Armsbearing and the Clergy in the History and Canon Law of Western Christianity

Armsbearing and the Clergy in the History and Canon Law of Western Christianity

Lawrence G. Duggan
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 266
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt31nhh5
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  • Book Info
    Armsbearing and the Clergy in the History and Canon Law of Western Christianity
    Book Description:

    In the first millennium the Christian Church forbade its clergy from bearing arms. In the mid-eleventh century the ban was reiterated many times at the highest levels: all participants in the battle of Hastings, for example, who had drawn blood were required to do public penance. Yet over the next two hundred years the canon law of the Latin Church changed significantly: the pope and bishops came to authorize and direct wars; military-religious orders, beginning with the Templars, emerged to defend the faithful and the Faith; and individual clerics were allowed to bear arms for defensive purposes. This study examines how these changes developed, ranging widely across Europe and taking the story right up to the present day; it also considers the reasons why the original prohibition has never been restored. Lawrence G. Duggan is Professor of History at the University of Delaware and research fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-176-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-xi)
    Lawrence G. Duggan
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-17)

    The argument of this book is simply that, contrary to what is widely assumed, the clergy in western Christianity (at least in the Roman Catholic and Anglican-Episcopal traditions) have not been categorically forbidden to bear arms since the High Middle Ages (c.1100–1300) and are not today. Readers intrigued enough to go on, but still concerned about the efficient use of their time, are advised to proceed directly to the Conclusion after finishing this Introduction. They are warned, however, that most of the juicy bits lie in between.

    Even historians who have worked on some aspect of this subject habitually...

  6. CHAPTER 1 JULIUS EXCLUSUS?
    (pp. 18-58)

    Thus St Peter begins his indictment in the Julius Exclusus of the late Pope Julius II (1503–13) for his engagement in war, particularly his campaigns to impose effective rule in the Lands of St Peter. Peter lodges many other charges as well, but this above all: that Julius, his putative successor, has waged war and befouled his priestly raiment. For this reason he is to be barred from heaven forever. The author of this Senecan parody, first published anonymously in 1517, was long thought to have been Desiderius Erasmus (c.1466–1536), with whose Latin style and pacifist views the...

  7. CHAPTER 2 QUOT HOMINES, TOT SENTENTIAE
    (pp. 59-89)

    As a master of rhetoric, capable of simultaneously entertaining and instructing, Erasmus again and again advanced most persuasively his views on the clergy and warfare. We must not allow his skill or own prejudices to mislead us. We must avoid the trap of making too much of Erasmus, of inferring that his is the Renaissance attitude toward the clergy and arms, just as it would be wrong to conclude that the Canterbury Tales faithfully mirrors the state of the English clergy at the dawn of the fifteenth century, or that Thomas Aquinas presents the medieval position on the armed cleric....

  8. CHAPTER 3 THE CANON LAW OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH ON CLERICAL ARMSBEARING (I): TO THE TWELFTH CENTURY
    (pp. 90-101)

    The diverse opinions of Synesius, Orderic Vitalis, Gerald of Wales, Richard of Devizes, Jean Froissart, the monk of Leicester, Thomas à Kempis, Giles of Viterbo, Erasmus, John Whitgift, Macaulay, Ludwig Erichson, Ambrosio de Valencia, and Gordon Rupp on militant clerics are, in the end, personal opinions, no matter how eloquently expressed. While it is useful to know what Aquinas, Erasmus, and other writers thought about the great issues of their day, it is not enough to know what they thought, especially since so many others did not agree with them. It is much fairer to judge the clergy, at least...

  9. CHAPTER 4 THE CANON LAW OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (II): ‘REVOLUTION IN LAW’, ca. 1120–1317
    (pp. 102-144)

    The title of this chapter alludes to a stimulating book published in 1983, Law and Revolution. The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition. In it Harold J. Berman, a distinguished historian of law, argued that the origins of a distinctive, systematic western legal tradition can be traced to the papal revolution of the High Middle Ages and in particular to the emergence of the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church. Despite some criticism, on the whole it justly earned high praise.¹ Although the book is concerned with the nature and implications of canon law in general rather than with...

  10. CHAPTER 5 THE CANON LAW OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH (III): SINCE 1317
    (pp. 145-180)

    Needless to say, all the provisions and concessions outlined in the previous chapter were carefully restricted in ways which could be spelled out in academic treatises and judicial decisions, but not so easily in the decrees of provincial councils and diocesan synods. How were they to be interpreted as living law for the ordinary clergy? Before proceeding to those texts, we will do well to note that legislation which allowed such considerable room for argument, perplexity, and abuse could be interpreted in ways both unconscious and undocumented. Let two examples suffice. First, although popes and canonists held through the High...

  11. CHAPTER 6 ARMSBEARING IN THE ENGLISH LEGAL TRADITION
    (pp. 181-220)

    England and Italy are habitually different – each from the other, each from the rest of Europe.¹ This is conspicuously the case with respect to ecclesiastical legislation on clerical armsbearing. Beginning in the thirteenth century, Italian bishops carved out for themselves a distinctive sphere of reserved jurisdiction normally requiring, frequently in writing, their consent to exceptions from the customary prohibition on clerical armsbearing, even for travel. It was a model imitated nowhere else in Europe save in a few Iberian dioceses in the very late Middle Ages.

    The course taken by the English was entirely different. Here the church seemed to...

  12. CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 221-230)

    For over a thousand years the Christian churches, Latin and Greek, maintained an ancient prohibition on armsbearing by the clergy, no matter how much individual clerics failed to observe it. The Eastern Church appears never to have relaxed that standard. In the West, on the other hand, in the kingdom of the Franks during the Carolingian period there developed a tacit narrowing in the interpretation of the word ‘clericus’ to exclude bishops and abbots from the ban so as to allow them to discharge their military obligations to the king with something like a clear conscience. Such artful legislation was...

  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 231-252)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 253-266)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-267)