See the Preliminary comment to Part 1, Book 6, chapters 1-15.

The following sources have been universally collated for the reconstruction of 1 Dial. 6.36-50:

Tradition A:      Bb An Fi

Tradition B:      Va Vg

Tradition D:      Es

Tradition E:      Vc We

Incunabulum:   Ly

The “reliability rate” of the witnesses in this segment is fairly similar to what was recorded for the earlier portions of Book 6. The best source for our critical text is We (88% variants convergence), followed by An and Vc (both at 85%), Fi (84%), Bb (82%), Vg (76%), Va (72%), and the Trechsel edition (Ly) at 68%. Es, which represents tradition D, is in some small measure removed from the common text of ABCE with a 43% variants convergence index. This is not entirely due to the internal idiosyncrasies of Es, which is a good early exemplar of its group. With the partial exception of Ba, a manuscript that seems to have been repaired by reference to tradition E, all tradition D texts show a similar, more or less noticeable (depending on the focus fragment of the Dialogus) deviation from ABCE. Furthermore, the interesting similarities of tradition D to tradition E noted elsewhere with regard to 1 Dial. 1-5 were not, it would appear, subsequently maintained with equally noticeable intensity. In the current segment (as in earlier portions of 1 Dial. 6) tradition D has far more numerous “deviant convergences” in common with tradition B (here over 50) than with any other. This, coupled with the clearly demonstrated use of similarly “deviant” tradition B textual options (67 noted instances) by tradition E exemplars of the “Ancona” subgroups in 1 Dial. 7.42-51 (a procedure not yet discernible for “Ancona” E in the first half of Book 6), makes the assumption of a mislaid very early text of the Dialogus resurfacing ca. 1400 as the unique basis of traditions D and E increasingly difficult to sustain. Indeed this extensive utilization of erroneous tradition B readings in both traditions D and “AnconaE is the kind of objective textual evidence which strongly suggests that both tradition D and “AnconaE are relatively late editions of the Dialogus, a fact already intimated by the extant manuscripts.

The chapters of segment 6.36-50 were clustered around two issues of the early 1330's which were of prime concern to the Franciscan dissidents led by Michael of Cesena: recognition and security.

Chapters 45 through 50 continue the analysis begun in chapter 16, underpinning the standard Michaelist demand that a legal case regarding the orthodoxy of Pope John XXII be opened on the basis of the Appeals against him published at Pisa in September and December 1328. Given the complex power interests and interplays of the period in question, such a scenario, while not completely unrealistic, was hardly likely to succeed. We shall have to wait until the second decade of the 15th century for a reader of the Bb manuscript (Basel B,VI, 2) of the Dialogus to jot down on the margin of 1 Dial. 6.56 the thought that the impeachment procedure of the Pisan Pope John XXIII (1410-1415) was influenced by these materials (“casus Io.23”, fol. 100r).

Much more urgent, in fact vitally so, was the problem of the dissidents' own fate, given the potentially precarious nature of the support afforded them by their current patrons. It should therefore come as no surprise that chapters 36 through 44 of 1 Dial. 6 are amongst the easiest to interpret in the full range of the Dialogus. Ockham goes out of his way here to underline the fact that the arguments supporting the view that honest opponents of a ruling pope who have impugned his orthodoxy must be protected from any and all administrative countermoves, essentially belong to “brother Michael and his followers” (see 1 Dial. 6. 41, 42, 43), and were designed to protect them in the pursuit of their cause.

It is also symptomatic that chapters 47 and 48, where the issues of recognition and security are actively combined, reflects an early use of Ockham's potent natural law theory (as eventually described in 3 Dial. 3.6). “Natural reason”, so the argument states, does not allow judges (and especially the pope who is the supreme ecclesiastical judge of Christendom) to use their authority so as to prevent legitimate inquiry about their performance in office, particularly with respect to those persons who had formally appealed against this authority. There is no requirement to obey any command from an accused judge which is prejudicial to the case of the accusers, for the judge's authority has been temporarily suspended by natural law as to all matters pertinent to the appeal. If higher positive authority manages to subvert the process of inquiry (perhaps even by the arrest or execution of the appellants), this is only an unhappy consequence of the corruption and weakened situation of human nature after the Fall, and does not establish a moral obligation on anyone in any defensible sense. Ockham's radical analysis has sometimes been deemed self-serving and even “anarchistic” (Lagarde). But it is hard to deny its logic as a creative antecedent to the development of due process in the political theory and practice of future centuries.

George Knysh

Revised February 2008.