76 Am. J. Int'l L. 477 (1982)
Issue 3

handle is hein.journals/ajil76 and id is 483 raw text is: THE GROTIAN VISION OF WORLD ORDER
By Cornelius F. Murphy, Jr.*
I.
At the beginning of the 14th century, the great poet Dante published an
imaginative proposal for world order. His experience had led him to believe
that the multiplicity of cities, states, and kingdoms was the source of great
discord and strife. They were depriving mankind of that tranquility which was
necessary for the full development of its intellectual powers. There was a need
for a single impartial ruler who, standing above the contentiousness of lesser
governments, could bring about a regime of universal justice and peace. In the
De monarchia the holder of universal authority was to be the Roman emperor.
The genius of the Romans devised the most effective forms of government that
the world had ever known. As the Roman Catholic Church had universal
authority in matters spiritual, the Holy Roman emperor should exercise a
supreme, global authority to which all the various kingdoms and republics
would be politically subordinate.1
As Europe became separated into distinct nationalities, the need for an in-
ternational power became increasingly evident. Differences in language, custom,
and institutions accelerated the antagonisms between the various peoples of the
continent. Some superior authority was needed to contain the warfare which
had become increasingly destructive and threatened the peace of the Christian
community. For a time, the papacy aspired to exercise the office of supreme
arbiter. The sacredness of the position commanded respect as the power of
excommunication inspired fear. Belonging to no one nation, the Holy Father
was exempt, in principle, from the biases and selfishness generated by the
particularities of blood and geographic position. Yet, however beneficial the
conciliatory intervention of individual popes, the general authority of the office
was gradually disappearing. Because of the Avignon experience the papacy had
shown partiality towards French kings. And as it pursued its temporal power,
its position became more deeply entangled with Italian politics.2
There were additional factors that were inimical to religious control of po-
litical strife. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries a mood of anticlericalism
was growing in Europe, a revulsion against both the arrogance of the higher
prelates and the vices and ignorance of the minor clergy. Expectations of tem-
poral authority shifted to the Roman emperor. As the heir of those who had
shaped the legal principles of Europe, and the only sovereign possessed of an
* Professor of Law, Duquesne University School of Law.
DANTE, DE MONARCHIA (On World Government) (Liberal Arts ed. 1949). See also Dante
and World Empire, in THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEAS OF SOME GREAT MEDIEVAL THINKERS,
ch. V (F. J. C. Hearnshaw ed. 1923); F. HINSLEY, POWER AND THE PURSUIT OF PEACE 14-19
(1963), According to Hinsley, De monarchia was not published until the 16th century. It was
placed on the Index in 1554.
2 j, BRYCE, THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE (1904).

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