Monday, October 29, 2012

The Founders’ Bible: Did Thomas Jefferson Base the Declaration of Independence on the Bible?

From Warren Throckmorton here.


Tom Van Dyke said...

James Otis was the first great mind of the coming revolution, and wrote in 1764:

"Government is founded not on force, as was the theory of Hobbes; nor on compact, as was the theory of Locke and of the revolution of 1688; nor on property, as was the assertion of Harrington. It springs from the necessities of our nature, and has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God."

Jefferson may have claimed to be unaware of them, but these words became the philosophical underpinning of the Revolution. If not the words, he could not have been unaware of the ideas.

"In June 1764, he will declare before the Massachusetts legislature, "The authority of the Parliament of Great Britain is circumscribed by bounds which, if exceeded, their acts become mere power without right, and consequently void."

"Acts of Parliament against natural equity are void. Acts against the fundamental principles of the British institutions are void." "The wild wastes of America have been turned into pleasant habitations; little villages in Great Britain, into manufacturing towns and opulent cities; and London itself bids fair to become the metropolis of the world. These are the fruits of commerce and liberty. The British empire, to be perpetuated, must be built on the principles of justice."

The Assembly will respond, "Can it be possible that duties and taxes shall be assessed without the voice or consent of an American Parliament? If we are not represented, we are slaves ... Prohibitions of trade are neither equitable nor just; but the power of taxing is the grand barrier of British liberty. If this is once broken down, all is lost."

In July, Mr. Otis will write, " ...Government is founded not on force, as was the theory of Hobbes; nor on compact, as was the theory of Locke and the Revolution of 1688; nor on property as had been asserted by Harrington. It springs from the necessities of our nature, and has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God. Man came into the world and into society at the same instant. There must exist in every earthly society a supreme sovereign, from whose final decision there can be no appeal but directly to Heaven. This supreme power is originally and ultimately in the people; and the people never did in fact freely, nor can rightfully, make an unlimited renunciation of this Divine right. Kingcraft and priestcraft are a trick to gull the vulgar. The happiness of mankind demands that this grand and ancient alliance should be broken off forever.

“The Omniscient and Omnipotent Monarch of the Universe has, by the grand charter given to the human race, placed the end of government in the good of the whole. The form of government is left to the individuals of each society; its whole superstructure and ad-ministration should be conformed to the law of Universal reason. There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature and the grant of God Almighty, who has given all men a right to be free. If every prince, since Nimrod had been a tyrant, it would not prove a right to tyrannize. The administrators of legislative and executive authority, when they verge toward tyranny, are to be resisted; if they prove incorrigible, are to be deposed."


A splendid argument, neither overly religious nor soulless. You can find most every word echoed somewhere else a decade later when the Revolution rises.

[We know little of James Otis because "In 1769, Mr. Otis will be severely beaten by revenue officers while in Boston and will lose his reason due to a sword cut on his head." (ibid.)]

Tom Van Dyke said...

I do think Jefferson is either being dishonest or ignorant about the sources of what informed "the American Mind" that he so elegantly translated into the Declaration. Remember, he similarly insisted that Christianity was not part of English Common Law, and IMO gets the worst of that argument too.

To business:

The idea of fundamental equality, "that all men are created equal" is traceable in the Western/Judeo-Christian tradition of "imago Dei," that we are all made in the image and likeness of God---an idea that we find explicitly in Genesis 1, and of course elsewhere.

I also endorse what Nicholas writes above about "natural law." It is true that many American evangelicals just don't quite get the Thomistic concept, although the Protestants of the Founding era were quite familiar. Further, Aquinas begins the inquiry in the Summa [c. 1250] via the question "By what right does one man rule another?"

By the time Thomas' successors [Suarez, Bellarmine] and the Calvinists get done with the question in 1688, England has had two civil wars, one king executed and the other abdicating and fleeing to France, and parliament becomes the true boss.

So when Dr. Throckmorton writes

One important claim in support of the Christian nation theory is that the Declaration of Independence was based on the Bible, strangely enough, that's one claim that even David Barton doesn't explicitly make [to my knowledge].

Because the connection between the Declaration and the Bible isn't explicit.

For with all due respect to certain historians, the history of ideas is a different discipline, and with all due respect to Jefferson, his erudition and philosophical depth paled beside that of such men as James Otis and James Wilson, who truly understood the giants on whose shoulders they stood.

jimmiraybob said...

TVD - "Further, Aquinas begins the inquiry in the Summa [c. 1250] via the question 'By what right does one man rule another?'"

What was his answer?

Tom Van Dyke said...

This may help. Aquinas isn't all the way to revolution, but he opens the door to it.

jimmiraybob said...

From the link - "in such a case, one who liberates his country by killing a tyrant is to be praised and rewarded."

This looks as if it's a direct quote.

I take it then, that Aquinas' contribution is not just asserting resistance and rebellion to tyranny but also tyrannicide?

How does he come up with this as a solution? And what is the tyranny that he talks about? What's the bar and who, in the temporal/secular world, sets it?

And still, what is Aquinas' answer to "By what right does one man rule another?" What is his solution and is he an opponent of monarchy?

How does this relate to the DOI?

Michael Heath said...

The most authoritative treatise I'm aware of regarding the influences which molded the DofI and its development, along with all the other similar and related declarations that sprung up prior to, during, and after the DofI, is Pauline Maier's, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence.

It's easy after reading this book and the accompanying declarations in the appendix to pick-out how propagandists use cherry-picked quotes to promote a false view rather than address the history in full.

Tom Van Dyke said...

The D of I's case against King George establishes his illegitimacy. E.g.,

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

BF mine.

It's entirely proper to revolt against illegitimate authority.

Now, I don't claim that Jefferson read aquinas, but Aquinas' thought is indelibly interwoven in Western/Christian thought. And this makes a decent case that Jefferson gets to Aquinas via Bellarmine's arguments answered in Filmer's Patriarcha, of which TJ had a copy.

I'm getting this sense of deja vu just about now, that this is all a waste of my time. I hope it's not.

jimmiraybob said...

These are simple questions that will help us get to the essence of ideas:

How does Aquinas come up with tyrannicide as a solution?

What is the tyranny that he talks about?

What's the bar and who, in the temporal/secular world, sets it?

What is Aquinas' answer to "By what right does one man rule another?" What is his solution and is he an opponent of monarchy?

It's your argument - that the DOI starts with Aquinas, I'm just asking you to clarify some points.

As to whether this is a waste of your time, I guess that it depends on what you're spending your time trying to accomplish. Or, as Aquinas might put it, what are the ends that you're working toward.

Tom Van Dyke said...

My purpose is to pique someone's curiosity so they look this stuff up for themselves. If I'm to do all the work, I need to get paid.

jimmiraybob said...

I thought that I was just asking for 1/2 the work. Oh well. Maybe we could set up some kind of fund. Or get a government grant.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Let me know what your half comes up with. Key here is that 500 years pass between Aquinas and Jefferson. That's a long time to soak into the intellectual mainstream.

For instance how we no doubt quote the Bible and Shakespeare numerous times a day without even realizing it. Most of us are so culturally imbued with certain ideas that we don't know their origin.

And of course, if an Anglo/American of that time were aware of the papist geneology of certain ideas, he would ignore or minimize them. For instance, the Founders often cited Algernon Sydney's "Discourses Concerning Government.

Which was an answer to Filmer's Patriarcha, which was an answer to Bellarmine!

Here he minimizes the "Schoolmen," i.e., Aquinas successors such as Bellarmine, and credits the Reformed "divines." But the fact is, the Schoolmen got there first, although the Calvinists are also invaluable in bringing revolution to England in the 1600s and America in the 1700s.

Sydney: Tho the Schoolmen were corrupt, they were neither stupid nor unlearned: They could not but see that which all men saw, nor lay more approved foundations, than, that man is naturally free; that he cannot justly be deprived of that liberty without cause, and that he doth not resign it, or any part of it, unless it be in consideration of a greater good, which he proposes to himself.

But if he doth unjustly impute the invention of this to School divines, he in some measure repairs his fault in saying, This hath been fostered by all succeeding papists for good divinity: The divines of the reformed churches have entertained it, and the common people everywhere tenderly embrace it. That is to say, all Christian divines, whether reformed or unreformed, do approve it, and the people everywhere magnify it, as the height of human felicity. But Filmer and such as are like to him, being neither reformed nor unreformed Christians, nor of the people, can have no title to Christianity; and, in as much as they set themselves against that which is the height of human felicity, they declare themselves enemies to all that are concern'd in it, that is, to all mankind.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Note to our readers: "Divines" refers to clergy--Aquinas was a Dominican priest; Suarez and Bellarmine were Jesuits. "Reformed divines" refers to Protestant, often Calvinist clergy such as John Knox, Samuel Rutherford, Christopher Goodman and John Ponet---John Adams wrote that the work of John Ponet [Ponyet, died 1556] set forth “all the essential principles of liberty, which were afterward dilated on by Sidney and Locke [in the 1600s]."

JMS said...

Can we please dispense with the false connection between “natural law” as conceived by Thomas Aquinas and the “natural rights” embraced by 17th- 18th century Enlightenment figures like Locke, Jefferson and Madison (and many more, including John Witherspoon – see Gregg Frazer’s book, bottom of p. 46).

I find it very odd, and completely devoid of historical substance or support, for anyone to claim that the notions of “natural rights” in the Declaration of Independence and religious freedom as enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights has any connection with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, from Augustine and Aquinas up to Vatican II.

Here is Aquinas on what should be done with unbelievers and infidels:

”the faithful, if they are able, should compel them [i.e. unbelievers such as gentiles and Jews] not to hinder the faith whether by their blasphemies or evil persecutions or even open persecutions. It is for this reason that Christ’s faithful often wage war on the infidels, not indeed for the purpose of forcing them to believe, … but for the purpose of stopping them obstructing the faith of Christ…”1

Here is Aquinas on what should be done with heretics:

“As for heretics their sin deserves banishment, not only from the Church by excommunication, but also from this world by death. To corrupt the faith, whereby the soul lives, is much graver than to counterfeit money, which supports temporal life. Since forgers and other malefactors are summarily
condemned to death by the civil authorities with much more reason may heretics as soon as they are convicted of heresy be not only excommunicated but, also justly be put to death.”2

1 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 2ª 2ae, 10,8.
2 Ibid., 2ª 2ae, 11,3.

How do you get from Aquinas to Locke’s “Liberty of conscience is every man’s natural right” in his Essay Concerning Toleration, or the following from Jefferson’s Danbury Baptist letter?

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions …”

There ARE Christian connections, from Roger Williams (via the Baptists Isaac Backus and John Leland), to the Socinian influences on John Locke, to William Penn (Quaker)(whom Jefferson called "America's greatest lawgiver" i.e., NOT Moses, or Aquinas, or Coke, or Blackstone).

bpabbott said...

Before Aquinas there was Cicero. Before him the Stoics, and before them Aristotle and Plato had made the same basic suggestion. The Natural Law doctrine likely has its roots in the religious beliefs of mankind.

What original contribution did Aquinas make? Or was his contribution to integrate Eternal Law, Natural Law, Divine Law, and Human Law into one system?

jimmiraybob said...

Let me know what your half comes up with.

Soon, very soon. But first, there are goblins and witches and lost souls to attend.....Bwahahahahahahh! [spooky organ music]

jimmiraybob said...

Briefly, in cruising the internets trying to hold up my end, I came across a paper by Greg Forster, Cicero's Republic and Christian arguments for Rebellion against Tyrants, (2008)(1). It briefly traces the Ciceronean influence through Augustine and Aquinas.

Then, I found another blog entry by Forster that I thought was interesting, How to Get a Do-It-Yourself MA in Political Philosophy, (September 10, 2012)(2). Also interesting.



Tom Van Dyke said...

Can we please dispense with the false connection between “natural law” as conceived by Thomas Aquinas and the “natural rights” embraced by 17th- 18th century Enlightenment figures like Locke, Jefferson and Madison (and many more, including John Witherspoon – see Gregg Frazer’s book, bottom of p. 46).

Of course not. Which is why you continue to waste my and our time. Sir. Your purpose here is clearly to disrupt and obstruct for you add nothing else to the discussion. You have wasted my and our time for the last time, sir. Life is too short. You write many words but have nothing to say. Goodbye.

Hamilton: I shall, henceforth, begin to make some allowance for that enmity, you have discovered to the natural rights of mankind. For, though ignorance of them in this enlightened age cannot be admitted, as a sufficient excuse for you; yet, it ought, in some measure, to extenuate your guilt. If you will follow my advice, there still may be hopes of your reformation. Apply yourself, without delay, to the study of the law of nature. I would recommend to your perusal, Grotius, Puffendorf, Locke, Montesquieu, and Burlemaqui. I might mention other excellent writers on this subject; but if you attend, diligently, to these, you will not require any others.

There is so strong a similitude between your political principles and those maintained by Mr. Hobb[e]s, that, in judging from them, a person might very easily mistake you for a disciple of his. His opinion was, exactly, coincident with yours, relative to man in a state of nature. He held, as you do, that he was, then, perfectly free from all restraint of law and government. Moral obligation, according to him, is derived from the introduction of civil society; and there is no virtue, but what is purely artificial, the mere contrivance of politicians, for the maintenance of social intercourse. But the reason he run into this absurd and impious doctrine, was, that he disbelieved the existence of an intelligent superintending principle, who is the governor, and will be the final judge of the universe.

Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed, that the deity, from the relations, we stand in, to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is, indispensibly, obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.

This is what is called the law of nature, "which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid, derive all their authority, mediately, or immediately, from this original." Blackstone.

Upon this law, depend the natural rights of mankind, the supreme being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beatifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest, and invested him with an inviolable right to personal liberty, and personal safety.


"The principal aim of society is to protect individuals, in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature; but which could not be preserved, in peace, without that mutual assistance, and intercourse, which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, that the first and primary end of human laws, is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals." Blackstone.

jimmiraybob said...

You write many words but have nothing to say. Goodbye.

Well, that's rude.

As bpabbott points out, the common threads throughout the history of resistance to tyrants are the pre-Christian philosophers, with Aristotle and Cicero leading the charge. This was built into the very education received by Aquinas, the protestant resistance theorists, Locke, Jefferson, Hamilton, etc.

And, Aquinas was not making any declaration for the universal rights of man and for religious freedom or a right of conscience. He was channeling Aristotle and Cicero and making their political theory palatable to the Christianity of his times. The Church was supreme and, as JMS points out, heresy was frowned upon....a great deal.

Long story made short, Aquinas believed that kingship - the rule of one - was the best form of government but that kingship could be corrupted to tyranny producing an illegitimate form of government, thus alleviating the question of sin for rebellion against legitimate authority, as encapsulated in Romans. And, topping that off, he believed and proclaimed the superiority of God, the King of Kings, in the form of the Vicar of Christ in Rome.

A just king and a just community had to submit to God, the King of Kings, via the Vicar of Christ in Rome. And....well....if you didn't get in line then the ultimate price could be death under the direction of superior authority (the Church); whether king gone bad (tyrannicide), a prince, a political hack, a student or a peasant.

Summary: Aquinas and the later resistance theorists weren't being original in the basic substance of rebellion against or death to tyrants, but adapting pre-Christian political theory that they all learned at University, to their time, place and circumstances. Largely the way that Grotius, Puffendorf, Locke, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Hamilton et. al. did.

The DOI and later Constitution put sovereignty in the hands of the people, exercising their due right of conscience, with no Vicar of Christ obligations or coercion toward religion in general. The "Creator" and implied laws of nature are every bit those of Aristotle, Cicero or Aquinas.

See Aquinas' de Regno, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 42, Article 2 and Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Book II, Distinction 44, Question 2

See also:

1) Greg Forster, 2008. Cicero’s Republic and Christian Arguments for Rebellion against Tyrants @

Note the yellow word balloons at various points that give popup source info.

3) Patrick Cain, 2007. Thomas Aquinas’ De Regno: Political Philosophy, Theocracy, and Esoteric Writing. p. 10 @ (Cain is currently teaching in the Department of Political Science at Lakehead University - Canada)

4) David VanDrunen, 2006. The Use of Natural Law in Early Calvinist Resistance Theory @

Well, I guess that I've earned a hearty goodbye.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes, you just left your reader stupider than before he read you.

Heresy was a civil crime, an offense against public order.

The acceptably Protestant Hugo Grotius, of course, got his "natural law" act from the Jesuit and Thomist Francisco Suarez.

It was Aquinas and his successors who developed the idea that God rested sovereignty in the people, who in turn rested it in the sovereign, be it a monarch or a parliament.

I welcome principled disagreement but all you've done is deface my argument, and I'm weary of it.

jimmiraybob said... just left your reader stupider than before he read you.

If by "stupider" you mean better informed then so be it.

It might be interesting to see how the Catholic Encyclopedia views heresy as it might have been widely understood in Medieval Europe(1):

The term heresy connotes, etymologically, both a choice and the thing chosen, the meaning being, however, narrowed to the selection of religious or political doctrines, adhesion to parties in Church or State.

Josephus applies the name (airesis) to the three religious sects prevalent in Judea since the Machabean period: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes (Bel. Jud., II, viii, 1; Ant., XIII, v, 9). St. Paul is described to the Roman governor Felix as the leader of the heresy (aireseos) of the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5); the Jews in Rome say to the same Apostle: "Concerning this sect [airesoeos], we know that it is everywhere contradicted" (Acts 28:22). St. Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 18) uses airesis in the same sense. St. Peter (II, ii, 1) applies the term to Christian sects: "There shall be among you lying teachers who shall bring in sects of perdition [aireseis apoleias]". In later Greek, philosophers' schools, as well as religious sects, are "heresies".

St. Thomas (II-II:11:1) defines heresy: "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas". "The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics. The subject-matter of both faith and heresy is, therefore, the deposit of the faith, that is, the sum total of truths revealed in Scripture and Tradition as proposed to our belief by the Church.

There are convenient lists of Christian heresies available (2).

Following the disappearance of Imperial Roman authority the Roman Catholic Church, organizationally and politically an outgrowth of the Roman system, largely assumed responsibility for the maintenance of many formerly civil affairs. At least until other civil entities such as kings and princes could get their acts together - often in direct cooperation with the Church.

These civil authorities, whether through piety or expediency, often adopted the Church positions - at least in part, especially on matters order. And order meant submission to the orthodox view of Christianity as laid down through the institution of the Church. Heresy, by the time of Aquinas, was a Church position on proper belief and was prosecuted by the Church(3) often employing imprisonment and torture to extract the "truth."

[see Episcopal Inquisition (1184–1230s) and Papal Inquisition (1230s)]

If the accused upon being found guilty was sentenced to death, the heretic was handed over to the civil authority for execution - the affair being orchestrated as a religious and civil observance.

And, in addition to heresy there was apostasy.

Did the church invent inquisition by torture and the death sentence that often included being burned to death? No. It was a carry over from earlier Roman times.

To pretend that the Church stood above the fray and that heresy was only a civil matter is the height of ignorance....or just plain propaganda. To have principled disagreement one should at least start from a principled position.



3) Executed by the Dominican order to which Aquinas belonged

jimmiraybob said...

It was Aquinas and his successors who developed the idea that God rested sovereignty in the people, who in turn rested it in the sovereign, be it a monarch or a parliament.

The foundational concept was based on ideas found in Aristotle and Cicero who were being taught in University at the time (and remain a mainstay of political theory today). Especially following large-scale 12th century translations of the classics. By the 13th century the core political ideas of Aristotle and Cicero were becoming mainstream (well beyond the scholastic use for teaching rhetoric and logic).

Whereas Aquinas may have subsumed the classical philosophers within the institution and influence of the Church, the political ideas of Aristotle and Cicero (1) roamed freely at University and among scholars up until and beyond the founding. Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thinkers did not need (2) Aquinas and the Protestant resistance theorists (largely consumed with the power relationships between the Pope and the kings and princes of their times) when they had the original texts.

1) and Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, and Vergil and Epicurus and ......

2) not to say that these works didn't figure into the mix, but, the common thread is always classical Greek and Roman political thought fashioned for the times.

See the citations that I provided above.

jimmiraybob said...

And do you know who actually brought a tradition of electing and deposing leadership? The Germanic peoples often referred to as the barbarians. Yes, the Germanic peoples, some at least nominally Arian Christian, that set up central and northern civil authority - often the bain of the Pope.

And then there's the tradition of independent Italian city states - republics.

jimmiraybob said...

It was Aquinas and his successors who developed the idea that God rested sovereignty in the people...

From The Catholic Encyclopedia [available online (1)]:

The reappearance of Aristotelian thought gave credibility to the view that political society* and authority are autonomous and need not be instituted by God* and introduced the notion of participatory citizenship in the life of the city. This led Thomas* Aquinas, in contrast to the Augustinian tradition, to think that life within a political society was part of human nature (De regimine I c. I). Authority may well come from God, but Aquinas admitted that everyone’s consent played a part in the establishment of a political society (ST Ia IIae, q-90, a. 3; IIa IIae, q. 57, a. 2). Aquinas, however, rejected the theory of inalienable sovereignty of the people, although jurists went further: the Roman law maxim quod omnes similter tangit ab omnibus approbetur ('that by which concerns everyone should be approved by everyone') had been widely used to justify the consultative function of parliaments and to give a significant role to ecclesiastical elections in canon* law.”

1) The Encyclopedia of Christian Theology @

jimmiraybob said...

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Should have read, The Encyclopedia of Christian Theology.

Tom Van Dyke said...

It's a pity you two don't spend your energies in pursuit of truth rather than as ammunition in a debate. That takes more than Googling factoids. You've completely misunderstood what you've read, no different than David Barton.

jimmiraybob said...

You are nothing if not predictable.

By "truth" I assume you mean the central dogma of your life.

Tom Van Dyke said...

By truth I mean truth. To quote Ambassador Sarek, some argue for reasons; others simply argue. You're just wearin' me out, man. You don't even have a point except to deface mine.

You keep missing my argument that Aquinas [d.1274] is only the starting point for what becomes the Founding political theology. The Calvinists are the ones who fill it out and pick up their guns for it.

But to the classical age, the only way Aristotle and Cicero survived to the Founding era was via the Christian tradition: Aristotle was largely lost to Western civilization until reconveyed through the Muslims such as Ibn Rushd [Averroes] and the Jew Maimonides, who worked as a physicians in Moorish Spain. Aquinas picks up the baton of greek reason and wisdom just as the Golden Age of Islam sets it down.

As for Cicero, he and the Stoics were never normative in their time---Cicero was murdered at the rise of Imperial Rome in 43 BC, having made himself an enemy of Mark Antony. His works weren't to become prominent again until their repopularization by Petrarch in the early Renaissance of the 1300s and the birth of "Christian humanism."

But thanks for asking.

jimmiraybob said...

You're simply wrong about the prominence of Cicero's works in the 12th-13th century European Universities.

His prominence may have varied from university to university and the early emphasis was on Cicero's style in Latin and his rhetoric, but his ideas on the natural law and the republic and politics also played a major role in the work of Medieval scholars such as Aquinas.

Hell, even in Augustine's City of God and St. Jerome's study and works.

You don't have to believe me, read the Summa or the de Regno. Or, the other citations given above (Hint: they are not Wikipedia articles).

If your argument is defaced, it's defaced by the facts.

jimmiraybob said...

Two books that I've found helpful in understanding Medieval Europe and that I keep handy for reference are:

• Cantor, Norman F. (1993). Civilization of the Middle Ages: A Completely Revised and Expanded Edition of Medieval History. Harper. pp. 604

I think that Brad has referenced Cantor before. An interesting tidbit: Cantor credits, at least in part, the ascendancy of the study of law and the lawyers starting in the the 12th-13th centuries with providing the stabilizing influence that allowed Medieval Europe to start settling down. I mention this for the lawyers in the crowd. :)

• Nauert, Charles G. (2006). Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (2nd ed.). Cambridge. pp. 252

At this point I have to credit Joe and Tom with piquing my interest in going to the Middle Ages (and beyond) and to Jason for pointing toward Cicero. I think that it was also Jason the introduced the work of Carl J. Richard with respect to classical Greek and Roman inheritance:

• Richard, Carl J. (2010): Why We're All Romans, The Roman Contribution to the Western World. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 300.

• Richard, Carl J. (2008): Romans and Greeks Bearing Gifts, How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 202.

Also on a more contemporary take on Roman inheritance, especially with respect to the effects of "barbarian" invasions on the apparent fall of Rome:

• Wickham, Chris (2009): The Inheritance of Rome, Illuminating the Dark ages 400-1,000. Viking. pp. 651.

• Ward-Perkins, Bryan (2005): The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization. Oxford. pp. 239.

There, just wanted to share a few of the resources that I use, in addition to the Google machine and specific references cited, to inform the stupid that I leave here.