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Mediaeval Deposition Theory: a Neglected Canonist Consultatio from the First Council of Lyons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

J. A. Watt*
University of Hull


This communication treats of a small detail of a large subject. The claim to a power of deposing secular rulers is a major theme in the history of the papacy. As a theory, it epitomises the whole political logic of the mediaeval papacy: the deposing power was the primum caput of papal hierocracy and its origins lie deep in early papal centuries. As a political doctrine put into practice, it had profound effects at several points in the history of mediaeval Europe, particularly in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, while its shadow lay banefully over many a governmental decision and politico-religious controversy of more modern times.

Research Article
Copyright © Ecclesiastical History Society 1965

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page 197 note 1 For the literature up to 1913, Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, v, pt ii, with a narrative account of the Council, 1633-42,1676-9; its decrees, with a short summary of each canon, 1642-76. Since that date the study of the legislation has been transformed by Kuttner, S., ‘Die Konstitutionen des ersten aUgemeinen Konzils von Lyon,’ Studia et Documenta Historiae et Iuris,vi (1940), 70131 Google Scholar: see further his ‘L’édition romaine des conciles généraux et les actes du premier concile de Lyon,’ Misc. Hist. Pont, III (1940), 73-131, and by Kessler, P. J.,‘Die Novellengesetzgebung Innocenz’ IV,’ ZRG. Kan. Abt. xxxi (1942), 142320 Google Scholar, XXXII (1943), 300-83, xxxiii (1944), 56-128.

page 198 note 1 Matthew Paris has a vivid description of the solemn excommunication of Frederick and the distress of Thaddeus Chron. maj. ed. Luard, , RS iv, 456 Google Scholar. An illustration drawn by Paris of the Council depicted a Thaddeus retiring in confusion holding a scroll marked ‘dies ista, dies ire’: cf.James, M. R., ‘The Drawings of Matthew Paris,’ Walpole Soc. xiv (1925-6), p1. xviii Google Scholar, no. 94.

page 198 note 2 ‘. . . cum fratribus nostris et sancto concilio deliberatione prehabita diligenti.. ..’ The full text of Ad Apostolice Sedis may be consulted in MGH Const. 11, no. 400,508-12; the version which became VIo 2.24.2 is abridged.

page 198 note 3 See the text cited below, p. 199.

page 198 note 4 Cf. Hefele-Leclercq, 1636, for discussion of this question.

page 199 note 1 X.1.6. Venerabilem was c. 34. Without beginning to attempt a detailed bibliography concerning this much-discussed decretal, mention should be made of three books of particular interest in connection with it: Bayley, C. C., The Formation of the German College of Electors in the mid-thirteenth century, Toronto 1949 Google Scholar; F. Kempf, Papstum und Kaisertum bei Innocenz III: die geistigen und rechtlichen Grundlagen seiner Thronstreitpolitik, Misc. Hist. Pont. xix (1954); Goez, W., Translatio Imperii, Tübingen 1959 Google Scholar.

page 199 note 2 ‘. . . me presente coram domino nostro et fratribus conquesti fuerunt in camera, tempore concilii lugdun....’ Summa 3,15, § 8 (ed. Cologne, 1612) col. 821. He made an identical statement, Apparatus, 1, 3, 14 s.v. prime (ed. Paris, 1511) fo. XIrb. (Column and folio references in the notes following are from these editions.)

page 199 note 3 ‘Henri de Suse, évêque de Sisteron (1244-50),’ Nouv. rev. hist. dr. franç, et etrang., xxxi (1953), 244-70, 409-29.

page 199 note 4 Dict, droit can. s.n. Hostiensis, cols. 1211-27.

page 200 note 1 Printed below, Appendix A.

page 200 note 2 Brevis nota MGH Const, 11, no. 401, 513-16 at 516. For an analysis of the MSS of this very important source, see Kuttner, ‘L’édition romaine ...’, 89-108, and for his criticism of this edition, 108: a critical edition ‘est encore à faire.’

page 201 note 1 Precise references to these sources will be found in the footnotes to the text printed below, A § De contemptu clauium.

page 201 note 2 This question is dealt with more fully in Appendix D.

page 201 note 3 The most interesting of them are grouped together in an ‘incidens questio’ of C. on why kings were instituted. Decretista found two of these texts of great significance: c.20 Principes (Isidore) and c.26 Administratores ( John VIII). These in particular were linked with D.96.C.16 Boni principis (Ps. Isidore) to form what might be termed the ‘ministerial’ view of secular power i.e. princes viewed as instruments for ecclesiastical service, cf. Huguccio: ‘Nam ad hoc sunt constitua seculares, quod per se nequit ecclesia, per eos quasi ministros exercetur, et per eos tuitionem et potestatem, ut. xxiii, q.v. Principes, Administratores,.. .’ (D.96.C.16 s.v. tueri. Lincoln Cath. MS 2, f. 172va). Similarly his anonymous follower ( ? Petrus Beneventanus) Summa Reginensis: ‘Nam ad hoc constitute sunt publice potestates seculares, ut quod per se non posset ecclesia per eos quam per ministros exerceatur, ut. xxiii, q.v. Principes’ (ad eumd. loe., ed. Stickler, A., ‘Decretisti bolognesi dimenticati,’ Studia Gratiana, 111 (Bologna 1955), 377410 at 398)Google Scholar. This was the principle which underlay the theory of the brachium seculare and thus of the penal code against heretics. How Hostiensis made it relevant to deposition theory appears in the consultano in § Item captio, depredado.

page 202 note 1 Said by Hostiensis to be ‘primus de genere.’ The omission of Henry IV seems surprising. See Appendix B for some comment on the part of Gregory VII in the formation of canonist deposition theory.

page 202 note 2 MGH Const. II, no. 399, 508.

page 202 note 3 See especially the so-called ‘Encyclica’ of July-Sept. 1245, MGH, cit. no. 262,361-6. Cf. W. Ulimann, ‘Some Reflections on the opposition of Frederick II to the Papacy,’ Archivio Storico Pugliese (1960), 3-26.

page 203 note 1 ‘Sed dominus papa respondit ad singula bene, ac si providisset, se et ecclesiam excusanda.’ Brevis nota, ed. cit. 515.

page 203 note 2 The source for the precise nature of the citation is Nicholas de Carbio: ‘Festo autem nativitatis Domini celebrato, dum in festo beati Joannis Evangelistae missam mane in Lugdunensi ecclesia celebraret, ac praedicaret populo verbum Dei, ibi publice nunciavit concilium generale in festo beati Joannis Baptistae venturo proximo celebrandum. Et tune in praedicatione publica per se ipsum citavit memoratimi Imperatorem Fredericum, quod ibi per se, vel sufficientes procuratores, et nuntios futuro concilio compareret, propositurus quicquid de iure suo vellet proponere, ac postmodum auditurus quod super ipsius negotio sacrum concilium, Domine dictante sententiam, iudicaret cum eiusdem malitia faciente non posset ad ipsum alia sententia pervenire.’ Vita Innocenta IV, ed. Muratori, , RISS, 111, 1 Google Scholar, cols. 592ff. at § XVIII De denunciatione (sic) concilii in Lugdun.

page 203 note 3 Cf. Aeger cui levia, ed. E. Winkelmann, Acta Imperii Inedita . . ., 11, 697.

page 203 note 4 See, for example, the text of Benincasa in note following, of Alanus Anglicus in n:24, of J. Teutonicus, Appendix A, n9, and of Vincentius Hispanus, J. Teutonicus and Tancred in the last text printed in Appendix D. A number of decretist texts have been assembled and discussed by O. Hageneder, ‘Exkommunikation und Thronfolgeverlust bei Innocenz III,’ Römische historische Mitteilungen (1957-8), 9-50.

page 204 note 1 The casus to the text written by Benincasa affords a good summary of the decretist interpretation of it, which became part of the glossa ordinaria: ‘Gelasius papa scribens contra Anastasiam imperatorem dicit quod potest eum deponere propter malitiam suam. Et hoc probat exemplo Zacharie pape qui regem Francoram deposuit non tantum propter sua delieta, quantum pro eo quod inutilis erat, et loco eius Pipinum patrem Caroli posuit, et omnes Francigenas a fidelitate eius absoluit. ..’

page 204 note 2 The consultatio stated that the emperor was ‘specialius quodammodo subest ei.’ Innocent IV and Hostiensis were explicit about the special nature of the emperor’s subjection: both stated ‘nam specialis coniunctio est inter papam et imperatorem, quia papa ipsum examinat et approbat et iniungit, et imperator ei iurat tanquam domino, et ab eo tenet imperium, et eius est advocatus, ut colligitur supra, de elec. Venerabilem et lxiii, dist. Ego lodouicus et c. Tibi domino.’ (Ad 2.2.10, s.v. vacante.)

page 205 note 1 Alanus: ‘Si ergo papa iudex ordinarius est et quoad spiritualia et quoad temporalia, potest ab eo deponi imperator et eodem modo quilibet laicus habens potestatem vel dignitatem aliquam sub imperatore, si plenitudine potestads sue uti vellet.’ Ad comp., s.v. iuris, reprinted after J. F. v. Schulte by Stickler, A. M., ‘Alanus Anglicus als Verteidiger des monarchischen Papsttums,’ Salesianum, xxi (1959), 346406 Google Scholar at 364.

page 205 note 2 This is a distinction made by Innocent himself, cf. Hostiensis: ‘Nonne dominus noster hane constitutionem fecit, et nonne exprimit hic (i.e. in his gloss on it) intentionem suam ? Quid ergo ultra queris ? Rn. non exprimit tanquam papa, sed tanquam magister, et sepe ab eo audiuimus quod non intendebat quod ius facerent glosse sue.’ Ad Ex. Inn. IV. De sent, excomtn. e. Solet, s.v. non negetur, f. CLXIV ra.

page 205 note 3 This line of thought lay behind one gloss of what became the glossa ordinaria on Ad apostolice sedis: ‘Priuamus. propter crimina; ergo deponit papa imperatorem, ut hic. Idem cum est inutilis, Alius, et dat coadjutores ipsis male administrantibus, supra, eo.lib., de sup. negli, prela. Grandi; per negligentiam ipsorum iurisdictionem assumit, supra, de foro compe. Licet. Compellit ipsos iustitiam facere.xxiii.q.v. Administratores; et ius canonicum etiam debitis casibus obseruare, supra, eo.lib., de foro compe. cii. de iureiur.Licet. infra, de senten.excom. Decernimus. Unum enim oportet esse principatum ad quem omnes recurrant.vii.q.i. In apibus. qui fi. sint leg. Per venerabilem. circa finem, versic. Is vero etc., et de hoc vide quod notant Innocentius et Hostiensis, de foro compe. Licet ex suscepto.’ VIo 2.14.2 (ed. Paris 1561), cols. 382-3. Innocent III’s Per venerabilem, here cited, had an important influence on the development of the concept and on the interpretation of this decretal, cf.Tierney, B., ‘ “Tria quippe distinguit iudicia ...” A Note on Innocent III’s Decretal Per Venerabilem,’ Speculum, XXXVII (1962), 4859 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The citation in the text above of Innocent IV and Hostiensis draws attention to an important theologicc-historical argument by which they justified papal kingship of Christendom. I have commented briefly on this argument in ‘The development of the Theory of the Temporal Authority of the Papacy by the Thirteenth Century Canonists,’ Historical Studies 11 (Papers read before the third Irish Conference of Historians, ed. M. Roberts, 1959), 22-3.

page 206 note 1 Op. cit. sect, xix, concluding: ‘Quis ergo, nisi mente captus, ignorât potestatem imperatoris, et regum pontificibus esse subiectam ? Et quis credit a subiectione romani pontifias se esse alienum, nisi qui peccatis suis exigentibus inter oves Christi, pastorum principis non meruit numerari ?’

page 207 note 1 For further comment, see now my ‘The Theory of Papal Monarchy in the Thirteenth Century: The Contribution of the Canonists,’ Traditio, xx (1964), 212-14; 239-42.

page 207 note 2 1.6.34.

page 207 note 3 This sentence om. C. The paragraphing is as A.

page 207 note 4 In preceding sentence A.

page 207 note 5 tenebat quod curia peccaverat B. sicut pro constanti habebat curia C.

page 207 note 6 Proper names not capitalised A.

page 207 note 7 om. B. sicut C.

page 208 note 1 intelligo C.

page 208 note 2 secundum C.

page 208 note 3 dignis B. The reference is to the glossa ordinaria of Joannes Teutonicus D.40.C.6, s.v. a fide devius where John wrote: ‘Sed pro quo peccato potest imperator deponi? Pro quolibet, si est incorrigibilis: unde deponitur si est minus utilis, ut’ (C.15.q.6.c.3); ed. Paris 1611, col. 203.

page 208 note 4 huius B. The reference is to Huguccio’s gloss concerning the deposition of a pope, which has been printed by Schulte, J. F. v., Die Stellung der Concillen, Päpste und Bischöfe, Prague 1871, 262-4Google Scholar, and Tierney, B., Foundations of the Conciliar Theory, Cambridge 1955, 248501 Google Scholar.

page 208 note 5 imperatorem qui in spiritualibus quodammodo B. imperatorem qui subest ei C.

page 208 note 6 D.96.C.10. This text is the celebrated one of Gelasius ‘There are two powers . . .’ To find it cited (and in accordance with general canonist practice) as an authority for the deposing power illustrates the impossibility of speaking of ‘Gelasian dualism’ as a meaningful term in relation to the canonists. They knew the text from Gregory VII’s letter to Hermann of Metz, an apologia for the deposing power. From the same source they also knew C.15.q.6.c.3 (Alius) and attributed it to Gelasius also, since in Gregory’s letter it was in the same context.

page 208 note 7 D.96.C.11. Attributed by Gratian to John (VIII?) but in reality of Gelasius.

page 208 note 8 Joan. B.

page 208 note 9 C.24.q.1.c.14.

page 208 note 10 id.c.15.

page 208 note 11 id.c.19.

page 208 note 12 id.c.20.

page 208 note 13 Code 1.5.8.

page 208 note 14 id.1.1.8.

page 208 note 15 om. AB. Nov. CXXXI, c. i.

page 208 note 16 contempserit C.

page 209 note 1 5.37.13.

page 209 note 2 de quo illa loquitur decretalis C.

page 209 note 3 C.11.q.3.c.36.

page 209 note 4 id.c.37.

page 209 note 5 Excommunicamus itaque C: 5.7.13.

page 209 note 6 om. AB.

page 209 note 7 esse B. The text itself read potius.

page 209 note 8 D.38.C.16.

page 209 note 9 D.81.c.15.

page 209 note 10 D.96.c.16.

page 209 note 11 Cod.3.12.3.

page 209 note 12 Inst.2.7.1.

page 209 note 13 5.40.3.

page 209 note 14 C.23.q.5.c.23.

page 209 note 15 id.c.26.

page 209 note 16 id.c.20.

page 209 note 17 C.23.q.2.c.2.

page 209 note 18 utique C.

page 209 note 19 5.37.12.

page 209 note 20 C.24.q.1.c.32.

page 209 note 21 1.7.1.

page 209 note 22 1.7.2.

page 209 note 23 12 B.

page 209 note 24 C.n.q.3.c.63.

page 209 note 25 regnare C.

page 209 note 26 2.24.10.

page 210 note 1 conuentus C.

page 210 note 2 C.2.q.1.c.17.

page 210 note 3 2.28.5.

page 210 note 4 Printed as part of the citation of 2.28.5 B.

page 210 note 5 ut supra, eodem bone me. magun. C.

page 210 note 6 1.6.23.

page 210 note 7 sui C.

page 210 note 8 ut hic C.

page 210 note 9 est A.

page 210 note 10 de ju. B: in eadem decretale, extra, in antiquis C.

page 210 note 11 This text has not been identified.

page 210 note 12 D.

page 210 note 13 § verum. supra B: § verum.v.alius C: C.6.q.i dict. Grat, post c. 21.

page 210 note 14 D.56.C.10.

page 210 note 15 1.18.14.

page 211 note 1 1.6.34.

page 211 note 2 4-17-13.

page 211 note 3 Gregory VII, 7 March 1080: Reg. VII, 14a (ed. Caspar, 486-7).

page 211 note 4 Cf. the very useful brief history of the exegesis, Congar, Y. M., ‘ “Ecce constimi te super gentes et regna ( Jer. i, 10)” in Geschichte und Gegenwart,’ Mél. M. Schmaus, Munich 1957,671-96Google Scholar.

page 212 note 1 1.31.2,3.

page 212 note 2 1.6.17.

page 212 note 3 1.23.4.

page 212 note 4 5.7.15.

page 212 note 5 5.39.49.

page 212 note 6 5.39.53.

page 212 note 7 1.16.3.

page 212 note 8 1.24.3.

page 212 note 9 1.31.15

page 212 note 10 D.40.c.12.

page 212 note 11 De cons. D.4.

page 212 note 12 3.42.

page 213 note 1 11 B.

page 213 note 2 D.40.C.6.

page 213 note 3 C.24.q.1.c.32.

page 213 note 4 5.7.9.

page 213 note 5 5.7.13.

page 213 note 6 C.11.q.4.c.22.

page 213 note 7 C.11.q.1.c.6.

page 213 note 8 C.32.q.5.c.21

page 213 note 9 C.15.q.6,c.3.