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Tarring Conciliarism with the Brush of Heresy: Juan de Torquemada’s Summa de Ecclesia

  • Thomas M. Izbicki
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, a Dominican theologian and the most articulate papal apologist of the fifteenth century, completed his monumental Summa de ecclesia in 1453 and dedicated it to Pope Nicholas V.1 In that work, he addressed challenges to the ecclesiastical order from both Hussite heretics, who rejected the legitimacy of the visible Church, and conciliarists, who thought a general council superior to the pope in ecclesiastical government. The champions of conciliar supremacy agreed with the papal apologists of their time on defending the ecclesiastical institution, but they differed on the locus of ultimate authority in the visible Church. The cardinal was replying to the conciliar challenge in the aftermath of the Council of Basel (1431–49), which had attempted to depose a legitimately elected pope, Eugenius IV. Torquemada strove to refute the arguments of the council’s apologists with appeals to both reason and authority.2 He also made efforts to describe conciliarism as arising from suspect sources, particularly the antipapal writings of Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham. Torquemada’s ascription of a suspect genealogy to conciliarism was a remarkably successful move, tarring Rome’s foes with the brush of doctrinal error.3 Only in recent decades has the scholarly world accepted a different genealogy for conciliarism, one rooted in tradition, documented in both canon law and theology.4

Keywords

Political Discourse General Council Temporal Power Opus Omnia Manuscript Copy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Juan de Torquemada, Summa de ecclesia (Venice, 1561) (hereafter SE). Thomas Kaeppeli, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum medii aevi, 4 vols. (Rome: Ad S. Sabinae, 1970–93), 3: 37 no. 2730.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thomas M. Izbicki, Protector of the Faith: Cardinal Johannes de Turrecremata and the Defense of the Institutional Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1981).Google Scholar
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    Francis Oakley, The Conciliarist Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 99–110. Torquemada also advanced successfully the argument that the decree Haec sancta of the Council of Constance was not valid because the three obediences of the Great Schism had not yet assembled;Google Scholar
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  5. 4.
    Only the argument of John Neville Figgis that conciliarism was modeled on lay political assemblies competed with this viewpoint until its orthodox roots were demonstrated by Brian Tierney in Foundations of the Conciliar Theory: The Contribution of the Medieval Canonists from Gratian to the Great Schism, new ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1998).Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Thomas M. Izbicki, “The Reception of Marsilius in the 15th and 16th Centuries,” in A Companion to Marsilius of Padua, ed. Gerson Moreno-Riaño and Cary J. Nederman (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 305–33. His source for the decree Licet remains a puzzle. Licet was not included among the Extravagantes Johannis XXII; but, according to Dr. Jacqueline Brown, it is found in Admont MS 639, 69r–76v within a letter from John XXII to the bishop of Prague beginning: Certum processum. This is typical of its survival in written form, since no separate manuscript copies of the bull are known today.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Izbicki, Protector of the Faith, 2–3; Francis Oakley, The Political Thought of Pierre d’Ailly: The Voluntarist Tradition (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964), 143. Henricus de Zoemeren did an abridgement of the Dialogus for Cardinal Bessarion when the Greek cardinal was legate to Germany in 1460–1;Google Scholar
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  19. 27.
    SE II c.36, 156r–157r. Ockham’s refutation of Marsilius on Peter is found in III Dialogus I; see Shogimen, Ockham and Political Discourse, 210–2. For a discussion of Ockham on Petrine primacy, see Arthur Stephen McGrade, The Political Thought of William of Ockham: Personal and Institutional Principles (London: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 149–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Thomas M. Izbicki, “Johannes de Turrecremata, Two Questions on Law,” Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 43 (1975): 91–4. An additional result of this project was a reordering of the Decretum along the lines of the Gregorian Decretals;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  24. 39.
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    The author’s translation from the discussion of this list in the Ordinary Gloss differs from that in Gratian, The Treatise on Laws (Decretum DD.1–20), ed. Augustine Thompson and James Gordley (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1993), 86.Google Scholar
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    Takashi Shogimen, “Defending Christian Fellowship: William of Ockham and the Crisis of the Medieval Church,” History of Political Thought 26 (2005): 607–24. The author’s discussion below corrects what he wrote in Protector of the Faith, 64–7.Google Scholar
  31. 48.
    Antonius de Cannario, a contemporary of Torquemada, did note in passing that Ockham argued sophistice about papal temporal power; see Thomas Prügl, Antonio da Cannara, De potestate pape supra Concilium Generale contra errores Basiliensium: Einleitung, Kommentar und Edition ausgwählter Abschnitte (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1996), 17–8, esp. 18 n. 2.Google Scholar
  32. 49.
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    Field, Of the Church Fiue Bookes, 16. On this Marian topic, see Jesse D. Mann, “A Conciliarist’s Opposition to a Popular Marian Devotion,” in The Church, the Councils and Reform: The Legacy of the Fifteenth Century, ed. Gerald Christianson, Thomas M. Izbicki, and Christopher M. Bellitto (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 212–26; and, Izbicki, Protector of the Faith, 67–8, where Torquemada affirmed this possibility while denying it undermined papal power.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Karen Bollermann, Thomas M. Izbicki, and Cary J. Nederman 2014

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  • Thomas M. Izbicki

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