Tuesday, 17 June 2014

John of Salisbury's The Policraticus, 1159

The Policraticus was a work by John of Salisbury which appeared in 1159. John dedicated the book to Thomas Becket, chancellor to Henry II at that time. Both had been in the household of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, Becket as archdeacon of Canterbury and John of Salisbury as Theobald's secretary and special envoy.

Policraticus
Book IV Chapter 1
On the difference between the prince and the tyrant, and what the prince is

John of Salisbury asserted that the law was supreme: "A tyrant is one who oppresses the people by rulership based on force, whilst he who rules in accordance with the laws is a prince." A true prince states "I will not rule over you, but God shall rule over you." A prince reigns but does not rule.

"As the image of the deity, the prince is to be loved, venerated, and respected; the tyrant, as the image of depravity, is for the most part even to be killed."

"All tyrants reach a miserable end".

Was Henry II a tyrant against whom Becket, our hero, fought over the Constitutions of Clarendon? Or did Henry really seek to treat all his subjects as the same, no matter whether they were clerics or ordinary citizens, all subject to the same laws, his laws.

Some argue that Henry should be remembered as a law-giver and not as a tyrant.

Some argue that Canon Law, or the law of the Church, or more specifically God's law was superior to the king's law. This was Becket's position, that the punishments exacted by the king's law were cruel and uncivilised, uncouth and unfit to be used on clerics no matter how wrong they have or had been. Those who were clerics considered themselves to be an elite, the elected ones of God. Becket's position was that the Church was thus fully entitled to have its own separate system of laws and punishments. He fought to the death on this principle, for which he was made a saint. The Church had its own hierarchy. Did Becket owe allegiance to the king alone? Or as a cleric did he owe allegiance to the king saving only the honour and duty he owed to God?

Some have seen The Policraticus and Becket's personal friendship with John of Salisbury, one of the major thinkers and intellectuals of his age, as the central reason why Becket took up his struggle against Henry II.

Did Becket believe he was a member of a meritocracy, a member of the middle class who managed to rise to highest positions in society? Did those of noble birth resent this upstart? Did Becket resent the nobles, the gentry of so-called high birth? Did Becket resent the divine right of kings?

Cullinane, Mary Patricius (1943) "Translations of Letters Sixty-One to One-Hundred Six of John of Salisbury" . Master's Theses. Paper 478.
http://ecommons.luc.edu/luc_theses/478 Page 94

100. Letter John of Salisbury to Abbot Peter of Celle
Ca September 1159

Summary: John is sending his newly-finished book, The Policraticus, to Peter, and asking him to correct it. John finished Policraticus betore the siege ot Toulouse was ended, [ see Pollcraticus 8. 25, ed. Webb p. 424.] He also speaks of Pope Adrian IV as still living [Policraticus 8. 23]. The siege ended about the beginning of October and this could not have been known in England until about the middle of that month: while Adrian IV died on August 31 and this news would not have reached England until about October 1. John therefore probably finished The Policraticus sometime before he wrote this letter.

"I have brought out a book about the vanities of the courtiers and the traditions of the philosophers which will please or displease me, dependent upon your decision. It is unpolished and is desirous, by order, of being corrected by you, a friend. It was on its way to an illustrious man, the Chancellor to the King of England [Thomas Becket], but check it, unless you deem it expedient to allow it to circulate. For it is garrulous and will have scarcely a friend in the court. I do not wish it to make me an enemy at the court. I beg that you polish it unhesitatingly and send it back corrected to an awaiting friend."

References

John of Salisbury. John of Salisbury: Policraticus. Cambridge University Press. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-0-521-36701-1.
assets.cambridge.org-97805213-67011-frontmatter-9780521367011_frontmatter.pdf

Policraticus Book IV Chapter 1
De differentia principis et tiranni, et quid sit princeps.
https://archive.org/stream/policraticisived01john#page/235/mode/1up

Policratici - sive De nvgis cvrialivm et vestigiis philosophorvm libri VIII, Volume I - John, of Salisbury,

Policratici - sive De nvgis cvrialivm et vestigiis philosophorvm libri VIII Volume II - John, of Salisbury,

Rocco Pezzimenti; Isaiah Berlin; Karl Raimund Popper (1997). The Open Society and Its Friends: With Letters from Isaiah Berlin and the Late Karl R. Popper. IV: The Rebirth of Dissent. John of Salisbury: Gracewing Publishing. pp. 97–. ISBN 978-0-85244-294-4.

John (of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres); Denis Foulechat; Charles Brucker (1994). Le Policratique de Jean de Salisbury (1372). Librairie Droz. ISBN 978-2-600-00035-2.

John (of Salisbury, Bishop of Chartres); Charles Brucker; Bibliothèque nationale de France (1 January 1985). Le Policraticus de Jean de Salisbury, traduit par Denis Foulechat (1372), (manuscrit no 24287 de la B.N.). Presses Universitaires de Nancy. ISBN 978-2-86480-165-8.

Denis Foulechat; Charles Brucker (2006). Le Policratique de Jean de Salisbury, 1372. Livre V. Librairie Droz. ISBN 978-2-600-01072-6.

 


Arthur P. Monahan (1987). Consent, Coercion, and Limit: The Medieval Origins of Parliamentary Democracy. Part Two - The Twelfth Century : 1. John of Salisbury The Policraticus: Brill Archive. pp. 57–. ISBN 90-04-08304-9.

Thought
Volume 3, Issue 3, December 1928
John A. McGann
Pages 504-507
DOI: 10.5840/thought19283326
Book Review
John A. McGann, The Statesman’s Book of John of Salisbury, Thought (Philosophy Documentation Center)

John of Salisbury
Clement C. J. Webb
Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
Vol. 2, No. 2 (1892 - 1893), pp. 91-107
http://www.jstor.org/stable/4543597

John of Salisbury's Policraticus in Thirteenth-Century England: The Evidence of Ms Cambridge Corpus Christi College 469
Amnon Linder
Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes
Vol. 40, (1977), pp. 276-282
http://www.jstor.org/stable/751001
John of Salisbury and the Doctrine of Tyrannicide
H. Richard and Mary A. Rouse
Speculum Volume 42 Issue 04 October 1967, pp 693-7
http://www.jstor.org/stable/2851099

God, Man, and Tyrants
John of Salisbury and the Bestselling Book of the Twelfth Century
Dave Kopel
Liberty magazine, May 2004, pp. 37-38, 52.
God, Man, and Tyrants

John of Salisbury, the Policraticus and Political Thought
Quentin Taylor
Rogers State University
www.nhinet.org-taylor19-1.pdf

John of Salisbury's Policraticus
M.R. James
J Theol Studies (1910) os-XI (3): 467-468
http://jts.oxfordjournals.org/content/os-XI/3/467.extract

Policraticus - Wikipedia

John of Salisbury - Wikiquote

Dr Paul Dalton; Professor David Luscombe (28 June 2015). Rulership and Rebellion in the Anglo-Norman World, c.1066–c.1216: Essays in Honour of Professor Edmund King. Chapter 9: David Luscombe - John of Salisbury and Courtiers' Trifles: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 153–. ISBN 978-1-4724-1375-8.

John Guy (5 April 2012). Thomas Becket: Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim: A 900-Year-Old Story Retold. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 178–. ISBN 978-0-14-193328-3.


J. H. Burns; James Henderson Burns (1988). The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought C.350-c.1450. Cambridge University Press. pp. 327–. ISBN 978-0-521-42388-5.




Fordham University
Medieval Sourcebook- John of Salisbury- Policraticus, Book Four (selections)

Constitution.org
John of Salisbury, Policraticus, Books 1, 2, 3
John of Salisbury, Policraticus, Books 4, 5, 6


J. H. Burns (17 October 1991). The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought C.350-c.1450. Cambridge University Press. pp. 327–. ISBN 978-0-521-42388-5.

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