The King’s Councellors’ Two Faces: A Portuguese Perspective

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How were medieval popes supposed to deal with renegade kings? Indeed what authority did they have to deal with them at all? Such questions had been latent in Christian Europe ever since 751, the year in which Pope Zacharias had authorised the deposition of the last Merovingian king of the Franks, thereby ushering in their first Carolingian ruler (Nelson 1988: 213-16). He had done so because the disposed-of, and therefore deposed, King Childeric was incompetent. That at least was how Pope Gregory VII recalled the event rather more than three centuries later (‘quia non erat utilis’: Wallace-Hadrill 1962: 244-5). And during the course of the following century, and especially after Gregory VII’s celebrated confrontation with Henry IV of Germany, the questions were addressed ever more closely (Ullmann 1955). The debate on the matter sharpened. And above all it sharpened in the hands of lawyers. Lawyers - both Roman and canon lawyers, and above all that significant minority of twelfth-century lawyers whose competence was in both disciplines - identified the issue as the issue. And they were right to do so, because it was the issue that went to the heart of the question of the nature of authority in the Western Church.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Medieval World
EditorsPeter Linehan, Marios Costambeys, Janet Nelson
Place of PublicationLondon/New York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781351592291
ISBN (Print)9781138848696
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2018


  • Juridical Culture
  • Portugal-12th/13th cents.
  • Vincentius Hispanus
  • João Peculiar
  • Chancelor Julião


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