Papal Means of Exercising Power

From the eleventh century onwards, Arabic-Islamic authors began to define the pope’s instruments of power within the Christian world. They recognized that his power over Christians lay in his commonly accepted right to claim obedience, to allow and forbid certain actions, and to ban individuals.216 The consequences of the papal ban were first described by al-Bakri (d. 487/1094) in his reference to papal involvement in the marriage scandal of count Ramon Berenguer I of Barcelona^7 Yaqut (d. 626/1229) claims that someone who failed to obey the pope was regarded as a rebel who merited exile or even death. Since the pope was able to deny access to women, clothing, and nourishment, nobody was able to defy him.218 Ibn al-Athir (d. 630/1233) explains that the pope’s word was regarded as equal to the word of the prophets and therefore not questioned. The Franks treated those banned by the pope like outcasts.219 Ibn Shaddad (d. 632/1235) illustrates the pressure exerted by the Christian community to follow papal precepts. He claims that the English king Richard I feared marrying his sister to the Ayyubid sultan al-Malik al-'Adil without papal permission.220

Notwithstanding, Arabic-Islamic scholars also seem to have been aware of the limits of papal power. Although historiographers of the crusading period clearly portray the pope’s role as an initiator, propagandist, mobilizer, and inner-Christian mediator, they also show that his decisions were not always respected. Ibn al-Athir makes it plain that the crusaders of Antioch ignored the papal veto against an attack on Christian Armenia.221 Ibn Wasi l mentions the pope’s role during the coronation of the emperor, but reports that Frederick II took the liberty of crowning himself222 and of heaping the pope with insults in front of a Muslim interlocutor.223 Equally clear are al-Dhahabi (d. 748/1348 or 753/1352), Ibn [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Kathir (d. 774/1373), and Ibn al-Furat (d. 807/1405) in passages that describe how Frederick II dealt with the papal bloodhounds who tried to murder him.224 According to al-Dhahabi, Frederick II regarded himself and not the pope as the most powerful ruler beyond the sea.225 By stating that the pope regularly made efforts to urge the Franks to submit to an emperor who would be able to function as an arbiter among them, Ibn Khaldun (d. 808/1406) makes plain that the pope only represented one of several authorities in the inner-Christian power game.226

  • [1] Ibid., vol. 4, AH 626, p. 249.
  • [2] al-'Umari, masalik al-absar, ed./trans. Schiaparelli, pp. 306—7 (AR), p. 312 (IT).
  • [3] 216 al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 1527, pp. 910—11; Yaqut, mujam, ed.Wustenfeld, vol. 1, lemma ‘Bashghird’, pp. 469—70; vol. 2, lemma ‘Rumiya’, p. 867; Ibn Wasi l, mufar-rij, ed. Rabi' and 'Ashur, vol. 4, AH 626, p. 249; al-Dhahabi, tarikh, ed. Tadmuri, vol. 41, AH 586,p. 58; Ibn al-Furat, ed./trans. Lyons, vol. 1, AH 644, p. 11 (AR), vol. 2, p. 9 (EN); al-Qalqashandi,subh alasha, ed. Ibrahim, vol. 5, p. 472.
  • [4] al-Bakri, al-masalik, ed. van Leeuwen and Ferre, § 1527, pp. 910—11; cf. Aurell, Noces (1995),pp. 261-78.
  • [5] Yaqut, mujam, ed. Wustenfeld, vol. 2, lemma ‘Rumiya’, p. 867.
  • [6] Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 12, AH 586, p. 34 (Leiden), p. 53 (Beirut).
  • [7] Ibn Shaddad, al-nawadir, ed. al-Shayyal, pp. 303-4; Mayer, Geschichte (2000), p. 135.
  • [8] Ibn al-Athir, al-kamil, ed. Tornberg, vol. 12, AH 623, pp. 303-4 (Leiden), p. 465 (Beirut).
  • [9] Ibn Wasil, mufarrij, ed. Rabi' and 'Ashur, vol. 4, AH 626, pp. 250-1.
  • [10] Ibid., vol. 4, AH 626, p. 251.
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