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The Conciliarist TraditionConstitutionalism in the Catholic Church 1300-1870$
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Francis Oakley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541249

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541249.001.0001

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Democritus’s Dreame: * Conciliarism in the History of Political Thought

Democritus’s Dreame: * Conciliarism in the History of Political Thought

(p.217) 6 Democritus’s Dreame:* Conciliarism in the History of Political Thought
The Conciliarist Tradition

Francis Oakley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines conciliar theory and its legacy to 16th- and 17th-century political thought in Scotland, France, and England. John Neville Figgis urged very forcefully the significance of the role he believed the conciliar movement to have played in the history of European political thought. Three main claims are made in this argument: first, that the source of 14th- and 15th-century conciliar theory is to be found in the secular constitutional experiments of the previous centuries; second, that conciliar theory exerted a demonstrable influence on the constitutionalists and resistance theorists of the 16th and 17th centuries; and third, that it did so (and herein lies its historical significance) because of the precision with which it discerned the theoretical principles underlying medieval constitutionalism, the universality with which it formulated those principles, and the clarity and force with which it restated them. Thus, conciliar theory was not only an ecclesiological, but also a political theory.

Keywords:   conciliar theory, Roman Catholic Church, political thought, John Neville Figgis, constitutionalism, Scotland, France, England, general councils, papacy

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