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Papal Supremacy: Innocent Iii Essay

2777 words - 11 pages

Who was greater: the Pope or the Emperor/Kings? Ever since the legalization of Christianity in 313, popes and emperors have been involved in numerous disputes about who was the head of Christian society. Emperors claimed authority, making reference to precedence such as Constantine and the Council of Nicea in 325. The papacy on the other hand, argued papal primacy with such ideas as the Petrime theory, the history of orthodoxy, and the fact that the Pope controlled the old Roman capital.The Concordat of Worms of 1122 CE brought an end to the investiture controversy. However, some historians argue that in the centuries that followed, the papacy overstepped its jurisdiction when it began to exert control over the political sphere as well. Pope Innocent III coming after a long line of popes of who had exerted such control is one that is most intensely attacked. Did he overstep the boundaries of the papacy and interfere in the political affairs or was he merely acting in a sphere in which he had all the right to do so? Innocent did not waste too many opportunities to explain how his appearance in temporal affairs was justified. In fact, he provided justification in almost all of his letters, decrees, and policies. By examining a few of the many examples, it is apparent that Pope Innocent III mostly used the rhetoric of god to justify his place in political affairs. Although, he may at times have used other persuasive strategies such as logic, precedent, and historical events, his strongest element of justification was that his actions were in fact the will of god.In a letter to the prefect of Acerbius and the nobles of Tuscany, Innocent III insisted that his power was greater than the power of the Kings. He clarified this by using a metaphor of the sun and the moon. Establishing that the moon derives its light from that of the sun, he explains that in the same way the "royal power derived the splendor of its dignity from the pontifical authority." Innocent implicitly stated that all power and authority resided in the hands of the papacy, more specifically the pope. The King received his authority and power from the Pope. He did not insinuate that the King was less than the pope, but instead the pope was greater than the King, and by doing so he established that the king's power came from something greater that was above him, the pope. The pope's place therefore was above the King. How did he come to the conclusion that the pope was greater than the sun? He did this by using the rhetoric of god, examined the paragraph that follows, but also logic. Because the king had no power of his own, just as the moon had no light of its own, it had to get it from somewhere else: the pope and the sun, respectively. Therefore because the moon and the king were nothing without the pope and the sun, it is logical that the pope was in fact greater than the king because the pope had what the king lacked.However more importantly, Innocent makes reference to god in his...

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