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When The Devil Went To Law School: Canon Law And Theology In The Fourteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

The professionalization of canon law, as well as its emergence as an autonomous discipline in the universities, was an important aspect of the sharp competition between theologians and canonists for ecclesiastical appointments. By the early fourteenth century, the perception that canonists were winning a disproportionate number of preferments from the papal curia was widespread. The status of the relationship between canon law and theology was pressing enough that theologians could pose the question whether canonists or theologians were better equipped to govern the Church. Aspects of the theological account of the enmity between God and the devil gave the canonists grounds for their claim to priority. Whatever squabbles divided canonists and theologians, the devils lawsuit provided the medium by which the troublesome relationship between justice and grace, and law and power, was given one explanation in the fourteenth century.

Keywords: canon law; canonists; devil; fourteenth century; papal curia; theologians

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