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‘Qui totum sibi vendicat quod scripserat esse suum’: The Limits of Papal dominium from a Fictitious Letter of 1307

Bonomelli, Gabriele (2021) ‘Qui totum sibi vendicat quod scripserat esse suum’: The Limits of Papal dominium from a Fictitious Letter of 1307. Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law, 38 . pp. 251-289. ISSN 0146-2989. (KAR id:101307)


In 1307, during a session of the Parliament of Carlisle, a Latin letter purportedly fell from the sky. Its aim was to reproach the attempts of the pope to interfere in English economic and politic affairs through the appointment of his candidates to English benefices, the so-called provisores. The letter develops its opposition to the pontiff’s policy by delving into a key contept of Medieval thought: the limitations to the pope’s political and economic dominium. The aim of this paper is to assess this fictitious epistle’s contribution to a debate that had deep roots in medieval legal thought. The paper traces the evolution of the theory of papal dominium from Augustine to Gilles of Rome and assesses the ways in which this letter developed some interesting aspects of the reflexion on the nature of papal dominium that would later be used by leading intellectuals such as William of Ockham and Marsilius of Padua to limit the pontiff’s prerogatives during the debate over apostolic poverty. The paper concludes with an investigation of the fortune of the letter in Early Modern England, in order to assess the peculiar reception of this text by Protestant intellectuals.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Funders: University of Bologna (
Depositing User: Gabriele Bonomelli
Date Deposited: 16 May 2023 12:08 UTC
Last Modified: 17 May 2023 10:26 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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