Alvarus Pelagius

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Print of Alvarus Pelagius ( Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal )

Alvarus Pelagius (Spanish Álvaro Pelágio , Álvaro Pelayo , Portuguese Álvaro Pais , Álvaro Paez ) (* between 1275 and 1280 in Salnés ( Galicia ); † January 25, 1350 in Seville ) was a Franciscan theologian and bishop of Silves ( Portugal ) .


Alvarus was of illegitimate origin, allegedly the illegitimate son of the admiral and poet Payo Gómez Charino († 1295), and is said to have received his first training at the court of Sancho IV of Castile . He came to Italy for his studies and studied law in Bologna and Perugia . In Bologna, where he counted Guido de Baysio among his teachers, he received his doctorate in both rights, has been teaching there since around 1300 and, according to Johannes Andreae, took part in several disputations.

In 1304 he renounced his charities , donated his belongings to the poor and was accepted into the order by their general minister Gonzalo de Balboa during the general chapter of the Franciscans in Assisi . In the poverty struggle he took over the views of the spiritual and representatives of the strict observance of the rule of the order, but remained concerned about reconciliation with the authorities of the order and with the church hierarchy. In 1321 he took part in the General Chapter of Perugia, in the following years he stayed in Assisi (1326), in the Convent of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome (1327-1329) and in Anagni (1328). In the conflict between Pope John XXII. and Ludwig the Bavarian he represented the position of the Pope against Ludwig's antipope Nicholas V during these years and developed his doctrine of the absolute power ( plenitudo potestatis ) of the Pope over the members of the Church and over the secular authorities.

John XXII. Before 1330 he called him to his apostolic penitentiary and confessor in Avignon . In 1332 he received a dispensation from the Pope for his illegitimate origin, which was contrary to a higher ecclesiastical office, and he was appointed bishop of the Greek diocese of Koron. It does not appear, however, that Alvarus assumed that office. On June 9, 1333, on the other hand, he was transferred to the seat of the Bishop of Silves near today's Faro , where he was involved as a reformer and fighter against alleged heretics , for example against a philosopher Thomas Scotus, who was persecuted by him as an Averroist , through whom otherwise hardly any something is known. In the conflict between King Alfonso IV of Portugal and King Alfonso XI. of Castile, Alvarus seems to have opposed the Portuguese king. He had to flee his diocese after an assault on himself and stayed in Seville until his death.

Major works

  • De statu et planctu ecclesiae libri duo. Major work on the position of the Pope and the state of the Church, created in three editorships from 1330 to 1332 and then revised twice (1335, 1340), first printed in Ulm in 1474, modern editions by Vittorino Meneghin: Scritti inediti di fra Alvaro Pais. Lisbon 1969, and by Miguel Pinto de Meneses, Lisbon 1996–1998.
    Digital copies:
  • Speculum regum. A prince's mirror , written between 1341 and 1344 in Tavira , dedicated to King Alfonso XI. by Castile and Cardinal Gil de Albornoz. Edited by Miguel Pinto Meneses, Lisbon 1955–1963.
  • Collyrium fidei adversus haereses. written around 1348, against Averroists , spiritualists, Beguines and Begarden , Jews and Muslims. Edited by Miguel Pinto de Meneses, Lisbon 1954–1956.



  1. In other sources, the year of death 1349, 1352 or 1353 is also given.