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Legatus A Latere

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Chapter Summary

Around 1318 Cardinal Guillaume de Pierre Godin wrote that the office of legatus a latere, invested from the very start with plenissimam potestatem, began with the first pope, Saint Peter, in full accordance with the will of God. The missions of three legates in particular Bertrand du Poujet, Giovanni Orsini and above all Gil Albornoz, stand out as arguably the most ambitious of all medieval papal legations. The diplomatic role of the legatus a latere was almost as old as the papacy itself, dating from the first centuries of Christian antiquity, when the bishops of Rome used legates to keep in touch with other churches. The powers accorded to legati a latere reveal the inextricable link between legates and papal plenitudo potestatis.

Keywords: Cardinal Guillaume de Pierre Godin; legatus a latere; papacy

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