Western Civilization I, Week 29 – Philip IV vs Boniface VIII, Defensor Pacis, and the Black Death

(1) What was the significance of the conflict between Philip IV and Boniface VIII?

    As with many conflicts between kings and popes, Philip IV and Boniface VIII fought over who got to call the shots. In 1296 Boniface asked all secular rulers to ask him before taxing clergy in their lands. This was a problem. Both Philip IV and Boniface VIII wanted complete control over their own realms; for Philip this meant France, and for the pope this meant all churches, clergy, and Christians around the world. Neither man wanted to be controlled by the other, but it seemed the pope’s efforts won out because he used his papacy to spread the power of the Church and protect it from secular rulers.

(2) What makes Defensor Pacis by Marsilius of Padua a significant part of the story of Western civilization?

The Defensor Pacis was significant because it placed the state above the church as originator of laws. This introduced more widespread secularization, as the populace could follow the state’s more secular laws instead of being forced to follow the church and its religious laws.

(3) Based on the video and on your reading, what were the effects on Europe of the Black Death?

The first and most obvious effect was the humongous death toll. Though we do not know the exact numbers, some historians suspect that over four years, 45-50% of Europe’s population died of the Black Death, while others think it might have been even more. Another, less obvious consequence is the lack of agricultural output. In most of Europe, agricultural output slowed or stagnated, though Ireland and Iberia’s agricultural growth remained uninterrupted. Because of the huge death toll, Europe experienced a climate cooling due to freed land and reforestation.

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