French theologian (also known as Jean Petit) ; b. Caux, France, c. 1360; d. Hesdin, France, July 15, 1411. His addresses on the various aspects of the western schism c. 1403 made him a well-known member of the theological faculty of the University of Paris, but his teaching on tyrannicide won him even greater notoriety. On Nov. 23, 1407, Louis, Duke of Orléans, brother of King Charles VI of France, was assassinated in Paris. His cousin, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, who was responsible for the crime, retired to his domains in Flanders and summoned Joannes Parvus to Amiens to prepare his vindication. Before the king and a carefully selected assemblage in Paris, Parvus delivered on March 8, 1408, an ostentatiously learned apologia in defense of his patron's role in the assassination, the Justificatio ducis Burgundiae [J. Gerson, Opera omnia, ed. L. E. Dupin (5v. Amsterdam 1706) 5:15–42].
His method of argumentation can be reduced to the following syllogism: it is licit to put to death one who is guilty of high treason and has become a tyrant; the Duke of Orléans was guilty of treason and was a tyrant; therefore, he deserved death, and the Duke of Burgundy was not guilty of murder or complicity. In proof of his major premise Parvus chose the main texts in favor of tyrannicide from Scripture, Aristotle, Seneca, St. Augustine, C. salutati, and especially from john of salisbury and thomas aquinas. Few texts apodictically supported his thesis, and historical and doctrinal truths suffered at his hands. Despite strong reaction, John the Fearless obtained letters of pardon from the king, and Parvus left Paris for the estate of his patron in Hesdin, where he wrote three answers to attacks on his Justificatio. There he died, regretting, it was said, his defense of such a thesis. Gerson found heresy in seven propositions he drew from the Justificatio, and the bishop of Paris along with the inquisitor of France condemned the work and nine propositions said to be found in it, on Feb. 23, 1414. After the appeal of the Duke of Burgundy, the antipope john xxiii established a papal commission of investigation, but Gerson's assault on Parvus's Justificatio was relentless. At the Council of constance he strove to secure conciliar support for the condemnation by the bishop of Paris until both parties agreed, by the terms of the Treaty of Arras, Feb. 23, 1415, to end the discussion by their envoys at the council. After the withdrawal of John XXIII from the council, Gerson disregarded this stipulation and publicly upheld the condemnation. On July 6, 1415, the council enacted a general condemnation of tyrannicide without naming Joannes Parvus. His opponents insisted on conciliar censure of the nine propositions drawn from his Justificatio, but the commission on matters of faith annulled, on Jan. 16, 1416, the condemnation of the bishop of Paris, and a final attempt to have the council declare Parvus a heretic, along with John of falkenberg (d.1435), proved futile. In Paris on Nov. 3, 1418, the Duke of Burgundy had the condemnation of Parvus by the bishop of Paris withdrawn, while at this same time the king and the University of Paris repudiated the opponents of the duke and his apologist, ending the conflict.
Bibliography: j. d. mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v. (Florence-Venice 1757–98) 2:731–873. b. bess, "Die Lehre vom Tyrannenmord auf dem Konstanzer Konzil, " Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte (Stuttgart 1876—) 36 (1902) 1–61. c. kamm, "Der Prozess gegen die Justificatio ducis Burgundiae auf der Pariser Synode, 1413–1414, " Römische Quartalschrift für Christliche Altertumskunde und für Kirchengeschichte (Freiburg 1887—) 26 (1912) 3–19, 27–57, 97–113, 159–186. a. coville, Jean Petit (Paris 1932). a. teetaert, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50) 12.1:1338–44. g. santinello, Enciclopedia filosofica, 4 v. (Venice–Rome 1957) 3:1343–44. l. boehm, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, eds. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 5:1069.
[j. m. o'donnell]