In recognition of the achievement of the medieval monks from 1100-1350, Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), following Lord Acton, called one of these monks, Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), “the First Whig,” that is, the founder of the party of liberty in human history.5 Many commentators have also noted that in The Divine Comedy, one of the greatest works of poetry in any language, Alighieri Dante (1265-1321) created both a dramatic rendition of the Thomist vision and a testament to the high importance an entire civilization attached to human liberty. Dante had wholeheartedly accepted the fact that every story in the Bible, Jewish and Christian, gathers its suspense from the free choices that confront every human being. How humans use their liberty determines their destiny; how we use our freedom is the essential human drama. Liberty is the axial point of the universe, the point of its creation. That is the premise of The Divine Comedy and the ground of human dignity.
Michael Novak, "The Judeo-Christian Foundation of Human Dignity, Personal Liberty, and the Concept of the Person," Journal of Markets & Morality 1, no. 2 (October 1998): 107-121