Marsilius of Padua

Marsilius of Padua (* 1275-1290 in Padua, † 1342/1343 in Munich, actually: Marsiglio dei Mainardini ) was political theorist, politician, and an important representative of scholastic Aristotelianism.


Marsilius came from the prestigious notary family of Mainardini. He initially studied the Artes, then medicine. The studies he perhaps began in his hometown Padua, put it, however, continued at the Sorbonne in Paris. In the following years, he worked as a lecturer and briefly ( December 1312-March 1313 ) as rector of the University of Paris artists. Probably during his studies he worked casually as a politician. In 1319 he led on behalf of the Ghibellines ( pro- imperial movement in imperial Italy ) negotiations in France, but his practical political work was not very successful. Following the negotiations, he then returned again to teach at the Sorbonne, where he is at this time also devoted to the study of theology.

1324 Marsilius published his major work, the Defensor Pacis ( Defender of Peace), which he dedicated to the Roman-German King Ludwig of Bavaria. It was a response to Dante's Monarchia after his death, in which Dante had entered for the Weltkaisertum. Marsilius represented a kind of popular sovereignty, which he negated the claim to power of the Pope. When he as author of the Defensor Pacis became known in 1326, he had with his friend John of Jandun, flee from Paris to the court of Ludwig of Bavaria. Johann the co-authorship was accused of, but for which there is no clear evidence; Johann, a connoisseur of Aristotle, Marsilius owed ​​but probably so some consideration. 1327 Marsilius eventually became Pope John XXII. banned and condemned as a heretic. When Louis of Bavaria, the former chief opponent of the Curia, Marsilius found not only refuge but won as a counselor Louis also rapidly influence. Marsilius and John accompanied the king even in the Italian campaign in the year 1327.

On January 17, 1328 Imperial Coronation of Louis was held in Rome. This was extremely unusual because Ludwig was crowned by a " representative " of the Roman people, and not, as usual, by the Pope, which it would certainly also rejected. This procedure, which is reminiscent of distance to antiquity, possibly goes back to considerations of Marsilius and John of Jandun, although this can prove just as the assumption that Marsilius of the " dismissal " of Pope John XXII. and the collection of imperial antipope Nicholas was involved in 1328.

Was the important, albeit tense, cooperation with the "Munich dissidents ", also excommunicated by Pope John Franciscans who found refuge at the Munich court. Among them may be mentioned Michael of Cesena, Bonagratia of Bergamo, and William of Ockham, who, like Marsilius, to the political development of the dispute between Louis of Bavaria and the Curia had no small influence. But Marsilius lost probably eventually influence, also because the Italian expedition of Louis ultimately proved to be a failure. However, let Ludwig Marsilius, who served the Emperor as a body physician, never fall.

End of 1342 or early 1343 ( the exact date is not known ) died Marsilius of Padua in Munich.

Marsilius of Padua is one of the pioneers and main exponents of the conciliar movement.


  • Richard Scholz ( ed.): Marsilius of Padua, Defensor Pacis ( Monumenta Historica Germaniae Fontes Iuris Antiqui germanici in usum Scholarum, separatim editi. ). Hannover 1932/33; online here.
  • Marsilius of Padua. The Defender of Peace ( Defensor Pacis ). Lat.-dt., translated by Walter Kunzmann, edited and introduced by Horst Kusch. 2 vols, Darmstadt 1958.