Martin Azpilcuetaz’s political thought: On supreme power

Pedro Calafate


We study the Relectio c. Novit de Iudiciis of Martín de Azpilcueta (1548) by exploring fundamental questions such as the initial sovereignty of the people and the reconciliation between the divine and natural origin of secular power; the criticism of the decretalist tradition of hierocracy and the consequent limitation of the direct power of the Church to the sphere of spiritual affairs among Christians; the indirect power of the pope over temporal matters among Christians ordered to the spiritual purpose; the affirmation of the supreme (but not absolute) power of temporal princes, limited by natural law; the denial of the thesis of the immediate divine origin of the power of kings, barring the way to expressions of absolute power, as well as to the claims of the defenders of hierocracy. Around these issues, others arose that we will also analyze here, as the right of active resistance against tyranny; the just war and the legitimacy of indigenous sovereignties in the empires of the peninsular kingdoms, within the framework of relations between Indians and Christians; the natural equality between men and between the communities formed by them; the relationship between the autarchy of cities and kingdoms, on the one hand, and the empire or the universal community, on the other.

Keywords: secular power, ecclesiastical power, justice, natural law, resistance.

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