Paweł Włodkowic

House on Kanonicza Street, Kraków, built by Paweł Włodkowic. Now Hotel Copernicus.
Paweł Włodkowic's Dołęga coat of arms

Paweł Włodkowic (Latin: Paulus Vladimiri) (ca. 1370 – 9 October 1435) was a Polish scholar, jurist and rector of the Kraków Academy, a precursor of religious tolerance who defended Poland and native non-Christian tribes against the Teutonic Knights and the crusading movement in general.[1]

Early life and education

Though it is commonly assumed that "Włodkowic" was a surname, it was in fact a patronymic denoting that he was the son of a certain Włodko or Włodzimierz of the Dołęga family. He was born in Brudzeń Duży near Dobrzyń nad Wisłą between 1370-1373. His family owned land in the Dobrzyń Province and was related to the Lasota family from Mazovia whose notable members include Mikołaj Lasota, the treasurer of Konrad of Mazovia.[2] He was a graduate of the Collegiate Church of St. Michael School in Płock (currently the Marshal Stanisław Małachowski High School) where probably he was ordained as a priest. He studied at Prague University, where he took degrees in 1393. In 1400, he became the Canon of Płock.[3] He continued studying law at Padova, Italy, in 1404–8. It was probably in this period that he visited the Roman Curia in place of Piotr of Kobylin, fulfilling his duties as the Polish King's prosecutor.[4]

In 1411 or 1412 he was made a doctor of canon law at the Academy in Kraków, where he also began to lecture. He was influenced by the philosophies of William of Ockham, Matthew of Cracow and Stanisław of Skarbimierz. In 1413 he served as King Jagiełło's emissary at Buda, Hungary, during disputes with the Teutonic Order. In 1414–1415 he became rector and in 1418 prorector of Cracow Academy.[5]

The Council of Constance Address

Paweł Włodkowic represented Poland at the 1414 Council of Constance, where he delivered a thesis about the power of the Pope and the Emperor, the Tractatus de potestate papae et imperatoris respectu infidelium (Treatise on the Power of the Pope and the Emperor Respecting Infidels). In it he drew the thesis that pagan and Christian nations could coexist in peace and criticized the Teutonic Order for its wars of conquest of native non-Christian peoples in Prussia and Lithuania.[6] Due to his influence, in 1421 the Pope sent Antonio Zeno to investigate the Teutonic Order and its activities, though this investigation was later suspended on the grounds that it infringed upon the privileges of the Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to conduct his own negotiations between the two parties. Włodkowic’s address at the council is considered to have been "not only one of the greatest achievements of Poland in their political fight against the Teutonic Order but also a huge contribution to the Christian theory of just war."[7]

At the Council of Constance, Paweł Włodkowic and all the Polish delegation defended Jan Hus.

Later life and death

In 1420 Paweł Włodkowic represented Poland at a conference between Poland and the Teutonic Order held in Wrocław under the aegis of Sigismund of Luxemburg.

As early as the beginning of the 15th century, along with Stanisław of Skarbimierz, Włodkowic strongly supported the idea of conciliarism and pioneered the notion of peaceful coexistence among nations – a forerunner of modern theories of human rights. Throughout his political, diplomatic and university career, Paweł Włodkowic expressed the view that a world guided by the principles of peace and mutual respect among nations was possible and that pagan nations had a right to peace and to possession of their own lands. For this, he, the king of Poland, and the entire Polish nation were virulently attacked by the Dominican John of Falkenberg (himself later condemned and imprisoned for his intemperance), and his thesis somewhat more judiciously rejected by Dominic of San Gimignano, Ardecino de Porta of Novara, and André Dias de Escobar, Bishop of Ciudad Rodrigo.

After 1424 he retired from public life to Kłodawa, where he died in 1435.[8]

Selected works

  • Tractatus de annatis camerae apostolicae solvendis (1414-1415)
  • Tractatus de potestate papae et imperatoris respectu infidelium (1415)
  • Puncta accusationis ex parte Polonorum contra Cruciferos (1416)
  • Causa inter reges Poloniae et Cruciferos coram concilio Constantiense ex parte Polonorum dicta (1416)
  • Tractatus de ordine Cruciferorum et de bello Polonorum contra dictos fratres (1416)
  • Scriptum denunciatorium errorum Satyrae Joannis Falkenberg O. P. Concilio Constanteinsi datum (1416-1417)
  • Allegationes pro parte regis Polonie coram Sigismundo Imperatore (1420)
  • Oculi (1420)
  • Ad vivendum (1421)
  • Letter to the Bishop of Kraków (1432)

Critical editions of works

  • Ludwik Ehrlich, Pisma wybrane Pawła Włodkowica / Works of Paul Wladimiri (A Selection) (3 vols., Warszawa: PAX, 1966-69). Latin edition, Polish and English translation.
  • Stanisław Bełch, Paulus Vladimiri and His Doctrine Concerning International Law and Politics (2 vols., The Hague: Mouton, 1965), vol. II. Latin edition.

See also



  1. ^ "Paweł Włodkowic – wybitny polski prawnik oraz prekursor tolerancji religijnej". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  2. ^ Wesołowska, E. Anna (1997). Paweł Włodkowic – współczesne znaczenie poglądów i dokonań. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek. p. 10.
  3. ^ Erlich, Ludwik (1968). Pisma wybrane Pawła Włodkowica (Preface). Warsaw: PAX. p. 13.
  4. ^ Fijałek, Jan Nepomucen (1902). Ostatnie słowo Pawła Włodkowica o zakonie krzyżackim. Przegląd Kościelny. p. 269.
  5. ^ "The Right of Infidels to Protect Their Goods from the Perspective of the 15th Century Polish School of Ius gentium". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  6. ^ "O WOJNIE I TOLERANCJI". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Paweł Włodkowic's address at the Council of Constance". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Paweł Włodkowic – wybitny polski prawnik oraz prekursor tolerancji religijnej". Retrieved 12 April 2020.