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5 At the Crossroads of Law and Politics: William Durant the Younger’s ‘Treatise’ on Councils

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Chapter Summary

William Durant has an excellent claim on being a founding father of the conciliar movement. The present article is not dedicated to his role in the history of that movement, but to the genre and the unusual structure he adopted for his treatise. The present article is solely concerned with the arrangement of the Tractatus maior as it appears in the manuscripts. The Tractatus maior is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the guiding principles of church reform and follows a systematic order, and the second part compares ancient conciliar law with other laws and follows the chronological order of the Pseudo-Isidorian collection. One of the new meanings just mentioned is of special interest to us: this meaning of tractatus was the counsel given by an assembly. The second meaning of tractatus that is of interest for our purposes may be called the jurisprudential meaning.

Keywords: conciliar movement; Pseudo-Isidorian collection; Tractatus maior; William Durant



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