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Early Medieval Political Thought

Early Medieval Political Thought. Upul Abeyrathne Dept. of Economics, University of Ruhuna Matara. The Establishment of the Church. It took its rise in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. It was the zenith of Roman Empire. Hence, it developed slowly.

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Early Medieval Political Thought

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  1. Early Medieval Political Thought UpulAbeyrathne Dept. of Economics, University of Ruhuna Matara

  2. The Establishment of the Church • It took its rise in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. • It was the zenith of Roman Empire. • Hence, it developed slowly. • However, the gradual decline of the empire during 4th Century , it spread rapidly. High social classes adopted it during this time.

  3. The Establishment of the Church • Constantine’s Edict in 313 A.D. , liberated it from all harsh legislation against it. • In 380, Christianity was declared the official religion of Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosius. • The early localized organization of Christian Church became centralized.

  4. The Establishment of the Church • Church of Rome became the headquarters of the Christianity • Adoption of Christianity as official religion in the Roman Empire, the organization of church became more or less identical with the political organization in the empire. • Empire of Constantine began a succession of weak rulers and powerful church.

  5. The Establishment of the Church • The Empire was smashed by Teutonic Barbarians. • The Church retained its organization intact. • Romulus Augustulus’s disposition in 476 A.D. marked the end of Western Empire. • The Church of Rome Replaced the Rome as the symbol of unity. • Church authorities absorb more and more power to maintain peace and order. • Organization of church became centralized around the Bishop of Rome. • This marked an important contribution to political thought by highlighting the separate Entity from State.

  6. Growth of Papacy • Ecclesiastical importance of Rome began with the establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the state. • Bishop of Rome became the legal ecclesiastical adviser to the emperor. • The belief of founding of Roman Church by Chief apostle St. Peter increased its prestige. • Doctrinal Controversies emerged within the church.

  7. Growth of Papacy • General Church Council convened at Sardica, made the highest court of appeal against decrees of bishops. • Valentinian III, made the Bishop of Rome the head of the Church and highest court of appeal in religious disputes. • This marks the “best Roman intellect began forsaking politics for religion”

  8. Growth of Papacy • The belief in the divine and eternal character of the Roman Empire was reinforced by the Christian idea of the Kingdom of Christ. • The Fall of Western Roman empire and the adoption of Constantinople as the headquater of Eastern Roman empire had Bishop of Rome the most important official in Rome with considerable political authority. • This happened around 7th Century. • It has given the Pope the supreme authority over religious affairs and temporal government round the Rome.

  9. Growth of Papacy • The Division of Church into Western and Eastern Church left the Pope supreme in the west. • The power of papacy began to increased rapidly due to barbarian invasion. • The church became the source of learning and civilization • The kings becoming Christian also made the secular head subjected to a spiritual jurisdiction of the church.

  10. Comparison Between Roman Empire and Roman Catholic Church • There is a good deal of institutional and functional similarity. • 4th Century Church had been modeled after Roman empire. • Each city has got a bishop. Its territory was similar to that of civil territory. • Civil province also a ecclesiastical province under a metropolitan who resided in the provincial capital.

  11. Comparison Between Roman Empire and Roman Catholic Church • The church was an authoritarian as the empire had been. • There is the monarchical principle in the Roman Empire and Roman Church. • The empire wielded ecclesiastical as well as temporal power after Constantine. So did the papacy particularly during middle ages. • There was a touch of universalism in both.

  12. Papacy and the Roman Empire • 8th century witnessed the growing power of Lombardy in Italy. • They wanted to absorb the Roman territory and Pope resisted and sought the help of Frank. • Leader of the Frank, Charles Marrel and his son Pepin defeated the Lombards and conquered part of Italy and offered it to Pope. • The Pope in tern legalized the usurpation and crowned him the Roman Emperor. • Around 800 A.D. medieval empire was established . • This has lead to the major issues of political theory in coming era. i.e. the connection between Empire and the Church. The Roman empire was transformed into a Holy Roman empire in 962 with the election as emperor of Otto the Great.

  13. Christianity and Political Thought • The Rise of Christianity was revolutionary because Pre-Christian Political theory was secular. • Earlier, man was a unified whole and no distinction between the material or secular and spiritual sides of man. • State attended to all aspects of man life, material, intellectual and spiritual. • In ancient Greek, there was even a civic religion and individual worshiped the deities of the city state.

  14. Christianity and Political Thought • The state was all in all and could not tolerate the existence of a separate and paralell institution that compete with the state for loyalty of the individuals. • In Greek political theory, emphasis was on citizen. Man was primarily a political animal with his devotion and his duties to the state. • Due to the influence of Stoicism, the emphasis have shifted from citizen to individual. • It influence has been that it was thought that individual could live independently of society and could developed his personality in his own ways.

  15. Christianity and Political Thought • Stoicism made it possible for individual to concentrate on the spiritual development of his own . • The Christianity had enhanced this notion further. • This distinction is clear in the statement made by the Jesus Christ. “Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and unto God what is God’s”.

  16. Christianity and Political Thought • The above statement is based on understanding of twofold nature, the material and spiritual. • For material in him, he needs the state and for spiritual he needs the church. • He must divide his loyalty between the two organizations. These organizations are independent authorities. • The concept of dual society with two organizations and two authorities is a revolutionary concept.

  17. Christianity and Political Thought • The revolutionary effect of Christianity arose out of its insistence on the duality of human nature. • Man has Body and Soul. Hence material as well as spiritual interests. • He pursue his material interests through the institution of state and spiritual through the parallel and independent organization of the church. • The resultant effect has been the denial of exclusive jurisdiction over individual and exclusive claim over his loyalty.

  18. Differences between Pre-Christian and Christian Political Thought • Christian emphasis on duality of human nature • Christian view of Good: Spiritual welfare and salvation constitute the good for man. • This spiritual good is beyond the state and is to be realized through the medium church. • Hence, church had to be independent and parallel institution with its own organization, rules and sanctions.

  19. Differences between Pre-Christian and Christian Political Thought • Secular side had been represented by Roman Empire and Spiritual side by Papacy. • This distinction has provided new problems to speculate on. • Greeco-Roman Political theory differs from Medieval Political theory because its primary concern was with the problem of adjusting the boundaries between the empire and the Papacy. • The secular and spiritual distinction has given way to another problem, i.e. Ecclesiatical Court and Secular Courts.

  20. Differences between Pre-Christian and Christian Political Thought • The Church had claimed that clerical offenders should be tried and punished by religious authorites. • This has lead to the creation of a state within the state. • The Christian doctrine of excommunication and interdiction had created another problem for state. • This doctrine has given power to church excommunicate a recalcitrant ruler and absolve his subjects of their oath of allegiance to him.

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