Defensor Pacis and the Black Death

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The Defensor Pacis or Defender of Peace was written by Marsilius of Padua in 1324, a political thinker that died in the year 1342.

Marsilius claimed that the state was the so called “defender of peace”. In his writing he is going to propose the autonomous state or a government that is not subject to any correction by any force, even less the pope. He will bring down the point of view that the church has a visible head that exercises a power of his own (the pope). By backing it up claiming that the apostle Peter had no special authority, because his authority was no greater than the one of the other apostles, and explaining that it’s doubtful that he ever came to Rome.

With this, he will say that the only power the pope has is the one that declares what the ecumenical council has determined. The emperor however, has power over the ecumenical council and therefore the pope. He shrinks the influence of the church and elevates the one of the secular rulers. Also, he will say that the only law there is to obey is the human law, which is a command backed by force.

Its significance in Western history has been clear throughout the years, for it too has influenced some of what is the modern thought of law.

Note: I too think that the apostle Peter had no greater power than the one of the other apostles. This essay that my brother wrote explains why: Having a Pope


The “Black Death” was one of the greatest disasters in Western history. One third of the European population was wiped out, with the urban percentage being much higher. It was a combination of the bubonic plague and the pneumonic plague.

Its origins (bubonic plague) are said to have been in the Italian trading ships where they carried rats. These rats in turn carried fleas which were caring a disease. These fleas then left the rats and began to bite humans, and therefore infected them. The pneumonic plague however, was spread through coughing and sneezing.

The people began to react in very extreme ways. Some had an extreme indulgence in bodily pleasures, while others had an extreme penance where they would beat themselves up until they bleed.

There was also a great effect on the economic area. Peasants would simply abandon the land, and in return, higher wages had to be paid due to the lack of workers. Later on, this was overridden for the landowners demanded to pay the peasants the same way they were before the Black Death. Not only were they affected, but the gov’t. itself was almost bankrupt, and had to bring in effect the poll tax. This tax led to a revolt led by John Ball, a priest. Who was later on hanged, drawn, and quartered, with his head put as an adornment to the London Bridge.

Many other great disasters followed the Black Death, but this one being the greatest.

Categories: Western Civilization 1 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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