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Political implications

One can prove that Llull was perfectly capable of understanding the realities of the world in which he lived, as for instance with the choice of his secular patrons. He never addressed himself to the emperors or pretenders to the throne of the German empire. On the other hand, he did have recourse to the Italian maritime republics and, above all, to the Kings of France and Aragon, and to the papacy. The assistance of such powers was indispensable for any crusade and for the conversion of Muslims. Llull’s attention oscillated between France and Crown of Aragon. Despite his Catalan origins, he displayed a greater preference for France.

From 1309 to 1311, Llull lent his support to French pretensions with regard to the Byzantine empire. Surprisingly, he also lent his support to the suppression of the Knights Templar – and in this he was not exactly in line with leading thinkers of the period. In a series of treatises dedicated to Phillip the Fair (written in Paris between 1309-1311), he clearly acknowledged not only the pre-eminence of France in the West, but also the right of the king to intervene in ecclesiastical affairs as ‘doctor fidei christianae’. He also sought the assistance of Phillip against Averroism at the University of Paris. He not only desired that Phillip, in line with the papacy, should found colleges for the teaching of eastern languages, but also that he should fuse the existing military orders into a single one, ‘quia rex est defensor fidei’. Llull participated in the principal issues of his day and his views took into account – with great immediacy and speed – the considerable change that had taken place within Christianity as symbolised by the translatio of the papacy from Rome to Avignon. Such realism bore certain fruits. Llull received a document from Phillip the Fair in which he was characterised as a ‘vir bonus, justus et catholicus’, a testimony of the greatest utility if the criticisms formulated against Llull by a theologian with as great an influence upon the Roman Curia as Augustinus Triumphus are taken into account. It is also highly probable that French influence was the reason for Canon XI of the Council of Vienne, which established chairs for the teaching of eastern languages to future missionaries in a number of centres. Thus one of Llull’s most constant requests was accomplished.

The relations between Llull and the French Court did not prevent contacts with the sovereigns of the House of Barcelona. Without ever losing sight of the objectives he had proposed, Llull was adept at varying the methods he employed. In 1305 he presented to James II of Aragon his most important work regarding crusades, the Liber de fine, and also had it sent to the new Pope, Clement V. Llull was in contact with James II up until his death.

Source: Hillgarth, J. N., “Raymond Lulle et l’utopie”, Estudios Lulianos 25 (1981-1983), pp. 176-177.