This is the essay for the 35th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. In this blog post, I will be answering three questions.
The first one is: Where can we see the ideas of Marsilius of Padua in Louis of Bavaria’s conflict with Pope John XXII?
The second one is: What was the condition of the Catholic Church on the eve of the Protestant Reformation?
The third and last one is: What are the three key developments that led to the political centralization of Spain.
The way the election of new emperors worked in the Holy Roman Empire was that representatives went to the Special Diet which was like a representative assembly. Then the Special Diet of Electors would choose the king and the king would become the Holy Roman Emperor after he was crowned by the Pope. In 1314 two kings were chosen by two groups of electors. These were Louis of Bavaria and Frederick of Austria. Pope John XXII chose not to crown either of the two kings. There was a rule in place wherein between the death of the previous emperor and the coronation of a new one the Pope is allowed to rule the country.
However, Louis and Frederick decide to settle the issue themselves by going to war. In 1322 Louis beat Frederick and took on the authority of the Emperor as if he had been crowned. John wasn’t happy about this, so he ordered Frederick and Louis to surrender their titles and report to the papal court. Louis refuses to do so and is then excommunicated. John also says that if any German territories recognize Louis as the Holy Roman Emperor, then they will be put under interdict. Most German territories don’t comply with John’s demands. To make matters worse for Pope John XXII, the Spiritual Franciscans come out against him, as he had condemned their view of private property, which was that you shouldn’t own anything. Louis uses this backlash to denounce John and tries to have an ecumenical council arranged to try John for heresy.
This is when the ideas of Marsilius Padua become evident in the conflict. Padua’s views very briefly summarized are that popes shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of countries and that you should be able to ignore the pope and keep doing the things you were doing before, even if the pope is against you. An example of these principles is when Louis marches to Rome and has the Roman people crown him emperor. The Romans welcome him because they were unhappy with the fact that the Papacy was situated in Avignon. Eventually, Louis is kicked out of Rome because German soldiers were taking food without paying and Louis was taxing the Romans so he could stay there. When Louis returns to Germany he apologizes and begs for forgiveness from Pope John XXII, but he refuses to do so. Instead, Louis receives support from the English King Edward III. In response to all this, the Special Diet of Electors decides that they don’t need the Pope to crown Louis emperor, which they do themselves.
On the eve of the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church wasn’t doing the best. Almost every part of the Church was being abused in one way or another. However, there were still people who were crowned as Saints, this includes Catherine of Sienna, Frances of Rome, John of Capistrano, etc. Plenty of works of religious devotion are also written for the general public. These include Gerson’s “Plain Man’s ABC and Treatise on the Ten Commandments ”, Raymond Lull’s “Art of Contemplation” and Thomas A. Kempis’s “The Imitation of Christ”. The attendance of normal masses and religious practice is declining during this time. On the other hand, there was a lot of attraction to the dramatic aspects of religion. These would be popular preachers, high masses on important feast days and feast days of guild patron saints.
There was a lot of focus on subjects such as death and astrology. They focused on astrology to find out what would happen in the future. Besides that, there was also a superstition to the saints. It was normal to show respect and admiration to the saints, but it had gone way too far. There was a common problem, which popes were trying to combat. The problem was that priests would often refuse to give the holy communion to people who had been given the death sentence. This was illegal because it was against the Christian council of mercy. The clergy also had its own fair share of problems. The problem was that they were very focused on getting more money. This was most prominent in cardinals, but also some bishops. Parish clergy were also trying to suck as much money as they could out of the common people, but only because they were very close to poverty. Absenteeism was another problem in the Church. Which meant that the Church clergy was interested in everything besides the duties they were supposed to do. This could be Bishops not being in the diocese they were ruling over or priests who weren’t celebrating mass. Things got so bad that priests were told to celebrate mass at least four times a year when it should be celebrated every day or every Sunday.
The first key development towards the centralization of Spain was that the two most important kingdoms in Spain were brought together. The kingdoms were Aragon and Castile and they were joined because of a marriage in 1469. The marriage was between Ferdinand, the heir of Aragon and Isabella, the heiress of Castile. In 1479 Ferdinand and Isabella succeeded to their respective thrones and the two crowns became united. They ruled their kingdoms as one whole and they centralized the government in Spain. Due to this a lot of Spanish towns lost a lot of their privileges which was given to the central government.
The second key development was the continuation of the Reconquista by Ferdinand and Isabella. The Reconquista was the process of driving out the remnants of the Muslims out of Spain. The last piece of land the Muslim Moors owned was Granada. Up until 1466, they had been sending a yearly tribute to Castile, which was then stopped. After Ferdinand and Isabella came to power, they sent representatives to Granada to ask them to resume the tributes. This didn’t happen and the Moors even took over a Christian town nearby. The Spanish counterattack began in 1481 and took over ten years to finish. The siege on Granada began in 1491 and it fell in 1492. The peace terms for Granada were very fair for the time. The terms were that the Moors could keep their property, mosques and religion. They could also have their own ruler and laws. They would be allowed to emigrate to Africa and even helped if they did. They were also allowed to convert to Catholicism.
The third key development was the Spanish Inquisition. It seemed that some of the Muslims and Jews that converted to Christianity were not being sincere. Outwardly they would pretend to be Catholics but inwardly they would still be Muslims and Jews. These people were called Moriscos and Marranos respectively. The reason they would do this is that being the same religion of the region you are in would allow you to be more successful. This reasoning was also helped by the fact that there was a long-live resentment for Muslims and Jews in Spain. The Spanish Inquisition would investigate people who were believed to be insincere in their belief in Christianity. They did this because the Spanish rulers believed that religious uniformity would make Spain easier to rule and more powerful.