Week 29 – Conflict between Philip IV & Boniface VIII, Marsilius of Padua and the Black Death

What was the significance of the conflict between Philip IV and Boniface VIII?

Before Boniface became pope, Peter Morne (later Celestine V) was chosen as pope. People liked him, but the Church officials urged him to resign. After his resignation in December 1294, Boniface was chosen. Because of this Boniface had enemies right away; mostly Franciscans who liked Celestine and didn’t see why a new pope was required.

Meanwhile, Philip IV needed a revenue for a war with England, so he expelled Jews and confiscated their property, taxed clergy without the Pope’s consent to which Pope responded with “Clericis Laicos”, where he stated that anyone who pays him will be excommunicated. Bishops were deposed, kings excommunicated, whole kingdoms placed under interdicts; Philip struck back: no resources may leave Church in France for Rome, declared that he chooses when it is an emergency that the interdict excuses => makes everything an emergency, so people must pay him. Boniface backs down and urges French clergy to pay. This goes on for a while, then in 1303 Boniface finally excommunicates Philip. French soldiers and cavalry head to Anagni in response and confront Boniface; they want him to take the excommunication back. His response was that he would rather die. He dies a month later.

What makes Defensor Pacis by Marsilius of Padua a significant part of the story of Western civilization?

Marsilius was a political philosopher. He helped the emperor out of a problem involving the upcoming marriage of his son, argued that the emperor could dissolve an existing marriage. He also argued that Church has no visible head.

He also had the opinion that government should be based on consent; he wasn’t concerned about the precise form of government, as long as it had the consent of people. He also thought the more people involved in lawmaking, the less likely those laws will favour only a few.

Based on the video and on your reading, what were the effects on Europe of the Black Death?

Brought to Europe by rats on Italian ships. One-third of European population was wiped out by it. People responded in extreme ways: they either participated in extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures or in extreme penances (causing physical pain on themselves). Some people even thought blood will satisfy God. Giovanni Boccaccio wrote Decameron about it.

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