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Durham e-Theses
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The Papacy and the Nations of Christendom: a study with particular focus on the pontificate of John XXII (1316-1334)

Layfield, Sarah (2008) The Papacy and the Nations of Christendom: a study with particular focus on the pontificate of John XXII (1316-1334). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 21 January 2018.

Abstract

This thesis offers a comparative examination of how expressions of nationhood and sovereignty in the four border nations of Poland, Scotland, Ireland and Lithuania were informed by the intellectual climate of the papal Curia in the early fourteenth century. It seeks to demonstrate that their shared conceptual language was in no small part due to their intended audience, the papacy, and the identity of their authors, whose understanding of apolitical language associated with the Curia was evidently profound. At a time when die more powerful monarchies of Christendom were articulating their national sovereignty in opposition to the universal claims of both empire and papacy, conceptions of nationhood and independence were evolving along, in many ways, quite different lines in these four frontier political communities. The inspiration for their assertions lay not with any powerful prince, but with a power vacuum, coupled with the threat of oppression or occupation from foreign neighbours. Responsibility for articulating concerns about nationhood and sovereignty lay with churchmen - both secular and regular - for whom such matters were naturally expressed within the legal and theological terms of reference provided by the Curia and its associated political discourse. While providing obvious parallels in conceptual language, the assertions of all four nations also demonstrate the breadth of ways in which canonistic thinking and other intellectual developments associated with the Curia could be harnessed as a means of expressing the political rights of a nation. The papacy's response to such articulations has often been characterised as unsympathetic, typified by the outlook of John XXII, to whom the most famed appeals from all four nations were directed. The comparative approach of this thesis reveals that in fact the pope's rather hesitant and carefully-worded responses did nothing to refute their assertions, and in many cases supported them, albeit sometimes inadvertently.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:28

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