Law and History Review

Articles

“Apply to Muslims What Was Said of the Jews:” Popes and Canonists Between a Taxonomy of Otherness and Infidelitas

Stefan K. Stantchev 

This article analyzes the targets of papal policies on Christians' relations with non-(Roman)Christians contained in canon law's On Jews, Saracens, and Their Servants in a historical period that has attracted comparatively little attention: the mid-thirteenth to the late fifteenth century. It argues the inherent ambiguity of the normative discourse on “proper” relations with “infidels.” On the one hand, popes and canonists faithfully preserved a taxonomy of otherness inherited from the church's ancient past. On the other hand, they often reduced all difference to the pastoral distinction between flock and “infidels.” The conflation of non-Christians occurred in multiple ways: through the explicit extension of a specific policy's targets, overt canonistic discussion, the tacit application of the law to analogous situations, or its simplification for use in the confessional. As a result, a number of policies aimed originally at a specific target were applied to all non-Christians. In the course of the later Middle Ages, a whole group of policies meant to define Christians' proper relations with others became potentially applicable against all non-Christians. In the words of a widely, if regionally disseminated, penitential work, all that was said of the Jews applies to the Muslims and all that was said of heretics, applies to schismatics.

Correspondence

stefan.stantchev@asu.edu

Stefan K. Stantchev is an Assistant Professor of History in the School of Hummanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies at New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University <stefan.stantchev@asu.edu>.

Footnotes

  The author thanks James Muldoon for his encourgement, support, and comments on different aspects of the author's work on this subject; Richard Helmholz, Jonathan Rose, David Freidenreich, Thomas A. Green, and the anonymous reviewers of Law and History Review for their comments and suggestions; Laurent Mayali for a Robbins Collection fellowship, which was essential in its preparation; and the staff at the Robbins Collection, UC Berkeley School of Law; the Newberry Library, Chicago; the Hispanic Society of America, New York; and Princeton Libraries for their cooperation. All errors and omissions remain the sole and full responsibility of the author. A note on transcriptions: except for extended standard abbreviations, the Latin, Italian, and Spanish texts herein appear exactly as they do in the manuscripts, incunables, and modern editions consulted; this includes undifferentiated words.

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