Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and the History of Europe during the High Middle Ages
The article provides an overview of the lives and contributions of two renowned Italian theologians of the High Middle Ages – Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure. It also delves into the history of Europe during this period, focusing particularly on the intertwined histories of England and France in the thirteenth century.
Table of Contents:
- Divine Exemplar Ideals and the Metaphysical Concepts of Bonaventure
- Philosophical Defence of the Christian Faith by Thomas Aquinas
- Annexation of Normandy and French Territorial Conquests
- Policies of the French Crown and Cooperativeness of Local Elites
- Quality of Rulership in France after Louis IX
- Flaws in Rulership in England by John
Q1. Who was Thomas Aquinas and what was his contribution to the Christian faith?
Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican friar, a chaired professor and philosopher-theologian who worked tirelessly to provide a rational footing to Christian doctrine. He used the tools provided in the Aristotelian corpus and its accompanying commentaries to defend Christian theology and confute heretical interpretations. Aquinas acknowledged that some things could not be proved but established a set of tenets that underpinned large parts of the Christian faith.
Q2. How did Bonaventure’s metaphysics differ from Aristotle’s?
Bonaventure grounded his metaphysics in three notions – emanation, exemplarism and consummation. While Aristotle believed in the ‘necessary emanation’ of creation, Bonaventure dissented from this view. For him, all things that are created are echoes of God as the exemplar cause of all creatures – he is more Platonic than Aristotelian.
Q3. Could you explain Bonaventure’s belief in divine exemplar ideals?
Bonaventure believed that divine exemplar ideals exist in the Eternal Word of God. The return of the created to the creator is likened to stages in a journey and occurs through recognition of the power and greatness of the Creator, seeking to know God more, divine illumination and spiritual union.
Q4. How did French territorial conquests in the west affect the kingdom of the north, formerly England’s Normandy and other Plantagenet lands?
The annexation of Normandy and other former Plantagenet lands transformed the tiny and vulnerable kingdom of the north and led to it becoming the kingdom of the north and the south under Louis VIII. The fundamental problem facing the new rulers was how to hold together the diverse regions that now made up the kingdom.
Q5. What principles did French rulers apply in running this conglomeration of principalities?
The principles applied included direct control over the conquered areas, appointment of key administrative posts, and a critical concession to native elites by promising to respect local ways of doing things, local legal customs, and institutions while stressing the Crown’s emblematic role as the icon of French unity.
Q6. What policies were put in place in France during the thirteenth century to limit the practice of moneylending and pawnbroking by Jews?
Policies were put in place to restrict access to Christians as a market for Jewish products and services and to limit the practice of moneylending and pawnbroking by Jews.
Q7. Who led the eradication of heresy in France?
The eradication of heresy was led by the Church and fully supported by the Crown. The Inquisition, led by Dominicans, had the legal right to use torture but was usually infrequent in employing it, preferring imprisonment, fines, public humiliation, and long penances as punishments.
Q8. What was the significance of crusading in the eastern Mediterranean for France?
A significant policy was crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, which helped stimulate pride in the French Crown’s leadership, even though the expeditions had mixed results.
Q9. What were the flaws in John’s rulership of England?
Following Richard the Lionhearted’s death, his brother John ascended the throne. His chequered reign and civil war largely responded to issues in French and papal history. The ‘Magna Carta’, a document that solemnized English liberties, was renounced by John and also disliked by his superior, Pope Innocent III.
Q10. What do you conclude from discussing the intertwined histories of England and France in the thirteenth century?
From discussing the intertwined histories of England and France in the thirteenth century, we can conclude that the philosophers and theologians of the time were not just ivory-tower intellectuals but were also involved in important political and ecclesiastical roles in the “real world”.
Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure were remarkable personalities of the High Middle Ages who made significant contributions to the fields of philosophy and theology. They were instrumental in providing a rational defence of the Christian faith and rooting metaphysics in divine exemplar ideals respectively. The text also highlights the intertwined histories of England and France, showing how both nations’ histories were inextricably linked. French territorial conquests in the west led to the annexation of Normandy and other former Plantagenet lands, which transformed the hitherto vulnerable kingdom of the north into the kingdom of the north and the south under Louis VIII. The French Crown applied principles of direct control over conquered areas, key administrative posts, and a concession to native elites to hold together the diverse regions that now made up the kingdom. French policies were geared towards limiting the practice of moneylending and pawnbroking by Jews, eradicating heresy and encouraging crusading in the eastern Mediterranean. Meanwhile, in England, John’s reign was marked by civil war largely responding to issues in French and papal history with even the Magna Carta being renounced. Overall, the article provides an insightful exploration of the High Middle Ages and the ways that philosophers and theologians of the day were involved in important political and ecclesiastical roles.