Texas Tech University

DEFENSOR PACIS BY MARSILIUS OF PADUA

Publication Date: 1522

"(Marisiglio Mainardino 1270-1342), Italian medieval scholar, was born at Padua, and at first studied medicine in his own country.

While still practicing medicine he entered into relations with another master of Paris, the philosopher John of Jandun, who collaborated with him in the composition of the famous Defensor pacis (1324), one of the most extraordinary political religious works which appeared during the 14th century.

The Defensor pacis, as its name implies, is a work intended to restore peace, as the most indispensable benefit of human society. The author if the law is the people, i.e. the whole body, or at least the most important part (valentior) of the citizens; the people should themselves elect, or at least appoint, the head of the government, who, lest he should be tempted to put himself above the scope of the laws, should have at his disposal only a limited armed force. This chief is responsible to the people for his breaches of the law, and in serious cases they can condemn him to death. The real cause of the trouble which prevails among men is the papacy, a "fictitious" power, the development of which is the result of a series of usurpations.

Marsilius of Padua does not seem to have lived long after 1342. But the scandal provoked by his Defensor pacis, condemned by the court of Avignon in 1326, lasted much longer. Benedict XII, and Clement VI, censured it in turn; Louis of Bavaria disowned it. Translated into French, then into Italian (14th century) and into English (16th century), it was known by Wycliffe and Luther, and was not without an influence on the Reform movement." #0229

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