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David d'Avray (London):

Konsens, Kirche und Papsttum

7. September | 19.30 Uhr | Tagungsraum, Neues Seminargebäude

Rather than following the pure Begriffsgeschichte path, I will use consensus as (fairly common-sense) analytical concept – a scholar’s concept – and ask how far the government of religious life in medieval Europe was based on consensus and consent. The medieval Church had a government structurally similar to that of a state, though the content of its power overlapped with state power to only a limited degree. Furthermore, state power nearly always depends on a combination of consensus (elicited by successful legitimation) and physical force. Many people believe that the state is a legitimate authority and are inclined to obey it, but if they feel otherwise, they can be made to obey it by being arrested, tried, and put into prison. Some medieval kings, notably the kings of France and England in the later medieval centuries, had a great deal of physical enforcement power at their disposal. The papacy, by contrast, did not. By the later Middle Ages it had the sanction of excommunication, but that was a poor substitute for men-at-arms. For one thing, people knew that they could defy an excommunication and get forgiven later, a possibility always left open on principle. For another, there was not a lot that pope and bishops could do against someone who defied excommunication, if the recalcitrant person or institution had some support.
Consequently, the medieval Church and in particular the papacy must have relied on consensus to a much greater extent that the secular monarchies of the day. The paper aims to explore and explain the consensus on which it relied.