History 211 - The Emergence of Europe, 400-1700

Fall 1991 Professor M.S. Mahoney

Final Examination 20 January 1992


Complete all THREE parts of the examination, allotting your time as indicated. Please use a separate booklet for each part, placing your name and your preceptor's name on each booklet. The honor pledge on the first booklet will suffice.

PART I (60 minutes)

Identify FIVE of the following passages taken from the sources read this term. In addition to the name of the work and its author, your identification should include a brief explanation of the historical context and significance of the ideas expressed in the passage.


We are told by the word of the gospel that in His fold there are two swords --a spiritual, namely, and a temporal. ... Both swords, the spiritual and the material, therefore, are in the power of the church; the one by the hand of the priest, the other by the hand of kings and knights, but at the will and sufferance of the priest. One sword, moreover, ought to be under the other, and the temporal authority to be subjected to the spiritual.


For my part, I think it is no right at all. I think that no person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here -- no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom, and those persons together are properly the represented of this kingdom, and consequently are [also] to make up the representers of this kingdom, who taken together do comprehend whatsoever is of real or permanent interest in the kingdom.


This granted, and it being true that two truths cannot contradict one another, it is the function of wise expositors to seek out the true senses of scriptural texts. These will unquestionably accord with the physical conclusions which manifest sense and necessary demonstrations have previously made certain to us.


Therefore it is a wickedly devised fable, and they cannot quote a single letter to confirm it, that it is for the Pope alone to interpret the Scriptures or to confirm the interpretation of them: they have assumed the authority of their own selves. And though they say that this authority was given to St. Peter when the keys were given to him, it is plain enough that the keys were not given to St. Peter alone, but to the whole community. Besides, the keys were not ordained for doctrine or authority, but for sin, to bind or loose; and what they claim besides this is mere invention.


No scutage nor aid shall be imposed on our kingdom, unless by common counsel of our kingdom, except for ransoming our person, for making our eldest son a knight, and for once marrying our eldest daughter; and for these there shall be not levied more than a reasonable aid. In like manner it shall be done concerning aids from the city of London.


Those who surpass the rest in prudence and talent, although not in physical strength, are by nature the masters. Those, on the other hand, who are retarded or slow to understand, although they may have the physical strength necessary for the fulfilment of all their necessary obligations, are by nature slaves, and it is proper and useful that they be so, for we even see it sanctioned in divine law itself, because it is written in the Book of Proverbs that he who is a fool shall serve the wise... If they reject such rule, then it can be imposed upon them by means of arms, and such a war will be just according to the laws of nature.


I thought in silence of the lack of good counsel in us mortals, who neglect what is noblest in ourselves, scatter our energies in all directions, and waste ourselves in a vain show, because we look about us for what is to be found only within. I wondered at the natural nobility of the soul, save when it debases itself of its own free will, and deserts its original estate, turning what God has given it for its honour into dishonour. How many times, think you, did I turn back that day, to glance at the summit of the mountain, which seemed scarcely a cubit high compared with the range of human contemplation, --when it is not immersed in the foul mire of earth? With every downward step I asked myself this: If we are ready to endure so much sweat and labour in order that we bring our bodies a little nearer heaven, how can a soul struggling toward God, up the steeps of human pride and human destiny, fear any cross or prison or sting of fortune?


Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess. And in this it is not likely that all are mistaken: the conviction is rather to be held as testifying that the power of judging aright and of distinguishing Truth from Error, which is properly what is called Good Sense or Reason, is by nature equal in all men; and that the diversity of our opinions, consequently, does not arise from some being endowed with a larger share of Reason than others, but solely from this, that we conduct our thoughts along different ways, and do not fix our attention on the same objects.


PART II (45 minutes)

Write an essay on ONE of the following questions. Your answer should have a clear, cogent argument backed up by pertinent evidence taken from the material of the course.


You have been invited to a sumptuous dinner party at the world-famous New York restaurant La Maison Politique, for which the History Department is footing the bill. The company is seated around the table as follows:

St. Augustine



Thomas Aquinas

Gregory VII

  James I



Col. Rainborough



Marsilius of Padua

After the awkward introductions and a few failed attempts to sustain a light-hearted conversation, the subject turns to weighty matters; you find yourself witnessing an intense debate about the source and nature of political authority. Reconstruct the conversation, using arguments, evidence, and authorities appropriate to each participant. You may choose to join in yourself, or to remain silent, but at least five of the other guests must take part.


During the period we have studied, did Christianity on the whole support or subvert political authority? In formulating and arguing a position, be sure to consider evidence from at least three different centuries and to keep in mind that Christianity in Europe involved institutions as well as a system of belief.

PART III (45 minutes)

Write an essay on ONE of the following questions. Your answer should have a clear, cogent argument backed up by pertinent evidence taken from the material of the course.


St. Augustine spoke of two books as the sources of knowledge about God: the Book of the Word, or God's Covenant, and the Book of the World, or God's Creation. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Europeans began to read both books, but especially the second, in new ways and even to new ends. What were those new ways of reading, what accounts for them, and how did they change the perceived relation between the two books?


"For all the differences among Europeans, they had much in common with one another. In particular, they had the Bible. They might argue about what it meant or about who should interpret it, and they might use it to different ends. But they all used it as a touchstone for thinking about God, the world, and themselves. It was the original story that they all shared."

Choosing at least three thinkers from different times and places over the period covered by this course, discuss how each used the Bible to make his argument or guide his analysis. How do you account for any differences among them in the ways they treat the Bible? What remains the same, and what significance do you attach to the elements of continuity?


"I pledge my honor that I have not violated the Honor Code on this examination."