The very existence of <an independent church> would enhance the possibilities for a growth of human freedom by preventing medieval society from congealing into a rigid despotism . . . Lord Acton pointed this out long ago, ‘To that conflict of four hundred years . . . we owe the rise of civil liberty’. 


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Brian Tierney, Citadel of Cefalů, 1995 "Medieval Canon Law and Western Constitutionalism," The Catholic Historical Review 52 (1966) 1-17 at 8.