respectable discourse. Many practitioners of political theology as secular critique simply assume that appeal to any transcendent realm beyond the immanent is an ideological ploy that must be contrary to any truly progressive politics. But the rigid insistence on the inviolability of the transcendent/immanent or religious/secular divides ignores the ways those divides were constructed by exactly the kinds of liberal politics that most practitioners of secular political theology seek to overcome.

 Ibid., 191.  Ibid., 192–93.

50 51


William T. Cavanaugh

Radical Politics and the Incarnation There is a long tradition of leftist thought that assumes that any attempt to link politics to transcendence must be an exercise in heteronomy, the alienation of rule to a fictional force beyond humanity that can only frustrate humanity’s efforts to control its own affairs. Cornelius Castoriadis, for example, thought that the self-constitution of a people that rules itself — a democracy — must be acknowledged as without ground, and it is religion that mystifies this groundlessness by trying to supply a transcendent ground. Castoriadis thus rejected any attempt to maintain a positive role for theology or religion for a democratic politics.52 Other democratic theorists have retained the notion of positive theopolitical fictions underlying political formations, while also insisting that such fictions do not transgress the plane of immanence. Thus Clayton Crockett: ‘A radical democracy that insists upon the immanence of our common life together and the generative power that comes from our modes of cooperation, both already present and still to come, this is a project that is theopolitical as well’.53 What Castoriadis and Crockett have in common with Schmitt is the assumption that democracy must confine itself to immanence. Schmitt thought that this was precisely what was wrong with democracy. Without any authority above the enclosed circle of democratic self-creation — without any authority above the law to decide on the exception and therefore establish people’s obligation to the law as to something outside of themselves — there could be no politics. Schmitt’s theological account of sovereignty thus opens up the possibility of a critique of any system of law that aspires to be closed, comprehensive, and final. The problem with Schmitt is that he identifies sovereignty so closely with a vertical and this-worldly power that he ends up endorsing a dangerous and idolatrous view of state sovereignty.54 The usefulness of Schmitt is limited by the taint of authoritarian state politics. Is it not possible, however, that refusal to be enclosed in an immanent box of our own making can have liberating political effects? If such a

 Cornelius Castoriadis, ‘Institution of Society and Religion’, Thesis Eleven 35, no. 1: 1–17.  Clayton Crockett, Radical Political Theology: Religion and Politics after Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011, 191, quoted in Annika Thiem, ‘Schmittian Shadows and Contemporary Theological-Political Constellations’, Social Research 80, no.  1 (Spring 2013): 24. 54   See Ted A. Smith, Divine Violence: John Brown and the Limits of Ethics (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), chapter 3. 52 53

Putting theology back into political theology


political theology is not to be an exercise in Catholic nostalgia or authoritarian state politics, however, it will have to show how an opening to transcendence can facilitate an opening to a kind of personalist and democratic politics that escapes the bureaucratic closure of the modern state without concentrating power in sovereign authority. If there is a theological politics that can open up such avenues, it would have to resist both the closed immanentism of Kantorowicz and the vertical authoritarianism of Schmitt. The figure of Henri de Lubac looms large in Catholic theology in the twentieth century, and his thought has begun to be explored as a source for a radical political theology.55 De Lubac is known especially for his attempts to overcome neoscholastic extrinsicism, which — in an attempt to protect the gratuity of God’s grace over against a materialistic reductionism — defended a concept of ‘pure nature’ to which God’s grace was then superadded. De Lubac’s careful historical studies showed that neoscholasticism was a modern misreading of a more subtle patristic and early medieval attempt to see nature as already ‘graced’, thus putting transcendence and immanence in a dynamic and intrinsic relation to one another. Most of this controversy was played out in intramural Catholic battles over systematic theology, reform of the liturgy, the role of the laity, and so forth. De Lubac himself mostly avoided political theology. But as David Grummet writes, ‘It is now clear…that the context, motivation and implications of de Lubac’s theology are profoundly political’.56 De Lubac was active in the publication of an underground journal for Catholic resistance to the Vichy regime, and he fought a theological battle on two fronts: both against the politicization of the church for the support of the authoritarian state (as in Action Française and Vichy) and against the removal the church from the social and political realms by the individualization of Catholic faith, whereby the Eucharist, for example, was a miraculous and extrinsic transaction between God and the individual believer, bypassing its social effects. One of de Lubac’s most important works was Corpus Mysticum, finished in 1939 and published in 1944. With an impressive grasp of the patristic and medieval sources, de Lubac shows how the dynamic relationship between

55   See for example William T. Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998); William T. Cavanaugh, ‘The Church in the Streets: Eucharist and Society’, Modern Theology 30, no.  2 (April 2014): 384–402; John Milbank, The Suspended Middle: Henri de Lubac and the Debate concerning the Supernatural (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005). 56  David Grumett, De Lubac: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: T. & T. Clark, 2007), 25.


William T. Cavanaugh

the liturgical action of the Eucharist and the formation of the church community was gradually reduced until the community-forming power of the sacrament was borrowed by the nascent state and the Eucharist became an individualized, miraculous spectacle that served to reinforce clerical power. Whereas the early church saw Christ’s corpus mysticum as the sacrament on the altar which gathered Christ’s corpus verum, the church, by the twelfth century the terms had been inverted, so that the real body was the miracle on the altar, and the community became the mystical body, where ‘mystical’ indicated something less than real. The mystical as corporative fiction would then make its way into the legitimation of the modern state. Both Schmitt and Kantorowicz understood that the use of the corpus mysticum was not just an intramural church affair, but had profound effects on the development of modern politics. For Schmitt, the church as corpus mysticum was a Protestant heresy, the reduction of Christianity to the interior and the spiritual, and the consequent reduction of the church to a horizontal fellowship instead of a visible institution with hierarchy and laws. Schmitt saw ‘mystical’, in other words, as a diminishment of ‘real’. ‘One cannot believe God became man without believing there will also be a visible Church as long as the world exists. Every religious sect which has transposed the concept of the Church from the visible community of believing Christians into a corpus mere mysticum basically has doubts about the humanity of the Son of God.  It has falsified the historical reality of the incarnation of Christ into a mystical and imaginary process’.57 The reason this matters politically is that Schmitt sees the Catholic Church as a crucial source of legitimation for the state, based on the church’s ‘absolute realization of authority’.58 In democracy, says Schmitt, ‘the people hover above the entire political life of the state, just as God does above the world, as the cause and end of all things’.59 The only way to resist this immanentization of political authority was to emphasize vertical, personal, transcendent authority, which Schmitt tended to see incarnated in the authoritarian sovereign. For Kantorowicz, on the other hand, the horizontalization of political authority through the harnessing of the corpus mysticum fiction is not a declension narrative. Though he rejected German nationalism, Kantorowicz remained ‘A patriot without a country’, as Boureau’s writes, and  Carl Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, trans. Gary Ulmen (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), 52. 58  Ibid., 18. 59  Schmitt, Political Theology, 49. 57

Putting theology back into political theology


embraced the horizontal and man-made bonds of liberal constitutionalism. Kantorowicz is clearly indebted to de Lubac’s work as inspiration for his own, and he cites de Lubac’s Corpus Mysticum directly. Nevertheless, Kantorowicz distorts de Lubac’s work in crucial ways. For Kantorowicz, the term corpus mysticum goes from being purely liturgical or sacramental in the early Middle Ages — and not referring at all to either Church or society — to being sociological and becoming the fictive glue for the nascent state. The mystical becomes the fictional when it is transferred from the liturgical to the political realm. As Jennifer Rust comments, ‘As theological tropes become sociological in The King’s Two Bodies, they tend also to be tamed into pliable fictional material for representing specific political, very human, interests, evacuated of all but the barest hint of transcendent content’.60 For de Lubac, on the other hand, ‘liturgical’ and ‘sociological’ were not located in a dichotomy in the early church, and it was precisely his project to overcome modern dichotomies between transcendence and immanence that the high Middle Ages’ inversion of the corpus verum and the corpus mysticum had instantiated. For Kantorowicz, the verum and the mysticum tracked the real and the fictional; the corpus mysticum supplied metaphorical material for the legal fictions that created the modern state in opposition to what he called ‘the horrifying experience of our own time in which whole nations, the largest and the smallest, fell prey to the weirdest dogmas and in which political theologisms became genuine obsessions defying in many cases the rudiments of human and political reason’.61 De Lubac, on the other hand, is trying to move behind the modern inversion in order to recapture a sense of the mystical in which it is not opposed to the real, to overcome ‘the temptation of no longer seeing anything in this metaphor except the metaphor itself, and of considering “mystical” as a watering-down of “real” or of “true”’.62 As Rust writes, ‘De Lubac’s interpretation of the corpus mysticum as a dynamic paradox — simultaneously transcendent and immanent — offers a theological perspective that elucidates the potential inadequacy of both the vertical orientation of Schmitt’s account of sovereignty (as personal and

60   Jennifer Rust, ‘Political Theologies of the Corpus Mysticum: Schmitt, Kantorowicz, and de Lubac’ in Hammill and Lupton, eds, 114. 61   Kantorowicz, viii. 62  Henri de Lubac, Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages, trans. Gemma Simmonds with Richard Price and Christopher Stephens (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006), 249.


William T. Cavanaugh

transcendent) and Kantorowicz’s emphasis on horizontal bureaucracy as a mysticized “body politic”’.63 De Lubac’s slogan ‘The Eucharist makes the Church’ was an attempt to emphasize the social body of the Church as an action, a dynamic calling together of a group of people by the living God. ‘A mystery’, as he famously wrote, ‘is more of an action than a thing’.64 In the high Middle Ages, the Eucharist had become more of a spectacle of a presence than an action, while the Church simultaneously became an institution, increasingly rationalized, centralized, and bureaucratized. In the early tradition, the Eucharist was the ‘mystery of unity’, a social action binding people to one another. ‘Being in communion with someone means to receive the body of the Lord with them’.65 As the sacramental presence was emphasized, Eucharistic devotion became more individualized, and the process of binding people one to another was left to the state, the new form of social integration that would eventually mark the passage from the medieval to the modern. For de Lubac this was more than history. He thought that the inability of many Catholics to resist the fascism of the Vichy regime was based on the individualism of their sacramental piety and the separation of the natural from the supernatural that was encouraged by neoscholasticism but had its roots in the medieval separation of the mystical from the real. De Lubac’s politically aware theology was situated against both the collectivist fascisms and the secular individualisms of his age. De Lubac’s emphasis on the horizontal communion of Catholics across national boundaries was made possible by the action of Christ, not the action of any earthly decisionist sovereign. At the same time, de Lubac wrote that ‘our main temptation is to make of God a symbol for man, the objectified symbol of himself ’.66 It was only the continuing action of the God-man in human history that could overcome the alienations of our self-imposed fictions. Although de Lubac himself never worked it out in a systematic way, he offers us a vision of the Church as a political tertium quid, a type of social action that both finds its transcendent source above the state, and gathers people below the level of the state in a performance of communion and solidarity.

 Rust, 104.  De Lubac, Corpus Mysticum, 49. 65  Ibid., 21. 66  Henri de Lubac, Scripture in the Tradition, trans. Luke O’Neill (New York: Crossroad, 2000), 70. 63 64

Putting theology back into political theology


Perhaps the best way to flesh out this kind of incarnational politics is to look at the Catholic radical Ivan Illich’s comments on the parable of the Good Samaritan, to which Charles Taylor points near the end of his sprawling A Secular Age. According to Illich, Western secularism is neither the fulfillment nor the negation of Christianity, but rather its corruption. The parable of the Good Samaritan is commonly read today as a tale of universalizing the care of people for others; the bounds of group identity are broken open, and the neighbor becomes all of our fellow human beings. This universalization becomes the basis of the modern welfare state and the impulse to regularize and institutionalize a code of ethics. Christianity is the basis on which the institutionalization of a horizontal and universalist moral consciousness is built, a consciousness that seeks to care for all without exception. For Illich, however, this state of affairs is a corruption of the Good Samaritan parable, which is based on spontaneity and freedom, and not on norms or a universal sense of ‘ought’. The Good Samaritan cared for the wounded Jew not because he recognized some shared property with him, some common national identity or universal human rights. He cared for him simply because, as the Gospel says, he ‘felt moved in his belly’, in Illich’s translation.67 He was thrown into the situation by pure contingency, and he responded as an enfleshed being to another being of the same flesh. His response furthermore enabled what Taylor calls a ‘skein of relations which link particular, unique, enfleshed people to each other’.68 Those relations could only be established if the wounded Jew could recognize that the action was gratuitous, not obligatory. For Illich, this skein of relations is not established on the basis of some universal, horizontal, and fictional account of what we share in common; it is established by the incarnation of God in human flesh. According to Illich, Christianity establishes contingency, because it recognizes the sheer gratuity of both God’s creation of the world and God’s incarnation in the form of Jesus Christ.69 It is precisely the vertical or transcendent axis that allows for the possibility of something new and something free in the space of human relations. Furthermore, the enfleshment of God is precisely what establishes the possibility of relations that begin with the lived body. Illich says:

 Ivan Illich, The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich, ed. David Cayley (Toronto: Anansi, 2005), 222. 68  Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 739. 69  Illich, 74. 67


William T. Cavanaugh

I believe, as I hope you do, in a God who is enfleshed, and who has given the Samaritan, as a being drowned in carnality, the possibility of creating a relationship by which an unknown, chance encounter becomes for him the reason for his existence, as he becomes the reason for the other’s survival — not just in a physical sense, but a deeper sense, as a human being. This is not a spiritual relationship. This is not a fantasy. This is not merely a ritual act which generates a myth. This is an act which prolongs the Incarnation. Just as God became flesh and in the flesh relates to each one of us, so you are capable of relating in the flesh, as one who says ego, and when he says ego, points to an experience which is entirely sensual, incarnate, and this-worldly, to that other man who has been beaten up.70

Unlike Schmitt, for whom the incarnation establishes the visibility and institutionality of the church, Illich sees the incarnation of God as that which brings people together into one flesh, an act he traces directly to the Eucharist.71 To care for the stranger was to care for Christ (Mt. 25:31–46), which was also to care for a member of one’s own body, for the Eucharist gathered all into the body of Christ (I Cor. 12). The flesh was precisely where the transcendent and immanent become inseparable. Illich’s declension narrative begins in the same place as de Lubac’s: with the controversy over Berengar of Tours’ theology of the Eucharist in the eleventh century. Illich traces the history of Western excarnation, the distancing of our selves from our bodies, to Berengar’s questioning of how the bread and wine shared by the community could really be the body and blood of Christ. The official church’s response — the inversion of which de Lubac writes — only made matters worse by confining the corpus verum to the altar, thus increasingly limiting the Eucharist to an extrinsic miracle which is not enacted in face to face encounters with other people. Increasingly over the later Middle Ages, care for others becomes institutionalized and bureaucratized. As Taylor writes, ‘Here’s where the corruption comes in: what we got was not a network of agape, but rather a disciplined society in which categorical relations have primacy, and therefore norms’.72 While Illich begrudgingly and Taylor more willingly both recognize the necessity of institutions and the good in the universal expansion of care for others, they warn of a world in which contingency can only be seen as an obstacle. The loss of transcendence entraps us in an immanent and bureaucratized box of our own making. As

 Ibid., 207.  Ibid., 208. 72  Taylor, 158. 70 71

Putting theology back into political theology


Taylor writes, ‘we are now living caricatures of the network life. We have lost some of the communion, the “conspiratio”, which is at the heart of the Eucharist… The spirit is strangled’.73 This is not just another complaint about the lifelessness of the iron cage. While we might be tempted to think that the regularity of the modern world has tamed the violence of ‘religion’, Taylor warns that ‘The code can rapidly become the crutch for our sense of moral superiority’.74 The poor become a problem to be managed rather than a call to solidarity. Indeed history itself — as a product entirely of human making — must also be managed and controlled, by the most powerful means at our disposal. Illich puts the point dramatically: Take away the fleshly, bodily, carnal, dense, humoural experience of self, and therefore of the Thou, from the story of the Samaritan and you have a nice liberal fantasy, which is something horrible. You have the basis on which one might feel responsible for bombing the neighbour for his own good. This use of power is what I call the corruptio optimi quae est pessima. What is most glorious but remains, as a possibility of thinking and experiencing, always somewhat in the shadow, somewhat in the clouds, is corrupted into a very clear and powerful ideal of democracy.75

Conclusion A theological politics based on the incarnation of God, of course, will not be convincing to everyone, nor should it have to be. It should go without saying that there is no returning to Christendom. Indeed, it is precisely the calcifying of Christianity into a way to govern civilization that brings about the domestication of transcendence. But to acknowledge this is not at all to imply that theology is no longer possible for us. I have suggested that a political theology of the body of Christ is not only still possible in modernity but may be more relevant to a post-secular age than political theologies that attempt to reinforce the very religious/secular boundaries that the idea of political theology undermines. There is no good reason to demand that political theology police the border between the transcendent and the immanent, and a political theology that refuses to do so may in fact be much more useful for imagining a better world.  Ibid., 739.  Ibid., 743. 75  Ibid., 207. 73 74

From the Medieval Church as a ­Mystical Body to the Modern State as a Mystical Person: Ernst ­Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt António Bento

Carl Schmitt


o talk about a ‘mystical body’ of the Church and a ‘mystical person’ of the State is, straight away, to ask about the interpenetration and, sometimes, osmosis of two opposing, but complementary, juridical formations: the Church and the State. In this essay, I will attempt a comparison of Carl Schmitt’s and Ernst Kantorowicz’s theories of sovereignty — perhaps more on the ecclesiastic sovereignty than that of the State. From the vast and prolific collection of works by the first author, I will focus mainly on two texts: The Visibility of the Church: a Scholastic Consideration1 and Roman Catholicism and Political Form;2 of the latter author, I have selected a core chapter — ‘Polity-Centered Kingship: Corpus Mysticum’ — of that unequalled work titled The King’s Two Bodies.3 The point of connection which simultaneously brings together and distances the two authors in these texts is the manner in which each of them deals with what I would call, more or less provisionally, the political economy 1  Carl Schmitt, ‘Die Sichtbarkeit der Kirche. Eine Scholastische Erwägung’, in Summa, 1917. Whenever  I thought it appropriate, I  confronted the German original with the available English translation and sometimes quoted directly from the English version titled ‘The Visibility of the Church: a Scholastic Consideration’, in Roman Catholicism and Political Form, translation by G. L. Ulmen (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996). 2  Carl Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und Politische Form [1923] (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag, 1984). English version: Roman Catholicism and Political Form, translation by G. L. Ulmen (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996). 3  Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies. A  Study in Mediaeval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957).

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 65–85 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111246



António Bento

of the theologico-political concept of ‘corpus mysticum’. I  will begin with Carl Schmitt’s The Visibility of the Church: An arrangement making the invisible visible must be rooted in the invisible and appear in the visible. The Mediator descends, because the mediation can only proceed from above, not from below. Salvation lies in that God becomes man (not that man becomes God). Just as Christ had a real body, so must the Church have a real body. This often repeated metaphor assumes an argument of the highest dignity because it refers to an identity in the logical structure of both processes and concretely manifests the marvellous of this same ‘mediation’, which constitutes the essence of the Church. One cannot believe God became man without believing there will also be a visible Church as long as the world exists. Every religious sect which has transposed the concept of the Church form the visible community of believing Christians into a corpus mere mysticum basically has doubts about the humanity of the Son of God. It has falsified the historical reality of the incarnation of Christ into a mystical and imaginary process.4

Besides an initial observation about the specific character of ecclesial mediation, which is done from ‘from above to below’, in opposition, it is understood, to the type of mediation configured by the State, which is operated ‘from below to above’, the intimate nucleus of this reflexion by Carl Schmitt lies in the manner in which the author opposes the concept of the Church as a ‘corpus mere mysticum’ to the notion of the Church as a ‘visible body’. Insofar as Carl Schmitt admits the simile of the body to designate the ecclesiastic political body, I will focus on the opposition between a ‘mystical body’ of the Church and a ‘visible body’ of the Church. I examine whether the Church as a juridical formation can simultaneously hold the titles of authorized mediator of the body of Christ in the world, and of political representative of his person, without bringing the body and the person, that is, the mediation and the representation, into conflict. This search also involves inquiring whether there is an effective historical continuity between the concepts of mediation and of representation, or if, on the contrary, these concepts have, been overlapped resulting in an antithesis without any possibility of a synthesis.

4   Schmitt, ‘The Visibility of the Church: a Scholastic Consideration’ [1917], in Roman Catholicism and Political Form, translation by G. L. Ulmen (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996), 52.

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


Mediation is an imminently theological concept, while representation is a fundamentally legal concept. In fact, in representation, — the representative — exists for the other, in place of the other, or instead of the other: the represented. I recall, pertaining to this question, a synthetic definition of the legal ­significa-­­­ tion of representation elaborated by Schmitt in his Constitutional Theory: To represent means to make an invisible being visible and present through a publicly present one. The dialectic of the concept is that the invisible is presupposed as absent and nevertheless is simultaneously made present.5

In spite of the existing similarities between the Schmittian definition of the ‘concept’ of ‘representation’ in a ‘purely’ juridical text like Constitutional Theory (1928), and the reference to ‘representation’ which was previously stated from Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923), the truth is, however, that in the first text6 the ‘idea’ of ‘representation’, more than a strictly or merely legal term, is intrinsically influenced by a theological halo, perceptible mainly through the frequent use of formulas of ‘authority’ and ‘personification’: The idea of representation is so completely governed by conceptions of personal authority that the representative as well as the person represented must maintain a personal dignity — it is not a pragmatic concept. To represent in an eminent sense can only be done by a person, i.e., not simply a ‘deputy’ but an authoritative person or an idea which, if represented, also becomes personified. God or ‘the people’ in democratic ideology or abstract ideas like freedom and equality can all conceivably constitute a representation. But this is not true of production and consumption. Representation invests the representative person with a special dignity because the representative of a noble value cannot be without value.7

 Carl Schmitt, Constitutional Theory, translated by Jeffrey Seitzer, foreword by Ellen Kennedy (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2008), 243: ‘Repräsentieren heisst, ein unsichtbares Sein durch ein öffentlich anwesendes Sein sichtbar machen und vergegenwärtigen. Die Dialektik des Begriffes liegt darin, dass das Unsichtbare als abwesend vorausgesetzt und doch gleichzeitig anwesend gemacht wird’. Carl Schmitt, Verfassungslehre [1928] (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1993), 209–10. 6   Roman Catholicism and Political Form is clearly a booklet of anti-protestant apologetics, deeply marked by an anti-liberal pathos, as much in the political sense as in the economic sense of the liberal term. 7  Schmitt, Roman Catholicism and Political Form, 21: ‘Die Idee der Repräsentation ist dagegen so sehr von dem Gedanken persönlicher Autorität beherrscht, das sowohl der Repräsentant wie der Repräsentierte eine persönliche Würde behaupten muss. Sie ist kein dinghafter Begriff. Repräsentieren im eminenten Sinne kann nur ein Person un Zwar — zum Unterschiede von der 5


António Bento

Nevertheless, unlike representation, in mediation there is no substitution of a term by another, but rather the simultaneous presence of two terms by means of the intervention of a third which, while not annulling the opposition and tension between the two initial terms, places them in a necessary relation. What this change means is that in the passage from mediation to representation, we go from a ternary model to a binary model, and from a theological concept to a juridical one. Therefore, it can be said that, grosso modo, a body or a corporification corresponds to mediation, while a person or a personification corresponds to representation. This change means that the passage from the body of Christ to the person of Christ, or the passage from the corporification of Christ to the personification of Christ is a passage from the theological to the juridical which cannot be realized without some friction. And it is precisely here that the core issue of the historical problem of the so-called church’s ‘visibility’ emerges which is, as we shall see, the problem of the invisibility of the body of Christ in the person of Christ. It is a question of the incompleteness or insufficiency of the juridical in regards to the theological, or, in other words, of the dependence of representation in regard to mediation. To a certain extent, the appearance of the medieval notion of the ‘mystical body’ of Christ as an eminently theologico-political problem is a reaction or a response to the loss of visibility of the ‘historical’ and ‘sacramental’ body of Christ in the juridical person of the Church. In this regard, the ‘mystical’ is a response to the loss of visibility of the historical, communitarian ‘body’ of the Church, which is substituted by the juridical ‘person’ of the State. In fact, during the first moments of the Church’s constitution, and in accordance to theological tradition, the three bodies of Christ — the historical body, the sacramental body and the ecclesial body — suffer a separation between the first and the second bodies while, some centuries later — already during the twelfth century — this division is operated between the second and third bodies. Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac very well captures and analyzes this problem in the work Corpus mysticum. L’eucharistie et l’Eglise au Moyen Age:

einfachen “Stellvertretung” — eine autoritäre Person oder eine Idee, die sich, sobald sie repräsentiert wird, ebenfalls personifiziert. Gott, oder in der democratischen Ideology das Volk, oder abstrakte Ideen wie Freiheit und Gleichheit sind denkbarer Inhalt einer Repräsentation, aber nicht Produktion und Konsum. Die Repräsentation gibt der Person des Repräsentanten eine eigene Würde, weil der Repräsentant eines hohen Wertes nicht wertlos sein kann’. Carl Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und Politische Form, 35–36.

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


Of the three terms […] the question of which was to articulate them with each other  […], the historical body, the sacramental body and the ecclesial body, before the division was created between the first and the second, having afterwards been placed between the second and the third. Such is, in short, the fact which dominates all evolution of Eucharistic theories.8

The result is a new binary formula, translated into a relation of opposition between the ‘corpus verum’ (or the real body of Christ) and the ‘corpus mysticum’ of Christ, slowly substitutes the ternary formula; while, simultaneously with that substitution, the content of the opposition between ‘corpus verum’ and ‘corpus mysticum’ is intensified and doubled by the opposition between invisible and visible. The Church now stops signifying the ‘corpus verum’ and starts signifying the ‘corpus mysticum’ of Christ. Paradoxically, from then on, the Church will be as much more ‘visible’ as it claims and identifies itself with the ‘corpus mysticum’ of Christ. Nevertheless, that body which the Church signifies, the ‘corpus Christi’, is always a vanished historical body and a real invisible and absent body that only the sacrament and the consecration of bread and wine make visible and present. The originary invisibility of this body is a ghost that haunts all who suffer from the pain of an absence of body and who, in that pain, found or establish their communion or community — the Church.9 Having disappeared, the real body of Christ has become invisible. And the invisibility of the Church is nothing but the invisibility of Christ’s ‘corpus verum’. For this reason the Church must, precisely as the ‘mystical body of Christ’, be highly visible; and this is also the reason for its obsession with the visible: to make see the invisible to make believe in the visible. In fact, one can say that from the middle of the twelfth century, in a progressive but irreversible manner, the binary structure of the real body vs. mystical body of Christ takes over the ternary structure of the historical, sacramental and ecclesial bodies of Christ. Before moving forward to the analysis of this thesis, and trying to derive all consequences from it, I  shall first say some words about the medieval

8  Henri de Lubac, Corpus mysticum. L’eucharistie et l’Eglise au Moyen Age [1944] (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2009), 288. 9  As Franz Kafka observed one day regarding the relationship martyrs have with the body, surely thinking of Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion: ‘Martyrs don’t despise the body. They let it be elevated on the cross. In this point, they are in agreement with their adversaries’. Franz Kafka, Considerações sobre o pecado, o sofrimento, a esperança e o verdadeiro caminho (Lisboa: Hiena Editora, 1992), 19.


António Bento

evolution of the expression ‘corpus mysticum’ of Christ. According to the authors who dedicate themselves to the study of this theme and, above all, after the monumental work of synthesis and erudition that is The King’s Two Bodies by Ernst Kantorowicz, it has become somewhat conventional to recognize that, until the middle of the twelfth century, the expression ‘corpus mysticum’ qualified the Eucharist. However, from that time onwards, ‘corpus mysticum’ became synonymous with the Church itself. Reciprocally, the ‘corpus verum’, which until then had signified the Church, is identified with the Eucharist. In this complex operation of properties’ trading, the adjectives ‘mysticus’ (occult) and ‘verum’ (true, real and, as such, knowable) exchange positions. This problem, while initially appearing simple is, really, a relatively complex issue. Thus we have the following scheme: Until 1150:

Corpus mysticum of Christ = Eucharist Corpus verum of Christ = Church

After 1150:

Corpus mysticum of Christ = Church Corpus verum of Christ = Eucharist

But what does this chiasmus really mean? If we look properly, the expression ‘corpus verum’ of Christ or the ‘real body of Christ’ is neither less ‘mystical’ nor less ‘fictitious’ than the expression ‘corpus Christi mysticum’. And it is also not about knowing how many persons fit in a body, nor about how many bodies a person needs in order to be a juridical person. What is interesting — and problematic — is to discover what happens when we go from the political ‘body’ to the political ‘person’. Let us first consider the concept of the ‘corpus Christi mysticum’. What does the theological analysis tell us about the ‘mystical body of Christ’? In the first place, that this body, which shines in its absence, is the object of a permanent pursuit. In fact, the doctrine begins by calling our attention to that there is a body missing that is obsessively sought. The quest for this body occurs in a type of pilgrimage towards a place marked by a disappearance. We can say that ‘there is a speech — a Logos, a theology, etc. — but there is a missing body’10 from that speech. It is necessary, after all, that the spirit finds a body; it is necessary that the speech incarnates and gives forth a truth, hence the formula Hoc est corpus meum (‘This is my body’). In the end, this  Michel de Certeau, La fable mystique, I  (XVI‒XVII siècle) (Paris: Gallimard, Paris, 1982), 108.


Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


affirmation of the Eucharist remembers a disappearance while, at the same time, claims an effectiveness — liturgical and sacramental — that rises from and is founded in that disappearance. What this affirmation means is that the initial problem of the ‘mystical’ comes with a question: where is the body of Christ? This is the question which mobilizes the ecclesiological doctrine of the ‘mystical body of Christ’. Facing the empty grave, Mary Magdalena says: ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him’. And, not knowing she is addressing the resurrected himself, she asks someone who goes by: ‘Sir, if you have carried him away [the body], tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away’.11 One could say that the body of Jesus suffers from the problem of ‘having existed before’, of ‘being momentarily inaccessible somewhere’, and ‘returning’ later. Consequently, it is never too much to insist that the mystical body of the apostles, or the corpus Ecclesiae mysticum, is, therefore, a body that is missing and that, as such, should be sought. As was already said, this missing body, this body that is lacking, configures in itself, a founding disappearance. As Michael de Certeau observes: Christianity was instituted around a missing body, the loss of Jesus’ body, duplicated by the loss of the ‘body’ of Israel, of a ‘nation’ and its genealogy. […] In Christian tradition, an initial lack of body does not cease evoking institutions and speeches which are the effects and the substitutes of that absence: ecclesiastic bodies, doctrinal bodies, etc.12

  The Gospel According to John, 20, 13–15, Greek-English New Testament [Nestle-Aland] (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgeselschaft, 1981), 315. The writer D. H. Lawrence is the author of a prodigious short story, called ‘The man who died’, in which he imagines a Christ resurrected in body, wondering, moribund, on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Lawrence’s fiction deals with the days that immediately followed Jesus’ survival after crucifixion. His executioners had taken him off the cross too early: ‘“Don’t be afraid”, said the man in the shroud [to the peasant who had taken him home and taken care of his wounds and helped him changing the bandages]. “I am not dead. They took me down too soon. So I have risen up. Yet if they discover me, they will do it all over again…”’. In this tale, Lawrence deals with a recovering Christ who, having survived crucifixion, looks, from then on, for solitude and anonymity among men, firmly refusing the cupidity of Christian love: the fervor and impetus to give while receiving nothing — refusing, in the end, the core of what his teachings had been. D. H. Lawrence, The Man who Died, accessed October 2013, in http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700631h.html. 12  De Certeau, La fable mystique, I (XVI‒XVII siècle), 109–11. 11


António Bento

This opposition between the ‘corpus verum’ and the ‘corpus mysticum’, already perceptible in the Low Middle Ages is reinforced and intensified with the Reform: ‘Jesus has a real body and a mystical body on earth… We adhere to his real body through communion in Eucharist, and to his mystical body through communion in Church’ — says Pierre de Bérulle, the oratory French cardinal and theologian who was dedicated to the conversion of protestants in the seventeenth century. ‘This opposition’ — as Michel de Certeau underlines — ‘is present even in catholic contexts which, driven by the anti-­protestant apologetics, either emphasize the exterior and visible character of the Church, or search for a counterpoint in “spiritualism”, to the politicizing of the State or the “world”’.13 But what does, after all, constitute the core of the historical problem of the Church’s ‘visibility’ which Carl Schmitt focuses on in the above mentioned essay? To answer this question, it is necessary to situate Schmitt’s antiprotestant apologetic in a simultaneously vaster and more concrete epochal context, unfolding it, first, in the problem of the relation of Christianity with the political sphere in the new institutional configuration founded by Weimar Republic and, then, in the theologico-political questions which emerge with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Besides Rudolph Sohm, with whom Schmitt openly polemicizes in The Visibility of the Church, it is Adolf von Harnack who is the great historian of the Church and Lutheran theologian, author of a monumental Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (1889–1900) and of a collection of sixteen conferences about Christianity given at the University of Berlin during 1899–1900, and edited in book form as Das Wesen des Christentums. In my point of view, Carl Schmitt’s entire argumentative structure in The Visibility of the Church is a detailed reply to the way in which Adolf von Harnack presents and criticizes Roman Catholicism use of the Gospel: What modifications has the Gospel here undergone, and how much of it is left? Well, — this is not a matter that needs many words, the whole outward and visible institution of a Church claiming divine dignity has no foundation whatever in the Gospel. It is a case, not of distortion, but of total perversion. Religion has here strayed away in a direction that is not its own. […] To contend, as it does, that Christ founded a kingdom; that this kingdom is the Roman Church; that he equipped it with a sword, nay, with two swords, a spiritual and a temporal, is to secularise the Gospel; nor can this contention

 De Certeau, La Fable mystique, 127.


Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


be sustained by appealing to the idea that Christ’s spirit ought certainly to bear rule amongst mankind. The Gospel says, ‘Christ’s kingdom is not of this world’, but the Church has set up an earthly kingdom; Christ demands that his ministers shall not rule but serve, but here the priests govern the world; Christ leads his disciples away from political and ceremonious religion and places every man face to face with God — God and the soul, the soul and its God, but here, on the contrary, man is bound to an earthly institution with chains that cannot be broken, and he must obey; it is only when he obeys that he approaches God. There was a time when Roman Christians shed their blood because they refused to do worship to Caesar, and rejected religion of the political kind; to-day they do not, indeed, actually pray to an earthly ruler, but they have subjected their souls to the despotic orders of the Roman papal king. […] As an outward and visible church and a state founded on law and on force, Roman Catholicism has nothing to do with the Gospel, nay, is in fundamental contradiction with it. That this state has borrowed a divine lustre from the Gospel, and finds this lustre extraordinarily advantageous, cannot avail to upset the verdict.14

After this clarification, we must now mention that it is directly from the work of the protestant Adolf von Harnack that Schmitt receives the concept of a ‘complexio oppositorum’ as a political form of Roman Catholicism. Adolf von Harnack explains: In its organization this Church [Roman Catholicism] possesses a faculty of adapting itself to the course of history such as no other Church possesses; it always remains the same old Church, or seems to do so, and is always becoming a new one. […] Thus arose the astonishing ‘complexio oppositorum’ which we see in Western Catholicism: the Church of rites, of law, of politics, of world-dominion, and the Church in which a highly individual, delicate, sublimated sense and doctrine of sin and grace is brought into play. The external and the internal elements are supposed to unite! To speak frankly, this has been impossible from the beginning; internal tension and conflict were bound to arise at once; the history of Western Catholicism is full of it. Up to a certain point, however, these antitheses admit of being reconciled; they admit of it at least so far as the same men are concerned. That is proved by no less a person than Augustine himself, who, in addition to his other characteristics, was also a staunch Churchman; nay, who in such matters as power and

 Adolf Von Harnack, ‘The Christian Religion in Roman Catholicism’, in What is Christianity? Lectures Delivered in the University of Berlin during the Winter-Term 1899– 1900. XIV and XV Lectures, accessed October 2013, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/harnack/ christianity.pdf, 129–30. 14


António Bento

prestige promoted the external interests of the Church, and its equipment as a whole, with the greatest energy.15

‘Complexio oppositorum’ and ‘visible Church’. As is known, these are two expressions to which Carl Schmitt will try to give a very peculiar meaning in those apologetic texts: The Visibility of the Church and Roman Catholicism and Political Form. In fact, in ‘complexio oppositorum’,16 which, according to Carl Schmitt, characterizes the political form of Roman Catholicism, there is a ‘multilateralism’, an ‘ambiguity’, and even a ‘hermaphroditism’ that reach far beyond any mere effort of a illusory ‘synthesis of antithesis’.17 As Harnack correctly observed, what best characterizes this concept is, without a doubt, its indetermination and ‘elasticity’, its capacity, at last, to give a juridical shape to oppositions. Hence, the reason why Carl Schmitt, giving credit to his astuteness, presents it as the condition of possibility for a juridical theory of representation. Schmitt binds this theory, taking a certain interpretative liberty, a dogmatic theory of decision. In truth, the use Schmitt gives to the notion of ‘complexio oppositorum’ is an ingenious way of transforming the ternary into binary, when, from a strictly theological point of view, the dogmatic truth of incarnation — ‘the most astounding complexio oppositorum’,18 says Schmitt — is nothing other than the very originary structure of ‘­mediation’. Carl Schmitt thus transforms what is originally of the order of mediation into something that is captured and instrumentalized in a pure logic of representation. It remains to be known, however, if the juridical concept of ­representation (binary in its structure) is concomitant to what Schmitt, in The Visibility of the Church, calls ‘the marvellous of this same “mediation”, which constitutes the essence of the Church’.19 Christ, Carl Schmitt argues, is the mediator: only he can validate the invisible in the visible; Christ is rooted in the invisible and yet, manifests in the visible. Therefore, the ‘visibility’ of the Church as ‘visibility’ of the

 Von Harnack, ‘De Christian Religion’, 126 and 128.  Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und Politische Form, 11. 17  Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus, 19. 18  Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus, 24: ‘Das ist wohl die erstaunlichste complexio oppositorum’. 19   Schmitt, ‘The Visibility of the Church: a Scholastic Consideration’, 52: ‘die Grossartige Struktur derselben “Vermittlung” enthält, die das Wesen der Kirche ausmacht’, Schmitt, ‘Die Sichtbarkeit der Kirche. Eine Scholastische Erwägung’, 75. 15 16

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


original mediation of Christ is born of Jesus’ human incarnation. In this way, it can also be said that the Church as an institution is the medium of the conditions of visibility of Jesus’ own incarnation — which Schmitt qualifies as a ‘concrete historical event’.20 The truth is, however, that it is not enough to declare that the ‘visibility’ of the Church is born — directly, magically… — of Christ’s human incarnation. In parallel, that the ‘body of the Church’, similarly to the ‘body of Christ’, makes visible the invisible does not mean the vindication of the visible at any price and without conditions. Let’s recall, in this respect, the words of Carl Schmitt himself: The visibility of the Church is based on something invisible. The concept of the visible Church is itself something invisible. Like all reality, it loses its actuality in relation to God because God is the only true reality. Thus the true visibility of the Church is invisible. There is no invisible Church that is not visible and no visible Church that is not invisible. Thus the Church can be in but not of this world.21

The truth is that we can always put the Schmittian problems of the invisibility of the visible and of the visibility of the invisible in another way: with the mediation of the Church, which is already, in itself, the mediation of a mediation, that is, the mediation of Christ incarnated. The question is not so much to make visible the invisible, but to prevent the complete disappearance of the invisible through the visible. In fact, it is from the mediation of this invisibility — and, in the first place, from the mediation of the invisibility of the ‘body of Christ’ — that the Church acquires all its authority and dogmatic competence. For this reason we can assert that there is not a genuine authority and a specifically ecclesial authority, without some kind of invisibility.22

  Schmitt, ‘De Visibility’, 52. Original:’Die Sichtbarkeit der Kirche. Eine Scholastische Erwägung’, in Summa, 1917, 76. 21   Schmitt, ‘De Visibility’, 52–53. 22  At the same time, the doctrine of the ‘visible Church’ by Erik Peterson — a protestant who converted to Catholicism in 1930 — captures in an accurate and rigorous manner the atmosphere and spirit of the time that mark the theological debates between protestants and Catholics in pre-Hitler Germany: ‘The authority of the Church, which represents Jesus Christ after his ascent, is an authority borrowed from Jesus’. ‘If the Church can represent Christ it’s because Christ is absent and because the Church, in its essence, is visible, as visible as, precisely, the body is visible’. See Erik Peterson, ‘Was ist Theologie?’ [1925], in Ausgewälthe Schriften, Band 1 (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1994), respectively p. 15, footnote 24, and p. 22. Note that it is while he is fighting against Hitlerism that Erik Peterson converts to Catholicism and calls for a ‘visible Church’. 20


António Bento

Finally, we are left with the question of investigating whether the binary of representation can be adjusted to the ternary of mediation, and whether we are speaking of the same Christ when we speak of his identity in the declension of the form of a theological body, or in the form of a juridical person. In our point of view, such an assimilation is only possible with an inadequate and ad hoc use of the concepts, which were made operative outside the scope that determines their semantic validity, respectively theology and jurisprudence. Because there is one thing which is the person of Christ, and another, quite different, which is the body of Christ. Clearly, there is no personification without some type of representation, in the same way that there is no mediation without some type of corporification. Indeed, precisely because it is imminently theological, the language of mediation cannot avoid implying, in one way or another, a being of twinned nature — Christ. The point is that Carl Schmitt claims that the Church ‘represents in every moment the historical connection to the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ. It represents the Person of Christ himself, the God that becomes man in historical reality’.23 From this perspective, it is significant that Carl Schmitt, the jurist, declares that the Church ‘represents “from above”’,24 instead of holding, as would have been fair to expect if he was here presented in the guise of a theologian, that the Church ‘mediates “from above”’. After all, ‘Corpus Ecclesiae Mysticum’ means exactly ‘mediation’. In fact, the Church becomes more ‘visible’ as its performance gets closer to its essence: ‘mediation’. That is perhaps the reason why one should invert Carl Schmitt’s saying and the ‘visibility’ of the Church today demands, not so much ‘the limitations of the pneumatic in the juridical’ (die Einengung des Pneumatischen ins Juridische),25 but precisely the opposite, the limitation or ‘the compression of the juridical in the pneumatic’. Finally, some words regarding the sense of the correspondence between the so-called ‘political theology’ and the Christian model of revelation we know under the term ‘incarnation’. In this respect, it should be referred that without the Christian dogma of ‘incarnation’ (God becoming man), the

 Schmitt, Roman Catholicism, 19.  Schmitt, Roman Catholicism, 59. 25   Schmitt, ‘The Visibility of the Church: a Scholastic Consideration’ [1917], in Roman Catholicism and Political Form, translation by G. L. Ulmen (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1996), 59. 23 24

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


very ‘secularization’ of ‘political theology’, which Carl Schmitt speaks about regarding the conceptual structure of the modern State, would become unintelligible in its most decisive aspects, since the very determination of Carl Schmitt’s ‘political theology’ dips the roots of its theological paradigm in the ‘incarnation’ of Christ as the condition of possibility of the ‘visibility of the Church’ itself. It was left to the French historian Alain Boureau, in his monography about Ernst Kantorowicz, and precisely in a chapter in which the author asks about the possibility of establishing a nexus of relation between Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt’s concepts of ‘political theology’, to affirm with conviction — and in our view, with reason — the following: Between 1952 and 1957, political theology, for Kantorowicz, acquired a vaster sense and doesn’t limit itself to the process of absolutist gathering of the Church’s resources in terms of power; in the long run, it designates, even for Kantorowicz himself, man’s capacity to make alive on earth the cohesion given by a revelation and particularly by the dogma of incarnation, which is itself founding of theology; only a religion of God-man can create a theology, an immanent science of divinity that does not originate from an other (mystical) revelation. In fact, Kantorowicz inverts the sense of the schmittian notion: political theology doesn’t give the authoritarian weapon to profane sovereigns, since they already have it; it makes them play on the basis of the model of incarnation (the co-presence of the immortal and the mortal) to give a thoughtful appearance to their power. Political theology uses the moment of incarnation as a model of a liberating fiction which affirms the inalienable and sacred dignity of man before and beyond his natural existence.26

This sense of causality between, on the one hand, ‘medieval political theology’, to which Ernst Kantorowicz alludes in the subtitle of The King’s Two Bodies, and the Christian model of ‘incarnation’, on the other, leads us to believe that Carl Schmitt’s famous definition, according to which ‘all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts’,27 only acquires its full political meaning in light of the medieval juridical fiction which establishes that the rex iustus governs more angelico. Such a fiction, as Ernst Kantorowicz well observed, is intrinsically connected  Alain Boureau, Histoires d’un historien. Kantorowicz (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1990), 166–67. 27  Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie. Vier Kapitel zur Lehre von der Souveränität [1922] (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1996), 43: ‘Alle prägnanten Begriffe der modernen Staatslehre sind säkularisierte theologische Begriffe’. 26


António Bento

to the medieval image of ‘perfection’ of power, whether that image arises in its ‘spiritualized’ form, or whether in its ‘secularized’ form: Whether the rex iustus or rex angelicus is more workable or less workable than the rex imago Christi or the King as lex animata is, of course, not at all the question, since for a modern ‘political platform’ those ideals are all equally useless. What matters here is the change of the metaphor of ‘Perfection’ which, in the thirteenth century, entered into a new phase: the image of perfection was either spiritualized (rex angelicus, papa angelicus, messianic emperor) or secularized (lex animata, Iustitia animata, Crown, Dignity, etc.), which did not exclude mutual overshadowing. I do not believe that any mediaeval political theory could work without some fiction or some ‘metaphor of perfection’, and there is every reason to wonder whether modern one can.28

In this perspective, and taking into account all that was said before about the ‘incarnation’ and the ‘visibility’ of the Church, perhaps we can dare affirm that if the secularization of the metaphor of political ‘perfection’ already exists in an operative manner in modernity, then perhaps it has its beginning precisely with the primordial dogma of ‘incarnation’. If per chance this hypothesis is revealed to be correct and adequate, then also what we call — not without some ambiguity — ‘secularization of theological concepts’, should coincide exactly with what could perhaps be called the generalized ‘Christianization’ of political power in the West. In other words: ‘all significant concepts of the medieval Christian theology are theologised political concepts’. Ernst Kantorowicz Ernst Kantorowicz’s effort in introducing us in a novel manner to the theological meanderings which presided over the formation and organization of the modern State as we still recognize it today was not of little value. The monumental work that is The King’s Two Bodies remains, in this regard, an irreplaceable guide which will be difficult to surpass. Before we describe the way in which the ecclesiastic and corporatist concept of the Church’s ‘corpus mysticum’ was relocated to the sphere of the State, forming, first, a secular ‘corpus mysticum’ and, later, a proper ‘persona mystica’, we should investigate and clarify the political presuppositions underlying the constitution of the concept of ‘Corpus Ecclesia Mysticum’.  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 144.


Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


This notion has its beginnings in the Unam sanctam bull, synthesized and dogmatized, in 1302, by Pope Boniface VIII: Urged by faith we are bound to believe in one only Church, Catholic and also Apostolic […], without which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins […], which represents one mystical body, the head of which is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.29

For Ernst Kantorowicz, the concept of the Church as ‘corpus Christi’ goes back to Saint Paul. However, the concept of the Church as ‘corpus mysticum Christi’ — the head of which was Christ and the visible head of which was the vicar of Christ, the Roman pontiff — was relatively new in the twelfth century. In fact, until its appearance in the twelfth century, the expression ‘corpus mysticum’ had no trail in the biblical tradition. According to Kantorowicz, the term gained prominence with the controversy about the Eucharist when, in the twelfth century, theologians suggested that the body in which Christ had suffered was his real and proper body (proprium et verum corpus), while the Eucharist was his ‘mystical body’. In this manner, as the real presence of Christ in the sacrament was progressively emphasized — a doctrine that finally culminated in the dogma of transubstantiation of 1215, according to which the Eucharist was officially designated as ‘corpus verum’ —, there occurred the development of the term ‘corpus mysticum’ as designating the Church in its institutional and ecclesiological aspects. We were then at the beginning of the so called ‘secularization’ of the medieval Church, at a critical moment of the history of the Church. Let’s see the way in which Kantorowicz presents the issue: Here then, in the realm of dogma and liturgy, there originated that notion whose universal bearings and final effects cannot easily be overrated. Corpus mysticum, in the language of the Carolingian theologians, referred not at all to the body of the Church, nor to the oneness and unity of Christian society, but to the consecrated host. This, with few exceptions, remained, for many centuries, the official meaning of the ‘mystical body’, whereas the Church or Christian society continued to be known as the corpus Christi in agreement with the terminology of St Paul. It was only in the course of a strange and perplexing development — un curieux chassé-croisé — that finally, around the middle of the twelfth century, those designations changed their meaning. […] That is to say, the Pauline term originally designating the Christian Church now began to designate the consecrated host; contrariwise, the

 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 194.



António Bento

notion corpus mysticum, hitherto used to describe the host, was gradually transferred — after 1150 — to the Church as the organized body of Christian society united in the Sacrament of the Altar. In short, the expression ‘mystical body’, which originally had a liturgical or sacramental meaning, took on a connotation of sociological content. It was finally in that relatively new sociological sense that Boniface VIII defined the Church as ‘one mystical body the head of which is Christ’.30

According to Kantorowicz, it was only at this time that the theologians and the canonists began to distinguish between the ‘Lord’s two Bodies’ — one, the individual ‘corpus verum’ on the Altar, the host; and the other, the collective ‘corpus mysticum’, the Church. This transformation is complex and full of theologico-political subtleties, and a full explanation is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, it was, according to Kantorowicz, Thomas Aquinas who first applied the term ‘mystical body’ to the Church considered as a social phenomenon. In the footsteps of John of Salisbury and Isaac of Stella, the ‘angelic doctor’ compared the ‘corpus mysticum’ to man’s natural body. Although he respects the tradition according to which the mystical body belonged to the liturgical and sacramental sphere and, in this manner opposes the ‘corpus verum’ represented by the consecrated host, Aquinas allows himself a certain interpretative liberty when he speaks of the two bodies of Christ — the true and the mystical — without any reference to the Eucharistic bread. What this interpretation means is that the ‘corpus verum’ gradually stopped signifying exclusively the ‘real presence’ of Christ in the sacrament. In fact, in Kantorowicz’s interpretations of some passages of Summa Theologica, the ‘real body’ of Christ no longer means the Eucharistic Christ on the altar, but Christ as an individual being, physical and incarnate, whose ‘natural body’ was becoming, sociologically, the model of the mystical supra-individual and collective body of the Church. However, the anthropomorphic simile between the Church and its members to a human body was accompanied by an even more specific comparison: the Church as ‘corpus mysticum’ was compared to the individual body of Christ, to his ‘corpus verum’ or ‘natural’. Consequently, the individual natural body of Christ was understood in this anthropomorphic image as an organism acquiring social and corporative functions. The development of this metaphor and the terminological and conceptual transformation that are established in it did not stop here. In fact,

 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 195–96.


Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


­ antorowicz considers that with the elevation (or debasement, depending on K one’s perspective) of the mystical to the juridical, it is the very notion of ‘cor­pus mysticum’ — as until this time a strictly sacramental notion — that is secularized. Now, the political meaning of this ‘secularization’ could only be a desacramentalization or, so to speak, the ‘State-ification’ of Christ’s ‘corpus mysticum’, that goes from being a simple ‘body’ to being a ‘corporation’: Hitherto it had been the custom to talk about the Church as the ‘mystical body of Christ’ (corpus Christi mysticum) which sacramentally alone makes sense. Now, however, the Church, which had been the mystical body of Christ, became a mystical body in its own right. That is, the Church organism became a ‘mystical body’ in an almost juristic sense: a mystical corporation. The change in terminology was not haphazardly introduced. It signified just another step in the direction of allowing the clerical corporational institution of the corpus ecclesiae iuridicum to coincide with the corpus ecclesiae mysticum ant thereby to ‘secularize’ the notion of ‘mystical body’.31

This coincidence between the juridical body of the Church and the mystical body of the Church, that could perhaps be understood — if we want to invert the terms in a formula used by Carl Schmitt in his anti-protestant polemic — as a ‘compression of the juridical into the mystical’,32 was only possible because the previous liturgical concept of ‘corpus mysticum’ had been transformed into a relatively neutral organological or juridical notion. In fact, the French theologian Henri de Lubac, whose study — Corpus mysticum. L’eucharistie et l’Eglise au Moyen Age (1944) — was used profusely by Kantorowicz,33 has called this transformation of the liturgical into the juridical precisely a ‘degeneration’ of the concept of ‘corpus mysticum’, a ‘degeneration’ which he attributes to the strong political influence of the theologians of Pope Boniface VIII: It is known the use — perhaps it should be said the misuse — which, in the field of claims to power, some of the theologians gathered around Boniface VIII will give to the expression [corpus mysticum]. […] However, in

 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 201.   Schmitt, ‘Die Sichtbarkeit der Kirche. Eine Scholastische Erwägung’, 79. The German expression used by Carl Schmitt is ‘die Einengung des Pneumatischen ins Juridische’, that we can translate by ‘the compression of the pneumatic in the juridical’. 33  An excellent evaluation with regard to the history of ideas is owed to Henri de Lubac, Corpus mysticum; in the following pages I have merely ransacked the wealth of his material (much of which was inaccessible to me) and his ideas. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, note 4, 194. 31 32


António Bento

applying in this way to the juridical and social order a word the resonances of which were all ‘mystical’ and spiritual, their doctrine will mark a type of degeneration of corpus mysticum, exposing the ecclesiastic power to the resentments of princes and to the polemics of its theologians.34

However, until that ‘compression of the juridical into the mystical’ became effective and, so to speak, canonical, it was necessary to wait for the twist Aquinas operated onto the liturgical and sacramental aspect that the concept of ‘corpus mysticum’ had acquired since the primitive Christian Church until practically the middle of the thirteenth century, the so called ‘century of legal experts’. As Kantorowicz observes: That last link to the sphere of the altar, however, was severed when Aquinas wrote: ‘It may be said that head and limbs together are as though one mystical person’. Nothing could be more striking than this bona fide replacement of corpus mysticum by persona mystica. Here the mysterious materiality which the term corpus mysticum — whatever its connotations may have been — still harbored, has been abandoned: ‘The corpus Christi has been changed into a corporation of Christ’. It has been exchanged for a juristic abstraction, the ‘mystical person’, a notion reminiscent of, indeed synonymous with, the ‘fictitious person’, the persona repraesentata or ficta, which the jurists had introduced into legal thought and which will be found at the bottom of so much of the political theorizing during the later Middle Ages.35

It is particularly significant that Ernst Kantorowicz, in order to reinforce his thesis, would quote a passage from a work by Rudolph Sohm, Das altkatholische Kirchenrecht und das Dekret Gratians (München and Leipzig, 1908, p. 582). But what does Sohm say, after all, in this short sentence Kantorowicz isolates and quote sin the middle of a commentary to Saint Thomas Aquinas? We have said it: ‘Aus dem Körper Christi hat sich die Kirche in eine Körperschaft Christi verwandelt’. But who is Rudolf Sohm? Sohm is a Lutheran author to whom Carl Schmitt refers to twice in Roman Catholicism and Political Form (1923) — without, however, quoting the above mentioned work — in the following way: i) ‘In opposition to the liberal grounding based on the private, the juridical formation of the Church is public. That also belongs to its representative essence and allows it to embrace the religious, in that regard, also in juridical fashion.

34  Henri de Lubac, Corpus mysticum. L’eucharistie et l’Eglise au Moyen Age [1944] (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2009), 130. 35  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 201–02.

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


Hence the reason a noble protestant, Rudolf Sohm, was able to define the catholic church as something essentially juridical, with which he considered Christian religiosity as essentially juridical’;36 ii) ‘The grand betrayal the Roman Church is accused of is that it does not understand Christ as a private man, and Christianity as a private thing and as a pure interiority, but instead configures a visible institution. Rudolf Sohm thought he recognized original sin in the juridical; others saw it, more grandly and profoundly, in the will for world domination’.37 In a recent study, Jennifer Rust sees in this reference of Rudolf Sohm by Kantorowicz an ‘anti-Schmittian agenda’,38 and a subliminal answer by the author of The King’s Two Bodies to Carl Schmitt’s ‘political theology’. In fact, Rust claims that Sohm, in the part of the text which Kantorowicz quotes, is not referring to Thomas Aquinas, and doesn’t even address the concept of ‘corpus mysticum’ explicitly. Instead, Sohm would have only emphasized the way in which an originarily ‘sacramental’ and ‘mysterious’ Christian church had changed, at the end of the twelfth century, into a structured church like any other secular community. Jennifer Rust argues: Kantorowicz’s citation of Sohm, a controversial figure whom Schmitt sharply critiques at length in several important works in the 1920s, strongly reinforces the notion that in this section of The King’s Two Bodies, as in other places, Kantorowicz is engaged in a subterranean riposte to Schmitt’s account of political theology. While Kantorowicz relies more heavily on a newer, Catholic source unknown to the Schmitt of the twenties to develop his own account of ‘mediaeval political theology’ [the author refers to the work of Henri de Lubac Corpus mysticum. L’eucharistie et l’Eglise au Moyen Age (1944)], the reference to Sohm, a figure vehemently opposed in several ways to Schmitt, reminds us that Schmitt is a long-term target of this account. Kantorowicz is not simply presenting a disinterested history in invoking the name of Sohm, for Sohm enables Kantorowicz to further dissolve Schmitt’s claims for the personalistic authority of the church into matter of mere fictions.39

 Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus und Politische Form, 49.  Schmitt, Römischer Katholizismus, 53–54. 38   Jennifer Rust, ‘Political Theologies of the Corpus Mysticum: Schmitt, Kantorowicz, and de Lubac’, in Political Theology & Early Modernity, edited by Graham Hammill & Julia Reinhard Lupton, with a Postscript by Étienne Balibar (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012), 103. 39  Rust, ‘Political Theologies’, 116. 36 37


António Bento

Kantorowicz’s thesis in The King’s Two Bodies on this particular issue is that with the juridical reformulation of the sacramental basis of the ‘corpus Christi’ the Church becomes a juridical person, no longer being a mere sacramental body. In other words, in reaching for the status of ‘corpus mysticum’, the ‘corpus Christi’ of the High Middle Ages is transformed and, with that transformation, it is the Church itself which, in the Low Middle Ages, is transformed into a ‘persona mystica’. The gradual use of the notion of ‘corpus mysticum’ as synonymous with ‘corpus fictum’, ‘corpus imaginatum’, ‘corpus repraesentatum’ and others similar, paved the way, according to Kantorowicz, towards the description of the Church as a corporation or juridical person: The jurists, thereby, arrived, like the theologians, at a distinction between corpus verum — the tangible body of an individual person — and corpus fictum, the corporate collective which was intangible and existed only as a fiction of jurisprudence. Hence, by analogy with theological usage as well as in contrast with natural persons, the jurists defined their fictional persons, not seldom, as ‘mystical bodies’.40

The practical consequences of this terminological shift are clear for Kantorowicz. To the extent as the Church begins to be considered as a government similar to any secular corporation, it is the very concept of ‘corpus mysticum’ that is loaded with a secular political content. The ‘corpus mysticum’, originally a liturgical concept, which previously signified the Sacrament of the Altar, starts from then on to signify the political body, or the ‘corpus iuridicum’ of the Church, and to be used in the hierarchical Church mainly as a means to exult the Pope’s political position: ‘Just as all the limbs in the body natural refer to the head, so do all the faithful in the mystical body of the Church refer to the head of the Church, the Roman Pontiff ’.41 Steadily, the concept of ‘corpus mysticum’ loses great part of its transcendental meaning, becoming ‘secularized’ and ‘politicized’ by the very Church and from within the Church, until, finally, it becomes a convenient metaphor that the theoreticians of the blooming secular State appropriated, manipulating it, in such a way as to grant the Leviathan institutions with a certain religious aura and magnificence. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has become a convenient and desirable prey to the thought of statesmen, jurists and academics that began, at that time, to build and develop the bases of the new doctrines of emerging secular and territorial States. From the ‘corpus ecclesiae  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 209.  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 203.

40 41

Ernst Kantorowicz and Carl Schmitt


mysticum’ to the ‘corpus reipublicae mysticum’, from the ‘mystical body of the Church’ to the ‘mystical body of the State’, was a short leap. But it was, clearly, a necessary leap and certainly a far-reaching leap, full of consequences. Once the idea of a political community rooted in a ‘mystical body’ was articulated by the Church, all was left for the secular State was to follow up and develop that notion to the extreme, responding through the establishment of a counter-type. Thus, as Kantorowicz significantly observes, the theologico-­ political formula of ‘the mystical body of the Church the head of which is Christ’ was substituted by the juridical formula the ‘mystical body of the respublica the head of which is the Prince’.42 Nevertheless, in spite of the existing analogies between the Church and the State, or in spite of the appropriations of the ecclesial formulas by the State, it is important to clarify that even until the end of the thirteenth century, the idea of a State existing only for itself was a strange idea, an idea without feet to walk on, so to speak. Although Thomas Aquinas used, as an alternative to ‘corpus mysticum’, the expression ‘persona mystica’, already anticipating the substitution of the liturgical nomenclature for the juridical, it will be necessary to wait almost three centuries until the State, namely under the Hobbesian formula of Leviathan, is finally personified. In fact, as Kantorowicz argues, until then the State was not a fictitious person, but an organic or organological whole, and the passage from the ‘corpus mysticum’ of the Church to the ‘persona mystica’ of the State was not free of problems or difficulties: To put it succinctly, the regnum or patria was not ‘personified’ — it was ‘bodified’. Mainly because the state could be conceived of as a ‘body’, could there be constructed the analogy with the mystical body of the Church. The parallel hinged, as it were, upon the word corpus, and not of the word persona, just as the theologians reflected on the duplex corpus Christi, and not on the duplex persona Christi — which would have been Nestorianism anyhow.43

We will conclude by saying that it was not minor the effort of Ernst Kantorowicz when introducing us in an unprecedented way in the theological intricacies that governed the formation and organization of the modern State, as today we can still recognize it in some of its most decisive aspects. The monumental work The King’s Two Bodies remains, as such, an indispensable guide and difficult to overcome.

 Cf. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, p. 261.  Cf. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, pp. 270–71.

42 43

Part Two The Practice: Modes of Transferences and ­Interferences I. Discourses

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century: The Political Theology of Royal ­Wisdom Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña


n 10 August of the year 1023 there was a spectacular meeting of Emperor Henry II (imp. 1002–24) and the French king Robert II the Pious (r. 996–1031) at the village of Mouzon. According to the author of the Gesta episcoporum Cameracensium the magnificence of the event surpassed that of the rulers of Persia and Arabia. The explicit purpose of the meeting was to establish the peace of God in the border regions of Lotharingia and to ensure religious renewal in Christendom,1 matters of deep interest for both rulers. It was their second meeting since they had already met in 1006 near the river Meuse, and it must be said that there are striking similarities in their royal profiles. Indeed, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that both of them epitomized the spirit of eleventh century Christian kingship better than any other ruler. Both of them were widely praised for their personal piety, a reputation of holiness which led Henry II to be canonized and Robert to be remembered as the first French ruler who had the miraculous power of curing scrofula. Both of them received advanced education at an early age and mastered Latin literacy, something which was not common in eleventh century laity. Finally, both of them embodied the Solomonic ideal of the holy wise king, a Carolingian tradition perpetuated after the Year Thousand in the royal courts of Feudal Europe.

  Theo Riches, ‘The Peace of God, the “weakness” of Robert the Pious and the struggle for the German throne, 1023–25’, Early Medieval Europe 18 (2) (2010): 207; see Ingrid Voss, ‘La rencontre entre le roi Robert II et l’empereur Henri II à Mouzon et Ivois en 1023. Un exemple des relations franco-allemandes au Moyen Age’, Annales de l’Est 1 (1992): 3–14. 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 89–110 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111247



Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

According to Ernst  H. Kantorowicz, no medieval political theology could work without some fiction or some ‘metaphor of perfection’, and there is every reason to conclude that the political metaphor of Lady Wisdom (Imago Sapientiae) as both a sign of God’s grace and a dispenser of sapiential royal virtues was a particularly powerful one in the Middle Ages.2 As a matter of fact, sapiential rulership had been since the origins of civilization just one of the many shapes in which sacral authority (priestly or royal) had been embodied. It is true that in Classical Antiquity political wisdom was not always religiously based, but the Early Middle Ages opted for the Platonic sophia and the Solomonic hokhmá as the only sources of Christian sapientia. Until the Western reception of Aristotelian phronesis in the thirteenth century, sapiential kingship was mainly a theological issue. Therefore, we are going to examine the rhetorical and theological topos of sapiential rulership as one of the early medieval embodiments of Christian sacral kingship. It is in this ideological context that we fully understand Georges Duby’s statement about Feudal kingship: ‘The king in the year 1000 had this in common with the bishops: he was sacred. Since the middle of the eighth century, the Frankish king’s body, like the bishop’s, had been impregnated with holy oil. And therefore his spirit was impregnated with sapientia. He was a sage, mysteriously informed of the intentions of the Providence, as one of the oratores’.3 Regarding the role of the ruler’s wisdom and learning in medieval political thought, Anthony Black has coined the expression the sapiential idea and pointed out that ‘the case for giving the wise an important place in government was virtually unanswerable given the belief in rationality endemic in European culture, or at least the literate culture which produced political theory. This belief stemmed from Platonism, Stoicism and their Christianised variations which came to dominate the mental perspectives of late Rome, Byzantium and the Early and High Middle Ages in the West. It was the way to keep the myth of the monarch as the seat of wisdom’.4 But it was the German Historian Wilhelm Berges who first identified the topos and coined to refer to it the concept of Ideal des Gelehrtenkönigs (ideal of the learned kings) in his seminal study of Medieval Mirrors of Princes published in 1938.5 More recent German historiographers have also dealt   See Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña, ‘Imago Sapientiae: los orígenes del Ideal sapiencial medieval’, Medievalismo 7 (1997): 11–39. 3  Georges Duby, The Three Orders. Feudal Society Imagined (Chicago, 1980), 17. 4  Anthony Black, Political Thought in Europe, 1250–1450 (Cambridge, 1992), 160. 5   See Wilhelm Berges, Die Fürstenspiegel des hohen und späten Mittelalters, Schriften der Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 2 (Hannover, 1938). 2

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


with this topos in their works, such as Hans Hubert Anton6 in his study of Carolingian Mirrors of Princes, where he coined for it the German term Sapientiaideals. Other examples are Herbert Grundmann, in his brilliant studies on literacy and Political Thought,7 Fairy Von Lilienfeld in her studies on Lady Wisdom’s iconography,8 and Wolfgang Edelsteinwhile studying Alcuin of York’s epistolary.9 An early medieval ideal with lasting popularity was the cult of King David and King Solomon as biblical models for kingship, and above all for royal wisdom and sanctity. This ideal started with Carolingian mirrors for princes and continued through the centuries until the fourteenth century, when Robert the Wise of Naples was proclaimed the new Solomon. In this regard, Gabor Klaniczay has stressed that ‘at first it was the figure of King David, which was the most prominent among these ideals.10 Subsequently, Solomon got more and more frequently added to him as a second model, joining the appreciation of peacefulness11 and wisdom to the triumphant and victorious image represented by David […] Following models of Late Antiquity (where already Saint Ambrose addressed Theodosius the Great as novus David), Pepin the Short, Charlemagne, Louis the Pious or Alfred the Great were praised for being a new David’.12

  See Hans Hubert Anton, Fürstenspiegel und Herrscherethos in der Karolingerzeit (Bonn, 1968). 7  See Herbert Grundmann, ‘Litteratus-Illitteratus. Der Wald einer Bildungsnorme von Altertum zum Mittelalter ’, Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 40 (1958): 1–42, and ‘SacerdotiumRegnum-Studium. Zur Wertung der Wissenschaft im 13. Jahrhundert’, Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 34 (1951): 5–21. 8   See Fairy Von Lilienfeld, ‘Frau Weisheit ‑ in byzantinischen und karolingischen Quellen des 9. Jahrhunderts ‑ allegorische Personifikation, Hypostase oder Typos?’, in Typus, Symbol, Allegorie, ed. Margot Schmidt, Eichstätter Beitrage, 4 (Ratisbona, 1982), 146–86. 9  See Wolfgang Edelstein, Eruditio und Sapientia: Weltbild und Erziehung in der Karolingerzeit. Untersuchungen zu Alcuins Briefen (Friburg, 1965). 10  Hugo Steger, David rex et Propheta. König David als Vorbildlicher Verkörperung des Herrschers und Dichters im Mittelalter, nach Bilddarstellungen des achten bis zwölften Jahrhunderts (Nürnberg, 1961); Adrian Mettauer, David sanctissimus rex. Ein frühmittelalterliches Herrscher-ideal im Strittpunkt klerikaler und laikaler Interessen, Sonderheft der Deutschen Section der ICLS (Tübingen, 2002), 25–38. 11   Da ei tuo inspiramine cum mansuetudine ita regere populum, sicut Salomonem fecit regnum obtinere pacificum, apud Percy Ernst Schramm, ‘Die Krönung in Deutschland bis zum Beginn des Salischen Hauses (1028)’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte (Kanonistische Abteilung) 24 (1935): 313. 12  Gabor Klaniczay, ‘The Ambivalent Model of Solomon for Royal Sainthood and Royal Wisdom’, in The Biblical Models of Power and Law: Papers of the International Conference, 6


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

After the wide diffusion of the political theology of royal wisdom in Carolingian times, around the year 1000 the quest of sapientia as a required virtue for kings gained new vigour with the emergence of a new wave of authors whose writings focused on this kind of sapiential rhetoric. Let us now consider some of them. Sapiential Rulership in the Ottonian and Salian Reich Although the founder of the Saxon dynasty, Henry I the Folwer refused to be an anointed king, and the Ottonian model of kingship depended heavily on the perception of the rex Teutonicorum as a sacral figure, a perception that the Ottonian rulers assiduously cultivated. Above all, according to this model, ‘sacral kingship provided the Ottonian kings with the means to cultivate and then represent consensus among the aristocrats upon whose support royal rule depended’.13 Ecclesiastical ideals also determined the Salian concept of royal authority. The image of the king as the representative of Christ (vicarius Christi) ‘was of central importance in Salian royal theology’.14 The idea of the emperor as Christ’s deputy on earth was central to the Salian rituals of kingship, the ceremonial processions and crown-wearings on the great feast-days of the Christian year, and central to the liturgical celebration of kingship, the laudes regiae, the triumphal hymns applauding the victory of Christ and the victories of the Christian ruler.15 Ottonian and Salian Sacral kingship was also expressed in the Davidic and Solomonic images of rulership that we find in the writings of the court intellectuals. For instance, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, who professed in an abbey patronized by the Ottonians, praised Otto the Great as a new David and his son, Otto II, as ‘our Solomon’ (Salomon noster).16 ed. I. Biliarsky et al. (Frankfurt, 2008), 75–76; Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton, 1957), 81. 13  David  S. Bachrach, ‘Exercise of royal power in early medieval Europe: the case of Otto the Great’, Early Medieval Europe 17 (4) (2009): 395. On this point, see Gerd Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale: Symbolik und Herrschaft in Mittelalter (Darmstadt, 2003), 71–76; and Hagen Keller, ‘Ritual, Symbolik und Visualisierung in der Kultur des ottonischen Reiches’, Frühmittelalterliche Studien 35 (2001): 23–59. 14  Ian S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany (1056–1106) (Cambridge, 1999), 13–14. 15  Robinson, Henry IV, 14. 16  Hrosvitha of Gandersheim, Gesta Ottonis, Prologus, in Opera omnia, edited by W. Berschin (Munich, 2001), 275; Klaniczay, The Ambivalent Model, 77.

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


In the following century Abbot Bern of Reichenau and other authors compared Henry  III to King David. Such Davidic royal images were not new, of course, for they appeared already in Merovingian and Carolingian sources, yet, as Stefan Weinfurter has pointed out, ‘their increased frequency in reference to Henry III is striking’.17 Indeed, David’s kingship associated the Salian ruler with the royal house of Christ, and just as David in his person had preceded Christ, the German Emperor now appeared as a postfiguration, as an imitatio of Christ. Such allusions became even more obvious when Henry III ended the papal schism during his stay at Rome in 1046.18 How far this sapiential image conformed to reality is another matter. Yet, in my view, convincing arguments can be mustered for a pragmatic down-to-earth dimension of this wisdom theology. Time and again the documents which record the German kings` actions show them as conscious promoters of learning and education, being that statesmanship and not just gesture-making. Indeed, The Ottonian-founded and Salian-sponsored system of cathedralschool education was the most important element in the process of civilizing Germany in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The founding of this system is traceable to an Ottonian remarkable for his learning, his pedagogy, and his statesmanship, Brun of Cologne.19 Stephen Jaeger has pointed out that Brun of Cologne ‘had a pedagogic bent that made itself felt in the documentary style of Otto’s administration and, if we are to believe his biographer, in the intellectual life of the court itself. Under his influence the court was transformed into a kind of school of philosophy and the liberal arts’.20 Stephen Jaeger’s study encourages us to see the Ottonian system of education as the most important element in the process of civilizing Germany in the tenth century: ‘The educational goal of the cathedral schools was no longer the training of clerics in pastoral duties but rather the training of talented young men, noblemen close to the king above all, for state administration. Here a humanistic education became an essential part of preparation for service to the Empire’.21   Stefan Weinfurter, The Salian Century. Main currents in an Age of transition (Philadelphia, 1999), 89; see Paul Gerhard Schmidt, ‘Heinrich III. Das Bild des Herrschers in der Literatur seiner Zeit’, Deutsches Archiv 39 (1983): 582–90. 18  Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 89. 19   Stephen Jaeger, The Origins of Courtliness. Civilizing Trends and the Formation of Courtly Ideals (939–1210) (Philadelphia, 1985), 8. 20  Jaeger, The Origins of Courtliness, 4; see Josef Fleckenstein, ‘Königshof und Bischofschule unter Otto den Grossen’, Archiv für Kulturgeschichte 38 (1956): 38–62. 21  Jaeger, The Origins of Courtliness, 5. 17


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

However, there is no comparable evidence, as far as the Ottonian rulers are concerned, for the exercise of royal patronage such as we have for the Carolingian rulers.22 Rosamond McKitterick has pointed out that ‘for the Carolingians the patronage of book production and intellectual culture was primarily for the promotion of their royal power as Christian kings and for the consolidation of the Christian faith by disseminating the key texts on which that faith was based. By contrast, no such motives are as yet discernible in relation to the Ottonian rulers, despite the political inspiration provided for the Ottonian rulers by their Carolingian predecessors’.23 Not until the very end of the tenth century can a group of manuscripts be associated with an Ottonian ruler with any certainty. From the very last years of Otto  III’s reign we have the famous quartet of codices, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 4453 (Gospels), Bamberg Staatsbibliothek Bibl. 22 (Song of Songs, Proverbs of Solomon, glossed Book of Daniel) and 76 (glossed Book of Isaiah) and Lit. 5 (Troper), all produced by scribes and artists trained at Reichenau. These are thought to have been made for Otto’s personal use. The same atelier went on, producing for Otto’s successor, Henry II, the Gospels, the Pericopes and the Bamberg Apocalypse.24 Rosamond McKitterick’s conclusion sharply remarks on the poverty of Ottonian cultural patronage: ‘there is no systematic patronage of particular centres, no group of scholars associated with the court, no royal role in the dissemination of particular texts, no cultivation of contemporary scholarship, no court atelier, no sign even of occasional sponsorship of individual scholars or craftsmen […] It would perhaps seem unfair to set the Ottonian rulers against the Carolingian yardstick were it not for the facts, first of all that Charlemagne himself was regarded, at least by Otto III, as a model for the exercise of kingship and, secondly, that comparable resources to those enjoyed by the Carolingian rulers were available to the Ottonians […] Nevertheless it is clear that, apart from the personal intellectual interests of Otto III, we must look elsewhere for developments in Ottonian culture’.25 There are, however, some nuances that should be introduced regarding this view of the apparent cultural shortcomings of Ottonian kingship. First of all, we must take into consideration the contrast, notwithstanding the

 Rosamond McKitterick, ‘Ottonian intellectual culture in the tenth century and the role of Theophanu’, Early Medieval Europe 2 (1) (1993), 55. 23  McKitterick, Ottonian intellectual culture, 57. 24  McKitterick, Ottonian intellectual culture, 59. 25  McKitterick, Ottonian intellectual culture, 62–63. 22

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


similarity of the available resources mentioned by McKitterick, between the general cultural context in the ninth century and the darkness of the following ‘Iron century’. Undoubtedly, Ottonian rulers were very much restricted in their patronage of learning and the arts by the general conditions of the age. In my judgment, it seems a fairer assessment to say that the Ottonian patronage of culture, being clearly inferior to that of the Carolingians, was highly significant if we compare it with the rest of royal-sponsored cultural activity of the century. This idea is also applicable to the Salian emperors of the eleventh century. Otto II (imp. 973–83), though not a scholar-king, was a fervent participant in philosophical and theological debates, having moderated an important scholarly disputation held at Ravenna in which Gerbert of Aurillac outshone his rival. According to Oscar Darlington, Otto II had ‘a profound respect for learning. In his erratic and futile effort to become a second Charlemagne, a goal at which his father had aimed before him, almost no mark of character could appeal to him so profoundly as that of scholarship’.26 His son, Otto III (imp. 983–1002), was tutored in Greek by a Byzantine cleric and grammarian, Johannes Philagathos (c. 945–1001), later promoted to the chancellorship of Italy and even to the papacy as Antipope John XVI.27 Later on, in 997, the most learned man of the Latin West, Gerbert of Aurillac, entered the imperial circle as Otto III’s tutor and expanded the young emperor’s familiarity with a range of foundational works of Ancient Roman philosophy and history.28 A further potential source of information concerning Otto III’s sapiential profile is to be found in the large number of books which Florentine Mutherich has suggested was once part of Otto III’s personal library.29 The forty-four books she discusses reflect Otto’s education and intellectual tastes, being a ‘wonderfully diverse and scholarly collection’.30 The last Ottonian Emperor, Henry II (imp. 1002–24), was one of the few medieval German rulers who took a personal interest in biblical e­ xegesis: ‘originally headed of a career in the Church, he had studied in the cathedral school at Hildesheim, not far from Magdeburg, where he would have

 Darlington, Gerbert, obscuro loco, 512.  Gerd Althoff, Otto III (University Park, Pa., 2003), 50, 55–56 and 73–75. 28   Percy E. Schramm, Kaiser, Rom und Renovatio (Darmstadt, 1957), 97–99. 29   Florentine Mütherich, ‘The library of Otto III’, in The Role of the Book in Medieval Culture, ed. P. Ganz (Turnhout, 1986), 11–26. 30  McKitterick, Ottonian intellectual culture, 61. 26 27


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

a­ cquired at least a passing knowledge of rhetoric, grammar, theology and canon law’.31 Henry  II was also said ‘to have been an admirer of St  Ambrose and was  familiar with Gregory the Great’s Moralia’.32 Indeed, so accomplished  was Henry  II’s mastery of Latin ‘that he could dictate his own ­diplomata and play practical jokes on members of the clergy whose linguistic skills were of a distinctly lesser order’.33 As an example of these concerns it was said that Henry II did take pleasure in making Bishop Meinwerk of Paderborn look ridiculous for his deficient knowledge of Latin at a public celebration of Mass.34 Regarding the Salians, it has been pointed out that ‘each of these monarchs was noted for an educational level far above that of most contemporary rulers; each was noted for an interest in church art, architecture, and building programmes; each was noted for a concern with scrupulous legality in their actions; each was recorded by their contemporaries as personally pious’.35 Further, Stefan Weinfurter has stressed that ‘the spiritual and scholarly interests that bonded the king to his chaplains and other men in his following had a far-reaching impact and were instrumental in transforming the court in the intellectual centre of the realm’.36 As stated before, Charlemagne’s was one of the most influential sapiential images of royal power offered as a model in the Saxon chronicles of the Tenth Century. In his Res Gestae Saxonicae, Widukind of Corvey acclaimed Charlemagne as a rex fortissimus who was also a seeker of wisdom (non minori sapientia vigilabat) and ‘the most prudent of the mortal men of the age’.37

31  David A. Warner, ‘Saints, Pagans, War and Rulership in Ottonian Germany’, in Plenitude of Power. The Doctrines and Exercises of Authority in the Middle Ages, ed. R.  C. Figueira (Aldershot, 2006), 29; Stefan Weinfurter, Heinrich  II (1002–1024) - Herrscher am Ende der Zeiten (Regensburg, 1999), 25–26; Hartmut Hoffmann, Mönchskönig und ‘rex idiota’: Studien zur Kirchenpolitik Heinrichs  II. und Konrads  II., M.  G.  H. Studien und Texte, 8 (Hannover, 1993), 117–20. 32  Warner, Saints, Pagans, War, 29. 33  Warner, Saints, Pagans, War, 29; Hartmut Hoffmann, ‘Eigendiktat in den Urkunden Ottos III. und Heinrichs II.’, Deutsches Archiv 44 (1988): 390–423, at 402–10. 34  Horst Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages (c.  1050–1250) (Cambridge, 1986), 39. 35   James  H. Forse, ‘Bruno of Cologne and the Networking of the Episcopate in TenthCentury Germany’, German History 9 (3) (1991): 269. 36  Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 98. 37   Magnus vero Karolus cum esset regum fortissimus, non minori sapientia vigilabat. Enimvero considerabat, quia suis temporibus omni mortali prudentior erat, finitimam gentem nobilemque

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


The specters of both the Constantinian imperial ideal and Charlemagne’s own reputation as the Germanic political successor to a Roman legacy informed the appearance of Otto III’s ritual discovery of Charlemagne’s tomb at Pentecost in the Year Thousand, which he performed in direct imitation of Augustus’ own invention of Alexander the Great’s grave. This highly symbolic ceremony is undoubtedly an indication of the lengths to which Otto III would go in order to display his internalization of antique history and his concomitant embodiment of imperial ideals.38 Certainly, the ritual context of the opening of Charlemagne’s tomb enfolded Otto III more completely into a legendary and theological structure that had the potential, over time, to bring him ever closer to the political and spiritual exemplars, particularly the Frankish Emperor. In fact, the Ottonian own histories provided this Pentecost celebration with a meaningful narrative that linked the imperial restoration of the tenth century with the Roman and Carolingian ones.39 Further, I would like to note that, not incidentally, in Ottonian Germany we find again a powerful discourse on royal virtues which stresses overall wisdom and prudence. To take one example, Widukind, one of the main chroniclers of the Ottonian age, claimed that prudence was the virtue in which excelled Henry I the Fowler, first king of the House of Saxony: proficiebat praecellenti prudentia.40 Indeed, Henry’s prudence and counsel was noticed by his father when he was still a young man.41 Interestingly enough, Henry is portrayed by Widukind as a pacifier ruler (Rex pacificus), who brought peace to Germany through his royal prudence. When Henry became King of Germany, he is said to have ‘completely exalted royal dignity with his great wisdom and prudence’ (ingenti prudentia sapientiaque).42 vano errore retineri non oportere (Widukind of Korvey, Res Gestae Saxonicae, I, 15, ed. P. Hirsch and H. E. Lohmann, M. G. H. Scriptores, 60 (Hannover 1935), 425. 38  Eliza Garrison, ‘Otto  III at Aachen’, Peregrinations (2010): 114; G.  Althoff, Otto  III, 148–52. 39  Garrison, Otto III at Aachen, 136. 40   Qui cum primaeva aetate omni genere virtutum vitam suam ornaret, de die in diem proficiebat praecellenti prudentia (Widukind of Korvey, Res Gestae Saxonicae, I, 17, M.G.H. Scriptores, 425). 41   Nam maximum ei ab adolescentia studium erat in glorificando gentem suam et pacem confirmando in omni potestate sua. Pater autem videns prudentiam adolescentis et consilii magnitudinem, reliquit ei exercitum et militam adversus Dalamantiam (Widukind of Korvey, Res Gestae Saxonicae, I, 17, M.G.H. Scriptores, 425). 42   Et cum ingenti polleret prudential sapientiaque […] regiae dignitati omnem addends decorum (Widukind of Korvey, Res Gestae Saxonicae, I, 39, M.G.H. Scriptores, 435).


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

In his Antapodosis, Liudprand of Cremona also described King Henry as ‘both mighty in knowledge (scientia) and abundantly endowed with the severity it takes for fair judgement’.43 According to Liudprand, these virtues moved King Conrad  I to choose him as his successor. Further, when confronted in battle by Duke Arnulf of Bavaria and the two armies stood ready to battle, Henry I, ‘as a wise and God-fearing man’ (vir sapiens et Dei timens) wanted to avoid damage and bloodshed and asked Arnulf to speak with him alone.44 The Bavarian Duke understood this request as an invitation for a duel and came to the designated place ready to fight. Yet, impressed by Henry I’s words, Arnulf peacefully returned to his own men and recognized the rightfulness of Henry’s claim to the German throne.45 In Antonio Grabowski’s words, Liutprand wanted ‘to build an image of exemplary ideal ruler, so instead of a fight, we can read a moving speech that glorifies Henry even more than heroic fight with an enemy could have’.46 Therefore, according to Liudprand’s narrative, the Liudolfingian dynasty owed its good fortune primarily to royal scientia and eloquentia. Henry accession to the throne was not an exercise of Saxon military might but of his ‘mighty knowledge’. This is an image of royal wisdom which Liudprand did not hesitate to apply even to illiterate Ottonian rulers such as Henry the Fowler. In Gerbert of Aurillac’s introduction to his Libellus de rationali et ratione uti, written during the winter of 997–98, Gerbert surpassed himself as both a royal encomiast and a theorist of sapiential rulership. This is the last bit of writing extant which he addressed to Otto III and it fittingly holds its place at the height of the crescendo of sapiential discourse. Gerbert began in the following manner: While we were tarrying in Germany during the warmer season of the year, occupied with imperial duties, as we always are and always shall be, I  do not know what of secret import your divine mind, meditating silently with itself, may release in words when the spirit moves; and what things written

  Is enim est et scientia pollens et iustae severitatis censurae habundans (Liutprand of Cremona, Antapodosis, II, 20, ed. P.  Chiesa, Turnhout (1998), 43); Antoni  T. Grabowski, ‘The duel between Henry I and Arnulf of Bavaria according to Liudprand of Cremona’, in Konfliktbewältigung und Friedensstiftung im Mittelalter, ed. R. Czaja et al. (Torun, 2012), 388. 44   Cum que in eo esset ut bellum pariter inire deberent, sicut vir sapiens et Dei timens rex Heinricus (Liutprand of Cremona, Antapodosis, II, 21, 44; A. T. Grabowski, The duel, 392). 45  Grabowski, The duel, 392 and 399. 46  Grabowski, The duel, 400. 43

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


by Aristotle and the greatest men in extremely difficult sentences, your godlike intellect might bring forth into the light of ordinary understanding so that, between the intervals of wars which were under way against the Slavs, it should be remarkable that anyone of mortal birth could have such mental resources from which knowledge should flow forth as keen and as clear as indeed from the purest fountain […] Ours, ours is the Roman Empire. Fruitful Italy produces the resources of food. Gaul and Germany, likewise fruitful, offer us a supply of soldiers, nor do we lack the most valiant realms of Scythia. You are our Caesar, emperor of the Roman Empire, and, Augustus, you who sprang from the very best blood of the Greeks, you surpass the Greeks in empire, you govern the Romans by hereditary right and you outstrip them both in natural capacity and eloquence.47

A similar usage of sapiential royal eulogies is found in the Historiae written by one of Gerbert’s disciples, the monk Richer of Reims, concretely in his account of the disputation between Gerbert and the Saxon schoolmaster Otric of Magdeburg before the court of Otto II at Ravenna in 981. Shortly after his account of the disputation, Richer lauds the newly crowned emperor Otto II for his learning, drawing particular attention to his skill at disputation: ‘He was a man characterised by great intellectual ability and the possession of every virtue, and renowned for his knowledge of the liberal arts, to the point that when engaging in a disputation he could state propositions in accordance with the rules of the art and draw readily believable conclusions’.48 This sapiential discourse on kingship also pervaded the Ottonian rulers’ epistolary. Otto III addressed Gerbert of Aurillac with a famous letter, written in the latter part of 997, full of sapiential rhetoric: To Gerbert, the most erudite of teachers, laureate in the three branches of philosophy, Otto writes as to himself. Our wish is that the excellence of your most affectionate devotion be joined with us for the veneration of all and we make our own the unfailing steadfastness of so worthy a patron, because the high erudition of your teaching has always seemed to our unlettered mind a power by no means to be disdained. In short, doing away with all circumlocution, we delight in discussing the simple truths with you […] We desire you 47  Gerbert of Aurillac, Libellus de rationali et ratione uti, prologue; Darlington, Gerbert, obscuro loco, 518. 48  Richer of Reims, Historiae, III, 67: Vir magni ingenii totiusque virtutis, liberalium litterarum scientia clarus, adeo ut in disputando ex arte et proponeret, et probabiliter concluderet; Justin C. Lake, ‘Truth, plausibility, and the virtues of narrative at the Millennium’, Journal of Medieval History 35 (2009): 229–30.


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

to remove our Saxon crudeness and call forth our Greek subtlety with all the more earnestness because if there is a spark of the Greek genius to be found in us, it is you who will rekindle it. Accordingly, we ask in humble prayers that by putting the flaming torch of your learning to our little flame, you may, with God’s help, revive the lively genius of the Greeks and teach us your book of Arithmetic so that, fully instructed in its lessons, we may understand something of the subtlety of the ancients. May your paternal wisdom not defer announcing to us by letter what you are pleased or not pleased to do about this proposal.49

In connection to the visionary Temple of Wisdom, one of the sapiential topoi we find in Late Antique and Carolingian texts, attention has been called to a miniature of an earlier date showing an Ottonian emperor as mediators in legal matters. The miniature is found in the magnificent Gospelbook which Emperor Henry II, in 1022 or 1023, donated to the Abbey of Monte Cassino.50 Where a representation of St John would be expected, the miniature shows instead a full-page image of the emperor with a number of personifications. It is a highly political and legal-philosophical picture. In the centre, within a big circle the emperor in enthroned in full regalia. In the upper corners we recognize iustitia and pietas; to the right and left, placed in smaller circles, are sapientia and prudentia, attendants and throne companions of kingship since earliest times. Henry II’s will, however, is directed by inspiration from above. In the circle above the emperor’s head we recognize the Holy Spirit descending from heaven in the shape of the dove, the symbol also of divine Wisdom.51 As Ernst Kantorowicz has pointed out, ‘in this scene of judgment Henry II clearly functions as mediator between divine Reason and human law. But, as behoves an Ottonian prince, the emperor’s mediatorship is expressed liturgically, that is, by the epiklesis of the Spirit […] The picture’s language is theological, and not jurisprudential: the emperor is mediator and executor of the divine will through the power of the Holy Spirit, and not

 Darlington, Gerbert, obscuro loco, 517–18. This unconventional letter ended with some Latin verses composed by Otto himself: Versus numquam conposui, / Nec in studio habui. / Dum in usu habuero, / Et in eis viguero, / Quot habet viros Gallia, / Tot vobis mittam carmina (‘Verses never have I made, nor thought them well within my power. When, however, I gain skill and become adept at versifying, I shall send you poems many, as many as Gaul counts men of prowess’). 50  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 113. 51  Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 114. 49

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


through the secular spirit of legal science’.52 Therefore, to bring it to a simple formula: the Ottonian sapiential discourse had to do more with royal wisdom (sapientia) than with royal science (eruditio) or even personal literacy. In contrast with the last Ottonians, the first ruler of the Salian Age, Conrad  II, was completely illiterate. He did not even know the letters of the alphabet and the Italian Chronicon Novalicense describes him as a Rex idiota (that is, an illiterate ruler).53 Yet, the latest biographer of Conrad II, Herwig Wolfram, has underlined the ‘overpowering symbolism’ of the Imperial Crown commissioned by the first Salian ruler (probably using a previous Ottonian fabric). This crown displays four plates interspersed between the jewels: two of them depict King David and King Solomon, and a third one represents a figure of a enthroned Christ supported by an inscription: Per me reges regnant (‘By me kings reign’; Prov. 8:15).54 This is, of course, the famous saying of Lady Wisdom putting the source of royal legitimacy in the gifts of Divine Sapientia. The fact that such a remarkable insigne of Salian imperial sovereignty was linked to this sapiential principle of legitimacy, be that of Ottonian origin or not, is remarkable to say the least. How far this image conformed to reality is another matter. There is every indication, however, that Conrad  II’s son and successor, Henry  III (imp. 1039–56), was indeed a cultivated prince. He was portrayed by many sources not only as a Davidic ruler but also as a Solomonic lover of wisdom. He was praised by the court chaplain Wipo as a bookish and learned king, a rex peritus,55 in spite of his youth (he came to the throne at the age of twentytwo and died when he was thirty-nine). Other contemporary sources tell us that ‘Henry III often joined the clergy at court in reading the Scriptures or in pursuing learned discussions’.56 Furthermore, according to the Augsburger

 Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, 114–15.   Per omnia litterarum inscius atque idiota (Chronicon Novaliciense, app. 17, M.  G.  H. Scriptores, VII, 128); James W. Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity in the Middle Ages (New York, 1960), 88. 54  Herwig Wolfram, Conrad  II, 990–1039. Emperor of Three Kingdoms (Pennsylvania University, 2006), 150–51. 55   Haec operam dederat, quod rex in lege studebat; / Illa sibi libros persuasserat esse legendos, / Ut varios ritus diiudicet arte peritus (Wipo, Tetralogus, Carmen Legis, vv. 158–62, M. G. H. Scriptores, XI, 250; Fuhrmann, Germany in the High Middle Ages, 39; Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 88). 56  Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 97. 52 53


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

Annals, Henry III’s enthusiasm for learning and active promotion of the arts and sciences led to a flourishing intellectual life in Germany.57 His unfortunate son and successor, Henry  IV (imp. 1056–1106), was also described as a wise ruler in some German sources. This is the sapiential obituary of Henry IV in the Chronica imperatorum dedicated to Henry V by bishop Otto of Bamberg (c.  1112/3): ‘Like his father, he wished to have clerks at his side, especially those who were learned. He treated them honourably and spent his time amicably among them, sometimes in singing psalms, sometimes in reading or conversation or in discussion of the Scriptures or the Liberal Arts’.58 Moreover, the Anonymous Vita Heinrici IV presented the Salian ruler as someone ‘who sometimes bore the character of an emperor, sometimes that of a mere knight, providing, in the first instance, a model of dignified behaviour and, in the second a model of humility. He presented such a subtle intellect and such great wisdom that he could resolve judicial and political problems that defeated the ingenuity of the princes’.59 Certainly, as happens to be with his father, these sapiential eulogies have to be connected with the emperor’s personal piety, which was also remarkable despite his memorable struggle with the Papacy.60 Bishop Otto of Bamberg’s biographer, Ebbo of Michelsberg, described how the emperor ‘spent his time with (bishop Otto), apart from all the rest, singing psalms whenever he could escape from business’. Indeed, Otto of Bamberg earned the emperor’s gratitude by providing a new binding for his psalter after the old cover was worn-out by constant use.61

57  Weinfurter, The Salian Century, 97. For instance, at the emperor’s suggestion Master Ebbo of Worms, a member of the royal chapel, assembled a collection of songs which apparently were designed for recitation at court. These songs — as has been determined — constituted the core of the famous Carmina Cantabrigensia. 58   Chronica Imperatorum (Anonymous of Bamberg), III, 1106, 244; I. S. Robinson, Henry IV, 345. 59   Vita Heinrici IV, c. 1, 11–12; I. S. Robinson, Henry IV, 345–46. 60  On this, see H.  L. Mikoletzky, ‘Der fromme Kaiser Heinrich  IV.’, Mitteilungen für Osterreichische Geschichtsforschung 68 (1960): 250–65. 61  Ebbo of Michelsberg, Vita Ottonis Babenbergensis, I, 6, 826–27; Robinson, Henry IV, 352.

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


Sapiential Rulership in Early Capetian France The maintenance of the Carolingian tradition of sacral kingship was one of the main aims of the early Capetians, devoid as they were of real political power. In order to obtain the royal auctoritas of their prestigious predecessors the Capetian kings found a new source of image-making in the monastic reform movement inspired by Cluny. Hugh Capet extended his father’s role as protector and reformer of monasticism by cementing a friendship with Saint Odilo of Cluny. Particularly linked to the new royal dynasty was the abbey of Fleury, a house under Cluniac protection since the 930s. And it was precisely at the abbey of Fleury that a new vision of Christian kingship, influenced by that of Anglo-Saxon monasticism, was systematically expressed around the topos of royal sanctity.62 Firstly by the greatest of Fleury’s abbots, Abbo (ab. 988–1004), who authored an influential account of the martyrdom of the Anglo-Saxon king Edmund of East Anglia (d. 869), and later by the monk Helgaud when he wrote a royal ‘hagiography’ of a Capetian king, the Epitoma Vitae Rodberti Piis (‘Life of King Robert the Pious’).63 Both of these texts, the Passio Sancti Edmundi and the Vita Rodberti, re-imagined Christian kingship portraying rulers as holy men more akin to praying monks than to warring laymen.64 Helgaud’s openly hagiographical rendering of Robert the Pious’s life (reg. 996–1031) is in fact ‘an account of his private life and, as presented, this is almost exclusively his religious life’.65 All is told in anecdotal fashion, with no sense of chronology or secular political history. It was entirely conservative in following Old Carolingian traditions to fuse a Frankish ruler with the Old Testament David. In this regard, it has been argued by Claude Carozzi that Helgaud was consciously harking back to Carolingian ideals in order to legitimize the new Capetian dynasty.66 Yet, as Jean Dunbabin has pointed

  Frederic S. Paxton, ‘Abbas and Rex: Power and Authority in the Literature of Fleury, 987– 1044’, in The Experience of Power in Medieval Europe, 950–1350, ed. R. F. Berkhofer III et al. (Aldershot, 2005), 198–200. 63   Jean Dunbabin, France in the Making (Oxford, 1985), 134. 64  Paxton, Abbas and Rex, 199–203 and 211–12. 65   Joel T. Rosenthal, ‘Edward the Confessor and Robert the Pious: 11th-Century Kingship and Biography’, Mediaeval Studies 33 (1971): 12. 66  Claude Carozzi, ‘La vie du roi Robert par Helgaud de Fleury: historiographie et hagiographie’, Annales de Bretagne et des pays de l’ouest 87 (1980): 222. 62


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

out, Helgaud of Fleury also innovated by truly making King Robert ‘a saint of the Church’,67 changing therefore the very image of kingship in France. From this Davidic confusion of identities the French king: [E]merged if not quite a saint, then at least as a miracle-worker. The water used for washing the royal hands cured a beggar of his blindness; when Robert II signed the sick with the cross, their pain abated. Thus in a passage designed to illustrate the king’s piety and humility, almost without emphasis, Helgaud laid the foundation of the legend which one day would attribute to the French kings the power of curing scrofula. So the monastic contribution to Capetian propaganda created a new figure in royal iconography: the holy man.68

This was a real ideological ‘revolution’, coetaneous with the birth of ‘Feudalism’ in France, if we are to give credit to Frederic Paxton’s judgement: ‘Penitent, humble and Christ-like, the king of the Franks is the servant of God’s people, above all the monks  […] Thus, even as distorted by the different lenses of biographical and hagiographical convention, there was something revolutionary about the images of abbatial and royal power and authority in the literature of Fleury’.69 ‘No simple elaboration of Robert’s secular triumphs — Joel Rosenthal points out — no matter how well edited and hyperbolically presented, could have carried the weight to match this appeal to a higher set of standards, the saintly ones. The holy king was always more impressive, by the standards of the mid-eleventh century, than the real ling. The former was something no other layman could aspire to, regardless of wealth or power. Royal biography was here written as propaganda of the most pregnant sort. It exalted the man, the office, and the dynasty’.70 Indeed, according to Helgaud of Fleury, King Robert was by nature gentle and humble, pious and virtuous, an affable man, a friend of the poor. Imitating King David (exemplo beati David), he did not hesitate to undertake public penance for his incestuous marriage to Bertha, and through his public grief ‘he made of his confession an example for all time (testimonium in perpetua secula)’.71 He made his palace a place of religious seclusion, where  Dunbabin, France in the Making, 135.  Dunbabin, France in the Making, p. 135. On the origins of thaumaturgic kingship in France found here, see Marc Bloch, Les Rois Thaumaturges (Paris, 1923), 36–40. 69  Paxton, Abbas and Rex, 212. 70  Rosenthal, Edward the Confessor, 14. 71  Helgaud of Fleury, Epitome Vitae Regis Rotberti Pii, ed. R.-H. Bautier and G. Labory, Vie de Robert le Pieux, Sources d’histoire médiévale, 1 (Paris, 1965), 94–96; Sarah Hamilton, ‘A 67 68

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


he conducted the matins and vespers in his royal robes. Thus, if we are to believe his biographer, Robert II was indeed a genuine Dei amicus, a Benedictine monk on the throne.72 But significantly enough, Helgaud also described Robert II’s magnificent education, and related that he had studied with Gerbert of Aurillac at the cathedral school of Reims.73 In fact, Robert the Pious is the only Capetian king to whom we can definitely attribute full Latin literacy before the reign of Louis VII (r. 1137–80).74 He was also musically inclined, and he is said to have enjoyed choral music. Having studied with the greatest mind in tenth century Europe, the Capetian ruler was ‘knowledgeable enough to debate the meaning of rhetorical terminology with Adalbero of Laon’.75 Another Cluniac chronicler, Raoul Glaber proclaimed Robert II to be eruditum in the liberal arts and a prudent ruler,76 while Richer of Reims, who knew the king as a fellow student, says that he was ‘well versed in divine and canon law, and applied himself to the liberal arts’.77 Another monk-chronicler, Hariulf of Saint-Riquier, described Robert as ‘a king who never failed to derive solace from books, and even carried them about with him on his travels’.78 However for all this, Helgaud’s is not a wholly realistic portrait, for he was drawing the monkish and sapiential image of the king in his last years when, married to an unbearable wife, he sought consolation in his faith, and looked forward to a world in which his hateful wife, Queen Constance, could no longer trouble him.79 Undoubtedly King Robert was already a cultivated

new model for royal penance? Helgaud of Fleury’s Life of Robert the Pious’, Early Medieval Europe 6 (2) (1997): 189. 72  Rosenthal, Edward the Confessor, 13; Dunbabin, France in the Making, 135. 73  Helgaud of Fleury, Epitome Vitae Regis Rotberti Pii, 60. 74  Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127; Laurent Theis, Robert le Pieux. Le roi de l’an mil (Paris, 1999), 28–29. 75  Lake, Truth, plausibility, 238. 76  Raoul Glaber, Historiarum Libri Quinque, II, 1, ed. J.  France, Rodulfus Glaber Opera (Oxford, 1989): habebat Hugo enim filium, admodum prudentem, nomine Rotbertum, artium etiam litterarum studiis plurimum eruditum; J. W. Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127. 77  Richer of Reims, Historiarum Libri Quatuor, IV, 13, ed. G. Waitz, M. G. H. Scriptores, 51 (Hannover, 1877), 634: et divinis ac canonicis institutes clarissimus haberetur; liberalibus studiis incumberet; J. W. Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127. 78  Hariulf of Saint-Riquier, Chronicon Centulense, IV, 2, ed. F. Lot, 181: ut librorum nunquam indiguerit juravi solamine; Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127. 79  Robert Fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France: Monarchy and Nation (987–1328) (New York, 1966), 15.


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

person in his early years in the school of Reims,80 but probably he did not fit so well in the sacral dimension of the sapiential topos in his young hood. Also related to the sapiential topos is the significant fact that certain documents of this period are dated regnante rege philosopho,81 ‘thus showing — points out James Thompson — that his contemporaries esteemed Robert not only as a pious but also as a learned king’.82 The old Carolingian conception of kingship was undoubtedly at work here. One of the main defenders of its legacy, Adalbero, bishop of Laon, put it to King Robert in the following manner: ‘The capacity (facultas) of the orator is given to the king’,83 reminding him that he must follow the sapiential example of the bishops.84 Adalbero of Laon’s words were incorporated into a political poem addressed to Robert around year 1027, the Carmen ad Rodbertum Regem, one of the main sources of the Feudal scheme of the three orders, but also of deep interest for scholarship on medieval political theology. Yet the position of the king in Capetian France was far more ambiguous in sapiential terms than that of the Ottonian and Salian emperors. German and Italian bishops were members of a Reichskirche under royal tutelage. In eleventh century France, though, bishops like Adalbero of Laon aspired to put Capetian kings under their own intellectual tutelage. As Georges Duby puts it: [T]he king therefore knew how to read from a Latin book, and could chant his prayers. But he did not know enough to take full advantage of the illumination coming to him from heaven. He had need of assistants to help him decipher the message. This necessary assistance was provided by the other oratores, who unlike the king himself were not distracted from meditation upon things sacred by military concerns […] Adalbero acknowledged that kings had the facultas oratoris (v. 424), the right to pray, the right to speak. But given the threat of their being overwhelmed by an overabundance of

 In a letter to Queen Adelaide (ep. 181), Gerbert of Aurillac applauded the gravity and wisdom of young Robert’s conversation; Pierre Riché, Gerbert d`Aurillac. Le Pape de l’an mil (Paris, 1987), 143; Rosenthal, Edward the Confessor, 13, n. 16). 81  Charles Pfister, Etudes sur le règne de Robert le Pieux (996–1031) (Paris, 1885), 16, 34, n. 3 and 35–36; J. W. Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127. 82  Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 127. 83  Adalbero of Laon, Carmen ad Rodbertum Regem, v. 366, ed. Claude Carozzi, Poème au roi Robert, Les classiques de l’histoire de France au moyen âge, 32 (Paris, 1979), 14–15; Duby, The Three Orders, 17. 84  Duby, The Three Orders, 17. 80

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


youth, it was important that they live, as it were, enveloped by the bishops of their realm, that they receive episcopal instruction in the law (legibus edocti: v. 361).85

Therefore, taken as a whole, a general picture emerges from the Carmen ad Rodbertum that sustains this description of sapiential rulership in Early Capetian France by Georges Duby: It was therefore the youthful aspect of the king’s personality that made him the bellator, who by brandishing the sword restored order on earth […] Age, on the other hand, was responsible for what he possessed of the virtue of the soul, for his knowledge of the immutable order and regular motion of the heavens: sapientia, that ‘true wisdom through which may be known that which is in heaven sempiternally’ (vv. 191–92), with which the oratores were imbued through anoinment by the king of kings (v. 189) […] Partaking of both natures, Robert was destined to carry out both functions. He was rex et sacerdos, like Christ.86

This last sapiential passage of the Carmen ad Rodbertum quoted by Georges Duby is highly significant. Here Adalbero states that the king’s vera sapientia (true wisdom) is a gift from the King of Kings, consisting in knowledge of the immutable mysteries of heaven (scire potes quae sunt caelestia semper), that is, the secret architecture of Heavenly Jerusalem.87 Later in the figured versified dialogue, Robert answers to the bishop denying the value of any learning not inspired by the Holy Spirit, and explaining that the secret architecture of the Heavenly Jerusalem is mainly a visio pacis, a vision of peace,88 something that makes full sense if we take into account that one of the epithets he received in contemporary chronicles was that of Rex pacificus.89 Although Adalbero of Laon and the Carolingian tradition denied the lay aristocracy full access to the political-theological virtue of wisdom, it is  Duby, The Three Orders, 18 and 46.  Duby, The Three Orders, 45. 87   Rex regum tenet quanto ditavit honore / Munera concessit Pius omnibus his meliora / Dans intellectum quae sit sapientia vera, / Per quem scire potes quae sunt caelestia simper. / Quid sit Hierusalem debes tu scire superna (Adalbero of Laon, Carmen ad Rodbertum, vv. 189–93, 14–15). 88   Scire meum nihil est: semper sit numinis almi / Mens humana Deo semper vicina videtur. / Non se nosse valet qui non vult scire super se.  / Illa potens est Hierusalem, puto, visio pacis (Adalbero of Laon, Carmen ad Rodbertum, vv. 189–93, 14–15). 89  On the importance of this topos, very relevant in Carolingian political thought, see Paul J. E. Kershaw, Peaceful Kings. Peace, Power and the Early Medieval Political Imagination (Oxford, 2011). 85 86


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

not precisely in a Capetian ruler where we find the most accomplished literary embodiment of the topos of the wise king in tenth century France. William, duke of Aquitaine (c. 993–1030), won an outstanding reputation in contemporary sources for his personal piety and his enthusiastic support of monastic reform. Scholars have given him the sobriquet ‘the Great’, and he is traditionally regarded as one of those mighty vassals whose fame and power eclipsed their Capetian overlords.90 Yet, as Bernard S. Barach has argued, a careful examination of the evidence indicates clearly that the scholarly consensus on the greatness of William V of Aquitaine takes its tone and much of its substance from the encomium devoted to the duke by his admiring contemporary Adhémar of Chabannes in his Chronicon.91 Indeed, in Adhémar of Chabannes, Duke William had the benefit of a lavish eulogizer: ‘Duke of the Aquitanians, count of Poitou, the aforesaid most glorious and powerful William was amiable to all, great in counsel, outstanding for his prudence, most liberal in bestowing, a defender of the poor, father of monks, builder and lover of churches, devoted to the Holy Roman Church’.92 But Adhémar also tells us that William V learned his letters in his youth, had a good knowledge of the Scriptures, and kept a library at his palace. When free from affairs of state, he would spend his time reading, and would even pass the long winter nights by lamplight among his books until sleep conquered him.93 Therefore, interestingly enough, Adhémar described the great duke not only as a pious and monkish statesman but also as a learned ruler (doctus litteris), a bookish man who had a great library and enjoyed reading (elucubrans in libris). No doubt, William was ‘the most interesting literate noble in France in his generation’,94 but nevertheless what is really relevant from the ideological point of view is that here we

90   Bernard  S. Bachrach, ‘Toward a Reappraisal of William the Great, Duke of Aquitaine’, Journal of Medieval History 5 (1979): 11. 91  Bachrach, Toward a Reappraisal, 11. 92  Adhémar de Chabannes, Chronicon, III, 54, ed. J.  Chavanon (Paris, 1897), 176–77; Dunbabin, France in the Making, 174. 93   Fuit dux iste a puericia doctus litteris, et satis noticiam scripturarum habuit. Librorum copiam in palatio suo servavit, et si forte a tumultu vacaret, lectioni per se ipsum operam dabat, longioribus noctibus elucubrans in libris, donec somno vinceretur (Adhémar de Chabannes, Chronicon, III, 54; 176–77; Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 128). 94  Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 128.

Sapiential Rulership in the ­Eleventh Century


find the rhetorical topos of the learned and pious ruler applied for the first time to a non-royal character. Consequently, according to Adhémar, William of Aquitaine, wise and pious ruler, stood comparison with Louis the Pious, Theodosius, Augustus and, overall, Charlemagne,95 whom he had also presented as a very wise­ ­sovereign. After that, it is not surprising at all that the chronicler concluded with the assertion that William V seemed more like a king than a duke. Probably it is not a coincidence that Adhémar proclaimed Robert the Pious as pater pauperum and eulogized his many religious virtues96 but omitted to mention royal wisdom, a significant omission given the intellectual profile of the Capetian ruler.97 In this regard, it has been said that Adhémar ‘revered the Western Roman Empire’ and ‘venerated Charlemagne, whose portrait he drew in the likeness of Christ’.98 It has to be reckoned that we find in the Chronicon of Adhémar de Chabannes one of the finest examples of the transmission to the Feudal age of the legend of Charlemagne. But there is every indication that this was a peculiar transmission, one in which the true heirs of the Frankish giant were not the kings of France. Assessment Sapiential references in the European eleventh century could easily be multiplied, but these should suffice to show the general trend. To name just another case, in Late Anglo-Saxon England we may find the same ideological developments as in the post-Carolingian world. Simon Keynes has argued ‘that Alfred was brought up on the biblical stories of David and Solomon’ and, therefore, ‘requires little further imagination to see what effect their

95   Hoc Hludovicus imperator, hoc pater eius Magnus Karolus assuescebant. Theodosius quoque victor augustus in aula palatii, non modo legendo, verum et scribendi creberrime exercitabatur. Nam Octavianus Cesar Augustus post lectionem propria manu praelia sua et gesta romanorum et alia quaeque non segnis scribebat (Adhémar de Chabannes, Chronicon, III, 54; 176–77; Dunbabin, France in the Making, 174). 96  Theis, Robert le Pieux, 225. 97  On the other hand, Adhémar proclaimed Otto III ‘a lover of philosophy’ (imperator qui philosophiae intentus; Adhémar de Chabannes, Chronicon, III, 31; Thompson, The Literacy of the Laity, 84 and 103, n. 25). 98  Richard Landes, Relics, Apocalypse and the Deceits of History: Adhémar of Chabannes (989– 1034) (Cambridge, Ma., 1998), 148.


Manuel Alejandro Rodríguez de la Peña

example might have had on his own exercise of kingship’.99 Indeed, this is the case of ‘the various ways in which Alfred’s kingship recalls the biblical accounts of the kingship of Solomon, most obviously, of course, in the king’s personal devotion to the pursuit of wisdom’.100 However, as happened in Early Capetian France, in the English tenth century the royal ‘Dream of Solomon’ was reshaped by the Benedictine reformers, who stressed the subordinate role of the secular ruler regarding matters of divine wisdom: ‘The king must — said Wulfstan of York, archbishop and Benedictine monk (d. 1023) — listen eagerly to the doctrine of the Bible, he must obey God’s commandments, and furthermore he must ask for  wisdom being taught to him by his counsellors with whom he has to ­discuss wisdom — if he wants to be obedient to God’.101 With these various distinctions in mind, I argue that there was a reception of the strong Carolingian tradition of Christian sapiential rulership after the Year Thousand, but it was reinterpreted according to the different political contexts. While in Salian Germany there was a strong continuity of the Carolingian topos of the wise ruler, in France and England there was, however, a hierocratic reinterpretation which minimized the scope of royal wisdom.

99   Simon Keynes, ‘A Tale of Two Kings: Alfred the Great and Aethelred the Unready’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series 36 (1986): 210. Regarding the role of wisdom in Alfred’s political ideas, see David R. Pratt, The Political Thought of King Alfred the Great (Cambridge, 2007), 151–65. 100  Keynes, A Tale of Two Kings, 210; Asser makes the comparison explicit in his De Rebus Gestis Alfredi (c. 76; see also c. 99). 101   He sceal boclarum hlystan swyde georne and Gode beboda geornlice healdan and gelome wid witan wisdom smeagan, gif he Gode wile rihtlice hyran; Wilhelm  G. Busse, ‘The SelfUnderstanding of the Reformers as Teachers in Late Tenth-Century England’, in Schriftlichkeit im fruhen Mittelalter, ed. U. Schaefer (Tubingen, 1993), 68.

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron? Radical Criticism of the Crusades in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries Martin Aurell


ew books of the twentieth century fascinate current medievalists more than The King’s Two Bodies (1957) by Ernst Kantorowicz. This focus has endured despite the work’s subtitle (A Study in Mediaeval Political Theology), and the obvious comparisons it evokes with Carl Schmitt’s work of the same name, Politische Theologie (1922). Both original and prolific in his research, Schmitt’s work made him — quite rightly — a famous philosopher of law. However, his somewhat heretical ideas in support of the National-Socialist cause led to the loss of his university chair in 1945. Ernst Kantorowicz, in contrast, suffered at the hands of the Nazis: his mother was deported and died in Theresienstadt concentration camp, while he himself escaped across the Atlantic. Thus if Kantorowicz borrowed the subtitle from Schmitt’s work, he never quoted Schmitt explicitly, because he knew of Schmitt’s attitude to the German government in the years 1933 to 1945. Nonetheless, in an article published in 1952, he still made vague reference to the debate that the notion of ‘political theology’ had inspired in his German homeland in the early 1930s.1 Was Kantorowicz’s allusion to Politische Theologie therefore intended to evoke the strong criticism levelled at Schmitt’s work by Erik Peterson?2 In Der Monotheismus als politisches Problem (1935), Erik Peterson placed the role of the Holy Trinity and the eschatology of the two kingdoms, the worldly one and the heavenly one, at the heart of the Christian message. For him, this doctrine removed the spiritual from the control of earthly powers. In late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, efforts to subjugate Christianity to imperial authority found their justification not in the Gospels but in Neoplatonism or its Christian incarnation, Arianism. In both Neoplatonic and Arian  Ernst Kantorowicz, ‘Deus per naturam, Deus per gratiam: a note on mediaeval political theology’, Harvard Theological Review, 45 (1952), 253–77. 2  Alain Boureau, ‘Histoires d’un historien, Kantorowicz’, postscript in E.  Kantorowicz, Œuvres (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 1306. 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 111–128 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111248



Martin Aurell

thought, the Son of God is considered subordinate to the Father, meaning that a human but divinely appointed monarch was therefore almost Christ’s equal. It was as a result of this heterodox position that ‘the pagan deification of the State’ became a threat to Christianity. In 325, the condemnation of Arianism at the Council of Nicaea confirmed what Peterson termed the ‘liquidation of all political theology’. In the Council’s aftermath, the Church rejected Constantine the Great, his official biographer Eusebius of Caesarea, and the perpetuation of Caesaropapist ideology in the newly Christian Empire. In reality, we cannot view Der Monotheismus als politisches Problem as either pure scholarship or as ethereal flights of fancy. Rather, viewed in the context in which it was written, this work engaged directly with the debates of the day. During Christmas of 1930, five years before his work was published, Peterson converted to Catholicism. As a result, he lost his professorship of Protestant Theology at the University of Bonn and moved to Rome, where he lived in poverty. He hated any attempt on the part of the Nazi party, then rising to power in Germany, to exert control through the Church. Carl Schmitt waited until 1969, with the publication of his Politische Theologie II, to react — with some bitterness — to the criticism put forward by Erik Peterson. He reproached Peterson mainly for couching the debate in terms of doctrine and law rather than looking at the evolution of societies in which Christianity was born or was developing.3 If, in theory, the teachings of Christ (‘My kingdom is not of this world’, John 18:36; ‘So give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give back to God what belongs to God’, Matt. 22:21) are crystal clear, his disciples have too often moved aside in their practice. Over the centuries, history shows that they have repeatedly succumbed to Caesaropapism (the submission of the Church to the Empire) and to theocracy (in contrast, the submission of the Empire to the Church). Historical circumstances have thus generated a specific political theology in the Western world, the effects of which continue to be felt even today. For this reason, in 1922, Schmitt wrote that ‘all the significant concepts of the modern theory about the State are secularized theological concepts’.4 Medieval Catholicism, in short, engendered myths, symbols, and doctrines upon which state structures and the majority of contemporary national ideologies are founded.  Bernard Bourdin, ‘La thèse de Peterson, bien que théologiquement juste, s’avère historiquement fausse’, preface in Erik Peterson, Le Monothéisme: un problème politique et autres essais (Paris: Bayard, 2007), 36. 4  Carl Schmitt, Théologie politique (Paris: Gallimard, 1988), 46. 3

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


The job of the historian is to question source material in light of the issues that have been raised by anthropologists, philosophers or theologians. Can an historian directly apply, mutatis mutandis, the views of both Carl Schmitt, sensitive to the practical adaptation of Christ’s message to social reality, and of Erik Peterson, who insisted on the unalterable truth of the Gospels regardless of political context, to the Middle Ages? On the one hand, we are faced with the diachrony of a law historian concerned with the changing forms of Christian inculturation, and on the other hand, with the synchrony of a theologian convinced of the durability expressed in God’s Revelation… We have to risk a degree of anachronism by suggesting that the debate surrounding the crusades — which engendered some discussion amongst medieval intellectuals — in many ways calls to mind the discussions of the 1930s connected to the concept of political theology. Throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the majority of scholars from Latin Christendom supported military expeditions to the Holy Land for faith’s sake. Their pragmatism was, however, contested by certain doctrinaire authors who rejected any deviation from the radical pacifism of the Gospels. Several of these texts will be explored in this study. The major movement that brought Western warriors to the Holy Land during the Middle Ages is known universally by the term ‘crusades’. This latter term, however, is hardly found in contemporary sources: Latin chroniclers of the time apparently preferred to use vaguer terms such as iter (‘way’), via (‘path’) or passagium (‘passage’) to refer to a military journey to the Holy Sepulchre. They refer to the crusaders as crucesignati (‘those with a cross sewn on their clothes’), but they more typically use peregrini or ‘pilgrims’. The definition of the crusade as an ‘armed pilgrimage’ is thus not so very far removed from the impression given by our source material.5 The crusader inhabited a dual reality, one that was both religious (in terms of being a pilgrim on a penitential journey that forced him to abandon his family and take a perilous path to a sanctuary in order to atone for his sins) and military (in terms of combat against the infidels). There are few Christian institutions that fit the category of ‘political theology’ quite as neatly as the crusades. In general, this ‘armed pilgrimage’ is often equated with a ‘holy war’ that was willed by God, encouraged by the highest authorities of the Church, and led to the sanctification of those participants who endured, in the name of

 Hans E. Mayer, The Crusades (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964; repr. 1985), 14.



Martin Aurell

their faith, countless sacrifices in their fight against the unbelievers.6 More specifically, law scholars have identified certain legal features that were ­specific to the crusade, making it a unique institution in the history of Christianity: the proclamation of papal initiatives through bulls; the presence of a papal legate amongst expedition leaders; the swearing of vows by future combatants to go on crusade or face excommunication; the sewing of crosses onto clothes and banners; the giving of indulgences or granting of penitence for sins of which they stood accused, as with pilgrims; the provision of various material privileges, such as the protection of their persons and property, hospitality, exemption from tolls, delay in the holding of trials or a moratorium on debts…7 Canon law provided the foundations upon which the crusades were based, but it was not restricted solely to the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre, being also applied to other military operations and objectives. The notion of a crusade did not arise spontaneously in the late eleventh century: medievalists instead prefer to emphasise the Church’s progressive involvement in military affairs. If the earliest Christian communities were profoundly pacifist in nature, they nonetheless rapidly had to deal with human violence. Around 380, the year in which Theodosius  I made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, Augustine of Hippo (354–430) laid down certain conditions under which the use of weapons by the State was legitimate. These, in turn, were gathered by subsequent ­canonists in order to formalize the theory of ‘just war’.8 Much like self-defence, this doctrine recalled the old maxim of the Roman jurist Ulpian (†  228) given in the Digesta: Vim vi repellere licet, ‘it is permissible to repel force with force’.9 For a Christian, violence became a lesser evil, tolerated under exceptional circumstances and strictly regulated. No one other than a legitimate authority could declare war, and even then they could only do so in order to defend a territory against external attack or to recover land lost to invaders. In such circumstances, violence was legally permissible in order to r­estore   This is at least true since the publication of Carl Erdmann’s work, Die Entstehung des Kreuzzugsgedankens, in 1935. This has been translated into English and published under the title: The Origin of the Idea of Crusade (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977). 7   Michel Villey, La Croisade: essai sur la formation d’une théorie juridique (Paris: Vrin, 1942), 90–106; James A. Brundage, Medieval Canon Law and the Crusader (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), 3–18, 139–45, 159, 172, 179. 8   Jean Flori, La Guerre sainte: la formation de l’idée de croisade dans l’Occident chrétien (Paris: Aubier, 2001), 37–39. 9   See Paul Krueger et al., ed., Corpus iuris civilis (Berlin: Weidmann, 1954–59),, Ulpianus 69. 6

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


justice and peace. Finally, the baptised warrior was required to have an intention towards righteousness that included patience, kindness, and even love for the enemy. Nonetheless, such conditions did not make the old prejudices that Christians felt towards violence disappear. Throughout the Early Middle Ages, causing death — even when as a soldier on duty in a defensive war — remained a discredited act for which penance was required. From the eighth century onwards, Western Christianity began to develop an even more positive attitude towards war. In order to counteract the Muslim invasions, both the papacy and the bishoprics started to provide spiritual benefits to combatants who defended Christianity.10 They also promoted wars against fellow Christians. From 1070 onwards, the investiture quarrel encouraged Pope Gregory VII and his successors to fight the Holy Roman Emperor. Some intellectuals disagreed with this position, among them the Cardinal-Bishop Peter Damian, who was one of the main promoters of Gregorian reform. In an epistle of 1062, he strictly forbade his followers from taking up arms against the Emperor and his antipope because, to him, nothing was more absurd than to see priests fomenting the very violence that in their sermons they prohibited others from committing. For him, such hypocrisy was scandalous: it was a far cry from the example of Christian edification that bishops were supposed to give. An overt pacifist, Peter based his position on the lives of Christ, the apostles, and the martyrs: The Son of God came down from Heaven out of love and he defeated the devil with patience. Through these two virtues, the apostles founded the Church that their champions, the holy martyrs, have propagated thanks to their triumph over torture and death. It is never allowed to take up iron weapons due to the universal faith in which the Church lives. Why should troops that are protected with hauberks and armed with swords fight for both the earthly and the passing wealth of the Church? When the saints prevail, the heretics or idolaters are never exterminated, but rather these saints choose to accept death at their hands for the sake of the Catholic faith. How, then, can a believer wage war against another believer, since he is not unaware that the other has been redeemed by the blood of Christ?11

 In 1957, Ernst Kantorowicz incidentally addresses this problem in his study of dying for one’s country: see ‘Les deux corps du roi: essai sur la théologie politique au Moyen Age’, in his Œuvres (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 822–23. 11   Peter Damien, Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, ed. Kurt Reindel, MGH E 4, 4 vols (Munich: Monumenta Germaniæ Historica, 1988), II, 512–13, no. 87. 10


Martin Aurell

Few authors during the Middle Ages took such an openly pacifist position. According to the writings of Peter Damian, it was better to be massacred by heretics and the idolatrous — among whom he certainly classed Muslims — than to kill them oneself. In the guise of an educational anecdote, the hermit-turned-cardinal recounts a territorial dispute that took place between an abbot and a secular lord. In an account that is obviously too vague to be true, Peter Damian notes that this dispute occurs in France. The nobleman attempts to settle the disagreement by summoning his troops, heavily armed, to a field of battle. Here, he delivers a diatribe to encourage his men to engage in battle against the warriors serving the monastery, whom he expects to arrive at any moment. This is a gross error! In contrast to the noble, ‘the abbot places his faith, not in earthly weapons, but in He who won salvation for mankind’. The abbot arrives, together with his monks, on horseback beneath a banner marked with the sign of the cross, covered by cowls, and protected by faith alone. ‘Upon seeing a heavenly and angelic host approach, rather than a mail-clad army’, the enemy troops are so filled with the fear of God that they drop their swords, dismount and kneel before the monks, imploring their forgiveness. In this way, Peter concludes, it is through trust in God, rather than reliance on fast horses and gleaming swords, that the abbot is able to win the battle. The moral of the story is clear: no hatred, no matter how entrenched, can withstand the love of Christ and his disciples. In the same letter, Peter Damian rejects the arguments rationalising the involvement of Leo IX (1049–54), the first Gregorian pope, in the fight against the Normans in southern Italy. Peter Damian was Leo’s faithful counsellor; but neither his past service, nor his admiration for the pontiff, could prevail over the moral: ‘If anyone should object [to these arguments] because Pope Leo himself became involved in wars, despite the fact that he is holy, I will tell him what I think. Peter did not receive the apostolic primacy for his denial of the Lord, nor was David granted the gift of prophecy for usurping somebody else’s marriage bed. Good and evil are not judged according to someone’s merit, but according to their own qualities’. Nor, he continues, did Gregory the Great respond to the pillaging of the Lombards with weapons or Ambrose of Milan to the cruel attacks of the Arians with force, nor have we ever heard of saints taking up arms. Conflicts, in short, must be managed through civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, never by bloodshed. In 1095, some thirty years after Peter Damian put forward his declarations of peace, Pope Urban II for the first time proclaimed a crusade at the

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


Council of Clermont to liberate Jerusalem.12 With the encouragement of the papacy, successive expeditions against the Turks continued right up to the modern era. Even so, some theologians had expressed reticence towards these wars. Shortly before 1139, Gratian, a Camaldolese monk teaching canon law in Bologna, collated the writings of these scholars into the Decretum. This extensive compilation gathered together and discussed some of the most famous texts connected to the doctrine, legislation, and case law of the Church. The original title, Concordia discordantium canonum, reflects the academic approach of this work, with the sometimes contradictory ecclesiastical laws being compared and attempts made to reconcile them through sentences or dicta written by the compiler himself. During Gratian’s lifetime, much of the thinking of the masters of theology was to progress through dialectic debate. This avant-garde form of debate obliged theologians to confront proposal with counter-proposal directly. It was in this context of oral disputation that they could test their opinions among their colleagues. Because it included the writings of certain ‘discordant canons’, Gratian’s large compilation functioned in a similar way. It thus contained a summary of the arguments and authorities that were particularly useful to those who were opposed to the crusades and who wished to defend their point of view. Case 23, an extensive tract recorded in the second part of the Decretum, deals with the legitimate use of violence in Christianity: just war, the repression of crimes, the use of corporal punishment, the recovery of stolen property by force, the persecution of heretics, and the banning of clerics from having weapons are among the issues covered. Gratian, in a very conventional manner, was quite willing to accept the use of the sword in pursuit of justice and peace. However, because he was rigorous in his analysis of any opposing arguments, he also accepted that Christ banned hatred, revenge, or violence. While prohibiting attacking one’s neighbour, Christ’s Gospel nonetheless allows ascetic battle against one’s own passions. For this reason, Gratian’s case 23 begins with the following comment: ‘The waging of war appears foreign to the evangelical discipline. This can be explained by the fact that every fight is the result of response to an insult, revenge, or the defence of one’s territory, which is forbidden in the laws of the Gospels’. The last sentence of his introduction is even more explicit: ‘it appears that to wage war is a sin’.13   Le Concile de Clermont de 1095 et l’appel à la croisade: actes du colloque universitaire international de Clermont-Ferrand (23–25 juin 1995) (Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 1997). 13  Gratian, Corpus iuris canonici: Decretum magistri Gratiani, ed. by Æmelius Ludwig Richter, and Emil Albert Friedberg (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1879), cols 889–90, Pars II, C. XXIII, q. I. 12


Martin Aurell

Gratian very honestly drew up a long list of verses advocating non-violence from the Bible. These reappear later on in the writings of those critical of the crusades: ‘If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too  […] If someone forces you to go one thousand steps with him, walk two thousand with him’ (Matt. 5:39–41); ‘Never take revenge, my friends, but instead let God’s anger do it. For the scripture says, ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay’, says the Lord’ (Romans 12:19; cf. Deut. 32:35); ‘Put your sword back in its place […] for all who take the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you know that I could call on my Father for help, and at once he would send me more than twelve legions of angels?’ (Matt 26:52–53); ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ (Deut. 32:35); ‘Peace is what I leave you with; it is my own peace that I give you’ ( John 14:27); ‘Would it not be better for you to be wronged? Would it not be better for you to be robbed?’ (I Cor. 6:7). In Gratian’s opinion however, such quotations did not necessarily contradict the notion of just war. They were, at most, to be applied stricto sensu to the prohibition against clerics bearing arms (q.8). Above all, the canonist certainly did not interpret this corpus of quotations literally, as being applied to affairs ‘outside the body’, but rather understood them in a moral sense as referring to ‘the virtue of patience within the soul’ (q.1 c. 2). A more literal reading of the New Testament can once again be found in the writings of Peter Damian who, in his letter of 1062, quotes a number of the Gospel passages also cited in Gratian’s case 23, where they follow a quite different interpretation. Peter Damian offers a reminder that not only did Christ ask his followers not to ask for the return of stolen goods (Luke 6:30) and to turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), but that he also enjoined St Peter to forgive one who offended him as many as seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21–22). In the same way, Christ prevented his followers from calling down a fire from Heaven to destroy a Samaritan village from which he had been rejected, because ‘the Son of Man did not come to destroy people’s lives, but to save them’ (Luke 9:56), and he advised his disciples that ‘when they persecute you in one town, run away to another one’ (Matt. 10:23). Jesus directly embodied the following commandment: ‘Never take revenge’ (Rom. 12:19). According to Peter Damian, these examples illustrate ‘the two most brilliant gems’, the two most important virtues that Christ embodied: charity and patience. Strictly speaking, medieval Christianity was not a religion of the book, but rather of that book’s interpretation, based on a long tradition. This may be especially true of twelfth-century scholasticism, in which the number of glosses in Bibles reached unprecedented levels. These commentators, ­following ancient Hebrew hermeneutics, read the Bible in a literal and

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


­ istorical sense, with Biblical content taken at face value, and in a spiritual h sense, with the text perceived as allegorical (expressing something other than what is ostensibly stated), moral (providing an ethical teaching), or anagogic (alluding to the fulfilment of Biblical scripture in the afterlife).14 The choice of either a literary or spiritual interpretation was crucial in terms of understanding a Biblical text: thus while Gratian chose the latter in his explanation for Christ’s peaceful words, Peter Damian chose the former. Conversely, Gratian and Peter Damian had to exchange hermeneutical positions in order to read the most bellicose passages from the Old Testament. In this respect, Peter could only agree with the following quotation from the Greek early Church Father Origen (c. 185–c. 253), recorded in the Decretum (C.23, q.1, c. 1): ‘If the wars of the flesh were not a figure of spiritual warfare, never, in my opinion, would the apostles have had the historical books of the Jews read out in churches’, with the books referred to being the part of the Old Testament that recounted the wholehearted commitment of the chosen people against the Philistines and other pagan nations for the promised land. Gratian, meanwhile, based his judgment on the authority of Origen, the champion of allegory, at the expense of history in order to prove — somewhat fallaciously in terms of the pacifist examples chosen — the superiority of a spiritual to a literal interpretation in biblical exegesis. Nonetheless, the crusaders showed no hesitation in taking, and prolifically using, a literal interpretation of some of the most bellicose passages in the Old Testament.15 A number of military religious orders appeared and developed together with the crusades. The standing army that these orders together formed had an altogether different level of efficiency to that seen amongst the feudal nobility. Their constant availability explains, amongst other reasons, the long survival of the Crusader States. However, the position of these orders within the medieval Church is not so clear cut. The existence of ‘monk-soldiers’ broke a millennium-long interdict against clerics shedding blood. This was to take canon law down a rather revolutionary path, albeit one which had already been prepared for through the taking-up of arms by the Gregorians, their decision to preach in favour of holy war, and the beginning of the First Crusade.16 Even so, the approbation awarded to the Templars at the Council  Henri de Lubac, Exégèse médiévale: les quatre sens de l’Écriture (Paris: Aubier, 1959–64).   Sylvain Gouguenheim, ‘Les Maccabées, modèles des guerriers chrétiens des origines au xiie siècle’, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, 54 (2011), 3–19. 16  Alain Demurger, Les Templiers: une chevalerie chrétienne au Moyen Âge (Paris: Seuil, 1985; repr. 2008), 23–36; Simonetta Cerrini, La Révolution des Templiers (Paris: Perrin, 2007). 14 15


Martin Aurell

of Troyes (1129) did not instantly erase the old prejudices against men of religion who dared to use the coercive power of the temporal sword even if it meant hurting, maiming, or killing. Criticism against the Templars appeared — probably for the first time — in an undated letter written at some point between 1148 and 1179 by Peter Comestor (lit. the ‘gourmand’, i.e., ‘the devourer of books’), Dean of Troyes and one of the most prominent teachers of the Paris schools. The recipient was none other than the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who asked him to find justification for his flock to fight against the ‘heathens’ (for which, read ‘Muslims’) and to kill them. One particular point raised was the issue of a somewhat vague argument put forward concerning monk-soldiers: ‘The Christian, especially if he has made a religious vow and wears the habit, should tolerate injustice rather than seeking revenge’.17 This argument was easily rejected by Peter, who used crusade rhetoric that drew heavily on the history of God’s chosen people recounted in the Old Testament. At this time, the notion of ‘revenge’ (vindicta, ultio or venjance), as used by the detractors of the Knights Templar, referred not only to the uncontrolled passion and resentment that might drive an offended person to hurt his aggressor or to the vendetta by which a lineage might restore its honour, but also, and in a more positive sense, to the notion of retributive justice, in which the guilty would be punished and forced to make amends, thus compensating for any damage.18 If the polemicists had revenge in mind, it was therefore intended to do nothing more than right wrongs. Yet even if such nuanced arguments made the actions of fighting clerics more acceptable, those thinkers whom Peter was called on to refute nonetheless did not hesitate to condemn them. While the Patriarch of Jerusalem and Peter exchanged correspondence, the Cistercian monk Isaac of Stella (†  1178), abbot of Étoile near to Poitiers, offered more radical criticism of the military orders. This Englishman was apparently close to John of Salisbury, the right hand and mentor of Thomas Becket.19 Like Isaac, John, the greatest political philosopher of the twelfth century, was rather reticent with regard to monk-soldiers. His   Jean Leclercq, ‘Gratien, Pierre de Troyes et la seconde croisade’, Studia Gratiana, 2 (1954), 585–93 (592). 18  Susanna  A. Throop, Crusading as an Act of Vengeance, 1095–1216 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011). 19   Bernard McGinn, ‘Isaac of Stella in context’, in The Selected Works of Isaac of Stella: A Cistercian Voice from the Twelfth Century, trans. Dániel Deme (Farnham: Ashgate, 2007), 171–75. Cf.  contra Elias Dietz, ‘When exile is home: the biography of Isaac of Stella’, Cistercian Studies Quarterly, 41 (2006), 149–53. 17

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


famous ­Policraticus contains a damning judgment about these men, expressly ­comparing the sacrifice of holy mass with the killing of Muslims: ‘The Knights Templar […] presume to administer the blood of Christ to the faithful, having made a profession of shedding human blood’.20 It is true that John respected non-Christians, particularly if they proved distinguished in the quality of their thoughts. John gave his book the subtitle Vestigia philosophorum, ‘traces of the philosophers’, a term that embraced pagans, whom he quotes profusely throughout the work, offering them up as examples to his contemporaries. He belonged to a generation of intellectuals that sincerely admired the Platonic and Stoic thinkers of antiquity. In Paris, John of Salisbury followed the teachings of Peter Abelard († 1142), who emphasised the rigour, the austerity, and the moderation of the ancient philosophers, as well as noting the best of their fellow citizens, ‘Christians before the arrival of Christ’. According to Abelard, God Himself granted grace and entry to the eternal life to those infidels who sought to govern their behaviour according to the natural laws of their heart. Moreover, he argued that because of their ‘invincible ignorance’ the executioners who had crucified Christ had not committed any fault: on the contrary, it would have been a greater sin had they not followed their consciences, which drove them to execute him. This same philosophy was applied to the Romans who tortured the early Christians.21 In tune with the times, Abelard’s ideas valued the infidel.22 They therefore raised concerns about fighting against such people in the name of the Christian religion. An alumnus of the schools of Paris, Isaac of Stella was part of the same intellectual milieu as Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury. Isaac, in a sermon addressed to his monks, actively remonstrates against the military orders.23 In the guise of an apology for his words, Isaac then blames the inattention of his audience for his misplaced quest for novelty in his sermon. In relation to his apparently morbid curiosity, he mentions the theologians whose work he followed during lessons in Paris. Without ever committing heresy, they were able to comment freely and originally upon both Scripture and the Fathers of   John of Salisbury, Policraticus, ed. Clemens C. J. Webb (Oxford, 1909), VII, 21.   John Marenbon, The Philosophy of Peter Abelard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 58–59, 269, 279, 328–30. 22  Literary fiction refers to this more specifically, as evidenced in the superb study by Catalina Girbea, Le Bon Sarrasin dans le roman (xiie‒xiiie siècle) (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2014). 23  Gaëtan Raciti, ‘Isaac de l’Étoile et son siècle: texte et commentaire historique du sermon XLVIII’, Cîteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 12 (1961), 281–306, and Cîteaux: Commentarii Cistercienses, 13 (1962), 18–34. 20 21


Martin Aurell

the Church. Isaac then follows with a further break with tradition as radical as those expressed by the most forward thinkers of his time: A new monster is born, a new order that, as a joke, has been described as stemming from a fifth Gospel. Its purpose is to force unbelievers to the faith with lances and staffs, while considering it lawful to dispossess and kill devoutly those who do not bear the name of Christian. Moreover, they name as martyrs those among them who fall in the course of their looting. Do not these people will give the Son of Perdition every authorisation for cruelty to Christians? How could Christ’s meekness, patience and way of preaching be put before him? Why should he not do freely what he finds to be lawful? Why should he not say: ‘what the Church has done, do also to the Church?’

Here, the reference to a ‘new monster’ is an ironic pastiche of De Laude Novæ Militiæ (‘In Praise of the New Knighthood’), a work in which Bernard of Clairvaux — like Isaac, a Cistercian — wrote in praise of the Knights Templar.24 Because Isaac respected Bernard, to whom he owed his monastic vocation, he immediately mitigates his diatribe with the claim that he condemns neither the new theologians nor the new knights. He argues, however, that while these movements might have performed some good in the short term, in the long term they would inevitably cause problems. Ultimately, the flawed nature of the military orders would cause their eventual decline: despite a degree of early success, their sinful foundation meant that they could not endure. Isaac retained a deep faith in the Church’s first teachings, which forbade the clergy from becoming involved in war. He jokes about the non-existent fifth Gospel inspiring a different doctrine. Looking ahead to the end of time, he notes that it would be easy for the Antichrist to unleash violence against Christians when they, in their turn, had committed so many massacres in the name of their faith. To Isaac, one shows the same degree of guilt in forcing conversion. Opposed to any violence, the abbot of Étoile clearly demonstrates his loyalty to the rule of St Benedict, to which Cistercian order was to return with such rigour. Given this commitment to both the monastic tradition and Benedictine moderation, it was thus necessary to reject the ‘new monster’, the uncontrolled hybrid that was the religious warrior. After he left his native Wales to study in Paris, the cleric Walter Map headed to England, where he was to serve King Henry II — Thomas ­Becket’s

24   Bernard of Clairvaux, De Laude novæ militiæ, ed. and trans. into French Pierre-Yves Émery (Paris: Sources chrétiennes, 1990), 17–133.

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


persecutor — for a long period of time. While at Henry’s court, Walter was able to collect a number of stories for his book, De Nugis Curialium, or ‘the Trifles of Courtiers’ (written 1181–91),25 a rag-bag of fictional tales, true stories, satirical portraits, witticisms and general reflections written in Latin that one can easily believe was intended to enliven the evenings of the aristocracy. By nature prone to mockery, Walter offered extensive criticism of the Templars. He thus confirms Isaac of Stella’s intuition of the expected decline of the military order, which, although pure in intention when founded, had only known corruption since that time: ‘The first Templars loved God and despised the world, but as their charity decreases and their wealth increases, we have heard many negative stories about them’ (I, 19). He then goes on to report several typically defamatory stories about them (I, 21–22). Scholars of this time repeatedly cited an adage inspired by Aristotle and translated into Latin by Gregory the Great: corruptio optimi pessima, ‘the best, if corrupted, becomes the worst’. For Walter, as well as for Isaac, the debasement of the Templars, if not inevitable, was at least obvious. Walter Map accompanied his stories denigrating the Templars with a long indictment against the military orders. Relying on the authority of the Scripture, his argument is indisputable. It underlines the traditionalism of the author, who holds firm to the ban against clerics bearing arms. He goes as far as to accuse the military orders of promoting war and hindering peace, so lost are they in pride and greed. Walter develops his argument through a detailed exegesis of the Gospel passage recounting Christ’s arrest at the Mount of Olives: he reminds us that Peter, Prince of the Apostles, was rebuked by Jesus for drawing his sword, even though Peter was acting in his defence. Walter further says that Christ renounced the old principle of Roman law: Vim vi repellere licet. With some degree of finesse, Walter juxtaposes Christ’s prohibition against weapons with their wholehearted use by the Templars: It is in Jerusalem that they take the sword to protect Christianity, there where Peter was prohibited from taking the sword to defend Christ. It was there, too, that the apostle learned to seek peace through patience. I do not know, on the contrary, who taught the Templars to vanquish force with violence. ‘All who draw the sword shall die by the sword’ (Matt 26:52). They say, on the other hand: ‘All laws and all rights allow violence to be repulsed with violence’. Yet Christ renounced such a law. At the same moment that

25   Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium: Courtiers’ Trifles, ed. and trans. Montague  R. James, Chrisopher N. L. Brooke, and Roger A. B. Mynors (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).


Martin Aurell

Peter thrust forward his sword, Christ prohibited himself from calling upon legions of angels (Matt 26:53). But the Templars do not appear to have made the best choice. Indeed, under their protection, our borders in the Holy Land continue to decline, and our enemies to advance. It was with discourse, and not with the voice of the sword, that the apostles conquered Damascus, Alexandria, and much of the world that the sword has since lost. David, as he advanced towards Goliath, said: ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty […] All those gathered here know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves’ (I Sam 17, 45–47). (I, 20).

Walter Map, however, did not have a monopoly upon such sound discourse. He quotes the words of Christ that Gratian also used to open his discussion on the clerical prohibition of violence (II, 23 c, q 8.): ‘Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword shall die by the sword’ (Matt 26:52). Walter’s reflections are indebted to the canonical and theological education taught in the Paris schools. The commentaries written by the teachers of these schools on the Last Supper and Jesus’ arrest place particular emphasis on the two swords of the Apostles (Matt. 26:51; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:38 and 50; John 18:10). One of these weapons, as we have seen, was that used by Peter to cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest. During the twelfth century, glosses on Gospel accounts of Christ’s passion mentioning swords led to the development of the theory of the superiority of the spiritual sword over the temporal sword, of the soul over the body, and of the Church over the Empire.26 This dual exegesis forbade clerics from being defiled by blood, thus leaving to the laity the base work of wielding the physical sword. The spiritual sword had a quite different quality: using words alone, rather than through brusque gestures, it was able to transmit the great gift of God’s Word to men. ‘The word of God is […] sharper than any double-edged sword; it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow’, says the letter to the Hebrews (4:12), while that written to the Ephesians (6:17) adds that ‘the sword of the Spirit […] is the word of God’. Malchus lost his right ear when he was excommunicated by the first pope, a spectacular physical manifestation of the equivalent damage caused by the spiritual sword when a soul excommunicated from the Church was condemned to hell. Through the mutilation of anathema, the servant of the High 26  Joseph Lecler, ‘L’argument des deux glaives (Luc  XXII, 38) dans les controverses politiques du Moyen Âge: ses origines et son développement’, Recherches de science religieuse, 21 (1931), 299–339.

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


Priest became spiritually deaf to the saving words of God. Such an interpretation can be found, for example, in ‘The Sentences’, which was written in the years 1142–44 by the English Cardinal Robert Pullen, one of the most prominent teachers in Paris in the period just before the young Walter came to the city to study.27 For Walter Map, ‘discourse’ alone was more effective than ‘the voice of the sword’ in expanding the Christian Church to the detriment of Islam. This had already been demonstrated by the success of the apostles in the Middle East, who, with their limited resources, had had nothing like the power of the later Christian armies that, paradoxically, had been forced to retreat. Elsewhere in his work, Walter recalls other proscriptions of canon law: ‘it is not permitted to use violence against pagans, even to force them to the faith’ (I, 25). For such reasons, peaceful mission should be considered preferable to both the crusades and the preaching of violence. If he began his reflections upon the Templars by expressing sadness at the loss and recent devastation of the holy city, Walter nonetheless did not believe that a crusade was the best way to win back Jerusalem. The divine punishment that he saw as being embodied by Saladin, ‘the prince of pagans’, was, for Walter, rather an opportunity for Christians to cleanse themselves and to seek more fervently for the heavenly Jerusalem. He thus prayed that Christians would place their hope in the Lord, the worker of miracles, rather than in their warlike activity (I, 15). In summary, Walter rejected the notion of the crusades, instead claiming that he wished for a mission to the Islamic world. He did not believe that the domination of the Roman Church in the Middle East was a pre-requisite of clerical preaching; rather, holiness up to the point of martyrdom on the part of missionaries, combined with the work of God, should be sufficient to lead Muslims to baptism. Such an innovative opinion appears to have been most uncommon in the late twelfth century.28 Within a few decades, however, it had gained wider currency: around 1210, Adam, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Perseigne in Perche, was to write: ‘Christ did not shed his

 Robert Pullen, ‘Sententiarum libri octo’, in Patrologia Latina, 186, ed. Jacques-Paul Migne, (1854), cols 905–06, VI, 56. See also Beryl Smalley, The Becket Conflict and the Schools: A Study of Intellectuals in Politics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1973), 26 and 42–43. 28  Benjamin Kedar, Crusade and Mission: European Approaches toward the Muslims (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 111–12. 27


Martin Aurell

blood to win Jerusalem, but to save souls!’29 Adam’s unassailable aphorism stemmed from bitter experience. In 1202, he had headed on crusade with a number of knights from Champagne. Most of his companions lost their lives or their liberty during the campaign.30 Once back at home, Adam had time, in the silence of the cloister where he prayed and in the fields that he ploughed, to think about the unnecessary loss of his comrades. He thus came to an obvious conclusion: Jerusalem had been conquered by Saladin in 1187 and ever since then, the Crusaders had failed in their attempts to take it back. Christianity could only triumph in men’s hearts if it was spread, not through force of arms, but through example and preaching. Founded in the late twelfth century, the religious orders of the Franciscans and the Dominicans preached their message of conversion widely. Indeed, some of them even learned Arabic, the better to converse with Muslims. In 1219, Francis of Assisi himself met the Sultan of Egypt, to whom he offered baptism. Al-Kamil listened to him with attention and respect, and even though he remained unconvinced, he nonetheless asked Francis to pray on his behalf to help him find the true faith.31 Taking the example of his order’s founding father, the English Franciscan Roger Bacon (c. 1220– c. 1292) also advocated that an honest dialogue be held with Muslims. He knew that ‘their religion retains many words of the Gospels’ and that they also saw Christ as ‘one of the greatest prophets, born of the Virgin Mary without the involvement of man, but only by the breath of the Holy Spirit’.32 On this basis, an understanding was possible. But, according to Bacon, the crusades risked destroying this hope: ‘Waging war against the Saracens achieves nothing […]. Unbelievers are not converted in this way. On the contrary, they are killed and sent to hell. Survivors and their children deepen their hatred of the Christian faith, from which they move away forever. They become even more determined to harm Christians. That is why we have everywhere made the conversion of the Saracens impossible’.33 Bacon’s condemnation of the crusades is unequivocal.

  Jean Bouvet, ed. and trans., ‘Lettres d’Adam de Perseigne à ses correspondants du Maine (xiie‒xiiie siècles)’, in La Province du Maine, 32, 2nd ser. (1952), 1–20. 30  Alfred J. Andrea, ‘Adam of Perseigne and the Fourth Crusade’, Cîteaux, 36 (1985), 21–37. 31   John Tolan, Le Saint chez le sultan: la rencontre de François d’Assise et de l’islam: huit siècles d’interprétation (Paris: Aubier, 2007). 32  Roger Bacon, The Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, ed. John  H. Bridges, 3  vols (Oxford: Clarendon press, 1897–1900; repr. 1964), II, 371. 33  Ibid., III, 121. 29

Is Political Theology an Oxymoron?


Raymond Lully (1232–1316), a contemporary of Roger Bacon closely connected with the Franciscans, also favoured Christian mission over the use of arms.34 He even founded a language school on his native island of Mallorca where the brothers could study Arabic. He composed a strongly pacifist prayer addressed to Christ: ‘Lord, the Holy Land should only be conquered in the way that you and your apostles conquered: through love, prayers, tears, and the shedding of your own blood. Lord, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Land overseas would be more easily won through preaching than through the force of weapons. May the holy warriors become religious as they were formerly, may they adopt the sign of the cross and may they let themselves be filled by the grace of the Holy Spirit so that they may preach the truth of your Passion to the infidels. May they, for your love, shed all the tears from their eyes and all the blood from their bodies, as you did out of love for them’.35 Around the year 1300, many Franciscans urged that the preaching of the Christian faith in the Islamic world, even if it led to martyrdom, was preferable to the crusades. This idea became extremely popular. In contrast, this was not at all the case for the Knights Templar, whose existence came to be questioned after the fall of Saint-Jean d’Acre (1291). The slander spread about the order by Philip the Fair, King of France, ultimately led to its dissolution — and for some members, death at the stake.36 Medieval Christians never reached any unanimous position on the crusades; strong opinions would always prevail. Because they encouraged the ‘liquidation of political theology’, those who protested against the crusades in some ways represent the ‘conscience’ of medieval Christendom. They remind us, in a completely different context, of moral individuals such as Erik Peterson, who fought against the dominant ideology in 1930s Germany. And indeed, their legacy has lasted right up until the modern era. When the New World first opened up to conquistadors and missionaries, the Dominican friar Bartolomé de las Casas (1474–1566) stood up against those who violated the rights of the Indians. Moribund, he dictated a letter to Pope Pius V summarising his struggles and begging

34  Ramon Sugranyes de Franch, Raymond Lulle, docteur des missions: avec un choix de textes traduits et annotés (Schöneck-Beckenried: Nouvelle Revue de Science Missionnaire, 1954). 35  Ramon Llull, ‘Libre de contemplació en Déu’, in Obres Essencials, ed. Miquel Batllori et al., 2 vols (Barcelona: Selecta, 1960), II, 85–1269, CXII, 10–12. 36   See Jochen Burgtorf, Paul F. Crawford, Helen J. Nicholson ed., The Debate on the Trial of the Templars, 1307–1313 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010); and Marie-Anna Chevalier ed., La Fin de l’ordre du Temple (Paris: Geuthner, 2012).


Martin Aurell

the Pope to excommunicate ‘anyone who justifies the war against the infidels under the pretext of their idolatry, or who promotes it in their preaching’. His request concerned ‘in particular the pagans who have never harmed us’.37 In the Valladolid debate (1550–51), which saw las Casas and the theologian Juan Sepúlveda take opposing viewpoints, las Casas noted the absurdity of the concept of holy war. Equally impossible to justify was the enslavement of ‘barbarians’. Bartolomé even went as far as to support the moral right of the pagans to defend their gods. The absurd combination of religion and war does not fit comfortably with European sensibilities in the early twenty-first century. Much the same can be said of contemporary popes, successors of that same Urban II whose speech at the Council of Clermont in 1095 was the starting point of the crusades. It is difficult in this connection to avoid mentioning the speech given by John-Paul II during the day of pardon in the Great Jubilee year of 2000: ‘We cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions that have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth, and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions’.38 Even if this is not a formal condemnation of the crusades, this mea culpa comes very close. The words of one of our most recent popes draw on the same evangelical rejection of violence first voiced by the medieval opponents of holy war. The actions of a minority have, over time, led to a wholesale change of opinion.

  Bartolomé de las Casas, ‘Petición a Su Santidad Pío V sobre los negocios de las Indias’, in Obras escogidas de Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, ed. Juan Pérez de Tudela, 5  vols (Madrid: Atlas, 1957), V, 541–42, no. 53. See also Marianne Mahn-Lot, L’Évangile et la force (Paris: Cerf, 1964), 206–08. 38  Homily of the Holy Father for the Day of Pardon: Sunday, 12 March 2000, [accessed 26 September 2013]. 37

Regnum and Sacerdotiumin John of ­Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali José Maria Silva Rosa

‘Oportet gladium esse sub gladio’ [One sword ought to be subordinated to the other]


he importance and significance of a thinker, particularly in political science, can be measured by the way he receives and answers the pressing questions of his time. This is the case of John Quidort of Paris. In political terms, the relations between the spiritual and the temporal powers, between the pope and the king, between ecclesia and regnum, between sacerdotium and imperium, were the focal points of discussion at the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth centuries — remaining pertinent throughout the duration of the latter. This was not a new question in the West. We could say Christ himself was executed as much for religious reasons (admitting being the ‘Son of God’) as for political ones (‘king of the Jews’); the reason, ultimately, being a punctual theological-political collusion between Jerusalem and Rome. In theory, however, the Catholic Church’s aspiration to ground its spiritual action in temporal power is already evident in Eusebius de Cesareia’s De Laudibus Constantini1. Such aspirations are also expressed in the not always linear reflections of Augustine, Gelasius  I, and Gregorio the Great  I, and even more decisively so in the pontificate of Gregorio VII (1073–85) particulary in his conflict with Emperor Henry IV, wherein the pope claims the temporal power for himself.2 At the beginning of the Trecento, however, the progressive political affirmation of nation-states — particularly the kingdom

  Oration in Praise of Constantine I, Roman Emperor, in 336.  Cf.  Henri-Xavier Arquilière, Saint Gregoire  VII. Essai sur sa conception du pouvoir pontificale (Vrin, Paris, 1934); Walter Ullmann, The Growth of Papal Government in the Middle Ages. A Study in the ideological relation of a clerical to lay power (Methuen & Co Ltd, London, 1955).

1 2

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 129–147 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111249



José Maria Silva Rosa

of Francia which wanted to escape papal rule, as well as the new economical, political and social questions — imbued the conflict with new relevance, and began to demand and to provide new solutions. In addition, at this moment of philosophical, juridical and political reflection there were already new concepts available of naturalistic inspiration, rooted in the renewed study of Roman natural right and, in particular, in Aristotles’s Politics and Ethics which had by then reached European universities. John Quidort of Paris (Paris, c. 1270–† Bordeaux, 22.09.1306), although not considered one of the most significant authors of his era, deserves close attention, because of his work De Regia Potestate et Papali3 (end of 1302-beginning of 1303). The work merits a top place in any History of Western Political Thought since ‘this unpretentious Dominican innovated more in political theory than could be imagined, and much of the honor given to Marsilius of Padua is due first to him’.4 At the peak of the conflict between the king of France and the pope, clearly expressed in the solemn proclamation of the bull Unam Sanctam,5 are confronted two distinct visions about nature, about the origin, the legitimacy and the scope of powers of the king and the pope. On the one hand, the king assumes himself as ‘the emperor in his kingdom’ (‘rex in regno suo imperator est’, a formula dating back to pope Innocent III, in the Per Venerabilem), which meant that Philip IV the Fair (le Bel ), both in his internal political plan (regarding the feudal powers of the kingdom) as well as in his external plan (regarding the pope and the emperor), did not recognize any temporal authority above his own, thus recalling a principle of Roman law concerning the Caesar. That is to say, his free and sovereign will constituted the law inside the kingdom, without any

  Johannes Quidort, De Regia Potestate et Papali, III. Fritz Bleienstein, Johannes Quidort. Über königliche und päpstliche Gewalt (Textcritische Edition mit deutscher Übersetzung), (Ernst Klett Verlag, Stuttgart, 1969). 4  Luís A. de Boni, ‘Tradução e Introdução’, In João Quidort, Sobre o poder régio e papal (Vozes, Petrópolis, 1989), 11. 5   The papal bull Unam Sanctam, of Boniface VIII, promulgated on 18 November of 1302 (climax of the confrontation between the Pope and King Philip  IV) is considered to be the best expression of the doctrine plenitudo potestatis papalis, since the Dictatus Papae, by Gregory  VII (terminus a quo of the Dictatus: 1075; terminus ad quem: 1085); cf.  Hubert Mordek, ‘Dictatus Papæ e Proprie Autctoritates Apostolice Sedis. Intorno all’idea del primato pontificio di Gregorio VII’, Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia, XXVIII (1974/1), 1–22. The decisive verdicts regarding the relations between the royal and imperial powers are the XII Quod illi liceat imperatores deponere; and the XXVII Quod a fidelitate iniquorum subiectos potest absolvere. 3

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


r­estriction or possibility of being appealed by any higher or external instance (he is the ‘lex animata in terris’). This claim is practically what the king had already unequivocally stated in his response to the papal bull Ineffabilis amor (20 September 1296). This stance was decisive in order to harness the aspirations of some French bishops who were appealing to the pope, and against the king, in matters of external conduct6). On the other hand, Boniface VIII’s bull Unam Sanctam was very clear about the doctrine of plenitudo potestatis papalis,7 according to which the king must submit to the pope on all questions, including those of external matters. In this way, it grants canonical power to the traditional and forced biblical metaphor of the two swords:8 ‘it is necessary that a sword is subordinated to another sword, and that the temporal power be subordinated to spiritual power’ (oportet autem gladium esse sub gladio, et temporalem auctoritatem spirituali subjici potestati). Being an attentive observer of the conflict which had started a few years before,9 John Quidort of Paris also participated in it, not only theoretically but also practically, when he accepted to put his name at the head of a petition for a General Council, against the expressed desire of Boniface  VIII, where the idea of plenitudo potestatis would be debated and contested.10 But Quidort did not have anything against the papacy as such, as was the case with some of Philip  IV’s counselors, like Pierre Dubois or Guillaume de Nogaret. On the contrary, in the Proemium of the work De Regia Potestate he makes clear that he means to affirm nothing against the reverence and position of the supreme pontiff (protestor autem quod nihil intendo dicere contra … personae vel status summi pontificis reverentiam).11 This declaration of intention, however, must be read in regard to the papal role qua talis generally and not specifically related to a particular pope occupying the post at

  Fiscal matters or enforcement of justice in the case of a crime by some prelate, for example. De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 111: ‘a principe in temporalibus non appellatur licite ad papam’ (X, 117; XX, 177 and ff ). 7   The origin of which goes back to the repeated re-readings of the letter from pope Gelasio to the Emperor Anastasius I, in 492, even if he had in mind more a complementarity of powers rather than subordination of the temporal to the spiritual power. 8  Traditionally, the ‘two glaives’ are images of the Old and the New Testament. 9  Cf. Guillaume de Thieulloy, Le Pape et le Roi (Paris, Gallimard, 2010). 10  And where some would want to judge Boniface VIII himself, in light of what the Decretum predicted for such an occasion: heresy, the misguiding of faith (Decretum Magistri Gratiani, Distinctio 40, Pars III, c. VI: ‘…a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide devius’). 11   De Regia Potestate, Prooemium; Bleienstein, 72. 6


José Maria Silva Rosa

a given moment. In chapter XXV, he formally distinguishes the papal institution in itself, instituted by Christ (ex ore Domini), formally immutable (immutabilis formaliter), from its ‘materially mutable’ concretion ‘in this or that, in Celestine or in Boniface’ (tamen mutabilis est materialiter, in isto vel in illo, in Coelestino vel in Bonifacio).12 However, and against the arguments of his contemporaries curialists, John Quidort wants to distinguish theoretically the proper nature, origin and scope of each power, in line with the evangelical precept quae sunt Caesaris, reddite Caesari et, quae sunt Dei, Deo (Mc 12, 17; Mt 22, 21),13 a doctrine never once refused by tradition but rather reaffirmed by the Church Fathers, in particular Saint Augustine,14 demonstrating that royal power, because it is of a strictly natural nature, is autonomous de iure and, as such, should not be subordinated to papal power nor to its supernatural ends, even when it recognizes the greater dignity of spiritual power. But dignity is one thing; causality and derivation is quite another. It is a given fact, the author admits immediately in the Proemium, that when one is trying to avoid a mistake, one tends to fall for the opposite one (vitare volens aliquem errorem dilabitur in errorem contrarium). The healthy doctrine’s fair middle is a difficult balance, indeed. Therefore, regarding the ecclesiastics’ temporal power, stated the Waldensians based on the interpretation of biblical excerpts, the successors of the Apostles (praelatos ecclesiae Dei, sucessores apostolorum), i.e., the pope and the bishops and prelates, were prohibited (repugnare) from the domain of temporal goods, and they were not allowed to possess material wealth (non debere habere dominium in temporalibus divitiis). This dualist and Manichaean tendency of Catharist heresy was, in addition, explicitly referred to and denounced by the pope in the bull Unam Sanctam (nisi duo, sicut Manichaeus, fingat esse principia) in order to refute the monstrous existence of two powers of the Church, as if a body could have two heads (unum corpus, unum caput, non duo capita, quasi monstrum). But John Quidort of Paris does not espouse the opposite extreme of the Waldensian beliefs: the error Herodis. In fact, Herod’s mistake, on hearing that Jesus had been born to be king and afraid of losing his kingdom, had been to imagine Jesus as the powerful leader of an earthly kingdom (credidit ipsum   De Regia Potestate, XXV; Bleienstein, 208.   De Regia Potestate, VIII; Bleienstein, 101. 14   Expositio quarundam propositionum ex epistola ad Romanos, 72: ‘Sed modus iste seruandus est, quem dominus ipse praescribit, ut reddamus Caesari, quae sunt Caesaris, et Deo, quae Dei sunt’. 12 13

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


regem esse terrenum). More serious than the error Herodis15 in itself, he adds, is that it has been adopted by some authors of his time (opinio quorundam modernorum), now not in relation to Jesus, in illo tempore, but in relation to the current pope because, according to these authors’ affirmations,16 Boniface VIII, as the representative of Christ on earth, would have the ownership or property (dominium) and the jurisdiction (cognitionem seu iurisdictionem) over all the temporal goods of the princes and barons, and more immediately than them (a Deo immediate) since they only receive it mediately from God, and always through the pope (a Deo mediante papa). As is well known, this was also Gregory  VII’s doctrine according to which private property (dominium) came from the grace of God and, therefore, only the pope was the legitimate owner of all temporal goods (possessiones omnium homimum), being thus allowed to give or take them away to and from who he wanted, without appeal. Having presented the confronting theoretical positions, John Quidort of Paris immediately moves forward with a clarifying distinction, i.e., that ‘the prelates of the church are not forbidden from ownership and jurisdiction over temporal things’ (praelatis ecclesiae non repugnat habere dominium in temporalibus et iurisdictionis). However, this is with one important reservation: the ownership and jurisdiction over material things is not due to them ‘for reasons of their status’ (nec eis debetur per se ratione status) or because they are ‘vicars of Christ and successors of the apostles’ (vicarii Christi et apostolorum sucessores) as those defending hierocracy maintained, but rather they have one and the other [the ownership and jurisdiction] only ‘by concession or permission from the princes’ (ex concessione vel permissione principum), an idea which was present in the contemporaneous Rex Pacificus Salomon17 and which the then youthful Marsilius of Padua will later develop to its extreme in his Defensor Pacis (1324). At the same time, princes are not, nor can they be, within their political sphere, subordinated to the ultimate and supernatural ends toward which that the spiritual opus of the Church aims at. It is not the task of ­temporal

 Cf. Gregorio Piaia, ‘L’ “errore di Erode” e la “via media” in Giovanni da Parigi’, In Filosofia e Teologia nel Trecento. Studi in ricordo di Eugenio Randi (FIDEM, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1994), 1–16. 16   Some of the curialist authors (and their theses) are being pointed here, namely: James of Viterbo, De regimine christiano (1301); Henricus de Cremona, De potestate papae (1301); and, mainly, Giles of Rome, in the De ecclesiastica sive de Summi Pontificis potestate (1302). 17  Of unknown author, although some defend it was written by John Quidort. 15


José Maria Silva Rosa

power to open the doors of the kingdom of heaven. It is in this precise sense that Thomas’ faithful disciple18 considers further consequences and goes farther than the Doctor Angelicus. The latter had in fact defended the autonomy of temporal goods, the conditions to enjoy them righteously (virtues, unity and temporal peace), and the proper objective of political life consisiting in living according to natural virtue. But the ultimate horizon of religious and political unity of the respublica christiana (or ‘le rêve d’unité’, as J. Quillet expressed it19) leads him to consider celestial life and divine fruition the ultimate objective of the life of multitudo which only there would be absolutely perfect.20 ‘Like Thomas, John maintains that each power has its origin in a diferent scope of reality (natural and supernatural), but while Thomas places both powers in the same causal-final link and subordinates temporal power to the aim of supernatural power, in John, on the contrary, both powers point to entirely distinct ends’.21 The ordinatio ad unum ultimately determines politics in Saint Thomas Aquinas, but not for John Quidort. ‘Rex est a populi voluntate’ [King is King by the will of the people] Faithful to the scholastic method and to legal argumentation — of which he is an excellent practitioner and knowledgeable man — John Quidort of  He even wrote a book against Saint Thomas’ corruptors: Le Correctorium Corruptorii ‘Circa’ de Jean Quidort de Paris, Édition Critique par Jean-Pierre Muller (Studia Anselmiana, XII/XIII; Romae, S.A.L.E.R. Herder, 1941). 19  Jeannine Quillet, ‘Pouvoir temporel et pouvoir spirituel aux XIV et XV siècle complémentarité ou conflit?’, Revista da Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Lisboa, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, vol. 1, 1994), 43. 20  V.g., Thomas Aquinas, De Regno ad regem Cypri, I, XV, 46.47 (passim): ‘So that the spiritual is distinct from the earthly, (ut a terrenis essent spiritualia distincta), the government of this kingdom was, therefore, granted (huius ergo regni ministerium) not to earthly kings but to priests (non terrenis regibus sed sacerdotibus est commissum) and, particularly, to the highpriest, successor of Peter, Christ’s Vicar, the Roman Pontiff (et praecipue summo sacerdoti, successori Petri, Christi vicario, romano pontifici), to whom all kings of Christian people are submitted to (cui omnes reges populi Christiani oportet esse subditos). In the new law, however, there is a higher priest (sacerdotium altius), through which men are led to celestial goods (homines traducuntur ad bona caelestia). This is why, in the Law of Christ, kings should be under the rule of priests (unde in lege Christi reges debent sacerdotibus esse subiecti)’. [cf. http:// www.corpusthomisticum.org/, 28.01.2014]. 21  Francisco Bertelloni, ‘La crisis de la monarquía papal mediante um modelo causal ascendente: Juan de Paris, De Regia potestate et papali’, Veritas 51, n. 3 (Setembro, 2006), 56. 18

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


Paris begins by defining, in concise and diamantine Latin, all of the concepts. He then proceeds with impressive argumentative rigor, to defend his theses and refute the opposing hypotheses and arguments. W. Ullmann said in this regard and quite accurately that ‘few works are characterized by an honesty and intellectual rigor similar to that of John’s book’.22 If we wish, then, to determine what is the nature of royal power and what is its origin, it is necessary, first, to draw attention to the definition he provides of regnum: in a proper sense (proprie), the kingdom is the government of a perfect multitude (regimen multitudinis perfectae), ordered towards the common good (ad commune bonum ordinatum) and exercised by a single person (ab uno).23 Such a definition encompasses several elements worth justifying: firstly, the existence of a multitude (multitudo) defines a type of government (regimen) which includes a plurality of men in relation to one another; this regime is essentially distinguished from those other types of life in which several individuals are not connected among themselves; consequently, each governs himself individually.24 And it is not accidental that John Quidort begins with the multitudo, that is, with the base of the social pyramid. By doing so, he gives us a precious indication of a theoretical reorientation, which was occurring during this period, according to which political and temporal power is justified by an ascendant causality,25 inspired by Aristotle, instead of a descending causality, according to the Pseudo-Dionysius model we see in Hugh of Saint Victor and Giles of Rome. This reorientation means that the pyramid of the political, social and even ecclesial scheme in the medieval theological universe is here being re-appreciated from the bottom up, from the pars numerosa, the sensus fidelium, the populus, which comes and takes a central place in the work of our author.26 It is also true that in the Summa Theologiae and in the De Regimine Principum — which John Quidort follows step by step — Thomas Aquinas refers to the multitudo; and he also states that it needs to be governed per unum,27 precisely to ensure the common good. But

  Walter Ullmann, Il Pensiero Politico del Medioevo (Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1984), 232.   De Regia Potestate, I; Bleienstein, 75. 24   By instinct, in the case of animals, by reason and will, in the case of hermits or anchorites. 25  Bertelloni, 51–66. One of Aristotle’s lectiones of Política, 1281 a 40–43, allows stating that the multitude (plêthos) should have supremacy. 26  Cf. Ullmann, 227–61. 27   De Regno…, I, 3: ‘Necesse est quod in humana multitudine optimum sit quod per unum regatur’. 22 23


José Maria Silva Rosa

despite recovering the proper sphere of politics and plurality, Saint Thomas never stated that the multitude in itself was perfecta, always saving this adjective to qualify societas.28 This may seem a small detail, but the undeniable novelty John Quidort introduces to his scienza politica, with respect to Thomas Aquinas, appears also in small details, slight inflexions which, a posteriori, reveal themselves to be decisive in the treading of new paths in politics and economy. In addition, why does he make a particular case of the perfecta multitudo? Because, contrary to a crowd or a domestic community (domestica multitudo, communitas domus) which is not self-sufficient (sibi non sufficit) except for a short while (nisi ad modicum tempum), the perfect multitude is capable of providing its material needs during its entire life (ad totam vitam) and, for this reason, can be accurately be called a city (civitas), as Aristotle says, or a kingdom (regnum). Regarding the most basic and common needs, like food, clothing and defense (ex victu, vestitu, defensione), no person is able to provide them alone. It is, therefore, this necessity of the ‘stomach’ and the body coming from below and, at the limit, the fear of death which may come by the enemies’ weapons if each one is to leave off in different directions (dissipatur et in diversa dispergitur), that promote the ordering of political power (politia), even before the aspiration to virtue and to the good life. The fear of the evil that may happen (not of the evil in ratione peccati) begins here to be an element as determinant of the political as the desire for the good – or even more so. In using the example of the human body (in mixto corpore…) and of certain gregarious animals like bees and cranes (animalia gregalia ut apes et grues), we can say that John Quidort transferred the properly political scope which, in Aristotle, only began in the domain of human language (logos) and preferential choice (proairesis), to an infra-political domain, including the biological. It is also significant that, in accepting and integrating the Aristotelian definition in his text according to which ‘man is a political or civil animal’ (homo sit animal naturaliter politicum seu civile), John Quidort places those basic necessities of human life at the forefront, thus contributing to the lack of distinction between zoê and bios which, according to G. Marramao, becomes progressively characteristic in the West. Only after does he refer also to speech (etiam ex sermon) that only human beings possess — but which was the inaugural stone of Greek politeia.  It was the reading of Luís Alberto de Boni, ‘Juan Quidort. El poder civil y el poder eclesiástico’, In Moral and political philosophies in the Middle Ages: proceedings of the ninth international congress of Medieval philosophy, (New York, Legas, 1995), 3, which pointed us to this subtle difference.


Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


When, consequently, one asks about the origin of royal power one has to go back to the multitudo, to the conditions and ways it finds to satisfy, permanently, its lacks and basic necessities so that it can survive and have a future. In Question II of Distinction 44 of Commentarium in Libros Setentiarum (Reportatio), titled Utrum dominatio sit de iure naturali, John Quidort states that the nature of a being (natura entis), leads it to preserve itself (sui esse conservationem). If we argue against the present metaphysical thesis of conatus essendi in the political and economic fields, we could say that, in any multitude, it is expected that each one will fight first to preserve what is his, of his own interests (…multitudo quolibet quaerente quod suum est). But a multitude wherein each is focused only on his own personal interests (proprium, suum) would be, by definition, an imperfect multitude and would, consequently, not endure for long. Its disunity would lead it to ruin. Nevertheless, it is important to say that John Quidort does not moralize or demonize such amor sui, the natural ‘egoism’, by writing a realist political and legal plan which also integrates and takes in consideration the legitimacy of dominium and personal property, i.e., that which each one obtains due to his effort, work and ingenuity. The author’s position is still interesting: he builds a theoretical model to solve the conflicts between the temporal and spiritual powers by distinguishing their origin, nature and complementary aims, but ends up recognizing the conflict present in each of these dimensions. Conflict enters the universe of politics as one of the elements with which it must contend. The proprium, what is of one’s own, is a radical differentiating principle among men (secundum proprium quidem differunt) and, therefore, it is also a source of tension, envy and even robberies (dum aliquis quod est alterius susurpat29). Only the unity of order assured by a virtuous monarch can guarantee that private interests do not undermine the common good. The first task of the temporal or civil regimen is to assure the necessary means (pax) for the multitude to achieve the best of ends in this world: to live according to natural virtue. Therefore, in response to the necessity of physical preservation and economic self-sufficiency, which are the conditions for any other type of life, the necessity and advantage of a government of the multitude exercised by a single person is recognized (nisi ad bonum commune ordinetur per aliquem unum cui sit cura de bono communi) not in order to annul or deny the ‘centrifugal’ forces the right to care for the proprium, but rather to counterbalance

  De Regia Potestate, VII; Bleienstein, 97.



José Maria Silva Rosa

and assure the common good, which is a condition for all the other goods. And let it be emphasized that if men gather and choose from amongst themselves, from the community (a communitate) a single person to care for what is of everyone and to keep the cohesion of the multitudo — which would otherwise be lost — it is also with the aim of every individual being able to dedicate himself even more to what his own, by natural right. ‘For this reason, the prince was instituted by the people (positus est princeps a populo) who, as a judge (ut iudex) rules in these cases deciding between the just and the unjust (decernens iustum et iniustum) and punishing an undue appropriation (et ut uindex iniurarum)…’.30 John Quidort makes it clear that, in his understanding, government by a single person (the monarchy) is derived as much from natural right as from the ius gentium, ‘law of nations’ (a iure naturale et a iure gentium derivatum). It is derived, therefore, from natural right, because ‘man is by nature civil or political, and social’ (homo naturaliter est animal civile seu politicum et sociale31), for which reason if he lives like a wild animal he does not live according to what he is, but according to what he is not — he will live against his own nature. In fact, God gave men natural instinct (ex naturali instinctu qui ex Deo32) which leads them to gather together. And if they live in multitude, they need a government, because such a group cannot be maintained and cannot live well sine regimine. It is derived from the ‘law of nations’ because the language men naturally share (verba communia) would not, by itself, make them go from a life of beasts (a vita bestiali non possent homines huiusmodi revocari) to a civilized life together. A common logos is not sufficient for there to be political life. It is necessary that those most capable of using reason (homines magis ratione utentes) persuade the rest to live together under the rule of a single person (sub uno). Once again, the argument is focused on the necessity, utility and advantage that lead individuals to make a pact of association. Human beings, from an imperfect multitude perform a more perfect multitude via a free pact among the individuals who constitute it. In this manner, those who agreed, (et ita revocatos) accepted being connected to one another by laws that regulate common life in a positive manner (certis legibus ad vivendum communiter ligaverunt) and these are the laws that constitute the ‘law of nations’.

  De Regia Potestate, VII; Bleienstein, 97.   De Regia Potestate, I; Bleienstein, 77. 32   De Regia Potestate, III; Bleienstein, 82. 30 31

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


When he explains his definition of regnum sub uno, that is not ad unum ( John Quidort is against the idea of Empire), he gives the reasons why he prefers this type of monarchic government. The most evident is its end. According to the definition, this type of regime is ordered ‘towards the common good of the multitude’ (ad bonum multitudinis ordinatum) and so it can in this way be distinguished from tyranny, oligarchy and democracy — those forms of government where the ruler priorizes his own interests at the expense of the common good. But could the common good be sought for and attained by a form of plural government, for example in an aristocracy or polyocracy? Not as clearly as in the government by a single person, he assures us. If the goal of politics is to live according to natural virtue, then with a single governor virtue will be more unified and less disperse (in uno principiante magis est virtus unita), and it will therefore be more effective to assure that end. The human body is also composed of several members and the head commands the parts (unum elementum dominatur), assuring the unity and preservation of its being. Now, in analogy, if there were several or many governors in a kingdom, first it would be necessary that they were united and in agreement amongst themselves (nisi fuerint uniti et concordes) — which would imply a double effort to guarantee the unity at several levels: among those governing (and experience shows how difficult this can be); among those governed; and between the latter and the first (Quidort rejects plebiscitary governments — secundum plesbicita33). Now, according to a principle which would be advocate by Ockham, there is no point in doing with more what can be done with less.34 A single person can more easily guarantee unity, agreement and peace. Another important issue is the way in which a single person, taken from the group (a communitate), is placed above the rest with the power to rule them. John Quidort mentions, in several passages, the capacity of the multitude to choose and to elect a king. According to some, this valuing of the capacity of the people to choose is related to the manner of electing superiors by the group of brothers, a common practice in the convents of mendicant orders.35 But the author of De Regia Potestate justifies his defense of the

  De Regia Potestate, I; Bleienstein, 75.  Cf. De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 115. 35  Cf. Jean Leclerq, Jean de Paris et l’Écclesiologie du xiii e siècle, (Paris, Brin, 1942), 126, n. 5; cf. Barrie Allfred Brill, The Situation of Dominican Political Thought and Activities in France and England (dissert. dact., University of British Columbia, 1968); cf. Janet Coleman, ‘The Dominican Political Theory of John of Paris in its Context’, in Diana Wood (ed.), The Church and Sovereignty c. 590–1918: Essays in Honour of Michael Wilks (Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 33 34


José Maria Silva Rosa

e­ lectoral procedure by returning to its condition of possibility: the anthropological implication — liberty — which is present in the very idea of an original pact and is repeated in chapter XIII as a thesis, in fact, paraphrased from Graciano’s Decretum: ‘all possess the same freedom by natural right (de iure naturali est una omnium libertas)’.36 Therefore, ‘to live well in common, they elect chiefs (rectores eligant) who vary according to the diversity of communities (diversos quidem secundum diversitatem communitatum)’.37 Like the power of any other authority, the royal power also comes from God (Rm 13, 1: Non est enim potestas nisi a Deo), not via the pope, but via ‘the people, consenting and electing (populo consentiente et elegente)’. It is then God and the people ‘who give existence to the royal power,38 since “the people elected and continue to elect the king” (a populo regem eligentem), by indicating a person or a family for the position (in persona uel in domo, sicut ante)’.39 It is, then, the right of the populus to choose to submit to whom they will (se subiecere cui vult). When they hailed someone as chief, the ‘people made a decision they had the right to make (quod de iure potuerunt), because the people choose the king (populus facit regem), and the army chooses the emperor (exercitus [ facit] imperatorem)’.40 This idea is brought to a confrontation, in particular against the dynastic hereditary model: emperors are legally elected (rite eliguntur) by the army and by the people (imperatores ab exercitu et populo). The king can only be king by the express will of the people (rex est a populi voluntate).41 This assertion is still distant from the sacralization of royal power which will gain popularity. Quidort is adamantly opposed to any exclusively divine right monarchy.

1991), 187–223; In the De Regia Potestate, XIX; Bleienstein, 175, John Quidort declares that this type of elective model of government (eligentur plures ad omni provincia et de omni provincia) would also be the best government in the Church (esset optimum regimen eclesiae). 36   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 136 (cf.  Decretum Magistri Gratiani, Distinctio prima, c. VII ‘Quid sit ius naturale’: ‘Ius naturale est commune omnium nationum […], et omnium una libertas…’). 37   De Regia Potestate, III; Bleienstein, 82. 38   De Regia Potestate, XVII; Bleienstein, 158. 39   De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 113. 40   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 150.151. 41   De Regia Potestate, XIX; Bleienstein, 172.173; Leclerq, 95, n. 1.

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


‘Si quidem noluerit non potest eum coercere’ [If someone doesn’t want no one can coerce him] The titles granted to John Quidort in his time sound strange to us today — quidort, dormiens, soardus, de soardis, monoculus — because they do not do justice to the subtlety of his text, to his rational vigor, to the argumentative precision and the audacity of his ideas. In the second chapter (Quid sit sacerdotium et unde habeat ortum) of De Regia Potestate, he approaches ex professo the question of the origin, nature and scope of ecclesiastic power, although it is necessary to bear in mind the rest of the work. The purpose is the same as the first chapter: to show that the two powers are separated, now from the perspective of the sacerdotium. In this way, after admitting that man is not guided only towards a good which can be attained naturally, by exercise and effort — secundum virtutem —, Quidort adds that man is also guided towards a supernatural end: celestial beatitude, vita aeterna, fruito Dei. However, accepting that the multitude of men (tota homimum multitude), who by nature can live according to virtue, is also directed towards such a super-natural end, does not, by itself, necessarily imply the first should be subordinated to the second. There is no hierarchy between these two ends. The fundamental distinction resides in the independence of natural ends in relation to the supernatural ones, and in the different causal scheme of derivation of power in one case and in the other (ascendant in regnum; descending in sacerdotium). If only by virtue of human nature (virtute humanae naturae) it was possible to fulfill that supernatural end, then the path towards that end would go together with the end of the officium regis, since this latter was trusted with ‘the supreme care of the government of human things’ (cura summa regiminus in rebus humanis). But such cannot be the case because men do not attain eternal life by natural human virtue, but only by the grace of God. It is necessary then, not only to have a human government but also a divine one. But what would a divine government on earth be? Would it be a government headed by the pope? Would it be the government of king in subordination to the pope? Not at all! What remains clear is that, de jure, there are two powers which are independent of one another, and each one has its own particular ends. Without saying it explicitly, since he wants to keep the discussion in the academic and theoretical context of principles and away from that of direct political intervention, John Quidort, nevertheless, obviously cannot keep from having in mind the open conflict between the king and the pope. And he also knew he would be read in that way.


José Maria Silva Rosa

But the author of De Regia Potestate goes even further: he does not only distinguish in radice the nature and origin of these two confronting powers. He also undertakes the ecclesiastic claims for dominance since the primacy Christ’s mediation places and puts into perspective all other ecclesial and ecclesiastic mediations.42 In fact, if we had to answer the question ‘what is a divine government?’ on earth, we would have to say that it belongs to a king that is not only human but also divine (qui non solum est homo sed etiam Deus). Who could that king be? Only Jesus Christ who by his own incarnation made sons of God all of men (homines filios Dei faciens), which is why he was called a king, but of a kingdom not of this world ( Jo 18, 36: Regnum meum non est de mundo hoc). Christ is the origin of spiritual power and the proper person of divine government since by sacrificing himself on the cross he destroyed the obstacle (removit offensam, i.e., human sin) separating men from God, and gave men the grace and efficient means (the sacraments) that may lead them back to God. Only Christ is the head of the Church, just like the king is the head of the earthly kingdom. ‘There is only one Church (una est ecclesia), one Christian people (unus populus christianus), a single mystical body (unum mysticum corpus), but not residing with Peter or Linus (non quidem in Petro uel Lino), but rather in Christ who is properly and maximally the only head of the Church (sed in Christo, qui solus est proprie et maxime caput ecclesiae)’.43 There is no need to fear that ‘manichean monstruosity’ to which Unam Sanctam refer (duo capita, two heads), because one is not referring to the same reality in speaking of body. We cannot even speak of a single body. The ecclesia is the mystical body of Christ,44 the earthly regnum is a physical and legal body (a territory, social orders, laws, population, …) the head of which is the king. The analogy is between Christ and the king, not between the pope and the king. The relevance of the latter becomes reinforced by his term of comparison. By returning to the origin of spiritual power, the Word of God become flesh, John Quidort refutes the interpretations of curialists and hierocrats (the above-mentioned James of Viterbo, Giles of Rome, Henricus de Cremona) who defended the pope as the holder of plenitudo potestatis. But the pope is not even the proper possessor of spiritual power, only its minister. The only one holding that power is Christ, who gave it to the apostles and their successors — to the pope and bishops — so that they could maintain  Leclerq, 98 and ff.   De Regia Potestate, XVIII; Bleienstein, 164. 44  Ullmann, 220: ‘For him, the church was purely and simply a mystical body’. 42 43

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


the unity of the Catholic faith and the harmony in the Church, thus contributing to the edification of its mystical body, until the end of times. For this purpose, Christ left instruments to the Church as perceivable signs of his presence and virtue. Priesthood is, therefore, ‘the spiritual power given by Christ to the ministers of church (ministris ecclesiae a Christo collata) to give sacraments to the faithful (ad dispensandum fidelibus sacramenta)’45 so that they could reach eternal life. Such power in actu exercito is manifested in six circumstances: in the power to consecrate bodily matter (potestas consecrationis); in the power to administer the sacraments (potestas administrationis); in the power to preach (potestas sive auctoritas apostulatus sive praedicatorum); in the power of correcting in the external realm (potestas correctionis in foro exteriori); in the power of disposing of ministers (potestas dispositionis ministrorum) or the power to determine the ecclesiastic jurisdiction (iurisdictio ecclesiastica); and in the power (or right) to receive what is necessary for one’s own sustenance (potestas accipiendi necessaria ad convenientem vitae sustentationem).46 Obviously, Christ, as God, had still other powers (for example, the creative power, the one to perform sacramental effects without words or perceivable signs, to institute new sacraments, etc.47), but those he did not give to the apostles or their successors. Such a ministerium was given jointly to Peter and the other apostles (cum eodem, non dicitur ‘ab eodem’48) by the mouth of Christ himself (ex ore Domini), in a permanent and lasting way, because it was beneficial to the Church’s purpose. In fact, the so-called Power of the Keys, as the power to admit or to exclude, does not belong only to Peter and his successors, but was given to all apostles49 because it is essentially related to the potestas ordinis. Therefore, if the pope has a top position in the Church’s hierarchy it is insofar as he is a minister and a distributor of Christ’s graces, which is the guarantee of the unity of faith. The pope therefore does not receive from Him any potestas in the political order or dominium over the material and

  De Regia Potestate, II; Bleienstein, 80.  Cf. De Regia Potestate, XII; Bleienstein, 128–32. 47   De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 107. 48   De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 109. 49   Mt 18, 18: ‘Quaecumque alligaveritis super terram, erunt ligata in caelo; et, quaecumque solveritis super terram, erunt soluta in caelo’; Jo 20, 23: ‘Quorum remiseritis peccata, remissa sunt eis; quorum retinueritis, retenta sunt’. 45 46


José Maria Silva Rosa

t­ emporal goods of the king and other laymen:50 Freely you have received; freely give.51 It is clear, nevertheless, that Jean Quidort does not dematerialize or spiritualize the Church as was the case with some contemporaneous tendencies by radical Joachimites and Franciscans. We do not see here any idealist angelism: it was important that these ministers were men (homines esse) and not angels (non angelos).52 The hierarchic jurisdiction of the visible church, the priests, the bishops and, higher up, the pope, assure the necessary function of the unity of faith, something which is not as indispensable among the various kingdoms. Why is that? John Quidort offers several arguments: on the one hand, the homogeneity of human souls deriving from the single nature of the human species requires greater unity from the spiritual power. At the same time, the great diversity of bodies (diversitas magna ex parte corporum), climates, languages and modes of living call for secular power (saecularis potestas) to adopt greater variety of forms. In fact, with temporal things (in temporalibus) it is not easy, or desirable, to have a single person ruling the world; but with purely temporal things it is easier since the censure is merely verbal (verbalis) and it can be effortlessly communicated to everyone, be they close or far away. On the other hand, ‘secular power (saecularis potestas) cannot have the weight of its sword (gladium) be felt so easily over those that are far (tam faciliter transmittere ad remotos) because its sword is manual. Indeed, it is easier to use words than the hand (facilius enim est extendere verbum quam manum)’.53 In truth, this is the most accurate and most perfect bodily metaphor to compare and distinguish the nature of the powers in discussion.54 Temporal power is an effective power to coerce physically in the external realm; the other is a merely verbal and completely spiritual power (totaliter spiritualis et aequaliter in omnibus episcopis et sacerdotibus). The power of words, or  In a situation of exceptional necessity (in ultima necessitate), v.g., if an attack of the infidels endangers the Chistian faith, the pope can make use of the goods of the faithful, as a declarator of right (iuris declarator), but not as dominus or dispenser. 51   Mt 10, 8: ‘Gratis accepistis, gratis date’. 52   De Regia Potestate, II; Bleienstein, 79. 53   De Regia Potestate, III; Bleienstein, 82. 54  In De Regia Potestate, X; Bleienstein, 107, the author also makes use of the perfection of the complete separation of genders (less perfect in plants, more perfect in animals, failed in hermaphrodites, …) aiming to underscore the righteousness and justice in the separation and complementarity of the two powers: ‘insofar as something possesses being more perfectly (aliquid habet esse perfectius), it tends to also possess distinctly (tanto magis habet esse distinctum)’. 50

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


the ‘the power of the keys of the realm of conscience’ (potestas clavium in foro conscientiae55) only has the capacity either to persuade or to religiously coerce per accidens, and under the condition that the person who is being directed at recognizes and accepts its authority. That is, only ‘if the person sins and wants to repent (si peccaverit et si paeniter voluerit). If someone does not want to repent (si quidem noluerit), no one else can coerce him or her through that power (non potest eum coercere ex dicta potestate); unlike the secular judge who can impose a cash fine or reparation even to a person who does not want it, and can coerce him to it’.56 This is, without a doubt, one of those important milestones, in the western tradition, of the long affirmation process of the primacy of individual conscience and the autonomy of inner life. The pope or the bishop’s power of ‘coercion’ lies only in reprimands, interdictions, in the possibility of refusing sacraments (or, positively, of allowing indulgences) and, in the last instance, to excommunicate the transgressor. But ‘more than that (ultra) the pope cannot do (non potest)’:57 he cannot enchain, arrest, torture, deprive of one’s own goods, and so forth. Excommunication cannot have any impact on civil life. If that were to happen, it would be the destruction of the regnum. All corporal punishments are hence excluded, and only moral and religious punishments remain. This is, by the way (and as Jean Quidort does not fail to emphasize) a genuinely Pauline doctrine (Tt 3, 11): ‘Note that it does not say “burn him” but rather “avoid him”’(nota quod non dicit “combure” sed “devita”). It is clear, then, that this is a spiritual power and the princes are not subordinated to the pope by it’.58 And one day, princes will stop being afraid of eternal punishment of hell. ‘…quia cuilibet licitum est uti de iure suo’ […because for each is permitted to exercise his rights] Almost guessing how the conflict between the king of France and the pope would escalate over the next few months,59 in Chapter  XX Jean ­Quidort   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 134.   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 135. 57   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 139. 58   De Regia Potestate, XIII; Bleienstein, 141. 59   When the king was getting ready to accuse Boniface VIII of heresy, which was enough to make any attempt of excommunication null, the pope called the entire kingdom’s clergy to go to Rome. But on 8 July, 1203, Philip the Fair, signed a royal decree prohibiting any clergyman 55 56


José Maria Silva Rosa

reflects on an event where some bishops who had been called to Rome ended up not going, because of the sovereign’s forbiddance. They were, for that reason, reprimanded by the pope. According to our author, there was no reason for such a reprimand in the case of those bishops that had been given temporal goods by the king (regalia tenentibus) or that had other possessions (possessiones alias).60 The reason for this is because when a bishop receives a fief from a lord (episcopus accipiens feodalia) he becomes, just like any other vassal or subject, more obligated to obey to his temporal sovereign than to spiritual power (the pope, in particular if he allowed such a gift and if the order in question referred to responsibilities of the fiefdom — ad onera feodorum). In this way, in light of the feudal contract, neither can the lord deny the protection (patrocinium) due to his subject, nor can he who received the property (possessio), even if an ecclesiastic man, refuse to obey his lord (in this case, the king) by reason of the protection he receives from him (pro patrocinio debetur iure negare non potest).61 If those bishops with property given by a lord were to be called to the Roman curia (ad curiam Romanam), and were taking money out from the kingdom with them (portent pecunias extra regnum), and the prince (princeps) prohibits them from travelling because he would consider that adverse to the crown’s interests, it would not be fair to consider the king an enemy of the Church (inimicus ecclesiae). ‘Because if he does it for his own benefit or the benefit of his land (si faciat pro suo uel terra suae commodo), he does something he is allowed to do (sibi est licitum), even if, consequently, he causes damages to a third party (quamvis inde per consequentiam damnum allis contingat) because for each is permitted to exercise his rights (quia cuilibet licitum est uti de iure suo)’.62 Therefore ‘even if the prince takes such a measure with the intent to harm (intentione nocendi), even then, it is allowed if he predicts […] the pope has become his enemy (quod papa sibi inimicaretur) or that he called the prelates [to the Roman curia] so that he could plan something against the prince or the kingdom (vocaret praelatos ut cum ipsis machinari intenderet contra se uel regnum suum). It is proper for the prince to refute the abuse of the spiritual glaive in whatever way he can (abusum gladii

to leave the kingdom under the threat of the death sentence and confiscation of goods. In November, at Rome, only thirty-five bishops attended the council, less than half of the French episcopat. 60   De Regia Potestate, XX; Bleienstein, 177. 61   De Regia Potestate, XX; Bleienstein, 178. 62   De Regia Potestate, XX; Bleienstein, 178.

Regnum and Sacerdotium in John of Paris’ De Regia Potestati et Papali


spiritualis eo modo quo potest), even if he uses for that end the material sword, particularly when the abuse of the spiritual sword is converted into a danger to the republic (vergit in malum rei publicam), the care of which belongs to the king (cuius cura regi incumbit)’.63 But as a result he does extend the same principle [cuilibet licitum est uti de iure suo] from the royal jurisdiction to the private dominium of the owners. And the ‘scandalous’ example that Jean Quidort gives to justify such a legal principle leads us precisely to conclude that, by taking advantage of the conflict between the regnum and sacerdotium, a new order, a new power is thus in process of development: that of the private dominium, of the homo oeconomicus, guaranteed by natural right and which would not, in any way, oppose the common good that is the basis of the constitution of the regnum ad commune bonum ordinatum ab uno. Let us imagine that someone has a water spring sprouting in his land (aliquis habet fontem orientem in horto suo) which, by design of conduits (per rivos) also waters the neighbors’ gardens (rigat hortos vicinorum suorum). One day, the land owner decides to raise the waters (aquam ascendere) or make them run over different parts of his property (diversa loca domus suae) and, in this way, he prevents it from watering the neighbors’ gardens (ne currat ad hortos vicinorum). However, is this licit? (numquid est ei licitum?) The law says that it is allowed (dicit lex licitum est ei), even if others suffer from it (quamvis incommodum aliis eveniat), because it is in his right (quia utitur iure suo).64 Thomas Aquinas’ ‘faithful’ disciple takes here a different path. Unlike the ecclesiastic goods, which belong to the Church as a whole, the goods of the laymen in a regnum do not primarily belong to the community or the multitude, because ‘each one is master of his own things (dominus suae rei), which were acquired by his work (per suam industriam acquisitae)65 and his ingenuity’. A new political order was being born.

  De Regia Potestate, XX; Bleienstein, 179.   De Regia Potestate, XX; Bleienstein, 179. 65   De Regia Potestate, III; Bleienstein, 82. 63 64

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act in Baruch Spinoza and John Locke Montserrat Herrero

The Hypothesis


eformation is one of the key ideas of the Early Modern philosophy. By reformation I mean reformation of the human mind that opened the door to new science and reformation of scriptural interpretation that opened the door not only to freedom of thinking and speech, but also to political revolutions. ‘Es gibt keine wahre Revolution ohne Reformation’ Hegel wrote in his Philosophie der Geschichte.1 As he wrote in reference to the French Revolution, in Early Modernity, the reformation of philosophical and theological categories conditioned the achievement of a wider path to political liberty. At that time, every philosopher sought to legitimize his political conceptions and perspectives through theological arguments, even if they tried to test the possibility of a new source of legitimacy.2 This method is especially true of Hobbes, Spinoza and Locke, among others, at the beginning of the period. In this sense, the movement, examining it from the outside, might resemble the medieval strategies for legitimizing political power, but the reformed way of their Scriptural interpretation distinguishes them. This interpretational reform was introduced by a reform of the mind itself. It  Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The Philosophy of History (Kitchener: Batoche Books, 2001) p. 473: ‘For it is a false principle that the fetters which bind Right and Freedom can be broken without the emancipation of conscience — that there can be a Revolution without a Reformation’. 2  Recently Graham Hammill has vindicated the idea that political writers from Machiavelli to Spinoza drew on Mosaic narrative to imagine constitutional forms of government. See Graham Hammill, The Mosaic Constitution. Political Theology and Imagination from Machiavelli to Milton (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012). 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 149–172 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111250



Montserrat Herrero

allowed for a transfer between theological and political concepts, sacralising the political sphere. The Modern State became a sacred sphere in a way that the state under the anointed monarch from the medieval ages never was. Contrary to common assumption, we cannot simply say that Early Modern conceptions represent a step in the so called ‘process of secularisation’. Instead, in the careful reading of early modern texts, we recognize that, rather than secularizing politics, the political realm becomes sacralised. There cannot be a Revolution without a Reformation: in the philosophy of the seventeenth century, this reformation occurs by appealing to scriptural interpretation. This chapter thus aims to show this thesis in two particular cases, specifically in the philosophical works of Spinoza and in those of Locke. Precedent: Reformation as a Theological-Political Movement by Means of Scriptural Interpretation When Hegel speaks of Reformation, he is thinking of a concrete theological movement: the Lutheran Reformation. The essence of the Lutheran Reformation can be summarized in a few sentences. In disagreement with humanist philosophy, of which Erasmus was an eminent representative, Luther wrote The Bondage of the Will (1525), where he expresses his pessimistic view of humanity, according to which human will and human reason are not capable of achieving salvation and instead must depend solely on faith. Accordingly, God’s nature is twofold. On the one hand, He is a revealed God, whose words we know through the Scriptures; on the other, he is a hidden God, whose will we cannot understand. In this context, salvation is given by God alone and is not the product of our own actions and virtues. Liberty is thus almost nothing; faith is everything. Justification through faith is the Lutheran creed. Faith enables one to arrive at the correct meaning of Scripture, after which only grace makes good action possible. Scripture is to be read not with the authority of an external source of interpretation, but in the light of faith. Written from faith, Scripture is addressed to those who share in that faith for the purpose of encouraging faith in God. It is true that the act of faith is free. To believe or not to believe depends on individual conscience,3 even

  Martin Luther, ‘Von weltlicher Obrigkeit, wie weit man ihr Gehorsam schuldig sei’, in Werke. Kritische Gesammtausgabe 11 (Graz: Akademische Druck, 1955–72), 249.


Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


if faith is a divine work that comes from the Spirit. One’s conscience, then, is the only truly sacred place and is where the Spirit is able to communicate with individuals. In any case, reformers do not exactly defend a subjective interpretation of the Bible.4 Reformation texts obviously propel a rupture between scriptural interpretation and the teaching of the Church, but complete liberty of conscience does not then follow from that rupture. For Luther, and also for Calvin, Scripture, because of its clarity, imposes its true interpretation on the subject. Thus, the subject does not construct the meaning of Scripture.5 Luther based his view that Scripture is its own interpreter on what he saw as Scripture’s echo within itself. Scripture, according to Luther, has its own grammar, which is different from that of philosophy, even though this grammar of faith contains some words that appear in ordinary language. Luther assumes the unity of God’s word. Theology for him is the discipline of the ‘sacred page’,6 as it was in the Medieval period. Luther views the Church, as place for salvation, superfluous. It is merely an association between people. The Pope, as much as priests, has no special office, neither sacramental nor interpretational, and cannot institute laws. This concept was presented in the Address of 1520 ‘To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation’. As a political weapon that the European princes could wield against the imperium, Luther’s anti-papal stance was, in his political context, very important. Luther’s attacked not only the Church’s abuse of power, but the Church’s right to claim any such powers in  Luther, ‘Assertio omnium articulorum’, in Werke 7, 98.   Marta García Alonso, La teología política de Calvino (Barcelona: Anthropos, 2008), 56–57. 6  I follow here Kenneth Hagen’s interpretation in Luther’s Approach to Scripture as seen in his ‘Commentaries’ on Galatians 1519–1538 (Tübingen: J.  C.  B. Mohr/Paul Siebeck, 1993) who claims an authentic reading of Luther’s commentaries on the Scriptures based on his manuscripts. A  different Luther emerges as a result of working solely with original manuscripts from sixteenth century. He criticizes the Weimar Ausgabe as ‘presentist’: ‘Luther is edited in the WA as a nineteenth-century exegete. Those who have studied that edition have looked for Luther’s hermeneutics, Luther method and content of interpretation. When Luther used the word interpret, he attacked the idea and argued instead that Paul’s theology is to be promoted and applied to the present age, but not interpreted. […] that method has not place in theology, an assertion I think was close to Luther’s heart. Method, Melanchthon said, belongs to philosophy which proceeds from experience, principles, and proofs’, 151–52. In contrast to this approach, Hagen tries to see Luther’s work as a biblical-medieval enarratio rather than a modern commentary. He operates with a critical principle that in his view is often overlooked in today’s historical-critical methods: consistency. 4 5


Montserrat Herrero

Christian society at all.7 There is no separate clerical state, because the spiritual realm is ‘internal’ to man. External jurisdiction should depend on political power, burying the tradition of two swords and legitimating the temporal one alone. In Temporal Authority: To what extent it should be obeyed (1523), Luther sustains that even if a subject must always follow his conscience, he cannot disobey his prince with active resistance. Following St Paul, Epistle to the Romans 13,8 we have to accept that all powers are ordained by God, making the resistance of political power equivalent to the resistance of God’s will. By appealing to Scripture, Luther canonized absolutist secular power.9 Of course, the non-resistance credo would change to allow for the war against Carlos V in 1530. In that case, Luther justified the resistance of an illegitimate power based on an interpretation of right. In his Warning to his Dear German People, which appeared in 1531, Luther stated that the Catholic king was not a legitimate governor because his motivations were unjust and because he was constantly suspected of wanting to start war. As Luther noted, imperial law says that in cases of notorious injustice the government might be resisted by force, and so resistance became permissible.

 I follow Quentin Skinner’s interpretation in The Foundations of Political Thought. Volume 2. The Age of Reformation (London, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978). 8   Saint Paul, Epistle to the Romans, 13: 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience”. 9  As Brad S. Gregory notes: ‘Lutheranism and Reformed Protestantism became the great exceptions of the Reformation […] In light of the full range of anti-Roman Christians who made truth claims based on sola scriptura and its supplements, the vast majority of whom where proscribed, prosecuted, and punished, Lutheran and Reformed Protestant leaders were abnormal and atypical in garnering the political support of secular authorities’. The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Cambridge, London: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2012), 150. 7

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


Reformation of the Mind and Scriptural Interpretation by Spinoza and Locke Reason, not faith, was the creed of Early Modern Philosophy, whose proponents inaugurated a rational way of reading the Scriptures. I will explore the significance of this ‘philosophical creed’10 in two of its main representatives during the seventeenth century, namely, the contemporaries John Locke (1632–1704) and Baruch Spinoza (1632–77).11

10   Michael C. Legaspi, The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 25. Legaspi highlighted the dialectic war between the ‘academic Bible’ and the ‘scriptural Bible’. Legaspi says that the academic Bible did not come into being until the eighteenth century and pinpoints it origins with Johann David Michaelis (1717– 91). In his view, the current emerged in step with Reformism. He only identifies Hobbes and Spinoza as predecessors. Legaspi identifies the transition from Scripture to text as the main characteristic of the eighteenth century’s academic Bible interpretation. 11  Even if I focus on Spinoza and Locke’s works to show this change, they were not the first ones to do it. As we learn from Jonathan Israel, Lodewijk Meyer’s work entitled Philosophia Sola Scripturae Interpres was the first step in this general direction. It appeared in 1666 as an anonymous work. Meyer knew Spinoza in the late 1650s. Both, together with Van den Enden and the Koerbagh brothers, glorified the power of philosophy to transform the world. Meyer’s central thesis is that only by means of philosophy can the obscure meaning of Scripture be rightly interpreted. Their approaches differ in that, while Meyer thinks that Scripture contains philosophical truth in its correct exegesis, Spinoza asserts that reason is an analytical tool for scriptural reading, but we should not expect to find philosophical truth embodied in Scripture. For the differences between both interpretations see Manfred Walther, ‘Biblische Hermeneutik und historische Erklärung. Lodewijk Meyer und Benedict de Spinoza über Norm, Methode und Ergebnis wissenschaftlicher Bibelauslegung’, Studia Spinoziana, 11  (2005): 227–300. He shows that after 1673 both texts were published together, even though from the beginning everyone could distinguish their methodological differences. Walther thinks that Spinoza’s Political-Theological Treatise was a tacit dialogue with Meyer. Louis Wolzogen was one of the first Calvinist contradictors of Meyers’s work, who around 1668 defended the supernatural character of the Bible, even if he recognised the help of reason in interpreting Scripture. In addition, Samuel Maresius, appalled by Meyers’s Philosophia, staged a disputation among his students and finally published De Abusu Philosophiae Cartesianae (1670). This dispute has also left its mark in England, Germany and Scandinavia. Here the so called ‘Philosophical Radicalism’, a term coined by Israel, was born. See Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment. Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) 197–217. It is also to be considered a reference to Grotius as the first exegetical innovator following the authority of Faydit, even if he doesn’t do it following the authority of philosophy. He believed the reconciliation of the Christian Churches could only come about when the Scriptures were used as an instrument of reconciliation. See Israel, Radical Enlightenment, 447.


Montserrat Herrero

First I will turn to Locke’s An Essay concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690, but probably written in Holland around 1684 and then to Spinoza’s Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, which was first published as Opera posthuma in 1677, but was written around 1660, again in Holland. These two works cannot be seen as isolated phenomena; rather, they are the crystallization of a mainstream interest in methodology and experience, in line with the work of their contemporaries, such as Newton, Boyle and Hooke. Both works could be understood as contemporary responses to Decartes’ influential philosophy, seeking, in effect, a reformation of the mind, even if they represent two opposite views for understanding knowledge. Concerning Locke’s work, the first thing we have to consider is the aim of the book: a propaedeutic against sectarianism. People affiliated with different creeds were continually debating the concept of truth. The clearest conviction for a person living in seventeenth century was that the search for truth brings conflict and even violence. If humanity could reach a consensus on truth, then peace could be easily achieved. But such was, of course, not the case, forcing a reformulation of religion and politics. From the very beginning of this project, reformation of the mind sought to liberate judgement and the will, and it definitively sought to achieve political peace. Locke intended to formulate a reformation of understanding through a greater sense of humility.12 According to Locke, we can only acquire understanding through the experience of the senses, giving us few, but clear ideas of the world. Subsequent complex ideas depend on these few, clear ideas in a constructive way. In exercising itself, the soul improves its thinking faculties throughout its constituent parts; said faculties are also improved in the work that comes afterwards, by compounding ideas and reflecting on its own operations. The soul thereby increases its reserve, as well its ability to remember, imagine, reason, and other modes of thinking. There are no innate ideas, as Descartes supposed. Locke invited us to examine our own tenets rationally, and, in so doing, realize that the ideas that we consider innate form a part of custom. According to Locke, Cartesian philosophy, by contrast, made people afraid of this kind of examination

  John Locke, An Essay concerning Human Understanding (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, 1998), I, 1, § 4: ‘If we can find out how far the understanding can extend his view, how far it has faculties to attain certainty, and in what cases it can only judge and guess, we may learn to content ourselves with what is attainable by us in this state’.


Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


since they thought of ideas as standards set up in the mind by God to be the rule and touchstone of all other opinions. With this conviction, Cartesians, according to Locke, infected the people with the poison of slavery, making their minds dependent on those dogmas. In Locke’s view, God speaks to peoples’ minds in a different way than concrete sensory reality. God doesn’t speak through our senses, but rather through words. Words are not, however, naturally connected with ideas and with reality,13 but are produced by the custom of connecting certain words with certain meanings. Faith is the assent to any proposition not made by the deductions of reason, but rather is an assent made by trusting in God, who comes to us or communicates with us in some extraordinary way, which is what Locke calls revelation. Certainly, for this communication, God himself uses words, the same words we have obtained by sensation or reflection and therefore this communication contains the same ‘imperfect words’, the real meaning of which only reason can determine.14 If words are such an uncertain way to communicate, interpretation by reason is the only way to read a text, including Scripture. This is the reason why there are millions of commentators and interpreters of the Old and New Testaments15 and why we have to be charitable with one another in our interpretations or misunderstandings of those ancient writings.16 It is thus a dangerous thing to be the self-proclaimed interpreter of the Scriptures, as the Catholic Church maintains. For Locke, this claim can only be understood in light of the intention of exercising power.

 Locke, An Essay, III, 2, § 1.  Locke, An Essay, IV, 18, § 8. In this sense, it is also important to highlight the text IV, 19, § 4: ‘Revelation, where God has been pleased to give it, must carry it against the probable conjectures of reason. But yet it still belongs to reason to judge of the truth of its being a revelation, and of the signification of the words wherein it is delivered’. 15  Locke, An Essay, III, 9, §  23: ‘Though everything said in the text be infallibly true, yet the reader may be, nay, cannot choose but be, very fallible in the understanding of it. Nor is it to be wondered, that the will of God, when clothed in words, should be liable to that doubt and uncertainty which unavoidably attends that sort of conveyance, when even his Son, whilst clothed in flesh, was subject to all the frailties and inconveniences of human nature, sin excepted. And we ought to magnify his goodness, that he hath spread before all the world such legible characters of his works and providence, and given all mankind so sufficient a light of reason, that they to whom this written word never came, could not (whenever they set themselves to search) either doubt of the being of a God, or of the obedience due to him’. 16  Locke, An Essay, III, 9, § 22. 13 14


Montserrat Herrero

The Lockean text on ‘Infallibility’ (1661) is one of his first writings, even though it remained unpublished during his life. At that time, when Europe was battling sectarian wars, it seemed that the infallible Roman Catholic Church might be the only peaceful refuge for serious Christians. Locke offered two arguments against this ‘solution’: the first comes from the idea of God’s providence. If the Pope’s infallibility were necessary for salvation, God would provide it, but there had been no infallible Pope since the time of the Apostles. The second argument comes from the idea that God doesn’t act superfluously and, given that the historical facts contradict the usefulness of the supposed infallibility of the Church, we can assume that it is superfluous and thus not provided by God.17 In his Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke adds two more arguments against infallibility. First, he argues that it is not necessary that Catholics have an arbitrator on earth in order to achieve peace. A practical necessity is not a reason for something to exist in a definite way. For the same practical reason, we could affirm that every man himself should be infallible, avoiding all earthly disputes, and conclude that God has made things so.18 He goes on to argue, secondly, that tradition cannot be used to justify correct interpretation, since tradition is not a sufficient source of truth: the further off a testimony is from the original truth, the less force and proof it has.19 If the Church is not infallible, who then interprets? Locke’s response in ‘Infallibility’ is as follows: It is beyond doubt that the interpretation of the Holy Bible derives much from learning, much from reason, and, lastly, much from the Holy Spirit

  John Locke, Writings on Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002), 69–73.  Locke, An Essay, I, 4, § 12: ‘The Romanists say it is best for men and so suitable to the goodness of God, that there should be an infallible judge of controversies on earth; and therefore there is one. And I, by the same reason, say it is better for men that every man himself should be infallible. I leave them to consider, whether, by the force of this argument, they shall think that every man is so. I think it a very good argument to say — the infinitely wise God hath made it so; and therefore it is best. But it seems to me a little too much confidence of our own wisdom to say — ‘I think it best; and therefore God hath made it so’. 19  Locke, An Essay, IV, 16, § 10: ‘That any testimony, the further off it is from the original truth, the less force and proof it has. The being and existence of the thing itself, is what I call the original truth. A credible man vouching his knowledge of it is a good proof; but if another equally credible do witness it from his report, the testimony is weaker: and a third that attests the hearsay of an hearsay is yet less considerable. So that in traditional truths, each remove weakens the force of the proof: and the more hands the tradition has successively passed through, the less strength and evidence does it receive from them’. 17 18

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


illuminating the minds of men, but the most certain interpreter of Scripture is Scripture itself, and it alone is infallible.20

Years after, in The Reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures (1695) he proposed a method for interpretation under the supposition of the ‘literary reading of the Scriptures’. He advocated in the preface that Scripture is to be understood in the plain direct meaning of the words and phrases: such as they may be supposed to have had in the mouths of the speakers. Who used them according to the language of that time and country wherein they lived; without such learned, artificial and forced senses of them, as are sought out, and put upon them, in most of the systems of divinity, according to the notions that each one has been bred up in.21

Involved in the context of the discussion about reformation,22 Locke centres his arguments on the problem of justification. Justification comes by faith and must be able to distinguish the law of faith from the law of works. After the New Testament, the law of works is regulated by reason or, stated differently, by the law of nature. As for the law of faith, it is the simple acknowledgment that ‘Jesus is the Messiah’. Under these assumptions Locke writes his concordant comment on the Scriptures,23 most famously in his comments on Adam’s original sin. Locke restricts the consequences of Adam’s sin to mere mortality. As Nuovo points out, Locke’s strategy for writing the book might have been influenced by Faustus Socinus’s book on De Auctoritate Scripturae Sacrae (1570) ‘concerning the authority of the Holy Scripture’. ­­Locke rejected that he was so influenced, as he wrote in his Vindication of the ­Reasonableness

  John Locke, ‘Infallibility’, in Locke, Writings on Religion, 72.   John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures, in: The Works of John Locke VII (Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1963), 5. 22  Victor Nuovo, ‘Introduction’, in Writings on Religion, Locke, XX: ‘He was by conviction a Protestant, whose primary concern was Scripture and his interpretation’. 23  And almost at the end, where he advises how to read the epistles, he adds: ‘not scattered sentences in Scripture-language, accommodated to our notions and prejudices. We must look into the drift of the discourse, observe the coherence and connection of the parts, and see how it is consistent with itself and other parts of Scripture; if we will conceive it right. We must not cull out, as best suits our system, here and there a period or verse; as if they were all distinct and independent aphorism; and make these the fundamental articles of the Christian faith, and necessary to salvation; unless God has made them so’. Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity, 152. 20 21


Montserrat Herrero

of Christianity and in his Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity, defending himself from John Edwards’s accusation of Socinianism.24 In his book, Socinus outlined a strategy for proving the authority of Scripture considered superior to any other attempted. He affirms that whoever believes that the Christian religion is true by the virtue of its self-evident superiority, cannot reasonably doubt the authority of Scripture. Now, the task that lies before anyone who wants to prove the validity of the Christian religion includes finding the means for proving scriptural authenticity. For example, such a task would include uncovering whether the different gospel accounts can be harmonized into one consistent historical narrative, or whether the authors of the Gospels and Acts are trustworthy witnesses of the events they report, and whether purported prophetic and messianic places in the Old Testament have been fulfilled in New. In Nuovo’s opinion, Locke’s two major theological works, The Reasonableness of Christianity and A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul use these strategies.25 In any case, he says that the influence of Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, written years before Locke’s religious writings can clearly be demonstrated.26 Nuovo shows, based on the notes written in Locke’s Bible in the Bodleian Library, that Locke’s Bentley Bible contains notes about Spinoza’s Tractatus theologico politicus taken sometime between 1672 and 1675. Accordingly, it seems that Locke appropriated Spinoza’s comment that the ancient Jews were ignorant of natural causes and attributed all events directly to divine action. He also adopted a similar outlook on prophetic inspiration. Yet, he rejected Spinoza’s naturalism and his (Locke’s) confidence in the Bible as a source of transcendent knowledge seems never to have wavered,27 though he could not avoid association with Spinoza. According to J.  Israel, Spinoza was not the only author that deeply influenced Reasonableness; it was also influenced by the debate between Limborch and Orobio de Castro on the validity of Christian messianic doctrine.28 Locke was also well aware of the direct and indirect Deist challenges to the authority of Scripture.29 In A Vindication of the Reasonableness of 24   For a complete discussion of these works, see Victor Nuovo in the Introduction to John Locke, Vindications of the Reasonableness of Christianity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2012). 25  Victor Nuovo, Christianity, Antiquity, and Enlightenment, International Archives of the History of Ideas, 203 (Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New York: Springer, 2011), 12. 26  Nuovo, Christianity, 55. 27  Nuovo, Christianity, p. 55. 28  In opposition to Orobio, a Jewish scholar who contested the truth of the Christian religion, Limborch, Le Clerc and Locke asserted that Christian truth must be proven by reason based on evidence. For further reading on this debate see Israel, Radical Enlightenment, 464–70. 29  Nuovo, Christianity, 55.

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


Christianity, Locke defends his book arguing that it was focused on persuading the Deists of the advantages of Christian revelation and the authenticity of the biblical account of it. In this sense, unlike Spinoza, Locke offered proof of the divine authority of Scripture without undermining his rational foundation.30 As we can see, his interpretation is a double-edged sword. The aim of Spinoza´s Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect was also, as it was for Locke, a practical one. Written in 1662, it was probably the first work he wanted to develop, but in the end it remained unfinished due to the urgency of writing his Theological-Political Treatise (1670). Spinoza wanted to liberate the State from religious confessions and the individual from the power of churches. He was convinced that the intellect must be reformed in order to orientate ethics and politics correctly. For this reason Spinoza, in the Emendation, analysed how to reach truth, which he viewed as not merely theoretical, but rather a property of the moral life. Knowledge must be sought not for itself, but for the supreme good that is God. Spinoza’s approach to reason is closer to Descartes’s approach than Locke’s, even if he criticized the Cartesian position in affirming that extension and mind are not two distinct substances, but rather attributes of a sole substance that is God. The process of thinking and the process of being are thus identical and truth is not an adaequatio between intellect and reality, as in the case for Locke’s epistemology, but rather an autonomous process set in motion by a first indubitable truth.31 Truth is an intrinsic characteristic of the idea that depends solely on the concordance of thought within itself.32 Methodology must simply show the coherence of the mind in itself.33

 Locke, ‘A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity’, in Writings on Religion, 213.   Baruch Spinoza, Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect and on the way by which it is best directed toward the true knowledge of things. The Collected Works of Spinoza I, ed. Edwin Curley (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), [38]: ‘since the relation between the two ideas is the same as the relation between the formal essences of those ideas, it follows that the reflexive knowledge of the idea of the most perfect Being will be more excellent than the reflexive knowledge of any other ideas. That is, the most perfect Method will be the one that shows how the mind is to be directed according to the standard of the given idea of the most perfect Being’. 32  Spinoza, Treatise, [36]: ‘For this is clear that certainty is nothing but the objective essence itself, i.e., the mode by which we are aware of the formal essence is certainty itself. And from this, again, it is clear that, for the certainty of the truth no other sign is needed than having a true idea. […]From which, one more, it is clear than no one can know what the highest certainty is unless he has an adequate idea or objective essence of something. For certainty and objective essence are the same thing’. 33  Spinoza, Treatise, [38]: ‘So that Method will be good which shows how the mind is to be directed according the standard of a given true idea’. 30



Montserrat Herrero

Fiction, for Spinoza, is the greatest enemy of truth.34 Imagination is the product of all the sensations proceeding from outside, which are changeable and based on convention. Words and language are the second greatest enemy of truth because words are part of the imagination35 and merely represent things as they are in the imagination, but not as they are in the intellect. This hermeneutic, of course, is problematic for reading Scripture, which does not contain anything supernatural, but rather contains mere conjectures.36 For Spinoza, the prophets, far from possessing divine power, merely had ‘a more vivid power of imagination’.37 Furthermore, their teachings do not involve a revelation in the sense of an increase of knowledge, but are rather simply moral teachings on a way of life considered sublime. On the other hand, the Scripture’s supposed ‘supernatural element’, in the form of miracles, is not in reality extraordinary, but the consequence of ignoring natural causes and attributing them to God.38 Miracles totally

 Spinoza, Treatise, [52].  Spinoza, Treatise, [88]: ‘Next, since words are part of the imagination, i.e., since we feign many concepts, in accordance with the random composition of words in the memory from some disposition of the body, it is not to be doubted that words, as much as the imagination, can be the cause of many and great errors, unless we are very wary of them’. And also [89]: ‘Moreover, they are established according to the pleasure and power of understanding of ordinary people, so they are only signs of things as they are in the imagination, but not as they are in the intellect. This is clear from the fact that the names given to things that are only in the intellect, and not in the imagination are often negative (for example, infinite, incorporeal,  etc.) and also from the fact that they express negatively many things that are really affirmative, and conversely (for example, uncreated, independent, infinite, immortal). Because the contraries of this are much more easily imagined, they occurred first to the earliest men, and they used positive names. We affirm and deny many things, because the nature of words — not the nature of things- allows us to affirm them. And in our ignorance of this, we easily take something false to be true’. 36   Baruch Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise, ed. Jonathan Israel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) 112. Chapter VII [112]. 37  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 27. Chapter II [29]. 38  Locke’s argument defending miracles is the contrary: ‘Though the common Experience, and the ordinary Course of Things have justly a Mighty influence on the Minds of Men, to make them give or refuse Credit to anything proposed to their Belief; yet there is one Case, wherein the strangeness of the Fact lessens not the Assent to a fair Testimony given of it. For where such supernatural Events are suitable to ends aimed at by him, who has the Power to change the course of Nature, there, under such Circumstances, they may be the fitter to procure Belief, by how much the more they are beyond, or contrary to ordinary Observation. This is the proper Case of Miracles, which well attested, do not only find Credit themselves; but give it also to other Truths, which need such Confirmation’. Locke, An Essay, IV, 16, § 13. 34 35

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


confuse people because they force them to admit two primary powers, God and nature. The first is exceptional and the latter, natural, but, according to Spinoza, that assumption is preposterous because greater power is attributed to contravening the laws of nature than to producing them.39 If miracles really existed they would provide a stronger basis for disbelief than for belief. The fact that the Scriptures recount miracles has to do with their ‘vulgar’ character, that is, with the fact that they are written for the common people who cannot achieve rational speculation. The Scriptures are sacred only if someone seeks saintliness through them, which can only be proven through deeds of justice and charity.40 Spinoza, therefore, decided to interpret the Bible with a rational methodology41 that consisted in designing a true story and uncovering the intentions of its authors, as if it were a kind of data.42 He argues that we have to

As manifestations of this sort of power, miracles serve as credentials of divine messengers. Locke follows the same argument in ‘A Discourse of Miracles’, in Writings on Religion. 39  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 157. Chapter VI [81]. Also Letters 75 and 78. 40  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 165. Chapter XII [160]. 41  Leo Strauss has roused controversy about Spinoza’s supposed intention to found a science of the Bible as a science without premises, so that it can achieve results that are completely true. Leo Strauss, La critique de la religion chez Spinoza (Paris: Editions du Cerf ), 11. Strauss points out that Spinoza’s biblical interpretation is not free of premises. Rather, there are several assumptions in its foundation. The first assumption is to consider the Bible as a literary document, a self-referential text. Interpreting is, consequently, explaining Scripture through Scripture, without ever abandoning its literal sense. The self-referentiality, assumed without further ado, already involves a critique of revelation. The second assumption, to which Strauss gives greater importance, is the equivalence that Spinoza establishes between the Old and the New Testaments. From his point of view, this alleged identification is a particular case of the rationalist principle leading his Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect that turns coherence into a criterion of truth. Spinoza does not admit that the Bible is a book telling a particular story, and that its final parts have to be understood as a fulfilment of that which precedes it. This supposition leads him to the following third assumption, that only the statements that remain consistent throughout the Scriptures, and within which there is no contradiction, are true. Hence he dismisses most of the teachings of the New Testament, precisely because he finds contradictions in the teachings of the different apostles. 42  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 98. Chapter VII [2]: ‘The [correct] method of interpreting nature consists above all in constructing a natural history, from which we derive the definitions of natural things, as from certain data. Likewise, to interpret Scripture, we need to assemble a genuine history of it and to deduce the thinking of the Bible’s authors by valid inferences from this history, as from certain data and principles. Provided we admit no other criteria or data for interpreting Scripture and discussing its contents than what is drawn from Scripture itself and its history, we will always proceed without any danger of going astray, and we shall


Montserrat Herrero

treat Scripture as a physical document wherein meaning must be demonstrated in the text. As a result, a rational mind will only consider true the statements that do not vary throughout Scripture.43 When doing so, Spinoza observes the extent to which the word of God adapts first to its authors, and then to how those authors adapt their text to the people, where it is to be inferred that the appropriate way to understand the Scriptures is to adapt them to oneself.44 A  rational interpretation of Scripture should first seek coherence and then adapt it to the mind of the audience. Spinoza intended, with his historical-comparative method of interpretation (which is analogically derived from the history of nature, as understood by F. Bacon45), to free the Scriptures from theologians’ false prejudices and thus to liberate the political community from religious struggle. The method of interpreting Scripture is no different from the method of interpreting nature; both lack any special appeal to an autonomous criterion or authority that is external to the rules that govern the classification of data and facts and the drawing of conclusions. This way of interpreting the Bible lead Spinoza to argue that, in fact, true religion is limited to very few statements, most of which, in any case can be discovered in a rational manner and do not produce any kind of controversy. These statements include: That there is a God; that He is one; that

have the same assuredness in discussing things that surpass our understanding as in discussing things that we learn by the natural light of reason’. For an account of the place of history in the Theological-Political Treatise see Montserrat Herrero, ‘Theology of History and Theocracy in Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise’, in: Revisiting Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, eds António Bento and José Rosa (Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2013), 99-122. In the same volume related to interpretation see: Guadalupe González Diéguez, ‘Zero Degree of Interpretation? Spinoza and the Literal Meaning of Scripture in the Jewish Exegetical Tradition’, 73-99. 43  As James  R. Martel recognizes, Spinoza’s idea of reason contradicts a democratic epistemology and consequently decentralized scriptural interpretations, even if he doesn’t refer in his article to what I have called here Spinoza’s ‘accommodation thesis’. In Martel’s view, only in the Hebrew State could this decentralized interpretation of Scripture take place. Martel offers an original reading of the comparison between Spinoza’s Hebrew State and Hobbes’s Kingdom of God related to scriptural interpretation. See James R. Martel, ‘Reading Hobbes and Spinoza: Scriptural interpretation and Political Authority in Early Modern Thought’, pro manuscript. Paper presented for the International Hobbes Association at the American Philosophy Association, Pacific Division Meeting, San Francisco CA., April, 2010. Also presented at California Renaissance and Early Modern Sodality, UC Berkeley, 7 April 2010. 44  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 178. Chapter XIV [173]. 45  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 98. Chapter VII [98].

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


He is everywhere present and that all things are manifest to Him; that He possesses supreme right and dominion over all things; that the worship of God and obedience to Him consist solely in justice and charity; that all who obey God in this rationale of living, and only they, are saved; and that God forgives those who are repentant of their sins.46 The only thing the Scriptures can tell us that cannot be deduced through reason is that we owe obedience to God. Thus, in note 34 of the Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza argues that by virtue of reason we can love God, but not obey Him because, although we may conceive of God as the foundation of everything that exists, we cannot deduce from that knowledge that He acts as a prince who establishes rights. God’s love is not obedience, but simply a virtue possessed by those who know God; in contrast, obedience refers to the will of the ruler, not to the need or the truth of the object.47 Hence the fact is that faith does not consist of anything but, […] acknowledging certain things about God, ignorance of which makes obedience towards him impossible and which are necessarily found wherever obedience is met with.48

Faith does not justify in itself, but by virtue of the obedience it implies.49 In any case, ‘obedience to God consists solely in love of our neighbours’. Those who obey God under this formula necessarily possess a true and salvific faith, although they may not be aware of it or act in a specific way because of it. Anything else that religion teaches, according to Spinoza, is irrational. Religion can promise us nothing beyond the knowledge of obedience to God that results in charitable action.50 Hence true faith requires neither belief in ‘the stories’ of Scripture,51 nor performance of ceremonies.52 ­Spinoza  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 182. Chapter XIV [177].  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 203. Chapter XVI [197]. 48  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 180. Chapter XIV [175]. 49  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 173. Chapter XII [168]. 50  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 65. Chapter IV [65]. 51  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 65–68. Chapter IV [66–68]. He realizes that every truth is always historically ‘disturbed’ and he attempts to liberate rational truth from history. 52  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 71. Chapter  V [72]. Here, Spinoza argues in a manner that reflects the extent to which his interpretation of the Scriptures is politically driven. After accepting that ceremonies are highly useful to the State for turning men into slaves, he confirms that the apostles abandoned ceremonies, which seems hardly true if one attentively reads the account of the institution of the Eucharist by Christ. However, Spinoza says in Chapter  V [72], 71: ‘The New Testament fully confirms the same thing, for as we said, it offers only moral teaching, and promises as a reward the kingdom of heaven, and the Apostles 46 47


Montserrat Herrero

takes special care to show that the means by which one can access truth do not overlap: reason and faith are different ways of uncovering the truth of things.53 Faith is based solely on the Scriptures, the interpretation of which cannot be forced to coincide with what we understand rationally. Instead, everyone should interpret the Scriptures according to their opinions, so that it serves their particular piety.54 Spinoza emphasizes that, under no circumstance, should people attempt to impose their interpretation onto others, which is what churches do, thus generating innumerable conflicts. Luther’s creed was Sola Scriptura and was based on the believer’s conscience, not reason. For the philosophical interpreters, this creed was not adequate for winning the new political battle in favour of political power, even if it assured that the only viable political jurisdiction consisted in the temporal one, because believers’ consciences could also be converted into a revolutionary weapon under certain circumstances. A further step had to be made to ensure the temporal political jurisdiction, and thus allowing for the sacralisation of political reason. As we have seen reason, not conscience, became the new protagonist for interpreting the Scriptures. Reason, not grace, could obtain salvation. This step was the work of the philosophers, not theologians such as Luther. Liberation through Scriptural Interpretation According to Locke, the use of reason makes men free; believing in principles and authorities to obtain justification makes men slaves. As he noted, [A]nd it was of no small advantage to those who affected to be masters and teachers, to make this the principles of principles — that principles must not be questioned; for, having once established this tenet, that there are innate principles, it put their followers upon a necessity of receiving some doctrines as such; which was to take them off from the use of their own reason and

abolished the ceremonies as soon as the Gospel began to be preached to other nations which were subject to the laws of a different state’. On this question see also letter 76. 53  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 79. Chapter V [80]. In ‘How to Study Spinoza’s Theological Political Treatise’, Strauss claims that along with this exoteric doctrine, the esoteric doctrine that philosophy and theology are mutually contradictory is also hidden. L. Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing, Chicago University Press, 1988, p. 170. 54  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 10. Preface [11]: ‘everyone should be allowed the liberty of their own judgment and authority to interpret the fundamentals of faith according to their own minds’.

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


judgement, and put them upon believing and taking them upon trust, without further examination; in which posture of blind credulity, they might be more easily governed by, and made useful to some sort of men who had the skill and office to principle and guide them.55

Locke seemed to imply that every ‘system of truth’ is a ‘system of power’, where the liberation of reason from the yoke of dogmatism, authority and tradition translates into political liberation. As we have seen, for Locke, this kind of liberation is impeded by two main obstacles: interpretational infallibility that gives rise to the power of the Church and tradition that supports patriarchal government as much in the Church as in the civil state. Free interpretation through reason diminishes the weight of infallibility and tradition, giving rise to autonomous reason and, hence, to individual liberty. From the institutional point of view the two enemies are: the Church and the Monarchy. This kind of argumentation initiated the enmity between the Catholic Church associated with monarchies and liberal democracy founded in free thinking, but did not extend to religion and politics as such. Indeed, secularization as it is currently understood is absent from Locke’s political arguments.56 For Locke, religion, as such, is important for founding a political order.57 Indeed, the exclusion of the Church and the Monarchy

 J. Locke, An Essay, I, 4, § 25.  As Nuovo asserts in Nuovo, Christianity, 98: ‘Locke’s place in the Enlightenment must be represented in the light of his Christian commitments’. On his Christianity: ‘I do not think it is saying too much to assert that he belongs as much to the Christian tradition as does Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, or John Calvin. He is a principal founder of modern liberal Christianity. Locke’s philosophy, then, should be viewed as a point of orientation for a historical reconstruction of this tradition whose first flowering occurred in the seventeenth century in Holland and England […]. In sum, Locke’s Christian philosophy gave substance and direction to English liberal theology’. 98. He also defends this thesis in the introduction to Locke, where he says that Locke’s theological position is not an idiosyncratic one, even if Locke was not aware of it. For Nuovo the specific differences between the liberal theological tradition of Locke and Augustinianism and Calvinism are: ‘the consequences of Adam’s sin for his posterity, the punishment of the damned, and the competence and duty of mankind to fulfil the moral conditions of salvation’. ‘Introduction’, in Writings on Religion, XVIII‒XIX. 57   John Dunn writes in The Political Thought of John Locke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 99: ‘Jesus Christ (and Saint Paul) may not appear in person in the text of the Two Treatises but their presence can hardly be missed when he comes upon the normative creaturely equality of all men in virtue of their shared species membership’. A discussion of the necessity of the theological point of view for conceiving equality in Locke’s political approach 55 56


Montserrat Herrero

clears the path to true religion. The law of nature and consensus are the only sources of obligation and they are compatible with rational Christianity.58 By distinguishing between the law of faith and the law of works in The Reasonableness, Locke developed the distinction between the religious and political domains. The Christian faith, which is universal, must be independent from political circumstances, which are always historical. Christian faith is a relevant fact not only for the history of salvation, but also for temporal history, as far as it gives rise to rationality in humanity as a whole. Christianity brought with it an improvement in rationality, as contrasted with the ancient religions. In Locke’s opinion, this is Christianity’s revolutionary element that gives rise to a universal republicanism. His Reasonableness of Christianity is a defence of a universal religion that empowers reason and his ‘liberal theology’ gives rise to a republic as a universal means of governance.59 By restricting the consequences of original sin to mere mortality, Locke propelled further revolutionary political consequences. He rejected the Augustinian doctrine of original sin, which leaves mankind dependent upon grace and which asserts that the damned will suffer eternal torments. Locke’s interpretation of the Genesis narrative made the sacraments, the Church and the ‘sacred tribe’ superfluous. Christianity is, for Locke, an essentially moral religion in which there are no necessary positive laws or ceremonials; there

in the Two Treatises is presented by Jeremy Waldron, God, Locke and Equality. Christian Foundations in Locke’s Political Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 58   For Israel this is the main difference between Locke and Spinoza’s approaches, which most clearly influences their arguments on tolerance. In his view, Locke’s toleration revolves primarily around freedom of worship and theological discussion; Spinoza’s toleration is essentially philosophical, republican, and explicitly anti-theological. Israel, Radical Enlightenment, 265. 59   This is an ongoing debate between the interpreters. If the Bible is to govern our political opinions and actions, literal interpretation, using the words of Scripture alone, must be possible. Nevertheless, as Ross J. Corbert notes, Locke’s discussion of Gen. 1:28 in chapter 4 of the First Treatise intends to show that this hermeneutic mode is impossible, thus concluding that the Christian faith of John Locke cannot be very important for individual morality and did not have much influence on his political conception. Rather, his political principles go beyond the Christian cultural system. Ross J. Corbett, ‘Lockes Biblical Critique’, The Review of Politics 74 (2012): 27–51. He is following the scholarship tradition of Leo Strauss, Thomas Pangle, Michael Zuckert, against the opposing scholarship tradition, led by John Dunn, Jeremy Waldron, John Yolton, Alex Tuckness, Greg Forster, Victor Nuovo, who ascribe to the idea that there is a close connection between Locke’s religious convictions and his way to understand politics.

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


is only faith in God, making us free from churches and hierarchies. True religion has to be purified of all superstition and of old ritual and practices.60 Through his scriptural interpretation, Locke achieved a kind of ‘depolitisation’, in the sense of de-institutionalisation, of religion that preserves and guarantees the autonomous jurisdiction of political power. This process is only made possible, in his view, through a de-ritualization of the faith, to which Locke arrives by overlooking the passages in which Jesus lived the ritual law and in which he set up the ritual law within the new covenant. On the contrary, Locke centres his reflection on the passage about the Samaritan woman in which Jesus says that true worship of God is in ‘spirit and truth, with application of mind and sincerity of heart’.61 This great separation between religious and political jurisdiction, however, contrasts with the thesis revealed in the first writings concerning tolerance, where Locke supposes that, in the case of an untrue religion, the magistrate must exert his power as if he were the vicegerent of God. In effect, Locke’s series on the relationship between religion and politics begins with the Two Tracts on Government (1660),62 which is a defence of authority confronted by religious disputes. At the time, he posed the question of ‘Whether the civil magistrate may incorporate indifferent things into the ceremonies of divine worship and impose them to the people: Confirmed’.63 The affirmative answer to that question implies two suppositions: that the questions on divine service are indifferent and that the magistrate has an absolute and 60  Locke, The Reasonableness, 138–39: ‘All men, indeed, under pain of displeasing the gods, were to frequent the temples: everyone went to their sacrifices and services: but the priest made it not their business to teach them virtue. If they were diligent in their observations and ceremonies; punctual in their feast and solemnities, and the tricks of religion; the holy tribe assured them the gods were pleased, and they looked no farther […] Lustrations and processions were much easier than a clean conscience, and steady of course of virtue; and an expiatory sacrifice, that atoned for the want of it, was much more convenient than a strict and holy life. No wonder then that religion was everywhere distinguished from, and preferred to virtue; and that it was dangerous heresy and profaneness to think the contrary’. 61  Locke, The Reasonableness, 148. 62   John Locke, Two Tracts on Government, edited with an introduction and translation by Philip Abrams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 120: ‘Besides the submission I have for authority I have no less a love of liberty without which a man shall find himself less happy than a beast. Slavery, being a condition that robs us of all the benefits of life and embitters the greatest blessings, reason itself in slaves (which is the grand privilege of other men) increasing the weight of their chains and joining with their oppressions to torment them’. 63  Locke, Two Tracts, 210.


Montserrat Herrero

arbitrary power regarding indifferent matters.64 To affirm the last sentence, he had to suppose that the magistrate is a vicegerent of God.65 Locke defends this central thesis in the Two Tracts in order to achieve security and peace in seventeenth-century England. The faiths that he considered tolerable are peaceful because they are voluntary under the power of the magistrate.66 After this absolutism, Locke’s consecutives writings on toleration developed with more moderation. The Essay Concerning Toleration (1666) opens with a certain turn concerning the magistrate’s absolutism, which must have as his sole aim the good, preservation, and peace of the men living in the society over which he governs.67 The magistrate’s power must always be restricted, especially where religion is concerned. In the Essay Concerning Toleration, religious affairs and speculative opinions are no longer considered indifferent matters in which the magistrate can interfere. Instead, he can only interfere in questions concerning virtues, vice and practical actions in general. On moral questions Locke considered the magistrate absolutely competent, even if the aim of his action is not moral, but political.68 So in the Essay Concerning Toleration, he posits that only speculative opinions, such as religious ones, have a universal right to be tolerated. Despite this openness, he believes that Catholics and atheists should not be tolerated because they represent doctrines that are totally destructive to society, such as ‘papism’ in the case of Catholics. For Locke, this intolerance is not religious in nature because it is not based on religious reasons, but on political ones.

 Locke, Two Tracts, 122–23: ‘Not that I intend to meddle with that question whether the magistrate’s crown drops down on his head immediately from heaven or be placed there by the hands of his subjects, it being sufficient to my purpose that the supreme magistrate of every nation what way so ever created, must necessarily have an absolute and arbitrary power over all the indifferent actions oh his people’. 65  Locke, Two Tracts, 123: ‘if he receives his commission immediately from God the people will have little reason thereupon to think it more confined than if he received it from them until they can produce the charter of their own liberty or the limitation of the legislator’s authority, from the same God that gave it’. 66  Locke, Two Tracts, 170. 67   John Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration and Other Writings (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund Inc., 2010), 105–06: ‘That the whole trust, power and authority of the magistrate is vested in him for no other purpose, but to be made use of for the good, preservation, and peace of men in that society over which he is set, and therefore that this alone is and ought to be the standard and measure according to which he ought to square and proportion his laws, model and frame his government’. 68  Locke, Letter Concerning Toleration, 115. 64

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


Years later, in his First Letter Concerning Toleration (1685), Locke presented, for the first time, an argument for the compulsory separation between church and state. For him, the state has civil, public interests; on the other hand, the care of the soul or the persuasion of the mind is private. Churches, which concern themselves with those private matters, must be private associations, thus minimizing all interaction with the state. A church is therefore a voluntary association within a State without a specific hierarchy and jurisdiction. Locke repeats the old Lutheran doctrine on this point. Because the Catholic Church conceives of itself as a public institution, it is not to be tolerated. Locke, however, has no problem with the fact that the Catholic Church conceives of itself as possessing a universal religion, since Locke too believed that true religion is universal. Although Locke seems to be more ‘tolerant’ in his later writings concerning toleration, he maintains throughout his works the idea that judgment of religion depends on the magistrate’s prerogative. But the way in which Locke justified the magistrate’s involvement changed considerably. Scriptural interpretation gave Locke a weapon for softening magistrate’s power by appealing to a true religion that allows for an autonomous political power completely separate from religion. Even though it is clear that Locke subordinates religious arguments to political judgment and, in this sense, he sacralises the political sphere. This argument is reinforced by his paraphrase of Saint Paul Epistle to the Romans, chapter 13, 1–7, written in his last years: Let every one of you, none excepted, be subject to the over-ruling powers of the government he lives in. There is no power but what is from God: The powers that are in being, are ordained by God: so that he, who resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist, will be punished by those powers that they resist. What should you be afraid of ? Rulers are no terrour to those that do well, but to those that do ill. Wilt thou then not live in dread of the civil power? Do that which is good and right, and then praise only is thy due from the magistrate. For he is the officer and minister of God, appointed only for thy good. But, if thou doest amiss, then thou hast reason to be afraid. For he bears not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, and executioner of wrath and punishment upon him that doth ill. This being the end of government, and the business of the magistrate, to cherish the good, and punish ill men, it is necessary for you to submit to government, not only in apprehension of the punishment, which disobedience will draw on you, but out of conscience, as a duty required of you by God. This is the reason why also you pay tribute, which is due to the magistrates, because they employ their care, time and pains, for the public weal, in punishing and restraining the wicked and vicious; and in countenancing and supporting


Montserrat Herrero

the virtuous and good. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, and honour to whom honour.69

Spinoza, for his part, concludes in his Political-Theological Treatise (1670), with the justification of a theocratic democracy. Since the Hebrew State no longer exists, there are no civil obligations to God; were it to exist, it would jeopardize the absolute position of the supreme authority. In the Treatise Spinoza does not justify why he obviates the New Covenant signed by God with all mankind for all times, a pact which necessitates the repetition of a sacramental rite to be performed until the end of time. This prevention becomes clear from reading the New Testament literally. Whether one believes that Christ is God or a mediating prophet like Moses, it is not possible to ignore the New Covenant, whose content was announced by the apostles. Spinoza, however, was neither interested in the New Covenant, nor in hereditary apostolic succession because they imply a two-fold power structure, as was the case in the first post-Mosaic Hebrew state, with a structure divided between pontiffs and princes.70 To undermine this possibility he insists, like Locke, on the internalization of religion and on the negative consequences of the teaching, exemplified with Hebrew political-religious history. Spinoza drew three conclusions from examining the Hebrew state, including, first, that it is pernicious for religion and for politics to grant any authority to sacred ministers; second, that it is dangerous to relate divine right with speculative questions, which, in principle, refer to personal opinion; and, third, for the State to maintain peace, the right to establish what is licit and illicit must be granted to the supreme authorities. Hence the right over all sacred things lies with the supreme authorities, and that the external religious worship has to adapt to the peace of the State.71 Because of this, criticism of the ‘old Christian religion’ abounds in the Theological-Political Treatise. The first of these criticisms, though not the most relevant, accuses the old Christian religion of only maintaining its external forms, inasmuch as great importance is given to ecclesiastic ministries. The second criticism asserts that the ability to discern between truth  J. Locke, A paraphrase and notes on the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans, in The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824, 12th ed.). Vol. 7. 70   For the analysis of the Hebrew State in the Political-Theological Treatise see: António Bento, ‘Spinoza and the Hebrew State’, in Revisiting Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise, 237–65. 71  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 232–33. Chapter XVIII [225]. 69

Interpretation of Scriptures as ­Theological-Political Act


and falsity, between good and evil is delegated to those same ministries, particularly to the Pope’s infallibility,72 thus alienating the free judgment of men and turning them into brutes. He insisted on the idea that once the Hebrew State was destroyed, revealed religion had no immediate force in civil law, but only through the supreme authority.73 In Spinoza’s framing of the question, every political power immediately becomes a theocracy, even if it is a democratic one.74 We cannot doubt, therefore, that in our day sacred matters remain under the sole jurisdiction of sovereigns. (The prime requisite for administering sacred matters is not a person’s family line but rather outstanding moral qualities; accordingly, one cannot exclude those who hold power on the ground that they are secular persons.) No one has the right and power without their authority or consent, to administer sacred matters or choose ministers, or decide and establish the foundations and doctrines of a church, nor may they [without that consent] give judgments about morality and observance of piety, or excommunicate or receive anyone into the church, or care for the poor.75 [T]he supreme right of deciding about religion, belongs to the sovereign power, whatever judgment he may make, since it falls to him alone to preserve the rights of the state and to protect them both by divine and by natural law. All men are obliged to obey his decrees and commands about religion, on the basis of the pledge given to him, who God commands to keep scrupulously.76

In these two texts Spinoza’s ‘theocratic democracy’, based in a supposed ‘philosophical’ interpretation of the Scriptures, is well demonstrated.

 Spinoza, Theological-Political, 116. Chapter VII [116]: ‘For formerly among the Hebrews heretics and impious men were also to be found who acquired the supreme pontificate by dubious means and yet nevertheless wielded, by edict of Scripture, the supreme power of interpreting the law. See Deuteronomy 17.11–12 and 33.10 and Malachi 2.8. But as they produce no such testimony, their authority remains wholly suspect’. Once again, Spinoza does not rely at all on New Testament for his interpretation. 73  Spinoza,Theological-Political, 241. Chapter XIX [231]. 74  In this same vein see Norman  O. Brown, ‘Philosophy and Prophecy: Spinoza’s Hermeneutics’, Political Theory 14. 2 (1986): 195–213, 209: ‘Democracy is the most perfect form of theocracy, the only true theocracy’. 75  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 245. Chapter XIX [235]. 76  Spinoza, Theological-Political, 207. Chapter  XVI [199–200]. This very same thesis is repeated several times: Spinoza, Theological-Political, 238. Chapter XIX [228]. 72


Montserrat Herrero

Conclusion As seen throughout this chapter, Lockean republicanism, as much as Spinozean ‘radical democracy’, both in disagreement with conservative monarchists, manifest a sacralised political reason based on the political decisions of the sovereign. The form of government is not the critical question for either thinker; the sovereign can be one, a parliament, as in Locke’s position, or the people, as in Spinoza’s view. In each case, scriptural interpretation leads to an absolute political reason without effective limitations. The people are also called to reason ‘politically’ in the public sphere. For both philosophers, scriptural interpretation is the political-theological instrument for a world in which religious matters hold weight. These philosophers made a change in the source of power possible. Political authorities are completely ‘political’, but are also sacred in the sense that they are in a way ‘representatives of God’, because they are the last court upon sacred matters ‘Political reason’, when confronted with ‘other reasons’, e.g. churches reasons or private one, is supreme and absolute and in this sense, ‘sacred’. There can only be one ‘system of truth’. If we think of this position as ‘radical enlightenment’, as Jonathan Israel characterizes it, we have to admit that this is not a step toward secularization, but rather a new stage in the emergence of an absolute sacral realm, that of the State power. Free thought and action from dogmas and churches are, supposedly, the two most important outcomes of this period. But we have to recognize that, at the same time, the freedom achieved through reason was highly captured in the emerging State and philosophy could not keep from it. The Early Modern world no longer trusted churches, but had an almost unlimited trust in a new conception of the State, as if transferring the theological concepts of the church to the philosophical concepts of the State. In this sense, it is reasonable to affirm that the State did not become exactly ‘secular’ through this process. A rational reading of Scripture was one of the most important tools in achieving liberty for the State and was, therefore, one of the most important revolutions of the seventeenth century.

Early Modern Political Theology and the Question of China: Bayle, Leibniz, and Montesquieu Simon Kow


arl Schmitt famously wrote in his 1922 book Political Theology that ‘All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts not only because of their historical development…but also because of their systematic structure’.1 The assertion is a controversial one insofar as it may be linked to Schmitt’s later participation in the National Socialist party from 1933 to 1936.2 Abstracting it from its unsavory associations in Schmitt’s thought and shifting allegiances, however, leads to a number of striking historical insights into the evolution of the modern state. In particular, Schmitt contrasts the decisionism of absolute monarchy with the constitutional state as it arose out of Enlightenment thought. Just as the absolute monarch in seventeenth-century Europe constituted a sort of ‘omnipotent lawgiver’ who transcended the state, so God was conceived of as a single sovereign at a remove from the world. Thus, Schmitt argued, ‘The exception in jurisprudence is analogous to the miracle in theology’.3 But the Enlightenment contested the validity of miracles as contrary to God as rational lawgiver at the same time that it established the rule of law as supreme in the state: the miracle and the exception were ‘banished’ ­together.  Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. George Schwab (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), 36. 2   For criticisms of Schmitt as Nazi apologist, see, for example, Joseph Bendersky, Carl Schmitt: Theorist of the Reich (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), and Stephen Holmes, The Anatomy of Antiliberalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996), chapter 2. For a thoughtful treatment of Schmitt’s relation to Nazism and of the ongoing scholarly and political debates on Schmitt particularly in the Anglo-American world, see John P.  McCormick, ‘Political Theory and Political Theology: The Second Wave of Carl Schmitt in English’, Political Theory 26:6 (1998): 830–54. A recent survey of Schmitt scholarship and its attempts to sort out the Nazi question is Peter  C. Caldwell’s ‘Controversies over Carl Schmitt: A Review of Recent Literature’, The Journal of Modern History 77:2 (2005): 357–87. 3  Schmitt, Political Theology, 36. 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 173–190 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111251



Simon Kow

In turn, the constitutional state evolved by the time of the French Revolution into a regime governed by the General Will while the transcendent God of Enlightened deism gave way to nineteenth-century conceptions of Spirit immanent in History.4 Clearly, a number of very broad generalizations are at play in Schmitt’s account, which may be questioned in terms of the great variety of theological and political doctrines throughout the early modern period and in relation to the tendentious nature of his analogies.5 Nevertheless, political-theological analogies were at play as European thinkers sought to determine the significance of the Chinese state for European political life. In the wake of detailed but not always accurate accounts of China by Jesuit missionaries since the sixteenth century, European intellectuals in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries struggled to come to grips with a vast, distant land which appeared to have reached an advanced degree of civility and cultural refinement without a historical foundation in the religions of European and Middle Eastern societies.6 My argument is that the approaches to China taken by Pierre Bayle, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and Charles de Montesquieu illustrate the development of certain political-theological concepts in the seventeenth- to eighteenth-centuries. Rather than trying to map views of China onto all of the main currents of early modern political theology, I shall instead direct my attention to these philosophers who took special interest in the question of China and to how their remarks especially on the Chinese state indicated the relation between theological and political concepts in their thinking. In turn, they show the limitations of Schmitt’s approach to early modern political theology. Bayle’s remarks on China reveal his preference

 Ibid., 36–37, 47–49.  As William E. Scheuerman acutely observes, Schmitt was ‘more concerned with undermining the legitimacy of liberal constitutionalist ideals than providing a balanced assessment of their origins and evolution’. ‘Carl Schmitt’s Critique of Liberal Constitutionalism’, Review of Politics 58:2 (1996): 318. 6  I have previously written on early modern conceptions of China as they relate to religious and political questions within Europe in ‘Confucianism, Secularism, and Atheism in Bayle and Montesquieu’, The European Legacy 16:1 (2011): 39–52, and ‘Enlightenment Universalism? Bayle and Montesquieu on China’, The European Legacy 19:3  (2014): 347–58. For an indepth examination of Bayle, Leibniz, and Montesquieu on China and in relation to the Jesuit mission, see Simon Kow, China in Early Enlightenment Political Thought, Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought (London and New York: Routledge, 2017). My discussion here, however, is focused on the extent to which these conceptions relate to the ‘secularization of theological concepts’ in Schmitt’s account of political theology. 4 5

Early Modern Political Theology and China


for a kind of rational absolutism while Leibniz depicted the Chinese state in terms of natural theology — both political-theological positions which are not captured in Schmitt’s account — while Montesquieu sought to counter such positive accounts of China as well as the unlimited sovereignty championed by Schmitt himself. The Jesuits and the Son of Heaven I begin with the account of China in the journals of the great Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, with reference to the influential eighteenth-century account of China written by Jean-Baptise du Halde. Ricci was not the founder of the Jesuit mission in China but began as the first companion of Michele Ruggieri, who obtained permission for the Jesuits to reside there in 1582. Moreover, Ricci’s work to convert the Chinese to Christianity is far from encapsulating all the complexities of the Jesuit mission to China, as Liam Brockey has convincingly shown.7 Nevertheless, Ricci’s journals, edited by Nicholas Trigault and published in 1615, epitomized some of the attitudes held by the Jesuits in China during the first part of the mission and which would shape subsequent perspectives by early modern thinkers. Book One of the journals is devoted to a detailed description of China and reveals Ricci’s evaluation of Chinese society. As he reported, the Jesuits’ impressions of China were gathered from conversations with magistrates and men of letters, the study of its society and government, and examination of Chinese literary and philosophical texts — all facilitated by the Jesuits’ knowledge of the Chinese language.8 Ricci himself developed mnemonic techniques which enabled him to master the language to such an extent that he was able to write works in Chinese and translate Euclid from Greek to his adopted language.9

 Liam Matthew Brockey, Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, 1579–1734 (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2007), 32, 61. See also Jonathan Spence’s review of Brockey’s book in ‘The Dream of Catholic China’, The New York Review of Books, June 28, 2007, 22–24. 8   Matteo Ricci, De Christiana expeditione apud Sinas suscepta ab Societate Jesu, ed. Nicholas Trigault (Augsburg: Christoph. Mangium, 1615), 3. As Brockey notes, the Jesuits were ‘the first Europeans to attempt to understand the Chinese language as well as Confucian philosophy’ (Jesuit Mission, 8). 9   Jonathan Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci (New York: Penguin, 1984), 1–12, 31–32. 7


Simon Kow

Ricci’s remarks indicate how much the Jesuits were struck by the political theology underpinning Chinese government.10 Because the Chinese consider their vast dominion to encompass the whole world — perhaps Ricci’s reference to the characters tian xia, describing China as ‘all under heaven’ — the Emperor is called the Son of Heaven (tianzi). Ricci added that Son of Heaven means the same as Son of God, since the character for ‘heaven’ (tian) is used in place of the idea of God.11 These observations were echoed a century later by du Halde, a Jesuit priest whose 1735 book Description de la Chine was based on ‘edifying and curious letters’ sent to him by French missionaries in China.12 According to du Halde, the Son of Heaven reflected both the absolutism of Chinese monarchy and the idea of the emperor as a kind of divinity.13 In other words, the Chinese emperor would correspond to Schmitt’s absolute monarch who is an omnipotent lawgiver. A major difference, however, consists in what Ricci saw as the lack of transcendence in Chinese religion (in contrast, interestingly, to the emperor’s transcendence over the state), as reflected in the belief in spirits inhabiting heaven and earth. Furthermore, the absolutism of the Chinese monarchy is mitigated, Ricci thought, by the de facto requirement that the emperor consult his magistrates (all chosen by literary examination) on all matters of state.14 Du Halde emphasized instead the emperor’s duty to be a father to his people, and the right of mandarins — when necessary — to represent humbly and respectfully to the emperor the disastrous consequences of his tendency to abuse his absolute authority.15 In any case, both highlighted limits to Chinese absolutism despite its theological justification. Ricci and du Halde, like many other Jesuits in China,16 were clearly impressed with many of these features of the Chinese administration.

  This attitude towards a ‘civilized’ society ruled by scholars may be contrasted with the generally negative account of the religion of the sauvages in North America, as discussed throughout the Jesuit Relations of 1610–1791. 11  Ricci, De Christiana, 45. 12  Brockey, Jesuit Mission, 193. 13   Jean-Baptiste du Halde, Description géographique, historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de l’Empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie chinoise (Paris: P.-G.  Le Mercier, 1735), vol. 2, 9. 14  Ricci, De Christiana, 104, 33–42, 47. 15  Du Halde, Description, vol. 2, 12. 16  For example, Michele Ruggieri, Johann Adam Schall, and Ferdinand Verbiest. See Brockey’s Journey to the East for a detailed account of the mission and its end due to various religious pressures in the long wake of the Counter-Reformation. 10

Early Modern Political Theology and China


For Ricci, the religion of the literati, unlike Daoism or Buddhism, has as its ‘­u ltimate purpose’ the good of the state; du Halde indicated its association with merit, intelligence, mores, and government, unlike the superstition of the other two sects. Even more attractive to them was that it is hardly a religion at all. Hence for Ricci it ‘could derive great benefit from Christianity and might be developed and perfected by it’.17 In other words, Confucianism could potentially be accommodated to Christianity as was the case with aspects of ancient Greek philosophy, since Confucius in Ricci’s estimation ‘was the equal of the pagan philosophers and superior to most of them’.18 At issue was whether Confucianism is a pagan religion or a form of natural theology which is compatible with Christianity. It helped Ricci’s case that the Chinese literati appeared to accept the existence of a single supreme deity, but — ­following Confucius — without speculating on the deity’s nature or the creation of the world (though in contrast, du Halde tended to regard tian as less an immaterial supreme being and more the material heavens19). Significantly, Ricci stressed that the ancestral and other rites were purely civil in character, i.e., more for the benefit of the living than the dead,20 which along with the issue of translating tian and other theological concepts were major points of subsequent controversy among the Jesuits, with their enemies, and between later philosophers in the early modern period.21 Yet observing Chinese political theology in its most salutary form was of no discernible influence on Jesuit political thought: the pagan content of most Chinese beliefs and the primary goal of converting the Chinese to Christianity prevented Chinese political theology from making any impact on how Jesuits would approach politics in Europe, in contrast to the early modern philosophers we shall be examining presently.22 Nevertheless, it is the accounts of Ricci, du Halde, and others which form the basis for subsequent early modern fascination with

 Ricci, De Christiana, 109; China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci: 1583–1610, trans. Louis  J. Gallagher (New York: Random House, 1953), 98; Du Halde, Description, vol. 3, 1–2. 18  Ricci, De Christiana, 29; Journals, 30. 19  Du Halde, Description, vol. 3, 3. 20  Ricci, De Christiana, 105–08. 21   See David  E. Mungello, ed., The Rites Controversy: Its History and Meaning (Nettetal, Germany: Steyler, 1994); and Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism: The Search for Accord (Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1977), 9–13. 22   My thanks to Annabel Brett for clarifying this point. The major preoccupation of the European Jesuits and their enemies was the theological status of Chinese rites, not the lessons of China for European political thought. See Brockey, Jesuit Mission, 104–07. 17


Simon Kow

Chinese political theology, not least the view held by Ricci — among the most sympathetic of Jesuits to Chinese civilization — that the syncretism of the ‘three religions’ of China (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) led its people to ‘fall into the deepest depths of utter atheism’.23 The puzzling (to European eyes) political theology of a divinely ordained Chinese emperor with rational, constitutional, and atheistic elements or consequences would spark intense debate. Bayle’s Rational Absolutism In contrast to Ricci and other Jesuits, who admired China but sought to perfect its people through conversion to Christianity, the secular orientation of Enlightenment thinkers disposed some of them to regard Chinese government as a challenge to European historical practices or even as a possible model for Europe. While Jesuit descriptions of China were the necessary soil for such theoretical speculations, the work of Pierre Bayle watered and fertilized these seeds. Prominent political theorists of the seventeenth century, including Hugo Grotius, Thomas Hobbes, Benedict Spinoza, and John Locke, devoted little attention to the relevance of Chinese political life for Europe, arguably because their conceptions of natural law tended to posit contractualist forms of government valid in theory for most or all societies. The robust political and philosophical significance of ‘culture’ was more a feature of eighteenth-century thought.24 Philosophers such as Bayle and Kant associated Spinozism with Chinese thought,25 but Spinoza himself did not consider this connection. Chinese political theology was not centrally relevant to early modern political thought prior to Bayle.

 Ricci, De Christiana, 116; Journals, 105.   See, for example, my chapter on ‘Politics and Culture in Hume’s History of England’, in Companion to Enlightenment Historiography, ed. Sophie Bourgault and Robert Sparling (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 61–99. 25   Pierre Bayle, Dictionnaire historique et critique, ed. A. J. Q. Beuchot (Paris: Desoer, 1820–24), vol. 13, 425–28, 456–57; Kant, ‘The End of All Things’, in Perpetual Peace and Other Essays, ed. Ted Humphrey (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983), 99–100. I  have addressed the relation between Bayle and Spinoza in China in Early Enlightenment Political Thought, Ch. 3, and more briefly in ‘Confucianism, Secularism, and Atheism’, 44–45, 50 n.  38. Furthermore, the relation between China and Bayle’s absolutism is more pertinent to his Commentaire Philosophique than to the article on Spinoza in the Dictionnaire. 23 24

Early Modern Political Theology and China


The characterization of Bayle as a father of the Enlightenment is due in part to the clear influence of his Dictionnaire historique et critique (first published 1697) on the Encyclopédie as well as Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique, including his thoughts on atheism in the Dictionnaire which continue many of the arguments in the earlier Pensées diverses à l’occasion d’une Comete (1682). While Ricci criticized the tendency of the Chinese to fall into atheism, Bayle argued in Pensées that a rational, albeit imperfect, society of atheists is in principle possible.26 Some scholars have thus concluded that Bayle endorsed China as an atheistic exemplar for European states.27 Even if China was empirical evidence for him of the viability of an atheistic society,28 Bayle also devoted discussion to China in his 1686 work, Commentaire Philosophique sur ces paroles de J. C. contraignez les d’entrer, où l’on refute tous les Sophismes des Convertisseurs à contrainte. The Commentaire Philosophique is an extensive defence of religious toleration in the context of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Bayle’s anti-Jesuitical perspective is conveyed through the imagined response of the Chinese to the missionaries. A Chinese, he wrote, who ‘read over the accounts which the Protestants might and ought to furnish them of the exploits of Popery in Europe, America and the Indies’ would regard Catholicism as a religion ‘led by a spirit at enmity with truth and holiness’.29 Confronted with missionary activity in his kingdom, the Chinese emperor would be duty-bound by the dictates of natural reason to examine whether or not the doctrine of the new religion ‘reconciles the fidelity which subjects owe their sovereign with their duty

26   See the Eighth and Ninth Letters, §§133–93, in Pierre Bayle, Oeuvres Diverses, ed. Elisabeth Labrousse (Hildesheim: Georg Oms Verlag, 1964–82), vol. 3, 86–124. 27   Jonathan Israel, Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man, 1670–1752 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 645–46; Robert C. Bartlett, ‘On the Politics of Faith and Reason: The Project of Enlightenment in Pierre Bayle and Montesquieu’, The Journal of Politics 63 (2001): 1–28; Kenneth R. Weinstein, ‘Pierre Bayle’s Atheist Politics’, in Early Modern Skepticism and the Origins of Toleration, ed. Alan Levine (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 1999), 197–223. 28  Robert Shackleton, ‘Asia as seen by the French Enlightenment’, in Essays on Montesquieu and on the Enlightenment, ed. David Gilson and Martin Smith (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1988), 237; Kow, ‘Confucianism, Secularism, and Atheism’, 42–45; and Kow, China in Early Enlightenment Political Thought, Ch. 3. 29  Bayle, Oeuvres Diverses, vol. 2, 363; the translations here and below are slightly modernized from A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14:23, ‘Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full’, ed. John Kilcullen and Chandran Kukathas (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005), 54.


Simon Kow

to God’ and is ‘consistent with the public good, and with those fundamental laws, which constitute the happiness of sovereigns and subjects’. Bayle concluded that ‘if this emperor believes there’s a God, as it is certain all the pagans do’, he would be obliged in good conscience to banish the missionaries who preach compulsion to their religion. Moreover, a Chinese who professes Christianity while knowing in his or her heart that the Chinese religion is best would violate the rights of conscience.30 In the Commentaire, then, Bayle thus depicted China as a pagan (not atheistic) state governed by a powerful monarch entrusted with maintaining peace and good government — which in turn entails obeying reason and protecting conscience alike. This characterization of China as a rational and tolerant absolutist state echoed Bayle’s own political preferences as revealed in the Dictionnaire. In his article on ‘Élisabeth’, Bayle argued that ‘the public interest is a sun’ while many ‘virtues are stars which disappear and which evaporate, in the presence of this interest’.31 Similarly, in ‘Machiavel’, he wrote that politics, ‘through a wretched and fatal necessity, must set itself above morality’.32 Bayle opposed the antimonarchist tendencies of works by the Greeks and Romans which influenced the youth of his age. He agreed with Hobbes that the evils of tumult, faction, and civil war occurring in ancient republics far outweighed the inconveniences and abuses of monarchy. Hobbes, however, went too far in theorizing the limitless authority of sovereigns, particularly in ‘external aspects of religion’; Descartes was right to suppose that Hobbes’s defence of monarchy would have been more effective if he had proceeded ‘from maxims more virtuous and more substantial’.33 Bayle favoured a virtuous absolutism especially for his own country of birth, as indicated by his judgement that ‘France was never so desolate or so wretched as when, under Charles IX and Henry III, its parlements enjoyed the full authority of rejecting the edicts and ordinances of the prince’. Michel de l’Hôpital, chancellor of France in the 1560s, was a model for Bayle in both upholding royal authority while always reminding ‘the prince that his royal authority never dispenses him from an absolute submission to justice, and that it confers no right and no privilege to depart from reason, or from equity’.34 In these respects, Bayle’s advocacy of a virtuous and absolute sovereign in

 Bayle, Oeuvres Diverses, vol. 2, 378–79; Philosophical Commentary, 97–99.  Bayle, Dictionnaire, vol.  6, 127; Political Writings, ed. Sally Jenkinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 61. 32  Bayle, Dictionnaire, vol. 10, 25; Political Writings, 165. 33  Bayle, Dictionnaire, vol. 8, 161–64; Political Writings, 82–86. 34  Bayle, Dictionnaire, vol. 8, 264; Political Writings, 113. 30 31

Early Modern Political Theology and China


the Dictionnaire was consistent with his presentation of the emperor of China in the Commentaire, not to mention Ricci’s portrait of a wise and just ruler in regular consultation with his chief magistrates. In reference to Schmitt, the Baylean sovereign as epitomized by the Chinese emperor falls in between the absolute monarch who is an ‘omnipotent lawgiver’ and the constitutional state which denies the validity of a transcendent sovereign. Schmitt failed to see an intermediate position between limitless absolutism and constitutionalism which may be said to correspond to an intermediate position between otherworldly and immanent theology. Although Bayle never explicitly denied the possibility of miracles, he was sceptical of most supposed miracles on the grounds that they tend, like the comet of 1682, to confirm and even promote superstition rather than faith in the true religion. God has no need to depart from his own natural laws to confirm his wisdom and goodness; the only conceivable reason he would perform miracles is to redeem a converted person or to punish the ungodly.35 In other words, the only justification for miracles would be to move the human heart rather than confirm his power by violations of the regular operation of nature. The analogy Schmitt draws between sovereign exception and theological miracle does not capture the political-theological relationship we can discern in Bayle’s absolutism (which he appeared to see as characteristic of the Chinese state). Instead, Chinese political theology in Bayle’s interpretation comprises an absolute ruler who is both transcendent to the state and voluntarily submits to reason as encouraged by his ministers: i.e., a rational lawgiver who nevertheless makes his presence felt in his realm. Leibniz and Natural Theology Schmitt cited Leibniz’s Nova Methodus of 1684 as the ‘clearest philosophical expression’ of the analogy between theology and jurisprudence while rejecting ‘a comparison of jurisprudence with medicine and mathematics’.36 While Schmitt is correct to see political theology at play in Leibniz’s thought, the latter insisted on the analogy between justice and mathematics in his writings. In the ‘Méditation sur la notion commune de la justice’ of 1702–3, Leibniz compared justice to the ‘necessary and eternal truths which must be the same everywhere’ and which form the basis of arithmetic. ­Leibniz

 Bayle, Oeuvres Diverses, vol. 3, 140.  Schmitt, Political Theology, 37.

35 36


Simon Kow

defined justice as ‘the charity of the wise’, combining moral duty towards others with wisdom or ‘the science of felicity’.37 As Maria Rosa Antognazza has convincingly shown in her intellectual biography of Leibniz, the ultimate goal of Leibniz’s vast intellectual endeavours was to improve the human condition.38 Hence he saw a deep connection between rational truth and ethical perfection. Political life is optimally a reflection or image of God’s just government of the world, as human and divine justice differ only in degree. Human justice is completed and perfected by divine justice. Thus the ideas of universal jurisprudence and natural theology link the realm of earthly affairs with that of the divine monarchy which pre-establishes the harmonic order of the universe all the way down to the smallest entities in the world.39 Practically, Leibniz’s universal jurisprudence underpinned a conception of monarchy which retreated even further than Bayle’s rational absolutism from unlimited sovereignty. Leibniz saw an analogy between divine and earthly monarchy, stressing the elevation of worldly princes above their subjects not only in authority but also virtue. In the ‘Portrait of the Prince’ from 1679, he described sovereigns as the ‘images of the Divinity’, which entails that ‘they must be able to regulate their interests by themselves and to make use of ministers for the execution of business, as God uses creatures to carry out those things which he alone has established and ordained’. In other words, their quasi-divine status means that they must observe justice and respect the laws — though there will be occasion for them to manifest their supremacy over the laws particularly in granting clemency.40 In the 1670s, Leibniz went so far as to assert the right of the universal church — whether through the Papal See or the secular arm of the Holy Roman Empire — to restrain tyrannical rulers, since earthly states were but the fifth level of ‘natural societies’ and culminated in the sixth level of the ‘Church of God’, which encompasses the ‘whole human race together’ and whose ‘purpose is eternal 37  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, ‘Méditation sur la notion commune de la justice’, in Rechtsphilosophisches aus Leibnizens ungedruckten Schriften, ed. Georg Mollat (Leipzig: J.H. Robolsky, 1885), 60–61, 67; Political Writings, ed. Patrick Riley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 49, 54. Given that charity combines goodness and wisdom, Patrick Riley characterizes Leibniz as the ‘last of the great Christian Platonists’, but notes the various tensions between Christianity and Platonism in his thought: ‘‘New’ Political Writings of Leibniz’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 55:1 (1994): 148, 151, 153, 158. 38  Maria Rosa Antognazza, Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 5. 39  Leibniz, ‘Méditation’, 59–60, 62–64. See Riley, ‘New’ Political Writings’, 149. 40  Leibniz, Political Writings, 85, 88, 98–99.

Early Modern Political Theology and China


happiness’.41 Even if Leibniz may have departed from this neo-medievalist hierarchy in his later work upholding monarchy and denouncing most forms of rebellion, he still maintained in 1693 that sovereignty does not exclude recognition of a superior power as well as the principles of international law.42 Leibniz’s thought may exemplify in some respects Schmitt’s notion of political theology as embodied in early modern monarchy, but in ways which depart from the kind of Hobbesian absolutism which Schmitt identified as being at the heart of sovereignty. Moreover, following the Jesuit and other sources on China which Leibniz eagerly devoured,43 China exemplified in his eyes a nearly ideal form of natural theology translated into social and political practice. In his preface to Novissima Sinica of 1697/99, Leibniz praised Chinese ethics and politics, seeing them as superior to those of Europe. The laws of China admirably produce tranquillity and order, while social relations and duties — particularly those of children to parents, but also among equals — preserve the highest degree of harmony. The Chinese lack the highest degree of theoretical knowledge and are deprived of revelation, and so have not attained true holiness, but their customs and laws manage to suppress evil as much as any society can. Above all, the Chinese Emperor is a paragon of virtue and wisdom. He described the Kangxi emperor who ruled 1662–1722 as the greatest of kings whose deserved status as a ‘mortal god’ arose from his respect for the laws and counsels of his ministers, his superior judgement in permitting Jesuits at court and combining European and Chinese learning, and most impressively his knowledge of geometry, which in its propagation to his heirs showed his concern for the ‘happiness of his people even

41  Leibniz, Caesarinus Fürsteenerii De Jure Suprematus Ac Legationis Principum Germaniae, in Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, ed. Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften, (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag Berlin, 1923- ), Ser. 4, vol. 2, 131; ‘Lex Naturalis’, in Sämtliche Schriften, Ser. 6, vol. 4, 2672; Political Writings, 79, 113. 42  Leibniz, ‘Praefatio Codicis Juris Gentium Diplomatici’, in Sämtliche Schriften, Ser. 4, vol. 5, 74. 43   These include the journals of Ricci; Gottlieb Spizel’s De re literaria Sinensium (1660); Athanasius Kircher’s China monumentis qua sacris qua profundis illustrate (1667); Philippe Couplet’s translation of Confucian texts in Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687); Antoine de Sainte-Marie’s Traité sur quelques points importants de la mission de la Chine (1701); Nichola Longobardi’s Traité sur quelques points de la religion des chinois (1703); and correspondences with Joachim Bouvet, Claudio Filippo Grimaldi, and Andreas Müller. See Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism, 5–9, 18–68; and Franklin Perkins, Leibniz and China: A  Commerce of Light (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 108–18.


Simon Kow

in posterity’. While Europeans send missionaries to the Chinese to teach revealed theology and the theoretical sciences, the Chinese ought to send missionaries to Europe to teach ‘natural religion’.44 Leibniz therefore shared the Jesuits’ enthusiasm for China and their unsurprising stance on the limits of Chinese virtue from a Christian perspective, but stressed China’s greater perfection in natural theology, which acts as a foundation for revealed theology.45 The Chinese emperor, a model Christian sovereign in every way but belief and in contrast to putatively Christian monarchs such as Louis XIV,46 would seem to represent the link between human and divine justice in Leibniz’s thought. Following his correspondence with the French Jesuit Joachim Bouvet,47 Leibniz sought to show the hitherto unsuspected interconnections between Chinese natural theology and ‘true’ Christianity as interpreted through his own philosophy. In other words, as Franklin Perkins notes, any moral knowledge can only be acquired through knowledge of God (rather than experience), and so Leibniz sought to show the theological basis for Chinese morality.48 Thus he was not content merely to establish the compatibility between Christianity and Confucianism, the strategy of accommodationists such as Ricci. Instead, Leibniz argued that despite the atheism of the modern Chinese literati, ancient Chinese teachings (which he curiously interpreted through the theories of the twelfth-century, and so hardly ‘ancient’, ­neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi49) were wholly in accord with Christianity — and could  Leibniz, Novissima Sinica historiam nostri temporis illustrate (Rome: Society of Jesus, 1697), Preface, 2–14; ‘Preface to the Novissima Sinica’, in Writings on China, ed. Daniel J. Cook and Henry Rosemont, Jr. (Chicago: Open Court, 1994), 46–51. See Perkins, Leibniz and China, 154–55. As Perkins observes, Leibniz saw cultural exchange as a means of ‘gaining information’ rather than ‘insights into necessary truths’ from the Chinese or any other peoples. And given Leibniz’s convictions of the truth of Christianity, such missionaries would not ‘introduce new truths’, but ‘convince Europeans to take these truths more seriously’. Franklin Perkins, ‘Virtue, Reason, and Cultural Exchange: Leibniz’s Praise of Chinese Morality’, Journal of the History of Ideas 63:3 (2002): 450, 459. 45   Perkins, ‘Chinese Morality’, 461. Cf. Patrick Riley’s assertion that for Leibniz, the Chinese exemplify how the contemplation of nature is a form of God’s grace: ‘Leibniz’s Moral and Political Philosophy in the “Novissima Sinica”, 1699–1999’, Journal of the History of Ideas 60:2 (1999): 233–35. 46   See Leibniz, Mars Christianissimus, in Sämtliche Schriften, Ser. 4, vol. 2, 451–573; Riley, ‘Leibniz’s “Novissima Sinica”’, 229. 47   See Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism, 36–68. 48   Perkins, ‘Chinese Morality’, 456–58. 49  As Mungello notes, Leibniz confusedly cited Sung neo-Confucian interpretations as if they merely summarized classical doctrines: Leibniz and Confucianism, 72–75. 44

Early Modern Political Theology and China


be the basis for both rationalizing and universalizing the Christian religion.50 Modern (and atheistic) Chinese scholars forgot this pre-established harmony between European and Chinese learning, made possible by the teachings of Fohius, the mythical lawgiver of China who was none other than the legendary teacher of all ancient civilizations, Hermes Trismegistus.51 Thus Leibniz posited in 1708 that the neo-Confucian concepts of li (pattern, form, reason), taiji (supreme ultimate), and qi (air, energy, ether) correspond to the trinity, and that the broken and unbroken lines constituting the 64 hexagrams in the Yijing (the book of divination) express both a system of binary arithmetic (which Leibniz considered to have merely rediscovered) and the theological doctrine of God’s creation of the world from nothing.52 In his longest and most significant work on China, the ‘Discours sur la théologie naturelle des Chinois’ from 1716, Leibniz painstakingly countered dismissals of Chinese religion as paganism by attempting to show that the true meaning of such concepts as li and shangdi (literally ‘lord above’ and also used to refer to the emperor) could only be a supreme monotheistic deity who governs the world. Li in this Leibnizian sense is both the rational order of the universe and God, from whom emanates the souls and spirits inhabiting the world. The Chinese belief in spirits, then, is not a species of pagan idolatry but rather in accord with Christian doctrines of angels and saints as God’s ministers. Importantly for our purposes, Leibniz agreed with Ricci’s translation of God as tianzhu (Lord of Heaven) and Zhu Xi’s remarks on the relation between the object of sacrifice and the sacrificer. It is appropriate that the emperor, the shangdi, sacrifices to the Lord of Heaven, and is thus known as the Son of Heaven; correspondingly, nobles sacrifice to the spirits who minister to the Lord of Heaven, and scholars to Confucius (not a deity but a sage of natural theology). Leibniz concluded that the Chinese spiritual kingdom is therefore continuous with the empire, just as human justice is perfected by divine justice in the next life.53 The Chinese emperor thus expresses the analogy between theology and jurisprudence par excellence, but contra Schmitt, his sovereignty for Leibniz   Perkins, ‘Chinese Morality’, 464.  Leibniz, ‘On the Greeks as Founders of Rational Theology’, in Political Writings, 236. See Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism, 47. 52  Leibniz, ‘Remarks on Chinese Rites and Religion’, in Writings on China, 68–73. See Mungello, Leibniz and Confucianism, 49–53. 53  Leibniz, ‘Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese’, in Writings on China, 101–04, 110, 120, 130–31. See David  E. Mungello’s treatment of the ‘Discours’ in Leibniz and Confucianism, chapters 4–5. 50 51


Simon Kow

is not absolute but harmonized with the rational order of the universe. The ideal Leibnizian monarch, like the Baylean sovereign, can neither be assimilated to absolute and unlimited sovereignty nor the constitutional regimes of the later eighteenth century. As Leibniz’s conceptions of universal jurisprudence and Chinese natural theology demonstrate, his political theology underscored the divinity of the monarch and a resolutely rationalist vision of nature. The linkage of these two aspects perhaps explains Schmitt’s contradictory remarks on Leibniz as having denied the analogy between jurisprudence and mathematics, and as essentially expressing the deistic view of nature as a machine which runs by itself.54 In Leibniz’s thought, the Son of Heaven is the apex of natural theology.55 Montesquieu on Chinese Despotism Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois of 1748 both confirms and challenges Schmitt’s analysis. While Montesquieu’s thought epitomizes Schmitt’s insight into the analogy between constitutionalism and deism, Montesquieu criticized not only unlimited sovereignty but also the depictions of the Chinese state which can be found in the writings of both Bayle and Leibniz. His work marks a decisive shift from absolutism to constitutionalism in the history of political thought, and from enthusiasm over China to a philosophical critique of ‘oriental’ despotism which would be followed by Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Herder, and Hegel, among others.56 Thus this move in political theory to constitutionalism which Schmitt links to Enlightened deism was also accompanied by a rejection of Chinese political theology.57 Of course, it is not simply the case that deism and constitutionalism are always linked, as demonstrated by deistic advocates of forms of absolutism (including that of China) such as Voltaire.58 Rather, Montesquieu employed  Schmitt, Political Theology, 37, 48.   For a more detailed account of the connections between Chinese natural theology and justice in Leibniz’s thought, see my China in Early Enlightenment Political Thought, Ch. 4. 56  David  E. Mungello, The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500–1800 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), 91–94, 98. There were, of course, critics of Montesquieu who continued to defend the Chinese from charges of despotism, such as François Quesnay and Voltaire: see Shackleton, ‘French Enlightenment’, 238–40. 57  On Montesquieu’s deistic convictions, qualified by Catholic sympathies and practices, see Shackleton, ‘La religion de Montesquieu’, in Essays on Montesquieu, 109–16. 58  See Arnold Rowbotham, ‘Voltaire, Sinophile’, PMLA 47:4  (1932): 1050–65; and Shackleton’s nuanced comparison of the two thinkers in ‘Allies and Enemies: Voltaire and Montesquieu’, in Essays on Montesquieu, 153–69. 54 55

Early Modern Political Theology and China


a deistic framework in his conception of forms of political life which harmonize universal reason with particular societies. Montesquieu’s definition of laws as ‘the necessary relations deriving from the nature of things’ links both human and divine laws. God has set down laws which govern nature and he acts only through these inviolable and fixed rules; hence ‘the world, formed by the motion of matter and devoid of intelligence’ operates without the oversight or intervention of its creator. Human-made laws are necessarily imperfect and violable, but Montesquieu endeavoured to illustrate the laws which are both rational and best suited for the different aspects of a people, its country, and its government.59 In his typology of regimes, different forms of government are suited to diverse peoples, but despotism in its immoderation and inhumanity is always irrational, as it is governed by base passions.60 Thus the Montesquieuian legislator imitates the supreme being in finding the laws which relate to the nature of peoples while cautiously seeking to correct abuses and enlighten the people where feasible.61 Montesquieu’s account of monarchy clearly departs from the absolutism, mitigated or not, of earlier writers. Monarchy, the regime characteristic of most modern states, includes ‘immediate, subordinate, and dependent powers’ — especially the nobility — to ensure that the monarch ‘governs by fundamental laws’. An absolutist form of government is not monarchy, properly speaking, but despotism, in which the leader rules by will and caprice rather than by reason — i.e., through the constitution and other laws of the state.62 Montesquieu described the genesis of modern monarchy from the ashes of the Roman Empire: the government of the Germanic peoples who conquered the Romans was a mixture of monarchy and aristocracy, such that the powers and prerogative of the nobility (and later the liberties of the people) checked and mitigated the power of the king. Over time, this

 Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, ed. Roger Caillois, (Paris: Gallimard, 1949–51), vol.  2, 232–34, 237–38; The Spirit of the Laws, ed. Anne M.  Cohler, Basia C. Miller, and Harold S. Stone (Cambridge, 1989), 3–5, 8–9. Shackleton carefully distinguishes Montesquieu’s conception of laws in 1748 from traditional natural law  theory in ‘Montesquieu in 1948’, in Essays on Montesquieu, 29–33. For a discussion of how Montesquieu’s treatment of universal reason and particular societies influenced Hegel, see Michael Mosher, ‘The Particulars of a Universal Politics: Hegel’s Adaptation of Montesquieu’s Typology’, The American Political Science Review 78:1 (1984): 179–88. 60  Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol. 2, 297. 61  Ibid., vol. 2, 230. 62  Ibid., vol. 2, 247–50; Spirit of the Laws, 17–20. For a survey of the use of ‘despotism’ to describe Asian countries, see Franco Venturi, ‘Oriental Despotism’, Journal of the History of Ideas 24:1 (1963): 133–42. 59


Simon Kow

‘Gothic government’ evolved into modern monarchy. Montesquieu was struck by the fact, as he saw it, ‘that the corruption of the government of a conquering people should have formed the best kind of government men have been able to devise’.63 In other words, the corruption of primitive German government was fashioned over time into constitutional monarchy. In contrast, the extreme corruption into which refined and balanced constitutions of moderate republics and monarchies have sometimes fallen is none other than despotism, an ‘endlessly corrupted’ regime in which there are no intermediary powers or fundamental laws. The ceaselessly changing will of the despot is all. When monarchical government ceases to consult or be checked by these intermediary forms, it degenerates into despotism. Montesquieu opposed the absolutist theories and practices of Cardinal Richelieu, for example, as tending towards despotism.64 Indeed, Montesquieu’s comparisons of seventeenth- to eighteenth-century France with Asian regimes in De l’esprit des lois and in his earlier Lettres persanes indicate his concern that France might decline into despotism.65 The idea of rational or enlightened absolutism, then, is a contradiction in terms. Hence Montesquieu specifically targeted China, since it represented a potential counter-example to his differentiation between monarchy and despotism, based on his reading of the accounts by Du Halde and others, as well as conversations with missionaries and even with Chinese in Europe such as Arcadio Hoange.66 ‘Our missionaries’, he wrote, ‘speak of the vast empire of China as of an admirable government, in whose principle intermingle fear,  Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol.  2, 408–09; Spirit of the Laws, 167–68. For an interesting defence of aspects of Gothic government in Montesquieu’s thought, see Lee Ward, ‘Montesquieu on Federalism and Anglo-Gothic Constitutionalism’, Publius 37:4  (2007): 551–77. Montesquieu’s praise of Gothic government might be contrasted with Hume’s rather dismissive account of ‘medieval barbarism’ in his History of England: see Kow, ‘Politics and Culture’, 77–84, and Jeffrey M. Suderman, ‘Medieval Kingship and the Making of Modern Civility: Hume’s Assessment of Governance in The History of England’, in David Hume: Historical Thinker, Historical Writer, ed. Mark G. Spencer (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Press, 2013), 121–42. 64  Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol. 2, 249, 289, 357; Spirit of the Laws, 19, 56, 119. 65   See Roger Boesche, ‘Fearing Monarchs and Merchants: Montesquieu’s Two Theories of Despotism’, The Western Political Quarterly (1990): 746; and Sharon Krause, ‘Despotism in the Spirit of Laws’, in Montesquieu’s Science of Politics, ed. David  W. Carrithers, Michael A. Mosher, and Paul A. Rahe (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), 251. 66   Shackleton, ‘French Enlightenment’, 235; Jonathan Spence, ‘The Paris Years of Arcadio Hoange’, in Chinese Roundabout: Essays in History and Culture (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992), 11–23. 63

Early Modern Political Theology and China


honor, and virtue’, which for Montesquieu are conceptually distinct principles for despotic states, monarchies, and republics. He maintained that despite the appearance of public order, it is only accidental causes which have preserved the Chinese state for so long. Fundamentally, it is at best a mitigated despotism which has fear as its principle.67 Despotic states have common characteristics of fear, caprice, and contempt for humanity, but like other regimes, vary widely. Montesquieu saw China as gripped by a despotism of manners. The legislators of China imposed the rigid performance of rites as the basis of all social and political life, taking the place properly occupied by laws and morality in a moderate regime. This has had the effect of producing public tranquillity by limiting the freedom and self-development of its people, including the scholars and magistrates. Hence Confucianism must for Montesquieu be regarded as combining religion, mores, and manners in China. It constitutes the basis for laws, the code of ethics, and the civil religion of the Chinese.68 For Montesquieu from a Schmittian perspective, the uniquely despotic character of Chinese political theology would be manifest in the analogy between the subordination of all social and political life to the intermediary realm of Confucian rites and the idea of the Emperor as intermediary between divine and human law (as in Leibniz). The predominance of these rites has the effect of banishing both public and private realms as distinct spheres. Furthermore, the instrumentalist approach to religion taken in Montesquieu’s political thought has the effect, ironically, of underscoring the political-theological basis of China. While Schmitt was critical of deism and constitutionalism as watered-down or rationalistic political theology relative to monotheistic absolutism, Montesquieu emphasized the importance of religion as a basis for civil society.69 He criticized Bayle’s argument that atheism is less sinful and irrational than idolatry by positing the utility of even false religions in restraining human passions and enforcing laws. In  contrast to the Jesuits, he sought to show the political utility of

 Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol.  2, 365–68; Spirit of the Laws, 126–28. On Montesquieu’s use of Jesuit sources in coming to this conclusion, see Catherine VolpillhacAuger, ‘The Proper Use of the Stick: The Spirit of Laws and the Chinese Empire’, in Montesquieu and his Legacy, ed. Rebecca E. Kingston (Albany: SUNY Press, 2009), 81–95. 68  Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol. 2, 564–71. 69  Of course, for Schmitt, Montesquieu’s conception would hardly qualify as truly theological, given the rationalistic basis of Montesquieu’s endorsement of civil religion. Cf. Kirk Wetters, ‘The Rule of the Norm and the Political Theology of “Real life” in Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben’, Diacritics 36:1 (2006): 32. 67


Simon Kow

­Confucianism (in contrast to Daoism and Buddhism) for China even while depicting Confucian civil religion as ultimately despotic.70 In other words, Confucianism is a despotic religion suited for China, and in some respects helps to mitigate its despotism. Confucian China is but one variation on despotic political theology, in which absolutist government is supported by an absolutist religion. Montesquieu’s rejection of China as a social and political model for Europe substantially qualifies Schmitt’s account of the movement from absolutism to enlightened constitutionalism. Doubtless Montesquieu was a strident critic of unlimited sovereignty, but his critique of China also broke from the variants on monarchist thought which we have seen in Bayle and Leibniz — what for Montesquieu would be forms of a mitigated and supposedly ‘enlightened’ despotism. Montesquieu’s depiction of Chinese despotism departed not only from Hobbesian absolute sovereignty, but also from Baylean rational absolutism and Leibnizian natural theology.71 In terms of political theology, the various ways in which the Chinese state and religion were understood (or misunderstood) by Europeans complicate Schmitt’s simple dichotomy between absolutism/transcendence and constitutionalism/deism. Indeed, a consideration of Enlightenment conceptions of China, and thus a more ‘global’ perspective on the history of western thought, reveals the limitations of Schmitt’s provocative but crude analysis.72 By examining these early modern conceptions of Chinese political theology, we can ascertain just some of the many historical nuances missing from his blunt remarks. While Schmitt’s account stimulates interesting and fruitful avenues of historical and philosophical investigation into political theology, his work is at best only a beginning of rather than an end to any serious inquiry into the matter.

 Montesquieu, Oeuvres Complètes, vol.  2, 715–16, 728–30. See Kow, ‘Confucianism, Secularism, and Atheism’, 48. 71   See Ch. 5 of my China in Early Enlightenment Political Thought for an expansive treatment of Montesquieu on Chinese despotism, and relative to Bayle and Leibniz. 72   Schmitt is hardly the only writer at fault in this regard. As Dorinda Outram remarks, ‘Enlightenment scholars have yet to come to grips with the issues of the relationship between the Enlightenment and the creation of a global world’. Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment, 3rd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 8. 70

Religious Rupture and Administrative Continuity in Tocqueville’s The Old Regime And The Revolution Rafael García Pérez


n recent years, Tocqueville’s thought on the role that religion should play in democratic societies has received increasing attention. Probably as a result of the current debate in the USA and Europe regarding the place of religion in the public sphere, and the crisis of the so-called ‘secularist paradigm’,1 Tocqueville’s work has become an attractive place to look for new interpretations of a liberal democracy where religious faith could find its role in public life. Due to space constraints, I  do not intend to offer a complete account of the recent historiography on this issue. For our purposes, it is enough to highlight the prominence given to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America over his other works,2 and the special attention conceded to Tocqueville’s Christian Faith and its effect on the rest of his work.3 On this point, the debate about Tocqueville’s functional or not functional understanding of religion and his approach to Christianity as a kind of civil religion continues. Democracy as religion and the connections between religion, politics and history in Tocqueville’s thought are also common topics among scholars.4 However, the institutional consequences of religious doctrines in America   See, José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). 2   Sandford Kessler, Tocqueville’s Civil Religion: American Christianity and the Prospects for Freedom (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994); Joshua Mitchell, The Fragility of Freedom: Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Barbara Allen, Tocqueville, Covenant, and the Democratic Revolution: Harmonizing Earth With Heaven (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005). 3  Doris S. Goldstein, Trial of Faith: Religion and Politics in Tocqueville’sTthought (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1975). 4  Agnès Antoine, L’impensé de la démocratie: Tocqueville, la citoyenneté et la religion (Paris: Fayard, 2003); Lucien Jaume, Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013). 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 191–207 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111252



Rafael García Pérez

and ­particularly in France have received much less attention. This is why my research has focused on this last area. Firstly, I will examine Tocqueville’s definition of the French Revolution as a political event that acted as a religious revolution, the role played by philosophers in this account, and the problems with reconciling this historical explanation with his conviction of the continuity of administrative centralization between the Old and New Regimes. Secondly, I will analyze some of the reasons that, in my opinion, could clarify or illumine Tocqueville’s paradoxical interpretation of the French Revolution, in which historical continuity and rupture converge, but at different levels: institutional first, philosophical or religious (in a broad sense), second. A Political Revolution that Acted as a Religious One The reasons that moved Tocqueville to carry out historical research were not purely historical, but rather political. He wanted to understand the causes that led to the disordered democratic society of the nineteenth century and reveal the origin of the encroaching power of the French centralized state, capable of extending its control over the whole society. Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état in 1852 ended Tocqueville’s political career, but at the same time it allowed him to continue his fight against despotism by other means: by producing a new history of the French administrative centralization before, during, and after the Revolution.5 His aim was to show that the omnipotence of a centralized government was rooted in France’s history, in the sixteenth century. It was not a creation of the French Revolution.6 However, he did not reduce his work to a purely administrative or legal history. Religion also occupied a central role in the account. When Tocqueville started to write The Old Regime and the Revolution, outstanding French historians and intellectuals, like Michelet or Quinet, had already spread theological interpretations of the French Revolution, connecting in different 5  Tocqueville would have decided to write a book on the Revolution around 1841. André Jardin, Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805–1859 (Paris: Hachette, 1984), 456. The process of working out of The Old Regime and the Revolution has been accurately unveiled by Robert T. Gannet Jr., Tocqueville Unveiled. The Historian and His Sources for The Old Regime and the Revolution (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003). 6   François Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution. Translated by Elborg Forster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 24.

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


ways this unique historical event with the Reformation of the sixteenth century.7 Today, these kind of explanations are still supported by prominent scholars, such as Van Kley.8 However, Tocqueville’s interpretation of the role of religion in the French Revolution was quite different to those of these authors. His point of departure was not the same and the reasons behind Tocqueville’s attention to religion in his historical work were also different. In my opinion, these reasons are at least twofold: (i) he was concerned to show that liberty and Christianity were not natural enemies: a goal that was at the heart of his entire intellectual work; (ii) he was convinced that religion was at the bottom of every political society.9 A political interpretation of the French Revolution could not omit the religious issue. In the first book of The Old Regime and the Revolution, after explaining that the final objective of the Revolution was not to destroy religion and weaken the state, Tocqueville tries to explain the true nature of the Revolution. He denies it religious character, but affirms a religious way of acting. The notes Tocqueville took when preparing this chapter evidence his hesitations and perplexities. He had written under the title ‘What makes the Revolution resemble a religion’ the following sentences: ‘First: forms a body of doctrine. A sort of political Gospel or Koran. Second: It inspires proselytism. Not only believed in but preached. Third: It spreads outside its own territory. Fourth: It separates or unites men despite differences of language, race, or nationality’.10

In a different section of the same file, he developed some of these ideas, pointing out that what made the revolution resemble a religion was the ‘general

 An introduction to the historical narrative of the French Revolution by these historians in: François Furet, ‘Edgar Quinet’, in The French Revolution and the Creation of Modern Political Culture. III. The Transformation of Political Culture 1789–1848, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf (Oxford, etc.: Pergamon Press, 1989), 613–23; Lionel Gossman, ‘Michelet and the French Revolution’, in Furet and Ozouf, French Revolution, 639–63. 8   The Religious Origins of the French revolution: from Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560– 1791 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996). 9  Antonie, L’impensé, 133–69; Anna Maria Battista, Lo spirito liberale e lo spirito religioso. Tocqueville nel dibatttito sulla scuola (Milán: Jaca Book, 1975), 17–67. 10  Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and The Revolution, vol. 1, edited by François Furet and Françoise Mélonio, translated by Alan  S. Kahan, (Chicago: The Chicago University Press, 1998), Notes and variants, 324–25. 7


Rafael García Pérez

nature of its principles’. This character allowed the revolution to make itself ‘a grand theory all linked together, a sort of political gospel’. It had presented to all humanity not ‘a particular good but an absolute good’.11 These notes are important because they show, probably more than the text published in chapter III of Book  I, what kind of ideas Tocqueville wanted to communicate or, at least, of which he had thought. In the final text he removed the reference to the Gospel. He probably did not want to be alienated along with counter-revolutionary interpretations of the Revolution or be confused with other theological readings. However, from a contemporary point of view it is possible to affirm that Tocqueville really considered the French Revolution not only as a political revolution but a real religious revolution. Its goal was not particular, limited to some political reforms or changes. It wanted to achieve for all humanity ‘an absolute good’. Tocqueville could not consider it a religious revolution because God was absent: ‘itself [the Revolution]’, he states at the end of chapter III, ‘became a new kind of religion, an incomplete religion, it is true, without God, without ritual, and without a life after death, but one which nevertheless, like Islam, flooded the earth with its soldiers, apostles and martyrs’.12 The Revolution placed itself — we might say — outside of any kind of political order. Its purpose was not limited to reforming the institutions, but extended to overturning the transcendent order in which the old political regime had been rooted. ‘The French Revolution operated’, writes Tocqueville, ‘with respect to this world, in precisely the same manner that religious revolutions have acted with respect to the other world’.13 Tocqueville’s observation recalls Voegelin’s theory of modern revolutions such as the ‘inmanentization of the escathon’.14 Although in the text Tocqueville explicitly denies the religious character of the Revolution, it is possible to grasp some of his vacillations on this issue from his notes. In the margin of a draft of chapter II, book II, in which he tries to prove that the final goal of the Revolution was not to destroy religion and weaken the State, he questioned his own opinion regarding the accidental nature of the hostility against religion, and more specifically, against Catholicism. He made reference here to one idea that was present in his Democracy  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 325.  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 101. 13  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 100. 14  Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics. An Introduction (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1952), chapter 4. 11 12

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


in America: the tendency of democracy to become a sort of religion.15 ‘Isn’t there in democratic societies a permanent tendency contrary to observances, to fasts, to mysteries, to confession?’.16 In any case, Tocqueville tried to maintain his opinion on the accidental character of the revolutionary attacks on religion. They were not really directed against religion, but against those institutions, like the Church and nobility, which the revolutionaries identified with the Old Regime they wanted to destroy. For Tocqueville, religious survival in France after the Revolution, when the social and institutional change had been accomplished, was the best proof of this explanation.17 The problem with the Revolution — according to Tocqueville — was not its goal, but the path it followed to reach it.18 In his opinion, the immediate determiner of the unique character of the French Revolution was the political leadership of intellectuals, who were full of general ideas, but without political experience. These intellectuals wanted to substitute the complicated customs and rules of the old society with simple new ideas. Their purpose was not to eliminate some unjust political practices but rather ‘to rebuild contemporary society according to an entirely new plan’.19 In France before the French Revolution, there were two different political worlds: (i) one made up of those men who conducted political affairs, (ii) the other made up of the educated men who directed the minds of the crowd and built an imaginary society in which everything was simple and in accordance with reason. The radical and unique nature of the Revolution can be explained by the gap between these two worlds. When the revolutionaries conquered political power, they tried to make that imaginary world a reality through violence.20 In the second volume, chapters three and four, of Democracy in America, Tocqueville dealt with the inclination toward general ideas that characterized democratic societies and how the American people were less inclined to this way of thinking than the French. In chapter seven, Tocqueville links this taste for general ideas with pantheism, ‘the system most likely’, says Tocqueville,

  This issue is accurately analyzed by Jaume, Tocqueville, 65–81.  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 321. 17  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 97–98. 18  In an interesting note of research, Tocqueville wrote that the redemption of feudal dues would have been ‘the most orderly and gentle means of transforming the old society into the new’. Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 334. 19  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 197. 20   See, Tocqueville, Old Regime, Book III, chapter 1. 15 16


Rafael García Pérez

‘to seduce the human mind in democratic centuries’.21 Pantheism aspires to connect a multitude of consequences with a simple cause. It contains God and the whole universe in a single being. In this way, pantheism confuses spiritual and political orders in a common place where there is no room for distinctions or hierarchies. As Antoine Agnès pointed out, the continuity between the chapters dedicated to explaining the French taste for general ideas and for pantheism, shows that for Tocqueville the longing for achievement of a total unity and simplicity in the political order and the orientation towards pantheism come from the same spiritual disease;22 the same, I would add, that was the origin of the French Revolution. In fact, the use of the word ‘disease’ or ‘sickness’ to define the revolutionary’s state of mind is symptomatic of Tocqueville’s desire to achieve the deepest level of historical explanation. What distinguished the French Revolution from other revolutionary movements was its ‘character as a doctrine’.23 Following Burke’s Thoughts on French Affairs, Tocqueville outlines its similarity with religious revolutions: ‘it is a Revolution of doctrine and theoretical dogmas’.24 But with the purpose of separating himself from Burke’s counterrevolutionary criticisim Tocqueville defines the philosophical character of the French Revolution as ‘its chief although transitory characteristic’.25 He did not want to diminish the religious profile of the Revolution but rather make it possible to reconcile the post-revolutionary society with religion and, in this sense, he needed to show the accidental or transitory character of the anti-theistic drive of the Revolution. In another note related to a different chapter, Tocqueville clearly expresses the incompatibility between the political principles of philosophers and those of the Church. But, revealing his own kind of liberalism, reduced to the political sphere,26 he finds a way towards this reconciliation in the recognition that political principles are different from religious ones.27 The problem was that human societies tended to rule both societies with the same principles. In the first volume of Democracy in America, Tocqueville had ­stated

 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 3, edited by Eduardo Nolla and translated by James T. Schleifer (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010), chapter 7, 758. 22  Agnès, L’Impensé, 273–75. 23  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 323. 24  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 328. 25  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 329. 26  Battista, Lo spirito religioso, 27–67. 27  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and variants, 391. 21

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


that the human spirit tends ‘to regulate in a uniform way political society and the holy city’, that is, ‘to harmonize earth with heaven’.28 From this perspective, it is not easy to harmonize Tocqueville’s explanation of administrative continuity with the religious rupture begun by the Revolution. The consequences of this ‘Tocquevillian’ insight cannot be ignored. In Furet’s opinion Tocqueville showed an ‘admirable intuitive understanding’ of the difference between the real institutional accomplishment of the Revolution, which was minimal because state centralization was a feature of the French Old Regime, and the perception of this change by its contemporaries and successive generations in France.29 However, this explanation does not fit very well with Tocqueville’s understanding of the role played by general ideas in the revolutionary process. Institutional Continuity between the Old Regime and the Consulate From an institutional perspective, the prominent role of general ideas in the second half of the eighteenth century, the natural tendency of democratic men towards pantheism, and human inclination to ‘harmonize heaven and earth’, should drive the creation of a new kind of political order built upon the state, a sacred and single state that would occupy the whole public sphere. In such a case, to characterize this kind of state as centralized would be redundant. The new state was called to act with its omnipotent power over society and accomplish human regeneration. There was no place for any kind of power above such a state. There was no difference between the political and religious orders or, at least, the latter would not have public presence outside the state. There was no place for an institutional representation of the spiritual: there was no place for a Church separate from the state. There were no sacred walls for the law created by the state, because it determined the limits to its own power, not only in practice but also in theory. To some extent, Tocqueville saw this new state in the physiocrats’ doctrine, a kind of socialist avant la lettre. In their works, Tocqueville found the place to study the Revolution’s true nature. There he discovered all that was ‘most substantial in the Revolution’.30 And he insists on the same idea

 Tocqueville, Democracy, vol. 2, 467.  Furet, Interpreting, 159. 30  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 210. 28 29


Rafael García Pérez

in the next paragraph: ‘we find in the physiocrats all that is most substantialin the Revolution’. What is it exactly that Tocqueville defines as ‘most ­substantial’? We may summarize it in the following points: 1. Equality in servitude; 2. Contempt for the past: abolition of institutions that disturb the ‘symmetry of their plans’; 3. No private rights but public utility; 4. Hostility toward intermediate powers; 5. Public education provided by the State; 6. And a synthesis of these elements: an omnipotent state with unlimited rights, a state that not only reformed men, it ­transformed them.31 However, Tocqueville did not think that this all-powerful state was, like the electoral bodies, a genuine product of the Revolution, although theoretical support for it could be dated back to the eighteenth century. From the outset Tocqueville wanted to show that administrative centralization was not a creation of the French Revolution;32 that it only culminated an historical process started by the absolute monarchy two centuries earlier; that in French administrative history there was substantial continuity between the Old and the Liberal Regime; that the revolutionary French state did not incarnate a new kind of power. Why did Tocqueville arrive at this conclusion, so differentiated at the institutional level from the ideas developed in the other chapters of The Old Regime and the Revolution; a conclusion that contrasted with his conviction about the intrinsic relationship between the religious and political orders? How is it possible to reconcile Tocqueville’s powerful explanation of the novelty and radical nature of the Revolution, rooted in a kind of intellectual sickness directed to transform and regenerate human nature and aiming to destroy all previous social and political order, with his deep conviction of administrative continuity? Tocqueville’s differentiation between revolutionary discourse and effective institutional achievements does not explain, in my opinion, this lack of coherence in his historical interpretation of the transition between the Old and the New political regime in France.

 Tocqueville, Old Regime, 210–11.  This is the title of chapter two, book two of the Old Regime: ‘How Administrative Centralization is an institution of the Old Regime, and not the work of either the Revolution or the Empire, as is said’. Tocqueville, Old Regime, 18. 31 32

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


A Tentative of Explanation of Tocqueville’s Theory of the Old Regime’s Centralization. A complete analysis of Tocqueville’s paradoxical interpretation of the French Revolution, able to explain how to reconcile its religious rupture with the Old Regime and its institutional continuity, exceeds the possibilities of this work. However, I would like to indicate some possible lines of research, which could lead to a clearer understanding of Tocqueville’s historical ­interpretation. Political Context of Tocqueville’s Writing As Mélonio and Furet explain in their illuminating introduction to the Chicago’s edition of The Old Regime and the Revolution, Tocqueville started writing his last work with the clear purpose of searching the origins in the history of French servitude under Louis Napoleon, master of an omnipotent centralized State. This was a way of defending individual freedoms and attacking the growing power of French centralized state, which was an immense bureaucratic state that enabled Louis Napoleon to control the whole nation.33 To some extent, Tocqueville’s political worries favored his teleological approach to the Old Regime. His historical interests didn’t come from an erudite curiosity toward the past but from his concerns about the present. In his role as historian, Tocqueville saw himself as ‘a doctor, dissecting every organ in order to discover the laws which govern the whole life’.34 His regard on the Old Regime was consciously directed toward the understanding of a different society: his own. A certain degree of teleology in the historical narrative is probably inevitable and Tocqueville is not an exception. But in this case, the desire to connect the present with the past in order to explain the French inclination toward equality and submission to a central power is particularly present. Tocqueville saw in the history of centralization the path towards the most frightening danger for liberty in his time: socialism. He 33   Mélonio and Furet, ‘Introduction’, in Tocqueville, The Old Regime, 1–20. An insightful study of the influence of Tocqueville’s political career upon his historical interpretation of the French Revolution in Richard  T. Gannet Jr., ‘Tocqueville as Politician: Revisiting the Revolution of 1789’, in Svetozar Minkov (ed.), Enlightening Revolutions. Essays in honor of Ralph Lerner (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2007), 235–57. 34  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Preface, 86.


Rafael García Pérez

took this idea from Lanjuinais in January 1853, whom he asked about the importance in carrying out research on the causes of socialism in France, as he wrote in his notes.35 The search for the origins of centralization in French history permeates his entire historical work. A clear consequence of this perspective is Tocqueville’s inclination to pay attention to continuities rather than ruptures throughout the period. This explains his concentration on those features of the Old Regime that ‘announced’ the post-revolutionary state, from an institutional and an ideological perspective. His attention to the physiocratic doctrines, where he saw the same kind of all-powerful government that the socialists promoted eighty year later, can be better understood from this perspective.36 But more important to his historical interpretation as a whole is his attention to the intendants system, as if it had been the backbone of the Old Regime’s political organization.37 Tocqueville’s inclination to discover analogies leads him to affirm that intendants and functionaries of the Second Empire ‘seem to shake hands across the abyss of the Revolution which separates them’.38 Following this line of argument, Tocqueville discovered other institutional analogies; for example between the old King’s Council and Napoleon’s Conseil d’État.39 The problem here is that Tocqueville’s historical approach was not directed towards understanding the Old Regime’s political order ‘from within’. A teleological perspective tends to lose sight of those elements that are situated outside the focus of research and thus complicates the achievement of a global understanding of former societies. Tocqueville’s focus on the history of administrative centralization also explains why he focused his research on ‘administrative documents’ dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a time by which the intendant’s system had already been created. He worked for months with the

  ‘He gave me this profound and original response: socialism is our natural disease. It comes naturally from our laws, from our ideas in questions of government, from the political and administrative construction of our society. It is to centralization what the wild plant is to the cultivated and grafted tree’. Tocqueville added to Lanjuinais response: ‘develop this’. Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and Variants, 408. 36  In Morelly’s Code of Nature, Tocqueville found the ‘omnipotence of the state and its unlimited rights’ which also characterized socialist theories. Tocqueville, Old Regime, 213. 37  On the ‘intendant’s myth’ see, François-Xavier Emmanuelli, Un mythe de l’absolutisme bourbonien: L’intendance, du milieu de xviie siècle à la fin du xviiie siècle (Aix-en-Provence: Publications Université de Provence, 1981). 38  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 138. 39  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and Variants, 337. 35

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


d­ ocumentation of the Intendancy of Tours. His object of research was mainly the ‘royal government’s extension of paternalistic authority over the French territory’.40 His teleological approach produced fruits. He found what he was looking for: an incredible process of administrative centralization in France. The question here, however, is to what extent Tocqueville’s interpretation of this historical pattern was not a visual effect created by the very perspective from which the author contemplated the past. At the same time, he did not pay special attention to the study of the pays d’état although he included an appendix on the pays d’état, focusing particularly on the Languedoc.41 His argument for excluding them was not really convincing. He argued that most of the French territory was formed by the so-called pays d’élection which surrounded Paris, while the former were situated at the frontiers of France. Beside this, only a quarter of the total French population lived in the pays d’état. It is not so clear that these geographical and quantitative arguments justify Tocqueville’s marginal treatment of the pays d’état. He probably thought that they did not fit in very well in his account of French centralization, but he could not omit any reference to them. So, he decided to add an appendix on the Languedoc. Although Tocqueville wanted to outline the dependence that also existed between the pays d’état and the royal government, he was quite conscious of his lack of information regarding these territories. In his notes on the estates of Languedoc he wrote: ‘I am weak on all this, because I have not studied any archives from the pays d’état’. All his sources were books and other ­printed documents.42 Current historiography has questioned traditional beliefs about the process of administrative centralization as it was understood by Tocqueville. I  refer to those studies which place the judiciary at the center of the Old Regime’s constitutional order; those which outline the ability of the traditional officers to maintain their prerogatives in opposition to the intendants, or emphasize the continuity of the jurisdictional model of political power until the Revolution’s dawn;43 a jurisdictional model which implied the ­existence of a transcendent order from which every political power took its real meaning.

  Mélonio and Furet, Introduction, 26.  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Appendix, 249–56. 42  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and Variants, 416–17. 43  Lucca Mannori, ‘Per una “preistoria” della funzione amministrativa. Cultura giuridica e attività dei pubblici apparati nell’età del tardo diritto commune’, Quaderni Fiorentini per la Storia del Pensiero Giuridico Moderno, 19  (1990): 323–504; António Manuel 40



Rafael García Pérez

Let me be clear: I am not denying the existence of a process of concentration of power on the king during the early modern period. However, the problem here is understanding this process of ‘administrative centralization’  — neither linear nor progressive — and at the same time focusing one’s whole attention on this point, while losing sight of the other features that also defined the Old Regime’s political order. The reading of the sources used by Tocqueville to compose his work and his own reflections on them allows, to a certain extent, a different understanding of the Old Regime and also of his history of administrative centralization. I will only take some relevant examples from his last work, The Old Regime and the Revolution. There are several passages in which Tocqueville reveals the plurality of political powers, of jurisdictions, which filled ‘the public sphere’ in the Old Regime. To some extent it is possible to affirm that Tocqueville discovered the jurisdictional constitution of the Old Regime, but his teleological approach and his modern legal mind did not allow him to really appreciate it. In his research notes for chapter eleven, book two, he synthesizes the history of the limits to royal power during the Old Regime as follows: ‘oversight and opposition had been moved from political assemblies to judicial bodies’.44 For him, this was a bad option for preserving the public liberties, but from an historical perspective it is possible to state that the jurisdictional limitation of political power pointed toward an old, i.e. preliberal in continental Europe, understanding of the relationship between law and political power. It is true, as Tocqueville observes, that judges were not good politicians, because the judicial and political logics are different, but precisely here we find one of the main features of the Old Regime’s conception of power: its commitment to the preservation of the prior legal order, rooted in history. Tocqueville himself acknowledged the role played by judicial courts in preserving French liberties; a role that — according to him — the King had entrusted to them. At the same time, the King had escaped from the control of the General Estates. For Tocqueville, the consequence had been the confusion of executive and judicial powers, but from an historical point of view this is not an accurate explanation. There were not such separate powers before the revolutionary break. In a

Hespanha, As Vésperas do Leviathan. Instituições e Poder Político. Portugal, séc. XVIII (Coimbra: Almedina, 1994). 44  Tocqueville, Old Regime, Notes and Variants, 371.

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


j­urisdictional world, legal culture and institutional arrangements impeded the existence of an executive power as such.45 A clear consequence of this ‘pre-modern’ legal culture was the ordinary submission of royal officers to the courts. The King, as the supreme guardian of this order of justice, as the supreme judge, could introduce exemptions to this rule, but only to preserve this transcendent order, that is, with a just cause that only he could appreciate. Throughout the modern period, the protection of royal officers, particularly of intendants, through the practice of reservation of their judicial causes to the King’s Council, increased but, as Tocqueville implicitly acknowledges, without changing the ‘rules of the game’. After explaining the immunity of public officers before and after the Revolution, Tocqueville writes: ‘the only essential difference between the two periods is this: before the Revolution, the government could protect its agents only through arbitrary and illegal actions, whereas since then they have been legally entitled to break the law’.46 What Tocqueville is attesting here is a profound change of the political model at its root. After the Revolution, the State — the post-revolutionary State — was above the law because it was its source: before the Revolution the King was subjected to the law, despite the fact that he tried to neutralize its effectiveness. From this perspective, the continuity of administrative centralization can be questioned. However, Tocqueville perceived the corporative and jurisdictional constitution of France during the Old Regime. A clear example is his description of the multiplicity of obstacles limiting the ‘all’ powerful will of the King. We can quote here the well-known letter addressed by Mirabeau to Louis XVI, reported by Tocqueville, in which the French aristocrat stated: Compare the new order of things with the Old Regime […]. Most of the acts of the National Assembly are clearly favorable to the monarchy. Is it nothing to be with out parlements, without pays d’états, without the assembly of the clergy, without privileges, or nobility? The idea of having only one class of citizens would have pleased Richelieu; equality facilitates the exercise of power. Several reigns of absolute government would not have done as much for royal authority as this single year of revolution has done.47

 Lucca Mannori and Bernardo Sordi, Storia del diritto amministrativo (Roma: Laterza, 2003), 36–71. 46  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 134. 47  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 98. 45


Rafael García Pérez

After Mirabeau’s confession, Tocqueville explains that the radical force of the Revolution was caused by its goal of changing not only the old government, but also the old kind of society. The consequence was the destruction of all kinds of social authority at their roots, authorities which were also political. The final outcome was ‘an immense central power, which has devoured all the bits of authority and obedience which were formerly divided among a crowd of secondary powers, orders, classes, professions, families, and individuals, scattered throughout society’. This provided the Revolution with its anarchic power. But, as Tocqueville tries to make clear, the Revolution did not build this new almighty power: it only made its self-creation possible from the Old Regime’s wreckage.48 From this and other passages, it is possible to state that Tocqueville defended an administrative continuity between the Old Regime and the post-revolutionary State, but not between the Old Regime and the Revolution itself. By destroying the old institutions, the Revolution dissolved any kind of historical continuity with the French absolute monarchy. The problem, from a ‘Tocquevillian’ perspective, was the restoration of this central and omnipotent power after the Revolution’s first stage.49 It is not possible to know the precise meaning of this revolutionary rupture in greater detail, because Tocqueville died without publishing the second volume on the Revolution itself.50 We can only read his research notes on this issue, many of them published during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.51

 Ibid. In last paragraph of chapter 7, book 3, Tocqueville insists on the same idea: ‘Let us no longer be astonished at seeing with what marvelous ease centralization was reestablished in France at the beginning of this century. The men of ’89 had knocked down the building, but its foundations had remained in the very souls of its destroyers, and on those foundation it was possible to rebuild it again, and to construct it more solidly than ever’. Tocqueville, Old Regime, 145. See also, Tocqueville, Old Regime, 245. 49  In the preface, he clearly asserts that ‘the Revolution had two very distinct stages. In the first the French seemed to want to abolish their entire past, in the second they seemed to take up again a part of what they had left behind. Many laws and political practices of the old regime disappeared in 1789 only to return a few years later, like some rivers that go underground only to reappear a few miles further on, the same stream between different banks’. Tocqueville, Old Regime, 85. 50  Furet, Interpreting, 144–45; Stefano Mannoni, Une et indivisible: storia dell’accentramento amministrativo in Francia (Milano: Giuffrè, 1994–96), xi‒xiii. 51   See, Alexis de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the Revolution. II. Notes on the French Revolution and Napoleon (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2001). Translated by Alan S. Kahan. Edited by François Furet and Françoise Mélonio. 48

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


Tocqueville’s understanding of administrative centralization during the Old Regime did not impede his establishing a difference between the old and the new centralization. Both shared the same nature, procedures and ambitions, but not the same power.52 In my opinion, Tocqueville tried to combine his main thesis on administrative continuity with the existence of a multiplicity of political powers, of different jurisdictions with a certain degree of autonomy, until the Revolution. His reading of this complex political panorama inclined him towards lessening the real power of these ‘intermediate’ powers, but he could not totally deny their ability to limit the royal (central) power. At the same time, the Church, and to a much lesser extent the nobility, retained a certain degree of liberty and autonomy before the King. In Tocqueville’s opinion, the priests ‘were at that time one of the most independent bodies in the nation, and the only whose particular liberties compelled respect’.53 From a modern perspective, this fact could be mistakenly interpreted as something marginal when we are dealing with the expansive power of the absolute monarchy. However, current historiography has outlined the role played by the Church in shaping the public sphere, not only as a real ‘political’ power, but also as the main source of transcendent meaning in the society of the Old Regime. The religious way the Revolution acted, its policy of institutional submission imposed on the Church, through patrimonial expropriation first, and the transformation of the clergy into public officers controlled by the new state later, clearly shows to what extent the Church represented a competing actor with secular powers, both before and after the Revolution. Tocqueville’s Modern Legal Mind Contemporary hermeneutic philosophy outlines the importance of authors’ prior understanding in every interpretative operation. From this point of view, it is important to remember that Tocqueville’s legal studies were those under the new liberal state.54 When he was at the Paris School of Law, the course on Administrative Law had been suppressed, but at least after his trip

 Tocqueville, Old Regime, 171.  Tocqueville, Old Regime, 173. 54   Bartolomé Clavero, ‘Tutela administrativa o diálogos con Tocqueville’, Quaderni Fiorentini per la Storia del Pensiero Giuridio Moderno, 24 (1995): 450. 52 53


Rafael García Pérez

to America, Tocqueville showed a clear interest in this field, as his Democracy in America and other works published before his death clearly prove.55 Although Tocqueville read old legal literature in order to understand feudal rights and other typical features of pre-revolutionary French society,56 the legal concepts he used to understand the Old Regime’s institutional arrangements were mainly modern, alien to the society to which they were applied. To a certain extent, this explains Tocqueville’s difficulties in fully understanding the jurisdictional mould of the Old Regime’s political order and the strategies used by the King to extend its power over the French corporate society.57 The glasses Tocqueville used to read the French Old Regime were called ‘centralization’, a nineteenth century doctrinal creation that implied the original existence of a singular public power linked to a singular source of political legitimacy. A  historical foundation for the European composite monarchies was antithetical to this way of thinking. A  sudden revolution in France, or a long-term social transformation in other euro-continental countries, provided the ideological and institutional conditions to achieve administrative or political centralization in its strict sense. As recent historiography has pointed out, Kings’ increasing power during early modern Europe was achieved through a related expansion of other corporate powers.58 This was not a zero sum operation. This point of departure in Tocqueville’s reading of the Old Regime explains his perplexity when defining the legal sources, coming from the Courts, the King’s Council or the Three States. Every attempt to explain the logic of powers during pre-revolutionary France through this filter was doomed to failure, or at least to losing an important part of the picture. I shall quote only one example. When analyzing the kind of freedom that

 Answering a question of his son about Centralization in France, asked in a letter dated on 7 October 1831, Hervé de Tocqueville sent to Alexis a work with the title Coup d’oeil sur l’administration française. Brief View of the French Administration, where the former prefect summarized his own booklet De la charte provinciale (Paris: J. J. Blaise, 1829). DA, I, 5, 99, note c. During his political career Tocqueville gave a particular attention to administrative issues, like the public officers’ responsability or the competence of Administrative Courts. See Alexis de Tocqueville, Oeuvres Complètes, III.2. Écrits et discours politiques (Paris: Gallimard, 1985), 149–93. On Tocqueville’s changing views of the origins of Administrative Centralization since 1835, see Gannett, Tocqueville Unveiled, 88–98. 56  Gannett, Tocqueville Unveiled, 48–49. 57   Probably, the best account on this issue, from the legal history field, is Mannori and Sordi, Storia, 75–181. 58   See Mannoni, Une, 5, with bibliographical references. 55

Tocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution


existed under the Old Regime (book 2, chapter 11), Tocqueville contrasts the ­current situation, after Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état, with the pre-­ revolutionary society, to conclude that ‘what above all assured the oppressed a way to make themselves heard then was the organization of the judicial ­system. We had become a country of absolute government through our ­political and administrative institutions, but we had remained a free people in our judicial ones’.59 The separation introduced by Tocqueville between political and administrative institutions, on the one hand, and judicial ones, on the other, makes it difficult to understand what the final outcome of this institutional arrangement is: serfdom because of the absolute government? Or liberty protected by the courts? Was it possible to reconcile both ­assertions? And what was the difference between political institutions and administrative ones? Did it really exist before the creation of an executive power separated from the judiciary? In all probability, Tocqueville’s modern legal mind and his goal of stressing the continuity of the centralization process really deflected his understanding of the deep rupture introduced by the French Revolution in the history of political power in France and in Europe. In my opinion, the change brought by this revolution was not purely institutional. It transformed the whole political order, conferring on the state a new kind of sacred status. The new state was not construed by a transcendent order: it was the source of the order; an immanent one, and Tocqueville understood this. However, his desire to connect the French absolute monarchy with Louis Napoleon’s centralized state impeded his seeing the historical connection between these two levels of reality and the projection of the first upon the second, and offering a more satisfactory and coherent account of the French Revolution.

 Tocqueville, Old Regime, 176.


The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State? Critics, Reforms, and Abolitions of the Inquisition in the Enlightenment Europe Juan Pablo Domínguez


uring the Age of Enlightenment, many European writers saw the Inquisition as the epitome of fanaticism, brandishing its horrors (whether real or imagined) as infallible arguments in favour of tolerance. In recent decades, various historians have emphasized the role of these anti-inquisitorial diatribes in the Enlightenment debate on religious freedom.1 It is therefore unsurprising that the waning of the Inquisition in the eighteenth century tends to be viewed as a corollary of the triumph of toleration in Europe during the Enlightenment.2 The problem with this perception is that it often fails to show that the main force behind the eighteenth-century anti-Inquisitorial policies was not the desire for toleration but rather the will to impose the power of the State over that of the Church. Many scholars assume that Enlightenment reformers conceived toleration as a human right, the exercise of which required the separation of Church and State. Therefore, the downfall of the Inquisition at the end of the early modern age is often seen as the result of a progressive distinction between the political and religious spheres, and of a greater recognition of the rights of individuals in the face of public authority. Thus, according to Doris Moreno and Ricardo García Cárcel, critiques of the Inquisition increased greatly from the middle of the seventeenth century owing ‘to a growing secularization, which took the form of a progressive distancing of Edward Peters,  Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 155–85; Ricardo García Cárcel and Doris Moreno, ‘La Inquisición y el debate sobre la tolerancia en Europa en el siglo XVIII’, Bulletin Hispanique 104 (2002): 195–213. 2  Vittorio Sciuti Russi, Inquisizione spagnola e riformismo borbónico fra sette e ottocento (Firenze: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 2009). 1 

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 209–226 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111253



Juan Pablo Domínguez

the two spheres of Church and State’.3 And according to Francisco Bethencourt, what distinguished defenders and critics of the Holy Office was the fact that the former defended ‘the legitimacy of imposing a particular order’, whilst the latter championed ‘respect of individual rights’.4 However, these same studies by Bethencourt, Moreno and García Cárcel provide hint that the crisis of the Inquisition in the eighteenth century was, in fact, due to the progressive assertion of the rights of sovereign power over institutions and individuals, and an increasing implication of the State in the government of the Church. The ideal of ‘a free Church in a free State’ is rare in early modern thought and it played an insignificant role in eighteenth-century European politics. Sovereignty and the Inquisition at the Beginnings of the Early Modern Era Although the main leaders of the Protestant Reformation defended the right of the sovereign to oppose religious dissidence, those of the minority and persecuted groups promptly spoke out against such intolerance. When they did so, they seldom failed to refer to the Inquisition. As early as 1524, the Anabaptist leader Balthasar Hubmaier published a brief tract defending freedom of religion as an evangelical mandate and accusing the inquisitors of being ‘the greatest heretics of all’ because of their intolerance.5 Nevertheless, these ideas were held by a very small minority. Until the final decades of the seventeenth century, most critiques of the Inquisition formed part of antiCatholic propaganda and they bore no relation whatsoever to the defence of toleration. Generally speaking, supporters of the Reformation found their martyrs among the Protestant victims of the Inquisition, while they remained unconcerned about those accused of practicing Islam or Judaism, who were in fact those most persecuted. Many early Protestant writers refuted the idea that the Church had the authority to establish tribunals or to impose punishments, although they conceded that civil magistrates had the right to persecute religious d­ issidence in one way or another. In his writings, Martin Luther very clearly defended the view that the Church, as a merely spiritual  community of b­ elievers, should have nothing to do with any form of coercion. In his opinion, only

García Cárcel and Moreno, ‘La Inquisición’, 196. Francisco Bethencourt, L’Inquisition à l’époque moderne (Paris: Fayard, 1995), 442. 5  Balthasar  Hubmaier, ‘On heretics and those who burn them’, in Balthasar Hubmaier, Theologian of Anabaptism (Scottdale: Herald Press, 1989), 58–66. 3  4 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


civil government could exact punishment in order to ensure peace and social well-being. In his tract On Secular Authority (1523), he energetically defended the position that this civil jurisdiction did not extend to religious issues.6 However, he was soon to change his mind and when he found himself in need of the protection of the elector of Saxony, he gradually shifted towards what would later be called Erastianism. After denying the Church any authority in terms of government, he ended up placing the government of the Church in the hands of civil authority. His early defence of freedom of religion also became less vigorous with the passage of time. In his later works he reiterated that, although they could not govern the conscience of their subjects, princes were obliged to ‘repress blasphemy, false doctrines and heresy’, given that they posed a threat to social well-being.7 After 1525, Luther distanced himself more and more from the concept of religious tolerance. However, this distancing does not mean he accepted inquisitorial views. By constantly insisting on the primacy of secular law, Luther’s thought left little place for a tribunal like that of the Holy Office. In many cases, Protestant churches ended up establishing their own ecclesiastical courts, but anti-Catholic rhetoric remained critical of the Inquisition for its alleged independence from civil power. In England, before Henry VIII broke off all ties with Rome, authors like Christopher St Germain or William Tyndale had already insisted on the need to reinforce civil authority by turning ecclesiastical tribunals into royal courts.8 These doctrines became law when the king took charge of the government of the Church and they completely permeated English writings against the Inquisition. Defenders of Royal Supremacy over ecclesiastical matters, such as Thomas Starkey, advocated for minimal Christianity in which the essential faith needed for salvation appears evident ‘without ferther enserche or inquisition’. Hence, the only religious laws that subjects might obey were those that the king decided to establish for the good of the State.9 During the reign of Elizabeth I, England threw in its lot with the Reformation once and for all, yet this shift did not make it a tolerant country. Religious ­persecution continued, although now dissidents were not executed for heresy but for treason. In this

Martin Luther, Escritos politicos (Madrid: Tecnos, 2008): 24–66. Cit. Henry Kamen, The Rise of Toleration (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967), 41. 8  Samuel Gregg, ‘Legal revolution: St Thomas More, Christopher St Germain and the Schism of King Henry VIII’, Ave Maria Law Review 5 (2007): 173–295. 9  Cit. Daniel Eppley, Defending Royal Supremacy and Discerning God’s Will in Tudor England (Ashgate: Aldershot, 2007), 42. 6  7 


Juan Pablo Domínguez

respect, England differed from the countries where the Inquisition held sway: royal courts persecuted dissidents but they did not do it, as a scholasticist would have liked, to defend the rights of God and to lead subjects to their salvation, rather it was to strengthen monarchical authority against rebels.10 From the beginning of the sixteenth century, Protestant writings described the Inquisition as an instrument of the Pope and religious orders designed to establish ecclesiastical government all over the world to the detriment of the cause of the Gospel and the authority of kings. These critiques of the Inquisition rarely failed to emphasize that civil rulers were subjected to the authority of the Holy Office, which was even attributed the power to depose sovereigns. Protestant polemicists often depicted Catholic kings as puppets controlled by an army of monks and inquisitors.11 The Sanctae Inquisitionis Hispanicae Artes¸ which is arguably the most influential anti-inquisitorial book of the sixteenth century, expressly accused the inquisitors of usurping the right of civil magistrates to punish heresy if necessary.12 The Erastian doctrines against the Inquisition were not, in actual fact, exclusive to the Protestant Reformation. Although they more readily triumphed in countries where Protestantism led to the abolition of the old hierarchy and ecclesiastical laws, they were also influential in Catholic countries. In reality, they originated long before the Reformation. Marsilius of Padua, in his Defensor Pacis (1324), had already devoted numerous pages to demonstrating that the Church had no right to employ coercive methods in defence of the faith. He had no intention of promoting toleration, wishing instead to end the power of the Church in order to strengthen civil sovereignty. Therefore, he made clerics civil servants and conceded to the sovereign the authority to persecute heretics if he believes it to be for the good of the State.13 In the sixteenth century, those who continued Marsilius’s quest for a stronger civil power were generally in favour of allowing only one religion and placing it at the service of the State. It was not until the religious d­ ivision of Europe became an irreversible fact that some political leaders and w ­ riters

Peters, Inquisition, 136–40. Francisco de Enzinas, Memorias: historia del estado de los Países Bajos, y de la religión de España (Buenos Aires: La Aurora, 1960), 66–73; James Salgado, The Slaughter-House or a Brief Description of the Spanish Inquisition (London: 1682), 55–60. 12  Reginaldus Gonsalivius Montanus, Sanctae inquisitionis Hispanicae artes aliquot detectae (Heidelberg, 1567), 20–22. 13  Marsilius of Padua, Defensor pacis (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), discourse II, chapters IX, X and XVII, 163–61, 254–67. 10  11 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


concluded that, in these circumstances, toleration might also serve as a powerful tool to strengthen the State. Thus, Jean Bodin, in Les six livres de la Répúblique (1576), stressed the advantages of religious unity, although, at the same time, he warned that a monarch would expose his authority if he took sides in a country divided by religious disputes.14 In the final decades of the sixteenth century, these ideas led the French monarchy to pass a series of toleration edicts that were designed to strengthen royal authority and to re-establish the peace that had been broken by religious wars. As a result of these political doctrines, the last traces of the Inquisition disappeared in France. However, the limited tolerance established in the Edict of Nantes (1598) was not intended as a recognition of the rights of the Huguenots, but rather as a magnanimous and circumstantial concession on the part of the monarch. In fact, Louis XIV would return to persecuting heretics in 1685 for the same reasons that led Henry IV to proclaim the Edict of Nantes a century earlier: to reinforce royal authority and the power of the State. Unsurprisingly, those responsible for persecuting Protestants under Louis XIV were civil servants and soldiers of the sovereign’s army, and not the inquisitors or any other ecclesiastical tribunal. Inquisition and State Power in Enlightenment Thought In early modern times, the ideal of toleration usually went hand in hand with the conviction that the State should exert strict control over the churches. It was partly for this reason that ideas about freedom of conscience first spread in countries where the Protestant Reformation curtailed ecclesiastical jurisdiction or, at least, firmly subordinated it to civil jurisdiction. The link between Erastianism and toleration also explains why, among Catholics, ideas of tolerance spread more quickly among proponents of Gallicanism, Febronianism, Josefinism, etc.; in other words, among those who aspired to place the government of the Church in the hands of the State. This aspect of the history of toleration has been neglected in most studies but it is crucial to understand the early modern critics of the Inquisition. Most scholars recognize that the first toleration edicts in the Modern Age were concessions of certain rulers who wanted to strengthen their power, which was threatened by religious wars. They also admit the importance that doctrines favourable to the supremacy of the State over the Church had in

14  Jean Bodin, Les six livres de la République (Paris: Jacques de Puy, 1576), book IV, chapter VII, 495–515.


Juan Pablo Domínguez

the development of these policies. Yet, in general, they insist on stressing the enormous distance between this authoritarian toleration, conceived as a right of rulers to ensure that they can maintain peace in their States, and the Enlightenment’s tolerance, conceived as the right of every man to follow his own conscience, irrespective of the authority of the State. The fact is, however, that the rise of the Enlightenment did not prevent most supporters of toleration from continuing to defend the position that religious doctrines and institutions should be subject to government control. In Protestant countries, most Enlightenment thinkers were opposed to the religious freedom of Catholics because they perceived them as not being obedient to the State. In Catholic countries, Enlightenment authors supported the suppression of the regular clergy or, at least, of the religious orders they judged to be too independent with respect to civil power. And all over Enlightenment Europe, defenders of toleration usually supported the proscription of atheism because they regarded it as a risk to sovereign authority. It is, of course, true that the ideal of toleration was once an again invoked in most Enlightenment writings against the Inquisition. However, it is no less true that most of these writings also defended the rights of civil sovereigns over churches and accused the Inquisition of diminishing the power of kings and magistrates. Take, for instance, the highly influential Historia Inuquisitionis by Dutch theologian Philipp van Limborch. It was undoubtedly intended as a plea for toleration in the vein of those of his friend John Locke. But, as Samuel Chandler pointed in his preface to the 1731 English translation, it was also a reminder of the ills that result from this usurpation by ecclesiastical power ‘upon the authority and dignity of princes’.15 Perhaps Voltaire was the French writer who did the most to give the Inquisition a bad name in the eighteenth century. In his works, it constantly appears as the most eloquent example of Christian intolerance and, also, of the harmful effects of ecclesiastical jurisdiction over sovereign power. Although sometimes he is represented as the champion of universal toleration, he also argued that religious freedom should be restricted in the interest of the State. This conviction would lead him to praise the expulsion of Jesuits from France and the religious persecutions Christians suffered, or had suffered, at the hands of the emperors of China, Japan or ancient Rome.16

15  16 

Samuel Chandler, ‘Preface’, in History of the Inquisition vol. I (London: J. Gray, 1731), XV. Voltaire, Traité sur la tolerance (Geneva, 1763), chapter XVIII, 170–71.

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


In his works, Voltaire repeatedly attacked the Inquisition for ‘subjecting kings, ministers and magistrates to its authority’ and praised the regalist measures adopted by the Spanish government to end the Inquisitorial affronts ‘to the majesty of crowns, the dignity of the counsel of kings, the rights of magistrates and the safety of citizens’.17 Most philosophes shared Voltaire’s concern about the threats the Inquisition posed to State power. Holbach attacked the countries where the Inquisition was established, arguing that there sovereigns languished ‘without strength or glory’ and subjects were ‘ready to rebel against their legitimate sovereign as soon as a seditious monk gives them to understand that it is from the throne that their ills derive’.18 Likewise, Helvetius deplored that, wherever the church had erected the tribunal of Inquisition, ‘its throne was placed above that of the sovereign’.19 Diderot, for his part, praised Pablo Olavide and other ‘wise’ Spaniards who tried to advise their King that the Inquisition was ‘a state within the State contrary to his authority’.20 Regalism and Inquisition The Early Modern Inquisition, which was active in the Italian Peninsula and the territories of the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns, faced a crisis during the second half of the eighteenth century. Various Italian rulers abolished  the tribunals in their respective States. For their part, the governments of Spain and Portugal drafted and implemented reforms which in many senses anticipated the definitive abolition of the Holy Office in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Sometimes the end of the Inquisition has been perceived as a fruit of the Enlightenment. It is true that the works of the philosophes played their part in undermining the prestige of the Holy Office, along with novels, travel books and other anti-inquisitorial writings. But, if we look at the ideas expressed by those who tried to abolish or reform the Holy Office in Spain, Portugal

Voltaire, Questions sur l’Encyclopédie vol. I (Geneva: 1770), 92–94. Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach, Lettres à Eugénie: ou Préservatif contre les préjugés vol.  II (London, 1768), letter IX, 52. 19  Claude Adrien Helvétius, De L’Homme vol. II (London, 1773), section IX, chapter XXVI, 559. 20  Denis Diderot, ‘Don Pablo Olavidès’, in Oeuvres de Denis Diderot vol. I (Paris: A. Belin, 1818), 701. 17  18 


Juan Pablo Domínguez

and Italy, it is evident that the main inspiration for their policies was not the Enlightenment idea of tolerance, but the regalist and episcopalist tradition of Catholic Europe. Although they are different, and sometimes opposed, in the eighteenth century the doctrines of regalism and episcopalism were united in their quarrels with the Holy See. Episcopalist prelates appealed to kings to defend their rights before the Pope. For their part, kings and their ministers claimed these episcopal rights, which they believed had been usurped by the Holy See, with the intention of promoting national churches that were more and more estranged from Rome and therefore subjected to civil power. Already in the Middle Ages, the appointment of inquisitors (in other words, papal delegates for trying heresy) had been seen as a usurpation of the original rights of bishops, who until then were responsible for combatting heresies in their dioceses. The paladins of civil sovereignty also very soon showed their reticence towards a jurisdiction that came from the Pope, that is, from a foreign prince. This anti-inquisitorial regalism was later developed further by several early modern authors, and especially by the Venetian ­politician and jurist Paolo Sarpi. In several of his writings, Sarpi denounced the way popes and religious orders used the Inquisition to increase their power and he maintained that ecclesiastical institutions should be under the control of the State. His Discorso dell’origine, forma, leggi, ed uso dell’ufficio dell’Inquisitione proposed an alternative model of an Inquisition, which should be entirely run by the State and unencumbered by interferences from Rome and ecclesiastical power. Written in 1613 and commissioned by the Senate of Venice, the Discorso was very soon translated into other languages and it had an enormous influence on European regalist thinking.21 The Italian reformers of the eighteenth century were still inspired by Sarpi in their justification of the various reforms and abolitions of the Holy Office which were undertaken during the period. Sarpi’s works had considerable impact in France at the end of the seventeenth century. In 1682, with the Declaration of the Clergy of France, the Gallican Church had confirmed its desire to maintain a high degree of autonomy with respect to Rome and to bow instead to the supreme power of the king. Gallican clerics, led by Bossuet, were unanimous in their defence

Paolo Sarpi, Discorso dell’ origine, forma, leggi, ed uso dell’ dell’ufficio dell’Inquisitione (Venice: 1639); The history of the Inquisition (London: J. Okes, 1639).


The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


of the persecution of Huguenots launched by Louis XIV, yet they strongly criticized the Inquisition for its links to the papacy and its excessive independence from civil power.22 According to the Gallican historian Claude Fleury, the Inquisition was rejected by all good Catholics, and especially by bishops and civil magistrates, whose jurisdiction was usurped by the ­inquisitors appointed by the Pope.23 The anti-inquisitorial magnum opus of Gallicanism was the Histoire de l’Inquisition et son origine published by Jacques Marsollier, canon of Uzès, in 1693. Marsollier confronted both apologists for the Holy Office and Early Enlightenment supporters of toleration with equal conviction. In his opinion, the Church had to follow the example of Jesus Christ and the Holy Fathers, who treated heretics kindly without ever employing force or coercion. But kings, who were obliged to maintain the peace of the State and the Church, could not let heresy go unpunished. As part of his Histoire, Marsollier translated Sarpi’s work about the Venetian Inquisition. Both authors condemned the Inquisition for usurping civil sovereignty and episcopal prerogatives, and for using book censorship as a way of promoting Jesuit doctrines on papal infallibility and on the rightness of tyranicide. Marsollier’s work had a great impact in the eighteenth century; it influenced the opinion of such renowned authors as Montesquieu and was repeatedly copied by Gallican and Jansenist scholars, such as Louis Ellies du Pin and ­Claude-Pierre Goujet.24 French Gallicanism had an extraordinary impact on eighteenth-century Catholic Europe. In general, the so-called Jansenists of Italy, Spain or Portugal were much more influenced by the Gallican ecclesiology of Bossuet and Fleury than by the theological doctrines of Jansen. And the Italian rulers who stood up to the Inquisition did not do so in the name of toleration, but rather in that of the regalist and episcopalist principles which the Gallican Church represented. René Louis de Voyer d’Argenson, Histoire du droit public ecclésiastique français vol.  II (London: Samuel Harding, 1737), 95–151. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Défense de l’Église Gallicane (Paris: De Perrodil et Cie, 1845), 38–40, 229. 23  Claude Fleury, Histoire ecclésiastique vol. 19 (Paris: Jean Mariette, 1726), discours VII, 20. 24  Jacques Marsollier, Histoire de l’Inquisition et son origine (Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1693, 1733); Jean Ehrard, ‘Montesquieu et l’Inquisition’, Dix-huitième siècle 24  (1992): 335; Antonie Banier, Histoire générale des ceremonies, moeurs, et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde vol. II (Paris: Rollin Fils, 1741): 333–462; Louis-Ellies Du Pin, Memoires historiques pour server a l’histoire des Inquisitions vol.  I (Cologne: Denys Slebus, 1716); Claude Goujet, Histoire des Inquisitions (Cologne: Pierre Marteau, 1759, 1769).



Juan Pablo Domínguez

Abolitions and Reforms of the Inquisition in the Second Half of Eighteenth Century The first eighteenth-century abolition of Roman Inquisition tribunals occurred in 1768 and was driven by Guillaume Du Tillot, a French minister of Ferdinand I of Parma. Du Tillot introduced a series of highly regalist measures, such as the seizure of ecclesiastical property, the expulsion of the Jesuits and a significant reduction in the number of monasteries, which merited severe papal condemnation. The decree which abolished the Inquisition specifically indicated that it was necessary to disband a tribunal that was dependent on a foreign power and detrimental to legitimate sovereign jurisdiction.25 In Lombardy, which was then an Austrian domain, the Inquisition was abolished in 1775 by a decree declared by the Empress Maria Theresa. It regarded: [T]he exercise within the State of a jurisdiction, which was independent of the power of the supreme civil magistrates and even of the diocesan bishops, to be incompatible with the original and unalterable rights of the principality and with the proper political order.

Far from mentioning toleration, the decree ensured that the bishops and the government would continue taking the necessary measures ‘to preserve religion and Christian customs’.26 In 1782 the Inquisition was abolished in Sicily and in Tuscany. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold of Lorraine, was a perfect example of a regalist ruler. In 1786 he convoked the Synod of Pistoia, which established the general principles of Italian Jansenism and entrusted Church reform to the civil authorities. In his decree abolishing the Holy Office, Peter Leopold indicated that his duty as a sovereign was ‘to employ all the means granted by supreme power to maintain and defend the purity of our holy religion’. In accordance with this principle, he had decided to dismantle the Inquisition and return the deposit of faith to the care of bishops, who could only impose temporal punishments to the heretics with the consent of the sovereign.27 Giovanni Drei, ‘Sulle relazioni tra la Santa Inquisizione e lo Stato nei Ducati parmensi (sec. XVIII)’, in Studi di storia e di critica dedicati a Pio Carlo Falletti (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1915), 577–610. 26  Cit. Romano Canosa, Storia dell’inquisizione in Italia: Milano e Firenze (Rome: Sapere, 2000), 107. 27  ‘Editto della soppressione in Toscana del Tribunale dell’Inquiszione’, in Atti e Decreti del Concilio Diocesano di Pistoja (Pistoia: Atto Bracali, 1786), Apendix, 52–53. 25 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


The Sicilian Inquisition had already been held in check during earlier decades by a firm jurisdictional policy, in order to prevent its independence from royal power. But Ferdinand of Bourbon, the king of Naples and Sicily, was a very religious man and could not make up his mind to entirely forego the Holy Office. The Marquis of Marco, Secretary of State for ecclesiastical affairs, tried to convince him, based on the authority of Fleury and other Gallican authors, that many devout Catholics were opposed to the Holy Office. But it was the Viceroy of Sicily, Dominico Caraccioli, who in 1782 finally obtained a decree from the monarch, abolishing the Inquisition on the grounds that its procedures were wholly unnecessary to ensure the purity of religion, a matter which corresponded to bishops and royal tribunals.28 The Roman Inquisition was an ecclesiastical tribunal entirely dependent on the papacy. Hence many Italians saw it as a foreign institution and were pleased when it disappeared from their territories. In Portugal and Spain the Holy Office had certain special features which made its extinction more difficult. There the Inquisition had been introduced by kings at the beginning of the early modern period. It exercised both ecclesiastical and royal jurisdiction, and it formed a relevant part of the judicial and administrative framework of both monarchies. Nevertheless, in the second half of the eighteenth century, the Spanish and Portuguese governments adopted measures designed to reform an institution they judged to be excessively autonomous, favourable to the interests of the Pope and disrespectful of the rights of kings. In eighteenth-century Portugal the chief initiatives for restraining inquisitorial power were introduced by the Marquis of Pombal, a prominent statesman who, from 1750 to 1777, enforced a policy designed to strengthen the power of the crown vis-à-vis the ultramontane clergy, and particularly the Jesuits, whom he will eventually expel from Portugal. Pombal only abolished the Inquisition of Goa but in the rest of the Crown territories, he ensured that it was strictly controlled by civil authority. The model for this inquisitorial reform had already been proposed by the diplomat Luis da Cunha during the first half of the century. Da Cunha thought that the Inquisition could serve Portuguese interests if it was reorganized under the aegis of the State. Da Cunha wanted to make it clear that the king was ‘the lord of the Inquisition Tribunal’, who could abolish it or change its procedures without the need to rely on the Pope.29 In particular, he proposed abolishing secrecy, autos-de-fe,

28  29 

Sciuti Russi, Inquisizione spagnola, 99–125. Luís da Cunha, Testamento político (São Paulo: Alfa-Omega, 1976), 83.


Juan Pablo Domínguez

capital punishment and the confiscation of property belonging to the heirs of offenders. He also suggests that the persecution of Jews should cease and that the Inquisition should rather concentrate on those who, ‘under the guise of religion’, put their ‘own interest before the common good of Portugal’.30 Pombal put into practice these proposals, appointing his brother ­general inquisitor and using the Holy Office to get rid of the Jesuit Gabriel Malagrida, who was executed in 1761, in a solemn auto-de-fe, for promoting disaffection towards the government by his doctrines. In the years that ensued, Pombal promoted various laws designed to erode the autonomy of the Holy Office, transforming it into a tool at the service of the State.31 None of these measures appealed to toleration, and even less to the separation of Church and State, rather invoking the rights of the king ‘as protector of the Church and sacred canons’.32 In 1774 a new by-law, which was clearly inspired by the doctrines of Luis da Cunha, was passed to regulate the Portuguese Inquisition. This by-law reinforced the subordination of the Holy Office to the Crown and, although it did not rule out the persecution of heretics, it attached much importance to the repression of the enemies of the Crown, in particular, the proponents of Jesuit doctrines and any religious conviction contrary to absolutism.33 In Spain, the kings had given the Inquisition all its privileges in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, yet their successors ended up lamenting its excessive power and autonomy in the following centuries. In 1696, Charles II appointed a Junta Magna to resolve the continued conflicts of jurisdiction caused by the Holy Office.34 In the eighteenth century, with the arrival of the Bourbon dynasty, the pressure the government exerted on the Inquisition intensified. In 1713, the public prosecutor of the Council of Castile, Melchor de Macánaz, whose regalist efforts would eventually earn him an  inquisitorial sentence, proposed a reform to prevent the Holy Office from continuing to usurp the rights of the crown in ecclesiastical matters.

Luís da Cunha, Instruçoes políticas (Lisboa: CNPCDP, 2001), 267. Yllan de Matos, A ultima Inquisição: os meios de ação e funcionamento da Inquisição no GrãoPará pombalino ( Jundiaí: Paco Editorial, 2012), 89–125. 32  Law of May 25, 1773, Collecção da legislação portuguesa (Lisboa: Typografia Maigrense, 1829), 675. 33  Regimento do Santo Officio da Inquisição dos Reinos de Portugal (Lisboa: Oficina de Miguel Manescal da Costa, 1774). 34  José Martínez Millán, ‘Los problemas de jurisdicción del Santo Oficio: la Junta Magna (1696)’, Hispania sacra 37 (1985): 205–59. 30  31 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


­ acánaz’s proposal did not become law but it was an essential influence M for subsequent reforms, and even for the abolition of the Inquisition by the Cádiz Cortes in 1813.35 Once Charles III succeeded to the throne in 1759, episcopalist regalism became a more decisive political-religious programme, causing great dissatisfaction among ultramontane sectors of the Spanish Church as a result of its laws and proposals. Politicians such as the Count of Campomanes and the Count of Aranda secured important regalist measures from the monarch, including some designed to subject inquisitorial censorship to the approval of the sovereign or to prevent the Holy Office from intervening in issues that had little or nothing to do with matters of faith. The dedication of Campomanes to regalism did not confine itself to active politics; he also wrote noted works in its defence. His influential Juicio Imparcial (1769) denied the Church any coercive power and, at the same time, conceded total authority over ecclesiastical discipline to the king.36 In his reports to the king and the Council of Castile, Campomanes accused the Holy Office of favouring Jesuit doctrines that contravened royal sovereignty.37 As far as I know, he did not propose to abolish the Inquisition, but he did stress that its coercive power pertained to royal jurisdiction and, therefore, the king could reform and even abolish it ‘when public need and utility so demanded’.38 The Count of Aranda was in favour of eradicating the Holy Office but at the same time he defended the right of the king to preserve the religious unity of Spain. Aranda, who together with Campomanes, was one of the key architects of the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, believed civil power also had reasons to act against the rest of religious orders.39 In 1768, the influential diplomat José Nicolás de Azara, who was also an enemy of the Holy Office, explained the reasons for this obsession regalists had with the regular clergy: from their

José María Vallejo García-Hevia, ‘Macanaz y su propuesta de reforma del Santo Oficio de 1714’, Revista de la Inquisición 5 (1996): 187–292. 36  Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes, Juicio imparcial sobre las letras, en forma de breve, que ha publicado la Curia Romana (Madrid: Oficina de D. Joachin de Ibarra, 1769), 8–10. 37  José María Vallejo García-Hevia, ‘Campomanes y la Inquisición: historia del intento frustrado de empapelamiento de otro fiscal de la Monarquía en el siglo XVIII’, Revista de la Inquisición 3 (1994): 141–82. 38  Cit. José de Covarrubias, Máximas sobre recursos de fuerza y protección (Madrid: D. Joachin Ibarra, 1785), 228–29. 39  Aranda to Ricardo Wall, 21 November and 20 June 1761, in Cartas desde Varsovia. Correspondencia privada del Conde de Aranda con Ricardo Wall (1760–1762), ed. Cristina González Caizán, Cezary Taracha and Diego Téllez Alarcia (Lublin: Werset, 2005), 159, 164. 35 


Juan Pablo Domínguez

point of view, every ‘religious family’ acted against the authority of the king like ‘a sword, the hilt of which is in the Vatican’.40 Neither Azara nor Aranda were isolated cases. In the eighteenth century the desire to abolish the Inquisition often went hand in hand with the desire to eradicate or at least drastically reduce the regular clergy. And this was not just the case among Catholics. The English soldier, traveller and diplomat Alexander Jardine, an enthusiast of the Enlightenment and toleration, advised the Spanish government, [T]o begin by abolishing the Inquisition at once, and the friars gradually, one order at a time, or leaving for a while some of the most useful.41

In the final years of the eighteenth century, during the reign of Charles IV, various Spanish politicians and clerics drew up plans to reform the Inquisition. They all coincided in being regalist.42 In 1798, as Minister of Grace and Justice, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos proposed a reform which would put an end to ‘the harmful principles and maxims the Inquisition adopts […] not only against the ordinary jurisdiction of Bishops, but also against the sovereignty of Kings’.43 Jovellanos, whose views were close to those of the ‘so-called Jansenist party’, considered that the Spanish Church should not look to Rome for authority that it could find within Spain in ‘the bishops and ministers who act as repositories of the faith and in Your Majesty, who is the ex officio protector of the Church’.44 Jovellanos only lasted nine months in the government and he was unable to achieve success on this project despite having garnered the support of various bishops. One of them was Antonio Tavira, a prelate with a reputation for being a Jansenist who wrote a report denouncing the inquisitors for their constant­­usurpation of royal and ­episcopal rights, and reminded his readers that Christians had the obligation to submit to their sovereigns without any semblance of criticism or resistance.45 Azara to Manuel de Roda, 14 April 1768, in El espíritu de D. José Nicolás de Azara vol. I (Madrid: Imprenta de J. Martín Alegría, 1846), 47–48. 41  Alexander Jardine, Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal vol. II (London: T. Cadell, 1788), 88. 42  Emilio La Parra and María Ángeles Casado, La Inquisición en España. Agonía y abolición (Madrid: Catarata, 2013), 22–66. 43  Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos to Antonio Tavira, February 15, 1798, in Informe que de orden de S. M. dio el Illmo. Señor D. Antonio Tavira y Almazán (Sevilla: Josef Hidalgo, 1812), 8–9. 44  Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, Diarios v. II (Oviedo: Instituto de Estudios Asturianos, 1954), 504; ‘Representación a Carlos  IV sobre lo que era el Tribunal de la Inquisición’, in Obras publicadas e inéditas vol. V (Madrid: Atlas, 1956), 333–34. 45  Tavira, Informe, 11–45. 40 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


Inquisition and Revolution It was a common claim, in the Catholic regalist tradition, that Jesus had forbidden the apostles to exert any form of religious coercion. But it was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that a number of them accepted that this prohibition should also be extended to political rulers. Undoubtedly, the influence of Enlightenment ideas had a role to play in this process. However, we must not forget that the acceptance of political tolerance among the so-called Enlightenment Catholics was also linked to the conviction that the juridical recognition of non-Catholics would contribute to strengthening monarchical authority and the power of the State. This conviction was, in fact, the main reason for the tolerant policies exerted in the decade of 1780s by the Catholic sovereigns of Austria and France with the support of much of their regalist and Jansenist clergy. At the break of French Revolution, a significant number of Jansenists endorsed Article X of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, according to which no one could be disturbed ‘for his opinions, including religious ones, provided that their manifestation does not trouble the public order established by the law’.46 They were also happy to approve the Civil Declaration of the Clergy, the dissolution of religious orders and other measures that were clearly inspired by the old regalist ideals. Those who had previously defended the rights of royal sovereignty over the Church now defended those of national sovereignty represented by the Courts. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy meant the birth of a Constitutional Church that inherited and furthered the Erastian ideals of Catholic Enlightenment. Its leader, the bishop Henri Grégoire, was also one of the most ardent critics of the Inquisition of the period. Grégoire played a key role in the religious policy of France from 1795 to 1799, a time in which freedom was granted for those forms of worship which subjected themselves ‘to surveillance by public authorities’ and whose ­adherents swore, to use Grégoire’s own words, ‘allegiance to political dogmas’.47 During that period, French authorities exerted a considerable influence over the Spanish government. Convinced that the Inquisition, together with the religious orders, was the chief obstacle to the progress of Spain, Grégoire

La Constitution française, présentée au Roi par l’Assemblée nationale, le 3 Septembre 1791 (Paris: Dubosquet, 1791), 3. 47  Décret du 21 février 1795, http://www.eglise-etat.org/1795.html; Henri Grégoire, Discours sur la liberté des cultes (1795), 4. 46 


Juan Pablo Domínguez

launched a campaign to do away with the Holy Office, which reached its climax in the open letter he addressed to the general inquisitor in 1798.48 Some important French politicians, such as the foreign minister Talleyrand, collaborated with Grégoire, putting pressure on the Spanish government to end the Inquisition. In February 1798, shortly after being appointed ambassador in Madrid, Admiral Laurent Truguet sent a letter to Paris, explaining his plans for liberating the world from the ‘terrible Inquisition’. Above all, he was sure he would be able to convince Spanish politicians that the king would have much more power if priests became ‘civil servants and government agents’, instead of being accomplices of the Holy Office.49 The Revolution, propagated through Europe by the weapons of the French army, led to the suppression of the Inquisition in Venice, Genoa and Turin during the period between 1796 and 1800. In fact, the activity of these three tribunals had been practically non-existent since the middle of the eighteenth century. The case of the still much feared Spanish Inquisition was different, but it was also abolished as a result of French military expansion. On 4 December 1808, shortly after his armies reached Madrid, Napoleon proclaimed a brief decree, the first article of which summarized various centuries of regalist critiques of the Inquisition: ‘The tribunal of the Inquisition is abolished, as inconsistent with civil sovereignty and authority’.50 Napoleon perfected the art of using toleration as a weapon for subjugating religion to politics. As a keen admirer of Machiavelli, he was convinced that religion could reinforce his authority, as long as it was forced to submit to civil power. Where various religions coexisted, he decreed lawful tolerance, which enabled him to present himself as the protector of different creeds and, at the same time, to smother their autonomy and power. In Spain, however, the absence of religious minorities made tolerance a secondary issue. Napoleon’s priority was to dominate the Spanish Church and make it yet another part of his government. Hence, he did not mind making concessions to Spain’s alleged fanaticism and declaring Catholicism to be the only religion admissible in Spain .51

Vittorio Sciutti Russi, ‘Abolir l’inquisition d’Espagne: une lettre de l’abbé Grégoire’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française 333 (2003), 121–32; Henri Grégoire, ‘Lettre du citoyen Grégoire, évêque de Blois, à Don Ramon-Joseph de Arce, archevêque de Burgos, grand inquisiteur d’Espagne’, Annales de la religion VI (1798), 373–96. 49  Cit. Sciuti Russi, Inquisizione spagnola, 229. 50  Gazeta de Madrid (December 11, 1808), 1567. 51  Juan Pablo Domínguez, ‘Tolerancia religiosa en la España afrancesada (1808–1813)’, Historia y política 31 (2014), 195–223. 48 

The Rise of Toleration or the Rise of the State?


The reformist cleric Juan Antonio Llorente was one of the main inspirers and enforcers of Bonparte’s religious policy for Spain. As early as May 1808, immediately after Napoleon had assumed the Spanish crown, Llorente sent him a proposal for ‘Spanish Church Regulation’, which granted civil authority absolute power over ecclesiastical matters. Among other things, Llorente’s proposal declared: ‘Monks, friars, nuns and regular clerics must not remain in Spain’.52 When José Bonaparte effectively dissolved the religious orders, Llorente was responsible for confiscating their possessions in the name of the State. But Llorente is known, in particular, as an historian of the Inquisition. In 1812 and 1813 he published two works on the subject, which already displayed the main features of his later and better known work, Histoire critique de l’Inquisition espagnole (1817). In these publications he shows his rejection of the use of coercive methods to propagate and sustain religion, but he focuses primarily on the old regalist argument: the Inquisition usurps the rights of kings and bishops.53 The ideas of toleration found among the Spanish afrancesados are especially noticeable in the masonic discourses of the period. At their secret lodge meetings, the supporters of the Bonapartes, including notable clerics, such as Pedro de Estala, Alberto Lista or Juan Andújar, could express themselves without being afraid of the reaction of a people they deemed fanatical in the extreme. And so their main theme of discussion was toleration. They envisaged it as the solution to the great problems of Spain. Although, it has to be said, the tolerance they wished for was always linked in their discourse to the full submission of the Church to the State. For these men, the two great favours Bonaparte did for Spain were the abolition of the Inquisition and the suppression of the religious orders.54 Between 1808 and 1813, Spain was divided into two areas: one ruled by the Bonapartes; and the other resisting their authority. The latter, which had been governed since 1810 by the Cádiz Cortes, abolished the Inquisition in 1813. The abolition decree, which was debated at length by the Cortes, was largely based on regalist proposals that had attempted to reform the Holy Office

Juan Antonio Llorente, ‘Reglamento para la Iglesia Española (1808)’, in Gérard Dufour, Juan Antonio Llorente en France (Lille: A. N. R. T., 1797), 722–39. 53  Juan Antonio Llorente, Memoria histórica sobre qual ha sido la opinión nacional de España acerca del tribunal de la Inquisición (Madrid: Imprenta de Sancha, 1812); Anales de la Inquisición de España (Madrid: Imprenta de Ibarra, 1812 and 1813), 2 vols. 54  Colección de piezas de arquit. trabajadas en el taller de Santa Julia, L .·. ESC.·. Al O.·. de Madrid. (s. l.): (s.n). 52 


Juan Pablo Domínguez

throughout the eighteenth century. In fact, some historians prefer to describe it as a reform rather than an abolition, given that the Cortes replaced the Inquisition with new ‘tribunals for the protection of faith’, which were more tightly controlled by civil and episcopal authorities, yet they were just as intolerant.55 In the Courts of Cadiz the old debates between regalists and ultramontanists were repeated, although more openly. The defenders of sovereignty (previously royal and now national) continued to insist that decisions about ecclesiastical discipline were a matter for civil government. The Inquisition debate did not even touch upon the question of toleration. Liberal representatives simply repeated the same old regalist arguments, reiterating that the Inquisition usurped the prerogatives of bishops and sovereign power.56 In the portion of Spain controlled by the Cádiz Cortes, those who wrote critiques of the Inquisition stressed that Jesus Christ had forbidden his disciples to use coercive methods but, at the same time, they defended the indubitable right of the sovereign authority ‘to restrain heretics by means of corporal punishment’.57 The definitive abolition of the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain would come as a result of the liberal revolutions of 1820. Although the ideal of toleration gradually won supporters among the elite in both countries, it was not the reason their respective Cortes adduced in order to abolish the Inquisition. In Spain they merely enforced the decree of 1813 once again. For their part, the representatives of the Portuguese Cortes decided to transfer the cases of heresy to bishops and civil tribunals, considering that the Holy Office was a creature of the ‘despotism of Popes and Jesuits’. Although they expressed a strong rejection of the inquisitorial proceedings, they also considered that those proceedings had much improved after the regalist reforms of Pombal.58 The revolutions of 1820 did not, by any means, bring about the separation of Church and State. Spain and Portugal continued to define themselves as confessional nations and liberals in both countries did not hesitate to increase the power the State wielded in ecclesiastical matters.

Gérard Dufour, ‘¿Cuándo fue abolida la inquisición en España?’, Cuadernos de Ilustración y Romanticismo 13 (2005), 93–107. 56  Discusión del proyecto de decreto sobre el tribunal de la Inquisición (Cádiz: Imprenta Nacional, 1813). 57  Antonio Puigblanch, La Inquisición sin máscara (Cádiz: Imprenta de don José Niel, 1811), 20. 58  Diario das Cortes Geraes e Extraordinarias da Nacão Portuguesa vol. I (Lisboa: Impressão Nacional, 1821), 354–58, 404, 421. 55 

Part Two The Practice: Modes of Transferences and ­Interferences II. Rites

Invoking the Name of the King: Context and Meaning in Late Medieval Portugal Rita Costa Gomes


he figure of the medieval king appears to our twentieth-first eyes endowed with strange, transcendent qualities, a figure distant from modern notions of a clear separation of politics from religion. In situations of human conflict or the disruption of the public peace, for instance, medieval kings were believed to have a supernatural capacity to protect individuals and groups. This was not solely a matter of general abstract principle, but a practical mechanism for ordering everyday life. The protective virtue of monarchs was embedded within a whole complex of beliefs related to the royal figure that also established special rules of behavior in the king’s presence. Those rules highlighted the unbridgeable difference between the monarch and the common individual, revealing the unique sacred attributes and special capacities associated with the ruler’s person. The royal virtue of creating and maintaining peace in specific times and places was paramount among those capacities the sovereign possessed. It would seem that the physical presence of the ruler would be required to achieve the extraordinary effect of abruptly stopping violence and engendering peace, as many sources both textual and visual suggest. Nevertheless, there is one revealing example that the spatial dynamic at work was more complex: invoking the king’s name to prevent violence. The object of this essay is to analyze, with the help of late-medieval texts from Portugal, the use of the king’s name as an invocation, in order not only to exemplify how theological and political concepts were related but also to ­discuss the king’s attributes in their relation to space.1 The main questions

My research on this topic was announced in an essay published in Portuguese: Rita Costa Gomes, ‘Invocar o Rei na Idade Média: breve nota de Antropologia Jurídica’, Revista Portuguesa de História 31 (1996), 195–207. An insightful question of my Towson colleague Oluwatoyin Babatunde Oduntan in our faculty seminar rekindled my interest in pursuing it. 1 

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 229-244 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111254



Rita Costa Gomes

posed by my reflection can be formulated this way: did the royal presence in medieval times have a spatial dimension of its own and, if so, what were the characteristics of such a space? If royal ubiquity was possible, did it differ from that of God? Ernst Kantorowicz considered the problem of spatiality and medieval sovereignty in one of his articles in ways that directly inspire the present argument.2 I contend that Kantorowicz’s initial exploration of spatial concepts related to sovereignty is filled with suggestive clues that complement his better-known explanations of time and duration in the legal construct of the king’s two bodies. By turning his attention to spatial concepts, Kantorowicz opened up a new path of enquiry. Spatiality, as Kantorowics recognized, is an equally indispensable aspect of the reality of sovereign power. Such an important insight has not been pursued by more recent scholarship. The implications of the present research will contest, therefore, the simple evolutionary narrative concerning medieval and renaissance royal mobility that stresses the role of the monarch’s presence in recreating, each time, a sovereign sphere in each locality, as the king was moving around the kingdom. This accepted narrative can be found in a recently published volume referring to the incessant travels of the Habsburg emperor Charles V (r. 1519–56): The emperor needed to be physically present in order to exert his authority to the full, not least so that local elites could plug into networks of patronage and clientage, and raise their concerns. As the period advanced, however, rulers became increasingly fixed rather than peripatetic, and their royal courts and the associated machinery of government grew in scale and complexity.3

What is absent from this simple picture is any consideration of spatiality in past societies, of how the royal presence was defined in relation to space, considered here solely as an abstract and neutral background separate from human action. Changing the usual interpretation somewhat, when discussing the importance of royal entry ceremonies for sixteenth-century French monarchy Michael Wintroube, in turn, wrote:

A first draft of this paper benefitted from the discussions held in Pamplona in the Summer of 2013 and the subsequent editing suggestions of John Bainbridge, Laura Mason, Patricia Meisol, and Barbara Morrison. 2  Ernst Kantorowicz, ‘Invocatio Nominis Imperatoris’, Bollettino del Centro di Studi Filologici e Linguistici Siciliani 3 (1955), 35–50. 3  Bernard Capp, ‘Comment from a Historical Perspective’, Beat Kümin (ed), Political space in pre-industrial Europe (Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2009), 234.

Invoking the Name of the King


The ritual event transforming the king into a sacred being (god) was a miracle made possible by the hard work, skill, and watching eyes of his dutiful subjects; which is to say, his potentia absoluta as a god-like being was contingent upon a ritual event that was created, enacted, collectively seen — and, to an extent, controlled — by his subjects.4

In this case, the accent is put on the ritual activity of subjects, not on the movement of kings, and so the historian claims that the sacred attributes of the royal presence depended on the actions of city dwellers. Yet, spatial concepts remain once again unquestioned and self-evident. None of these explanations seriously considers how the sovereign’s presence as a spatial reality or event was defined in legal and doctrinal texts. Invoking the name of the king on occasions of danger was a medieval practice that can provide a point of entry into these definitions and categories from a cultural universe different from ours. Let us observe, first, how the use of the king’s name was encoded in law in the specific context of Portugal. One of the royal decrees compiled in the so-called ‘Ordenações Afonsinas’ regulates the proper use of the well-known ‘apelido’ or public cry ‘Aqui d’elRei’. This sentence, still used in modern colloquial Portuguese, can be loosely translated as ‘the king is here’ or ‘here lives the king’, the word ‘aqui’ referring unequivocally to ‘this place here’. This special formula was associated with the royal person, and late medieval Portuguese law forbade its use with the name of any other person except that of the king: Let no one be so daring as to shout, in any brawl or fight that might arise, by any other loud-voiced words than ‘Aqui d’el-rei’. And the person who shouts using any other name (aqui so-and-so, or ‘so-and-so is here’) will be banished [degredado] from the locality [where this happens] and its district for five years; and this will be applied to women as well as men.5

This law is explicitly attributed to King Duarte  I (r.  1433–38) in the ­Portuguese compilation, although it in fact resurrects a late Roman imperial tradition mentioned in texts well known in the late Middle Ages to men with legal training. We recognize here the legal figure of the defensa per

Michael Wintroub, ‘Coda: from mobility to ubiquity’ in A Savage Mirror (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), 185. 5  Mário Júlio Almeida Costa, Eduardo Borges Nunes (ed), Ordenações Afonsinas (Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1988), 280–83 (Book  V, Title LXXI). Unless otherwise stated, all translations are mine. 4 


Rita Costa Gomes

i­nvocationem nominis imperatoris studied in depth by Ernst Kantorowicz.6 The defensa is mentioned in a law included by the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II (r.  1220–50) in the compilation of his Liber Augustalis composed in 1231. In the text of the Liber Augustalis, this ‘defense’ was described, in the words of its English translator, as ‘a means of initiating a juridical procedure in order to protect a person or property from the attack of another’. The text of the most relevant passage of the code says: …each man should be permitted to protect his own body, and natural reason does not find this abhorrent. Yet, because it often happens that the power of an attacker is so great that even if the victim is allowed to defend himself he cannot actually do so, by the authority of the present law we grant every man permission to defend himself against his attacker by the invocation of our name…7

Medieval Sicilian law established, therefore, an original process aimed at sheltering a person, house or other types of goods or property from imminent danger or aggression. This protective action could be used by the emperor’s officers or ‘fideles’ as well as by any of his subjects. It sufficed then to shout clearly and audibly, invoking the monarch, to place the threatened person under special protection of the ruler. Once the victim shouted, any subsequent aggression would be judged with particular severity because it was considered an attack against the emperor’s authority, and such cases were likely to be brought in front of the imperial justices. As Kantorowicz discovered by a careful study of its origins, this practice was already established in the Sicilian kingdom from the Norman period, possibly some generations before the 1230s. Its influence on legislation emerging in other European contexts was promoted by the inclusion of this ruling in the thirteenth-­ century compilation of the Liber Augustalis, a work well known and expertly commented on by the masters of the law schools.8

Ernst Kantorowicz, ‘Invocatio Nominis Imperatoris’. James  M. Powell (ed.), The Liber Augustalis or Constitutions of Melfi promulgated by the Emperor Frederick  II for the Kingdom of Sicily in 1231 (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1971), 18–19 (Title XVI, my italics). 8  The ruling is part of Book 1, devoted to royal authority and to the functions of royal offices, and thus closely following the structure of Justinian’s Code. For an introduction to this text: Anna Laura Trombetti Budriesi, Il ‘Liber Augustalis’ di Federico II di Svevia nella storiografia: Antologia di scritti (Bologna: Pàtron, 1987). See also Peter Stacey, Roman Monarchy and the Renaissance Prince (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 75–79. 6  7 

Invoking the Name of the King


Let us set aside for now the complex reconstruction of the origins of this legal figure and the hardly traceable textual sources of the Federician law,9 and concentrate instead on its dissemination in late medieval societies. One aspect to clarify from the onset is that, for the subsequent commentators of the Liber Augustalis, the practice of invoking the emperor was equivalent to crying out for the king, since the imperial figure served as an archetype for royal power.10 The legal text can also be analyzed in light of an important political tradition that made the keeping of public peace one of the main tasks attributed to a sovereign ruler.11 In a fundamental sense, the ‘invocation of the king’ is itself relevant to the notion of a ‘public sphere’ that would be marked by projection of the sovereign’s authority upon society.12 Repressing internal violence among the subjects was a way to affirm the power of the sovereign. The individual who shouted ‘Aqui d’el-rei’ when a brawl or unruly fight occurred activated the special protection of the monarch, and invoking royal authority transformed the aggression or attack into a public crime. As Kantorowicz observed in his interpretation of the Sicilian practice, ‘what characterizes the use of the ruler’s name in an outcry is that the prosecution of the crime no longer is a matter regarding only the private group of neighbors, but becomes an act of public justice, put into action or movement by the emperor’.13 This is also made clear by the texts we are considering through the definition of the kinds of fights the ‘defensa’ would stop. The Portuguese law associates the scream ‘here’s the king’ with specific occasions or events, such as brawls (Port. ‘arroidos’) or armed conflicts between private individuals that were seen as especially disruptive of public peace. Contrary to what According to Marongiù, this law of Frederick II had ‘no direct legislative precedent’, and his most important glossator, Andrea of Isernia, called it ‘ius novum’: Antonio Marongiù, ‘A model state in the Middle Ages: the Norman and Swabian kingdom of Sicily’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 6 (1964), 319. 10  Francesco Calasso, I  Glossatori e la teoria della sovranità. Studi di diritto comune publico (Milan: Giuffrè, 1957), 125–62. 11  Paul J. E. Kershaw, Peaceful Kings. Peace, Power, and the Early Medieval Political Imagination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 22–28. On the importance of Solomonic ideals in thirteenth-century Iberia: Adeline Rucquoi, ‘El Rey Sabio: Cultura y poder en la monarquía medieval Castellana’ in José Luis Hernando Garrido, Miguel Angel García Guinea (eds) Repoblación y Reconquista. Actas del III Curso de Cultura Medieval (Aguilar de Campoo: n.p., 1993), 77–87. 12  For a restricted definition of a medieval ‘public sphere’ resulting from the ‘publicity’ of princely power see Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a category of Bourgeois Society (Cambridge, MASS: MIT Press, 1986), 7. 13  Kantorowicz, ‘Invocatio Nominis Imperatoris’, 43 and note. 9 


Rita Costa Gomes

­ appened during the highly formalized violence between noblemen in comh bats such as ‘reptos’ or ‘desafios’, brawls or ‘arroidos’ were essentially disorderly conflicts. They were unbound by procedure and in this sense closer to riots or rebellions. The Liber Augustalis similarly mentioned ‘brawls, which are called mellete in the vulgar tongue, and injuries, violence or outrages of this kind’ as the circumstances appropriate for the use of the invocation of the emperor for protection.14 In the Portuguese case, the difference was clear between such brawls and, for instance, fights between noblemen. The well-known revival of the noble armed combats at the end of the Middle Ages, in the highly fashionable and ritualized form of ‘chivalric’ events, led to a systematic and prescriptive literature, well studied in its literary impact by Martí de Riquer and, for the Castilian case, by Jesús Fernández Velasco.15 That these norms were important to the courtly society of late medieval Portugal is clearly revealed by the fact that a text such as the ‘Tratado de las armas’ of the Castilian Diego de Valera, which compiled and explained the rules, was dedicated to the Portuguese king Afonso V (r. 1438–81).16 By using the word ‘arroído’, Portuguese law carefully defined situations in which invocation of the king could be used. It distinguished them from many other sorts of combats and fights which might also have what we would today call a ‘public’ dimension such as duels, jousts, or tournaments. In order to understand fully the procedure of invocatio, let us now analyze in detail its different components, setting them in the context of similar acts of public outcry and supplication in medieval societies. What are the characteristic elements of the ‘invocation of the king’? In the first place, we have the human scream as an act that launched different types of legal procedure such as the recognition of a crime or its retaliation, or simply as a means to implore somebody’s intercession. In what we would undoubtedly characterize today as outbursts of theatrical behavior, shouting loudly was common to diverse social situations, part of the daily repertoire of gestures and physical expressions of medieval men and women. The word ‘apelido’, used in the Portuguese law in question, equally

14  The vernacular word mellete used in the original text would correspond to the modern Italian mischie, i.e. scuffles or band fights: Powell, Liber Augustalis, 20–21 and note. 15  Martín de Riquer, Cavalleria fra realtà e letteratura nel Quattrocento (Bari: Adriatica, 1970); Jesús Rodríguez Velasco, El debate sobre la caballería en el siglo XV: la tratadística caballeresca castellana en su marco europeo (Valladolid: Junta de Castilla y León, 1996), 120–53. 16  Diego de Valera, Epístolas de Mosen Diego de Valera: enbiadas en diversos tiempos é á diversas personas (Madrid: Sociedad de Bibliófilos Españoles, 1878), 245–47.

Invoking the Name of the King


designated the scream aiming at stopping a thief or a murderer caught in the act, or to make known that a rape or ‘force’ (Port. ‘força’) had been perpetrated upon a woman. It was otherwise used to refer to the cry for help that members of the community were required to give in the occurrence of a fire. In medieval Iberian customary law, the word ‘apelido’ also designated the crowd itself from which the clamor originated.17 In wartime, the same word was used for the act of summoning people for defense, which could be done, as the famous Partidas of Alfonso X describe so well, in many different ways: not only by using ‘human voices’, but through bell ringing, sounding trumpets or ‘añafiles’, sounding horns and drums, and even by using smoke and fire signs named ‘atalaias’ or ‘almenaras’.18 Because of its collective implications of unanimity, this last kind of war ‘apelido’, both in its special nature and its variable form, may be considered the example that is further removed from an individual act of protection such as the king’s invocation. On the other hand, the shout ‘Aqui d’el-rei’ seems analogous, as Kantorowicz suggested for the Sicilian ‘defensa’, to supplications by individuals soliciting the intervention of higher entities, including the divinity itself. Contrary to the examples mentioned above, these were not formal actions aimed towards advertising an impending danger or a crime. Instead, they were supplications or rogations loudly addressed to a particular entity whose intervention was thus solicited or propitiated. Let us consider, for instance, the well-studied examples of the monastic clamor and liturgical cursing, some of the most fascinating practices of medieval monks. When they saw themselves in difficulty, religious communities in the tenth and eleventh centuries loudly addressed God by inserting specific cursing formulas into the liturgy. By this means, they tried to elicit divine intervention for the punishment or retaliation against their a­ ggressors, usually powerful men who were harassing the monks. According to historian Lester Little, the disappearance of this practice after the twelfth century denotes profound juridical and institutional transformations, namely the impact of the revival of Roman law. But its disuse also reflects conceptual changes regarding monastic property, legal ­punishment,

Luis Garcia de Valdeavellano, ‘El apellido: notas sobre el procedimiento in fragranti en el derecho español medieval’, Cuadernos de Historia de España 7 (1947), 67–105. 18  Las Siete Partidas del Rey Don Alfonso el Sabio cotejadas con varios codices antiguos (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia — Imprenta Real, 1807), vol II, (Partida Segunda, Tit. 26, Ley 24). See also ‘Apelido’ in Joel Serrão (ed), Dicionário de História de Portugal (Lisbon: Iniciativas Editoriais, 1971), vol 1, 164. 17 


Rita Costa Gomes

and criminal action,19 as well as the transformation of legal institutions themselves with the new availability of justice administered by monarchs. The clamor of the monks and the monastic maledictions, object of a pioneer study by José Mattoso first published in 1971,20 tended to be abandoned because they were replaced by other forms of justice and retaliation. In the words of Lester Little, the transformation occurred when the clamor for justice, ‘reintroduced in the courts, …finally returned to its proper place, after a prolonged stay in the sanctuaries; in a parallel movement, the clauses of spiritual sanction were replaced by material and physical punishment’21 such as the one imposed by royal authority on the delinquents. Yelling for the king’s protection by invoking his name was, in fundamental ways, similar to an outcry in supplication to God’s intervention. The shout invoking the king’s name also initiated a juridical procedure through a fixed formula that put the claimant in a symbolic position of humility, as an individual in a subordinate position and in need of protection, an attitude which had clear religious and liturgical connotations. Likewise, the formula put the entity who was the object of the appeal in a position of power, designating an authority that was, if not sacred, at least conceived in the image of an omnipotent God. As Geoffrey Koziol has observed, the ritual language of ‘clamor’ and ‘supplication’ had many different implications in the legal sphere of early medieval society. When it proposed a model of ‘discretionary justice’ as the most adequate for a lord to embody in his role as judge, it also made patent ‘the value code according to which plaintiffs wanted their grievances heard’.22 The shout ‘Aqui d’el-rei’ as a fixed legal formula was also equivalent, in its pragmatic goal, to the early medieval supplication for justice. As a way of ‘ritualizing’ specific interpersonal situations that disrupted the peace, it was considered similar in its effectiveness. The second point made by Koziol, nonetheless, is equally important. The invocation projected or represented an idea of authority rather than, as described in the previous examples of ‘apelido’, communicating or making something known to the community, like a shout following a crime.

Lester K. Little, Benedictine Maledictions. Liturgical Cursing in Romanesque France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993). 20  José Mattoso, ‘Sanctio (875–1100)’ in Religião e Cultura na Idade Média Portuguesa (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, 1982), 394–440. 21  Little, Benedictine Maledictions, 233. 22  Geoffrey Koziol, Begging Pardon and Favor. Ritual and political order in Early Medieval France (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 228–29. 19 

Invoking the Name of the King


The invocation of the king’s name, as it were, represented a ‘vertical’ type of communication rather than an ‘horizontal’ one,23 because it reaffirmed the subordination of both claimant and attacker to a higher power: that of the ruler. The originality of this scream as a form of supplication resided, first, in the use of the name of the invoked entity and, secondly, in its effectiveness anywhere, including (and most importantly) in the physical absence of the entity invoked. It is the latter characteristic that brings us directly to the discussion of our main question: the question of space. As stated above, Kantorowicz specifically associated the ‘defensa’ of the Norman Sicilian rulers with the late Roman imperial practice of the ‘invocatio nominis imperatoris’, focusing attention precisely on the two main characteristics just mentioned. The ‘invocatio’ of late Roman times found justification in the set of beliefs associated with the protective qualities of both image and name of the Roman emperor. In the case of the emperor’s images, it will suffice to recall the Roman use of imperial statues as places of asylum and protection, for instance, for the slave escaping maltreatment.24 Protective properties were found not only in statues but in several kinds of imperial images: another example of ‘defensa’ was the gesture of putting a coin bearing a representation of the emperor between a person and his aggressor, a gesture mentioned in the Digestum and clearly explained in his commentaries by Accursius (c. 1183–1263).25 But the legal figure of the ‘defensa’ was not restricted to the imperial images alone. To cry out the emperor’s name in Roman society apparently was a central element of protective formulas endowed with an almost magical efficacy, as Apuleius mentions in his Golden Ass.26 The mechanism appears to

23  See the useful distinctions proposed by Esther Goody, ‘Greeting, begging, and the presentation of respect’ in Jean Sybil la Fontaine (ed.), The Interpretation of Ritual. Essays in honour of A. I. Richards (London: Tavistock, 1972), 39–71. 24  Fred  S. Naden, Ancient Supplication (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006), 255. For the Hellenistic influence in this understanding of imperial images see also Francis Dvornik, Early Christian and Byzantine Political Philosophy. Origins and Background (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1966), vol 2, 611–58; Donald Bullough, ‘Imagines Regum and their significance in the early medieval West’ in Giles Roberston, George Henderson (ed), Studies in Memory of David Talbot Rice (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1975), 223–76. 25  Kantorowicz, ‘Invocatio Nominis Imperatoris’, 42. Accursius was an enduring influence in Portugal: Mário Júlio de Almeida Costa, ‘La présence d’Accurse dans l’histoire du droit portugais’, Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi Accursiani (Milano, Giuffrè, 1968), vol 3, 1053–66. 26  Kantorowicz, ibid.


Rita Costa Gomes

be familiar to many in late antiquity, as we can judge by its mention in other literary sources. For instance, a curious metaphor of ‘the king’s name’ as a ‘tower of refuge’ was registered in the sixth century by Cassiodorus under the concept of a ‘tuitio regii nominis’, again attributing these words to the sovereign in one of his formulas: Though it seems superfluous to grant special protection to any of our subjects, since all are shielded by the laws, yet moved by your cry for help we are willing to relieve you and to give you as a strong tower of defense the shelter of our name, into which you may retire when wounded by the assaults of your enemies.27

In fact, all imperial attributes associated with the concept of Maiestas were surrounded by specific interdictions, since they were perceived as emanations of the emperor’s person and authority. These included the name as well as the image of the ruler. The reception and the validity of these theories in Iberian legal traditions are easily proven for the case of the images.28 For instance, the Lex Visigothorum considered the crime of counterfeiting coins as an offense against the ‘majesty’ of the ruler, because fraudulent reproduction of the coin desecrated the sovereign’s image.29 Also, the Espéculo of Alfonso X of Castile established severe punishments for the mutilation or destruction of royal images or statues (‘las ymágenes que ffueren pintadas o entalladas en figura del rey’), interdictions that would be applied also to new symbolic representations such as the signs present in the royal coat of arms, or in the king’s banner.30 In the later context of this reception of legal traditions associated with the imperial figure, the thirteenth century adoption of defensive formulas of ‘invocatio’ will be endowed, as we shall see, with specific ­political 27  Thomas Hodgkin (ed.), The Letters of Cassiodorus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1886), 340–41 (my italics). Available at , accessed May 23 2013. This well-known collection of official letters and formularies was compiled by Cassiodorus for the Ostrogothic rulers around ad 540. 28  For a general panorama of the medieval Iberian reception of these ideas: Francisco Tomás y Valiente, El Derecho Penal en la Monarquia Absoluta (siglos XVI‒XVII‒XVIII) (Madrid: Tecnos, 1969), 240–42. 29  Floyd Seyward Lear, Treason in Roman and Germanic Law. Collected papers (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1965), 118–19 and notes. 30  Gonzalo Martínez Diez (ed.), Leyes de Alfonso  X — Espéculo (Ávila: Fundación Sánchez Albornoz, 1985), vol 1, 167–68. The use of emblematic coats of arms by Iberian monarchs expanded at the end of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth: Faustino Menéndez Pidal, ‘L’essor des armoiries en Castille d’après les sources du xiiie siècle’ in Leones y Castillos. Emblemas heráldicos en España (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1999), 127–46.

Invoking the Name of the King


meaning. It is that tradition, simultaneously legal and p­ olitical, that this essay argues will become especially relevant for late medieval monarchies.31 Across time and space, notions similar to the imperial concept revived by the Hohenstaufen ruler were going to find new uses in the Portuguese late medieval political sphere. The second important aspect that merited Kantorowicz’s attention was that invocation of the name of the medieval sovereign was done in the physical absence of the ruler, and yet was still endowed with full efficacy as a protective mechanism. Medieval juridical theory was crucial, therefore, in advancing the notion of a potential ubiquity of the king’s sovereign presence. Whereas the early medieval vocal supplication for justice was performed in the judiciary assembly or in the presence of the lord in his capacity as a judge, in communication with beings who were physically present, shouts like the Sicilian ‘Vivat imperator’ or the Portuguese ‘Aqui d’el-Rei’ invoked an entity whose presence was not physical. The king’s power was valid anywhere. Hence, to cry out using his name projected notions of the supremacy of the king’s rule, but it also recognized the peculiar spatial modalities of his presence. There was, according to legal texts, a duality of the sovereign’s spatial presence: either actual/physical, or in potential. The two modalities were distinct but equivalent, as the text of the Liber Augustalis again makes clear: For our subjects should not now be without the license of our protection, because their defense is safeguarded by those on whom the authority of our clemency is conferred. In this way, we, who cannot be present everywhere because our individuality prevents it, believe that we are potentially present everywhere.32

As historian Gerhard Ladner observed in a letter sent to Ernst Kantorowicz concerning his essay on the ‘invocatio’,33 an interesting parallel can be drawn

31  Antony Black, Political Thought in Europe, 1250–1450 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 8–9. For an expository synthesis on the role of juridical discourse in the creation of political theory in medieval times: Bruno Paradisi, ‘Il pensiero politico dei giuristi medievali’ in Studi sul Medioevo Giuridico (Roma: Istituto Storico per il Medio Evo, 1987), vol. 2, 263–433. 32  Powell, Liber Augustalis, 21 (Title XVII). 33  The letter, dated June 1955, is kept at the Kantorowicz archive: Ernst Kantorowicz correspondence found in his offprints, From the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives Center, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, USA. http://cdm.itg.ias.edu/cdm/ref/ collection/ coll12/id/. 22194. Accessed May 23 2013.


Rita Costa Gomes

with canon law which opposes papal authority ‘in presence’ ­(presentialiter) versus ‘in potential’ (potentialiter) to define the legate’s powers in relation to the person of the pope. Whenever a papal representative or legate was present, canon law claimed that papal authority was there in its entirety. This theory was made patent by deliberate ceremonial means establishing an identification of the two figures.34 Conversely, when the legate entered the territory where the pope was physically present, he had to abandon those ceremonies because legate and pope could not use them simultaneously in the same space. As Ladner perceptively noted, the formulation of potential ubiquity for both imperial and papal power seems to develop logically, in the medieval sources, from the statement of an impossibility of the actual, physical omnipresence of the ruler.35 Contrary to what happened with the material image engraved in the coin, or with the statue, which were physical objects and thus could be replicated, the ruler was only one physical body. Yet he would always be otherwise present ‘in potential’ everywhere in the kingdom. It was that notion of a ‘spatial latency’, so to speak, of his presence and power, that seemingly established the possibility of the ritual invocation of the king’s name in a vocal claim for protection. If we go back to the Portuguese context of the fifteenth century, another important aspect of the reception of these legal theories emerges: the political meaning that the figure of the ‘defensa’ acquired in a society marked by rivalry and competition between different powers, most notably the power of church and nobility vis-à-vis the king’s sovereign authority. The law of king Duarte I of Portugal can be revealing, in my perspective, also as a political statement. By forbidding people from calling out for anyone else but the king, this is most of all a statement of the indisputable supremacy of his sovereign authority. It is, furthermore, a statement which can only be fully understood within the conceptual universe we are analysing here. ‘In the legatus a latere the pope is made present, and the papal auctoritas causes the human, in fact even the ecclesiastical person of the envoy to be forgotten. That is why he wears the papal mantle, why the ceremonial of the pope surrounds him’: Franz Wasner, ‘Fifteenth-century texts on the ceremonial of the papal “legatus a latere”’, Traditio 14 (1958), 300. The expression ‘de latere’ was already used for the pope’s envoys by the fourth-century Synod of Sardica, Wasner observed, and in the use of these words he found an echo of the Vulgate in its description of ‘the mysterium of Eve’s coming forth from Adam’s side — their mystical onennes, yet personal distinction’: Franz Wasner, ‘“Legatus a latere”: Addenda varia’, Traditio 16 (1960), 408. 35  As per the words of Pope Gregory the Great referring to the use of legates ‘ubi nos presente esse non possumus’: Wasner, ‘Fifteenth-century texts’, 299–300. 34 

Invoking the Name of the King


In its succinct formulation, the law tells us how usual and familiar the expression ‘Here’s the King’ (Aqui d’el-rei) was in Portugal, that is, the practice of invoking the king’s name. The practice itself is not described in detail in the text. It did not require further explanation, in effects or procedures: everybody apparently knew why and how to invoke the king’s name. It was its efficacy that led people to use this shout with other powerful men. Such use, however, was explicitly forbidden in the law. This interdiction was, in fact, what the law was about. Another Portuguese text dating from 1437 exemplifies again the concern of King Duarte (whose juridical knowledge still awaits its historian36) regarding the improper use of the ‘invocation’ shout. Among the notes kept in the record of the king’s chamber, there is a copy of a letter containing the recommendations of Duarte to his brother, Henry the Navigator, on the occasion of the disastrous military expedition in 1437 to the Moroccan city of Tangier. In the section devoted to the organization of the siege encampment, the king recommended: You should expressly forbid anybody from daring to shout for any other nobleman nor any person without exception, except only with the outcry ‘aqui d’el-rei’; and those who do it otherwise you should punish according to your judgment.37

The invocation scream was effectively used in Portuguese society, it seems, but the formula was also uttered replacing the name of the king with that of another powerful person. This is not only recognized in the above recommendation of King Duarte to his brother which could be seen as a mere expression of the ruler’s fears and concerns. The fact is also confirmed by letters of remission kept in the royal archives. These letters attest that on numerous occasions individuals were punished for the improper use of the royal invocation. A thorough interpretation of this particular source — the letters of remission — requires meticulous reconstruction of the specifics of the pardoned crime, since the royal pardon granted in these letters was directly informed 36  See the important remarks of Martim de Albuquerque, ‘O Infante D. Pedro e as Ordenações Afonsinas’ in Estudos de Cultura Portuguesa (Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, 2002), vol 3, 41–63. 37  A. H. Oliveira Marques, João J. Alves Dias (ed.), Livro dos Conselhos de El-Rei D. Duarte (Lisbon: Estampa, 1982), 134. See also A.  J. Dias Dinis (ed.), Monumenta Henricina (Coimbra: Comissão Executiva das Comemorações do Quinto Centenário da Morte do Infante D. Henrique, 1964), vol 6, 201–02.


Rita Costa Gomes

by the small narratives of the supplicants, that is, by what historian Natalie Zemon Davis famously called their ‘pardon tales’. I will only mention here one example of an ‘arroido’ or brawl that occurred around 1470 in the small town of Torres Vedras, located some thirty miles north of Lisbon. Among other participants in this incident, the peasant João Afonso and a woman called Maria Afonso (whose husband was under attack) had shouted ‘Aqui de Gomes Soares’.38 According to historian Ana Maria Rodrigues, the individual in question, Gomes Soares, was a small potentate in Torres Vedras, and both the families of João Afonso and that of Maria’s husband, the stonemason Pedro Álvares, were part of Soares’s clientage.39 Although this local detail matters to a thorough interpretation of the source and the incident it portrays, more important still, to our argument, are the contours and characteristics of the juridical case against these relatively obscure protagonists. The incident was dealt with remarkable severity and care, for it precipitated a special enquiry by the royal judge (inquirição devassa) and it led to the exile of both João and Maria Afonso, condemnation that was the object of a public proclamation in the audience of the central royal tribunal of Lisbon (Casa do Cível). Among the several crimes committed on that occasion, with very real consequences of personal physical damage caused by the brawl, the most serious crime had been, precisely, that of using the ‘invocatio’ improperly, thus subverting its message of supremacy and uniqueness of the sovereign royal authority. The authority of kings was conceived as hierarchically superior to that of anyone else, and it should remain the only one capable of providing shelter and protection in any place. Asserting his sovereign power by a variety of means was for King Duarte of Portugal, as we can see, of great political importance. But, in more fundamental terms, these texts illuminate the spatial notions needed to construct ideas of sovereign power in medieval times, calling our attention in particular to the existence of multiple modes of royal presence. Even when the king was not present physically, his authority could be manifest and equally effective as if he were. To go back to the arguments mentioned initially about royal mobility and royal ceremonies, it seems undeniable that a ‘potential presence’ of medieval Arquivo Nacional — Torre do Tombo (Portugal), Chancelaria de D. Afonso V, Livro 26, fol. 30, 31v. 39  Ana Maria Rodrigues, ‘Les relations de clientélisme en milieu urbain. L’exemple d’une ville portugaise au xve siècle’ in Marie-Thérèse Caron (ed.), Villes et Sociétés Urbaines au Moyen Âge (Paris: Presses de l’Université de Paris-Sorbonne, 1994), 156 and note 28. 38 

Invoking the Name of the King


kings was not in fact contingent on events defined by specific rituals such as royal entries. It is otherwise remarkable that royal entries, on the contrary, became ever more elaborate and common precisely after the thirteenth century. And as we saw, that was a crucial moment in the translation and realignment of the old usage of the ‘defensa nominis imperatoris’ to the new political context of affirmation of monarchical authority. The practice of the ‘invocation’ clearly shows, in my view, how the royal virtue of engendering a state of peace was predicated upon a distinct spatial imagination, one in which there were different forms of involvement and emplacement of the king’s presence within the flow of incessant human activity. The sovereign’s presence made peace prevail. This royal virtue, however, needed to be conceptualized spatially to function beyond the obvious limitations of the physical body of the ruler. This is what legal concepts such as the ones discussed here were providing. Sovereign power in medieval times had a spatial dimension of its own, encompassing multiple manifestations of the king’s body. What Kantorowicz suggested to us in his published research on the Sicilian ‘invocatio’ was a new path towards understanding medieval constructions of the king’s body. Those would not only be temporal, as in the more famous formulation of the ‘king’s two bodies’: one mortal or time-bound, the other not. The double reality of the king’s body would be a spatial one, as well. The sovereign’s body uniquely defied, in some of its manifestations, the limitations of physical presence.40 By positing a double spatial reality of the king’s body, such limitations could be solved: there was a potential as well as a physical presence, and both could be made similar in their effects by the law. In order to propose such a difficult concept, medieval authors reactivated and further adapted categories of Roman law as well as the protective practices associated with the material aspects of the ruler’s ‘majesty’ — the images, the visual symbols, and especially, as shown here, the name. For them, a royal ubiquity ‘in potential’ compensated for the impossibility of the physical presence of the king’s body everywhere. In other words, the sovereign power of monarchs would be, in a way, super-natural in its spatial effects, because it surpassed the obvious natural limitations of the physical body of the ruler. The tense relationship between notions of omnipresence and sovereignty in medieval texts sheds light on the constant back and forth of arguments and categories common to medieval theology, law, and philosophy. We

I thank Laura Mason for helping me see this question more clearly with her comments on a draft of this essay.



Rita Costa Gomes

c­ annot stress enough that, as the historians of canon law have remarked, the opposition between ‘actual’ and ‘potential’ presence, in the medieval texts herein analyzed, seems to echo the well-known Aristotelian distinction.41 But the concept itself of an omnipresent king also expressed a commonality with theology as it referred to the presence of God in the universe. Adopting the idea of a ‘potential’ presence created a solution appropriate to the figure of the human ruler who was, after all, only God-like in the effects of his presence.42 The resulting doctrine is nonetheless a clear example of the circulation, within the discourse of law and politics, of arguments o­ riginally used to define the presence of the divine. Attributes proper to God, such as ubiquity, became fundamental to the definition of medieval political rulership as well. Far from contaminating or blurring political definitions and religious ones, a common area of concepts was constitutive of both, and this is what made possible to conceive a more complex spatial dimension in ­medieval sovereignty.

See the previously cited letter of Gerhard Ladner to Kantorowicz. As Francis Oakley notes, even if the power of kings could be traced back to God, it was not coming exclusively from God: ‘Celestial Hierarchies Revisited’, Politics and Eternity: Studies in the History of Medieval and Early Modern Political Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 54. 41  42 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II: A Non-Sacred Consecration Jaume Aurell


he (possible) occurrence of Frederick  II’s self-coronation in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, on Sunday 18 March 1229, remains shrouded in mystery, where it is difficult to discern the borders between reality and fiction, desires and their realisation, invention and propaganda strategies.1 Perhaps because of the vagueness, variability and imprecision of the sources, the heterodox and singular nature of the gesture, or the complex and megalomaniacal personality of the protagonist, Frederick  II’s self-coronation has been anchored from the outset in the realm of legend and controversy. Starting from the difficulties involved in a historical approach to such an event, and the quality of the historians who have previously dedicated themselves to this question, this article seeks to investigate its historicity and to explore its enormous symbolic potentiality.2 1  Translated by David Ronder. This article comes within the framework of two projects: ‘Teología política de las monarquías hispanas bajomedievales’, financed by the Spanish Government’s Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad del Gobierno (ref. HAR2011– 30265), and ‘Religión y Sociedad Civil’, led by Montserrat Herrero of the Instituto de Cultura y Sociedad (ICS), University of Navarra (Spain). It owes a great deal to the interdisciplinary dynamic of these projects, to the debates and conversations held with their members. 2  The authors who have specifically dealt with Fredrick II’s self-coronation in Jerusalem are: Enrst Kantorowicz, Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite (Berlin: Georg Bondi, 1928). I will use and quote for edition Kantorowicz, L’Empereur Frédéric  II (Paris: Gallimard, 1987), 187–92; Hans  E. Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale von Tyrus und die Krönung der lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem. Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Forschung über Herrschaftszeichen und Staatssymbolik’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 21  (1967): 141–232 (especifically 200–10); Percy  E. Schramm, ‘Krönung und Herrschaftszeichen im Königreich Jerusalem. Kaiser Friedrichs  II “Selbstkrönung” und ihre Fortwirkung’, in Kaiser, Könige und Papst. Gesammetlte Aufsätze zur Geschichte des Mittelalters (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1971), 4: 461–70; Thomas  C. Van Cleve, The Emperor Frederick  II of Hohenstaufen. Immutator Mundi (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), 222–25; Helmuth Kluger, Hochmeister Hermann von Salza und Kaiser Friedrich II. Ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte des Deutschen Ordens (Marburg: N. G. Elwert, 1987), 86–122; René Schlott, Das Rundschreiben Kaiser Friedrichs  II. (1194–1250) vom 18.Marz 1229

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 245-265 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111255



Jaume Aurell

More specifically, given the context of this volume on the historical development of political theology, I am interested in looking into its transgressive dimension in more depth, as it represents a challenge to our preconceived ideas regarding the relationship between the temporal and spiritual realms, the sacred and the profane, ecclesiastical and civil, Church and state, during the Middle Ages.3 The gesture of self-coronation is an aberration from a legal and ecclesiastical point of view, as it constitutes a non-sacred consecration, a royal investiture from which no political or ecclesiastical efficacy followed. The lack of a consecrating minister, and therefore the impossibility of applying the royal unction, left the coronation ceremony without legal or moral force, empty of religious content. However, Frederick II knew that the Carolingian Empire had provided some precedents of coronations that had not been officiated by a sacred minister: Charles the Great himself had asserted his hostility to the conferment of the imperial dignity by an act of papal consecration, when he sought to introduce the custom that the Frankish king, whose position of power singled him out to be Emperor, should crown himself by taking the crown from the altar with his own hands as thought from the hands of God. […] The practice of self-crowning, which Charles desired to introduce, symbolized the independence of Imperium from Sacerdotium.4

In 813, Louis the Pious was crowned by his father Charlemagne, in a ceremony that took place in the city of Aachen. In 817, Lothar was crowned by his father Louis the Pious, also in Aachen. And in 838, Charles the Bald was crowned by his father ‘in purely secular fashion’.5 There may also have been a Visigothic precedent of self-coronation, that of the usurper Paul at the end of the seventh century, but in this instance we only have a mention in the

(Berlin: Grin, 2013); David Abulafia, Federico II. Un imperatore medievale (Torino: Einaudi, 1993), 155–57; Adrian Boas, Jerusalem in the Time of the Crusades. Society, Landscape and Art in the Holy City under Frankish Rule (London: Routlege, 2001), 19–20; Hubert Houben, Kaiser Friedrich II (1194–1250): Herrscher, Mensch, Mythos (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2007), 48–53; Wolfgang Stürner, Federico II e l’apogeo dell’Imperio (Roma: Salerno, 2009), 528–39. 3  Gerd Alhoff, ‘The variability of rituals in the Middle Ages’, in Medieval Concepts of the Past: Ritual, Memory, Historiography, ed. Gerd Althoff, Johannes Fried, Patrick  J. Geary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 71–88, provides examples of changing rites precisely as confirmation of the ceremony’s relevance during the Middle Ages. 4  Fritz Kern, Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1956), 48. 5  Kern, Kingship, 43.

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


­ arrative of some Castilian chronicles five centuries later and with little n ­g uarantee of its credibility to boot.6 In any case, it is not very likely that ­Frederick was aware either of this precedent or of its narration in the twelfthcentury Castilian chronicles. Certainly, there can be many types of self-coronation, as many as there can be self-investitures. In the first place, the self-coronation could take place in the context of the royal consecration mass, which would therefore be a properly sacred context. That was the case with two fourteenth-century Spanish kings (Alphonse XI of Castile and Peter IV of Aragon), whose self-­ coronations preserved all the ceremonies established by the rituals, except at the solemn moment of the actual crowning, when the kings did not allow the bishops to perform the act, but placed it on their heads themselves.7 In the second instance, self-coronation could be orchestrated directly by the king, crowning his heir without resorting to the ecclesiastical hierarchy, following an old Byzantine tradition. This appears to have been the case with the abovementioned Louis the Pious, who was crowned by his father Charlemagne, just as Lothar would be crowned by Louis the Pious in his turn. Finally, there could also be a self-coronation without the presence of a sacred minister or any ceremony, and therefore strictly speaking without consecration, as appears to have been the case with Frederick II in Jerusalem. From this perspective, Frederick II’s self-coronation (or its subsequent invention) is truly unique. The Conquest of Jerusalem in 1229: The Culmination of the Imperial Project A series of more or less chance circumstances led Frederick II to become a pretender to the throne of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The ­emperor’s own Historia Silense, ed. Francisco Santos Coco (Madrid: Sucesores de Rivadenevra, 1921), 5–6; Historia Silense, ed. Justo Pérez de Urbel and Atilano González Ruiz-Zorrilla (Madrid: Escuela de Estudios Medievales, 1959), 117; Julián, Obispo de Toledo, Historia Wambae: cap. 3–4; ed. Wilhelm Levison, Sancti Iuliani Toletanae Sedis Episcopi Opera, Pars I (Turnhout: Brepols, 1976), 240–41. See also Deswarte, Thomas. ‘Le Christ-roi: autel et couronne votive dans l’Espagne wisigothique’, in Églises et pouvoirs, eds Bruno Béthouart and Jérome Grévy (Boulogne-sur-Mer: Maison de la Recherche en sciences humaines ‘Palais Impérial’, 2007), 76. 7  On Castilian sefl-coronations, see Teófilo  F. Ruiz, ‘Une royauté sans sacré: la monarchie castillane du bas moyen age’, Annales. Économies, Sociétés, Civilisations 39 (1984): 429–53; on Aragonese self-coronations, see Jaume Aurell and Marta Serrano-Coll, ‘The Self-Coronation of Peter the Ceremonious (1336): Historical, Liturgical, and Iconographical Representations’, Speculum 89/1 (2014): 66–95. 6 


Jaume Aurell

personal development had as much to do with this as the peculiar identity of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, founded in 1099 following the conquests of the First Crusade. On the one hand, Frederick was in the 1220s at the apogee of his power, eager for new challenges after having been crowned King of Sicily in 1198 and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1220.8 On the other, the political situation of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem was in those years precisely the inverse, with its very historical viability in doubt. After the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 and the ensuing years of confusion, the Kingdom of Acre (1191–1229) was founded. Confined to a narrow strip of the Syrian coast with Acre as its capital, the kingdom sustained a precarious existence in those decades, with Beirut and Tyre its most notable cities and exercising sovereignty over Tripoli and Antioch.9 The kingdom had not been able to overcome its endemic instability, now accentuated by the continuous Muslim threat, the difficulty of achieving a minimum level of stability among the political and social elites, the lack of enthusiasm raised in the West by the Pope’s proclamation of new crusades, the perpetual border fluctuations and the failure to find a stable royal family. This instability grew even more acute at the beginning of the thirteenth century. In 1205, a 13 year-old girl, Maria of Montferrat (also known as Maria the Marquise), daughter of Isabella and Conrad of Monferrat, had become Queen of Jerusalem, following the death of her parents Isabella and Amalric (her mother’s third husband). On turning 18, Maria was to exercise the office of queen in her own right. As had been the case on previous occasions, the native nobility thought it fitting for the queen to be united in marriage with a gentleman of social, political and military prestige commensurate with the position of King-Consort of Jerusalem. So the assembly of

Some examples of biographies of Frederick II are: Kantorowicz, Kaiser Friedrich; Van Cleve, The Emperor Frederick II; Abulafia, Federico II; Houben, Kaiser Friedrich II; Stürner, Federico II. 9  Some examples of monographs on the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem are: Steven Runciman, History of the Crusades, 3 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952–57); Kenneth M. Setton, ed., A History of the Crusades. Vol. II: The Later Crusades (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1962); Joshua Prawer, Histoire du royaume latin de Jérusalem, 2 vols (Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1969–70); Bernard Hamilton, The Latin Church in the Crusader States: The secular Church (London: Variorum Publications, 1980); Hans  E. Mayer, The Crusades (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988); Hans E. Mayer, Kings and Lords in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (London: Ashgate, 1994); Peter  W. Edbury, John of Ibelin and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Rochester: Boydell, 1997); Adrian Boas, Jerusalem in the Time of the Crusades. Society, Landscape and Art in the Holy City under Frankish Rule (London: Routlege, 2001); Elisabeth Crouzel-Pavan, Le mystère des rois de Jérusalem (1099–1187) (Paris: Albin Michel, 2013). 8 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


barons and prelates decided to ask the advice of Philip II of France, and he offered one of his counsellors, John of Brienne. This candidate also enjoyed the support of Innocent III, as it was the Pope himself, along with the King of France, who contributed 40,000 pounds to the marriage celebrations. The wedding took place on 4 September 1210. The couple were crowned king and queen respectively on 3 October, in the Cathedral of Tyre. Two years later, in 1212, Maria gave birth to Yolande, better known as Isabella II of Jerusalem (1212–28). But Maria died shortly afterwards, which meant John retained the crown, though only as regent, as it properly belonged to Isabella rather than her father. This was in line with the Kingdom of Jerusalem’s existing tradition, established decades earlier when Guy of Lusignan had ceased to be king on the death of his wife, passing the title on to his son Baldwin IV.10 Meanwhile, Frederick II had contributed to the Fifth Crusade in 1217, promoted by Pope Honorius III (1216–27), sending troops from Germany, though he did not want to commit himself personally, needing to consolidate the situation in his German and Italian territories. Nevertheless, his coronation as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Honorius in 1220 stimulated his desire to take part in the next crusade in person. He took the definitive decision in 1223, following the meeting held in the city of Ferentino with Honorius III and John of Brienne, in which his marriage to Isabella was agreed and thus his accession to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, much to the Pope’s unease, Frederick once more delayed his participation in the crusade and the marriage to Isabella took place without his physical presence, by proxy, in Acre, in August 1225. Shortly afterwards, Isabella I was crowned queen by the Archbishop of Tyre, as the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gerold of Valence, was in Europe at the time.11 The queen was then sent to Brindisi and the marriage ceremony was held in the cathedral there, in the presence of the two consorts, on 9 November 1225. In the ceremony, Frederick declared himself King-Consort of Jerusalem, stripping of his rights the person who was at that time Regent of Jerusalem, his father-in-law John of Brienne. The latter accepted the reality of the facts, but from that point

On Baldwin IV, see Bernard Hamilton, The Leper King and His Heirs: Baldwin IV and the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000). 11  Les Gestes des Chiprois (Genève: J.G.  Fick, 1887), ch.  89. On Gerold of Valence, see Wilhelm Jacobs, Patriarch Gerold von Jerusalem. Ein Beitrag zur Kreuzzugsgeschichte Kaiser Friedrichs II (Aachen: Aachener Verlags- und Druckerei-Gesellschaft, 1905). 10 


Jaume Aurell

­ ostilities opened between father- and son-in-law, and would extend over h time with a considerable impact on the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.12 Marriage to Isabella  II made it possible to legitimise Frederick  II’s regency to the Kingdom of Jerusalem given the fact that it was squarely in the kingdom’s peculiar native tradition by which ‘queens make kings’. The clearest precedent had been set when Guy de Lusignan acceded to the regency in 1186, following confirmation of his marriage to Sybilla. She had acceded to the throne due to the successive deaths of her brother Baldwin IV from leprosy (1185), and his son and legal heir, Baldwin V (1186). Bowing to the requirements of the native nobility, Sibylla had agreed to annul her marriage to Guy, so as to be free of commitment and thus able to choose a new husband who could meet the demands of the position of King of Jerusalem. Sybilla thus obtained the confirmation of the Haute Cour of Jerusalem and was crowned queen by the patriarch Eraclius.13 However, to the astonishment of his rivals, Sybilla again chose Guy to be her husband, and he thus became King of Jerusalem. This resulted in a peculiar form of coronation: the queen took the crown off her own head and passed it to Guy, allowing him to crown himself, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, in September 1186. There was also a more recent precedent in the marriage of John of Brienne and Maria de Montferrat, which made the former regent, both of them being crowned in October 2012 in the Cathedral of Tyre. But the logic of it is that the regency of a queen’s consort should cease on her death. On the death of Maria de Montferrat, John of Brienne was left as merely guardian of their daughter and legal heir Isabella, and Frederick II could thus formally claim the crown as Isabella’s consort — a custom from which he himself would suffer, for when Isabella died, he was rendered simply ‘guardian’ of his son and legal heir Conrad II, a state of affairs he was obviously reluctant to accept.14 In 1225, on Frederick II’s accession to the regency of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the moment seemed ripe for his eastward expansionist longings. But the situation was complicated when the new Pope, Gregory IX, proclaimed the excommunication of Frederick II in September 1227 in response to

Thomas C. Van Cleve, ‘The Crusade of Frederick II’, in Setton, A History, 2: 442–44. The High Court (Haute Cour) of Jerusalem, made up of the most important bishops and nobles in the kingdom, had the authority to confirm the election of the new king, collect taxes, mint currency, allocate money to the king and recruit armies. The king was president of the High Court, although legally primus inter pares. 14  Mayer, The Crusades, 233. 12 


The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


yet another delay on the Emperor’s part in joining the crusade. In April 1228, Isabella II gave birth to a son, Conrad, who would be Conrad II of Jerusalem (and Conrad IV of Germany) and who was the true heir to the kingdom.15 One month later, in May 1228, Isabella died. Frederick took advantage of the circumstances to put himself forward, illegitimately, as the new King of Jerusalem, at least until his son Conrad reached his majority. This stirred up active opposition in a good part of the native nobility, led by John of Ibelin, who were against Frederick II having the regency of the heir Conrad II. The kingdom then descended headlong into a long civil war (known as the War of the Lombards) which would drag on until 1243. If in 1225 Frederick  II had assented to the native custom of ‘queens making kings’, now, in 1228, that custom had been turned against him, as by the same token the death of the queen dissolved the regency of king-consorts. On the death of his consort, Guy de Lusignan had certainly become sole ruler in 1190, but it was an ephemeral affair, as he abdicated in 1192 in favour of Conrad I, who would die a few days after and the crown therefore passed to Isabella I.16 John of Brienne, for his part, had assumed the regency on the death of his wife Maria the Marquise in 1212, but with the clear understanding that the legal heir was Isabella II, which Frederick II knew perfectly well when he resolved to take her for his wife. Frederick II was therefore aware that on the death of Queen Isabella II, he as King-Consort had to pass the crown to his most direct descendant, namely his son Conrad IV. Perhaps it was precisely this rather unstable situation, and the awareness that legally he could not claim the kingdom, that led Frederick to a strategy that bypassed the legal formalities but which carried the weight of gestural reality. Thus the desire to proclaim himself king in Jerusalem, rather than any intention to ingratiate himself with the Pope, was what drove Frederick II finally to throw in his lot with crusaders and lead the Sixth Crusade in 1228. In any case, all the historians agree that it was not exactly religious motivation that led Frederick II to commit to crusading.17 Because of his sentence of excommunication, the Emperor was prohibited from using the crusade as a political instrument, and nor could he receive the collaboration of other

Conrad was also Emperor of Germany as Conrad  IV (1237–54) and King of Sicily as Conrad I (1250–54). 16  On the women functions in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, see Bernard Hamilton, ‘Women in the Crusader States: The Queens of Jerusalem’, in Medieval Women, ed. Derek Baker (Oxford: Blackwell 1978), 149–57. 17  Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 4. 15 


Jaume Aurell

Christian leaders. The overseas nobles, led by John of Ibelin, resented the Emperor’s intentions to impose his rule over the kingdom, which resulted in a series of military confrontations both on the mainland and on the Island of Cyprus.18 Meanwhile, surprisingly, Frederick II managed to regain Jerusalem, thanks to a treaty that he had signed with the Egyptian Sultan Malik Al-Kamil on 18 February 1229. In exchange, Frederick II promised to help Al-Kamil in his struggle with his nephew Al-Nasir. Although this was an ephemeral gain, as it barely included a strip of territory allowing defence of the city, which would be reconquered again by the Ayyubids in 1244, the Jaffa pact was the key in triggering the events that would culminate with Frederick  II’s entrance into Jerusalem and his possible coronation in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Frederick saw the pact with Al-Kamil as his last chance to conquer Jerusalem given the lack of support from native crusaders, released by Pope Gregory from the vow of obedience to the excommunicated Emperor, and the heightened anti-Imperial sentiment not only in the Kingdom of Acre but also in Jerusalem itself. Moreover, Frederick had lost the support of the Patriarch Gerold of Lausanne and the Knights Hospitaller and Templar, though he could continue to count on the loyalty of Hermann of Salza and the Teutonic Knights, his German and Sicilian subjects, the Pisans and the Genovese. The Event of Fredrick’s Self-Coronation: The Historicity of the Sources On 17 March 1229, the Christian troops, led by the Emperor, entered the city without too much opposition. Once in Jerusalem, Frederick could not afford to miss the prime opportunity that presented itself and really took full advantage. His solemn entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the selfinvestiture that probably took place, represented the culmination of a strategy that had been carefully prepared in the preceding years. His son Conrad IV being the legitimate king, and facing opposition from the native nobility and ecclesiastical hierarchy too, it can have mattered little to Frederick that his gesture was of no legal consequence. With a coronation that was illegitimate in form, he sought to achieve a situation of legitimacy in terms of content. The great success of the recapture of Jerusalem had given Frederick  II the upper hand over the other powers embroiled in the Holy Land, and also

On John of Ibelin and his followers, see Peter W. Edbury, ‘John of Ibelin’s Title to the County of Jaffa and Ascalon’, English Historical Review 98 (1983): 115–33, and Edbury, John of Ibelin.


The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


left him in a state of euphoria. It seems highly unlikely that Frederick had not carefully planned a gesture of such magnitude, and even more so if it is borne in mind that he was at that time excommunicated. As a great strategist, he would be perfectly aware of the scandal that such a transgressive gesture would cause in Europe. The self-coronation would in Europe be considered a defiance of the Pope and an irreverence, taking place as it did in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre — long considered the centre of Christianity for its huge symbolic dimension, and legitimised in the kingdom itself for having been the habitual venue for royal coronations since Baldwin II was crowned there in 1118. To all this was added the date chosen for the occasion: the third Sunday of Lent, which in the East had the same value as Good Friday, the day the Universal Church commemorates the death of the Saviour on the cross.19 What is more, the day coincided with the local feast day of the bishop and martyr Alexander. Europe learned of Frederick II’s self-coronation ceremony via the manifesto Letentur in domino et exultemus omnes, written by the Imperial Chancellery itself for rapid dissemination in the West. This manifest, an expanded version of the sermon preached after the ceremony by the Emperor himself, was produced in the Imperial Chancellery in both German and Latin versions.20 It commemorated the entrance of the Christian troops into Jerusalem on 17 March 1229, ending forty two years of Muslim rule following Saladin’s conquest in 1187. The document was circulated throughout Europe and received in the most important chancelleries there.21 Some copies of the The third Sunday of Lent, called Occuly, was for the Greeks Adoratio Crucis, which included a ceremony similar to that of the Latin on Good Friday. There is a certain amount of historical debate about Frederick  II’s deliberate choice of this day: Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 7; Rudolf Hiestand, ‘Ierusalem et Sicilie rex. Zur Titulatur Friedrichs II’, in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 52 (1996): 181–89, here 146. 20  As the Patriarch Gerold of Jerusalem informed Pope Gregory in a letter: ‘Quo facto magister Alemannorum surrexit, et sermonem longum et prolixum primo in Theutonico et postea in Gallico ad nobiles et populum inchoavit, et, sicut nobis relatum fuit, exonerando immo exaltando principem, et ecclesiam salva gratia sua multipliciter onerando’ (MGH, Epistolae saeculi XIII e regestis pontificum Romanorum selectae, 1229, 303). 21  Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 6. On the manifest see also Kantorowicz, L’Empereur, 188–90. Kantorowicz included it among ‘the most daring’ manifestations of the ceremonial of the king’s liturgical reception: Ernst Kantorowicz, ‘The King’s Advent and the Enigmatic Panels in the Doors of Santa Sabina’, in Selected Studies (New York: J.J.  Augustin, 1965), 37–75, here 41. On the entrance of Frederick II in Jerusalem, and its Hellenistic connections, see Ernst Kantorowicz, ‘Kaiser Friedrich II. und das Königsbild des Hellenisumus (Marginalia Miscellanea)’, in Selected Studies, 276–81. 19 


Jaume Aurell

manifest found their way to England, and some of the ideas in it were taken up by Roger of Wendover in his chronicle: Intravimus sanctam civitatem Ierusalem; et statim tamquam catholicus imperator, adorato sepulcro dominico reverenter, sequenti die coronam portavimus, quam Dominus omnipotens de throno maiestatis sue nos habendam previdens, de speciali gratia pietatis sue inter orbis principes nos mirabiliter exaltavit, ut sic, prosequentibus nobis tante dignitatis tripudium, que nobis competit iure regni magis ac magis notorium universis appareat, quod manus domini fecit hec Omnia.22

A brief notation of the event is kept in the papal registry, as follows: Civitatem sanctam Ierusalem intravimus cum ingenti gaudio exercitus christiani et sepulchrum Dei viventis reverenter visitavimus tamquam catholicus imperator ac sequenti die dominico coronam ibi portavimus ad honorem et gloriam summi Regis.23

From these accounts it emerges clearly that those who entered the city of Jerusalem on Saturday 17 March reverently adored the Holy Sepulchre. The narration of the events of the following day appears more ambiguous. Following in the wake of some French-language chroniclers who used the phrase ‘porter corone’, the expression ‘coronam portavimus’ might indicate the fact of coronation. However, some authoritative historians, chief among them Hans Eberhard Mayer, have maintained that those words express their exact literal meaning (the fact of ‘wearing’ the crown) and thus do not imply any kind of coronation.24 What is relevant in this case is that both sources are completely compatible and coherent, and emphasise the fact of the presence of the crown, which is in itself pretty indicative of Frederick II’s intentions. But in this case we are fortunate to have other documents that explicitly refer to this event. The Imperial counsellor Hermann of Salza (c.  1165– 1239), who was Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights between 1210 and 1239, has left the only eyewitness account of Frederick  II’s disputed

Roger of Wendover: Rogeri de Wendover Chronica, sive Flores Historiarum, ed. Henry O. Coxe (Londres: Sumptibus Societatis, 1841–42), IV: 192–93: see Cleve, The Emperor, 223 and Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 203. Roger of Wendover was an English chronicler, probably a native of Wendover (Buckinghamshire), who died in 1236. He was a monk of St Albans Abbey and the first of the important line of chroniclers working at St Albans. 23  Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), Constitutiones, 2: 263: see Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 203. 24  Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 206. 22 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


s­elf-coronation ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.25 Salza is without doubt an authoritative witness, having been present at the ceremony, though certainly partisan as a member of Frederick II’s chancellery. As Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, he managed to raise the prestige of the order, leading its expansion throughout Prussia and matching the influence of the Hospitallers and Templars. Salza was a diplomat who acted with great tact amidst the tangled complexity of relations between the Holy Empire and the Papacy. He was genuinely fond of Frederick  II and loyal to him, representing him as a mediator at the Roman Curia from 1222. He was also known and respected by the man who would become the Emperor’s father-in-law, John of Brienne, who decorated him for brave conduct during the Fifth Crusade. This increased the trust between John and Hermann and was undoubtedly propitious for the agreement for the marital union between Frederick and Isabella. The first news of the Emperor’s intentions to make a public entrance into Jerusalem came from Salza himself. A few days before 18 March, he went to Pope Gregory IX and announced that ‘proponit etiam imperator cum omni populo ascendere Ierosolimam et ibi in honore regis rerum omnium ferre coronam, sic enim consultum est ei a pluribus’.26 The parallel with the scene of Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem is clear here, although it is perhaps unwise to take it literally.27 What is clear is that Salza conveyed to the Pope that the Emperor wanted to have himself crowned ‘in honour of the king of kings’, in a clear reference to Christ the King, but also making implicit reference to Frederick’s own status as Emperor and thus ‘king of kings’. It is Salza himself who has bequeathed us the most exact description and the one that is closest to the events that transpired that Sunday in Lent in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. His version of the facts gave rise to an endless chain of interpretations that has lasted to the present day. In a letter to a friend, significantly kept in the papal registry, Salza affirms that Dominus Imperator cum universo exercito Christiano venit Jerusalem et […] in honore regis eterni portavit coronam. […] Non audivit divina, tamen

On Hermann of Salza, Adolf Koch, Hermann von Salza, Meister des Deutschen Ordens: ein biographischer Versuch (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1885); Willy Cohn: Hermann von Salza (Breslau: M. & H. Marcus, 1930); Helmuth Kluger: Hochmeister Hermann von Salza und Kaiser Friedrich II.: ein Beitrag zur Frühgeschichte des Deutschen Ordens (Marburg: Elwert, 1987). 26  MGH, Constitutiones, 2: 264; Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 204. 27  See St Matthew, 21: 1–11. 25 


Jaume Aurell

coronam simpliciter sine consecratione de altari accepi et in sedem, sicut es consuetum, portavit.28

Salza states that there was some kind of ritual with the crown and that this ritual was performed without any sacred ceremony (‘non audivit divina’) accompanying it. The ritual, apart from other ceremonies there may have been but for which there are no details, at least contained a moment in which the Emperor took the crown from the altar and carried it towards the throne ‘as is the custom’. The expression ‘as is the custom’ recovers its full sense if the gesture is put in the context of what the ‘custom’ was in any coronation ceremony at the moment when the king received the crown (in normal circumstances) from the hands of the bishop. But in any case, this ritual was not accompanied by any liturgical celebration, which is why Salza concludes that it was an investiture ‘without consecration’. That is the most exact description of the affair available to us, narrated to us by someone who was present. Mayer argues convincingly that, in the thirteenth century, a coronation without consecration made no sense; nor did any legal or ecclesiastical consequence stem from it. The coronation did not make the king, but rather the unction and consecration.29 Therefore, that reality, of which both Frederick II and his chancellor Salza would be perfectly aware, confirms that the Emperor would only be seeking, with that transgressive gesture, an expression of his grandeur, a practical demonstration of his temporal power, the exercise of which required no spiritual authority.30 In fact, there is a very interesting evolution in late medieval Europe, from that simple gesture of Frederick II, full of symbolic and conceptual implications but empty of ceremonial ones, to the motley pompous self-coronation ceremonies that took place a century later in the Iberian Peninsula. There the Spanish kings (Alphonse XI of Castile, and Alphonse IV and Peter IV of Aragon) certainly felt that they needed the legitimising efficacy of the sacred ceremony enveloping the whole coronation — although they did highlight their temporal autonomy with the gesture of not allowing the bishop to take the crown at the climax of the ceremony and having the kings themselves place the crown on their own heads. In the Iberian coronations’ ceremonies the fact was MGH, Constitutiones, 2: 264; Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 204–05. Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 205; Mayer, Kings and Lords, 540. See also Janet N. Nelson, Politics and ritual in early medieval Europe (London: Hambledon, 1986). 30  Mayer notes: ‘The barons refused to recognize him as king so the coronation of 1229 had no validity in constitutional law except perhaps as a retrospective legitimization of Frederick’s kingship of 1225–8’ (Mayer, The Crusades, 254). 28  29 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


e­ mphasised that the king ‘takes the crown and puts it, with his own hands, on his own head’, always within the sacred context of the mass. In Frederick II’s coronation in Jerusalem the relevant point is rather the fact in itself of the coronation (or the rite with the crown) without consecration: ‘coronam sine consecratione altari accepit et in sedem portavit:’ he took the crown from the altar, without mediating consecration, and carried it to the throne.31 This being the case, the question arises of why Salza chose such an explicit form of transmitting the contents of the ceremony, aware of the surprise and upset that it would cause among all the Chancelleries of the West. It seems that Salza omitted to send any report to the Patriarch of Jerusalem or the Pope — who did not receive the news directly from the Chancellor but rather from the Patriarch of Jerusalem himself, Gerold, who in his turn had been informed by another ceremony attendee. Perhaps, then, Salza wrote to his friend so that he would spread the news in the West by unofficial, though certainly effective, means. Perhaps he also used another form of transmitting the news to Europe, but in any event that or those hypothetical documents have been lost and have not reached us, and as historians we have to work with the available sources. The Patriarch of Jerusalem Gerold of Lausanne (1225–39) was not slow to react. Although it is certain that he was not present at the ceremony (he was in fact notable by his absence) and thus did not enter the city until 19 March, his testimony is reliable as he undoubtedly rushed to receive information at first hand, although we do not know exactly from whom. That information would not have been very difficult to come by, proceeding as it did from both the imperial and anti-imperial camps. And what is clear is that the testimonies that have reached us from him confirm that a self-coronation took place that day in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Only eight days after the ceremony, Gerold informed Pope Gregory in these terms: Et ecce unanimiter sabbato dominice, qua cantatur Oculi mei, sunt cum principe civitatem ingressi, qui summo mane ipso die dominico Sepulchrum intravit, vestibusque indutus regalibus capiti suo imposuit diadema.32

The Patriarch provides the most explicit intelligence about Frederick’s selfcoronation (‘capiti suo imposuit diadema’). Certainly, as other authors point out, the Patriarch might have invented this information to definitively Mayer notes that ‘sedem’ is in the accusative and not the ablative, and thus, preceded by the particle ‘in’, implies directionality (Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 205). 32  MGH, Epistolae saeculi XIII e regestis pontificum Romanorum selectae, 1229, 303. 31 


Jaume Aurell

discredit the Emperor in the eyes of the Pope. But it seems unlikely that he himself would have wanted to invent a story that, knowing Frederick  II’s precedents, would doubtless contribute to augmenting his legend as stupor mundi rather than denigrating his reputation. Besides, however hurt the Patriarch was that Frederick had marginalised him in the ceremony at the Holy Sepulchre, he would not have risked lying to the Pope in a report that had every semblance of being official and would therefore weigh on his conscience. If he wanted to invent a story, perhaps he would have chosen the route taken by Salza himself, an unofficial letter. It appears rather that the Patriarch made the information Salza had provided a bit more specific, using a less ambiguous expression (‘imposuit diadema’) than the ‘portavit coronam’ used by Salza and the imperial manifest Letentur in domino. Gerold also emphasised the fact that the Emperor was dressed solemnly for the occasion (‘vestibusque indutus regalibus’), which undoubtedly enhanced the sense that it was not an improvised gesture. The Patriarch did not want to leave any stone unturned in his campaign against Frederick II. A few weeks later, in May 1229, in encyclical addressed to all believers, he tried to counteract the effects of the imperial manifest Letentur in Domino and the self-coronation itself: Die sequenti dominica Satis inordinate satisque confuse excummunicatus in ecclesia dominici sepulchri in preiudicium honoris ac excellentie imperialis manifestum suo capiti imposuit diadema.33

All the information regarding the self-coronation is confirmed. The only difference between this information and what Gerold had transmitted to the Pope weeks before is the place occupied by the possessive adjective ‘suo’ in the phrase, which now appears before the noun ‘capiti’ rather than after it. That does not seem to change its meaning in any fundamental way — both formulations emphasise the fact that the king put the crown on his own head. The substantive difference with the letter to the Pope is that in the second case the note is not only informative and descriptive but also evaluative, with the Patriarch judging the king for the scandal and confusion caused by an excommunicate entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and, what is more, crowning himself. The difference in tone between the two documents confirms the objectivity with which the Patriarch had informed the Pope a 33  Jean Louis Alphonse de Huillard-Bréholles, ed., Historia diplomatica Friderici secundi sive Constitutiones, privilegia, mandata, instrumenta quae supersunt istius imperatoris et filiorum eius. Accedunt epistolae paparum et documenta varia (Paris: Henricus, 1852–61), 3: 136.

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


few weeks before, and how inauthentic the Patriarch would have been if he had invented the event of self-coronation in that report. Now, in the encyclical, Gerold was reacting more against the formulation picked up by the manifest that the coronation had been ‘ad honorem et gloriam summi regis’, as it had been in anyone’s book for the glory of Frederick himself and not that of the ‘supreme king’ Jesus Christ. Another source on the event that we have at our disposal is a letter from Pope Gregory to the Archbishop of Milan, dated 13 June 1229, in which he expounds that ‘et sic idem (Frederick II) in Ierusalem diruta fere penitus et deserta se sollempniter vel potius inaniter coronavit’.34 As we have seen, the Pope had been informed by the Patriarch Gerold eight days after the event, and had probably also received news via Salza, who had rushed to give his version of events. In any event, he would have concerned himself with documenting it properly and availed himself of all possible sources. But whatever his sources were in addition to Gerold’s, the Pope held firm to his interpretation: that it had been a true self-coronation and that the gesture was worthy of his full disapproval, because apart from having been enacted ‘sollempnite’, an adjective that is not collocated here inadvertently or by happenstance, and which confirms the Salza and Gerold sources. These efforts by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Pope to denounce Frederick’s gesture had their effects. The English chronicler Roger of Wendover echoed a papal encyclical that reached England, in which the Pope accused Frederick  II of ‘in die annunciationis beate Marie [sic: 25 rather than 18] cum esset excommunicatus, intravit ecclesiam sancti sepulchri in Ierusalem et ibi ante maius altare propria manu sese coronavit’.35 The event had such resonance that it emerged in the chronicles of the time. News of it was picked up and appeared in the History of Heraclius. There we read: ‘et le dimenche de mi caresme s’en entra ou mostier dou Sepulcre et fist metre une corone d’or dessus le maestre autel dou cuer, et puis vint la, si la prist et la miste sur sa teste’.36 The narration of the self-coronation is again

MHG, Epp. Saec. XIII, I, 309, Nr 390. Robert von Wendover, Flores historiarum, quoted in Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 206. 36  Chronique d’Ernoul s. 465f, quoted by Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 207. Ernoul formed part of the entourage of Balian of Ibelin, a Jerusalem noble. What is called the ‘chronicle of Ernoul’ is a compendium of different manuscripts, the originals of which have not reached us but which were written by Ernoul himself, also known as William of Tyre, in the late twelfth century. The basis of this chronicle is a translation from the original Latin into Old French, known as the History of Heraclius or Estoire de Eracles, because William of Tyre began his chronicle with the 34  35 


Jaume Aurell

explicit here. However, it is interesting to note that at this point the different manuscripts of the chronicle offer substantial variations, which once again conveys the ambiguity and mystery surrounding everything to do with Frederick II’s self-coronation. Thus, one of the manuscripts eliminates the three words ‘si la [la corona] prist’, although it concedes the core information: ‘et la miste sur sa teste’. Another manuscript in the same chronicle offers a very artificial version of the event: ‘et porta corone un jor de mi caresme’.37 Inverting the Transfers of Medieval Political Theology: Profaning the Sacred Frederick  II’s self-coronation in Jerusalem poses two essential problems. The first, whether it actually happened. The second, assuming that it did, what would a coronation without unction mean in the thirteenth century — an investiture without ecclesiastical participation? What is certain is that, according toº theory, it would have neither sense nor legal effect. But in practice it would have meaning, given that there were precedents, as indicated at the beginning of this article: the hypothetical case of the Visigothic usurper Paul in the seventh century, as well as the Carolingian kings Louis the Pious (813), Lothar (817) and Charles the Bald (838) following the Byzantine tradition of being crowned by the living king . But there is a gap of four centuries between these coronations and Frederick’s in Jerusalem, in which there had been no self-coronation in the West, at least none that we know about: hence the exceptional nature of Frederick II’s self-coronation.

Byantine Emperor Heraclius. One of the manuscripts, known as the The Chronicle of Ernoul and Bernard the Treasurer, includes a reference to the coronation of Frederick II in Jerusalem, along with descriptions of the 1220s.: Chronique d’Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier, ed. L. de Mas-Latrie (Paris: Société de l’histoire de France, 1871) and La Continuation de Guillaume de Tyr (1184–1192), ed. M. R. Morgan (Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1982). See M. R. Morgan, The Chronicle of Ernoul and the Continuations of William of Tyre (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973) and Janet Shirley, Crusader Syria in the Thirteenth Century: The Rothelin Continuation of the History of William of Tyre with part of the Eracles or Acre text (London: Ashgate, 1999). Peter  W. Edbury and John  G. Rowe argue that the person who made the additions that referred to Frederick II ‘was a cleric in the entourage of the patriarch of Jerusalem who, seeing at close hand in 1229 Frederick II’s insistence on his prerogatives as regent of Jerusalem, acted to protect the patriarchate from undue interference’ (Edbury and Rowe, ‘William of Tyre and the Patriarcal Election of 1180’, English Historical Review 93 (1978): 1–25, here 17). 37  See the comments of Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 207.

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


In thirteenth-century Europe, a self-coronation that sought to function as a self-investiture would always be received with consternation rather than understanding, as it involved a transgressive gesture of massive proportions, not only from a strictly legal point of view (both canon and civil law), but also from the perspective of what today we would call ‘public opinion’. The recovery of Jerusalem, following the 1229 Treaty of Jaffa, left Frederick in a certain state of exaltation which, along with his penchant for majestic gestures, will have inspired him to perform a rite with the characteristics of his self-coronation in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The title King of Jerusalem was no small matter to a king with a marked tendency to consider the exercise of his authority in rather messianic terms and who was eager to astound the world with how he wielded power. In fact, some historians have emphasised that, from precisely that moment, Frederick II’s messianic tendency grew, to the point where posterity would remember him for it.38 His situation as Emperor of the West, along with his advantageous position in Italy, encouraged him on to fresh conquests, even more so if they had the exponential symbolic power of the kingdom of Jerusalem. All this helps to confirm that Frederick II did not improvise the ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that Sunday of Lent. By the same token, in the hypothetical case put by some authors that it did not happen, the Emperor would not have improvised the careful strategy implemented by his chancellor Salza, either, in spreading the news. We have the latter’s letters not only to the Pope but also to a friend in the West. The whole supposition that the self-coronation did not happen is based on the hypothesis that Gerold converted Salza’s ambiguous expression ‘portavit coronam’ into the unequivocal ‘capiti suo imposuit diadema’, which makes it explicit that a self-coronation took place. Certainly, Gerold could have created this false transposition, inventing the self-coronation specifically to discredit the Emperor to the native nobility and the people of Jerusalem, and to emphasise the fact of the illegitimacy of the ritual followed by Frederick in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. But it is difficult to argue that he would have gained much by this propagandist action against Frederick. If the self-coronation really had not taken place, it would have been much better to leave things as they were. It seems more logical to think that the self-coronation was real, and that Gerold wanted to head off possible other interpretations, writing without delay to the Pope so that the emptiness of the Emperor’s transgressive gesture would remain clear. Politically,


Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 18.


Jaume Aurell

the coronation of a pretender to the crown who was not the legitimate heir was not possible, and nor, in ecclesiastical terms, was the consecration of an excommunicated king. Moreover, the very formulation ‘ferre coronam’ or ‘portare coronam’ used by Salza could already be understood as a ‘coronation’, as it might have been a literal transposition of the traditional French formulation ‘porter corone’, which meant simply that the monarch had been crowned. In fact, in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem itself, the chronicler Ernoul had described the coronation of Isabella I in 1198 thus: ‘Si l’espousa, et elle porta courone. Dont primes fu elle roine’. And that of John of Brienne in 1210 thus: ‘Puis ala à Sur, et espousa le dame, et porta corone’.39 But even allowing that Salza might also have referred to ‘wearing the crown’ in a literal way, and that what had happened in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre had been simply a ceremony in which the king at a given moment ‘transported’ the crown and not a coronation as such, the news that spread across Europe was that a self-coronation had taken place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as is reflected in the contemporary chronicles. Curiously, none of the descriptions that have reached us of the ritual that took place that day in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre refers specifically to the enthronement, or to other ceremonies proper to royal investitures such as the anointing or the knightly armour. This confirms that the essential element in that ceremony was the coronation itself — or, if that did not happen as such, the ritual of conveying the crown from the altar to the throne. Mayer himself, the historian who has proved to be most sceptical regarding the reality of the event, concedes that the most reliable sources (those of the Salza manifest) do not specify whether the Emperor put the crown on his head or if he carried it in his hands to the throne. However, it must be assumed as the most natural alternative that the king must have put the crown on his head in a more or less solemn manner.40 On the other hand, in no source does it appear that the coronation might have taken place during the course of a mass, as was the custom. This seems essential to the conclusion that it was a genuine self-investiture with the aim of making the most of the full force of the sacred symbol (a coronation in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) by means, paradoxically, of a non-sacred ceremony. In fact, the astute counsellor Salza had previously persuaded Frederick II not to celebrate mass during the These examples are from the Chronique d’Ernoul and the Estoire d’Eracles and are quoted by Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 206. 40  Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 205. 39 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


ceremony in the Holy Sepulchre, as that might further exacerbate the mood of the Pope and the people.41 Another important aspect to bear in mind is that it was the peculiar custom of royal coronations of kings in Jerusalem that probably encouraged the Emperor to organise his own one. The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem had a long tradition of such coronations, all of them following the ordo known as the ‘Pontifical of Tyre’.42 Frederick  II knew this ordo well, but was not disposed to follow it, not only because of his own legal incapacity (he was an excommunicate) but also because of the humiliating experience that being crowned by a bishop would represent (even one with the title of Patriarch, to which all the Bishops of Jerusalem were entitled) after having been crowned Emperor by the Pope. It is evident that having already been crowned King of Sicily (1198) and Holy Roman Emperor (1220), and assuming that the title King of Jerusalem legitimately belonged to his son Conrad, the coronation in the Holy Sepulchre was aimed at increasing his fame and notoriety rather than seeking legal validity as primary coronation. Frederick was very well aware of the symbolic value of the gesture he had just performed. He had planned it for the third Sunday in Lent, which in the East had the same value as Good Friday, the day of the death of the Lord. He had performed it in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, too, considered one of the centres of Christianity and precisely what made Godfrey of Bouillon forego the coronation to legitimise him as the first king of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, considering himself unworthy of being crowned in the place where Jesus Christ was crowned with thorns.43 Frederick  II also knew that his self-coronation was a non-sacred consecration that could in no sense bestow on him the royal dignity he was seeking. Nor could it augment the power he already possessed, given that true royal power resided in his son Conrad. Besides, a self-coronation would achieve nothing more than stir up a native nobility that was already very edgy, and scandalise a people prone to religious respect. Frederick II had not been the legitimate king since the

Kantorowicz, L’Empereur, 187. Description and historical development and practice of this pontifical in Meyer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 141–232. 43  “Dixit se non portaturum coronam auream, ubi altissimus Ihesus Christus passus fuit coronam spineam deportare’, (Annali Genovesi de Caffaro e de’suoi continnuatori, quoted in Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 208). 41  42 


Jaume Aurell

birth of his son, and nor was he fit to receive consecration since suffering excommunication by the Pope.44 However, even taking these adverse political and legal circumstances into account, it is difficult to maintain that the event as such never happened, bearing in mind the mighty echo and significant repercussions it had in Europe, not only in the Papal Curia but also in the chancelleries of several European monarchies. And even if such an event really never happened, its repercussion as an invented gesture would alone merit giving it the proper attention that has, until now, been confined to German-speaking academia. Prone as he was to sweeping majestic gestures, Frederick was banking on the astonishment with which it would be — and was — received in the West. It is also highly significant that Salza emphasised the fact that ‘there was no consecration’, as this clarification would make no sense if there had not also been some gesture or ritual connected with the crown. That is where the different interpretations come in — basically, if Salza’s ‘ferre coronam’ means self-coronation or simply the gesture of picking up the crown from the altar and taking it towards the throne. But it is clear that there was an alteration to the established norm with the introduction of a gesture connected with temporal power (whose symbol was the crown) in a sacred sphere, evidenced by both the locus where the action took place (the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and the context (an anomaly in terms of the usual coronation ritual for the monarchs of Jerusalem, who had always followed, and would always follow in future, the ‘Pontifical of Tyre’. Moreover, if nothing happened, it is very difficult to justify the existence of the manifest Letentur in Domino. In fact, some authors have defended the joint existence of the manifest and the self-coronation as two parts of a common propaganda strategy on the part of Federick II.45 In any case, both the self-coronation in the Holy Sepulchre and the Letentur manifest mark the start of a phase in which the Emperor Frederick  II began to carry a strong religious-mystical charge.46 For some, this mystical dimension would reflect the power of God through the Emperor; others considered him a definitive ‘anti-Christ’: the excommunicated Emperor who usurped the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for his own glory, robbing Mayer, ‘Das Pontifikale’, 209–10. Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 16–17, who also quote the historians Albert Brackmann and Otto Vehse. 46  Eberhard Horst, Friedrich der Staufer. Eine Biographie (Düsseldorf: Claassen, 1975), 148; Schlott, Das Rundschreiben, 18. 44  45 

The Self-Coronation of Frederick II


God of His — precisely the argument the patriarch Gerold used to discredit him.47 This gesture also heightened the tension between Frederick II and the Church of Rome as it increased his own Imperial Roman universalism, influenced perhaps by the Byzantine stamp of the Norman kings of Sicily. If, as King of Sicily, Frederick II had used the monarchy as a means of leaving little space for papal pretensions to sovereignty, in Jerusalem he had used the dignity of emperor to proclaim the notion of the ruler called by God to govern all humanity.48 I would like to conclude this article by asserting that, whether or not he performed a self-coronation that Sunday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Frederick II managed to make it a reality with the words by which the gesture spread throughout the whole of Europe. It echoes even until today, confirming the postmodern intuition that the word in itself can make facts. In the end, the written record was more relevant than the (possible) ritual of coronation itself. As the medieval scholars declared, ‘Symbolum est collatio formarum visibilium ad invisibilium demonstrationem’: a symbol is the collation of visible shapes for the representation of the invisible or a drawing together of visible forms to demonstrate an invisible thing.49 With his selfcoronation, Frederick II wanted to make maximum symbolic use of the visible.

Kantorowicz, L’Empereur, 186–87. Abulafia, L’Imperatore, 157. 49  For the phrase attributed to Hugo of Saint Victor applied to this historical context, see Reinhard Elze, ‘La simbologia del potere nell’età di Federico II’, in Politica e cultura nell’Italia di Federico II, ed. Sergio Gensini (Pisa: Pacini, 1986), 203–12. 47  48 

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’: The Theological Use of an Art Object as a Political Symbol Vinni Lucherini


n 15 September 1269, Charles I of Anjou,1 sovereign (1266–85) of the kingdom of Sicily,2 feud of the Roman Church,3 writing to Stephen (V) of Hungary (king from 1270 to 1272, but associated to the throne by his father Béla IV from 1245),4 announced to him that he wanted to tighten their friendship through the marriage of their respective sons and daughters:5 his son Charles (1254–1309),6 crowned king of Sicily on 29 May 1289, would marry Mary (c. 1255–1323),7 and his daughter Isabella would marry Ladislaus (IV), future king of Hungary (from 1272 to 1290).   Jean Dunbabin, Charles I of Anjou: Power, Kingship and State-making in Thirteenth-Century Europe (London-New York: Longman, 1998); Gian Luca Borghese, Carlo  I d’Angiò e il Mediterraneo. Politica, diplomazia e commercio internazionale prima dei Vespri (Roma: École française de Rome, 2008). 2  Giuseppe Galasso, Il Regno di Napoli. Il Mezzogiorno angioino e aragonese 1266–1464 (Torino: Utet, 1992). 3  Péter Molnár, ‘Idéologies monarchiques en Hongrie (xiiie–xive siècle)’, in Identités hongroises, identités européennes du Moyen Âge à nos jours, ed. Piroska Nagy with the collaboration of Marie Lionnet and Péter Sahin-Tóth (Mont-Saint-Aignan: Publications des Universités de Rouen et du Havre, 2001), 23–47. 4   Pál Engel, The Realm of St Stephen. A History of Medieval Hungary. 895–1526, trans. Tamás Pálosfalvi (London-New York: I.B. Tauris, 2001), 105–07. 5  György Fejér, Codex diplomaticum Hungariæ ecclesiasticus et civilis, tomus quartus, volumen III (Budæ: Typis Tipographiæ Regiæ Vniversitatis Vngaricæ, 1829), 508–12. 6  Andreas Kiesewetter, Die Anfänge der Regierung König Karls II. von Anjou (1278–1295). Das Königreich Neapel, die Grafschaft Provence und der Mittelmeerraum zu Ausgang des 13. Jahrhunderts (Husum: Matthiesen Verlag, 1999). 7  Vilmos Fraknói, ‘Mária  V. István király leánya, nápolyi királyné 1271–1323’, Budapesti Szemle CXXV (1906), 321–58; Matthew J. Clear, ‘Maria of Hungary as queen, patron and exemplar’, in The Church of Santa Maria Donna Regina. Art, Iconography and Patronage in Fourteenth Century Naples, ed. Janis Elliot and Cornelia Warr, Aldershot 2004, pp. 45–60;


Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 267–283 ©  DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111256



Vinni Lucherini

In the letter, Stephen was defined by Charles  I as ‘natus de genere sanctorum et maximorum regum’ (born to a family of saints and powerful kings), an expression destined to describe sovereigns of Hungary long thereafter. The marriage choice made by Charles  I of Anjou must also have been driven by the desire to associate the southern Angevin monarchy to a royal family, the Arpadian one,8 that had generated not only a saint like Elizabeth,9 but actually three saint-kings: Stephen, Emeric, and Ladislaus, a number that must have been envied especially by the French monarchy, that among its Carolingian and Capetian sovereigns had only two saintkings, Charlemagne and Louis  IX (elder brother of Charles  I of Naples, in turn).10 In this way, the wedding of Charles, the future Charles II, with Mary of Hungary, celebrated in the spring of 1270, had its motivations not simply in political strategy, but also in the search for sainthood that would further contribute to the prestige of the royal family that had just risen to the throne of Naples. The merging of the two dynasties had consequences that would reverberate for centuries in the history of Europe and its monarchies:11 Mary ‘brought’ Hungary to Naples and ‘brought’ Naples to Hungary, profoundly affecting the history of both the kingdoms at least for the fourteenth century. After the death of her brother, king Ladislaus  IV, last direct male

Andreas Kiesewetter, ‘Maria d’Ungheria, regina di Sicilia’, in Dizionario biografico degli italiani (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 2008), vol. 70, 218–21. 8  Iván Bertényi, Az Árpád-ház királyai. Nemzeti dinasztiánk három évszázada (Budapest: Officina Kiadó, 2009). 9  Gábor Klaniczay, ‘Sainte Élisabeth comme modèle: l’image de la sainteté feminine dans le Libellus de dictis quattuor ancillarum’, in Le plaisir de l’art du Moyen Âge.  Commande, production et réception de l’œuvre d’art. Mélanges en hommage à Xavier Barral i Altet (Paris: Picard, 2012), 967–74, and the previous studies of the same scholar. 10  Gábor Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses. Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 11   See, for example, the complex case of the succession to the throne of Naples, that had the murder of the young prince Andrew of Hungary as a consequence: Vinni Lucherini, ‘The Journey of Charles I, King of Hungary, from Visegrád to Naples (1333): Its Political Implications and Artistic Consequences’, The Hungarian Historical Review. New Series of Acta Historica Academiæ Scientiarum Hungariæ 2/2  (2013), 341–62; with reflections also in representation of the prince on mural paintings: Eadem, ‘Il refettorio e il capitolo del monastero maschile di Santa Chiara: l’impianto topografico e le scelte decorative’, in La chiesa e il convento di Santa Chiara. Committenza artistica, vita religiosa e progettualità politica nella Napoli di Roberto d’Angiò e Sancia di Maiorca, ed. Francesco Aceto, Stefano D’Ovidio and Elisabetta Scirocco (Battipaglia: Laveglia & Carlone, 2014), 385–430.

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


d­ escendant of the Arpad dynasty, the queen put long-lasting dynamics into action, on the European level, publicly affirming her right to inherit that kingdom and the accompanying golden crown. On 21 September 1290, queen Mary and king Charles II of Anjou formally instructed their procurators to go to Hungary to receive homage and declarations of loyalty from Hungarian barons. Some months later, on 21 April 1291, Charles II wrote to all Hungarians, asking them to consider his wife Mary as the only heir of the Hungarian throne. On 7 January 1292, the queen announced that she would concede, give and transfer the kingdom of Hungary to her son, Charles Martel (born in 1271). She delegated the task of crowning him with the Hungarian crown to Henry, Count of Vadmont. The next 7 February, Charles II wrote again to the Hungarian barons, communicating the transfer of the kingdom made by the queen to her son and ordering them to recognize him as legitimate king.12 Starting from 17 April 1292, when it was recorded for the first time, Charles Martel acquired the title of Ungariæ, Dalmatiæ, Croatie, Galliciæ, Ramæ, Serviæ, Lodomeriæ, Cumaniæ, Bulgariæque rex, but he had already been named long before Salernitanus princeps et honoris Montis Sancti Angeli dominus (that meant designating him as legitimate descendant to the throne of Sicily). Therefore, the young Charles Martel was destined to rule over two highly powerful kingdoms: one of them was geared towards the Mediterranean (not only Oriental, but Occidental as well, given the importance of Provence in the fortunes of the kingdom of Sicily); the other was a veritable gateway to the continental territories to the East. But things went differently, and death stepped in to change all plans. Before even being able to go to Hungary to take possession of his kingdom, Charles Martel and his wife, Clementia, daughter of Rudolf of Habsburg, died in 1295 during the summer, since at the beginning of September of that year the archival documents attest that his children — Charles (1288–1342), 12   For all the documents quoted here: Camillo Minieri Riccio, ‘Genealogia di Carlo II d’Angiò re di Napoli’, Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane 7  (1882), 15–67; Michelangelo Schipa, ‘Carlo Martello’, Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane XIV (1889), 17–33, 204– 64, 432–58; XV (1890), 5–125; on their interpretation in the context of the NeapolitanHungarian connection see Vinni Lucherini, ‘Il “testamento” di Maria d’Ungheria a Napoli: un esempio di acculturazione regale’, in Images and Words in Exile, ed. Elisa Brilli, Laura Fenelli and Gerhard Wolf (Firenze: Sismel-Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2014), 433–50; Eadem, ‘L’arte alla corte dei re “napoletani” d’Ungheria nel primo Trecento: un equilibrio tra aspirazioni italiane e condizionamenti locali’, in Arte di Corte in Italia del Nord. Programmi, modelli, artisti (1330–1402 c.), ed. Serena Romano and Denise Zaru (Roma: Viella, 2013), 371–96.


Vinni Lucherini

­ eatrix (1290–1354, who married John II, dauphin of Vienne) and CleB mence (1293–1328, who ­married Louis  X, king of France, in 1315) — were already orphans, having lost both their parents. From February 1296 these same children were entrusted to the queen Mary so that she could see to their education.13 Only four years later, Charles II of Anjou decided that the young Charles (Fig. 1), as first-born of the last Hungarian king, Charles Martel, had to claim the Hungarian kingdom.14 The task was not easy: other pretenders to the throne could prevent this goal,15 and Charles was just a child when he was

  See above, note 12.   For the documents concerning the relationships between Naples and Hungary in this period: Monumenta Hungariæ Istorica. Diplomacziai emlékek az Anjou-Korból, I, ed. Gusztáv Wenzel (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akademia, 1874. See also Adalgisio de Regibus, ‘Le contese degli Angioini di Napoli per il trono d’Ungheria (1290–1310)’, Rivista storica italiana V/1  (1934), 38–85 (I), 264–305 (II); Bálint Hóman, Gli Angioini di Napoli in Ungheria. 1290–1403 (Roma: Reale Accademia d’Italia, 1938), 80 ss.; Émile G. Léonard, Les Angevins de Naples (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1954), 298 ss. 15  In 1301, Wenceslaus, the heir of the Bohemian kingdom, was crowned king of Hungary by the archbishop of Kalocsa, but in 1305 he renounced his claim to Hungary on behalf of the duke Otto III of Bavaria, who in 1307 was taken prisoner by the Transylvania vovoide Ladislas, together with the ‘holy crown’ of Hungary: Renáta Skorka, ‘With a Little Help from the Cousins — Charles I and the Habsburg Dukes of Austria during the Interregnum’, The Hungarian Historical Review. New Series of Acta Historica Academiæ Scientiarum Hungariæ II (2013), 243–60. Around the middle of the XIVth century, all these events were narrated and represented in a beautiful royal manuscript, the so-called Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (also known in Hungarian as Bécsi Képes Krónika): for the text see Marci chronica de gestis Hungarorum ab origine gentis as annum MCCCXXX producta, e codice omnium qui exstant antiquissimo Bibliothecæ Palatinæ Vindoboniense picto, adhibitis in usum ceteris tam MSS quam impressis chronicis genuino nunc primum restituto textu recensuit, varias lectiones annotavit, præfatus est Franciscus Toldy, consiliarius regius, bibliothecæ universitatis Hungaricæ præfectus. Versionem Hungaricam adiecit Carolus Szabó, bibliothecæ Musei Transilvanici custos. Ornataque, præter effigiem compilatoris, plurimis picturis ad similitudinem imaginum dicti codicis Palatini effictis (Pest: typis exscripsit, edidit Gustavus Emich, 1867); Chronici Hungarici Compositio Saeculi XIV, praefatus est, textum recensuit, annotationibus instruxit A.  Domanovszky, in Scriptores rerum Hungaricarum tempore ducum regumque Arpadianæ gestarum, ed. Emericus Szentpétery (Budapestini: typographiæ Regiæ Universitatis Hungariæ sumptibus, 1937–38), 239–505; for the images: The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle, ed. Dezső Dercsényi and others, with a translation by Alice West (Budapest: Corvina Press, 1969); László Vezprémy, Tünde Wehli, József Hapák, The Book of the Illuminated Chronicle (Budapest: Kossuth Publishing House, The National Széchényi Library, 2009); Vinni Lucherini, ‘Il Chronicon pictum ungherese (1358): racconto e immagini al servizio della costruzione dell’identità nazionale’, Rivista di Storia della Miniatura 19 (2015), 58–72. 13 14

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


Fig. 1. Budapest, Országos Széchényi Könyvtár, MS  Clmae 404, fol.  69v, King Charles I of Hungary.

taken to Hungary in the spring 1301. Six years later, Charles not only had not reached any level of control of the kingdom, but above all (and the two facts are inextricably linked), he could not have come into possession of the so-called ‘holy crown’ that would have consecrated him as king. This crown


Vinni Lucherini

(Figs 2–3), at that time stolen by the Transylvanian voivode Ladislaus,16 was believed to have been sent from Rome by pope Sylvester II to the first Hungarian king, Stephen (1000–1038),17 founder of the Christian monarchy of Hungary and canonized in 1083 by pope Gregory VII.18 In August 1307, to find a solution for this unlikely situation, the pope Clement V, worrying about the Hungarian political situation, sent the Franciscan cardinal Gentile Partino da Montefiore to Hungary, as pontifical legate. Without that crown, and without the ceremony which, ‘secundum usum’ (following the law), was to take place in the church of the Virgin of Székesfehérvár,19 any coronation would have been considered illegal by the powerful Hungarian nobility, who held most of the country’s landed property.20 This was the task that Gentile received: to restore the Christian faith in Hungarian territories and put a new king, Charles of Naples, on the throne.21 To explain what happened when Gentile arrived in Hungary and to understand his political use of an object that have been considered holy and sacred for centuries, I will look over some texts included in Gentile’s dossier

  See above, note 15.   Thomas von Bogyai, ‘Über die Forschungsgeschichte der heiligen Krone’, in Insignia Regni Hungariæ. I.  Studien zur Machtsymbolik des Mittelalterlichen Ungarn, ed. Zsusza Lovag (Budapest: Ungarischen Nationalmuseum, 1983), 65–89. On the political use of the crown, also in recent periods, see László Péter, ‘The Holy Crown of Hungary, Visible and Invisible’, The Slavonic and East European Review LXXXI (2003), 421–510. On the history of the crown see also Vinni Lucherini, ‘La prima descrizione moderna della corona medievale dei re d’Ungheria: il De sacra corona di Péter Révay (1613)’, in ‘Ars auro gemmisque prior’. Mélanges en hommage à Jean-Pierre Caillet (Zagreb: Irclama, 2013), 479–90. 18   Marie-Madeleine de Cevins, Saint Étienne de Hongrie (Paris: Fayard, 2004); about the diffusion of the Christian faith and the role played by king Stephen: A  Thousand Years of Christianity in Hungary. Hungariæ Christianæ Millennium, ed. István Zombori, Pál Cséfalvay, Maria Antonietta De Angelis (Budapest: Hungarian Catholica Episcopal Conference, 2001). 19   János  M. Bak, Königtum und Stände in Hungarn im 14.-16 Jh. (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1973); Erik Fügedi, ‘Coronation in Medieval Hungary’, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History  II (1980), 159–89; about coronation’s ceremonials see also Coronation, Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual, ed. János M. Bak (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990). 20  Gyula Kristó, ‘Les bases du pouvoir royal de Charles Ier en Hongrie’, in La noblesse dans les territoires angevins à la fin du Moyen Âge, ed. Noël Coulet and Jean-Marie Matz (Roma: École française de Rome, 2000), 423–29. 21   Émile Horn, ‘La mission diplomatique d’un franciscain’, Etudes franciscaines XXXVII (1925), 405–18. 16 17

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


Fig. 2. Joseph Koller, De sacra Regni Ungariæ corona commentarius, Quinqueecclesiis, Typis Christinæ Engel Vidue, MDCCC, The Holy Crown.

Fig. 3. Joseph Koller, De sacra Regni Ungariæ corona commentarius, Quinqueecclesiis, Typis Christinæ Engel Vidue, MDCCC, The Holy Crown.


Vinni Lucherini

still preserved in Rome.22 The first one, dated 27 November 1308, was drafted by the apostolic notary Guglielmo di Sangineto and narrates what happened on the eighth day of the feast of Saint Martin, when all the barons and nobles of the kingdom, as well as all the bishops and clergy of rank, including Thomas, the archbishop of Esztergom, came together in Pest, on the banks of the Danube river. On that occasion, Charles, ‘de regum Ungariæ, ex domina serenissima domina Maria, Siciliæ ac Ungariæ regina illustri, nata claræ memoriæ Stephani regis Ungariæ, vera propagine propagatum’, was proclaimed ‘in verum regem Hungariæ’ (real king of Hungary) and the legate of the pope declared that the right to confirm and crown kings of Hungary born ‘de vera regali progenie’ (from real regal family), or from the line of Saint Stephen, lay with the Roman Church alone, its popes and its representatives. This ceremony guaranteed Gentile that the nobility would formally choose Charles as king, allowing the coronation, and would consent to his rule.23 In a second document of the same dossier, the apostolic notary recorded another ceremony, held on 15 June 1309 in Buda, in the church of Saint Mary. Here, the archbishop of Esztergom (who had the privilege of the coronations of kings), major prelates of the Hungarian church, and the barons of the kingdom all stood before the high altar. In their presence, king Charles swore loyalty to the Church of Rome on bended knee, having kissed the holy evangels in the hands of the Archbishop, committing himself to honour and protect his pope and his legates and not to alienate the kingdom but to increase it, defending its ancient rights. Once the oath was taken, the barons of the kingdom recognised Charles as ‘dominum naturalem’ and paid him homage.24 Although the beginning of the document says that the regalia (the crown, the sword and the globe) were located on the high altar, and although a contemporary hand (but not that of the notary) added on the back of the document that on that occasion Gentile crowned Charles king of Hungary, it seems clear from the text that this description cannot refer to a real coronation. In fact, Charles had not yet succeeded in possessing the crown of Saint Stephen, which unfortunately at that date was still held in Transylvania; in addition to this, the coronation of kings in Hungary had taken place for ­centuries in the church of the Virgin of Székesfehérvár, as said before, and   Monumenta Vaticana historiam Regni Hungariæ illustrantia. Serie prima. Tomus secundus. Acta legationis cardinalis Gentilis. 1307–1311, ed. Asztrik Várszegi and Istvân Zombori (Budapest: Magyar Egyháztörténeti Enciklopédia Munkaközösseég, 2000). 23  Ibid., 115–17 (doc. XXXIX). 24  Ibid., 304–07 (doc. LXV). 22

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


not in Buda: both conditions that were not verified on 15 June. Furthermore, in no part of the text does it say that a crown was placed on the head of the king. And yet a crown should have already been there among the regalia which the notary speaks of, because a document written by the archbishop of Esztergom attests that on 11 June, therefore just a few days before the celebration of the 15th, the legate of the pope, Gentile, had had this archbishop bless a new crown, made of gold and precious gems to substitute the stolen crown of Saint Stephen.25 Another kind of document shows us the way in which the pontifical legate could legitimize the use of this second crown. I  refer to the Synodal Constitutions of the kingdom of Hungary, edited in Buda by Gentile between 8 May and 14 July 1309 (on the basis of the texts issued by the same Gentile on 3 December 1308).26 The sacred council, which all the bishops and archbishops of Hungary took part in, represented the conclusive act of that considerable diplomatic mission. Every word of the text was knowingly meant to confirm Charles as king of a newly peaceful kingdom, but also to show that the fate of the country was indissolubly bound to the Catholic Church, and only the pope must be responsible for the election of its political and religious representatives. Including the prologue and the election’s decree, the text of the constitutions is divided into 17 parts. The prologue about the kingdom’s condition (‘Prohemium super statu regni’) is very important to understand the political situation in which this document was issued. Gentile compares himself to a doctor who has to treat a patient: in this case the patient is the kingdom and the medicine is the Constitutions, written with the consent of the Hungarian prelates. The first part, ‘De statu regis’, not only deals with the figure of Charles and the problems concerning him, but also with the more complex concept of monarchy (in this case, the Hungarian monarchy), that received its legitimation directly from God, because power was entrusted to earthly kings to judge people fairly, to govern nations, and to keep the peace. In this context, Hungary had been particularly favoured by Providence, because the kingdom was held by Christian kings, the first of whom Stephen, as well as some others, were inscribed in the catalogue of saints, ensuring fertility, the sweetness of peace and harmony. But suddenly foreign kings had usurped the throne so that sterility, storm and disagreement had taken over the country.

 Ibid., 352–56 (doc. LXVIII).  Ibid., 268–301 (doc. LXI).

25 26


Vinni Lucherini

Gentile also said that, for all these reasons, he had been sent to Hungary by the pope and had convened a general council, in which the prelates and the barons together recognised Charles as ‘naturalem et legitimum regem Hungariæ’ (he is referring to the ceremony held in Pest on 27 November 1308, attested by the document discussed above). Gentile had established too, with the approval of the council, that all Hungarian people must accept Charles as the real and legitimate king and obey him. This decision sounds even more evident by quoting the text: Igitur, cum non liceat a capite membra discedere, sacro presenti approbante concilio, irrefragabili constitutione sancimus, quod ipsi eidem domino Karulo illustri regi Hungariæ, quem, ut predicitur, omnes barones communiter et prelati dicti regni iuxta ipsius regni antiquam consuetudinem receperunt, et in verum regem et legitimum recognoverunt, ut evidenter apparet per publica documenta, et nos etiam, vice et nomine Romanæ Ecclesiæ, eis petentibus, approbavimus, et eorum receptionem et recognitionem confirmavimus, ipsumque regem Hungariæ naturalem et legitimum promulgamus, cui tanquam vero, naturali et legitimo Hungariæ regi omnes obediant; districtius inhibentes quod nullus dictum dominum Karolum verum et legitimum regem Hungariæ pro rege Hungariæ habere recuset, aut aliam personam pro rege Hungariæ advocent vel deliberate nominent”.

In this passage, Gentile strongly emphasized that Charles had to be considered the real and legitimate king, on penalty of excommunication for anyone or any community that might deny obedience to him. In this case the pontifical legate considered any kind of rebellion to the authority of the king, decreeing also severe punishments, like the prohibition of sacral burial or the removal from the ‘gremio Sanctæ matris Ecclesiæ’; at the same time, and under the same papal authority, he sanctioned the physical inviolability of the king in the second part of the Constitutions, under the title: ‘De immunitate regis’. In this case too, Gentile enumerated all the events that could be exercised against the king’s person and the related punishments, establishing that, beyond enacting secular laws, whoever made an attempt at the life of the king would be condemned to the loss of all properties and all rights, but also to excommunication.27  On the ‘corpus’ of the king and its intangibility see the classical study of Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies. A  Study in Mediaeval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957); for new observations on the philophical concept of ‘political theology’: Roberto Esposito, Due. La macchina della teologia politica e il posto del pensiero (Torino: Einaudi, 2013). 27

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


The third paragraph of the Constitutions is dedicated to the king’s crown: ‘De corona regis’. Gentile began his text remembering that Saint Stephen, who brought his kingdom into the Christian community, received the holy crown by the Roman pope, so that the nobility of the king and that of the kingdom should appear more evident, and popular devotion could increase if Stephen’s head was decorated with such an ornament. But the pontifical legate knew very well that the holy crown, as any other mobile object, could be stolen, burned or damaged by any kind of event. Considering all these eventualities, Gentile decided that he had to propose a solution, for the good of king Charles and his successors. Indeed, if the crown went missing, as at that very time had happened, the kingdom, without an adequate solution, could have fallen into an irreparable situation. And as a consequence, violence and arbitrariness would have prevailed, provoking disorder and anarchy in the entire kingdom. Therefore Gentile, with the advice and the consensus of the archbishops, bishops and barons of the kingdom, established that in case it was not possible to access the sacred crown, another crown would have to be created, that he himself, in the name of the Church of Rome, would donate to the king and to the kingdom. He would then solemnly bless this crown, in such a way that the king (Charles) and his successors could be crowned with this crown instead of the other. Indeed, the law stipulated that one could make use of a surrogate object, equipped with the same authority as the other. If, then, the sacred crown or surrogate crown were stolen, hidden or lost again, Gentile established that, as soon as the crown was returned, it had to be put in the church of Székesfehérvár, in accordance with the decision made with the archbishops of Esztergom and Kalocsa, and finally had to be returned to the rightful king: the same would be done for the second crown, created and blessed in the name of the Roman Church, so that this surrogate crown would be considered legitimate in all its effects. The Constitutions continue by regulating the property of the king and of the queen (‘De bonis regalibus et reginalibus non occupandis et occupatis restituendis’) and the respect for the priests (‘De non offendendis prelatis’), but also the prohibition of any ecclesiastical person to help a layperson against churches and ecclesiastical persons (‘Ut nulla ecclesiastica persona prebeat auxilium, consilium, favorem alicui laico contra ecclesias ecclesiasticasve personas’), the ban on receiving an ecclesiastical benefit by a layperson (‘Ne quis recipiat ecclesiasticum beneficium de manu laici’), the ban on seizing church property and the duty of returning it if seized (‘De non occupandis, et occupatis restituendis bonis ecclesiasticis’), the necessity of having teachers in cathedrals (‘De magistris habendis in ecclesiis cathedralibus’),


Vinni Lucherini

the punishment for public cohabitees (‘De pena publicorum concubinorum’), the conduct to be observed during elections (‘De pratica electionum habenda’), the observance of divine worship (‘De observantia divini cultus’), the ban on pillaging (‘De prohibita depredatione’), the ban on preventing messengers or letters of the legate from reaching their destination (‘Ne quis nuncios vel litteras legati impediat, et de citatione in sua curia facienda’), prescriptions against the violators of the constitutions (‘De his qui contumaciter substinent excommunicationem’), the publication of the Constitutions (‘De receptione et publicatione constitutionem in synodis ad requisitionem regis’), the election of bishops (‘Decretum electionis’). These different points were therefore aimed at restoring peace to the kingdom and ensuring that Charles would be recognized as king. The synodal clause on the second crown is a unicum in Europe, and is justified only by the political value given in Hungary to a crown considered sacred because sent by a pope to a king, then sanctified. As soon as he arrived in Hungary, Gentile Partino realised that the problem regarding the succession of Charles to the Hungarian throne could not be resolved without having first resolved the issue of the missing sacred crown. It was for this reason that Gentile was forced to invent a second crown, a surrogate, blessed by the most powerful archbishops of the country, in such a way that Charles should be crowned with full legitimacy. This meant that the papal legate understood that it was indispensable to legalize, in the name of the pope, the use of a second crown, should the true crown of the kings of Hungary, the one sent by Sylvester II, be temporarily missing. Gentile’s words conclude that the existence of a second crown must have been incredibly exceptional, ‘contra usum’ and ‘contra legem’ (against use and against the law), completely outside of every requirement of the traditional Hungarian royal ritual. Gentile therefore had to worry about legally justifying its legitimacy with the issuance of an official act that would be valid until the issue of a new standard. The crown of Hungary was the kingdom’s highest symbol of identity, even though the ‘holy crown’ that is now kept in the Palace of the Parliament, brought back to the country in 1978 after the Americans took it to Fort Knox in Kentucky in 1945, couldn’t be the one sent by Sylvester II in the year 1000, but an assemblage of pieces (a lower diadem, called ‘corona greca’, and an upper intersecting bands, called ‘corona latina’), with different dating and provenience, certainly later than the coronation of Saint Stephen.28

 Endre Tóth, Károly Szelényi, Die heilige Krone von Ungarn. Könige und Krönungen (Budapest: Kossuth Verlag, 1996); A  Thousand Years of Christianity in Hungary, 266–68; 28

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


But it is also important to stress that the ‘holy crown’ did not represent only the materialization of a symbol or of an idea of Christendom, as could have happened in the very Christian France or on equally sacred German soil,29 but it was itself identified with the kingdom. Scholarly writing of the modern age, especially from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, well before the birth of the political theories that accompanied and followed the Ausgleich of 1867 (the compromise that led to the agreement between Austria and Hungary), summed up this concept with the expression ‘ubicumque corona, ibi et Regnum Hungariæ esse putandum sit’ (wherever is the crown, you must consider that there is also the kingdom of Hungary), as one can read in De monarchia et sacra corona Hungariae written by the Hungarian Count Peter de Rewa (Péter Révay, 1568–1622), first published in 1613.30 The Synodal Constitutions institutionalized and legitimized the use of a surrogate crown, a crown created whenever necessary, but at the same time, through this never-before-seen act, they actually tried to remove the symbolic value from the ‘holy crown’ — the value it had held for centuries in the coronation of the kings of Hungary. In order to legitimize a new crown, even one devoid of history that had never been on the head of a king, meant undermining the political value of a sacred symbol, recognized as such by the Hungarian aristocracy and clergy. But the Hungarian monarchy was affected by sanctity to such an extent that Gentile’s Constitutions, though issued in the name of the pope and on penalty of excommunication, had no effect on the kingdom of Hungary. It was for this reason that the coronation of Charles, described in the document of 15 June 1309 quoted above, was considered just as a temporary coronation. Although the Synodal Constitutions had just legitimized the use of a different crown than that of Saint Stephen, the lack of the real sacred crown on the head of Charles had to be a more than acceptable justification for his enemies not to respect the oath of 1308, considering the symbolic and sacred imagery of the monarchy and its ceremonial practices. In June 1309, faced with nobility that continuously broke that oath, Gentile di Montefiore must have understood the necessity to have the crown returned, at any cost, from the Transylvanian voivode. Various documents attest to the La Sainte Couronne de Hongrie, monographic issue of Acta Historiæ Artium XLIII (2002), 3–111. 29  Percy  E. Schramm, Herrshaftszeichen und Staatssymbolic (Stuttgart: Monumenta Germaniæ Historica Schriften, 1954–56). 30  Lucherini, ‘La prima descrizione’, 488.


Vinni Lucherini

difficulties of the negotiation that occurred in those months, but the crown finally reached the hands of the pope’s legate, and Charles was able to put down the surrogate crown that he had worn for about a year, and was crowned, in the end, as he should have been, with the crown of Saint Stephen, by the archbishop of Esztergom, and in the church of Székesfehérvár,31 on 27 August 1310.32 The Hungarian monarchy based its legitimacy not only on the authority of the Arpad dynasty, a dynasty of saints, and not only on the consensus of the barons and high prelates, but also on the ceremonial use of an art object, exceptionally made, which brought together all the sacred connotations of a kingship that had its earliest origins in a saint king. The strategies of legitimation of the Hungarian monarchy, whose territory was considered by the papacy as its own feud, passed through a political use of the theological element and for a theological interpretation of the political fact.

Fig. 4. Spišská Kapitula (former Szepeshely), St  Martin Cathedral, mural painting (1317), Charles I, king of Hungary, crowned by the Virgin.

31  A medieval mural painting (Fig.  4) represents this event: Iván Bertényi, László Szende, Anjou-királyaink és Zsigismond kora (Budapest: Officina Kiadó, 2011), 53–56; Vinni Lucherini, ‘Raffigurazione e legittimazione della regalità nel primo Trecento: una pittura murale con l’incoronazione di Carlo Roberto d’Angiò a Spišská Kapitula (Szepeshely)’, in Medioevo: natura e figura, ed. Arturo Carlo Quintavalle (Milano: Skira,2015), 675–87. 32   We could say that the Angevin rule of Hungary beginns, in fact, since this ceremony. About the institutional organisation of Hungary during the fourteenth century see now L’Ungheria angioina, ed. Enikő Csukovits (Roma: Viella, 2013).

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


Appendix De corona regis ‘Antiquorum habet relatio, declarat quoque historia incliti confessoris beati Stephani primi regis Hungariæ, quod in ipso felici primordio, quo dominus Ihesu Christus per ministerium præfati regis regnum ipsum ad fidem christianitatis adduxit, ipsius in terris vicarius, Romanus pontifex, regi præfato suisque in personam eiusdem catholicis successoribus universis sacram destinavit coronam, ut dicti regis et regni eo evidentius appareret nobilitas cresceretque devotio, quo ipsius caput nobilior atque devotior decoraret ornatus. Quia vero coronam eandem, ut de aliis mobilibus sæpe contingit, possibile est effractione, ignis consumptione, ac innumerabilibus quasi casibus inopinatis deficere vel confundi, nonnumquam vero abscondi ad tempus, vel occupatam per violentiam detineri, ut pluries retroactis evenisse temporibus, et ad præsens facti evidentia manifestat, officio nostro congruere arbitramur, ut circa corone præfate violentam occupationem, quæ in præsentiarum imminet, et quæ posset multipliciter imminere, deinceps salubre apponentes remedium, magnifici principis domini Karoli inclyti regis Hungariæ suorumque successorum et regni prædicti præsentibus et futuris incommodis occurramus. Si enim præsenti eiusdem corone occupatione vel futura durante, regnum ipsum debita reformatione careret, illud sequeretur absurdum, quod ea irrecupabiliter occupata seu cuiuscumque casus eventu deperdita vel consumpta, irreparabiliter confunderetur et regnum. Cui etiam consequens esset, quod non solum potentes et nobiles, verum inferiores qualibet eidem regi et regno frequenter illudere possent, ac eorum tota potestas ex illorum videretur dependere arbitrio, sicque domino prevaleret, furis meliorque foret, quam regis, conditio violenti (sic). De consilio igitur et assensu venerabilium in Christo patrum et dominorum archiepiscoporum, episcoporum et baronum regni prædicti præsentium duximus statuendum, quod corona præfata, quæ per nobilem virum Ladislaum Voyuand (sic) detinetur ad præsens, nisi usque ad proximum futurum concilium, in præsenti concilio ordinatum nobis libera et expedita restituta fuerit, ex nunc præsentis constitutionibus vigore sit penitus interdicta, et pro interdicta, profana et reproba tamdiu ab omnibus habeatur, quamdiu per ipsum Ladislaum vel quemcumque alium sic detenta fuerit, et quousque ad manus nostras seu legitimi regis vel Albensis ecclesiæ, ad quam ­spectare dinoscitur, libere fuerit restituta, et quod alia fabricetur, quæ per


Vinni Lucherini

nos, nomine Romanæ Ecclesiæ, eidem regi et regno donetur, et per nos seu auctoritate nostra benedicatur sollemniter, qua in locum succedente prioris, dictus rex successoresque sui coronetur, eamque auctoritate nostra, ut prædicitur, benedictam, tam rex et successores prædicti, quam barones et nobiles, ac populus universus, pro vera et legitima corona perpetuo recipere debeant et habere. Juris enim declarati existit, quod in locum alterius eadem autoritate subrogata res quælibet iure, quo illa censeatur eodem illiusque generaliter sortiatur naturam, in cuius locum substituitur et honorem. Quod si corona præfata, rehabita seu alia fabricata, et auctoritate nostra benedicta, de novo occupari, abscondi, deperdi, vel sic deficere, quod ad usum debitum non possit haberi, quoquomodo contingat, volumus quod per venerabilem in Christo patres dominos Strigoniensem et Colocensem archiepiscopos, de consilio et consensu omnium vel maioris partis suffraganeorum suorum, interdicatur sic occupata vel perdita, quousque, occupatione cessante, prædicta corona eadem in Albensi ecclesia reposita fuerit, seu regi legitimo liberaliter restituta, et alia similiter, nomine Romanæ Ecclesiæ, fabricetur et benedicatur, quæ taliter benedicta pro vera et legitima habeatur ab omnibus, ut de benedicenda auctoritate nostra superius est statutum. Si autem præfati archiepiscopi inter se concordare vel consensum maioris partis suffraganeorum suorum habere nequiverint, super eo, quod fieri debeat, sedes apostolica consulatur. Totiensque prædicta iuxta modum superius declaratum fieri possint et debeant, quotiens eventus necessitatis suaserit sic agendum. Cupientes insuper ut quos, reverentia Dei, amorque virtutis a malo non revocat, formidine saltem pæne perterriti assuescant odisse peccatum, statuimus ut, si quis deinceps in eam temeritatem proruperit, quod præfatam sacram coronam, seu eam vel eas quas illius loro subrogari contigerit, per se vel alium publice vel occulte furtive subripiat, vel per violentiam occupet, seu in lesionem et damnum legitimi regis, qui pro tempore fuerit, atque regni eiusdem, quoquomodo detineat vel usurpet, seu subripienti, occupanti, detinenti vel usurpanti prædictis, sub quovis colore quæsito, auxilium, consilium dederit vel favorem, cuiuscumque præminentiæ, status et conditionis existat, eo ipso sententiam excommunicationis incurrat. Et siquidem prædicta vel eorum aliquod publice fecerit seu fautor fuerit facientis, omnibus feudis, concessionibus, privilegiis vel quibusvis gratiis, quæ a Romana vel alia quacumque Ecclesia obtineat, sine spe restitutionis, præsentis constitutionibus vigore perpetuo sit privatus. Si vero clericus fuerit, dignitatibus, ecclesiis et beneficiis omnibus, quæ obtinet, se privatum, et ad obtinendum inhabilem, et nihilominus excommunicationis sententiam, etiam si episcopali et supra dignitate præfulgeat, incurrisse noverit ipso facto.

The Hungarian Constitutiones ­Synodales of 1309 and the ‘Holy Crown’


Si autem universitas fuerit, interdicto, et nihilominus universitatis eiusdem principales auctores excommunicationi subiaceant, et demum, nisi cum offendentes resipuerint, cum Dathan et Abiron, quos terra vivos absorbuit, accipiant portionem. Nullus insuper, præter quam in mortis articulo et satisfactione præmissa, a dicta sententia excommunicationis absolvi, nec interdictum ipsum relaxari valeat, sine Apostolicæ sedis vel nostra licentia speciali’.33

  Monumenta Vaticana, 273–75.


Part Two The Practice: Modes of Transferences and ­Interferences III. Representations

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux: An Original System of Theological-­ Political Representations between Self-Celebration and Propaganda Xavier Barral i Altet


hroughout the Romanesque period visual representations of history (painted, sculpted, embroidered) employed narration as a literary technique, due to its communication and propaganda advantages. Monumental artworks depicting historical narrative cycles came to be one of the Middle-Ages major creations, based and inspired on famous Late Antique models. Artworks created a parallel universe to literature through the use of images which visually expressed the relationship among events, legends, and historical truths. The sequence of scenes explained a story through series of encoded gestures, known in the collective subconscious, such as the effects of perspective, repetition, positioning of the characters, or the presence of symbolic images. Some monuments allow us to study and follow the transmission of secular depictions, gestures and ways of representation which were custom within the narrative images of Late Antiquity and endured until the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. The analysis of such monuments allows us to comprehend the development of the visual narrative discourse, which was not only employed by secular power, but also in religious contexts, using the same civil procedures. Narrative tissues, embroideries and mural tapestries were an integrant part of the Romanesque’s building decoration, composed by sculptures, paintings, mosaics and different objects.1 Highly appreciated in the Middle-Ages, probably more than mural paintings, these hangings and narrative tissues decorated the sanctuaries’ walls, yet also, and especially, the walls of the courtroom palaces, which gathered biblical cycles along

1   Xavier Barral i Altet, ‘Tessuti intorno all’altare. A proposito del ricamo del Victoria and Albert Museum di Londra con I fiumi del Paradiso’, Hortus artium medievalium 15:2 (2006), 271–82.

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 287–311 © DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111257



Xavier Barral i Altet

with main poetical or historical subjects, either ancient or contemporaneous epical facts. Nevertheless, few samples have been preserved, especially due to the material’s fragility. In a religious context, the treasure of Girona’s cathedral, for instance, contains an important fragment of an ornamented embroidery depicting Creation scenes, a calendar, and many other religious episodes.2 Additionally, we can state at least one of these prestigious tissues from the twelfth century in Cologne, in the Religious Art Museum in the cathedral.3 I aim to focus this article on a monumental artwork which probably embellished a civil residence: the Bayeux Embroidery (now preserved at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, in Bayeux, France), which is the most important medieval narrative cycle of its kind currently preserved. It measures over 70 meters long and 59 centimeters wide, and portrays the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, who defeated Harold’s English army at the battle of Hastings in 1066 (Fig. 1).4

2   Pere de Palol, El tapís de la creació de la Catedral de Girona, Barcelone, 1986; Joaquí Yarza Luaces, Entre lo medieval y la tradición clásica: el‘ tapiz’ de la creación de Girona. Lliçó inaugural del curs 2007–2008, (Amics de l’art romànic), Barcelone 2007; id., El tapís de la Creació (Bibliofilia 62), Barcelone 2007; Manuel Castiñeiras, El Tapís de la Creació (Girona: Catedral de Girona, 2011). 3   Rhein und MaasKunst un Kultur 800–1400, Schnütgen Museum, Köln, 1972, I, 167–68. 4   The bibliography on the Bayeux’s embroidery until 1988 has been collected by Shirley Ann Brown, The Bayeux Tapestry. History and Bibliography (Woolbridge: Boydell Press, 1988), and Bibliographie de la Tapisserie de Bayeux (1985–1999), in La Tapisserie de Bayeux: l’art de broder l’histoire, Actes du colloque Cerisy-la-Salle, Pierre Bouet, Brian Levy, François Neveux, eds, Caen 2004, 411–17.After this date see Suzanne Lewis, The Rethoric of Power in the Bayeux Tapestry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Pierre Bouet, Brian Levy, François Neveux, eds, La Tapisserie de Bayeux: l’art de broder l’histoire (Caen: Presses Universitaires de Caen, 2004). See also David  M. Wilson, La Tapisserie de Bayeux (Paris: Flammarion, 2005); Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry (Woolbridge: Boydell Press, 2005); George Beech, Was the Bayeux tapestry made in France? The case for Saint-Florant of Saumur (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Martin  K. Foys, Karen Eileen Overbey, Dan Terkla, eds, The Bayeux Tapestry. New Interpretations (Woolbridge: Boydell Press, 2009); Michael John Lewis, Gale  R. Owen-Crocker, Dan Terkla, eds, The Bayeux Tapestry. New Approaches (London: Oxbow, 2011); Gale R. Owen-Crocker, The Bayeux Tapestry. Collected Papers (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012). Concerning the borders: Peter Klein, The borders of the Bayeux Tapestry: visual gloss or marginal images?, in Le plaisir de l’art du Moyen Âge. Mélanges en hommage à Xavier Barral i Altet (Paris: Picard, 2012), 626–42. See also Xavier Barral i Altet, ‘Chiese e paesaggio rurale in epoca romanica: qualche riflessione a partire dal ricamo di Bayeux’, Hortus artium medievalium 14 (2008), 113–18; Idem, ‘Edward rex: il contesto architettonico nella prima scena del ricamo di Bayeux’, Ikon 5 (2012), 139–50.

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 1. Bayeux embroidery. Departure of Harold.

The Bayeux Embroidery is exceptional in many ways: on the one hand, because of its length, on the other, due to its preservation condition; but above all, because of its rich content, depicting a collective imaginary of the Middle Ages, and displaying a major source of information in order to visualize daily life in the eleventh and first half of the twelfth centuries. Moreover, and exceptionally, the Bayeux Embroidery allows us to envisage what could have been the decoration of a civil dwelling in the Middle-Ages, and although subsequently it has been employed for the cathedral’s decoration, we know that castles and palaces in the Romanesque period also possessed these sort of mural embroideries. Every single episode of the England conquest concerning William, the Duke of Normandy, is depicted: campaign departure, crowd movements, negotiations, battlefields, sieges, betrayals, feasts. The whole tissue is framed by two borders showing fantastical animals, monsters or fables, such as the one of the crow and the fox, and combatants, ­participating within the broader story. The origin and raison d’être of the Bayeux Embroidery is still currently a subject of controversy.5 Which was its destination? For what purpose was it created? To which extent are the narrated facts depicted accurate? Some scholars assure it was manufactured in England, whilst others tend towards a local production, maybe even Bayeux. It is also difficult to judge whether it was a contemporary report of events, a slightly posterior illustration of the narrative facts, or even the restitution of an event only known through other historical or iconographical sources. I  do not aim to deny that the Bayeux Embroidery, which narrates a particular event between Normandy

 Michel Pastoureau, La broderie de Bayeux: un programme introuvable? In Jean-Marie Guillouët, Claudia Ravel, eds,. Le programme: une notion pertinente en Histoire de l’art médiéval? (Paris: Le léopard d’or, 2011), 95–134.



Xavier Barral i Altet

and England, contains local elements of regional Norman culture or even from the main cultural centers from across the Channel. Within the vast bibliography accompanying the Bayeux Embroidery for the last three centuries, we can often find emphasis on the controversy concerning the origins and the place of manufacture of this artwork: Bayeux or Canterbury. Some scholars have surveyed the Scandinavian contributions, focused on technical armament progress. But in my opinion, as aforementioned, the embroidery evidences a very strong dependance on Late Antique culture, rendered by the cultural background, the embroidery’s backdrop story, along with the punctual representations, architectures, gestures and mise en scène. The creator of the embroidery’s iconographic program seems keen on the major monumental narrative expressions from Late Antiquity (the Roman columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, the Arch of Constantine),6 and at the same time appears to be inspired by the sequential procedures of the sarcophagi designs, such as the miniaturized architecture or the gestures accompanying unheard words, evidenced by the silent conversations.7 These analogies are related to the knowledge of the ancient histories and monuments, but can also be traced within the procedures followed when translating texts into images: the dynamics and procedures of representation, approach of movement, visual strategies, effects of perspective, depth, proportions, shadows, format, and the representation of details such as feet, pointed fingers, eyes, beards,  etc. The presence of inscriptions commenting and explaining the images creates a very interesting relationship between text and image, as a result of a profound reflection on the effectiveness of repetition.8

 Concerning this issue see also Otto Karl Werckmeister, The Political Ideology of the Bayeux Tapestry, Studi medievali, 1976, reprinted in Romanesque Art and Ideology. Reprinted Articles, Los Angeles 1978, 119–92; Gale R. Owen-Crocker, ‘Stylistic Variation and Roman Influence in the Bayeux Tapestry’, Peregrinations 2:4  (2009), 51–96. On the role played by the Antiquity on the Bayeux’s embroidery: Alda Pellegrinelli, La narrazione figurata di Bayeux e la tradizione classica (Udine: Leonardo, 2007). 7   Xavier Barral i Altet, ‘The Role of the Legacy of Late-antique Sarcophagi in the Narrative Style of the Bayeux Embroidery’ in Ivan Foletti ed., Antique Memories, (Roma: Viella, 2014), in print. 8   Xavier Barral i Altet, Observations sur la fonction et les stratégies de représentation des images de l’Apollonius de Budapest au début de l’époque romane, in Apollonius pictus. An Illustrated Late Antique Romance around 1000. Facsimile Edition of the Historia Apollonii regis Tyrii (National Széchényi Library, Budapest, Cod.  Lat. 4), (Budapest: Bibliotheca Nationalis Hungariae, s.d. [2011]), 127–42. 6

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


I believe that the conception of the Bayeux Embroidery is extremely indebted to the transmission of narrative models, especially from Late Antiquity.9 Even in the Middle Ages, the major impact that the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius prompt to those visitors traveling to Rome was subsequently recognized within the artistic ateliers of the Romanesque period (Fig. 2). The narrative arrangement used in the Bayeux Embroidery is really close to the one of the Roman columns; in either case a long story in images and a staging of the account of events is displayed.10 I am highly convinced of

Fig. 2. Rom. Colum of Marcus Aurelius.

  Xavier Barral i Altet, ‘Observations sur l’organisation narrative de la broderie de Bayeux et ses rapports avec l’Antiquité’, Les Cahiers de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa XXXIX (2008), 31–46. 10  Regarding Medieval narrativity, see: Herbert  L. Kessler, Marianna Shreve Simpson, eds, Pictorial Narrative in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1985); Idem, Studies in Pictorial Narrative (London: Pindar Press,1994); Idem, ‘Storie sacre e spazi consacrati: la pittura narrativa nelle chiese medievali fra IV e XII secolo’, in Antonio Cadei, Paolo Piva, eds, L’arte medievale nel contesto: 300–1300. Funzioni, iconografia, tecniche (Milano: Jaca Book, 2006), 435–62. See also Anthony Davenport, Medieval Narrative. An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Evelyn Birge Vitz, Nancy Freeman Regalado, Marilyn Lawrence, eds, Performing Medieval Narrative (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005). 9


Xavier Barral i Altet

the strong classical cultural orientation of the artistic sources displayed in the Bayeux Embroidery, both conceptual and formal, and on the fact that it is an artwork that reflects the creators’ own environment. The reason of my determination is underpinned by the conviction that the Middle-Ages, and particularly the Romanesque Middle-Ages, had a fixation on Antiquity, the Late Antiquity, but also on the Christian Antiquity of Rome. Prelates and seigneurs travelled frequently to Rome, the former in search of the relics and sanctuaries of the Christianity, and the latter searching for the recognition that the papacy could confer to the civil powers.11 As I have been invited to consider the political use of the sacred in medieval images, I would like to draw my attention on a specific subject: the scenes of collective meal and their symbolic meanings. The medieval feast represents a moment of great sociability.12 Images and texts insist that the meals and banquets were a privileged place where the guests expressed their relationships and social status. It was the occasion, not only for the reunion of the members of a same community, but also for the expression of a time for fellowship and sharing. Medieval feasts were a way of displaying hierarchies, visually highlighting the social relationships within the community.13 Three different meal scenes are to be found within the narration of the Bayeux Embroidery (Figs 3–4, 7–9). They diverge not only by the historical context represented, but also due to the architectural or natural frame where the feast takes place, the sort of meal rendered, the gestures and the attitudes, and the ceremonial performance. Two of the mentioned scenes could actually comprise a single one composed of two successive episodes. By studying every

11   Xavier Barral i Altet, ‘Apropiació i recontextualització de l’antic en la creció artística romànica mediterrània’, in Manuel Castiñeiras, Jordi Camps, eds, El romànic i la Mediterrània. Catalunya, Toulouse i Pisa. 1120–1180, exhibition catalogue, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, 29 febrer–18 maig 2008, (Barcelona: MNAC, 2008), 171–79; Idem, Contre l’art roman? Essai sur un passé réinventé, Paris, Fayard, 2006, 194–208. 12   Massimo Montanari, ‘  Convivi e banchetti  ’, G.  Musca, V.  Sivo, eds, Strumenti, tempi e luoghi di communicazione nel Mezzogiorno normanno-svevo. Atti delle XI giornate normannosveve, Bari 26–29 VIII 1993, 323–44. 13   Banquets et manières de table au Moyen Age, ‘  Sénéfiance  ’, 38, Universitéde Provence, Centre d’Aix, 1996; Jean-Louis Flandrin, Carole Lambert, Fêtes gourmandes au Moyen Age, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1998;; Eric Birlouez, A la table des seigneurs, des moines et des paysans au Moyen Age, Ouest France, Rennes, 2011; V. Dassen, M.-C. Gérard-Zai, Art de manger, art de vivre. Nourriture et société de l’Antiquité à nos jours, Gollion (Ch), 2012. Concerning Antiquity: C. Grandjean, Ch. Hugoniot, B. Lions, eds, Le banquet du monarque dans le monde antique, Tours-Rennes, 2013.

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 3. Bayeux embroidery. Feast of Harold and Harold’s fleet departure.

Fig. 4. Bayeux embroidery. Feast of Harold.

micro-motif of the feast scenes in a detailed way, I aim to better understand the background and cultural context, as well as the promoters’ aspirations by means of the instructions given to the artists. In order to ­satisfactorily comprehend these scenes, understanding either possible ­continuities or


Xavier Barral i Altet

iconographic ruptures, I  have surveyed comparable depictions from other monuments, studying the elements of movement and separation. Examining the motion of the figures becomes a significant fact within the analysis of the narrative scenes,14 along with the visual strategies, the perspective games, the depth, the proportions, the shadows, the colors, the characters format, the chosen food, the way of consuming it and, particularly, how the figures are displayed. It is fundamental to perceive the communication strategies hidden behind the composition of the apparently quotidian scenes. The two (or three) feast scenes on the Bayeux Embroidery display two crucial moments of the history and action described. The first shows Harold in a feast, who is celebrating before his difficult sea journey (Figs 3–4). The second features William organizing a feast and taking care of his men’s subsistence, feeding the troops after landing at Pevensey, moments before the final attack (Figs 7–9). These two decisive moments are bonded to the fact of territory possession. In the first scene, Harold bids farewell to his hometown, whereas in the second, William takes early possession of the Anglo Saxon kingdom. The first meal scene appears immediately at the beginning, after the representation of the church of Bosham in which Harold requests holy protection, and before the boarding of the troops and Harold’s fleet departure (Figs 3–4). The scene displays a typical medieval feast within a palace. The building is featured as a two level structure, showing a ground floor with arcades and capitals, which seems to represent either a palace courtyard with porticos or a portico open to the street, and a first floor or noble floor, where the ceremonial, reception and private rooms were usually located (Fig. 5).15 The architectural structure is covered by a framework and a roof with colored tiles. At one side a large and open staircase with seven steps gives access to the first floor. Apparently it is placed outside the construction, and it seems as if the first floor is opened from the staircase side. The representation probably depicts the majestic courtyard of a palace with an intern court, that has an 14  Regarding the gestures, see: Jean-Claude Schmitt, La raison des gestes dans l’Occident médiéval (Paris: Gallimard, 1990); John Anthony Burrow, Gestures and Looks in Medieval Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); for the embroidery, see: Gale R. Owen-Crocker, ‘The Interpretation of Gesture in the Bayeux Tapestry’, Anglo-Norman Studies 29 (2007), 145–78. 15   Viure a Palau a l’Edat Mitjana. Segles XII–XV (Girona, Centre Cultural Caixa Girona, 16 juliol–19 setembre 2004), Xavier Barral i Altet, ed., Girona, Fundació Caixa Girona, 2004; (Vivre au palais à Montpellier et en Languedoc au Moyen Âge. xi e–xv e siècles (Montpellier, Musée Languedocien, 22 octobre–15 mars 2005); Vivir en palacio en la Edad Media. Siglos XII–XV (Segovia, Torreón de Lozoya, Caja Segovia, 23 marzo–22 mayo 2005).

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 5. Girona. Medieval palace.

open staircase allowing the access from the court to the first floor. To understand the location of the feast, we can envision an open gallery facing the central court, as if the artist’s aim was to show the inside of the palace and, within this, the splendor of the dining room. Furthermore, I would like to underline what apparently seems an architectural anomaly in the palace’s representation. As other scenes portrayed within the embroidery, the palace can be simultaneously observed from the inside and the outside; in this case, we can discern from the outside the ground floor level with arcades, as well as the roof, whereas the meal scene is placed under the roof, that is, in the inside, although in this particular case we can hypothesize some kind of balcony, loggia, or room with large windows, such as a gallery. The anomaly can be observed on the right side of this structure (Fig. 3): the inside space appears opened and the roof is in suspension, without any support. However, on the left side, there is a very high column rising through the porch level and the first floor, placed on a base and surmounted by a capital and abacus sustaining the roof. On the right side, this column does not exist. Its absence creates an architectural disequilibrium difficult to explain within the construction’s general balance plan, yet it was definitely required for the conception of the iconographic program in order to visually explain the connection between the scene that takes place inside the palace and the departure of the following scene located on the beach and in the sea. This visual link is accentuated by the gesture of the character placed at the top of the staircase; a figure that plays a connection role between two scenes; he is turned towards the inside and the feast, discussing with the guests, yet


Xavier Barral i Altet

with his arm, his hand’s direction and his stretched finger, he points out to the following scene. Harold is featured both in the feast and in the following representation, therefore the figure does not point at the scene, but indicates the evolution of the history, as if he is inviting the guests to move forward to the following events, aiming to accelerate the story. A second character, placed on the forth step of the staircase, belongs, already, to the departing group, to Harold’s cortege. His right hand stretched behind him and placed behind the main character’s leg shows us clearly the continuity and the link between the two scenes. As a result, the absence of the architectural element, the column, and the apparent disequilibrium due to the absence of the roof ’s support must be, in this case, interpreted symbolically. The absence has been used to give a sense of continuity between a fixed scene that takes place inside the building, and the movement of a departure scene developed on the outside. Additionally, the feast takes place on the first floor of a noble building, sometimes identified as Harold’s manoir at Bosham.16 I underline the fact that it occurs on the first floor, because the arcades and columns situated on the ground floor of the image in no case must be mistaken by a rectangular table or support. The scene intended to depict a collective event with great solemnity located within a framing architecture, a loggia or opened room, the solarium of the laubia. The table, long and rectangular, like the ones observed in the dining rooms of the contemporary Romanesque and Gothic palaces (Fig.  6), displays the cutlery and the different objects, and can be confused with the loggia’s or balcony’s edge. The figures are placed one next to the other, without a superposition hierarchy, which is rendered by the character’s format. Only the two central men, such as Harold, appear to be slightly bigger than the others, and their conversation, which excludes the other guests, is staged in the composition line. When observing the feast representation frontally, two characters can be distinguished on the left side drinking, eating and speaking about the maritime departure, thus only the one situated on the right can really speak, since the other figure is drinking. Doubtlessly the men refer to Harold’s figure, as evidenced by the character’s gesture, placing his hand immediately behind the Duke. A figure who is not participating directly in the meal is portrayed on the other side of the central group, although he is holding a drinking horn, and attempts to take part in the conversation between the two main characters. He addresses to

 David Wilson, La tapisserie de Bayeux (Paris: Flammarion, 2005), 174.


Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 6. Medieval feast in a palace (Oxford Bodleian Library MS Bodley 264).

them by pointing to the next scene, exhorting them to depart. Therefore, all the conversations that take place revolve on the subsequent boar surrounded by the apostles ding scene which appears to take place once the hunger and thirst are satiated. Nonetheless, neither varied or abundant plates or servants are depicted within the feast that precedes the departure, namely the last meal before the military events. The main character is placed almost in the center, drinking from a wide bowl-shaped cup or crock of open edges. It is a kind of vessel different from the ones displayed on the table and feasts from other scenes, which probably contained food instead. Likely, Harold is the person drinking from the bowl which has a lip encircled by a green and black border ended with a red edge. This detail differentiates Harold’s cup from the one observed in William’s representation which we will subsequently analyze.


Xavier Barral i Altet

It seems as if it was wooden, earthenware, or metal glass, with a metal top edge that came in contact with the mouth, rather different from the common cups.17 It appears to be a ‘solemn drinking party’, an aristocratic and military meeting. This mixture between the table pleasures — an inexistent table at a material level — and the political meeting (there are not women in the scene), is exclusively civil, with no representatives of the Church, also absent in the previous scene in which Harold prays before the political campaign. The church hierarchy will not appear in the embroidery until the scenes related to William of Normandy. Previously, religious buildings can be stated, although no ecclesiastical figure accompanies or blesses Harold. The other two feast scenes are juxtaposed and placed much further in the Bayeux embroidery’s narrative story (Figs 7–9). Moreover, the scenes seem to depict only one sequence of events yet they display two highly differentiated iconographic interpretations. The episode is placed shortly after the landing of William’s army on the Island. The Normans, after hunting, are preparing to celebrate a rich meal, a great feast from the earned loot. The action shows the preparations for the meal, the cooking that takes place in large pans, the baking of bread or cakes, and the roasting of chickens or small birds. On the left side, a long sequence of culinary episodes displays the different arrangements. A cooking scene shows a cauldron, and above it, a shelf displaying skewers that hold meat waiting to be eaten. Immediately after, we

Fig. 7. Bayeux embroidery. Cooking scenes. 17  Dominique Allios, Le vilain et son pot. Céramiques et vie quotidienne au Moyen Age (Archéologie et culture), Presses Universitaires de Rennes, Rennes, 2004.

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux

Fig. 8. Bayeux embroidery. Feast preparations and servants eating.

Fig. 9. Bayeux embroidery. Feast of William and Odo.



Xavier Barral i Altet

can observe a character cooking a different kind of food in a metallic oven on the outsides, maybe bread, and again probably skewers. Two other servants walk by an architectural construction, representation we will underline because its design is performed as the palace described above, where the precedent meal takes place. The architecture represents two towers and a conic roof, or a lowered half-arcade roof, that symbolizes a closed architecture. Firstly, we observe a soil line that connects this architecture to the following scene, where the feast is being prepared, ending just before the main meal. This line probably indicates the separation between the scenes of the servants meal and the episcopal banquet. The architecture is closed by a tower on the left side, yet appears unstable on the right side, observing that the inferior two-thirds of the tower do not exist, and in its place we find a human figure. This resource suggests that the cooking of the meal takes place on the outside, whereas the arrangements and the feast scene occur inside, represented by two spaces that are not figured within an architectural frame, yet which are clearly differentiated by the soil line separating the antechamber and the honor room where the meal takes place. We can observe the arrangement of the dishes within the space that precedes the meal room, rendering the action on two tables which are, actually, upturned battle shields placed on some kind of wooden trestle or, at least, their shape recalls a protection or combat shield. On the scene depicting the feast preparations we observe the cooking of birds, hares or poultry on a griddle, accompanied by other ingredients and foods displayed in ceramic or wooden recipients, ready to be served. Possibly the servants and secondary characters were also eating and drinking, although one of them carries a horn and is announcing the arrival of the food, unless he is drinking or tasting the wine before serving it, whilst the other servants are eating, as stated by the inscription situated immediately above them. Note that the character carrying the horn blows it in the opposite direction to the guest who is drinking in the scene of Harold’s feast. His movement is analogous to the sailor depicted blowing a horn in one of the ships of the fleet. We must therefore imagine that he is announcing the meal, although we do not exclude that he is tasting the wine before being served, using in this case a horn equipped with a bottom piece which allows to drink, such as the horn from the thirteenth century preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles in the BNF at Paris (Figs 10–11). Differing from these popular representations, the main meal scene is symbolic and very solemn, and highly inspired in the Late Antique feast representations which display Christ in the centre, surrounded by the apostles

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 10. Paris, BNF Cabinet des médailles. Horn (eleventh century) from SaintDenis.

Fig. 11. Paris, BNF Cabinet des médailles. Horn (thirteenth century) from SaintDenis.


Xavier Barral i Altet

who are in a lower position, all seated beyond a sigma-shaped table (Fig. 9).18 William has invited his noblemen to a honor feast presided symbolically by Bishop Odo, who, as stated by the inscription above, accompanies him and blesses the food. Odo was William’s stepbrother, son of Arlette, William’s mother, and the Knight Herluin of Conteville. Born in 1049, he was instituted as bishop of Bayeux by William when he was only twenty. Odo died in 1097. Here, the scene seems to be voluntarily unrelated from the previous preparations. On the table there is no meat dish or details referring to the aforementioned arrangements. Within this veritable performative discourse, bishop Odo, tonsured, has a central axial position, although the number of characters at each side is different, three on his right and two on his left. The second figure from Odo’s right side, seems older than the rest, portrayed with a beard similar to the one of the deceased Edward. The character acquires great prominence in the scene, not only because he turns his back to the bishop, but because he lifts his arm eclipsing even William himself, who is sitting next to the bishop. This character can be probably identified with Roger Beaumont, a bearded nobleman praised for his bravery at the Battle of Hastings by contemporary historians. By his arm gesture, he seems to desire the separation from the rest of the scene of the two men sharing bread and beverage — possibly wine — situated on the right of William and Odo.  The last character of this side points to the bread on the table, whilst the other figures appear eating, drinking and speaking. The table is abundantly served with dishes, glasses and a single knife which, as custom in medieval meals, was for the use of all the guests.19 The first character on the left side of Odo extends his left arm and points with his index finger to the bird represented on the upper border, or perhaps, and more generally, suggests the continuation of the events, clearly

 L. H. Loomis, ‘The Table of the Last Supper in religious and secular Iconography“, Art Studies, V, (1927), 71–88; Otto Nussbaum, “Zum Problem der runden und sigmaförmigen Altarplatten’, Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum 4 (1961), 18–43; Idem, Die Aufbewahrung der Eucharistie (Bonn: Hanstein, 1979); Joseph Strzygowski, ‘Der Sigmaförmige Tisch und der älteste Typus des Refektoriums’, Wörter und Sachen, I (1909), 70–80; Josef Engemann, ‘Der Ehrenplatz beim antiken Sigmamahl’, in Jenseitsvorstellungen in Antike und Christentum. Gedänkschrift für Alfred Stuiber (Münster: Achendorffsche, 1982), 239–50. 19  In a manuscript from Montecassino (MS  Cassin. 132, f.  515) dated in the eleventh century a meal scene depicting two figures using a knife and fork behind a sigma-shaped table can be observed, see: Gabriele Canuti, ‘Le posate dell’ultima cena. Una testimonianza musiva marciana sulla diffusione della forchetta da Bisanzio all’Italia’, Atti del XIII Congresso dell’Aiscom, Canosa di Puglia 21–24 II 2007, Tivoli, 2008, 323–30, ill. p. 330, fig. 5. 18

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


announcing what he indicates to bishop Odo. The attitude of this character is the only point in common between this scene and the Feast of Harold’s noblemen. The presence of a fish in front of the bishop evidences the dependance of this food-blessing scene on Late Antique models. A second fish is depicted before the character located at the end of the table, on the bishop’s left side. It seems as if the scene insists in remarking that the day when the events occurred was on 29 September, a Friday fasting day according to the Gregorian calendar, observed on the bishop’s table whereas the servants can be observed consummating meat. The question raised is why the concepteur of the images has chosen this kind of iconography? Why has he chosen to place the blessing of Bishop Odo, important ally of William the Conqueror as well as his stepbrother, sons of the same mother, behind a sigma shaped table? To understand this statement it is necessary to recall, in first place, the altars with a sigma shape that can be observed in the Roman catacomb paintings, as in the case of the well-known paintings of the so-called Greek chapel in the catacombs of Priscilla (mid-third century), in Rome, with a very wide range of meanings, alluding to the funeral banquet which refers to Christ’s Last Supper and its Eucharistic components (Fig. 12).20 In this sort of banquet representation, in which the table appears as a sigma shape, there is always a fish displayed on the table.21 The presence of the fish on Bishop Odo’s table represented in the Bayeux Embroidery becomes a key fact in order to confirm the bonds with the early Christian images: it would be difficult not to recognize by the fish a sacramental reference to the Eucharist.22 During the first apostolic ages the Eucharistic celebration, in which Christ’s Last Supper with the Apostles was perpetuated and commemorated, a real supper took place, but due to abuse and misunderstanding (attested in 1 Cor. 11, 17–22; Acts. 6: 1–3) the relation between the Eucharist and the

20  Norbert Zimmermann, ‘Zur Deutung Spätantiker Mahlszenen: Totenmahl im Bild’, Georg Danek und Irmetrud Hellerschmid eds, Rituale, identitätsstiftende Handlungklompexe (Wien: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2012), 171–86. 21  Dennis E. Smith, Hal Taussig, eds, Meals in the Early Christian World. Social Formation, Experimentation, and Conflict at Table (New York: Palgrave, 2012). 22  Concerning subsequent periods, see: Dominique Rigaux, A  la table du Seigneur. L’Eucharistie chez les primitifs italiens (1250–1497), Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1989.


Xavier Barral i Altet

Fig. 12. Rom Priscilla’s catacomb. Greek chapel.

banquets was diminished at the end of the first century.23 Instead of lying on a triclinium the participants in this ritual began to stand, arranged in a semicircle around a sigma shape table, like the one we see in the Bayeux embroidery.24 Scholars who have analyzed this liturgical subject believe that the priest or the bishop should be placed behind the table, facing the community, and by this position he celebrated the Eucharist. The concept of table is then joined to that of the Eucharistic meaning:25 we should underline the fact that the Christian altar has no connection with pagan altars, yet has a close bond with domestic tables.26 The theoretical discussion on the origin of the altars and their use in early Christianity has been discussed by liturgists for at least  Robin M. Jensen, ‘Dining with the Dead. From the Mensa to the Altar in Christian Late Antiquity’, in Laurie Brink and Deborah Green, eds, Commemorating the Dead. Texts and Artifacts in Context (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008), 107–43. 24   Joseph Braun, Der christliche Altar in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung (München: Koch, 1924); Valentin Thalhofer, Ludwig Eisenhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik (Freiburg im Bresgau: Herder, 19322), 342–76. 25  Hans-Christoph Schmidt-Lauber, Michael Meyer-Blanck, Karl-Heirich Bieritz eds, Handbuch der Liturgik (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003), 207 ss.; Ian Levy, Gary Macy, Kristen Van Ausdall, A Companion to the Eucharist in the Middle Ages ­(Leiden: Brill, 2012), specially pp. 103 ss. for the sigma-shaped table. 26   J.H Emminghaus, E. Zanini, ad vocem ‘Altare’, in Enciclopedia dell’arte medievale (Roma: Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 1991). 23

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


a century,27 although not infrequently art history and archaeological studies have often proceeded in different directions.28 In the case of the Bayeux Embroidery the representation chosen to depict the blessing of Bishop Odo was an early Christian scene, the sigma-shaped mensae, incorporating a second powerful symbol, that of the fish, along with an arrangement of the figures that, for those who are aware of the Roman catacomb’s iconography or other monumental representations such as from the mosaic of St Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, instantly recall the images of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (Fig. 13). We do not know which were the model images followed by the creator and the designer, scarcely known in northern Europe in the late eleventh or twelfth centuries. Although we can assure that, unlike the other images, the sacred symbol and theological concept was depicted for a specific use, namely political. Furthermore, it is well known that the performance of drawings to be subsequently embroidered was considered a very noble activity in England, almost sanctified, due to the fact that one of the most famous and influential creators of images destined to be embroidered was Saint Dunstan, the archbishop of Canterbury, whose hagiography attributed him, in a crescendo admiration, not only major and varied artistic skills, but also the specific episode of designing a garment for an altar decoration.29 The meal scenes in the Bayeux embroidery contribute to place the narrated story into a sort of quotidian justification of power, depicting lay and religious figures with codified gestures and movements, along with the staging of the

  For a critical review on the question of the christian altar’s origins: Alcuin Reid, ed., Sacred Liturgy. The Source and the Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2014. 28  Birgit Franke, ‘Zwischen Liturgie und Zeremoniell. Ephemere Ausstattung bei Friedensverhandlungen und Fürstentreffen’ in Nicolas Bock, Sible de Blaauw, Christoph Luitpold Frommel, Herbert Kessler, Kunst und Liturgie im Mittelalter (Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana, 33, 1999–2000), Munchen 200, 205–16. I would like to here recall what Joseph Ratzinger has written on this specific subject: ‘In nessun pasto dell’inizio dell’era cristiana il presidente di un’assemblea di commensali stava di fronte agli altri partecipanti. Essi stavano tutti seduti, o distesi, sul lato convesso di una tavola a forma di sigma. Da nessuna parte, dunque, nell’antichità cristiana, sarebbe potuta venire l’idea di mettersi di fronte al popolo per presiedere un pasto. Anzi, il carattere comunitario del pasto era messo in risalto proprio dalla disposizione contraria, cioè dal fatto che tutti i partecipanti si trovassero dallo stesso lato della tavola’: Joseph Ratzinger, Introduzione allo spirito della liturgia (Milano: San Paolo edizioni, 2001), who quoted L. Bouyer, Liturgy and Architecture (South Bend, Ind.: Notre Dame University Press, 1967). 29  Vinni Lucherini, ‘Dunstan di Canterbury (959–88) e il mito dell’artista-santo nel Medioevo occidentale’, in Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, ed., Medioevo: arte e storia (Milano: Electa, 2008), 208–24. 27


Xavier Barral i Altet

Fig. 13. Ravenna. S. Apollinare Nuovo. Wall mosaic from the nave.

characters and the social hierarchies. Perspective effects, proportions, colors, relations between the characters, and particularly various symbols, were used as means to tell a story displaying a monumental composition. Therefore, for example, the feast can be simultaneously read either as an Eucharistic or a wealthy meal by employing apparently anecdotic details which provide the imposition of big ideas, a certain morality, history and politics. On the first image, the noble’s meal inside the palace is clearly visible from the outside. But on the second one, the food preparation which appears linked to the daily life illustrates the noble’s role to feed the citizens, the country dwellers, the warriors. Finally, the meal surrounding the bishop creates a sensible and desired link between the earthly foods and the celestial ones. This scene clearly illustrates the different ways of eating together in the Romanesque period, at least in the noble environment, but the meal staging, the gestures and attitudes insist on the social structure, using the food to create a real cultural language concerning the different ways of eating jointly, a communication strategy used by the promoters and the iconographers.30 Whereas the feast table depicted in

30   Manger et boire au Moyen Age: cuisines, manières de table, régimes alimentaires, Actes du colloque de Nice, 15–17 October 1982, Nice: Les Belles Lettres, 1984; Bruno Laurioux,

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


the palace is rectangular and seigniorial, the one of the Episcopal meal is represented by a sigma shape, which is a very precise evocation of the meal tables following the antique models, represented on funeral meals in the cemeteries or within the Eucharistic meals depicted in the Roman catacombs. This sort of table continued to be represented during the Middle Ages, mainly within the scenes depicting the Eucaristic meals, and in this case, such as in Sant’Angelo in Formis (Fig. 14),31 the reason for its shape did not need any further explanations: it was enough in order to evoke the Eucharist and the Last Supper. Many medieval manuscripts, especially evangeliaries, represent this kind of table within scenes of the Last Supper, such as the ones from Canterbury or Bamberg. Previously we must recall the mosaic of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, or the panel of the golden altarpiece of Aachen, the Pala d’Oro, an example close to Bayeux Embroidery, or even from a later

Fig. 14. Sant’Angelo in Formis (Campania). Mural painting.

Le Moyen Age à table, Paris, Adam Biro, 1989; Studia alimentorum 2003–2013. Une décennie de recherche. A Decade of Research, Food and History, 10,2 (2012); Massimo Montanari, Gusti del Medioevo. I prodotti, la cucina, la tavola, (Roma: La Terza, 2013) (2 ed.). 31   The analogous table observed in the famous mural painting at Sant’Angelo in Formis, promoted by abbot Desiderio from Montecassino, represents the image of a lamb within a cup, in which we can discern references to the transubstantiation dispute, one of the issues majorly discussed within the theological debates in the eleventh century. See: Hélène Toubert, Un’arte orientata. Riforma gregoriana e iconografia (Milano: Jaca Book, 2001), 117 ss.


Xavier Barral i Altet

period, the famous golden altar piece of San Marco in Venice. A table design similar to the one featured in the Bayeux tissue can be observed, already in the twelfth century, on the small front door of Saint-Fortunat de Charlieu in Burgundy, within the representation of the episode of The Wedding at Cana, an Eucharist prefiguration (Fig. 15).32

Fig. 15. Charlieu. Saint-Fortunat. Tympanum from the small portal of the façade.

Narration through images is the best way of telling a story, of narrating the heroic facts. The Bayeux Embroidery uses inscriptions and images to address to all sorts of public, either literate or not. Yet the message that the promoters wanted to transmit was essentially political, insisting on the hierarchies and social relations between the church and power, the counts and the kings. The designer or the artists involved in the development of the events explained in the historical novel, employed a large range of experimental figurative knacks, always with a high sobriety. They separated the sequences within spaces of unequal size, without depth of field, without spectators, with an accomplished dramatization with little means; searching, simply, to illustrate the story, or even better, to create a parallel narration through the image in

32  Eliza Moses, La sculpture monumentale de l’ancien prieuré de Saint-Fortunat de Charlieu, Université de Montréal, 2007.

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


which the characters themselves, by their disposition, such as in the antique sarcophagi, confer a meaning to the story’s reading, its pauses and its rhythm. As an example I will underline two seemingly incidental details: the bowl full of liquid held by the server approaching to the table of William’s feast blessed by Bishop Odo, and the tissue hung over his arm (Fig. 9). He sustains the bowl with the right hand, whilst he rotates his left hand in order to hold the folded cloth, white colored and woven with green borders. Within the medieval feasts the act of the washing of hands was part of a very precise moment of the ritual (Fig. 16). And this is what the s­ erver ­symbolizes by

Fig. 16. Medieval (XVth Century) Royal feast with servant (British Library, MS ­Royal 15 EVI, fol. 22v).

carrying the water and the fabric, in order to wash and dry their hands. In this case the washing of the hands takes place at the beginning of the meal. This detail, from a symbolic point of view, clearly alludes to the Washing of the Hands performed during the celebration of the Holy Mass, or furthermore, the Washing of the Feet from the Last Supper. Yet this fact has not been represented in Harold’s feast, which is entirely secular.


Xavier Barral i Altet

The whole social hierarchy is condensed by the codification of gestures and movements in the narration. The representation of some characters as men of letters and others as illiterate is insignificant. It is the posterity what matters, and this posterity, where nothing is anecdotic, nothing fortuitous, nothing free, sets everything in its place: religion, power, life, the ones and the others, friends and enemies. The historical sense is based on the strength of building a reality which is a self-representation and a public communication for the present and the future. The stratagems employed to set forth this reality are based on the knacks of perspectives, ­proportions, colors, ­characters dispositions, and small symbols. The meal of bishop Odo can be simultaneously interpreted as a symbol of wealthiness or as an Eucharistic banquet. Moreover, the Latin employed in the inscription confers nobility and cannot assert but the truth, as inscriptions are a guarantee for veracity. The details, apparently anecdotic, are a means to convey the major ideas, along with the morality, the history and the politics. Everything is codified, such as the sigma shaped table symbol, which became an instrument for the use of the image in a political sense within the chronological sequence ­of the history. The Bayeux Embroidery is an artwork made for the glory of William the Conqueror, intended to ensure and promote his posterity. Therefore Harold’s feast is completely secular whereas William’s is religious, chaired by the Bishop and staged as a Eucharistic meal, or even further, as a Last Supper, an Eucharistic invitation to the ‘Feast of the Lord’. The ‘misio’ of Odo can be situated at the same level to that of Jesus. The medieval feast, in this case a solemn meal, a nobile prandium, gathers the complementarity of lay and clerical codes, yet additionally, stresses the union of the human and the divine concepts. Perhaps, even the shape of the table, characteristic of Late Antique funerary meals, could be also a reference to the funeral posterity. The Bayeux Embroidery displays an original way of using religion, and even theology, depicting the complicity of the religious authorities under political purposes, using the images of an everyday event, the food and meals, in order to suggest the divine presence exclusively on one of the parties. The aforementioned feast image consecrates the sacralization of the Norman prince’s political and military power, who has an explicit finality: to legitimate the reasons of the invasion, the war, the conquest, by conferring to Bishop Odo the function of William’s moral pillar. This is the reason why the feast of Odo and William is located just before what is probably one of the embroidery’s main scenes, that is, William in Majesty between Odo and Robert of Mortain, his stepbrothers and best allies (Fig. 17).

Romanesque Royal Banquets at Bayeux


Fig. 17. Bayeux embroidery. William in majesty between Odo and Robert of Mortain.

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms in Medieval Europe Laurent Hablot


any works have already highlighted the essential role played by coats of arms as a tool of representation and expression of the authority of the powerful. A personal symbol, the heraldic shield was also a family and a territorial emblem. It was even often the main common denominator of these three essential foundations of feudal power: the man, the lineage and the land.1 As such, the coat of arms contributed decisively to the visualization of this power: identifying its holder, marking out the space on which it imposed itself, indicating the key places of its exercise, marking the men it dominated. Everywhere, the coats of arms worked, through their abstractive abilities, towards maintaining a real and diffused presence of their holder and consolidating his authority permanently. In the Middle Ages, there was, however, no temporal power that was not of divine origin, and all royalty was then founded on Christ. There are many texts that recall this fact, from the Scriptures to the Mirrors for Princes. Thus the symbols of power kept, by definition, a particular connection with the Sacred. At the end of the Middle Ages, this connection was especially reified by the frequent and abundant representation of coats of arms in holy places, thus contributing to a real ‘heraldisation of the holy’ that makes heraldry an essential intermediary between the devoution and the eschatological hopes of the elites.2 However it seems that this heraldisation of the holy went in many cases with a real ‘sacralisation of coats of arms’ that, through texts and images, underlines more or less explicitly the divine origins of these symbols of power,

1  Michel Pastoureau, L’Art héraldique au Moyen Age (Paris: Le Seuil, 2012) et Laurent Hablot ‘Entre pratique militaire et symbolique du pouvoir, l’écu armorié au xiie siècle’, Estudos de Heràldica medieval, ed. Miguel Metelo de Seixas et Maria de Lurdes Rosa (Lisbonne: Rolho et filios II, 2012), 143–65. 2  See on this topic Laurent Hablot, ‘L’héraldisation du sacré aux xiie–xiiie siècles, une mise en scène de la religion chevaleresque?’, in Chevalerie et christianisme aux xiie et xiiie siècles, ed. Martin Aurell (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2011), 211–33.

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 313–336 ©  DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111258



Laurent Hablot

essence that reflects necessarily on their holders and was part of the elaboration of a real theological politics. This practice showed itself above all in dynasties and sovereigns for whom coats of arms at the end of the Middle Ages constituted an obvious meeting point of their multiple natures, contributing as much to consolidating the political corps of the Prince, commemorating the election of his crown and protecting the salvation of his personal body. It would appear that the kings of France were the first ones to try to give importance to the holy dimension of their heraldic symbol before being soon imitated by their relatives all across Europe, especially by the princes of the House of Anjou. The Anglo-French rivalry of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries also fueled a vigorous competition around this holy rhetoric of royal heraldry during a period that was critical in light of the redefinition of monarchical power on both sides of the Channel. But the Iberian kingdoms (Castile, Aragon, and Portugal) and the other European states were not far behind, and such a discourse was quite naturally developed, at the end of the Middle Ages by many sovereign dynasties. Sacralisation of the Coats of Arms with fleur-de-lis The dossier of the symbolism of the kings of France’s coats of arms with fleurde-lis is today well-known, thanks to the works of Colette Beaune, Hervé Pinoteau, Michel Pastoureau and many others.3 It is still useful to recall the main steps that made this symbolism significant. Around 1180, the use of fleur-de-lis as a heraldic insignia of French kings was established by Philip II of France and attested by the sources.4 Its genesis was more likely linked with Colette Beaune, Naissance de la nation France (Paris: Gallimard, 1985), Chapitre VIII: les lys de France, 321 et suiv.; Brigitte Bedos-Rezak, ‘Suger ans the Symbolism of Royal Power: the Seal of Louis VII’, Abbot Suger and Saint Denis, ed. Gerson (New-York, 1986), 95–103; Hervé Pinoteau, La symbolique royale française v e–xviii siècles (La Roche-Rigault, 2003); Michel Pastoureau, ‘Le roi des lis’, in Corpus des sceaux français du Moyen Age, t. II: les sceaux des rois et de régence, ed. Martine Dalas-Garrigues (Paris: Archives Nationales de France, 1991), 35–48; Laurent Hablot, ‘Sous les fleurs de lis. L’utilisation des armoiries royales comme outil de gouvernement par les Capétiens directs’, in Convaincre et persuader: communication et propagande aux xiie et xiiie siècles, ed. Martin Aurell (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), 615–48. 4  Hervé Pinoteau estimates that this coat of arms was chosen between 1137 et 1147, between the dubbing of the King Louis  VII and his departure to the Crusade. On this topic see also Martine Dalas-Garrigues, ‘Le rôle du sceau dans la naissance du système héraldique capétien  jusqu’au milieu du xive siècle’, Revue Française d’Héraldique et de Sigillographie 54–59 (1984–89), 154–60. 3 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


his father, King Louis VII. This belated adoption of a heraldic symbol by one of the mightiest sovereigns of the Christendom underlines that, until then, other signs and rituals were enough to express the authority of the king of France and the celestial and imperial natures of his power. Among those preheraldic signs, we must emphasize that both the particular place of a symbol of Carolingian origin, the Oriflamme of Saint-Denis, and the role that this insignia, like many others throughout Europe, played in the long process of sacralisation of heraldic signs. Indeed, on the occasion of the investiture of a new king as protector of the abbey of Saint-Denis, The King was given the Oriflamme of Saint-Denis. The iconography and the narrative sources of the time frequently retranscribe this ritual scene representing a direct delegation of the insignia by Saint-Denis himself.5 This kind of representation is quite common at the turn of the twelfth century as well as during the following centuries, and it contributed undoubtedly to the progressive sacralisation of the heraldic signs of the power, often thought as being delegated by God or his saints.6 As a complement to the Oriflamme, the Capetians then had new coats of arms that integrated it as well obvious references to the celestial world: the azure colour is for the Virgin, the fleur-de-lis as the ancient sign of the divine delegation of power and, to a certain extent, a symbol of Mary too. This symbolism implied a connection with Heaven, also expressed by the use of semé, and grew richer with a narrative and iconographic discourse that was more sophisticated, and which coalesced under the name of ‘Legend of Joyenval’.7 This is for example the case on the stained-glass window of Notre-Dame-de-Chartres on which the bearer of the oriflamme, Jean Clément du Metz, is directly invested by Saint Denis with this flag. On the Oriflamme see Philippe Contamine, L’Oriflamme de Saint-Denis aux xiv e et xv e siècles. Étude de symbolique religieuse et royale, Nancy, Université de Nancy  II, Institut de recherche régionale, 1975 et Franck Collard, ‘Ranimer l’oriflamme. Les relations des rois de France avec l’abbaye de Saint-Denis à la fin du xve siècle’, in Saint-Denis et la royauté, ed. Françoise Autrand, Claude Gauvard, Jean-Marie Moeglin (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1999), 563–81. 6  Beyond the example of the Oriflamme of Saint Denis must be quoted the rich iconography mentionning the gift of the banner by saints, especially inIitalian cities as saint Ambrose in Milan, Saint Marc in Venice. On this topic Alessandro Savorelli and Vieri Favini, ‘Santi vessilliferi: il caso delle marche’, in Santi, patroni, città: immagini della devozione civica nelle Marche, ed. Mario Carassai, Quaderni del Consiglio Regionale delle Marche 132 (2013), and also my article ”L’étendard de Jeanne d’Arc et la bénédiction des étendards au Moyen Age”, in Jeanne d’Arc à Blois 1429, ed. Colette Beaune (Blois: Société des Arts et Lettres du Loir-etCher, 2013), 47–58. 7  Beaune, Naissance de la nation, 330. 5 


Laurent Hablot

It especially develops the theme of the miraculous delivery of the arms of France to Clovis the day before the Battle of Tolbiac. This legend clearly drew its inspiration from the episode of the Battle of Milvian Bridge in ad 312, during the course of which the armies of Constantine I, whose shields were marked with the Chi-Rho expressly ordered by God, crushed Maxentius’ pagan troops. As the legend of Joyenval expanded, the intermediaries of the divine concession multiplied — God, angel, hermit, Clotilde — and worship devoted to the royal shield was elaborated.8 The sacralisation of the royal coats of arms was about to take place through the combination of great dynastic or national Saints progressively decorated with fleur-de-lis between the middle of the thirteenth century and the end of the Middle Ages. Such exemplars include not only the Virgin Mary but also Saint Denis, Saint Clovis and Saint Clotilde, Saint Radegund, Saint Michael or Saint Julian.9 This theological potential in the royal coats of arms soon took major advantage of the canonization of King Louis IX of France in 1297. The latter had incidentally enriched the emblems and the royal symbols with the figure of the crown, an iconographic materialization of the eponymous political concept, but which the sanctified king made the terrestrial equivalent of the King of Heaven’s crown of thorns.10 The reign of Saint Louis marks another blossoming phase of the heraldry as well as a flowering of the ornamental vocabulary in the countless customary and legal applications of the coats of arms. Besides, as Michel Pastoureau emphasizes, for a royal heraldry, the main advantage of the beata stirps guaranteed by King Louis IX was to free the emblematic family expression. The pride of being a Capetian was thus Beaune, Naissance de la nation, 350–52. Hablot, ‘Sous les fleurs de lis’, 12–15 and ‘Saint Michel, Archétype d’un support héraldique: l’ange écuyer’, in Autour de l’archange saint Michel, ed. Christian Lauranzon-Rosas et Martin de Framond (Le Puy-en-Velay: Editions des Cahiers de la Haute-Loire, 2012), 265–78. See also Colette Beaune, Les Manuscrits des rois de France au Moyen Age, Le miroir du pouvoir (Paris: bibliothèque de l’image, 1989), rééd. 1997. 10  About the appearances of the crown in the regalia, his symbolic and political meanings, see Hervé Pinoteau, ‘Evolution des insignes de pouvoir dans les armoiries des souverains de la France’, Vingt-cinq ans d’études dynastiques, (Paris: Editions Christian, 1982), 505–19; Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s two Bodies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), trans. Les deux corps du roi. Essai sur la théologie politique au Moyen Age, (Paris: Gallimard, 1989), 243 and sqq., see also Jean-Pierre Poly et Eric Bournazel, ‘Couronne et mouvance: institutions et représentations mentales’,, in La mutation féodale (3e rééd. Paris: Fayard, 2004), 217–36. On the theological meaning in political context: Chiara Mercuri, ‘Stat inter spinas lilium: le lys de France et la couronne d’épines’, Le Moyen Age 2004/3 (2004), Tome CX, 497–512. 8  9 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


transcribed across all Europe by the development of arms marked with fleurde-lis while French princes allowed themselves to expand and to individualise their emblematic panoplies through original crests and supporters.11 This main advantage made partly possible the concurrence of representation in which Philippe IV of France got involved against Pope Boniface VIII. This iconographic political struggle led him to erect a life-size equestrian statue at the heart of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-Paris, representing him in heraldic dress uniform as if to make himself appear in the cortege of the statues of kings in his new Great Hall of the Palace of the City.12 These processes keep growing richer in the middle of the fourteenth century. The Capetians together with their allies and relatives sitting on European thrones put forward more than ever before the French fleur-de-lis as well as the tutelary figure of Saint Louis from Naples to Prague to Budapest.13 King Charles V of France turned again to this tool of political communication (that is, the royal coat of arms), fixing officially at three the number of fleur-de-lis on the shield with the intention of dedicating to the Holy Trinity the French royalty and its coats of arms.14 This essential choice, in 1378, is explained by the theological discurse concerning the harmony between the three persons of the Holy Trinity wich is understand as a model for the king’s power, who needs to increase harmony between the different parts of the political body of the realm. This does work particulary in France but also in England. Likewise between Heaven and Earth through the holiness of his duties, the saintliness of his blood and the anointing of his coronation, the king of France acts under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.15 It was once again the Holy This aspect is particularly visible on the royal’s seals. Martine Dalas-Garrigues, Corpus de sceaux français du Moyen Age, t. II. Les sceaux des rois et de régence (Paris: Archives de France, 1991) et Marie-Adélaïde Nielen, Corpus des sceaux. T. III, Les sceaux des reines et des enfants de France (Paris: Archives de France, 2011). 12  Uwe Bennert, ‘Art et propagande politique sous Philippe  IV le Bel: le cycle des rois de France dans la grand’salle du Palais de la Cité’, Revue de l’art 97 (1992), 54 and sqq. 13  See on this topic especially Daniel Russo, ‘Les modes de représentation du pouvoir en Europe dans l’iconographie du xive siècle. Etudes comparées’ and Christian de Mérindol, ‘L’imaginaire du pouvoir à la fin du Moyen Age’, in Représentation, pouvoir et royauté à la fin du Moyen Age, ed. Joël Blanchard (Paris: Picard, 1995), 177–98 et 65–92; L’Europe des Anjou: aventures des princes angevins du xii e au xv e siècle (Paris: Somogy, 2011). 14  This modification is the subject of a royal ordinance and Evrart de Tremaugon comments this royal choice: ‘en troys flours de lis, en l’oneur et remembrance de toute la Trenité’. Le Songe du vergier, ed. Marion Schnerb-Lièvre, (Paris: Publications du CTHS, 1982), ­vol. I, 136. 15  For an analysis on the role of the devoutness in theological and political theory see the article from Nicolas Bock, ‘L’Ordre du Saint-Esprit au Droit Désir. Enluminure, cérémonial 11 


Laurent Hablot

­Trinity that received the dedication of the Sainte-Chapelle of Vincennes, a place of worship also dedicated to the holy King Louis IX and the real political heart of King Charles V’s programme. This worship of the Trinity also sparked off iconographic productions, theological works and political treatises such as Evrard de Tremaugon’s Songe du Vergier (Somnium Viridarii) that, in 1378, developed the idea of the particular support of the Trinity for the king of France. One of the iconographic impacts of this association between devotion to the Trinity and the French coat of arms is the apparition of the angel as supporter of the royal arms.16 One should emphasize the exceptional nature of this choice. Usually reserved for the holy sphere, the depiction of an angel was until then supposed to emphasize divine intervention and the relation between Heaven and Earth established to the benefit of a being or an object distinguished by God. To have the royal shield held by two angels reminded observers not only of the divine concession of the French arms, as it transpired in the time of Clovis with the divine election of the kingdom marked with fleur-de-lis, but also of the hoped for Assumption of those who would be represented by this sign at the end of times and for all eternity. Inspired by the ancient model of the imago clipeata — the soul of the deceased carried away by two winged spirits — this kind of shield supported by two angels implies not only the supposed salvation of the king but also the hoped for salvation of his kingdom and his subjects, of which the fleur-de-lis is also part of the arms. The iconographic model of the squire-angel, progressively shared by the princes of the fleur-de-lis, was soon a success across all Europe, emphasizing de facto the eschatological dimension of the coat of arms in medieval cultures.17 The assimilation of coats of arms and angels contributed to the merging in one scene of two distinct iconographic themes: the miraculous concession of the Holy Ampulla during Clovis’ christening and the granting of the fleur-de-lised arms.18 et idéologie au 14e siècle’, in Art, liturgie et cérémonial au Moyen Age, ed. Nicolas Bock, Peter Kurmann, Serena Romano et Jean-Michel Spieser (Rome: Viella, 2002), 415–61. 16  For a first point on this topic, see my article ‘Saint Michel, Archétype d’un support héraldique’, 265–78. 17  This question would deserve a more precise analysis on the geographical et chronological repartition of the figure of the angel-esquire in European heraldry. What is clear is the success of this support in heraldry of importants people at the end of the fourteenth century and then, his diffusion all over the society. On the topic see Hablot, “L’héraldisation du sacré aux xiie–xiiie siècles, “, 211–33. 18  As we can see it in Boccaccio, Cas des nobles hommes et femmes, Paris, BnF, MS Fr. 2605, f° 13.

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


The ensemble of these discourses enabled the sovereign to give the royal arms a totally new conceptual level that made it an extremely efficient support of the political theology. This efficiency can be noticed especially in the virtual granting of arms with lilies to the national or dynastic saints mentioned above or in the application to these signs of the concept of lese-majesty,19 in their systematic association to the holy dimension of the exercise of justice,20 and in the concessions and augmentations of coats of arms granted by the king.21 Those who were hence qualified as a ‘Prince of fleur-de-lis’ took over logically this emblematic potential of the ‘very Christian king’, as much to make known the role of intermediary in the power they hold as a Prince of royal blood, as to accentuate their own authority. At the same time as they were founding holy chapels and thus reminding everyone of their connection with Saint Louis, those Princes of Berry, Burgundy, Anjou, Alençon, Artois, Bourbon, Navarre, adopted in turn the crest with the squared fleur-de-lis and the angelic supporters.22 The setting of the ducal heraldry in the famous Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers, commissioned by Louis I, Duke of Anjou, is from this point of view totally revealing. Carried by angels, the ducal arms adorn the celestial world and emphasize the responsibility of the prince in the coming End Times. Manifestly then, at the end of the fourteenth century, the French fleurde-lis was a consecrated emblem that showed the sacredness of its holders. The reign of Charles VI was clearly a period of hesitation, as manifested by the development of a new emblematic system endowed with other ­rhetorical See my article ‘“Sens dessubz dessous”, Le Blason de la trahison au Moyen Age’, La trahison au Moyen Age.  De la monstruosité au crime politique (v e–xv e siècle), ed. Maïté Billoré et Myriam Soria (Rennes: PUR, 2009), 331–47. 20  We can notice that especially in the display of fleur-de-lis of Justice. On this topic: Christian de Mérindol ‘Les salles de Justice et leur décor en France à l’époque médiévale’, Histoire de la Justice 10 (1997), 5–80 et Pinoteau, La symbolique royale, 497 et suiv.; Sarah Hanley, Le Lit de justice des rois de France, (Paris: Aubier, 1991); Elisabeth A. R. Brown et Richard C. Famiglietti, The Lit de justice: Semantics, Ceremonial and the Parliament of Paris, 1300–1600 (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1994); Robert W. Scheller, ‘“The lit de justice” or how to sit on a bed of estate’, Annus quadriga mundi, ed. J.B Beadeaux et AM Koldeweij, (Utrecht: Zutphen, 1989), 193–202. 21  This question is the current topic of my habilitation thesis, Affinités héraldiques. Les augmentations d’armoiries en Europe au Moyen Age. For a first understanding on the sharing of the lilies by the kings of France see my article ‘Sous les fleurs de lis’. 22  Hablot ‘Sous les fleurs de lis’ and ‘Caput regis, corpus regni: le heaume de parement royal à la fin du Moyen Age’, in Une histoire pour un royaume, Corpus regni: politique et histoire à la fin du Moyen Âge, ed. Martin Aurell et al. (Paris: Perrin, 2010), 17–28. 19 


Laurent Hablot

functions: the badges.23 The king himself, disturbed by both an important personality disorder and an incurable nervous illness, maintained a complex relationship with his coat of arms.24 His role in the development of the royal worship of Saint Michel was justified though the emblematic exploitation of this theme by his successors. As he became the king’s squire, Saint Michael the Archangel of the Judgement, lent his white cross to the French armies at the end of the Middle Ages. From Charles  VII’s reign, the monarchs exploited at fully the heraldic and emblematic discourses of their predecessors — the holy dimension of the fleur-de-lis, squire angels, the white cross -, as justifications of divine support for the new Chosen People and ­to their king.25 If the Capetians seem to have been one of the most precocious dynasties in this political exploitation of the heraldic rhetoric, this kind of discourse was soon imitated outside of the kingdom, exceeding sometimes the French model and its initial caution. The Sacralisation of the Royal Emblem of Naples Nicolas Bock’s works on the political communication of the Angevin kings of Naples emphasize the fact that, even before the canonizations of both Saint Louis of France and Saint Louis of Toulouse, the Angevin dynasty had already exploited the theme of the holy aura of the Capetians.26 This background explains partly the imposing diffusion of the Angevin arms in the

About this emblematic system, see my Phd. thesis to be published, La devise, mise en signe du prince, mise en scène du pouvoir. 24  See Françoise Autrand, Charles VI (Paris, Fayard, 1986) p. 310–11. 25  For a summary on the topic, see Philippe Contamine, ‘Vive la croix gente, blanche et hautaine, Du beau jardin des nobles fleurs de lis. La croix droite blanche de France au xve et au début du xvie siècle’, in Signes et couleurs des identités politiques du Moyen Age à nos jours, ed. Martin Aurell et al., (Rennes: PUR, 2008), 23–44. 26  Nicolas Bock, ‘L’ordre du saint Esprit au Droit Désir’ and ‘Fideles regis. Héraldique et comportement public à la fin du Moyen Age’, in A l’ombre du pouvoir. Les entourages princiers au Moyen Age, ed. Alain Marchandisse et Jean-Louis Kupper, (Genève: Droz, 2003), 203–34. See also Jean-Paul Boyer, ‘La “foi monarchique”: royaume de Sicile et Provence (mi xiie-mi xve siècle)’, in Le forme della propaganda politica nel Due et nel Trecento, ed. Paolo Cammarosano (Rome: Collections de l’école française de Rome CCI, 1994), 85–110. See Robert Foltz, Les saint rois du Moyen Age en Occident (vi e–xiii e siècles) (Bruxelles: Subsidia Hagiographica LXVIII, 1984). 23 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


peninsula. This turn to ‘fleur-de-lis’ by Italian cities was an efficient tool of political prestige for the kings of Sicily.27 The Angevin beata stirps was naturally reinforced by the canonization of the two Saint Louis in 1297 and 1317. The altarpiece of Saint Louis of Anjou, commissioned from Simone Martini in 1317 by Louis’ brother Robert I, king of Naples, illustrates precisely the discourse of power mediated by the family saint, himself consecrated by God’s angels. The iconographic programme of this painting clearly associates the crown and the fleur-de-lis coats of arms — whose Angevin label disappears sometimes very opportunely — with the discourse of the sacredness of power. The diffusion of veneration of Saint Louis of Toulouse contributes incidentally to linking Angevin heraldry with the idea of holiness.28 The association of the Angevin arms with those of Jerusalem from 1277 further added to the sacredness of the heraldic discourse of the kings of Sicily.29 As Bock noticed, the setting of this holy dimension of royal authority appeared more than ever through the coronation on May 27, 1352, of Joanna  I, Queen of Naples and Louis of Taranto. These ceremonies were accompanied two weeks later by the transfer of the Queen Mother’s remains, wife of Robert the Wise, Sancha of Majorca, to Santa Chiara in a monumental sepulchre adorned with a sculpted programme on the theme of the regina christianissima. The ceremony continued with the foundation of the Order of the Knot, thus giving particular place to the Holy Spirit and to the Trinity and conferring a real eschatological role to the sovereign. The reproductive and political collapse of the Angevin dynasty and the rivalry with the kings of Aragon put an end to the elaboration of this rhetoric of power through vicarious heraldry. It is important to note, however, that the dukes of Anjou Louis I, Louis III and René, when they were successively adopted by Jeanne I and Jeanne II, do not fail to reap, through their heraldic panoply, the symbolical potential of both the Capetian and Valois houses, See on this topic Alessandro Savorelli’s article to be published, ‘“Les fleurs de lys y sont partout”. Origine et signification du chef d’Anjou dans l’Italie du XIII–XIV siècle’, in Partages héraldiques au Moyen Age, ed. Laurent Hablot, to be printed. 28  In this field, we could mention the statue of saint Louis de Toulouse commisionned to Donatello by the Gelfe party from Firenze in 1423 for the Orsanmichele (Firenze, Museo dell’Opera de Santa-Croce). 29  We would however notice that, in the combination of arms adopted by Charles I of Anjou from 1277, the shield of Jerusalem is on sinister — on the left side — while the shield with fleur-de-lis is on dexter — on the right side — the place of honour. Doubtlessly it is to give the preeminence to a kingdom really occupied over a simple title, as prestigious as it can be. 27 


Laurent Hablot

the holy prestige of the title of King of Jerusalem, and the holiness of Charles of Blois.30 The Aragonese kings of Naples were not able to take advantage of the symbolic potential of their predecessors’ heraldry, even though, as we will see, the Aragonese arms were hardly devoid of sacredness. If the symbolic heritage of the Capetian fleur-de-lis seems to have been decisive in the elaboration of a holy conception of the kings of Sicily’s power, Nicolas Bock suggests however that the main innovations in the matter of political theology displayed in Sicily could rather come from the Court of England.31 What about the sacralisation of coats of arms? The Hundred Years War and the Sacralisation of the Royal Arms of England The success of French practices did not go unnoticed by their English competitor. For this reason, from the second half of the fourteenth century onward, we can observe a set of discourses, texts and images that associated more and more precisely the royal emblem to the celestial world, a process that intensifed during the reign of Edward III.32 It must be acknowledged that the House of Plantagenet started out, in this area, with a certain disadvantage: the choice, at the end of the twelfth century, of their coat of arms marked with the lions.33 Indeed, unlike the fleur-de-lis that can be immediately assimilated into the vocabulary of holiness, the Christian symbolism of lions is more problematic. Admittedly, bestiaries relate the Christological dimension of the lioness’ ability to resurrect its cubs through its breath while the lion was on the verge of replacing the bear as king of the animals.34 However, the lion is first and foremost powerful, violent, and terrifying, qualities that also explain its

30  On this topic, see Mérindol’s works, ‘L’imaginaire du pouvoir à la fin du Moyen Age’, 65– 92 and especially Le roi René et la seconde maison d’Anjou. Emblématique, art, histoire (Paris: Le léopard d’or, 1987). 31  Bock, ‘L’ordre du saint Esprit au droit Désir’. 32  I want to thank Mr James Hillson, PhD student at the University of York, very much in giving to me the text of his article ‘Hagiographical heraldry and the Plantagenets — St Georges, Edward the Confessor and the arms of England c. 1259–1263’, held in Leeds, in june 2013 during the session organized by Torsten Hiltmann: Heraldry revisited. 33  On this topic, see Adrian Ailes, The Origins of the Royal Arms of England: Their Development to 1199 (Reading, Reading University Press, 1982). 34  Michel Pastoureau, L’ours, histoire d’un roi déchu (Paris: Le Seuil, 2007).

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


incredible heraldic success in a universe of warriors, but which did not constitute a major symbolic advantage for England’s royalty. Following the example of Gerald of Wales, contemporaries were not on the wrong path when they compared the fleur-de-lis to other Christian sovereigns’ heraldic emblems.35 Lastly, in heraldic language, the position of the lions on the English arms — passant guardant — qualifies them rather, from the end of the thirteenth century, as leopard, whose symbolism is more clearly negative. That fact was noticed and stressed by French heralds during the conflicts of the fifteenth century.36 The English monarchy, which could count neither on the beata stirps nor on its coronation to consolidate its power,37 had a lot to do to equal the holy potential of the royal French arms, as well as to catch up on their shortcomings in terms of royal liturgy. This hazy symbolism of the royal arms did not keep the English sovereigns from displaying them in holy places to associate them with the religious dimension of their power. Henry III of England († 1272) innovated especially through the development of an ambitious and huge heraldic programme around 1259 (perhaps inspired by a Parisian setting observed in 1254), displayed in the nave of the new Westminster Abbey dedicated to his patron saint, Saint Edward the Confessor.38 This programme

Martin Aurell, L’Empire des Plantagenêt (Paris: Perrin, 2003), ‘  Le contraste avec les Capétiens n’en est que plus frappant. Giraud de Barri l’a exprimé clairement. A la fin de ses jours, déçu par les Angevins, il reporte tous ses espoirs sur la dynastie royale de France au point d’encourager, dans l’un de ses poèmes, Louis VIII lors de son débarquement militaire sur l’île. Il considère que la vertu par excellence des Capétiens est la douceur, alors que la race diabolique des Angevins les condamne irrémédiablement à la lutte: il compare les ours, lions et léopards, bêtes féroces choisies pour leurs emblèmes héraldiques, aux fleurs de lis de leurs ennemis; d’un côté l’orgueil, de l’autre l’humilité ’. Gerald of Wales, De principis instrucione, III, 30, 320–21, Gemma ecclesiastica, Londres, 1862 (RS 21), t. 2, II, 11. I thank Martin Aurell for this information. 36  On this case see, lastly, Michel Pastoureau L’Art héraldique au Moyen Age (Paris: Le Seuil, 2012), 206–07 and Léopold Pannier, Le débat des hérauts d’armes de France et d’Angleterre (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1877). 37  On this topic see especially Jean-Philippe Genet, ‘La monarchie anglaise, une image brouillée’, in Représentation, pouvoir et royauté à la fin du Moyen Age, ed. Joël Blanchard (Paris: Picard, 1995), 93–107. 38  Matthew Paris reports the king’s stay in Paris where he is welcome for a year. Matthew Paris talk about the stay of the king in Paris during a year. He assisted to banquet in the Temple where heraldic paintings were displayed. On this quoted heraldic programme which associated the king to his relatives, saint Edouard and his barons see Michael Michael, ‘The privilege of “proximity”: towards a re-definition of the function of armorials’, Journal of 35 


Laurent Hablot

was a response to the setting painted in the king’s chamber in the adjacent palace. A chamber in which the king’s bed was conflated with King Solomon’s throne of Justice and is kept by two bailiffs and surrounded by two scenes representing the coronation of the Confessor and the exchange of a ring with John the Baptist. The virtues are associated with coats of arms: Largesse with those of the Empire and England, Debonereté with the English coats of arms, and other virtues with those of King Arthur and Edward the Confessor.39 The royal coat of arms is to be found again in the setting of the Apocalypse Douce manuscript made around 1265 for Henry  III’s successor, Edward  I († 1307) and Eleonore of Castille, in an astounding design where the Trinity, represented under the appearance of the Throne of Grace, is surrounded by the royal couple who both present it — or receive from it — a shield with the arms of England and Castilla.40 Edward I carried on his father’s heraldic practices, establishing a rich heraldic programme (1290–1300) in York Minster to enhance the royal coat of arms,41 even though his main symbolic investment turned more towards the tutelary figure of Arthur.42 The sacralisation attempts of royal emblems were much more straightforward at the beginning of Edward III’s reign, perhaps due to his mother Isabella of France’s initiative and the circumstances of Edward II’s ­deposition. They would be significantly accentuated after the expropriation of the French arms in 1337 and the exploitation of their symbolic potential to the benefit of English monarchs. Medieval History 23/1 (mars 1997), 55–74; James Hilson’s works and especially Matthew Strickland (http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/4579/1/4579.pdf ). 39  These settings are known by some designs made in 1819 by Charles Stothand en 1819. See Peter Coss, The Knight in medieval england 1000–1400 (Conshohocken: Combiner books, 1996), 87 et Paul Binski, The Painted Chamber at Westminster (Londres: The Society of Antiquaries of London, 1986). 40  Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 180, fol. 1r°. Nicolas Bock think, about this miniature painted after him before 1272, the proof of the first use by English’s royal retoric of the figure of the Holy Trinity as a model of power. Nevertheless, we should study more precisely the Capetien case, following Christian de Mérindol (‘Piété et politique dans les cours royales et princières à la fin du Moyen Age. Nouvelles lectures’, in Renaissance européenne et phénomènes religieux 1450–1650 (Montbrison: Association du centre culturel de la ville de Montbrison, 1991), 253–54). This author reminds us that Philippe VI waited for 58 days after Charles IV’s death to be sacred on the feast of the Trinity, 2 June. 41  Michael, ‘The privilege of “proximity”’. 42  See on this topic, Catherine Daniel, ‘Edouard Ier et l’identité arthurienne’, in Marqueurs d’identité dans la littérature médiévale, ed. Catalina Girbea, Laurent Hablot, Raluca Radulescu (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014), 75–89.

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


This is the iconography that first came to pass with the theme of the divine concession of the English coat of arms. For this development, the role played by royal scholar Walter de Milemete deserves emphasis in the elaboration of a discourse of sacralisation of the royal coat of arms and the representation of this theme in the manuscripts produced for the future king by his possible commission.43 In the illustration of fol. 10v° of the Secretum Secretorum that he ordered around 1326 for the future Edward III,44 the prince’s coat of arms are represented and associated with that of the king and the image of the white stag, a well-known Christological figure of divine justice and a future royal badge. In the top margin of the same folio, the prince’s coat of arms is carried by two angels.45 In the illustration of the De Nobilitatibus, sapientiis et prudentiis regum of the same artist, painted as well for the young king in 1327,46 the monarch, in a military outfit contemplating the beatific vision of the Trinity receives from the angels around him his spear, his sword and his shield marked with the English arms.47 In the margin of the same manuscript, a squire angel supports once again the king’s coat of arms while another folio illustrates the concession of the English coat of arms to the armed king by Saint George himself.48 This discourse was a response to the settings painted in Saint Stephen’s Chapel in Westminster Palace.49

Michael. A.  Michael, ‘The iconography of kingship in the Walter of Milemete treatise’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 57 (1994), 35–47; C. J. Nederman, Political thought in early fourteenth-century England: treatises by Walter of Milemete, William of Pagula, and William of Ockham (Turnhout: Brepols, 2002). 44  London, British Library, MS 47680, fol. 10v. 45  That is a piece of evidence that this motif did not wait for the Legend of Joyenval and the divine origin of the fleur-de-lis to develop with other coats of arms. It is here a truely heradric assumption. This pictures belong to those of knights dubbed by angels, see T-Richard Marks, ‘Sir Geoffrey Luttrell and some companions: images of chivalry, c.  1320–50’, in Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschischte, XLVI/XLVII (1993/1994), 343–55. 46  On the fourth folio, Edward, designed by the arms of England, is associated with his mother bearing the arms from England and France. Both sovereigns receive from an angel a four-leaf clover, symbol of the divine protection that they benefit from. 47  (Oxford, Christ Church, MS  92, fol.  3) This image is in a way a reinterpretation of an analogous scene on which Saint George, as a knight, is shown beside Thomas de Lancastre (Oxford, Bodleian Lib.  MS  Douce 231, fol.  1); quoted in Michael, ‘The iconography of kingship’. 48  Christ Church Oxford MS 92, fol. 3r°, Michael ‘The iconography of kingship’. 49  Emily Howe, ‘Divine Kingship and Dynastic Display: The Altar Wall of St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster’, The Antiquaries Journal 81 (2001), 259–303. 43 


Laurent Hablot

Edward  III’s expropriation of the fleur-de-lis from 1337 enabled him to reinforce this discourse’s association of the holy potential that had been laboriously and recently elaborated around the English arms with the already venerable and intense sacrality of the French fleur-de-lis. Edward III († 1377) multiplied the messages around this theme in the settings of his charters,50 his seals,51 his palaces,52 soon passed on by his son, the Black Prince († 1376). For example we could mentionned these lead brooches, of which several specimens were found, which represent the Black Prince receiving from God the Trinity, angels and an archangel his heraldic panoply.53 Richard II also exploited these themes that were founded on the figures of Saint George or squire angels in order to heighten the sacredness of English kings through intermediary coats of arms. We can mention for example either the new roof structure of the Great Hall of Westminster that was covered with squire angels bearing the king’s arms or the well-known Wilton Diptych in which the king receives from Christ himself Saint George’s banner, which became that of England.54 This rhetoric was partly revamped and accentuated by Richard II’s choice, around 1395, to associate by a partition Edward the Confessor’s imaginary arms with those of France and England quartered. This composition let the king benefit from an augmentation of his arms just like these sharings occured in the knightly fraternity between a

For example see the Charter of the Concession of Aquitania (Londres, Public Records Office, E30/1105), 1362, on which the Black prince’s arms are held bay angels under God in his throne. On the ornament of this royal charter see Elizabeth Danbury, ‘Décoration et enluminure des chartes royales anglaises au Moyen Age’, Bibliothèque de l’Ecole des Chartes 169 (2011), 79–107. 51  For example see the seal of Saint George’s Chapel in Windsor made around 1348 on which the king, kneeling in front of saint Georges wearing his coat of arms, set beside the arms of Arthur and Edward the Confessor (Londres, Public Records office, E42/479). 52  See in Michael, ‘The iconography of kingship’, plate 9, Saint George introducing the king since a lost design from Saint Stephen’s chapel in the palace of Westminster. 53  London, British Museum, M&LA OA 100 and London, Museum of London, TL741428. Juliet Vale, Edward III and Chivalry. Chivalric society and its Context (1270–1350), (London, Woodbridge, 1982), 50 and sqq. compare this picture to the manuscripts by Milemete and others miniature (Oxford, Christ Church, MS E. 11, fol. 5r° et la Vie du prince Noir by John Chandos, University of London Library, ULI MS 1). 54  Dilian Gordon, Making and Meaning, the Wilton Diptych (London, National Gallery Company Ltd, 1993) and Dilian Gordon, Lisa Monnas and Caroline Elam, The regal image of Richard II and the Wilton Diptych (London, Harvey Miller, 1997). 50 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


patron and a new knight.55 Moreover, Richard II makes a small group of his loyal supporters, most of them being blood-related, benefit from it, assimilating them by new heraldic concessions to his own sacredness as a person.56 If Richard  II’s new emblematic politics reflected his alliance with the king of France, the conquest of the fleur-de-lised kingdom by Henry V and the acknowledgement of his rights on the French crown by the Traité de paix finale and the Treaty of Troyes in 1420 opened a new politics of communication through representations. Henry V († 1422) hardly had enough time to develop an efficient propaganda in this field; on the other hand, his younger brother, John of Bedford, regent of the French kingdom on behalf of his nephew Henry  VI, generously appropriated the symbolic potential of the Capetian heraldry. Not content with taking over the royal collection of tapestries and manuscripts, where the emblems have an essential place, the duke of Bedford ordered sumptuous manuscripts in which he commemorated the divine origin of fleur-de-lis and also minted coins that passed on the same message, the salut d’or. A few decades later, the first earl of Shrewsbury John Talbot offered to Marguerite of Anjou, the wife of King Henry VI, a collection of texts introduced by the genealogy that glorified of the union of the two royal descendants, heightening the sacredness of the fleur-de-lis.57 The civil wars and the dynastic quarrels that shook England during the fifteenth century, regardless of whether they made the theoretical concept of the monarchy evolve,58 did not undermine the symbolic potential of the royal arms, that which kept the fleur-de-lis until the end of Queen Victoria’s The composition partly is, par excellence, the quartering of the alliance by blood. We can find it in the spouses’ coat of arms, and exceptionally, in the augmentations of arms granted on the fringes of dubbings. Richard  II’s choice is very convenient. To take Edward’s arms by partition is to say that he is from his blood, even if it has no historical sense. On this case Nicolas Fromentin, ‘L’adoption des armoiries de saint Édouard le Confesseur: enjeux idéologiques et politiques sous Richard II et Henri VIII’, Arma e Tropheus (2013), from his master II under Laurent Hablot Les armoiries d’Edouard le Confesseur: Adoption et utilisation politique d’armoiries imaginaires en Angleterre, xiii e–xvie siècles, (Université de Poitiers, septembre 2012). 56  This redistribution of an emblem already granted matches with a frequent practice in the princely courts at the end of the fourteenth century. On this topic see my article ‘“Pour contemplacion d’icelui”, formes et fonctions de la délégation de la capacité d’octroi des ordres et devises dans les cours européennes xive–xve siècles’, in Relations, échanges, transferts en Europe dans les derniers siècles du Moyen Age, ed. Jean-Marie Moeglin (Paris: De Boccard, 2009), 427–42. 57  London, British Library, MS Royal 15 E. VI, fol. 3; genealogy of Henry VI. 58  See Genet, ‘La monarchie anglaise’. 55 


Laurent Hablot

reign. Even though it is not necessarily possible to follow its chronological evolution, this process of sacralisation of coats of arms, observed in France, in Sicily, or in England, can be found actually all across Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. Papal Coats of Arms, a Prototype of arma sacra? The political potentialities of this sacralisation of the coat of arms were also adopted by the papacy that was in the best position to multiply the tangible signs of the divine nature of its authority. What about this dynamic from the heraldic perspective? In this field, the role played by Boniface VIII (1294–† 1303) is essential and made obvious by both Augustino Paravicini Bagliani’s and more specifically Edouard Bouyé’s numerous works.59 At the same time as this pope developed the symbolic attributes of the papal authority, like the tiara and the umbraculum, and as he multiplied the monumental representations, he associated, for the first time in the history of the Church, his family coat of arms with these settings.60 Being everywhere, the coat of arms of the Caetani therefore marked this pontificate both temporally and in the flesh, associating the holy and eternal duties and the pope’s temporal family. This emphasis on the family heraldry by successive popes gives another image of their duties as more secular and lordlier. It also contributed to making the heraldic sign of their family holy, just like the heraldic developments of the popes of Avignon show, via Clement VI (1342–52)61 or Martin V (1417–31) did.62 This discourse, which associated the eternal duties with family coats of arms, Amongst  A. Paravicini Bagliani’s many works, see especially il potere del papa. Autorappresentazione e simboli (Firenze, SISMEL — Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2009); Boniface  VIII. Un pape hérétique? (Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2003); Le Chiavi e la Tiara. Immagini e simboli del papato medievale (Rome: Viella, 1998). For Edouard Bouyé see especialy, ‘Les armoiries pontificales à la fin du xiiie siècle: construction d’une campagne de communication’, Médiévales 44 (2003), 173–98; ‘Les clefs de saint Pierre, sur la Terre comme au Ciel’, in Signes et couleurs des identités politiques du Moyen Age à nos jours, ed. Martin Aurell et al., (Rennes: PUR, 2008), 275–311. 60  It appears amongst others at the occasion of the Jubilee of the holy year 1300 as it is proved by the pattern of the Latran’s palace. Cateani’s arms were shown with the keys, the tiara and the ombrellino. See Bouyé, ‘Les armoiries pontificales’, 197–98 et ‘Les clefs de saint Pierre’, 303. 61  Avignon, Palais des Papes, main entrance (restaured in the nineteenth). 62  Rome, Vatican Library, MS Lat. 14701. 59 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


was also fuelled by the development of the Church’s coat of arms: Saint Peter’s keys, or more precisely a shield of gules a pair of keys crossed in saltire.63 Determined during the fifth century, this attribute of the Saint became the emblem of the whole institution from the end of the twelfth century.64 The keys appear beside the cross, on the vexillary emblems conferred by the Church to those who defend it. But they developed over the course of the thirteenth century into being the particular coat of arms of both the Church and the Papacy. From the moment when they resorted to their family coats of arms, the popes brought them almost always together with that of the Papacy, either by affixing both shields next to one another or by making the keys appear as a timbre above their own coat of arms, or as a saltire behind them, accompanied most of the time by the tiara. Both coats of arms got mixed, even with some popes who integrated the keys as the field of their arms, or those like Nicholas V (1447–55) who kept only the keys for their reign. As different specialists have emphasized, the idea here was to totally assimilate the pope as a person together with his dutiesand even beyond, with Saint Peter himself. As the nature of papal authority facing the new states of Christendom was getting established, heraldry provided the popes — whose divine sanction was beyond question — efficient means to impose themselves amongst the sovereign principalities. As a response, monarchs no longer hesitated, in the manner of the main European crowns, to sacralise their coat of arms in order to add this argument to the political theology at the base of their power. Throughout the European Courts A few examples, containing more information, highlight the importance of the question of the holiness of the coats of arms in the important political evolution at the end of the Middle Ages. Developed firstly for the benefit of the reigning lineage, this intention sometimes got mixed up with the establishment of a national sentiment based on the idea of a chosen people or race, one that shares with its prince its territory and a same unique heraldic symbol. This composition has two variations that do not seem to be significant: two keys in pal, a cross cantonned by the keys, two keys in saltire. See Bouyé, ‘les clefs de saint Pierre’, 305. 64  The first attestation of this function can be found on a mosaic commissioned by Pope Innocent III in the apse of Saint Peter’s Basilica where an allegory of the Church carries a standard with keys leaning against one another, and ‘Saint Peter’s keys’, 297. 63 


Laurent Hablot

Even though the discourse of the sacralisation of the royal coat of arms remains sometimes a bit blurry because of the concurrent development of sovereigns’ personal, national and territorial coats of arms, which delimited the performance of the intention, the Iberian kingdoms are not to be outdone. This is the case for example in Castile where the Cronica Rimada, written at the end of the fourteenth century, presents the origin of the coat of arms of Castile and León, emblems elected by the people then delegated to the sovereigns.65 But this ‘distortion’ of the holiness of the royal arms by the nation does not leave aside the development of theories that benefitied of monarchs.66 Though, if the resort to a supernatural rhetoric in the royal mottoes of the House of the Trastámara has been considerably explained, in particular by Álvaro Fernández de Córdova’s recent works,67 the question of a spiritual interpretation of the royal coat of arms does not seem to have yet set off any specialized studies.68 On the other hand, the Kingdom of Aragon seems to have put much into the elaboration of heraldic legends, with a direct connection to the development of an important royal messianism,69 to the extent that it still remains difficult for historians specialized in heraldry to untangle the multiple symbolic interpretations of the royal coat of arms. At the end of the fourteenth century, the Aragonese sovereign made use of three shields: the

Faustino Menedez Pidal, Heráldica de la Casa Real de Leon y Castilla (siglos XII–XVI) (Madrid: Hidalguía, 2012), 307. 66  As attested by the royal arms dedicated to Virgin Mary in Alfonso  X’s Cantigas or the representation of the royal arms supported by two squire angels just like those of the convent of Santa Maria la Real de Nieva or even later the representation of the St John’s eagle with a halo behind the royal arms. See Menendez Pidal, Heraldica de la Casa Real, 162 (Cantigas), 287 (angel), 337 and sqq. on St John’s eagle. 67  Álvaro Fernández de Córdova, ‘Los emblemas de la conquista: armas y divisas de Juan I Trastámara ante la sucesión portuguesa (1383–1390)’, Armas e Troféus. Revista de História, Heráldica, Genealogia e Arte, (2014), 229–69; ‘Las divisas del rey: escamas y ristres en la corte de Juan II de Castilla’, Reales Sitios, 191 (2012), 22–37. I thank deeply Álvaro Fernández de Córdova to have shared so generously his information. 68  It would be however astounding that no discourse in this field got developed during the thirteenth century. The use of Castillian castles in the Capetian heraldry probably prooved it and the difficult conditions of the Transtamare dynasty avenement certainly impose to sacralise their arms. 69  See Martin Aurell, ‘Messianisme royal de la couronne d’Aragon (14e-15e siècles)’, Annales, Histoire, sciences Sociales, 52e année, n°1 (1997), 119–55. 65 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


well-known pale one70 used as official coats of arms and ”national” emblem, a cross patty fitchy or Cruz de Iñigo Arista used as the sovereign’s personal sign, the shield with Saint George’s cross cantoned with Moors’ heads or Cruz de Alcoraz, also known as the Sardinian shield.71 The pale shield is the centre of many reinterpretations following the example of the one developed by Franciscan Joachimite Francesc Eiximenis in his De Triplici statu mundi in the years 1378–80 that made the Aragonese arms the symbol of the sovereign’s punishment to the unworthy clerics.72 We can also mention the prophecy of 1415 in which the Aragonese batons scourge the white cross and the French fleur-de-lis.73 The shield with Moors’ heads appears for the first time on a bull issued by Peter  III of Aragon in 1281, doubtlessly in promotion of a projected Crusade. It was associated with a legend connected with the battle of Alcoraz during the conquest of the city of Huesca in 1096, during which Saint George himself reportedly came to the rescue of the Aragonese king and conceded him the coat of arms with the cross;74 that is the real starting point of this ‘national’ worship.75 During the fourteenth century, the shield with the cross cantoned with Moors’ heads became the arms of the Kingdom of Sardinia, just as herald Gelre’s armorial attests. At this very same time, Peter IV of Aragon adopted a new personal coat of arms called the ‘ancient

The hypothesis offered by Armand de Fluvià i Escorsa (Els Quatre Pals. L’escut dels Comtes de Barcelona Barcelona, Dalmau, 1995) and according to which the Aragonese king’s arms could be a reinterpretation of the papal umbraculum is interesting and can have a connection with our topic. This interpretation is however contested by several historians, Faustino Menendez Pidal (‘Palos de oro y gules’, Studia in honorem prof. Marti de Riquer, ed. Jao Vallcorba (Barcelona, 1991), 669–704. 71  Rock bearing a coat of arms, at La Seo in Zaragoza. 72  ‘De grands astrologues et théologiens, oints d’esprit de prophétie, disent que ces longues barres rouges et jaune signifient les bâtons, les coups et les persécutions qui doivent sortir de la maison d’Aragon contre les mauvais ecclésiastiques pour purger les péchés, pour abaisser leur orgueil et leur pompe… le champ de ces armes est jaune et ses pals sont rouges: cela veut dire que Dieu Notre seigneur frappera avec les bâtons de cette maison, l’or de la dignité ecclésiastique et que toute l’Eglise sera rendue rouge par l’effusion du sang’, quoted by Martin Aurell, ‘ Messianisme royal’, 148, note 94. 73  Martin Aurell, ‘Messianisme royal’, 151. 74  This legend, already mentioned in the Primera Cronica General of Alfonso X of Castile, is formalized in the course of the fifteenth century, by Gualberto Fabricio de Vagad in his Cronica de Aragon published in 1499. One of Jeronimo Martinez’s famous painting, St George’s altarpiece (1524), conserved in the church of Salvador de la Merced de Teruel, illustrates this scene of concession. 75  This is what the red cross cantoned with four Moors’ heads recalls. 70 


Laurent Hablot

arms of Aragon’, which was the cross supposedly carried by the first king of Pamplona, and that symbolizes his conversion. At the end of the fifteenth century the árbol de Sobrarbe, a legendary coat of arms of the county and another divine concession was added. These heraldic politics were extended in the elements at the fringes of heraldry, especially the adoption of the crest with the dragon, a meaningful figure of the crown and a real messianic image and possible connection with Saint George the Dragon Slayer.76 This heraldic trilogy has a lot of representations during both the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and it almost always associated with the angelic support. When he became king at the end of the fifteenth century, René of Anjou adopted a composite crest joining the Aragonese dragon wings and the French fleur-de-lis, with the likely aim to seize upon, to his own benefit, the double symbolism of these coats of arms.77 The accession to the Sicilian throne of the Trastámara enabled them as well to associate the Aragonese arms with the eagles of the House of Hohenstaufen, thereby adding, that adds to the Iberian arms a rich messianic discourse around the figure of the eagle.78 In Portugal, the development of a legend on the supernatural origin of the royal arms was also devised during the fourteenth century, in the context of the consolidation of the power of the House of Aviz. The early use of angelic supporters attests it. The reign of John II of Portugal († 1492), at the end of the fifteenth century, seems to be, in this perspective, a decisive step. In the context of multiple emblematic creations and of his heraldic interventions aiming to ‘correct’ the royal arms, the messianic nature of the sovereign and the divine origin of the royal arms are recalled. The Portuguese coat of arms were supposed to been given by Christ himself to Alfonso I of Portugal on the eve of the battle of Ourique. The five escutcheons arranged as a cross recall the Saviour’s Five Holy Wounds, while the thirty silver bezants refer to the deniers of Redemption.79 This interpretation was explicitly present in the

Aurell, ‘Messianisme royal’, 135–36. Mérindol, Le roi René et la seconde maison d’Anjou. 78  Aurell, ‘Messianisme royal’, 142–43. 79  I would like to deeply thank my friend Miguel de Seixas to have let me be the first to read his article to be published in the volume of the acts of the symposium of Firenze/Pisa, Arme Segreta, Firenze, 2014. There is a large bibliography on this topic, see especially some references in Miguel Metelo de Seixas, ‘Bibliografia de heráldica medieval portuguesa’, in Estudos de Heráldica Medieval (Lisboa), Instituto de Estudos Medievais/Centro Lusíada de Estudos Genealógicos e Heráldicos/Caminhos Romanos, 2012), 557–62. 76  77 

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


speech given by Vasco Fernandes Lucena in front of Pope Innocent VIII.80 The connection between the Christological dimension of the coats of arms and their holder is clearly established in Pedro de Gracia’s treatise on heraldry Blason General de todas las insignias del Vniverso, dedicated to John II of Portugal and printed in Badajoz in 1489.81 In one of the engravings the king’s arms are adorned on top with the royal crown intertwined with the Crown of thorns. Lastly this practice quickly extended to the sovereign principalities, in a manner that is perhaps less obvious, but no less efficient. A few well-known examples attest so. For the dukes of Savoy, the development of the figure of Saint Maurice enabled them to assimilate gradually their emblematic cross with the Saint’s coat of arms and to connect their arms with the cross of divine election.82 For the dukes of Brittany, this sacralisation of the ducal heraldry came about by stages during the succession problems and the necessary theoretical reinforcement of the ducal authority. The choice of the ermine by John I, Duke of Brittany, in 1316 probably overlaps partly the symbolic expectations of the fleur-de-lis: the pattern semé alludes to that of Heaven while the ermine is traditionally associated with the idea of purity that refers to the figure of ­Virgin Mary.83 This choice was consolidated by the motto c­hosen by

‘Sur les champs d’Ourique […], avec une force petite et exigüe, il combattit victorieusement contre cinq rois très puissants; en cette bataille, […] par cinq fois les lances des Barbares brisèrent son écu […]. En conséquence de cette singulière et glorieuse victoire, il distingua les insignes et armes des rois de Portugal avec cinq écus, chacun d’eux semé de cinq deniers […]. Or, ces écus posés en très sainte croix et les cinq deniers posés eux aussi à la façon d’une croix, que pourraient-ils signifier sinon les trente monnaies d’argent, prix du sang de Jésus Christ, pour lesquelles l’horrible Judas le livra aux Juifs?’, Oração de Obediência ao Sumo Pontífice Inocêncio  VIII dita por Vasco Fernandes de Lucena em 1485, ed. Martim de Albuquerque and trans. Miguel Pinto de Meneses (Lisboa: Edições Inapa, 1988), 20. This texte as been writen after the new of Sixtus IV’s death. An Ambassy drove by D. Pedro de Noronha, with the writer Rui de Pina and the lawyer Vasco Fernandes de Lucena. This one prounonce this discours, after printed, in front of the new pope. 81  Pedro de Gracia Dei, Blasón General y Nobleza del Universo (Badajoz: Unión de Bibliófilos Extremeños, 1993), 1. Let us notice that this is the first work printed in Extremadura. 82  See Michel Pastoureau, ‘De la croix à la tiare: Amédée VIII et l’emblématique de la maison de Savoie’,  in Amédée  VIII-Félix  V, premier duc de Savoie et pape  (Lausanne: Bibliothèque historique vaudoise, 103, 1992), 89–104 et Hablot, ‘Aux armes saint Maurice’. 83  Christian de Mérindol, ‘Essai sur l’emblématique et la thématique de la maison de Bretagne. Mise au point, nouvelles lectures, nouvelles perspectives’, in 1491. La Bretagne, terre d’Europe, (Brest: CRBC, 1992), 265–94; Michel Pastoureau, ‘L’hermine: de l’héraldique ducale à la 80 


Laurent Hablot

John IV: a plain ermine associated with the word A MA VIE (to my life) that could emphasize as much his commitment to the Duchy of Brittany that he claimed and his devotion to Virgin Mary. Under the guise of Arthurian mythology, this is what the Chronique de Saint-Brieuc (written between 1389 and 1416) recounts, namely that ‘Arthur, in honour of Virgin Mary, and as a memory of his victory, abandoned the three gold crowns on an azure field that he had adopted for quite a while for a plain ermine shield. Thus, the kings who succeeded him, as well in Great Britain, so long as the Breton kings reigned there, as in Brittany, bore on their arms the aforesaid ermines up to our own times’.84 Paradoxically, the dispute of the two competitors about both the ducal throne and its coat of arms actually contributed to reinforcing their holy dimension. Therefore, Capetian Prince Charles of Blois put the beata stirps of his lineage to the benefit of these of the dukes of Brittany.85 The message seems to be passed because after his death his portrait with his coat of arms is still performing miracles, just like the episode of the Cordeliers of Dinan in 1368.86 In return, the worship of Saint Michael by John IV of Brittany after his victory at the Battle of Auray, on 29 September 1364, contributed as well to making the ermine shield a divine symbol

symbolique de l’Etat’, in 1491. La Bretagne, terre d’Europe, (Brest: CRBC, 1992), 253–64; Laurent Hablot, ‘La croix noire des Bretons, origines et fonctions d’un signe d’identité politique hier et aujourd’hui’, in Signes et couleurs des identités politiques du Moyen Age à nos jours, ed. Martin Aurell et al. (Rennes: PUR, 2008), 57–70; Mickaël Jones, ‘L’image du duc de Bretagne’, in Représentation, pouvoir et royauté à la fin du Moyen Age, ed. Joël Blanchard (Paris: Picard, 1995), 271 and sqq. 84  Chronicon Briocense, Chronique de Saint-Brieuc, trans. Gwenaël Le Duc et Claude Sterckx (Rennes: Simon, 1972). 85  As Laurent Héry emphasizes, Charles of Blois, who is one of Saint Louis’ descendant, is also related to Saint Louis of Marseille. He had incidentally made an altar in his honour build by the Franciscans of Guingamp. This belonging to a holy lineage is one of the constitutive elements of the sacredness of the Count of Penthièvre. L. Héry, ‘La “sainteté” de Charles de Blois: vertus et virtus d’un duc de Bretagne’, in Corona Monastica. Mélanges offerts au père Marc Simon, Britannia Monastica 8  (2004), ed. Lucien Lemoine et Bernard Merdrignac, 361–62. Sur l’importance de la sainteté du lignage, voir André Vauchez, ‘Beata stirps. Sainteté et lignage en Occident’, in Famille et parenté dans l’Occident médiéval, ed. Georges Duby et Jacques Le Goff, (Rome: de Boccard, 1977), 397–406. 86  In Laurent Héry, At the beginning of the month of February 1368, John IV of Brittany was in Dinan to greet the Breton nobility. In the church of the Franciscan Convent, where he resided, the duke found a portrait of Charles of Blois bearing the arms of Brittany and ordered that the image to be destroyed. A few days later, blood oozes from the portrait.

The Sacralisation of the Royal Coats of Arms


worn by the archangel himself.87 Meanwhile the white shield with a black cross, even though these are the ducal heraldic colours, maintain a very likely connection with the archangel’s coat of arms.88 At the end of this brief European tour, the process of the sacralisation of princely coats of arms appears as one of the more important elements in their political rhetoric andplayed a role in the elaboration of medieval political theology. The corpus could surely get even more developed and it is quite certain that no sovereign power avoided this welcome asset that made his heraldic symbol a divine gift, reflecting thereby his own election. The discourse even extended sometimes beyond the framework of sovereign ­authority to the benefit of lesser lords or legal entities.89 Does this sacralisation of the heraldic symbol mark the exceptional status of the prince or should it be regarded as an essential tool, amongst many others, of the construction of sovereign states? In the first place, one must acknowledge that the development of this discourse almost always marches in step with political necessity and can be observed during precise historical moments that were often periods of political tensions. This observation, which is easily deduced from the important stages of the construction of the sacredness of the fleur-de-lis, is obvious for Louis of Taranto, Peter IV of Aragon, Pope Boniface VIII, Edward  III of England and John  IV of Montfort, duke of Brittany. All these cases reveal a vibrant politicy of communication through heraldic imagery and begs the question, put aside in this article, of the problem of the reception of these messages. But the sacralisation of the coats of arms clearly goes beyond just the intention of reinforcing the prince’s temporal power and any, rational, pragmatic or empiricist interpretation that might be tempted to impose upon this medieval practice. The effect of this rhetoric in heraldic imagery was multivalent and led to the parallel construction of a sacredness of royal duties, of the prince as a person and See for example (Paris, BnF, MS Lat. 1159, 1455–57, f°23), Livre des vices et des vertus (Paris, BnF, MS Fr., 958, f° 1, vers 1464, arms of François Ier and d’Isabelle Stuart held by two angels). 88  On this topic, see my articles: ‘La croix noire des Bretons’ et ‘Les couleurs des armées à la fin du Moyen Age: le cas breton’, Bulletin de la société historique et archéologique de LoireAtlantique 141 (2006), 263–92. 89  We can mention the example splendidly illustrated by the Hôpital du Saint Esprit of Dijon for which Pope Innocent  III received his arms by revelation of an angel. (Dijon, archives hospitalières, A4), see Christiane Raynaud, ‘Le pape, le duc et l’hôpital du Saint-Esprit de Dijon’, Médiévales 22–23  (1992), 71–90. For this topic of divine concession used by the Gentry see my article ‘Saint Michel’. 87 


Laurent Hablot

of the nation. The sacralisation of the prince’s coat of arms, at the same time as it established his exceptional status, fit as well into the medieval conception of the power that was thought of first and foremost as a spiritual responsibility. This coat of arms reminded him therefore of the duties that God had invested in him through this symbol and of the fact that he would be, more than any other man, answerable at the Last Judgement. The prince’s sacralised arms, since they are also an allegory of the territory and its inhabitants (i.e. the nation) were equally the sign of the spiritual election of the entire people.

Rex et Sacerdos: A Veiled Ideal of Kingship? Representing Priestly Kings in ­Medieval Iberia Marta Serrano-Coll

Introduction My aim here is to expose the basic themes of a study that I first presented at the seminar La Théologie Politique à la fin du Moyen Âge in Poitiers1 and which lays out the possibility of examining Peter IV from a new viewpoint, with regard both to his actions as ruler and to the artistic production he commissioned. The decision to examine this particular monarch is grounded in his unique character, his moral energy and erudition, and his proven capacity to portray — visually, and to the delight and acclaim of his subjects — the royal dignity embodied by his person, from the very moment of his coronation. While giving due consideration to the philosophical, political and literary trends of the time, which were evolving amidst an evident confrontation between regnum and sacerdotium,2 I believe that it would be correct to state that in Peter IV we witness the emergence of a form of political theology that

  Legitimité et légitimation par l’image: usage de la dimension sacrée dans la représentation du Roi d’Aragon au XIVème siècle, paper presented on 1 December 2012 as part of the project directed by Jaume Aurell Teología política de las monarquías hispanas bajomedievales. I am an external collaborating member of this project, which is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competition [HAR2011‒30265]. 2   The conflicts with Louis of Bavaria are well known: in May 1327 the Bavarian had been crowned by a bishop in Milan with the iron crown of Lombardy. Then, in Rome he was claimed as ‘king of the Romans’ and anointed by two bishops. In 1328 he was crowned with the imperial diadem by Sciarra Colonna, who was a ringleader in the Outrage of Agnani against Boniface VIII. 1

Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, Mempt 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 337-362 ©  DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111259



Marta Serrano-Coll

will reach, in the manifestation of the monarch as rex et sacerdos, one of its clearest and most spectacular expressions in the sensory realm.3 The Starting Point: The Coronation Ceremony The Coronation of the Kings of Aragon The consecration and coronation of kings was not a sacrament instituted by Christ and therefore not necessary for salvation. Thus, in the thirteenth century, at a time when tensions were already apparent between the two great powers, the theological terminology was adjusted and the ceremony received the name of a sacramental, even if some monarchs, such as Peter IV, would insist on its sacred character, as we shall see. Numerous authors have examined the evolution of the coronation ceremonies used by the Kings of Aragon: Antonio Durán Gudiol and Bonifacio Palacios Martín are particularly important, although other interesting contributions have followed.4 Here, I make mention of the extensive literature on the subject as a means of identifying a series of important themes for the argument. By virtue of the rite of anointing and coronation, the king was received into the clergy as a participant in the episcopal ministry,5 demonstrating that he was no longer a simple layman. By the late eleventh or early twelfth century — although with no tangible repercussions — the Norman Anonymous already stated that a king was figura et imago Christi et Dei,6 hence, by virtue of grace, he was in officio the figure and image of the

 Lack of space prevents me from going into greater detail account; however, I should point out that the expression ‘rex et sacerdos’ was not used by Peter IV in his writings. Nevertheless, despite the potential problems that may arise from the use of these terms, I am going to use them here in their broadest sense because they give us a very good idea of the significance of one of the most important mechanisms used by Peter IV to link himself to the sacred. 4  Recently discussed in Jaume Aurell and Marta Serrano-Coll, ‘The Self-Coronation of Peter the Ceremonious (1336): Historical, Liturgical, and Iconographical Representations’, Speculum 89/1 (2014): 66 and following. 5  Antonio Durán Gudiol, ‘El rito de la coronación del rey de Aragón’, Argensola: Revista de Ciencias Sociales del Instituto de Estudios Altoaragoneses 103 (1989): 17. 6   This text was ordered by the king of England after the Norman Conquest. The Anonymous states that a double persona (gemina persona), a fortunate anticipated reference to Christ, can be seen in the kings of the Old Testament. The anointed kings were men by nature (ex natura), but were Christ figures, ‘that is, God-man’, in terms of grace. See Jürgen Miethke, Las ideas políticas de la Edad Media (Buenos Aires: Biblos, 1993), 46. 3

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


­Anointed in heaven and, as such, of God.7 However, many were not prepared to overlook the obvious truth (already stated by Hincmar of Reims8) deriving from the logic that the one who confers dignity is necessarily greater than he on whom it is conferred. This reasoning is crucial to understanding why Peter IV was so firm in his will to forbid the officiating archbishop from even touching the royal insignia during his coronation ceremony. A discussion of caesaropapism and the theocracy of the fourth‒fourteenth centuries9 is beyond the scope of this study, but has been amply covered by Hosius of Corduba, Ambrose and Gelasius I.10 This discussion generated debates that persisted over time and were at the heart of the new European universities, where they were taken up by jurists such as Guillaume de Nogaret, Pierre Dubois and Guillaume de Plaisian. These debates, revolving around the notion of the primacy of power, were to have an impact on coronation ceremonies: liturgies which served the interests of the king as ruler and enhanced the prestige of the kingdom,11 and evidence of a political act with the trappings of the sacred.

 Ernst Kantorowicz, Los dos cuerpos del rey. Un estudio de teología política medieval (Madrid: Alianza, 1985), 59. 8   Who stated ‘Et tanto est dignitas pontificum maior quam regum quia reges in culmen regium sacrantui a pontificibus: pontifices auntem a regibus sacrari non possunt’. Extract taken from J. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, XVII, col. 538 in Marc Bloch, Les rois thaumaturges (Paris: Gallimard, 1983), 71. 9   For a useful synthesis, see Daniel de Pablo Maroto, ‘Cesaropapismo y teocracia en la historia’, Revista de Espiritualidad 275 (2010): 157‒87. 10  Gelasius  I would set the conditions for political relations between Church and State, conditions which were not always fulfilled. Hosius wrote to Emperor Constantius: ‘Don’t get mixed up in matters of the Church; in this regard you should not give us orders, but rather learn from us. God has given you the empire, to us He has entrusted all things to with the Church; and just as he who wishes to take power away from you opposes the will of God, so too do you commit a grave infraction if you try to interfere with the affairs of the Church […]. We do not have the right to govern the earth and you, oh Emperor! do not have the right to offer incense. I am telling you this because I am concerned for your salvation’: translation of the reference from Francisco Martín Hernández, España cristiana (Madrid: EDICA, 1982), 12 (BAC popular, 43), 14. More examples can be found in De Pablo, ‘Cesaropapismo y teocracia’, 163‒64. 11  Here I extrapolate the terms of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, who commented in his De Ceremoniis that these liturgies were useful for legitimating government by the emperor and for cementing the empire’s prestige: André Grabar, ‘VII. Pseudo-Codinos et les cérémoines de la Cour byzantine au xive siècle, Art et société à Byzance sous les Paléologues’, in L’art paléochrétien et l’art byzantin. Recueil d’études 1967‒1977, ed. André Grabar (London: Variorum Reprints, 1979), 204. 7


Marta Serrano-Coll

The Self-Coronation of Peter IV and its Early Repercussions In addition to an annotation to the Primera Crónica General which indicates that Sancho II crowned himself in 1065, there are documents in which it is stated that Alphonse  XI had already instituted his own coronation and ordained himself a knight, although they record that he used an ingenious model representing Saint James the Apostle to give the necessary accolade. With this mechanism, the sovereign offered a visual manifestation of his connection to the sacred, and did so without the intervention of an archbishop.12 The strategy reflected the monarchy’s desire to rid the coronation ceremony of its overt public subordination to the ecclesiastical oligarchies, which had for many years been imposed through the anointment and the conferring of the royal insignia by the officiating bishop. Peter IV was happy to cede the stage to the archbishop during the anointment ceremony, which he claimed as the Holy Sacrament.13 However, he wished to repeat the actions of his father in placing the crown on his own head before the altar of the Seo de Zaragoza.14 Despite the confusion caused by the terms that chroniclers applied in their accounts of the coronations of

12   The chronicle says: ‘et la imagen de Sanctiago, que estaba encima del altar, llegose el Rey á ella, et fizole que le diese una pescozada en el carrillo. Et desta guisa resçibio caualleria este Rey don Alonso del Apostol Santiago’; that is, it was the king himself who set in motion the mechanism so that the apostle would give him his backing: Francisco Cerdá y Rico, Crónica de D. Alfonso el onceno de este nombre, de los reyes que reynaron en Castilla y León. Conforme a un antiguo MS de la Real Biblioteca del Escorial, y otro de la Mayansiana: e ilustrada con apéndices y varios documentos (Madrid: Imprenta de Don Antonio de Sancha, 1787), part I, chap. CXX, 186. The agentivité of this image was analyzed by M. José Martínez Martínez, ‘Las imágenes articuladas en las celebraciones áulicas: la escultura de “Santiago del Espaldarazo” de las Huelgas de Burgos’ (paper presented at the Coloquio Ars Mediaevalis Imágenes en acción. Actos y actuaciones de las imágenes en la Edad Media, Aguilar de Campoo, October 4‒6, 2013). 13   El ‘Manuscrito de San Miguel de los Reyes’ de las ‘Ordinacions’ de Peter  IV (Valencia: Scriptorium, 1994), 211. 14  Ramón Muntaner explains: ‘E con fo vestit e hac començada la missa, lo […] rei, ell mateix, pres la corona de l’altar e la’s posà al cap’: Ramón Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CCXCVII, in Ferran Soldevila, Les quatre grans cròniques (Barcelona: Selecta, 1971). Zurita also highlights this act: Jerónimo de Zurita, Anales de la Corona de Aragón (Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico, 1990), lib. VII, chap. I.

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


Peter III,15 Jacques II16 and Alphonse III,17 which contained expressions such as pres la corona, there can be no doubting the exceptional nature, as noted by Ramón Muntaner,18 of the rite adopted by Alphonse IV. The liturgy was performed in accordance with the will of the new monarch: ‘Denant tot lo poble’, as the chronicle records,19 the King took up from the altar the insignias that identified him as sovereign. The act was a visual ostentation of the autocracy of the monarchy, removing the obstacle to its ultimate sovereignty. Aware of the change that this represented, Peter  IV demanded a ceremonial in which ‘maximo studio et labore’ was applied to ensure that the solemn rite was recorded in full. In 1353, this was   The chronicle of Bernat Desclot states that: ‘[…] anà-se’n en Arago  […] [a Zaragoza]. E coronà-se rei, e coronà madona la reina Constança sa muller’: Bernat Desclot, Crònica, chap. LXXIII, in Soldevila, Les quatre grans cròniques. However, Ramon Muntaner specifies that ‘aplegà ses corts e posaren-li la corona del realme d’Arago ab gran solemnitat’, in Valencia ‘rebé e fo coronat rei del realme de València’ and, once at Barcelona, ‘rebé ab gran glòria […] la garlanda d’on fo coronat comte de Barcelona e senyor de tota Catalunya’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. XXIX. Regarding the coronation in Sicily, the chronicler says: ‘e ab gran solemnitat e ab gran alegre lo senyor rei d’Arago fo coronat rei de Sicilia, en Palerm, ab la gracia de nostre senyor ver Déus’: ibid., chap. LXIII. The fact that he was crowned by other individuals is mentioned again in cap. XXIX, where he concludes that: ‘Après con lo senyor rei En Pere hac reebudes les corones e ab la gràcia de Déu fo lo rei coronat, anà visitant ses terres’. This is also recorded in the Crónica de San Juan de la Peña, which states that ‘aquí [Zaragoza] fue coronado et untado rey con solepnitat e honor’: Carmen Orc ástegui Gros, Crónica de San Juan de la Peña (versión aragonesa) (Zaragoza: Institución Fernando el Católico, 1986), chap. 36, 97‒100. 16  Ramón Muntaner explains that Jacques II went to Zaragoza where he held ‘la festa sens comparació la major qui anc se fos feta; e aqui pres la corona en la bona hora’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CLXXVI. The same expression is used for his coronation in Sicily ‘En Jacme pres la corona del realme de Sicilia e de tot lo regne’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CXLVIII. 17  ‘[…] e lo senyor rei N’Anfós pres la corona ab gran alegre e ab gran pagament’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. LXXIII. Nevertheless, the same chronicler specifies that in Valencia, ‘con foren tuit aplegats, prelats e altres gents moltes, ab gran solemnitat ell reebé la corona del regne de València’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CLVIII. The Crónica de San Juan de la Peña notes that the king ‘fue coronado et alçado rey, assi como es de constumbre et de ussança de reys todos tiempos observada’: Orcástegui, Crónica, chap. 37, 10‒15. Likewise, Zurita explains that the monarch ‘recibió en la iglesia de San Salvador la corona de rey de la mano de don Jacques obispo de Huesca, en ausencia del arzobispo de Tarragona y por estar sede vacante la iglesia de Zaragoza’: Jerónimo de Zurita, Anales, lib. IV, chap. LXXVIII. 18  ‘[…] tots aquells qui en aquest llibre llegiran, sàpien con se fa lo rei ell mateix cavaller, ne en qual manera se posa ell mateix la corona’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CCXCVII. ‘con muyt mas honramiento que nunca rey se coronas, fue coronado et untado en rey’: Orcástegui, Crónica, chap. 39, 5‒8. 19  Peter IV, Crònica, in Soldevila, Les quatre grans cròniques, chap. II, 10. 15


Marta Serrano-Coll

i­ncorporated into the text of the royal Ordinacions of 1344. The ceremony was laid down in writing, describing the rite that the King had moulded to reflect the exact symbolic significance he desired. Particular care was taken to project ‘el poder i la magestat del rei’ as Peter IV himself understood them, without the presence of intermediaries. Thus, his scrolls established nuanced distinctions between the powers of the Church in administering the sacrament of anointment and the authority of monarch over the coronation ceremony. The linguistic subtleties through which this distinction was achieved contrast with the figurative decoration of the capitals that headed each of the orders, the only graphical testimony of self-coronation in medieval Europe. Other Iberian monarchs were responsible for similar ceremonies based around this same goal of demonstrating their independence from ecclesiastical authority: in the ceremonial of Alphonse XI of Castile, which appeared shortly before the Aragonese text, and the coronation rite of Charles III of Navarre, which came later, there is evidence of a desire to distinguish between the anointing, performed by the bishops, and the coronation, which the kings performed with their own hands. This practice perhaps reflected a rejection of the postulates of Giles of Rome20 and an espousal of the Thomist assertion that secular power was not subordinate to spiritual power.21 Despite the laicisation of the coronation ceremony, Peter  IV had no intention of foregoing the anointing, which he viewed not only as a privilege granted to his dynasty by Rome (rather than a prescribed norm) but also as

 Egidio Romano, De ecclesiastica potestate (Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1961). Egidio’s argument is based on three basic affirmations: the existence of two swords, i.e. two powers, temporal power and spiritual; subordination, the submission of temporal power to the spiritual power from which it derives; and, the submission of temporal power to the Church, which means in effect to the Pope, given that all power in the Church ultimately resides in him. For further details, see Peter Roche Arnas, ‘Dos poderes, una autoridad: Egidio Romano o la culminación del pensamiento teocrático medieval cristiano’, in El pensamiento político en la Edad Media, ed. Peter Roche Arnas (Madrid: Fundación Ramón Areces, S.A., 2010), 113‒39. 21   ‘El poder espiritual y el poder secular derivan, uno y otro, del poder divino; por ello, el poder secular no está subordinado al poder espiritual más que en la medida en que ya ha sido sometido por Dios, es decir, en lo que atañe a la salvación de las almas; en este dominio hay que obedecer antes al poder espiritual que al secular. Pero en lo que concierne al bien político, es mejor obedecer al poder secular que al espiritual, tal y como se dice en Mateo, 22, 21: “Dad al César lo que es del César [y a Dios lo que es de Dios]’. Santo Tomás, Escrito sobre los cuatro libros de las Sentencias del Maestro Lombardo, II Sent, d. 44, exp. textus, ad. 4. Cited in Eudaldo Forment, ‘Principios fundamentales de la filosofía política de Santo Tomás’, in El pensamiento político, 109. 20

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


a sign of belonging to a special group among Western monarchs.22 Palacios Martín reported the king’s satisfaction at receiving such a privilege and his desire to display a certain superiority over those monarchs on whom it was not conferred, perhaps in reference to Castile, whose kings were — out of choice — no longer anointed, except on rare occasions. This practice came at a time of debate over the political and theological significance of the unction, which, Palazzo tells us, led to its receiving lesser prominence in pontificals and greater stress in the ceremonial rites of coronations, which presented the monarch in his kingly and priestly dimensions,23 thus contributing to the affirmation of sacred royalty and the image of the roi très chrétien.24 The king was portrayed as a persona mixta, attributed with a degree of spiritual authority by virtue of consecration and anointing. While this duplication does not appear to be directly related to the king’s two bodies,25 Kantorowicz believed it could be said to derive from the notion of clericalisation of the royal office.26 In the eyes of the king’s subjects, self-coronation shattered the image of royal submission to the Church, and found tangible expression in the miniatures that adorn the three surviving versions of the Ceremonial of Peter IV, which proclaim the independence of royal dignity from episcopal mediation. This process of secularisation27 had in fact been instigated by the papacy, which, despite the issuance of the Papal bull Unam Sanctam in 1302,28 had

22  ‘Algunos reyes y príncipes de la tierra, por privilegio del sumo obispo, a saber, del Santo Padre  […] fueron acogidos en la compañía de la Santa Unción, a semejanza de los reyes del Antiguo Testamento. De esa gracia nuestra casa es perpetuamente dotada’. 23   Éric Palazzo, L’Évêque et son image. L’illustration du pontifical au Moyen Age (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), 266 and following. Jacques le Goff et al., Le sacre royal à l’époque de Saint Louis d’après le manuscrit latin 1246 de la BNF (Paris: Gallimard, 2001), 37‒89; a highly interesting study in which Palazzo analyzes the ordines of coronation in the Middle Ages. 24  As stated by Jean Pange, Le roi très chrétien (Paris: Fayard 1949). 25   Kantorowicz explains that, in principle, the duplication of the persona mixta referred to temporal and spiritual capacities rather than to the natural and political bodies: Ernst Kantorowicz, Los dos cuerpos del rey, 56. 26  Ernst Kantorowicz, Los dos cuerpos del rey, 56. 27  Expressed by Mertens ‘crescente autonomia della sfera mondana’: Dieter Mertens, Il pensiero politico medievale (Milano: Il Mulino, 1996), 131. 28   The bull defended the theory of the two swords, whose origins are to be found in the Gospel of Luke: ‘The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords”. “That’s enough!” he replied’: Luke 22, 38. This was the result of the disagreements between Boniface VIII and Philip IV, which led the latter to burn the papal bull publicly Ausculta, fili carissime and to write a letter stating that the king would not submit to the Supreme Pontiff. The complete


Marta Serrano-Coll

allowed for a lessening of the focus on anointing in pontificals.29 The emerging autonomy of secular political authorities in this period appeared to be sanctioned by the Bulla Aurea of 1356, which, for all that it was preceded by other declarations that weakened the grip of Papal supremacy,30 made specific regulatory provision for traditions and laws that had been inconsistently applied for centuries.31 The philosophy of Peter IV reveals a similar intention: to regularise a pre-existing liturgy to prevent the intervention of the bishop in what he considered to be the temporal sphere of the ceremony: the reception of the insignia.32

document appears in Enrique Gallego Blanco, ‘Relaciones entre la Iglesia y el Estado en la Edad Media’, Revista de Occidente (1973): 149‒51. 29  Kantorowicz, Los dos cuerpos del rey. 30  I refer to the Diet of Reims, from 1338, subsequently ratified by the Diet of Frankfurt, which declared that the election of the emperor was valid on the grounds of majority vote and that the pope’s approval was not necessary. The Diet stated: ‘el emperador se constituye legítimo únicamente por la elección de los que tienen derecho a elegir, sin necesidad de ninguna confirmación por parte de nadie más (the emperor’s legitimacy is based solely on the choice made by those who have the right to vote, without the need for approval by anyone else)’, it goes on to say that ‘la dignidad y el poder imperiales proceden directamente sólo de Dios […] sin que tenga necesidad de aprobación, confirmación, autoridad o consentimiento del papa, de la Sede Apostólica o de cualquier otro (imperial dignity and power come directly from God […] and does not require the approval, confirmation, authority or consent of the pope, the Holy See or anybody else)’: from Gallego, ‘Relaciones entre la Iglesia y el Estado’, 292‒195. 31   Signed by the electing princes, it annulled the coronation in Rome and all interference by the pope in the imperial election. See Miethke, Las ideas políticas, 162. See also the five volumes by Georges de Lagarde, La naissance de l’esprit laïque au déclin du Moyen Àge (Louvain-Paris: E. Nauwelaerts, 1956‒70). 32   The sovereign says: ‘La primera espiritual y la otra temporal. De la primera es, a saber, del santo sacramento de la unción, que en la vieja lectura era otorgada por los príncipes de los sacerdotes según leemos en el Antiguo Testamento, en la palabra de Dios que dice al profeta: “ungirás al que te mostraré’ [1 Sam. 16.3] […] [la segunda] es temporal, esto es, hace referencia a la corona, a través de la que los príncipes terrenales reciben señorío sobre el pueblo, y de esto tenemos una prefiguración tal como se lee en la Sagrada Escritura: ‘y puso sobre él corona y testimonio’ [2 Reg. 11.12]” (The first spiritual and the other temporal. The first is the sacrament of holy unction, which in the old writings was given by the princes of the priests, as we can read in the Old Testament, in the word of God, who says to the prophet: ‘You are to anoint for me the one I indicate’ [1 Sam. 16:3] […] [the second] is temporal, that is, it refers to the crown through which the earthly princes receive their authority over the people, and which is set forth in the Holy Scriptures: ‘He brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown and gave him the covenant’ [2 Kings 11:12]) Citation from Ordinacions de la Casa i del Senyor Rey Pere IV, Joan I, Martí I, Ferrando I y don Alfonso V (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid: MS 5986), 242‒43.

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


Royal Eloquence: Sermons as Immaterial Evidence Dupront questioned whether the sacrament of royal anointing conferred priestly status, since it preceded the act of coronation33 and made reference to Aaron, who himself became sacerdotes, reges et prophetae34 and, by virtue of this, governor of the people of Israel.35 Giles of Rome said that priesthood temporally preceded kingship in the history of salvation, hence any kingdom must derive its rightfulness from the priesthood.36 According to this argument, kings, invested with priestly power by the sacrament of anointing, claimed their adherence to the Christological model.37 In the case of the Crown of Aragon, the relationship between King and Christ is described by Ramón Muntaner, who did not overlook the significance of the dates chosen for the coronations of Alphonse III and Alphonse IV,38 which took place on Easter Sunday of 1286 and 1328, respectively. Peter IV also made note of the significance of the date, and made reference to it in his chronicle.39 The links with the sacred also found other manifestations. Among the methods adopted by Peter  IV to proclaim his Magestat, mention must be made of the eloquence with which his magnificent rhetoric was expressed. 33  Alphonse Dupront, ‘Sacre, autorité, pouvoir: profil d’antropologie historique’, in Le Sacre des Rois: actes du Colloque international d’histoire sur les sacres et couronnements royaux Reims 1975 (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1985), 321. 34  Alphonse Dupront, ‘Sacre, autorité, pouvoir’, 322. 35  Biblical texts confirm the tight relationship between royalty and the priesthood. An example of this is Revelations, which was studied from this perspective by William  H. Brownlee, ‘The priestly character of the church in the Apocalypse’, New Testament Studies 5 (1859‒1958): 224‒25, cited in Albert Vanhoye, Sacerdotes antiguos, Sacerdote Nuevo según el Nuevo Testamento (Salamanca: Sígueme, 1992), 297, n. 25. 36  Miethke, Las ideas políticas, 110. This hypothesis was supported by other philosophers such as Giles’ disciple James of Viterbo, author of the famous De Regimine Christiano. 37  Arnold Angenendt, ‘Rex et sacerdos. Zur Genese der Königsalbun’, in Tradition als historische Kraft. Interdisziplinäre Forschungen zur Geschichte des früheren Mittelalters. Festschirft für K.  Hauck (Berlin-New York: W. de Gruyter, 1982) 100‒18. Cited in Éric Palazzo, Liturgie et société, 203. 38  ‘[…] així con los sants apòstols e deixebles del nostre senyor ver Déus Jesucrist estaven desconsolats e marrits per la passió de nostre Senyor Déus […] que així los seus sotsmesos estaven ab la tristor per la mort del rei […] son pare, e que així con Jesucrist, lo jorn de pasqua, per la sua resurrecció, ell los alegrà e confortà, que enaixí lo jorn sant beneit de la Paqua […] que ell [el nuevo rey] confortàs e alegràs el mateix […] sos sotmesos’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CCXCIV. Martin I would be crowned during on the octave of Easter Week, as would his son Martin, in Sicily: De Zurita, Anales, lib. X, chap. LXIX. 39  Peter IV, Crònica, chap. 1.


Marta Serrano-Coll

The persuasive use of this tool has been examined impressively by Rubió i Lluch40 and, more recently, Cawsey.41 The author of the rhetorical addresses delivered by Peter IV was — albeit with some input from his advisors — the King himself. This participation of the king was recorded by Miquel Carbonell in the late fifteenth century and is attested to by the discovery of a letter from the sovereign to his archivist to which he attached a royal speech to be transcribed in a volume.42 However, more than the authorship of the text, between 1341 and 1344, Álvaro Pelayo, bishop of Silves, wrote in Espelho dos Reis, denouncing that among the sins attributable to kings was the act of usurping the priestly office through preaching and the use of incense.43 The speeches of Alphonse XI and other Castilian monarchs were strongly religious in tone, although they are not described as sermons in historical texts; by contrast, other kings, such as Robert of Naples,44 were particularly renowned for their sermons. However, the accusations of Álvaro Pelayo did not apply solely to the Neapolitan monarch: Charles II of Navarre considered preaching to be a highly useful weapon during the turbulent years of 1357 and 1358,45 and in the neighbouring Crown of Aragon Peter IV customarily opened court with an address in the form of a thematic sermon, as another member of the royal house, Frederick III of Sicily, had done, and Martin I would also go on to do (notably, as well as the Humane, Martin I was known as the Ecclesiastic). Perhaps inspired by his father, Martin I used relics and religious ceremonies to exalt the institution that he represented.46 In particular,

 Among others, Antoni Rubió i Lluch, ‘Algunes consideracions sobre la oratoria política de Catalunya en l’Edat Mitjana’, Estudis Universitaris Catalans 3 (1909): 213‒24. 41   Suzane Cawsey, Kingship and propaganda: Royal eloquence and the Crown of Aragon, c. 1200‒1450 (Oxford: Oxford Historical Monographs, 2002). 42   The letter also states ‘la proposició per nos feta als valencians laltre jorn de Sent Mather en .ii. fulls de paper escrits de nostra ma’: Antonio Rubió i Lluch, Documents per a la història de la cultura catalana medieval (Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, 2000), doc. CCXXIX. 43  ‘usurpant officia sacerdotii, ut thurificare et paedicare’, in his own words: Cawsey, Kingship and propaganda, chap. 4. 44  Robert of Naples is the subject of an important doctoral thesis presented by Darleen N. Pryds, ‘The Politics of Preaching in Early Fourteenth-Century Naples: Robert d’Anjou and his sermons’ (PdH diss., University of Wisconsin, 1993). 45  On 29 November 1357, he gave a sermon on a platform not far from the Pré aux clercs and in front of 10,000 people in which he demonstrated the rights of the French Crown. See Rubió, ‘Algunes consideracions’, 217. 46  Regarding the public’s response to Martin’s political and religious propaganda, see Marta Serrano-Coll, ‘Semblança del rei Martí l’Humà a través de la seva promoció artística’, in Martí l’Humà, el darrer rei de la dinastia de Barcelona (1396‒1410). L’interregne i el Compromís de Casp (Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, in press). 40

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


he commissioned a new royal palace to be built from the existing complex in Poblet, although following the examples of James II in the Monastery of Santes Creus and Peter Peter IV in Poblet, the royal spaces were installed over the sala del cubar and above the quarters of the monks,47 enabling him to access the high cloister and connecting the royal lodgings to the religious areas of the complex, as he had done in Barcelona.48 There is evidence of royal preaching in the Crown of Aragon at the time of Jacques I, who announced his Mallorcan campaign in the form of a sermon in the Courts of Barcelona in 1228,49 although he is recorded as having preached on another five occasions: the Gestas del Rey don Jayme de Aragon, published by Juan Fernández de Heredia in 1396,50 make explicit reference to this fact.51 These acts must have influenced the ministry of Peter the Ceremonious, an avowed admirer of Jacques I the Conqueror, although they were also performed by Jacques II,52 who, while still a child, was described as ‘dels pus savis princeps del mon e mills parlat’.53

47   These quarters would substitute the Old Royal Chambers, which were in a poor state. Reference taken from Ricardo del Arco, Sepulcros de la Casa Real de Aragón (Madrid: Diana, 1945), 356. Further details found in Serrano-Coll, ‘Semblança del rei Martí’. 48   Where, significantly, he united the royal chapel and the cathedral by constructing a new private passage that ran directly through the Royal Palace: Jaume Barrachina, ‘Retaule del Conestable’, in Jaume Huguet. 500 anys (Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya, 1993), 168. On the idea of the Barcelona cathedral as a veritable, albeit smaller, Palatine cathedral, see Miguel Sobrino González, ‘Barcelona. Las razones de una catedral singular’, Goya: Revista de arte 307‒08 (2005): 197‒214. 49  His own chronicle states that he used the standard format for these occasions: Llibre dels Feyts del Rei en Jacme, 1:120‒22. See also Enrich Prat de la Riba, Corts catalanes: proposicions y respostes (Barcelona: L’Anuari de la Exportació, 1906), 38‒40. 50   Francho Rodés, ‘Johan Fernandez d’Heredia, Gestas del Rey don Jacques de Aragón’, Edizions Dichitals de l’Academia de l’Aragonés 2 (2008): s.p. 51   ‘Et el rey fizo su preposicion, la qual començo por tales palavras: Illumina cor meum, Domine, et verba mea de Spiritu Sancto  […] Que quiere decir en vulgar “Alumbra, Senyor, alumbra el mi coraçon. Et las palavras mias procedescan del Spiritu Sancto”. Pregando el rey en el comienço de su proposicion o sermon a Dios et a Sancta Maria  […]’: Rodés, ‘Johan Fernandez d’Heredia’, s.p. 52  According to his chroniclers, in the moments before embarking on the invasion of Sardinia in 1323, he had prepared a sermon demonstrating that God favoured the Aragonese, which meant that the members of expedition had to fight valiantly. See Nicolau d’Olwer, ‘Una arenga de Jaume II (1323)’, in ‘Literatura catalana: notes i comentaris’, Estudis universitaris catalans VIII (1914) and Mark D. Johnston, ‘Parliamentary Oratory in Medieval Aragon’, Rhetorica 10:2 (1992): 110. 53  Ramon Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CXIV, 234. Ramón Muntaner tells us that, being a prince and having to fight against King Charles ‘lo senyor infant, pus la sentència fo donada en


Marta Serrano-Coll

Peter IV was an erudite and dogmatic ruler who was familiar with the sacred texts and, from his throne, determined to emulate the persuasive and emotive power of the preacher from the pulpit.54 I believe it is on this basis that his sermons should be judged,55 delivered in the scholastic manner derived from the treatises of the Franciscan theologian Bertrand de la Tour56 and requiring a degree of priestly association that Peter IV considered an instrument of propaganda, in demonstrating the divine sanction of his royal office.57 Some of the writings in his chronicle58 represent a veiled attempt to inhabit and exalt the dual role of rex et sacerdos and, therefore, a desire to appear before his people as both temporal ruler and spiritual guide. The Christo-centric vision that the monarchy applied to itself can be traced in texts from the period: the closing address to the Courts of Tarragona in 137059 and other texts that have been conserved illustrate the degree to conformada, volc usar de misericordia; e no volc guardar mal per mal, ans li membrà la paraula de l’Evangeli que diu “Déus no vol la port del pecador, mas que es converta”. Per què ell no volc la mort del príncep, mas que ell farà pau e concòrdia’. Terms found in Ez. 33, 11, according to Soldevila: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. CXIV and chapter notes, although they may also refer to other texts such as Jeremiah 3:12, ‘Go, proclaim this message toward the north: “Return, faithless Israel”, declares the Lord, “I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful”, declares the Lord, “I will not be angry forever”’. 54  In the words of Rubió, ‘Algunes consideracions’, 215. 55   This is the general historiographical opinion: Peter Cátedra, ‘Acerca del sermón político en la España Medieval’, Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona (1985‒86): 17‒47. It has been asserted that the sermons given by the kings of Aragon are the finest examples of secular oratory in the Middle Ages. See Johnston, ‘Parliamentary Oratory’, 100. 56   Ars dividendi themata y Ars dilatandi sermones, although the rhetoric of Dante’s teacher, Brunetto Latini, had already been translated into Catalan Libre dels ensenyaments de bona parleria: Rubió, ‘Algunes consideracions’, 219. He also followed the format set forth so brilliantly by Robert Basevorn in 1322 in his The Art of Preaching. He followed this format so closely that he was used a brief topic to capture the attention of the audience, as advised by Basevorn and, later on, Thomas Chobham in his Summa de arte praedicandi, published as Thomas de Cobham, Summa de arte praedicandi, edited by Franco Morenzoni, Corpus Christianorum, continuatio medievalis, 82 (Turhnout: Brepols, 1988). On the parts that make up a medieval sermon, see D. Catherine Brown, Pastor and Laity in the Theology of Jean Gerson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 11‒17. 57   Johnston, ‘Parliamentary Oratory’, 110. 58  ‘E […] anam a l’esgleia de Sant Salvador e […] estants nós en la tribuna on han acostumat de preïcar, parlam al poble’ to which he adds that the throne ‘de draps d’or’: Peter IV, Crònica, chap. 4. 59  ‘[…] vetlats en guisa que us puxam dir les paraules que dix Jhesu Christ a sos deixebles: Luce XIIco. Beniyrats son los servents quan los troba vetlant lur senyor’: José Coroleu and J.  Pella Forgas, Las cortes catalanas: estudio jurídico y comparativo de su organización y reseña analítica

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


which the rhetoric of Peter IV made use, among other devices, of similitudines with passages from the Bible, in which he was so well versed.60 A speech made by Martin I is also particularly revelatory: in his address to the Courts of Maella in 1404, he used a reference to the Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians [ad effessios, IIIIº Cº] to offer a Christo-centric vision of the monarchy in which a king, who guides and governs his people as the political body subject to his rule, fulfils the same role as Christ, rightfully divine and priestly,61 who guided mankind by His grace. These associations with divinity were evident in the staging of royal addresses, which was planned to the last detail. Peter IV delivered his sermons from an elevated position and, whenever possible, with his firstborn son the Infante Don Juan seated on a footstool beside him, to compose — as Sesma perceptively observed — the image of father and son of a sacred monarchy.62

de sus legislaturas, episodios notables, oratoria y personajes ilustres, con muchos documentos inéditos del Archivo de la Corona de Aragón y del Municipio de Barcelona (Barcelona: Imprenta de la Revista Histórica Latina, 1896), 402. 60  His chronicle and the surviving documentation indicate that he knew the Bible as well as any consummate preacher. He first requested a Bible at the age of 20 and asked for it in romance. In 1345 he asked Jacques III of Mallorca for a Bible; in 1351 he asks for a copy in Catalan; in 1352 he buys one for one hundred pounds; in 1353 he asked to see one belonging to the nobleman Gilaberto de Cruïlles ‘per alcunes raons’; in 1359 he bought some more from the Archbishop of Caller; in 1360 he asked to be sent a copy that he had been lent to correct; in 1366 he paid 6000 sous to the citizen of Barcelona P. de San Climent for a three-volume copy written in Latin on parchment; in 1367 he requested another from the church of Santa María in Calatayud, ‘Por manera que nos hayamos luego la dita biblia e la podamos veyer, sabiendo que luego que la hayamos visto, si veuremos que sea buena para nos, nos avendremos de ello’; in 1383, at the Cortes de Monzón, he asked the treasurer Pere Valls to buy him the best Bible he could, ‘la qual havem de gran necessitat que més no porem’. All of these are mentioned in Rubió, ‘Algunes consideracions’, 219‒20. For medieval sermons refer to Manuel Ambrosio Sánchez Sánchez, Un sermonario castellano medieval: el MS 1854 de la Biblioteca Universitaria de Salamanca (Salamanca: Universidad de Salamanca, 1999), 2 vols. Cited in Juan José Prat Ferrer, ‘Los Exempla medievales: una etapa escrita entre dos oralidades’, Oppidum 3 (2007): 176, n. 21. 61  To act as a mediator between men and God. An analysis of the figure of Christ and his role as a priest can be found in the doctoral thesis of Xavier Clément Comlan Tohouegnon, ‘Tel est en effet le grand-prêtre qui nous convenait (He 7,26)’ (PhD diss., Pontificia Universitas Urbaniana, 1979). 62   Ángel Sesma Muñoz, ‘Pedro IV y la proyección de la imagen real en la Corona de Aragón’, in La construción medieval de la memoria regia, ed. Pascual Martínez Sopena and Ana Rodríguez (Valencia: Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2011), 422.


Marta Serrano-Coll

The Royal Image: Physical Representations as Material Evidence The terms that appear in the fourth chapter of the Chronicle of Peter IV63 suggest that the royal sermon was the culmination of a grand spectacle designed to transmit a message that married political arguments with religious discourse, so it can be argued that this was one of the mechanisms the sovereign used to underline before the people that his authority derived directly from God and that his maiestas was not dependent on any intermediary. While his immediate predecessors were also anointed and crowned — albeit with the caveat that they ‘were not receiving the crown in recognition […] of the Holy See, retaining their right to exemption and superiority in the temporal estate’64 — Peter IV, in espousing the formula rex et sacerdos, accentuated his autocracy still further. As we have seen, this concept was often proclaimed in his addresses and sermons at moments of acute political sensitivity, but it will also become clear that he understood how to make effective visual expressions of the same notion. Sigillography Seals were among the most highly valued and successful visual means of claiming divine legitimacy, thanks to their legal status and mobility. A good example is the reverse of the great seal used by Peter IV in the years 1343‒44, which depicts the king on his throne (Fig. 1).65 The majestic representation is notable for the smoother, more delicate quality of the work compared to earlier pieces, and for the form of the throne and the complexity of the structure beneath which the king is seated. The throne, crowned with lions and covered by an embroidered cloth, is reminiscent of the style popularised in France during the reign of Louis IX and later adopted by Philip VI of Valois and John II. In a previous study I discussed how this regalia found its way into

63   The examples are many: perhaps the most illustrative is his lauded proposition to the Cortes held in San Salvador of Zaragoza: Peter IV, Crònica, chap. IV, 23‒26. 64  I refer to Peter  III, Alphonse  III and Jacques  II. Zurita states that Jacques  II aimed to demonstrate that, through the death of his brother, he had the right of primogeniture so could claim Sicily as well: De Zurita, Anales, lib. IV, chap. CXXIII. 65   Ferran de Sagarra i Siscar, Sigil·lografia catalana. Inventari, descripció i estudi dels segells de Catalunya (Barcelona: Estampa d’Henrich, 1916‒32), vol. I, n. 59.

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


Fig. 1. Peter IV Major Seal. Anverse. © Tomás Muñoz Romero facsimile collection. 1343 and 1344.

Aragonese chancellery,66 but here I would like to draw attention to the background, which is of exceptional quality and shows an architectural structure in the form of an altarpiece, who’s intricately detailed panels rise majestically to give the composition great verticality. This type of gothic background, though new to the seal designs of Peter IV, was not unknown in this form of artistic production: from the end of the thirteenth century, French engravers depicted ladies of the court standing beneath simple constructions that

 Marta Serrano-Coll, ‘Influencias artísticas europeas en la cancillería de la Corona de Aragón: algunos ejemplos de sigilografía’, in El intercambio artístico en los reinos hispanos y las cortes europeas en la Baja Edad Media (León: Universidad de León, 2009), 295‒308.



Marta Serrano-Coll

became more complex with the passage of time, as the architecture itself grew more elaborate. It was not until the fourteenth century, however, in the reign of Louis X the Quarreler, that it became used in royal seals, although without religious connotations, as Lecoy de la Marche explains.67 It is no coincidence that Peter the Ceremonious (Peter IV) was the first monarch in the Crown of Aragon to adopt such forms as the framework for his singular pieces of majestic representation, recalling in the eyes of his subjects the composition of an altarpiece: a novel structure with evident sacred motifs. As we have seen, it was with a clear aim that Peter IV addressed the courts in the form of a sermon, generally delivered in church after mass, either from the throne or before the altar, with the aim of portraying himself in the sacred role of God’s representative on earth and as a spiritual guide for his people.68 It is possible that the king changed his seals so that they more closely resembled the designs being used north of the Pyrenees, but, in keeping with what we have seen so far, this seal was also a visual means of strengthening his association with the divine (as well as serving to counter the new formalisation of the coronation ceremony, which had laicised the institution of the monarchy). Historical texts clearly reflect the influence of King of Mallorca on the artistic endeavours of Peter IV following his conquest of the island in 1344;69 however, the adoption of highly expressive iconography illustrates the links to the divine — among them the seal of Peter the Ceremonious — could also have been inspired by the Court of Mallorca, from works such as the verso of folio 13 in the Llibre dels Jurats de Mallorca, which depicts a coronation ceremony using a formula based on the Maiestà of Siena, to legitimise the king.70 It is surely not by chance that this quasi-sacred image appears in the

  See Lecoy de la Marche, Les sceaux (Paris: Maison Quantin, 1998), 130 and 163.   This was in keeping with the precedent that he had set. A partially surviving chronicle from the reign of Jacques II states: ‘E lo senyor Rei comensa a parlar devant tota la Cort ajustada en la dita Esgleya [San Salvador de Zaragoza], e dix molt bones paraules de les quals e del seu bon enteniment foren tuyt molt pagats e alegres e de continent fo a el respost per la cort ab gran pagament de ço que ell llur avia dit’: Las Cortes Catalanas, 167. Cited in Rubió, ‘Algunes consideracions’, 214. 69   See Olivetta Schena, Le leggi palatine di Pietro  IV d’Aragona (Cagliari: Torre Cagliari, 1983). 70  An image that, according to Joaquín Yarza, is touching on blasphemous: Joaquín Yarza Luaces, ‘La pintura española medieval. El mundo gótico’, in La pintura española, ed. Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez (Milán: Electa, 1995), vol. I, 87. It is true that this image endorses the holiness of the king and his supernatural qualities, a divine quality that almost became an obsession, to 67 68

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


seals produced in the immediate aftermath of the conquest (by force, and illegitimately in the eyes of many) of the Kingdom of Mallorca. The divine aura of the image is complemented by another important element: the mystical-religious content of the surrounding text: + DILIGITE IVSTICIAM QVI IVDICATIS T……M . These apparently legitimising terms recall the Platonic-Thomist cardinal virtues71 and the apotheosis of royal preaching. The same sentence had already been used in the seals of Peter III who, in a bid for legitimacy following his excommunication by Martin IV (who also threatened to dispossess Peter  III of his disputed kingdoms72), used the legend to exalt his sovereignty. Thus his seals bore the words SIGILLUM PETRI DIVINA CLEMENTIA REGIS ARAGONUM, in which the traditional phrase Dei gratia was replaced by divina clementia73 and, on the equestrian …

cite Christiane Raynaud, of the medieval monarchies, although it is impossible to understand the whole picture without taking into account the context of conflict in which the cartulary was created: on one hand, the promoters (who fought to maintain their privileges and exemptions) struggled against the institution of the Mallorcan monarchy (which awarded and then confirmed these privileges and exemptions); on the other hand, the Mallorcan monarchy was in conflict with Peter IV, who had cast doubt on the former’s legitimacy and who would in the end annex the island kingdom and proclaim himself king of Mallorca in 1344, an act that in the eyes of many was illicit because it contravened the provisions of the will of Jacques the Conqueror. The most recent contributions regarding the cartulary are those of Ricard Urgell (dir.), Llibre dels reis. Llibre de franqueses i privilegis del regne de Mallorca (Palma de Mallorca: J. J. de Olañeta, 2010), with a chapter written by Gabriel Llompart and Isabel Escandell in order to study all illuminations , and Marta Serrano-Coll, ‘Falsas Historias, proposiciones certeras. Dominio visual e imágenes persuasivas en el entorno áulico de la Corona de Aragón’, Codex Aquilarensis 27 (2011), esp. 200‒04. 71  According to Saint Thomas, the principle of laity means that all political activity should use and cultivate reason. To do so, politicians need to possess the cardinal virtues identified by Plato: prudence, justice, strength and temperance: Eudaldo Forment, Id a Tomás. Principios fundamentales del pensamiento de Santo Tomás (Pamplona: Fundación Gratis-Date, 2005), chap. 27. 72  Ramón Muntaner writes that the Supreme Pontiff ‘donà sentència de croada contra lo rei d’Aragó e sa terra e tots aquells qui ajuda ne secors li feesen, e absolvè de pena e de colpa tots aquells qui contra li vengessen’: Muntaner, Crònica, chap. LXXVIII. 73  According to Sagarra, the change may well have originated in the union of Peter III with Constance of Sicily, given that in 1210 Federico  I was using a seal that referred to him as divina favente clemencia Rex Sicilie, ducatus Apulie et principatus Capue. Sagarra, Sigil·lografia, 117, n. 1. It will be remebered that, as pointed out by Manuel Núñez, medieval kings liked to associate themselves with the Biblical kings of David (just and devout) and Solomon, who together with that historical and literary symbol par excellence, Charlemagne, provided a regal role-model for subsequent kings to emulate. See Manuel Núñez Rodríguez, Muerte coronada. El mito de los reyes en la Catedral compostelana (Santiago de Compostela: Universidade


Marta Serrano-Coll

side, ­DILIGITE IVSTITIAM QUI IUDICATIS TERRAM,74 adding the well known verse from the preamble to the Liber Sapientiae: ‘Love justice, you that are the judges of the earth’.75 The recovery of this sentence by Peter IV was not a matter of chance: the insistence that war against the King of Mallorca was just and that, in consequence, bringing the island kingdom under his control was the outcome of a just war, appears throughout his writings.76 Royal Devotion and Iconography This concept of royal authority, which Peter IV personified to such success, paved the way for graphical representations that incorporate sacred models and images in which the king even identified his person with venerable figures, flaunting his devotion to the benefit of the institution he ­represented. Among the first initiatives in the campaign for dynastic prestige that characterised his reign was the importance given to the liturgical festival of the Epiphany. The comparison between the Kings of Aragon and the Magi had been established, as far as written records suggest, by around 1325, when Ramón Muntaner commented, in chapter XCVI of his Chronicle, on the similarity of the journey of the Magi to that undertaken by Queen Constanza and her children Federico and Jacques, who would become Jacques  II.77 Peter IV, however, took a further step towards self-consecration by playing the roles of the Magi himself before the members of his court, performing the ritual offering of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The mandatory observance of this ceremony would be incorporated into the Ordinacions, which, though largely based on the provisions of the Mallorcan Leges palatinae, did not reproduce any of their text in this specific case.78 There are no confirmed representations of this interpretation,79 but documentary evidence gives de Santiago de Compostela, 1999), 21‒22. The evident parallels between Carolingian iconography and David have been analyzed in Dominique Alibert, ‘La majesté sacrée du roi: images du souverain carolingien’, Histoire de l’Art. Bulletin d’Information de l’Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art 5‒6 (1989): 23‒36. Regarding David as an exemplum for the medieval kings, see the monograph by Aryeh Graboïs ‘Un mythe fondamental de l’histoire de France au Moyen Age: Le roi David précurseur du roi très chrétien’, Revue Historique 581 (1992): 11‒31. 74   Ferran de Sagarra, Sigi·lografia, n. 33. 75   Sap. I, 1. 76  As stated in various lines in Peter IV, Crònica, chap. 3. 77  Muntaner, Crònica, chap. XCVI. 78   See the previously cited Schena, Le leggi palatine. 79  Alcoy wonders if the Balthazar on the altarpiece of the Collegiate Church of Sant Vicenç of Cardona, dated to between 1347 and 1360, should not be identified with Peter IV. Rosa

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


an idea of the visual association that those in attendance would have made between Peter the Ceremonious and the Magi during the festival of the Epiphany before the altar of the Royal Chapel of St Agatha. This example, and other cases from across the continent, are further evidence of a gradual transformation of the meaning of the ceremony: if in the period of the Gregorian Reforms it had become — through the scene depicted in the Adoration of the Magi — a proclamation of royal submission to spiritual power, it would now be transformed — through the sensory appeal of theatrical performance to the monarch’s own subjects — a statement of the privileged relationship between the king and the celestial realm.80 The desire to portray this relationship would find a new manifestation with the son of Peter the Ceremonious, Martin I, whose coronation ceremony played heavily on the theme of consecration with the aim of exalting his election by Providence. Martin I was also noted for his obsession with relics, which he collected with a fervour that even led to theft.81 While there were other precedents in the royal household, it was his father more than any other figure who stressed the political importance of sacred remains. Peter IV had ordained that, during certain festivals, an additional silver altarpiece with a central image of the Virgin be placed in the royal chapel, which was to be surrounded by his collection of relics so that they could be viewed and venerated by his subjects.82 This act was intended as a display of royal power over both the spiritual, through the possession of important saintly remains, and the economic, through the exhibition of fine silver reliquaries. An even clearer statement would be made on 10 July 1339, when the second transfer of the Alcoy, ‘Retaule del Conestable’, in La Barcelona gòtica (Barcelona: Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, 1999), 229‒31. Not all authors share this theory. Some contemporary foreign works have survived, such as the Morgan Triptych, from around 1355‒60 and the Adoration of the Magi on one of the chapels in the Karlštejn Castle, prior to 1367, which shows Charles IV of Bohemia as one of the three kings. 80  Highly informative work by Arturo Carlo Quintavale, ‘La Réforme Grégorienne et l’église: image et politique du xie au xiie siècle’ (conference presented in Art et réforme grégorienne en France et en Espagne, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, October 15, 2012). 81  ‘sia per via de compra, sia per via de furt’ was the phrase he used to urge the Catalan consul in Alexandria to acquire the remains of Saint Barbara: Albert Torra Pérez, ‘Reyes, santos y reliquias. Aspectos de la sacralidad de la monarquía catalano-aragonesa’, in XV Congreso de Historia de la Corona de Aragón (Zaragoza: Diputación General de Aragón, 1996), tom. I, vol. III, 495‒517. 82  Regarding the courtly treasures belonging to the king of Aragon, see Francesca Español, ‘El Tesoro Sagrado de los reyes en la Corona de Aragón’, in Maravillas de la España Medieval. Tesoro Sagrado y Monarquía, ed. Isidro Bango (León: Junta de Castilla y León, 2001), vol. I, 269‒88.


Marta Serrano-Coll

relics of St Eulalia was made to the new crypt in the Cathedral of Barcelona (Fig. 2a). The date of the solemn processes was carefully chosen by Peter IV, not only to mark one of his earliest royal visits to Barcelona but also to coincide with the presence of the highest civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries of the time, most important among them James III of Mallorca, who had travelled to Barcelona to pay homage to the King of Aragon (the importance of which was stated by Peter IV in his chronicle83). It is clear that Peter IV wished to transform the procession into a spectacle that gave a tangible sense of the power of royalty, magnificence transmitted by the immaterial sanctity of the event per se and the material splendour with which it was embellished. That the king gave political meaning to this religious ceremony is evident not only from his Chronicle but also in the historical relief around the reliquary, which depicts perhaps Elisenda de Montcada and the King of Mallorca looking on as Peter IV prepares to touch the remains of St Eulalia with ungloved hands (Fig. 2b). His ungloved hands could also be a significant element in the argument presented here and in broader discussions of contact relics: the King himself would proclaim that he had held the saintly body in his own hands.84 It is interesting to consider the possible implications of such a statement, through which the King portrayed himself as a relic holder for a brief moment; we can ask whether, for example, it was intended to consecrate the institution of monarchy in some way, a point that has been raised by Gerardo Boto in reference to midfourteenth century Mallorca, when the tomb of James III took on a sacred dimension through its use for the display of relics, which conferred the status of what we could call a secondary altar.85 The Royal Pantheon: Burial ad sanctos and Royal Representation We can also examine whether a similar premise underlies ceremonial acts documented at the Monastery of Pedralbes, where ritual processions were held during which the right of funerals was recited before the double-sided   ‘E, ans que lo dit rei de Mallorques partís de Barcelona, fon feta translació de la verge santa Eulàlia, cos sant de Barcelona’: Peter IV, Crònica, chap. II, 35. 83

 ‘portam lo dit cors sant en nostres mans’, as stated in his chronicle: Peter IV, Crònica, chap. II, 35. 85  Gerardo Boto Varela, ‘Panthéons royaux des cathédrales de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle et de Palma de Mallorque. A la recherche d’un éspace funéraire qui n’a jamais été utilisé’, in Espace Ecclésial et liturgie au Moyen Age, ed. Anne Baud 53 (2009): 295 and following. 84

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


Figs 2a. Santa Eulalia sarcophagus. General view and detail of the top. © Barcelona Cathedral. Serie 28, n. 40. Circa 1327.

Figs 2b. Santa Eulalia sarcophagus. General view and detail of the top. © Barcelona Cathedral. Serie 28, n. 40. Circa 1327.


Marta Serrano-Coll

tomb of Queen Elisenda.86 The cortège, separated by gender, emulated the procession before the sarcophagus of Sancha of Mallorca at Santa Chiara in Naples, perhaps following the arrival in Pedralbes of Queen Elisenda’s niece, Francesca de Saportella as abbess. While the tomb of Queen Elisenda became a ritual station that formed part of a processional itinerary, there has not yet been any conclusive evidence to ascertain whether identical or similar liturgies were performed at the Royal Abbey of Santa María de Poblet, which was the royal pantheon of the Kings of Aragon from the twelfth century until the end of the fifteenth century, from the time of Peter  IV, as established by royal oath.87 We know that it was compulsory for royal anniversaries to be celebrated,88 and documentary evidence survives in the royal testaments, which contain specific requirements for offerings, masses and prayers pro anima,89 although with the exception of the córrer les armes ritual, which differs considerably from the ceremonies with which this study is concerned,90 there are no recorded processions in Poblet such as those performed in Pedralbes (Fig. 3). It is interesting to look more closely at the choice of Poblet as the royal pantheon from the times of Peter  IV the Ceremonious, a decision   See Cristina Sanjust, L’Obra del Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes. Des de la seva fundació fins al segle XVI. Un monestir reial per a l’ordre de les clarisses a Catalunya (Barcelona: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 2008). 87   From the time of Peter  IV, as established by royal oath. Del Arco, Sepulcros, 58‒59 and Agustí Altisent, Història de Poblet (Espluga de Francolí: Abadia de Poblet, 1974), 283. 88  In fact, to a question asked by the abbot of Poblet regarding the transfer of Leoner of Sicily’s body to his monastery, the king answers ‘así entiende se debe hacer’: Del Arco, Sepulcros, 80. 89   For example, that of Peter IV, which in 1364 specified: ‘como hayamos concedido al abad y convento de Poblet con carta nuestra que ellos tienen cinco mil sueldos reales rendales sobre la tabla de Valencia, y queden obligados, queremos que los monjes de dicho monasterio, por razón, como dicho está, que los dichos cinco mil sueldos cada año pagaderos, a decir misas, sufragios y otras plegarias para remedio de nuestra alma y de nuestros antepasados, y cada año, en el día que moriremos, celebren un solemne aniversario por nuestra alma’. Taken from Antigualles de Poblet. Llibre primer en lo qual se conten una compendiosa y curiosissima historia, de les sepultures dels serenissims señors Reys de Arago, Persones nobles, Barons i altres Infinits cauallers, tots de celebre Recordacio. Qui sepultats estan en lo sagrat Monestir de Poblet. I altres coses diuerses dignes de tota memoria, tretes del archiu de dit sant Monestir. Fi del primer llibre a 2 de abril 1587. F. B. D. L. 1587. Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (MS 1701), fol. 45. 90  Among others, Mª Rosa Manote, ‘Córrer les armes. Cerimònia dels funerals dels reis d’Aragó, representada en un relleu procedent del monestir de Santa Maria de Poblet’, Lambard. Estudis d’Art Medieval (1993‒94): 89‒117; Francesca Español, ‘El Córrer les armes. Un aparte caballeresco en las exequias medievales hispanas’, Anuario de Estudios Medievales 37/1 (2007): 867‒905. 86

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


Fig 3. Peter IV and Maria of Navarra recumbent figures in Poblet. Mid-fourteenth Century, but reconstructed in the mid-twentieth century by Frederic Marès. © Monestir de Santa Maria de Poblet.


Marta Serrano-Coll

that broke with the Franciscan tradition of the preceding Kings of Aragon and is inextricably linked to the figure of Jacques I, whom Peter IV did his utmost — albeit without success — to canonise.91 However, there are also reasons to analyse the tombs from a new perspective, looking instead at their iconographic and typological importance with respect to the links that I believe the monarchy, in pursuit of different objectives, wished to establish with the sacred.92 One of the principal goals of a research project that I am directing is to examine the extent to which we can see in the dual representations of kings — depicted in the robes of the Cistercian Order and with royal attire — a visual manifestation of the concept of rex et sacerdos, which, as I have endeavoured to argue here, Peter IV the Ceremonious was so keen to promote. Indeed, I suggest it is no coincidence that the effigy of Peter IV, which is not double, is dressed in the robes of a deacon, ‘como acostumbran a levar los diáconos quando son vestidos por dir lo Evangelio’,93 in the same way that he was attired on the day of his coronation and as he desired to be buried, according to his will.94 It is reasonable to claim that this iconography clearly exhibits the overtly religious nature of the political theory espoused by Peter IV, which could also have a bearing on the corresponding architectural manifestations: the royal tombs are elevated, much in the same style as those of saints, particularly those built in the fourteenth century with prophylactic aims in mind. With the creation of the royal pantheon, which entailed rigorous organisation of burials and the celebration of the necessary funeral liturgies, it is possible that Peter IV also  Regarding this question, see Rafael Narbona Vizcaíno, ‘Héroes, Tumbas y Santos. La conquista en las devociones de Valencia Medieval’, Saitabí 46 (1996): 293‒319. 92  One of the principal goals of a research project that I directed was to examine the extent to which we can see in the dual representations of kings — depicted in the robes of the Cistercian Order and with royal attire — a visual manifestation of the concept of rex et sacerdos, which, as I have endeavoured to argue here, Peter  IV the Ceremonious was so keen to promote. The project formed part of the programme Ajuts per fomentar la incorporació i visualització d’investigadors emergents. It was funded by Banco Santander and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili and is entitled Els Panteons Reials a la Catalunya Nova: Poblet, Santes Creus i Vallbona de les Monges, ref. [2012LINE-05]. 93   Ángel San Vicente Pino, ‘El códice y su transcripción’, in Ceremonial de consagración y coronación de los reyes de Aragón. MS  R. 14.425 de la Biblioteca de la Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, en Madrid (Zaragoza: Diputación General de Aragón, 1992), 21. 94  His body, according to the will issued on 17 August 1379, had to be dressed in royal insignia, that is, a Roman shirt, stole, camisa romana, estola, maniple, tunicle and dalmatic, in the style of the cardinals when the Pope celebrated divine office, with boots and velvet slippers, such as those that he wore on the day of his coronation: Del Arco, Sepulcros, 288. 91

Rex et Sacerdos: a veiled idea of kingship?


wished to proclaim the continuity of the king’s political body, in defiance of the finite nature of the physical self and the dynastic problems that threatened his reign until the year 1344.95 Conclusions Through what we now deem works of art, I have endeavoured to determine the extent to which — and the reasons why — divine dimension was a preoccupation of the King of Aragon, Peter IV. While it is true that the atmosphere surrounding the Aragonese monarchy was broadly similar to that of the majority of medieval sovereignties, there can be no doubt that the unique characteristics of the reign of Peter  IV call for more detailed examination of his artistic endeavours, to arrive at the conclusion that his achievements were not simply the fruit of a prevailing atmosphere but in fact part of a more ­specific plan, concerned, in some cases, with recognition and legitimacy. Some of the manifestations of this plan appear to present Peter  IV to his people as ruler in the temporal domain but also as a spiritual guide; others seem to announce him as the representative of Christo-centric or even juridico-centric kingship, as Kantorowicz would explain. I believe that these endeavours were motivated to a degree by contacts with other monarchies, chiefly the Kingdom of Mallorca, which is represented in the frontispiece of the Llibre dels Jurats (as extraordinary as it is ingenious) in a manner illustrative of the theory of the king’s two bodies, in which the effigy of a thirteenth-century monarch recalls the incumbent fourteenth-century ruler. This iconographical exhibition perhaps explains the presence in some of the works commissioned by Peter IV of the manifestation of dignitas no moritur. There remain a number of themes to be examined that could help shed light on this veiled ideal of the monarch as rex et sacerdos. I have not, for example, referred to ephemeral elements such as scents, colours and lighting, which contributed to the king’s mise-en-scène and of which some documentary record exists. Nor have I discussed the repeated references to the   Peter IV was highly concerned about not having sired a male heir. In 1347 he stated that were he to have no male heir, the kingdom would pass into the hands of his first born daughter Constance: Del Arco, Sepulcros, 268. The king makes the same statement in his chronicle: Peter IV, Crònica, chap. IV, 4‒7. The problems that he had in having a male heir led him to promote various artistic works, including the Libro de Horas de María de Navarra, as is shown in Joaquín Yarza, ‘María de Navarra y la ilustración del libro de Horas de la Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana’, in Libro de Horas de la reina María de Navarra (Barcelona: Moleiro, 1996). 95


Marta Serrano-Coll

choice of liturgical vestments worn by Peter IV during his coronation, which Palacios Martín interpreted as an attempt to establish some claim to participation in the priesthood.96 Finally, I have passed over documents that reveal the extent to which Peter IV was concerned with portraying the divine origin of his majesty and claiming equality of power and dignity with the figure of the emperor. These and other aspects, such as references to the Specula principis or Specula regum,97 should also be addressed in future studies. However, there is sufficient evidence to sustain the argument that in the fourteenth century, and more specifically during the reign of Peter IV the Ceremonious, there was a desire for the king to be seen as a kind of rex et sacerdos, a figure with a sacred dimension for the purposes of propaganda, recognition and legitimacy — or at the very least for the purposes of sanctioning his royal authority — within the framework of a political theology that was keenly expressed in the texts and iconography that emanated from the court of the King of Aragon.

  Bonifacio Palacios Martín, ‘Estudio’, in El Manuscrito de ‘San Miguel de los Reyes’ de las ‘Ordinacions’ de Peter IV, El ‘Manuscrito de San Miguel de los Reyes’ de las ‘Ordinacions’ de Peter IV (Valencia: Scriptorium, 1994), 85. 97  It seems to me more than mere coincidence that the first translation into an Iberian language of Speculum de Beauvais should have been commissioned by Peter IV. 96

Transference of Authority: Spiritual Tradition as Foundation for State Construction and Preservation in Medieval and Early Modern Russia Elena Kashina


his article considers the role of spiritual tradition in the process of nation-building in Russia, focusing on developments in official artistic expression at a number of key stages. Firstly, it will illustrate the significance of ecclesiastical construction in laying claims to and asserting power nationally and internationally by examining the formation of the architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin. The period under discussion extends from the middle of the fourteenth century, when the transference of the Holy See to Moscow allowed the Principality to become a contender for national leadership, to the turn of the sixteenth century, when a new fortress and spaces for diplomatic ceremony were erected for the new court at the intersection of Western and Oriental traditions. Secondly, changes in official visual arts shall be considered which were introduced following the coronation of the Ivan IV in 1547, a seminal event completed the paradigm of a centralised state in Russia. It shall be demonstrated that the new visual expression relied on the projection of the transference of authority from the sublime and transcendent to the sovereign in settling matters of legitimacy of the title and establishing a new monarchy. Finally, the article shall draw attention to invoking in the early nineteenth century, on the initiative of the Emperor, of the motto ‘Orthodoxy, Tsardom, Patriland’, a narrative which can be traced to the reign of Ivan IV, in order to re-consolidate the minds around the idea of stability and loyalty to the monarch and to the state order. The article concludes that strong participation of the Church in affairs of the State in Russia has, historically, resulted in a stronger state, more resilient against external challenges, and more capable of development and prosperity. We begin with a discussion of the architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin, which has symbolized the seat of authority for the principality of Moscow since the moment of the first mention of the town of Moscow in 1147, through its development into the capital of a unified state, which was Political Theology in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. by J. Aurell, M. Herrero and A. C. Miceli Stout, MEMPT 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016), pp. 363–388 ©  DOI 10.1484/M.MEMPT-EB.5.111260



Elena Kashina

comprised of a conglomerate of lands brought together through strategic policy of Muscovite rulers, until the moving of the capital to St Petersburg by Peter I in 1703. The Kremlin has remained, with the notable interruption of continuity brought about by Peter I, the administrative, spiritual and symbolic heart of the Russia to this day. The ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin had been continuously evolving on the site of the original (twelfth-­century) settlement. The selection of the area for a settlement was dictated by natural geography, and the position it offered for defense: the top of a steep hill at the confluence of two rivers. Subsequent defensive walls followed the historically determined outline of the original fortified settlement. New fortifications and new palaces within the existing and continued enclosure were required following a devastating opposition with a powerful enemy, to mirror a change in the status of the ruler and the principality, to project an image of cosmopolitanism, or a combination of these. A fortified princely enclosure in the capital cities of the principalities in medieval Rus’ served as the political, administrative and spiritual centre for the entire polity. This denoted that the fortified space would also embrace edifices and architectural ensembles that would enable it to fulfil said functions. Moscow first assumed the significance of a contender for political supremacy amid the many principalities linked through kinship in the fourteenth century, when the Holy See was transferred to the city by Metropolitan Peter from Vladimir in 1325, during the rule of Prince Ivan Kalita (1288–1340). The Prince was active in encouraging Peter, whose frequent travels between the various Russian lands were not always prompted by pastoral necessity, to make Moscow his permanent abode. Upon acceptance of invitation, the Metropolitan initiated a building programme to befit head of the Church and to postulate Moscow as the spiritual centre of the fragmented lands. Under Ivan Kalita the foundations of four stone ecclesiastical edifices were laid, which were the Kremlin’s first stone structures, underscoring the significance of spiritual authority in the system of political governance in ancient Rus’. The structures were: the Dormition Cathedral (1327), the Church of John Climacus (of the Ladder) ‘for the Bells’ (1329), the Church of the Saviour ‘Near my Estate’ or ‘on the Hill’ (1330) and the Church of Archangel Michael (1333).1 In the course of the centuries, during the many alterations, including those of political significance which had taken place in the  Among others in Ю.П. Мосунов, ‘Храм Архангела Михаила 1333 года в Московском Кремле’, in С.А. Беляев and И.А. Воротникова (chief eds), Московский Кремль ХIV столетия. Древние святыни и исторические памятники (Москва, 107).


Transference of Authority


Kremlin by the time of Ivan the Great, the sites of the churches remained the same, and new churches which were erected to replace those which had perished or had been taken apart invariably retained the original dedication. Three of the four ecclesiastical constructions founded in the first third of the fourteenth century have survived to this day, not in their original form, but in the form of fragments, and on the original sites and with the original dedications. The only one which has not survived, the Church of the Saviour on the Hill, was demolished in the twentieth century. Moreover, recent research indicates that the new structures where possible and for as long as was possible sought to incorporate elements of the original ancient prototype into their fabric.2 This evidence already testifies to a consistently pursued continuity, with value attached to tradition — cultural, spiritual and political — and to the role of architecture as its expression. Furthermore, reports of archaeological investigation on the territory of the Kremlin published in the 2013 compendium ‘Moscow Kremlin of the Fourteenth Century’ indicate that the Dormition Cathedral was close in its plan and dimensions to St George Cathedral in Yuriev-Polsky, built in the 1230–34. Yuriev-Polsky was founded in 1152 by Yuri the Long-Armed, who also had founded Moscow (1147). YurievPolsky was part of the Vladimir-Suzdal’ Rus, the principality which had succeeded Kiev as the centre of political and spiritual authority following a period of internecine strife. This elevated and honourable position resulted from a consistent and firm effort of the princes of the Vladimir-Suzdal’ Rus as consolidators of the scattered and warring princedoms around their capital city of Vladimir, which de facto became the capital city of the newly gathered Russian lands.3 A discussion of the medieval history of the Russian lands is not the intention of this article, but in order to emphasize its central premise, viz. that of the transference of authority from the sublime to the earthly, the following observation needs to be made. The process of nation-building and a unification between many of the belligerent principalities of what once constituted Kievan Rus was initiated in particular by the prince Andrey (c. 1111‒June 28, 1174, Grand Prince since 1157), whose nickname was Bogoluybsky  Ibid., 107–17.   Those which were ‘gathered’, that is, unified around the Vladimir-Suzdal’ principality and the authority of its prince. The process of consolidating more polities around Vladimir was brought to an atrocious close by the raids of the Mongol-Tatar hordes, of which particularly devastating was the one in 1238, when the city of Vladimir was sacked, pillaged and burnt. 2 3


Elena Kashina

(Боголюбский), the God-Loving. It was he who brought to Vladimir, from Kiev, the famous icon of the Theotokos, The Mother of God of Vladimir, and created an aura of particular reverence to it, as an ancient relic and carrier of spiritual connection with Constantinople. The icon is believed to have been brought to Kiev from Byzantium, and is certainly painted by a Byzantine master. Andrey further embarked upon an extensive building programme, central to which, alongside city fortifications, were cathedrals and churches. Already in his civic engineering projects he sought to demonstrate a continuum with the state which had brought a model of statehood,4 based on earthly power that was legalized and sanctified by spiritual authority to the Slavonic tribes who, although brave warriors and skilled craftsmen, had lacked an ideology which would permit the formation of a state. Thus, the main entrance to the city of Vladimir was named The Golden Gates, in an analogy with the Golden Gates of Constantinople. Further, the main Cathedral of the city of Vladimir, built on the initiative of Grand Prince Andrey was dedicated to the Dormition of Our Lady. It seems correct to suggest that this dedication, unusual for the main Cathedral of a major capital in Rus’,5 was based on the lines in the Scripture, which said that upon the dormition of Mary the twelve apostles were brought to her bedside from all the corners of the earth. That is to say, they were brought together on this occasion, and for a ruler who saw his main task as putting an end to internecine wars and uniting the lands once again into a strong state, as was the case in the early days of Kievan Rus’, this choice of Biblical event seems only logical: the idea of unity, fundamental to state building thus received explication and validation through recourse to the eternal and transcendent authority. The role of the princes of Vladimir as consolidators whose rule had been informed by piety and the spiritual authority of Orthodoxy, had postulated them, their capital city and, as we shall see further, the city’s architecture as archetypal. After the Vladimir-Suzdal’ Principality was devastated by the Mongol-Tatar tribes during their raiding campaign of 1238, its spiritual authority remained undimmed, and it was the artistic idioms of this region that were subsequently invoked by the Princes of Moscow to project notions of historical, dynastic and cultural continuity, as in the course of the centuries the city was establishing herself as centre of a polity with a

 Conversion to Christianity in Kiev, ad 988.  In Kiev and in Novgorod, for instance, the main Cathedrals were dedicated to the Hagia Sophia.

4 5

Transference of Authority


d­ istinct ­political and cultural identity. It needs to be pointed out that it was the recently published reports of archaeological works — and there are few other sources for the first stone construction on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin — that have allowed to confirm with greater certainty the prevalent hypothesis of the Vladimir-Suzdal’ roots of fourteenth-century Muscovite architecture. In fourteenth-century Moscow, which sought to establish herself as a new capital, in the wake of the desolation inflicted upon Vladimir and the eastern lands, the new Dormition Cathedral was intended as the principal church of the Moscow principality, the seat of ecclesiastical authority and symbol of its patronage of the ruling house. Notions of continuity and their role in lending legitimacy to political power were certainly what guided Metropolitan Peter, who had initiated the construction of the cathedral to choose it as his resting place, thereby designating the edifice the cradle and perpetuator of national tradition in the new political centre. Furthermore, the dedication to the Dormition of the Theotokos was modelled on that of the principal Cathedral of the Vladimir-Suzdal’ Principality and the seat of the Holy See before its transfer to Moscow. The Metropolitan whose dedication to the Muscovite cause lent it the authority to pursue consolidating a centralized state was sanctified and venerated as a patron saint of Moscow. Moreover, Peter, upon arrival in Moscow was granted land on the territory of the Kremlin for constructing estates necessitated by his role as the highest hierarch. This included an architectural complex of private chambers, with ancillary buildings and a church, which was to function also as ceremonial space for the Metropolitan’s dispatching of his duties as head of Church. The chambers gradually transformed into a palace, which, after the Russian church became autocephalous, became known as the Patriarch’s Palace, and together with the church, the buildings occupy the exact same places today as at the time of their foundation in the first third of the fourteenth century. The construction of three stone churches and a Cathedral on the territory of the fortified enclosure in immediate proximity to the estates of the Prince, the semiotic paradigm of the dedication of the edifices, and the concerted effort to accommodate the head of Church demonstrate that in his intent to lay the foundations for a capital of a unified nation, Ivan Kalita considered it of prime importance to ensure a lasting and visible presence of the Church in his domain.


Elena Kashina

It should be noted that during this period of active construction the chambers of the Prince of Moscow himself and of his household were still wooden, and in his rigorous efforts to literally set in stone the claim of his principality to national supremacy, it was not a palace that he considered his main concern. No architectural attempts to glorify the person of the Prince were made, even his private church, the future Annunciation Cathedral, also founded at the time, was not of stone, and its early history is barely discernable in the chronicles. Political expediency required monumental evidence to the legitimacy of the claims, present and future. It is evident, in the light of the above, that the core of the legitimacy was seen in the continuum of spiritual tradition and of the view that power is only legitimate when administered in communion with the Church. A tradition which was seen, as the above discussion has shown, as inseparable from dynastic continuity, with the two eloquently articulated already in the Moscow Kremlin of the first third of the fourteenth century. The above examination of the formation of the architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin shows that under Ivan Kalita, the role of power as but an instrument to safeguard and defend the right to national identity was being articulated, which manifested itself in foregrounding the role of Orthodoxy as its cornerstone and agent of consolidation. Erecting defensive walls around the city was pursued as second most important endeavor at the time of the resolute encapsulating of the foundations of the state in the form of stone churches in cathedrals. The Prince had a new city wall erected, of oak, a construction which commenced on 25 November 1339 and was completed during the Great Fast, in the spring of 1340. Strengthening the seat of authority from within and from without created a solid basis for peaceful development, and ultimately to being able meet and repel military and political challenges on the way to a strong, selfsufficient state with a capital in Moscow. The rise of Moscow continued, and the next key stage to investigate is the reign of Ivan III (1440–1505, Grand Prince since 1462), which saw the status of the principality of Moscow change to that of the capital of united Rus’, his own status change to that of the Grand Prince, Ruler of All Rus’, and of the new state to one that sought to establish herself as heir to the Byzantine Empire. In 1472 Ivan wed Zoe (Sophia) Paleologue, the niece of the past Byzantine Emperor, and a union with her therefore carried many political connotations. Sophia had been raised in Rome, and it may have been at her suggestion that Ivan invited Italian architects to carry out a grandiose construction programme. The new Kremlin was to demonstrate not only the new political weight of the state of Rus’, but also its economic and

Transference of Authority


military might, and its sovereign’s command of contemporary cosmopolitan knowledge. The commissions to the Italian architects included a new Grand Prince’s palace, a new ensemble required for diplomatic protocol, modelled on the Italian palazzo paradigm, and a new fortress, constructed according to the latest engineering achievements known to the Italian architects in charge of its construction. It is interesting to note that the architects who carried out the transformative works in Moscow originated from Northern Italy, and brought with them the architectural traditions of Lombardy.6 Notable among the masters are Pietro Antonius Solari, who designed the new Kremlin wall and its towers, and Marco Ruffo, who designed the palace for the Grand Prince (the palace was finished after Ivan’s death). This background of the architects explains the appearance of the new Kremlin defence wall, the mighty fortress with twenty towers, gates, bridges, and all the mechanisms contemporary military engineering had at its disposal to make the enclosure impregnable, yet ensuring easy communication between the enclosed area and outer world. The idiom, aesthetic as well as technical of the art of fortified enclosures had been transported from Renaissance Italy, and at the same time it was configured to coalesce with the terrain, with the existing layout of the system of fortifications, and emerged as a versatile statement as to the state’s current position and political intent. Inside the Kremlin enclosure, the Italian architects faced the conundrum of fitting the new civic constructions into the existing sprawling architecture of the Moscow Kremlin. Amid the in situ structures and entire ensembles they did, however, manage to single out a space which most strongly answered to their paradigm of city planning: a geometrically correct square framed by symbolic edifices. In the days in Ivan III, this became the square known today as the Cathedral Square: the space within the Kremlin enclosure which was delineated by the Grand Prince’s palace, the Reception Hall, built in 1491 for dispatching diplomatic protocol and the three Cathedrals of state significance, which far from fulfilling only strictly ecclesiastical roles served as scenes of court ceremony and as depository of the country’s most treasured devotional artifacts, effectively representing shrines of historic memory. While the civic monuments of the time demonstrated a triumph of international cultural narratives, in the matters of ecclesiastical architecture it was national tradition that was reinforced and newly articulated. For the

 Among others in Н.А. Вьюева, ‘Вступление’, in Н. Вьюева et al, Грановитая палата Московского Кремля (Арт Деко, 2013), 3–15.



Elena Kashina

Fig. 1. Dormition Cathedral, 1479, Moscow Kremlin.

construction of the Dormition Cathedral (Fig. 1), the Italian architects were directed by the Grand Prince to the city of Vladimir, to study the Dormition Cathedral there, and use it as a prototype for the one to be erected on the site of its predecessor in Moscow. The skilled Italians introduced a ­number of constructural innovations, which resulted in the cathedral’s interior appearing lighter and more spacious, but the aesthetic principles of Russia’s ­national architecture were strictly adhered to. It should be noted that in was in the process of their work on the Dormition Cathedral that the Italian masters introduced the use of red bricks, having started their production on a site nearby. This marked a new departure for Muscovite architecture, gave a new appearance to the fortified walls and towers, and bound the traditional and contemporary, indigenous and cosmopolitan on yet another level. Another major Cathedral, Archangel Michael (1505–08) represents a manifest yet subtle fusing of traditional Russian and contemporary Renaissance philosophies. The exterior of the edifice, when the construction was completed, earned it a name of ‘a Russian cathedral dressed in an Italian shirt’, so many were features that derived from Italianate, in this case, often Venetian prototypes. In the course of the many alterations over the centuries since 1508,

Transference of Authority


many of the features were removed, to bring the appearance of the ecclesiastical building in line with indigenous canons, but the luxuriant ornaments in the form of the sea-shells which still remain, and the ­embellishment of the roof with sculpture, in the form of Venetian inspired vases which survive only as fragments in the collections of the Moscow, Kremlin testify to the boldness of the initial decorative programme. At the same time, the interior could not have been more Orthodox, as befitted the dynastic resting place of the ruling house. Such aesthetics articulated openness in matters of the state on the one hand, and the state’s firm foundation in the indigenous paradigm of credibility and legitimacy on the other. Simultaneously, a complex system of the Grand Prince’s palace was being erected, which also combined the two cultural idioms. To this day survives the Reception Hall (1491), which was adjacent to the Palace and played an important role compositionally in creating a geometrically correct form of the representational part of the fortified enclosure. The overall achievement of the Kremlin of Ivan III, however, was its ability to display dynastic and cultural continuity on the one hand, and a cohesive engagement with contemporaneity on the other. The Kremlin’s architectural language of power had been evolving over the centuries and at the time of Ivan III effectively only required an update. Therefore, despite the novelty of much of the construction, engineering and cultural, the architecture of late fifteenth-century Kremlin proved such a complete projection of the paradigm of sovereignty rooted in vernacular spiritual tradition. The new architecture did not represent a reconfiguration of its fundamental thematic and conceptual significance. Rather, the architectural additions and innovative artistic language for spaces of the court ceremonial represented a strategic effort to combine international and indigenous artistic narratives of political display. This was required in order to emphasize and augment existing indigenous symbolism through an open articulation of Russia’s political intent to establish herself now also within the framework of West-European courts and nation states. Ivan III, at the helm of a large and strong polity, was already referred to as Tsar by the courtiers, but the title was never conferred officially, although Ivan made an attempt to introduce this title with crowning his grandson Tsar. But the grandson died in prison, as a result of court intrigue, which proved a precursor to the power struggles of the turn of the sixteenth century which threatened the independence and the very national identity of the young Russian state. Following a period of strife in the governance of the country, Ivan  IV (1547–84) was crowned Tsar of All Russia, making him Russia’s first officially crowned Tsar. Conferring the title had the purpose of re-consolidating the country, while the emergence of a Tsar in Russia held enormous implications internationally, particularly for Western Europe.


Elena Kashina

Muscovy now faced the challenge of asserting the legitimacy of the claim to the title, and at the same time of consolidating the country’s cultural identity as a member of a p­ articular geographical territory and cultural tradition. A programme of affirming Russia as an independent cultural and geo-political entity was offered to the young Ivan by his advisors, chief among them the Metropolitan Macarios.7 The Byzantine Empire was to be emphasized as the archetype for all aspects of Tsardom in Rus’, including the concept of the unity and equality of ecclesiastical and secular power, the notion of derivation of Tsar’s power from God, and of the Tsar’s being a sacral persona. Demonstrating genealogical connections between Russia and Byzantium, alongside display of lineage, kinship and tradition became paramount once again. New narratives of statehood, of dynastic continuities, of legitimacy of power and of sovereignty were being consciously developed, however, at this time the chief medium for political transcultural discourse was pictorial expression, and, as this article emphasises, the new iconographies were elaborated primarily to be legible for Western European diplomacy. Apart from the one mentioned above, there existed other incentives for drawing a tighter and more unified paradigm of nationality at the time of the coronation of Ivan IV, which expedited the coronation itself. The fall of Byzantium provided both Western Europe religiously controlled by the papacy, and Russia with a reason to seek substantiation of themselves as heirs of the Empire, or for the possibility to profess Christianity according to a chosen rite. With the formation of a centralized state in Russia at the time of Ivan  III in the second half of the fifteenth century and a greater emphasis during the period on contacts, cultural and political with Western Europe, the paradigm of power representation at the nascent Russian court started to change, and was fully articulated and formalized in the visual expression of the reign of Ivan  IV. The measures to safeguard national values and indeed sovereignty were taken not least to reverse the perceived pervasiveness of West-European Catholic artistic and philosophical doctrines whose diffusion accompanied the wide cultural and diplomatic connections encouraged by Ivan III, and led to seething unrest in the minds of the court aristocracy threatening the independence of Russia and her very ability to keep her national identity. Equally, religious

  Вера и власть. Эпоха Ивана Грозного, Музеи Московского Кремля, exhibition catalogue (Москва, 2007), 7.


Transference of Authority


t­ urmoil ­everywhere in Europe provided a strong incentive to articulate and enshrine the foundations of the nation’s self-identification and of Orthodoxy as the definitive anchor for the stability of the minds and of the state. The period of Ivan IV, with all the questionable developments of the later period of the Tsar’s reign (for instance, the oprichnina), proved a resounding success in forming the pictorial and ritual paradigm of Russia’s expression of sovereignty. The iconographies developed at the court of Ivan  IV served as prototypes for the official visual narratives of the new dynasty of the Romanovs, both in secular and particularly in religious artistic expression.8 Moreover, the introduction and substantiation of Tsar as a persona on whom authority and license to rule are transferred from the sublime realm proved pivotal in stabilizing the Russian Empire in early nineteenth century, under the motto ‘Orthodoxy, Tsardom, Patriland’. This motto was essentially construed during the reign of Ivan IV, as shall be demonstrated below, and further enabled the Russian Empire to attain one of the world’s leading positions economically and artistically. An essential example of art production under Ivan IV which projected the narrative of power and was prompted directly by a necessity of its assertion became a wooden chapel, the Tsar’s Place (1551, four years after the coronation), which was to mark the Tsar’s place during divine liturgy in the Dormition Cathedral in the Kremlin.9 The tradition of having a particular place for the Emperor to stay during the Liturgy derived from the ritual of the Byzantine Imperial court. The Dormition Cathedral, which has symbolized historic and hereditary continuity, was the scene of the most significant ceremonies of state, including conferring the title on the ruler, and thus served as one of the most prominent public spaces of ideological and political display. The wooden structure carried elaborate carvings and inscriptions, gilt against a blue background, the easier to be seen, illustrating the legend of the sending by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomakhos of regal insignia to his Kievan grandson, Vladimir Monomakhos.10 The scenes (twelve in total) included Tsar Constantine Monomakhos on the Throne, The Translation of the

  Т. Е. Самойлова и Т. Д. Панова, Усыпальница царя Ивана Грозного (Москва, 2004), 9.  Among others, И. М.Соколова, Трон царя Ивана Грозного в Успенском соборе (Москва, 2006), Д. К. Валявин, Венчание на царство в России (Москва, 2011). 10   The fact that it was indeed a legend is attested to by the fact that the Emperor Constantine Monomakhos died in 1054, while his grandson, to whom he was sending the regalia, commenced his rule in 1113. — Соколова,‘Трон царя Ивана Грозного’, 19. 8 9


Elena Kashina

Fig. 2. The Tsar’s place (the Throne of Monomakhos), Moscow, 1551. The Translation of the Royal Regalia by Emperor Constantine Monomakhos to Russian Ambassadors..

Fig. 3. Monomakhos Throne, Moscow, 1551. Metropolitan Neofit is Depositing the Tsar’s Crown (the Hat of Monomakhos) onto Prince Vladimir.

Royal Regalia by Emperor Constantine Monomakhos to ­Russian ­Ambassadors (Fig. 2), Metropolitan Neofit Depositing the Tsar’s Crown (the Hat of Monomakhos) onto Prince Vladimir (Fig. 3), and Grand Prince Vladimir’s Council with His Princes and Boyars.11  Among others, Соколова, ‘Трон царя Ивана Грозного’, 43–44, 47–50, 55, 56, 60.


Transference of Authority


Thematically this chronicle, unfolding in twelve highly detailed episodes picturing historic personages and diplomatic ceremony, represented a seminal departure from the traditional vocabulary of indigenous public art, particularly observed in church. Decorative programmes for church interiors would have been devotional in nature. The tableaux illustrating the subject which served essentially as a historical-political documentary, such was its actuality for the particular moment of the creation of the series of images proved a piece of non-ecclesiastical, civic in character art. The scenes designed as a medium of affirming the State through the dynastic connections of its ruler, with historic figures in secular contexts acting as protagonists were placed in a religious interior, inside a cathedral where a mere mortal was proclaimed sovereign in his land by the Grace of God marked a penetration of secular expression into the sanctuary of the church. This motion proved to be but one, early and eloquent, on the way of turning Church into and instrument of State in its role of sanctifying the sovereign and the divine nature and provenance of his power. However, this was undertaken with the direct approval and, as has been mentioned above, at the initiative of the Church. Indisputably, the decorative programme of the Tsar’s Place represented a definitive statement of political will to establish and convey visually the dynastic right of the Grand Prince of Moscow to the title of the Tsar. Yet, prior to the formation of the centralized state ancient icons, for instance, constituted one distinctive group of objects whose presence within the realm signified its chosen position. Their presence was synonymous with that of the grace of God, and with continuity of spiritual tradition, and demonstrable spiritual continuum was that which elevated the polity and gave it grounds for aspiration for national leadership. Demonstrating the presence of the grace of God upon the realm remained important in the sixteenth century, but now it found itself entwined with display of royal regalia. The decoration of the Tsar’s throne in 1551 proved one example of visualization of a new importance for Russia of material insignia and of civic protocol in matters of diplomacy, and of a new sacral significance of the sovereign. The insignia whose dynastic transference to Russia was explicated in the carefully designed iconographies of the pictorial ornamentation of the Throne comprised a cross of the life-giving tree, a gold chain, barmi (a bejewelled neckpiece, later a wide collar decorated with religious imagery and selected saints; a traditional attribute of princely dignity in ­Russia),  a  ­cornelian cup,  from which ‘sometimes August the Roman


Elena Kashina

Fig. 4. The Hat of Monomakh, Orient, first half of the fourteenth century.

­Caesar took ­merriment’, a golden chain and the Tsar’s crown — the Hat of Monomakhos (Fig. 4).12 Remarkable in the carved depictions is the identical idiom for representing the sovereign, Byzantine and Russian, which is emphasised by the stylised vocabulary of artistic expression, traditional to the Byzantine Empire and embraced in Russia with the adoption of Christianity. In the tableaux, the Byzantine and Russian rulers wear identical robes, with identical insignia, identical prominent pectoral crosses, holding identical staffs, and assuming identical attitude of confident authority reclining in identical thrones. Considered in isolation — this iconography of crowning and set of regalia may appear ipsative between Byzantine ritual and Russian, but if one looks  One source is the Legend inscribed on the reliquary which (has) contained the Cross which was used during the coronation of Ivan  IV. Stylistic analysis suggests that the cross was made most probably in Moscow, in middle of the sixteenth century — 1605, with later additions. — И. А. Стерлигова”,Икона с крестом и панагией” in Вера и власть, 38. 12

Transference of Authority


at contemporary West-European paradigm of representing a king it becomes demonstrable and indeed apparent that the idiom of kingship embodied in the carvings of the Tsar’s Throne was a response to one in active use in Western Europe (Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) Kaiser Sigismund (1368–1437), c.. 1512, oil on canvas, 189 × 90 cm, Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum; Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) Emperor Charles the Great, 1511/1513, 215 × 115 cm, Nürnberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum; Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of Henry VIII, 1536/1537, oil on canvas, copy from the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). These images offer a very clear iconographical paradigm of representing a sovereign: a ceremonial portrait, with the monarch in state apparel, holding regalia and wearing a crown. This is precisely what we observe in the Muscovite tableaux, only the robes are Byzantine — in line with the notion which was being asserted through the very act of the coronation of the Russian Grand Prince, also politically and pictorially of Russian Caesars being descendants, dynastic and ecumenical of the Byzantine Empire. Moreover, the significance, purposefulness and reciprocal nature of the introduction of the crown into the Russian paradigm of statehood is exquisitely elucidated by other pictorial documents of the epoch. One is the Illuminated Chronicle of Ivan IV (1568–76, with some research suggesting that work on the book could have commenced in the 1540s), a new epic history of the known world commissioned by Ivan IV containing 16, 000 virtuoso miniatures.13 The Grand Princes as pictured in the illuminations wear a hat, whose iconography shares that of depictions of indigenous sanctified princes dating back to the earliest known icons (Saints Boris and Gleb, icons from the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, and the Russian Museum, St Petersburg). The hat is distinctly non-West European and shares the appearance with the Hat of Monomach, the legendary Byzantine heirloom inherited as one of the regalia by the Grand Princes of Moscow. The Hat of Monomach itself starts to feature prominently in the Russian Chronicles as a national treasure in the fourteenth century, the time which marked the decisive rise to prominence of the Muscovite Principality, and, according to scholarly consensus, is of Oriental origin and most likely dates to the fourteenth century. At the time, it was the Mongol khans who were referred to as ‘Tsars’ in Russian documentary discourses, and the shape of regal headdress,

 Vast research has been carried out on The Illuminated Chronicle, and it is ongoing, among the more recent works is В. В. Морозов, Лицевой свод в контексте отечественного летописания XVI века (Москва, Индрик, 2005), a publication which contains a vast bibliography as well. 13


Elena Kashina

it appears fair to suggest, was dictated by Mongol fashions. In the same instance, in the Chronicle of Ivan IV he is represented as wearing a West-European-style crown (Ivan IV Receiving a Courier from Ismail Murzy, the Synod volume, l. 118, recto; Arrival in Moscow of the Ambassador of the ‘Prince of Siberia’ Ediger, the Synod Volume, l. 273, recto). This iconography differs from historical fact, Ivan was crowned with the Hat of Monomach, yet in the Chronicle, and later in the murals in the interiors of the Archangel Michael Cathedral, where a separate shrine was created for the dynastic burials of Ivan’s family all persons, male and female from Ivan’s immediate family (wife and his heirs) are shown wearing a West-European crown (The Birth of the Son of Ivan the Terrible — Ivan, the Synod Volume, l. 113 (fragment); Farewell of the Prince to his Family, first half of the sixteenth century, fresco, southern wall of the diaconikon in Archangel Mikhail Cathedral).14 Further, contemporaneous West-European perception confirms the suggestion that the crown was deliberately employed by Ivan IV as a Western signifier of Kingship, or of Tsardom as a title equal to that of the King. ‘Grand Prince Ivan III’ on a Parisian engraving from 1584 (A. Thevet, Les vrais pourtraicts et vies des hommes illustres…) is shown wearing an Oriental hat with a fur rim, while the famous portrait of Ivan IV the Tsar (engraving, Oderborn P., Iohannis Basilidis. Leben und Thaten. Wittenberg, 1585, Russian State Library) dazzles with both an imaginative and elegantly straightforward combination of summation: the Tsar is resplendent with two pieces of headdress, whose iconography is as clear as if it were put in words. A WestEuropean crown is worn on top of the oriental, fur-trimmed Hat, thus combining the dignities of an Oriental Prince and of a W ­ est-European Monarch. This is another proof of the hypothesis of the existence of an internationally legible vocabulary of diplomatic discourse, of both Russia and Western Europe being cognizant of it, and of Russia consciously entering it, seeking to establish herself as a cultural and political entity, striving to forge and strengthen a cultural identity, yet giving up something of its national peculiarity in the process. The ritual of coronation was, of course, practised in the Byzantine Empire, but it was also in use in Western Europe since 816. The ceremony was accompanied by the rite of anointing, which had been widely employed for sanctifying persons and objects before, but performed during a coronation assumed the symbolism of vesting the person with unlimited power which was sacral in nature. Identification between the Kingdom of Heaven   Самойлова и Панова, Усыпальница, 14.


Transference of Authority


and earthly realms and their rulers was not new in the ideology of statehood, however, following the fall of Constantinople iconographies of crowning divine persons proliferated in Western Europe. The Virgin is depicted as being crowned by her Son, or both with elaborate crowns lowered on their heads by God the Father, or as a royal couple, seated on a magnificent throne in compositions which effectively imitate a celebration of an earthly royal couple. The crowned Christ and the Virgin are also frequently framed on either side — a composition that became an iconographical trope in itself — by what could be mistaken for courtiers, so sumptuous is the depiction of contemporary-looking supplicants in opulent settings. Other splendid figures gathered around the throne in an attitude of donors often bear the insignia of the commissioning court, while the overall scene may be embellished with a canopy of stars, with celebrant angels playing contemporary musical instruments, or with symbols of prosperity (Madonna della Candeletta, Carlo Crivelli, 1490–92, oil on panel, 218 × 75 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan; Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, Carlo Crivelli, 1488, poplar panel, 191 × 196 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin; Coronation of the Virgin, Carlo Crivelli, 1493, panel, 225 × 255 cm, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan; Coronation of the Virgin, Hans Baldung Grien, 1512–16, panel, 280 × 239 cm, Cathedral, Freiburg). The emphasis on creating and disseminating images of divine appointment to rule is further intensified by depictions of Christ and God the Father, in regal dress, crowned, on a throne — and holding royal regalia. The key symbols of power in divine hands are precisely the prototypes for royal insignia. The crown, the orb and the scepter are items which have enjoyed a long exegesis, but in the context of the Christian Europe they are ultimately derived from the Bible. Such iconographies were hardly commissioned to direct the onlooker towards meditations on unity of God and Man, instead they appear to represent a straightforward endeavor to employ the sublime in asserting sovereign power in the on-going process of geo-political definition and self-definition. Returning to the carved images of the Tsar’s Throne in Moscow, it can be observed that they feature a prominent pectoral cross worn over royal dress both by the Byzantine Emperor, and by the Russian Grand Prince. Blessing with hereditary cross became one of the most eminent stages in the coronation ceremony of the Russian Tsar.15 Moreover, a precious cross, likely to have been made for the coronation in 1547 was subsequently provided with

 Among others, Стерлигова ‘Икона с крестом и панагией’, 38.



Elena Kashina

a provenance which traced it back to the Russian Tsar’s Byzantine ancestors.16 The blessing of the sovereign with a cross had not been part of Russia’s indigenous tradition of appointing to rule, nor was a coronation, but introducing the most sacred symbol of Christianity into the specially developed coronation procedure for Russia’s first Tsar was undoubtedly designed to further support the irrevocable and sacral character of the title. The limited space of a single paper does not permit for considering a greater number of examples and phenomena in official art production during the reign of Russia’s first Tsar, but it seems correct to conclude that the iconographical programme of the carved tableaux of the Tsar’s Throne, as well as its civic character were a pictorial response to the idiom of asserting sovereignty in use in Western Europe. The exceptional importance attached to the visual narrative projected by the carved illuminations of the Throne is further attested to by the fact that they formed the basis for the mural decoration of the Reception Hall in the Tsar’s palace and were reproduced, with a slightly reduced number of scenes, seven scenes out of twelve, in the Illustrated Chronicle of Ivan IV. In light of above considerations, it seems correct to conclude that the authors of the pictorial narrative were deliberately making the imagery explicating the legitimacy of the Tsar’s title legible for the spectator from Western Europe, where the pictorial paradigm of royal insignia and identification between Kingdoms of Heaven and on Earth had already been in use and accepted as a legitimasing tool and a staple in diplomatic pictorial discourse. In other words, by the sixteenth century both the West-European and the new Russian courts had reconfigured their shared frame of reference, the archetypal cultural idiom of Christianity and lineage into a paradigm of asserting sovereign authority, conveyed most forcefully through pictorial decorative programmes. In effect, the iconographical programme of the Tsar’s Throne may serve as evidence of a polycentric and, with Russia joining it — reciprocal response to the prototypical (Byzantine) paradigm of the relationship between worldly power and the sublime, and to representing the worldly ruler. A ruler who combines in his person endorsement by the transcendent, is crowned with the ultimate attribute of glory, the crown, and rules on behalf and ‘in the image of ’ the Heavenly Tsar. This was a mutually intelligible language of geo-political self-definition, both in communication between the West-European courts, and that between Western Europe and the new court  Ibid., and Footnote 12.


Transference of Authority


of Muscovy, and as such served as a meta-vocabulary for European discourse of sovereign power. Born out of a necessity to strengthen the position of the new ruler, and to claim and protect the position of his country on the international arena, it developed into a pictorial discourse of power along the Western — Eastern Orthodoxy divide, and ultimately led to a reduction of independent or indigenous artistic expression on the highest level. Yet, at a time when international situation required an adequate response, it was the language of religious expression and the willing involvement of the Church in developing suitable iconographies that proved a major means of transcultural persuasion. In his turn, Peter  I sought his own means of validating himself as a monarch and of the country which he represented. ‘Reform’ implied first and foremost denouncing Russia’s national cultural and spiritual tradition, precisely the factors that had enabled the emergence of the country as an entity, in favour of the aesthetic and philosophical paradigms of Western Europe. It seems inexplicable how a sovereign could have overlooked the truth of the fact that in letting go of one’s roots and in embracing, as a state policy, the culture and indeed entire mode of thinking of ‘another’ one undermines the awareness of the country’s population of themselves as a nation, rendering it easy prey to potential appetites for expansion. However forcibly implemented at first, the Western character of St Petersburg took root, not least due to the fact that Peter I’s immediate successors were either of foreign extraction, or with contentious claims to the throne and therefore unable to direct their energies to much outside political struggles. The eighteenth century saw the court establishing itself firmly in the new capital; Western (particularly German) fashions prevailed, as did the attitudes. Introduced by Peter, and subsequently much re-enforced by a string of non-Russian rulers, a view became the norm that the West-­ European ideal was unattainable yet desired perfection, and the Russian — an onerous heritage and disgrace. A notable exception was the twenty-year reign of Elizabeth I (1741–62), a much underestimated period of calm and concentration on internal affairs, which brought the much desired stabilisation to the country. This period of stability made possible the newly ambitious time of Catherine II, who has been praised for her friendship with Voltaire, for amassing mind-boggling collections of West-European art and for bringing Russia into the heart of international politics yet again, at the expense of the common labourer (the overwhelming majority of her subjects), whose enslavement to their landlord was greatly intensified under Catherine II, and whose reign was also marked by formidable popular uprisings.


Elena Kashina

With its accumulation of non-native officials, overseas-educated natives, and the often foreign sovereign perpetuating the tastes and outlook inspired by their own native country, St Petersburg acquired and continued to foster a population, particularly the aristocracy which had a ‘European’ identity rather than Russian. This, among other things, meant that they were thoroughly versed in West-European current political developments and liberal thought. Eventually, political incentive led to a fundamental re-assessment of the official governmental line on Russia’s true national ­identity and historic past. The reign of the Tsar Nicholas I (1825–55) was marked by an emergence of an officially sponsored programme of assembling materials consolidating Russia’s ancient indigenous cultural past and traditions. This proscribing of nationality and tradition was caused by a need to confer additional validity to Russia’s absolute monarchy. This sovereign moved in a world still shaken by the French revolution and by political unrest continually emanating from Europe. Such upheavals and travel of the philosophical ideas which had inspired them were fraught with ominous potential for Nicholas’s own country. Further, his ascension was marked by an uprising, led by officer noblemen implicated in a secret society seeking to revise the very foundations of the state (the Decembrists, 14 December 1825). Nicholas’s domestic politics have often been called ‘reactionary’, and have certainly lent themselves easily to criticism, and undoubtedly, the stringent military discipline that so appealed to the Emperor need not have been made the beacon of perfection in all matters of the state. However, the fondness of order in matters of subordination seems very cohesively to correlate with Nicholas’s intention to strengthen the loyalty of his subjects and challenge the intellectual currents that were threatening to become too liberal. Invoking the notions of historicity, of an ancient tradition of dynastic continuity and of divine appointment to rule came to be seen as the best strategy to avoid, or stifle revolutionary turmoil. Stoking patriotism through infusing the minds with an awareness of a rich indigenous heritage, pious in its nature, became the tactics. ‘Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality’, a directive originally proposed by Nicholas’s Minister for Education, developed into the dominant ideological doctrine of the Emperor’s reign, and called for resolute effort for dissemination. This was the political climate in which the young artist Fyodor Solntsev (1801–92) was assigned, by the President of the St  Petersburg Academy of Arts A. N. Olenin (1763–1843) for a career in inceptive ‘artistic

Transference of Authority


a­rchaeology’, recording antiquities in situ.17 Artistic archaeology was the brainchild of President Olenin, who was convinced of the importance of advancing national archaeology and ethnography, and of forming a comprehensive and as detailed as possible a catalogue of the nation’s antiquities. In 1830, on the Highest Order, on the means provided by the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty and on the instructions of the President of the Academy of Arts, Solntsev’s travels across the country commenced, to undertake a cataloguing project unprecedented in concept and scale, and continued, with intervals, until 1853. The result was an enormous legacy — over five thousand watercolours and drawings.18 His travels took Solntsev to the centres of old Russian culture, such as Vladimir, Novgorod, Ryasan’, where he was recording, with astonishing precision, icons, ecclesiastical vessels, pectoral crosses, the interior and exterior of the cathedrals, churches and monasteries, old Russian wooden sculpture and pages of ancient manuscripts. During the prolonged period of the ­painstaking pictorial chronicling activity, the artist was under the monarch’s personal patronage, receiving gifts, including a diamond ring in 1831, and other signs of favour.19 The body of pictorial evidence thus accumulated was rightly regarded as a singular catalogue of monuments of national history. In 1841, on the Emperor’s will, work was begun to produce a multivolume publication, for which

17   И. Богатская и С. Гурария (съёмка), ‘Древности Российского государства в творчестве Фёдора Солнцева’,Русское искусство, I (2005): 58–65. 18  А. Ф. Солнцев, Древности Российского государства, Отд. I  –IV (Москва, 1849– 53). Also, CD-Rom Древности Российского государства, изданныя по высочайшему повелению государя императора Николая I. Рисованы академиком Ф. Солнцевым (Электронная библиотека Государственного Исторического музея, Москва, 2006); аnother illustrative publication, both of the regard in which Solntsev’s work was held, and of the many calls on material produced by him, itself a commentary on the intellectual leanings of the period, was ‘Памятники Московской древности, с присовокуплением очерка монументальной истории города Москвы и древних видов и планов древней столицы. Сочинение Императорского общества истории и древностей российских действ. Члена Ивана Снегирёва’ (Москва, 1842–45) (‘Monuments of Moscow’s Antiquity, with an Attachment of a Review of the Monumental History of Moscow and its Old Views and of the Plans of the Old Capital. Composed by the Member of the Imperial Society for the History and Antiquities of Russia I. M. Snegiryov’ (Moscow, 1842–45), published by I. M. Snegiryov, a prominent historian, with the means provided by the Moscow University. 19   For illustrations, cf. Footnote 18.


Elena Kashina

Solntsev’s drawings had been meant to form the core from the start of his activities in artistic archaeology. The resulting codex of monuments of Russia’s historic heritage, printed between 1849 and 1853, was illustrated with over 500 hundred of the artist’s drawings, and they, not the accompanying articles by the leading historians of the day, were seen as crucial elucidating material and material evidence. Antiquities of the Russian State, Published on the Highest Command of Lord the Emperor Nicholas I, Drawn by the Academician F. Solntsev, as the complete title read, became ‘a priceless source for the popularisation and study of the cultural monuments of the past’. The fact that three of the five volumes were dedicated to antiquities from the Kremlin Armoury Chamber, Moscow’s and Russia’s foremost collection of historic objects, including state insignia, further emphasises the topical intent behind the enormous effort, namely, to elucidate ‘the continuity of the imperial present with the reflected lustre of its venerable Muscovite patrimony’. Published under the aegis of the Academy of Arts, with the personal sponsorship of the sovereign, containing material brought together for the first time and meticulously researched, Antiquities of the Russian State found itself in an overwhelmingly influential position. While instilling a sense of piety may still have wanted some attainment, Solntsev’s strategically publicised pictorial work became a style guide for artists, architects, designer-craftsmen, and persons who commissioned work from them. Seeking to imitate the patterns and designs sourced from the book gave rise to the neo-Russian aesthetic, which was to develop into one of the definitive directions of artistic thought in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, and further, to eclecticism, seminal at the turn of the twentieth century. One area in which Solntsev’s pictorial records were generously consulted was restoration.20 Renovation and reinvention of monuments central to the idea of Russianness, statehood and historicity was a major concern in the later part of the nineteenth century. An illustrative example of employing Solntsev’s designs as a definitive guide to strengthen a construction’s historic symbolism was painting the interior, undertaken in 1882, of the Faceted Chamber, the ancient (1491) Reception Hall of the Russian Tsars. In preference to the existing seventeenth-century illustrations of the Hall, they turned the secular Reception Chamber into a church-like space, with the

20  Edward Kasinec and R. H. Davies, Jr, ‘Envoys and treasures: Illustrations for the Tsars’, in Barry Shifman and Guy Walton (general eds), Gifts to the Tsars, 1500–1700 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001), 63–73.

Transference of Authority


carpet-painted interior on ecclesiastical subjects and decorative elements derived from those of the twelfth-century churches documented by Solntsev. What we shall demonstrate is that the result of the ‘restoration’ appears to have been rather removed from the original, but that this was intentional, as the intent of the initiators of the project was not to reconstruct faithfully the original decorative programme, but to infuse the ancient edifice with a meaning they felt most befitted its symbolic stature. In other words, the aim of the undertaking was not determined by archaeological considerations, but ideological. One element that distinguished the interior of the Hall after the renovation was the so-called ‘carpet wall painting’, whereby the entire surface of the walls and the ceiling is covered in images and ornamental designs. This device was typical of Medieval Russia, where it was observed both in ecclesiastical and secular architecture, although was primarily associated with devotional interiors, and, importantly, with the earliest documented examples thereof.21 Its employment in 1882 is thus testimony to an aspiration for an appearance and a spirit of an authentic tradition. Further, the floral scrolls filling the spaces between the narrative compositions display a close affinity, not to say are identical, with the ornament found in Old Russian icons and frescoes. Some of the earliest pieces of ecclesiastical mural decoration which bear incontestable ornamental similarities to designs found in the Faceted Hall after the 1882 restoration date to the twelfth century and are among the earliest surviving in the country. One such example is the Church of St George in Staraya Ladoga (near Novgorod), which has several representations of saints, depicted as if in arches, where the spandrels on either side of the painted arches are decorated with a motif which is closely imitated in the nineteenth-century interior on the Hall: in the vaults and in the metal cast designs of the chandelier. The ­template ­patterns reproduced in the topical refurbishment of the symbolic space which was the Faceted Hall testify to how much credence Solntsev’s collection of documentary drawings was given, and to a desire of the persons overseeing the project to impart on the interior allusions to history and tradition, the roots of stability and contentment.

  For examples see, for instance, Viktor Lazarev, Old Russian Murals and Mosaics (London: Phaidon 1966), Виктор Лазарев, Фрески Старой Ладоги (Москва, 1960), В. К. Мясоедов, Фрески Спаса-Нередицы (Ленинград, 1925), Novgorod Icons 12th–17th Century (Leningrad: Aurora Art, 1983). 21


Elena Kashina

The above interpretation is corroborated by earlier depictions of the Hall. In at least two of the earlier representations, from 1744 and 1856, the vaults of the Chamber are as bare of painting.22 The 1744 engraving, from the time of the coronation of the Empress Elisaveta Petrovna, shows the interior appointed in a classicising style, which certainly could not be native to the Medieval Muscovite Chamber; the 1856 illustration, from the coronation of the Emperor Alexander II, presents the room resplendent in ­French-inspired eclecticism. However, in two earlier illustrations, from the early seventeenth century, pre-dating Peter I’s cultural reforms, the Reception Hall’s walls and ceiling are entirely wrapped in painting.23 What looks like battle scenes occupy the lower register of the composition, with floral scrolls following the curves of the vaults. Two elements stand out in both illustrations: the scene with the thrusting rider, his spear aloft, and the lush ornamentation of the vaults and the pillar. In the context of this paper it seems diagnostic that the carpet approach to the decoration, and the vegetative designs were imported into the 1882 paradigm, with Solntsev’s material consulted for exact prototypes to imitate. The seventeenth-century military scenes, however, were replaced with those of religious serenity. This suggests that the re-inventors of the ancient Chamber aimed to invoke an ecclesiastical interior, with its implication of faith, morality and loyalty; and that the choice of the programme was deliberate for an edifice with a long history of ambassadorial receptions and feasts celebrating victorious military campaigns, in the heart of the historic capital. The message the ensemble was to convey was that faith and national cultural tradition were the recipe for a just and successful Russian state, decorously in keeping, of course, with the Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality triad, which, it is worth noting, had gained a wide public support and transformed into the popular motto ‘For Faith, Tsar and Fatherland’. Further, Solntsev’s work had a highly demonstrable influence on the appearance of devotional images for household use, for the re-decoration of the country’s oldest cathedrals, and for the Imperial court, whose production greatly intensified at the turn of the twentieth century. In post-Petrine

  Kazinec and Davies, ‘Envoys and treasures’, 68.  Irina  A. Zagorodnaya, ‘Russian foreign relations and diplomacy’, in Shifman and Walton (general eds), Gifts to the Tsars, 1500–1700, p.  22; Guy Walton, ‘Diplomatic and Ambassadorial Gifts of the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth Centuries’, in Barry Shifman and Guy Walton (general eds), Gifts to the Tsars, 1500–1700 (New York: Harry  N. Abrams, Inc., 2001), 82. 22 23

Transference of Authority


Russia, official training of icon-painters ceased, as national tradition was exactly what the new Emperor was at pains to flee. In his travels, Solntsev was exceptionally assiduous in recording ecclesiastical antiquities, as particularly coalescent with the history of the country. Among these, exceptional effort was lavished on copying revered icons, images of locally venerated saints, monastic icons from far-away monasteries, and old icons held in the treasuries of cathedrals and similar foundations. With the emergence of a new bourgeoisie, manufacture of devotional items reached the scale of mass production. To address the needs of a multimillion nation, in all its diversity, archetypes for the various types of artefacts needed to be found, and this was when Solntsev’s relentlessly detailed drawings were turned to, once again. To be fair, they were not the only source at that stage, but the preferred one, since so much of the documented material originated from the collections of the Moscow Kremlin, the repository of not only the most historically valuable antiquities, but also the most intricately designed, masterfully produced, and reflecting a cross-section of the many cultures which had been in contact with Russia in the course of the history of her diplomatic relations. Such items answered the demand for authenticity, for the highest standard possible for patterns to be multiplied and disseminated across the country, and for historic endorsement. Cementing the role of the artist’s drawings of ecclesiastical objects played in a reappraisal of Russia’s cultural identity is the inscription on his gravestone, where Solntsev is commemorated as ‘Professor of the Imperial Academy of Arts. Archaeologist who has paved the way for the successes of Russian devotional icon-painting’.24 The same companies that were engaged in the manufacture of religious artefacts also produced, and commissioned designs for household utensils and high-profile gifts in the so-called Russian style. Here, the impact of Solntsev’s work is also apparent.25 The resurrected aesthetic eventually reached the attention of the classes who, since the turn of the eighteenth century, felt completely alienated from the ‘lowly’ indigenous roots. The imagery and ethos became popular for emulating in house designs, for ornamenting menus, concert bills and other miscellanea. It was further employed in decorating de luxe editions of books on the history of Russia and its ruling dynasty, intended to mark the celebration of the tercentenary of the House of the Romanovs.   Богатская и Гурария, ‘Древности Российского государства’, 64.   For instance, C. Я. Коварская, Произведения московской ювелирной фирмы Хлебникова (Москва, 2001). 24 25


Elena Kashina

It seems correct to conclude that the concerted effort at disseminating designs from Russia’s medieval past, although part of a clearly defined political agenda at the start, succeeded in bringing about a change in how the society perceived its own cultural identity and the nation’s indigenous legacy. Further, the reverting, in the early nineteenth century, after a dramatic break, to national spiritual tradition and idiom of asserting sovereign presence served to consolidate the various strata in the Russian society who had never abandoned this indigenous paradigm, but required the freedom to exercise it. As a result, by the turn of the twentieth century Russia boasted a modern economy, a population loyal to the government and had every prospect of continued stable progress. Summing up, it is hoped that the above discussion has offered compelling evidence to the effect that the involvement of the Church in nation-building may not be continuous, but inevitably, at least in the case of Russia, strong participation of the Church in affairs of the State results in a stronger state, more resilient against external challenges, and more capable of development and prosperity.

General Index Aaron 345. Abbo of Fleury 103. absolutism 16, 19, 168, 175, 176, 178, 180-190, 200, 220. Accursius 237. Adalbero of Laon 105, 106, 107. Adhémar of Chabannes 108, 109. Agamben, Giorgio 38, 39, 43. Alexander II of Russia 386. Alexander the Great 97. Alexander, bishop 253. Alexis de Tocqueville 19, 191-207. Al-Kamil, Malik 126, 252, Al-Nasir 252. Alphonse III of Aragon 341, 345. Alphonse IV of Aragon 256, 341, 345. Alphonse XI of Castile 247, 256, 340, 342, 346. Ambrose of Milan 91, 96, 116. Ambrose, pope 339.

Augustine of Hippo 18, 32, 73, 114, 129, 132, 165, 166, autocracy 341, 350, 382, 386. authority 15, 16, 18, 49, 50, 56, 57, 58, 67, 75, 83, 90, 92, 104, 114, 119, 123, 130, 140, 145, 150, 152, 157-171, 176, 180, 182, 201, 203, 204, 209-215, 219-226, 230, 232, 233, 236, 238-243, 256, 261, 276, 277, 280, 313, 315, 319, 321, 328, 329, 333, 335, 342, 343, 350, 354, 362-381. Azara, José Nicolás de 221, 222. Bacon, Francis, 162. Bacon, Roger 126, 127. Baldwin II of Jerusalem 253. Baldwin IV of Jerusalem 249, 250. Baldwin V of Jerusalem 250. Balthasar, Hans Urs von 37. Barach, Bernard S., 108.

Andújar, Juan 225.

Bartolomé de las Casas 127, 128.

anointment (see unction) 246, 256, 260, 340, 342, 343.

Bayle, Pierre 16, 173-191. Beaumont, Roger 302.

Agnès, Antoine 196.

Beaune, Colette 314.

anti-Christ 35, 122, 264.

Benjamin, Walter 39.

Apuleius 237.

Berengar of Tours 62.

Aranda, conde de 221.

Bern of Reichenau 93.

arianism 111, 112.

Bernard of Clairvaux 122.

Aristotle, aristotelianism 18, 90, 136, 244.

Bertrand de la Tour 348.

Arnulf of Bavaria 98.

Bethencourt, Francisco 210.

Arthur, King 324, 334.

Blondel, Maurice 37.

Asad, Talad 54, 55.

Blumenberg, Hans 26-28.


General Index

Bock, Nicolas 320, 321, 322. Bodin, Jean 24, 31, 213. Bonaparte, José 225. Boniface VIII 79-81, 131-133, 317, 328, 335. Bossuet, Jacques-Bénigne 216-217. Boureau, Alain 77. Bouvet, Joachim 184. Boyle, Robert 154. buddhism 54, 177, 178, 190. Brun of Cologne 93. Burke, Edmund 196. Byzantium 90, 95, 247, 260, 265, 363-388. calvinism 23, 151 Campomanes, Pedro Rodríguez de 221. Caraccioli, Dominico 219. Carbonell, Miquel 346. Cassiodore 14 Cassirer, Ernst 11, 13. Castoriadis, Cornelius 56. Catherine II of Russia 381. Cavanaugh, William T. 11, 37. Certeau, Michel de 71, 72. Chandler, Samuel 214. Charlemagne 91, 94-97, 109, 246, 247, 268, 377. Charles I of Anjou 267, 268, 272. Charles II of Anjou 268, 269, 270. Charles of Blois 322, 344. Charles V of France 318. Charles VI of France 319. Charles VII of France 320. Charles IX of France 180.

Charles I of Hungary 14, 271, 274-280. Charles II of Navarre 346. Charles III of Navarre 342. Charles of Sicily 267. Charles I of Spain 230. Charles II of Spain 220. Charles III of Spain 221. Charles IV of Spain 222. Charles de Bald 246, 260. Charles Martel 269, 270. Chenu, Marie-Dominique 37. christianity 9, 14, 17, 19, 23, 32, 35, 37, 38, 48, 52, 54, 58, 61, 63, 72, 78-80, 83, 89, 90, 111-128, 134, 151, 152, 157, 158, 159, 166, 175, 177, 178, 180, 184, 191, 193, 211, 253, 263, 272, 277, 279, 292, 304, 315, 329, 372, 376, 380. Clement V 272. Clement VI 328. Clementia of Habsburg 269. coats of arms 313-336. confucianism 16, 177-190. Confucius 177, 185. Conrad I of Germany 98. Conrad II of Germany 101. Conrad I of Jerusalem (also Conrad of Montferrat) 248, 250, 251. Conrad II of Jerusalem (also Conrad IV of Germany) 251, 252, 263. conscience 16, 17, 35, 121, 127, 145, 150-152, 164, 169, 180, 211-215, 258. Constantine I 112, 316. Constantine Monomakhos 373, 374. Constance of France 105.

General Index

Constanza of Sicilia 354.

Ebbo of Michelsberg 102.

constitutionalism 16, 47, 59, 181, 186, 189, 190.

ecclesiastical jurisdiction 213, 214.

corpus mysticum 11, 17, 18, 33, 46, 57, 58, 59, 65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 76-85, 142.

Edward I King of England 324.

covenant 48, 167, 170. coronation 14, 19, 272, 274, 278, 279, 317, 321, 323, 324, 337, 338, 339, 340, 342, 343, 345, 352, 355, 360, 362, 363, 372, 373, 377, 378, 379, 380, 386. Crockett, Clayton 56. cross 104, 113, 116, 127, 142, 253, 320, 329, 331, 332, 333, 335, 375, 379, 380.

Edward the Confessor 323, 324, 326. Edward II King of England 324. Edward III King of England 322, 324, 325, 335. Edwards, John 158. Eleonore of Castille 324. Eliade, Mircea 11-13. Elizabeth I of England 211. Elizabeth I of Russia 381. enlightenment 16, 173-190, 209-226. episcopalism 216.

crown 46, 47, 78, 92, 99, 101, 146, 217, 219, 220, 225, 246-265, 269-283, 314, 316, 321, 329-334, 340, 345, 346, 347, 350, 352, 371, 374-380.

Estala, Pedro de 225.

crusade 14, 111-128, 248-252, 255, 331.

eucharist 11, 15, 18, 37, 57, 58, 60, 62, 63, 68-72, 79, 80, 81, 83, 303-308, 310.

Cunha, Luis da 219, 220. David, king of Israel 91, 93, 101, 103, 104, 109, 116, 124. Dean of Troyes 120. deism 174, 186, 189, 190.


erastianism 211, 213. Eraclius, patriarch of Jerusalem 250. Erasmus 150.

Eulalia, saint 356, 357. Eusebius of Cesareia 129. Ferdinand I of Parma 218.

Descartes, René 154, 159, 180.

Ferdinand I of Bourbon 219.

Desclot, Bernat 341.

Fernández de Córdova, Álvaro 330.

despotism 15, 16, 186-192, 226.

Fernández de Heredia, Juan 347.

Diderot, Denis 186, 215.

fleur-de-lis 314-327, 331-335.

Duarte I of Portugal 231, 240.

Fleury, Claude217, 219.

Du Halde, Jean-Baptiste 175-177, 188.

Foster, John 35.

Du Pin, Louis Ellies 217.

Foucault, Michel 18, 38, 39.

Du Tillot, Guillaume 218.

Francesc Eiximenis 331.

Dubois, Pierre 131, 339.

Francis of Assisi 126.


General Index

franciscans 126, 127, 144, 272, 331, 348, 360.

Halpern, Richard 47, 48.

Frederick II Hohenstaufen of Germany 14, 16, 45, 232, 245-266.

Harnack, Adolf von 72-74.

Hariulf of Saint-Riquier 105.

Frederick III of Sicily 346.

Harold of England 288, 289, 293-300, 303, 309, 310.

Furet, François 197, 199.

hat Monomakh 363-388. Hauerwas, Stanley 43.

Galli, Carlo 52, 53.

Heenvlied, Simon van 23.

gallicanism 213, 216, 217, 219. García Cárcel, Ricardo 209, 210.

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 35, 149, 150, 186.

Geertz, Clifford 11-13.

Helgaud of Fleury 103, 105.

Gelasius I, pope 129, 339. genealogy 38, 40, 46, 54, 71, 327. Gentile Partino da Montefiori 272-279. Gerald of Wales 323. Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II) 95, 98, 99, 105. Gerold of Lausanne and Valence, patriarch of Jerusalem 249, 252, 257-261, 265. Giles of Rome 135, 142, 342, 345. Godfrey of Bouillon 263. Goujet, Claude-Pierre 217. Gratian 117-120, 124. Grégoire, Henri 223-224. Gregory the Great, pope 96, 116, 123. Gregory VII, pope 115, 133, 272. Gregory IX, pope 250, 252, 255, 257, 259. Gregory of Nazianzus 34. Grummet, David 57. Guillaume de Nogaret 131, 339. Guillaume de Plaisian 339. Guy of Lusignan 249.

Henricus de Cremona 142. Henry III of France 180. Henry IV of France 213. Henry I of Germany (the Fowler) 92, 97, 98. Henry II of Germany (the Black) 89, 94, 95, 96, 100. Henry III of Germany 93, 101, 102. Henry IV of Germany 102, 129. Henry V of Germany 102. Henry III of England 323, 324. Henry V of England 327. Henry VI of England 327. Henry VIII of England 211, 377. Henry II Plantagenet 122, 123. Herluin of Conteville 302. Herder, Johann G. 186. Hermann von Salza 252-264. Herod 132. Hincmar of Reims 339. Hobbes, Thomas 23, 24, 31, 53, 85, 149, 178, 180, 183, 190. Holbach, Paul Heinrich Dietrich von 215.

General Index


Honorius III, pope 249.

jansenism 218.

Hooke, Robert 154.

Jardine, Alexander 222.

Hosius of Corduba 339.

Jay, Martin 45.

Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim 92.

Jerusalem 107, 117, 120, 123, 125, 126, 129, 245-265, 321, 322.

Hubmaier, Balthasar 210. Hugh Capet of France 103.

jesuits 16, 174-189, 214, 217-226.

Innocent III 18, 130, 249.

Jesus Christ 18, 32, 33, 35, 52, 53, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 66-85, 92, 93, 101, 104, 107, 109, 112, 113, 118, 123, 124, 129, 133, 132, 133, 142, 143, 157, 167, 217, 223, 226, 255, 259, 263, 282, 282, 300, 303, 310, 313, 326, 332, 338, 345, 348, 349, 361, 379.

Innocent VIII 333.

Joanna I, Queen of Naples 321.

inquisition 209-228.

Johannes Philagathos (Antipope John XVI) 95

Hugh of Saint Victor 135. Illich, Ivan 61-63. incarnation 17, 44, 47, 52, 56, 58, 61, 62, 63, 66, 74-78, 111, 142.

insignia 14, 314, 315, 333, 339, 340, 341, 344, 373, 375, 376, 379, 380, 384.

John, Apostle 112, 118, 124. John II, Dauphin of Vienne 270.

Isaac of Stella 120-123.

John I, Duke of Brittany 333.

Isabella of France 324.

John IV, Duke of Brittany 334, 335.

Isabella I of Jerusalem (of Montferrat) 248, 249, 251, 255, 262.

John II of France 350.

Isabella II of Jerusalem 249, 250, 251.

John of Bedford 327.

islam 54, 125, 127, 194, 210.

John of Brienne 249, 250, 255, 262.