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Conrad of Gelnhausen


Conciliarist and theologian; b. c. 1320; d. Heidelberg, April 13, 1390. He studied and taught at the University of Paris and became a canon in Mainz (1359) and procurator of the German nation at the University of Bologna (1369). In a meeting with King Charles V seeking for an effective means of bringing the western schism to an end, he pronounced himself in favor of conciliar ism; in his Epistola brevis he summarized his proposals [ed., H. Kaiser, Historisches Vierteljahrschrift 3 (1900) 381394]. In May 1380, he dedicated to the king his treatise Epistola concordiae (Thesaurus novus anecdotorum 2:120026). First, Conrad established the necessity of calling a general council, after the fashion of the Apostles, who assembled four times to seek a solution to difficult questions. Next, he examined the validity of the objections raised against his proposal, the principal one being that the pope alone was qualified to convoke an ecumenical council. The answer was simple: since during the Schism both popes were doubtful, neither had this power; it reverted to the universal Church. It would be desirable that the two pontiffs, acting in concert, convoke the council; but if an agreement was not achieved, the cardinals became responsible for its convocation. The assembly was not to legislate. It should content itself with ending the schism, after which the pope whom it recognized should act in common with it. Conrad's thesis was certainly the inspiration for the ideas expressed by wil liam of ockham in his Dialogues concerning the superiority of the council over the pope. It was made public by henry heinbuche of langenstein in his Epistola concilii pacis, but was never accorded favor until the Council of Constance when one of the papal pretenders was willing to relinquish his claim. The adherence of King Charles VI to the jurisdiction of clement vii, antipope influenced Conrad to leave France in 1386 to lecture at the University of Heidelberg, where be became the first chancellor.

Bibliography: conrad of gelnhausen, Commentary on the Canticles (MS Vat. Pal. lat. 77, fol. 1). l. schmitz published one of his letters to philip of mezeeres, dated July 18, 1379, Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und für Kirchengeschichte 9 (1895) 185189. a. kneer, "Die Entstehung der konziliaren Theorie," Römische Quartalschrift für christilche Altertumskunde und für Kirchengeschichte, Supplment 1 (1893). k. wenck, "Konrad von Gelnhausen und die Quellen der konziliaren Theorie," Historische Zeitschrift 76 (1896) 661. p. bliemetzrieder, "Konrad von Gelnhausen und Heinrich von Langenstein auf dem Konzile zu Pisa, 1409," Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft 25 (1904) 536541; Literarische Polemik zu Beginn des grossen abendländischen Schismas (Vienna 1910). v. martin, Les Origines du gallicanisme, 2 v. (Paris 1939). b. tierney, Foundations of the Conciliar Theory (Cambridge, Eng. 1955).

[g. mollat]

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