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Gregory the Great's ‘Political Thought’

  • DAVID HIPSHON

Abstract

Gregorian scholars have been unable to reconcile widely differing views on Gregory the Great's ‘political thought’. The trend has been to view him as either ambivalent towards secular authority or completely indifferent to it. This article aims to demonstrate that Gregory the Great's conception of an ordered and hierarchic universe not only encompassed both secular and ecclesiastical spheres but also allowed each a positive role in the work of salvation. His ideas, influenced by neo-Platonic thought, differed substantially from those of St Augustine and were vital to the development of an early medieval partnership between secular and ecclesiastical authority.

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This paper is a revised extract from my PhD thesis ‘The theology of secular rule: Ambrose and Gregory’, King's College, London 1999. I am deeply indebted to Professor Janet Nelson for her support, encouragement and advice.

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Gregory the Great's ‘Political Thought’

  • DAVID HIPSHON

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