Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Ptolemy of Lucca

  • James M. Blythe
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_424


Ptolemy of Lucca (Tolomeo Fiadoni) (c. 1236–1327) was a student of Thomas Aquinas, Dominican prior in Lucca and Florence, and bishop of Torcello. He is chiefly known for his contributions to political thought. His most important book is De regimine principum, a continuation of Thomas’ De regno, but he also wrote historical works, treatises defending hierocratic papal authority and limiting the powers of the Roman Empire, a commentary on the days of creation, and a history of the church. Ptolemy provided a previously lacking theoretical grounding for the realities and aspirations of Guelph republican city-states, and thereby anticipated many of the tenets of Renaissance civic humanism. He presented republican government as the only suitable alternative for a virtuous people and identified monarchy with tyranny or despotism. He was perhaps the first writer to use the word “republic” as an antonym of “monarchy,” instead of as a generic term for government. He was one of the first medieval writers to praise the Roman Republic in comparison with the Empire. His analysis of Rome complemented his original treatment of ancient Greek governments often praised as mixed constitutions and of the ancient Hebrew government, all of which he compared to certain medieval republics. He extended the common Four World Monarchy theory by denoting the church as a final fifth world monarchy, thereby reducing the Roman Empire to a time-bound state.

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Primary Sources

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Blythe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA