Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Alex J. Novikoff

Second Advisor

Catalina Hunt


Pope Boniface VIII has often been regarded as the last medieval pope for his attempt to defend the notion of church liberty through the bull Clericis Laicos and his claim to papal supremacy in the bull Unam Sanctam. His conflict with French King Philip IV represented the clash between the pinnacles of spiritual and temporal power during his time, and his eventual defeat during the dramatic episode of the Outrage of Anagni marked an end of the medieval papacy and the start of the Avignon Captivity of the Papacy. This honors thesis presents Pope Boniface as the defender of the ideal state of the papacy in his conception, the papal monarchy, and outlines the contemporary challenges and political difficulties for him to realize his design. The main objective of this project is to explore the causes of Boniface’s ultimate failure and to provide a holistic view of his reign through the analysis of his diplomatic policies, the theoretical framework of his authority, and his public image. Finally, this project argues that Boniface’s failure hinges on more than his personal defects and the failings of his policies but instead demonstrates the gradual decline of the medieval papacy due to its growing obsession with worldly administration, a trend that was both a product and a cause of Boniface’s reign.

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