Against the Backdrop of Sovereignty and Absolutism

22 September 2022

The Theology of God’s Power and Its Bearing on the Western Legal Tradition, 1100–1600, by Massimiliano Traversino Di Cristo, with a foreword by Diego Quaglion.

This book attempts to determine the degree to which the modern fate of the Western legal tradition depends on one of the most long-standing debates of the Middle Ages, the distinction between potentia Dei absoluta and ordinata (God’s absolute and ordered power). The mediaeval investigation into God’s attributes was originally concerned with the problem of divine almightiness. It underwent a slow but steady displacement from the territory of theology to the freshly emerging proceedings of legal analysis. Here, based on the distinction, late-mediaeval lawyers worked out a new terminology to define the extent of the power-holder’s authority. This effort would give rise, during the early modern era, to the gradual establishment of the legal-political framework represented by the concepts of the prince and sovereignty.

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