Saturday, 29 April 2017

Church And State

The Investiture Contest is the basis of the culminating section of Poul Anderson's The Shield Of Time. Conflict with the Pope over the appointment of bishops and the usefulness of a tame inquisition are mentioned in SM Stirling's Changed world. Stirling's Lady Sandra, like Anderson's Gunnhild, comes to a pragmatic political conclusion about the advisability of an alliance with Rome - or, after the Change, Badia.

Stirling and Sandra refer to Stalin asking how many divisions the Pope had. I know that Anderson makes the same reference somewhere but I can't find it.

7 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The Investiture Controversy, of course, was one of the many ways or forms the state, any state, has tried to meddle with or control the Church. And I say the state has no such right, that for it step beyond its proper bounds is to become tyrannical.

Like you, I now find it maddening that I can't quite recall where Manse Everard quoted Stalin's cynical and clueless comment about the pope. Possibly in the section of THE SHIELD OF TIME called "Amazement Of The World"? And where did Lady Sandra referred to Stalin?

At least I do know where Stalin's comment was first quoted, it's in Part One, Chapter 8 of Winston S. Churchill's THE GATHERING STORM (page 121 of my paperback copy). The French premier and foreign minister, Pierre Laval, was visiting Stalin and, among other things, asked Stalin to do something to encourage religion and the Catholics in Russia. Stalin sneered, "Oho! The Pope? How many divisions has he got?" Churchill commented, "Laval's answer was not reported to me, but he might certainly have mentioned a number of legions not always visible on parade."

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
THE SUNRISE LANDS, Chapter Six, p. 129.
Paul.

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
The bishops were feudal landholders so they were part of the secular power structure.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Thanks! I certainly will be looking up that part of THE SUNRISE LANDS.

Sean

S.M. Stirling said...

Church landholdings were a problem in the Middle Ages because they belonged to an immortal corporation that virtually never gave land up once it had it. Aristocratic families rose and fell -- dying out from natural or political causes, fragmenting, etc. If a monastery or diocese got land, it generally kept it forever, which eventually resulted in the Church becoming far and away the biggest single landholder (bigger than the Crown) and terminal cases of envy and resentment among both kings and gentry. Even the Catholic states in Europe eventually forced the Church to disgorge.

When Henry VIII seized the land of the Church, he probably intended to keep most of it, but ended up having to sell or grant nearly all of it for political and financial reasons. His notably more thrifty daughter Elizabeth, who was a notorious tightwad, often voiced resentment over the state he'd left the finances in, with his grandiloquent building programs and needless wars.

With some exceptions (like the Cistercians in their early period) the Church was also notoriously a lax landlord, letting leases run on forever.

S.M. Stirling said...

One of the long-term problems the PPA is going to have is that Norman Arminger knew how the middle ages turned out, and took steps to prevent the "decay" of early medieval landholding patterns.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

Thanks for your two comments here. Yes, I can see how the issue of letting land be owned, in effect, forever by an immortal corporation can cause problems. On the one hand, a land owner does have a right to give or bequeath land to whoever he wishes. On the other hand, if an immortal corporation comes to hold land above a certain percentage in a nation, envy, greed, jealousy against that corporation inevitably arises. What is the solution?

And the Church was a notoriously "lax" landlord, too GENEROUS about leases? Meaning men who leased land from the Church were able to do so on easy terms, paying very moderate rents?

Yes, I knew Henry VIII was profligate and careless about the loot seized from the Church. And that his daughter Elizabeth was a penny pinching miser.

I don't know or recall enough about the land holding patterns and laws Norman Arminger introduced into the PPA to see how that will become a problem for it. I dos recall that Lady Sandra modified the laws of inheritance after his death, during her regency.

Sean