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The Birth of Territory$
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Stuart Elden

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226202563

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226041285.001.0001

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The Pope's Two Swords

The Pope's Two Swords

(p.157) Chapter Five The Pope's Two Swords
The Birth of Territory

Stuart Elden

University of Chicago Press

This chapter looks at the later Middle Ages. It provides a reading of the organic idea of the body politic in the work of John of Salisbury. It examines the idea of the ‘two swords’, where the Pope claimed both temporal power—over the span of human life on the earth—and spiritual power—over sin, salvation and their eternal souls. The Pope laid claim to supremacy in the latter by right, and appointed or anointed secular rulers such as Kings or Emperors to act on his behalf in the former. However, this split, originally proposed by papal theorists, began to articulate a scope and purpose of a separate kind of power, which secular rulers and theorists began to develop. The chapter also discusses in detail the rediscovery of Aristotle’s political writings and their translation into Latin, initially through the Arabic. Translation is not simply a textual question, but one of practice, because the availability of these texts changed both the language and the substance of political thought. In this chapter there is a particular focus on the work of Thomas Aquinas and Ptolemy of Lucca, and in particular their guidance on how to act politically.

Keywords:   two swords, John of Salisbury, body politic, temporal power, spiritual power, Aristotle, Aquinas, Ptolemy of Lucca, political writings

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