The historical roots of “inherent power”

Alexander VI seemed to think he had unlimited inherent power as Commander-in-Chief of the Church Militant. Sound familiar?

In Lord Acton’s essay on the Borgias, he explains how it was that Pope Alexander VI (the father of Caesare Borgia) justified his claim to unlimited power, political as well as spiritual:

The plenitude of powers thus exercised was justified by an enlargement of the mediaeval theory, which adapted it to the enlarged horizon of the Church. It is the Pope’s office, it was argued, to teach the Gospel to all nations, and to compel observance of natural law. But the heathen will not hear the Gospel, and will not keep the law, unless they are made subject to Christians…Civil rights and authorities cannot lawfully obstruct the propagation of the faith.

Who knew that GWB had such a deep knowledge of Renaissance history and ecclesiology? See, I told you he was no dummy!

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: