William of Ockham's Early Theory of Property Rights in Context

Overview

William of Ockham's (ca. 1288-1347) Opus nonaginta dierum has long been of interest to historians for his theory of rights. Yet the results of this interest has been uneven because most studies do not take sufficient account of the defences of Franciscan poverty already articulated by his fellow Franciscans, Bonagratia of Bergamo, Michael of Cesena, and Francis of Marchia. This book therefore presents and analyzes Ockham's account of property rights alongside those of his confreres. This contextualization of ...

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Overview

William of Ockham's (ca. 1288-1347) Opus nonaginta dierum has long been of interest to historians for his theory of rights. Yet the results of this interest has been uneven because most studies do not take sufficient account of the defences of Franciscan poverty already articulated by his fellow Franciscans, Bonagratia of Bergamo, Michael of Cesena, and Francis of Marchia. This book therefore presents and analyzes Ockham's account of property rights alongside those of his confreres. This contextualization of Ockham’s theory corrects many misconceptions about his theory of property, natural law, and natural rights, and therefore also provides a new foundation for studies of his political oeuvre, intellectual development, and significance as a political theorist.

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Meet the Author

Jonathan Robinson, Ph.D (2010) in Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, is a Post-doctoral researcher in the School of Canon Law, at the Catholic University of America. He has published several articles on aspects of the mendicant poverty controversy.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
List of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii
Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xix

Principal Texts & Events . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii

Chapter 1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1. Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2. Concepts and Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Chapter 2. The Position of John XXII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
1. From Suppression to Condemnation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
2. John's Early Account of Poverty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
3. John Re-acts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
4. John and the Types of Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
5. Origin of Property . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
6. Legal Nature of Use. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
7. Summary of John's Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
Chapter 3. The Varieties of Ius . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
1. Ius and the Jurists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
2. Bonagratia of Bergamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
3. Michael of Cesena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
4. Francis of Marchia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
5. William of Ockham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Chapter 4. The Nature of Dominium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
1. Bonagratia of Bergamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
2. Michael of Cesena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
3. Francis of Marchia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
4. William of Ockham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
Chapter 5. The Species of Usus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
1. Bonagratia of Bergamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
2. Michael of Cesena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
3. Francis of Marchia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
4. William of Ockham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
Chapter 6. Consumables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221
1. Bonagratia of Bergamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221
2. Michael of Cesena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
3. Francis of Marchia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
4. William of Ockham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Chapter 7. Corporate Poverty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
1. Origins of Corporate Poverty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
2. Innocent IV & Corporation Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252
3. Bonagratia of Bergamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259
4. Michael of Cesena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262
5. Francis of Marchia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
6. William of Ockham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
Chapter 8. Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
1. Summary of Michaelist Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
2. Legal Catenae in the Opus nonaginta dierum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288
A. Fourfold Community of Goods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
B. A Structural Analysis of the Michaelist Tracts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
C. Comparison of Legal References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 349
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375
Citations Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 385

LIST OF FIGURES
1.1 Relationship of Texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
5.1 Michael of Cesena on usus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
5.2 Francis of Marchia on usus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
5.3 William of Ockham on the types of usus . . . . . . . . . . . . 218

LIST OF TABLES
4.1 Poverty in the Early Church and Medieval Church . . . . . . 141
B.1 Structual Analysis of Michaelist Tracts . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
C.1 Table of Canon Law References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
C.2 Table of Roman Law References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339

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Preface

INTRODUCTION To many Franciscans, the situation looked dire in the 1320s. Some, notably the so-called Spiritual Franciscans, had already been marginalized in the previous decade, and the outlook had not improved since then. It was, as Angelo Clareno thought, the time of the sixth and seventh tribulations since the days of St Francis.1 Others, notably the emerging Michaelist faction,
were in transition from cooperating with the pope, John XXII (1316–1334),
to outright defiance because of his pronouncements about Franciscan and evangelical poverty.2
In many ways, the Michaelist–John controversy was the last great phase of Franciscan thought about poverty and property. The debate never died out entirely, and it exerted a profound influence on subsequent theologians and jurists alike, but the Michaelists failed to attract enough adherents to their cause to effect any meaningful change. Nonetheless, the 1320s and early 1330s were a period of fruitful reflection about poverty—and, by the same token, property rights. It has for this reason attracted a great deal of attention by modern scholars.
Yet this attention has been uneven, partly due to the length of the texts involved, and partly because many of them remained unedited (and untranslated)
for so long. Pope John XXII has certainly not been neglected, but even his bull Quia vir reprobus (1329) has not always received the consideration it merits.3 William of Ockham has of course received the lion's share of the scrutiny, not wholly without reason. His Opus nonaginta dierum of about
1332 may be exceedingly long and rather repetitive, but it contains many important ideas about the nature of property and of rights, and the text is often seen as an important formative step to his later, more overtly political works.4
The other Michaelists have not been so fortunate, although things are beginning to change.5 The most important reason for this change is that we now have critical, or at least convenient, editions of almost all the major texts from the Michaelist camp.6 These editions, as well as the publication of other relevant tracts from around this time, stand to put the history of this controversy, particularly Ockham' role in it, in a whole new light.7 The time is surely ripe to take advantage of these developments.
The focus of this book is on the Michaelist theory of property rights. That is, to extract from their writings so far as we can their view of how property is acquired, what legal or moral powers are associated with property rights,
how such rights may be lost or renounced, and what kinds of things people can do with other people's property without possessing or gaining any rights over the thing(s) they use. The Michaelists, and John for that matter, were generally only interested in the first and last of these questions. Yet in answering them, they also discussed the other questions. Unfortunately, these discussions often lack the rigour we might wish for since their objective was only to refute, albeit in as many ways as possible, John's claims, and to demonstrate that Franciscans could not, and did not, have rights protected in human positive law.
I used the word “rights” several times in the last paragraph, and I am concerned that it may lead to false expectations regarding my own objectives.
Before I discuss in more detail my method of investigation, therefore, a few words are in order about what I have tried to avoid.
Recent decades have seen a veritable explosion in ...

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