marsilius) of Padua (c.1275-1342. Political philosopher. Born in Padua, Italy, he began his academic career in medicine there. Later he went to Paris where he became rector of the university in 1313. In 1324 he completed the work for which he is famous, Defensor pacis (“Defender of the peace”). Because of the very strong antipapal tone of the work, when his authorship was discovered in 1326 he was forced to leave Paris and went to the court of King Louis IV of Bavaria, who was excommunicated as the result of a dispute with Pope John XXII. In 1328 Louis IV seized Rome, and Marsiglio was named the imperial vicar of the city. Some of his political theories were put into practice, but the people of Rome turned against Louis and he left, taking Marsiglio with him. Marsiglio went back to Bavaria and spent the rest of his life there. Toward the end of his life he wrote another work, Defensor minor, basically a restatement of his earlier and more important work. Defensor pacis is divided into three books: the first deals with a philosophy of the state; the second with the theology of the church; and the third is a summary. Marsiglio argued that the unifying element in society is the state and not the church. The chief function of the secular ruler is to maintain peace. He gave power to the people to create law, to govern the common welfare, and to choose a ruler whom they could overthrow if he violated their laws. In book two he chastised the papacy for causing dissension in the world as it improperly attempted to control the temporal world. Papal claims for such control were invalid since Christ supported submission to temporal power, the church's hierarchy was not divine but human, and the temporal prerogatives claimed dated to the Donation* of Constantine and thus were ultimately secular in origin and not inherent right of papacy. He stated the only power possessed by the church was spiritual in nature. He was in favor of the secularly called general council as supreme in the church. His ideas ran counter to political theory of the papacy and help to explain why he was condemned by the papacy and why he is often seen as one of the forerunners of the Reformation period political thought. Defensor pacis was published in 1517, placed on the Index in 1559, but studied carefully by many Reformers.
E. Emerton, Defensor Pacis of Marsiglio of Padua (1920); C.W. Previté-Orton (ed.), Defensor Pacis (1928); A.P. D'Entrèves, Medieval Contribution to Political Thought (1939); A. Gerwith, Marsilius of Padua: The Defender of the Peace (2 vols., 1951-56); C. Pincin, Marsilio (1967); J. Quillet, La philosophie politique de Marsile de Padoue (1970).