Featured Work

Defensor Pacis by Marsilius of Padua


In Latin, with illustrated title page and initials. This volume is Marsilius of Padua’s “Defensor Pacis,” printed in 1522, first appeared in 1324 and triggered a gale of controversy. It was a foundational work of the modern doctrines of sovereignty. “Defensor Pacis” was written during the political struggle between Louis IV, the Holy Roman Emperor and Pope John XXII, with Marsilius of Padua’s anti-clerical treatise assisting Louis IV’s dispute against Pope John XXII’s claim of authority over the Holy Roman Empire.

The work follows in the tradition of Dante Alighieri’s “De Monarchia,” in which Marsilius believed the secular State should be separated from religious authority and the power of the Papacy should be greatly limited including:  jurisdiction, temporal matters, and authority of excommunications, interdictions, and interpretations of divine law. Furthermore, Marsilius proposed a seizure of church property and suppression of tithes.

The controversial work was censured by Pope Benedict XII and Pope Clement VI. However, the work remained influential and, in 1535, William Marshall was commissioned by Thomas Cromwell to translate “Defensor Pacis” into English to support the implementation of the Act of Supremacy, which had passed in 1534.

TITLE: Defensor Pacis by Marsilius of Padua

Published: 1522

Catalogue: #0229