Dr Rory Cox to visit Tel Aviv University
September 14, 2013 Leave a comment
The School of History is pleased to announce that Dr Rory Cox will go to Tel Aviv University this academic year to deliver a lecture as part of the St Andrews-Tel Aviv exchange programme. Dr Cox will give a lecture entitled ‘Celestial Warfare and Medieval Just War Doctrine: The Case of the Missing Paradigm’.
In his lecture, Dr Cox will argue that the angelic war in heaven would seem to provide a paradigm of just warfare. According to Judeo-Christian tradition, the angelic hosts, with the authority of God and led by the archangel Michael, fought and defeated the fallen angels commanded by Lucifer. In this example of celestial warfare, the three crucial criteria of medieval just war doctrine – just cause, proper authority, and correct intention – were fulfilled beyond question. Indeed, the war of the angels was a ‘perfect’ just war. And yet the war in heaven was all but ignored by medieval Latin commentators interested in questions of justified violence. One exception was the fourteenth-century civilian and canonist, John of Legnano. In 1360 he completed his highly influential tract, De Bello, and used the war in heaven as a means to interpret and legitimate human conflict. Possessing an avid interest in astrology, Legnano also went on to explore the influence of the celestial bodies in producing terrestrial strife. The lecture will explore John of Legnano’s ideas, and offer some insights as to why the ‘perfect war’ was not utilized more frequently by medieval just war theorists.
Dr Cox joined the School of History in September 2011 as Lecturer in Late Mediaeval History. He previously at the University of Aberystwyth and held a Scouloudi Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research, London. He was awarded his DPhil from the University of Oxford in 2010.
Dr Cox’s research focuses on European military history and intellectual history during the late middle ages. He is particularly interested in the development of just war doctrine and the creation, application, and violation of so-called ‘laws of war’ during medieval conflicts. The Hundred Years War provides a background for much of his work.
He is near to completing a monograph, The Medieval Pacifist: John Wyclif on War and Peace, which will be published as part of the Royal Historical Society’s Studies in History series (Boydell & Brewer). The monograph examines the political thought of the fourteenth-century English scholastic theologian and philosopher John Wyclif, arguing that Wyclif not only dismantled the accepted theory of justified warfare, but also espoused a radical doctrine of Christian pacifism. Dr Cox is also working on contributions for forthcoming volumes: examining the ethics of war in the West up to Thomas Aquinas in one, and exploring the role of religion in the Hundred Years War in the other.