monarchia, De

   by Dante Alighieri
(ca. 1313)
   De monarchia is a Latin treatise on political philosophy composed by DANTE ALIGHIERI in the early 14th century. The tract is chiefly an argument for the need of a universal temporal monarch who would balance the universal spiritual power of the papacy. Essentially Dante’s political ideals were forged during the corrupt pontificate of Boniface VIII, whose perpetual meddling in the temporal affairs of Italy had contributed to political unrest in Dante’s native Florence, and had resulted in Dante’s own exile in 1302.
   De monarchia is (unlike Dante’s other postexilic texts, De VULGARI ELOQUENTIA and CONVIVIO) a completed work, consisting of three books. The first makes the case that for the good of the world, a universal monarch is necessary. The second book, looking back upon the glorious imperial power of Rome, argues that the Roman people’s assumption of the imperial office was warranted. In the third book, Dante asserts that the authority of the emperor comes directly from God, and not through any intermediary, such as, a pope. The date of De monarchia’s composition is a matter of some scholarly debate. Suggested dates range from some time prior to Dante’s exile in 1302, to late in Dante’s life—1317 or later. Many scholars associate the text with the advent of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg, who was Dante’s best hope for an emperor of the sort he advocated in De monarchia. Henry was born in the 1270s and was named king of Germany (with the support of Pope Clement V) in 1308. His announced intention of being crowned emperor in Rome—the first such coronation since Frederick II in 1220—apparently galvanized his enemies against him. He led an army of 5,000 across the Alps in 1310 and was crowned in Milan on Epiphany. But the powerful Guelf party (traditionally associated with support of the temporal power of the pope) resisted his more significant coronation at Rome. He was finally crowned at the church of St. John Lateran in June of 1312. But by this time the opposition of the Guelfs was making his attempts to pacify Italy more difficult. Supported by the Ghibelline party (made up to a large extent of old aristocratic families who traditionally backed the emperor), Henry led his army to Florence, the main Guelf stronghold in northern Italy, and in September laid siege to the city, an act that must have inspired Dante’s emulation and support. But the siege was unsuccessful, and Henry retired to Pisa for the winter. In the summer of 1313, he changed his plans and decided to attack Naples, the seat of Guelf influence in the south. But Henry’s Italian campaign came to an abrupt end on August 24, when he died in Buonconvento, near Siena—apparently of malaria contracted at his coronation in Rome the year before.
   BOCCACCIO alleges that Dante wrote De monarchia during Henry’s campaign in Italy. But Boccaccio is notoriously inaccurate about historical details. Further, it is hard to imagine why Dante would not mention Henry by name anywhere in De monarchia if he was writing it while the emperor was active. There are probably allusions to Henry in the Inferno and the Purgatorio, the first two canticles of the DIVINE COMEDY, on which Dante was working during Henry’s activities in Italy—why, then, not do the same kind of thing in De monarchia? Perhaps the best argument is that Dante wrote his text late in 1313, after Henry’s death. One problem with this date is the passage in the first book of De monarchia that almost certainly alludes to lines from canto 5 of the Paradiso (the last part of the Comedy), suggesting that the text was not written until 1317. However, that passage may be a scribal interpolation, or Dante may have revised the text in about 1317.
   Dante’s Latin text was translated into Italian twice by the end of the 15th century, and survives in several manuscripts, three from the 14th century. It was printed twice in the 16th century. These figures suggest that the text was fairly popular, despite the fact that in 1328, it was condemned as heretical by Cardinal Bertrando del Poggetto. The hostile response of the church hierarchy to the text is not surprising, given Dante’s rejection of the subordinate role of the emperor and his advocating limiting the temporal power of the papacy. But it could be claimed that history has ultimately vindicated Dante’s point of view.
   ■ Dante. Monarchia. Translated and edited by Prue Shaw. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
   ■ Mancusi-Ungaro, Donna.Dante and the Empire. New York: P. Lang, 1987.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • MONARCHIA — in genere, status Reip. in quo penes unum rerum summa: In specie, Imperium in terris est summum, omnibus aliis potentius, vel iis superandis par. Cuiusmodi quatuor fuêre: Assyriorum, Medorum et Persarum, Graecorum, Romanorum. Sed et Monarchiae… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • monarchia — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. ż IIb, lm D. monarchiachii {{/stl 8}}{{stl 20}} {{/stl 20}}{{stl 12}}1. {{/stl 12}}{{stl 7}} ustrój polityczny, w którym reprezentantem władzy suwerennej państwa jest jednostka (np. król, cesarz, papież, sułtan),… …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • monarchia — /monar kia/ s.f. [dal lat. tardo monarchĭa, gr. monarkhía, comp. di mono mono e arkhía archia ]. 1. (polit.) [forma di governo in cui i supremi poteri sono accentrati in una sola persona, di norma a vita e per via ereditaria] ▶◀ regno.… …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • monarchia — mo·nar·chì·a s.f. CO TS dir. 1a. forma di governo in cui i massimi poteri dello stato sono accentrati in una sola persona (monarca, re, sovrano) la cui carica non è elettiva, e che può essere anche affiancata da altre istituzioni: monarchia… …   Dizionario italiano

  • monarchia — ż I, DCMs. monarchiachii; lm D. monarchiachii (monarchiachij) «forma rządów, w których władza spoczywa w ręku jednostki monarchy (króla, cesarza, sułtana), sprawującego ją dożywotnio (na zasadzie dziedziczenia lub w drodze wyboru), samodzielnie… …   Słownik języka polskiego

  • Monarchia — De Monarchia ist das politiktheoretische Hauptwerk Dante Alighieris. Das Werk ist wahrscheinlich nach dem Tod Kaiser Heinrichs VII. verfasst worden (vielleicht 1316), muss aber noch als Reaktion auf dessen Politik einer Restauratio imperii… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • monarchia — {{hw}}{{monarchia}}{{/hw}}s. f.  (pl. chie ) Regime politico caratterizzato dall accentramento dei poteri supremi nelle mani del monarca …   Enciclopedia di italiano

  • monarchia — pl.f. monarchie …   Dizionario dei sinonimi e contrari

  • monarchia — s. f. regno, impero, principato, trono (fig.), corona (fig.) CFR. repubblica, diarchia, triarchia, poliarchia …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • monarchia — voir monarquia …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

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