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A comparison of the authority of perpetua and pope gregory vii

The terminus technicus for the great struggle between the popes and the German kings Henry IV and Henry V, during the period 1075-1122. The prohibition of investiture was in truth only the occasion of this conflict; the real issue, at least at the height of the contest, was whether the imperial or the papal power was to be supreme in Christendom.

The powerful and ardent popeGregory VIIsought in all earnestness to realize the Kingdom of God on earth under the guidance of the papacy. As successor of the Apostles of Christhe claimed supreme authority in both spiritual and secular affairs. It seemed to this noble idealism that the successor of Peter could never act otherwise than according to the dictates of justicegoodnessand truth. In this spirit he claimed for the papacy supremacy over emperor, kings, and princes.

But during the Middle Ages a rivalry had always existed between the popes and the emperors, twin representatives, so to speak, of authority. Henry III, the father of the young king, had even reduced the papacy to complete submission, a situation which Gregory now strove to reverse by crushing the imperial power and setting in its place the papacy.

A long and bitter struggle was therefore unavoidable. In 1074 he had renewed under heavier penalties the prohibition of simony and marriage of the clergybut encountered at once great opposition from the German bishops and priests. To secure the necessary influence in the appointment of bishopsto set aside lay pretensions to the administration of the property of the Churcha comparison of the authority of perpetua and pope gregory vii thus to break down the opposition of the clergyGregory at the Lenten Roman Synod of 1075 withdrew "from the king the right of disposing of bishoprics in future, and relieved all lay persons of the investiture of churches".

As early as the Synod of Reims 1049 anti-investiture legislation had been enacted, but had never been enforced. Investiture at this period meant that on the death of a bishop or abbotthe king was accustomed to select a successor and to bestow on him the ring and staff with the words: Accipe ecclesiam accept this church. Henry III was wont to consider the ecclesiastical fitness of the candidate; Henry IVon the other hand, declared in 1073: Since Otto the Great 936-72 the bishops had been princes of the empire, had secured many privileges, and had become to a great extent feudal lords over great districts of the imperial territory.

The control of these great units of economic and military power was for the king a question of primary importance, affecting as it did the foundations and even the existence of the imperial authority; in those days men had not yet learned to distinguish between the grant of the episcopal office and the grant of its temporalities regalia.

Thus minded, Henry IV held that it was impossible for him to acknowledge the papal prohibition of investiture. We must bear carefully in mind that in the given circumstances there was a certain justification for both parties: Ignoring the prohibition of Gregoryas also the latter's effort at a mitigation of the same, Henry continued to appoint bishops in Germany and in Italy.

Towards the end of December, 1075, Gregory delivered his ultimatum: Sharp reproval of his libertinism was added. If the pope had given way somewhat too freely to his feelings, the king gave still freer vent to his anger. At the Diet of Worms January, 1076Gregoryamid atrocious calumnieswas deposed by twenty-six bishops on the ground that his elevation was irregular, and that consequently he had never been pope. Henry therefore addressed a letter to "Hildebrand, no longer pope but a false monk ": Descend, thou ever accursed.

At the next Lenten Synod in Rome 1076 Gregory sat in judgment upon the king, and in a prayer to Peter, Prince of the Apostles, declared: It availed little that the king answered ban with ban.

His domestic enemies, the Saxons and the lay princes of the empire, espoused the cause of the popewhile his bishops were divided in their allegiance, and the mass of his people deserted him. The age was yet too deeply conscious that there could be no Christian Church without communion with Rome. The royal supporters grew ever fewer; in October a diet of the princes at Tribur obliged Henry to apologize humbly to the popeto promise for the future obedience and reparation, and to refrain from all actual government, seeing that he was excommunicate.

They decreed also that if within a year and a day the excommunication was not removed, Henry should forfeit his crown. Finally, they resolved that the pope should be invited to visit Germany in the following spring to settle the conflict between the king and the princes. Elated at this victory Gregory set out immediately for the north. To the general astonishment, Henry now proposed to present himself as a penitent before the popeand thereby obtain pardon.

He crossed Mont Cenis in the depth of winter and was soon at the Castle of Canossawhither Gregory had withdrawn on learning of the king's approach. Henry spent three days at the entrance to the fortress, barefoot and in the garb of a penitent.

That he actually stood the whole time on ice and snow is of course a romantic exaggeration. He was finally admitted to the papal presence, and pledged himself to recognize the mediation and decision of the pope in the quarrel with the princes, and was then freed from excommunication January, 1077.

This famous event has been countless times described, and from very divergent points of view. Through Bismarck, Canossa became a proverbial term to indicate the humiliation of the civil power before the ambitious and masterful Church. Recently, on the other hand, not a few have seen in it a glorious triumph for Henry. When the facts are carefully weighed, it will appear that in his priestly capacity the pope yielded reluctantly and unwillingly, while, on the other hand, the political success of his concession was null.

Henry had now the advantage, since, released from excommunicationhe was again free to act. Comparing, however, the power which thirty years earlier Henry III had exercised over the papacywe may yet agree with those historians who see in Canossa the acme of the career of Gregory VII.

The German supporters of the pope ignored the reconciliation, and proceeded in March, 1077, to elect a new king, Rudolf of Rheinfelden. This was the signal for the civil war during which Gregory sought to act as arbiter between the rival kings and as their overlord to award the crown. By artful diplomacy Henry held off, until 1080, any decisive action.

Considering his position sufficiently secure, he then demanded that the pope should excommunicate his rival, otherwise he would set up an antipope. Gregory answered by excommunicating and deposing Henry for the second time at the Lenten Synod of 1080. It was declared at the same time that clergy and people should ignore all civil interference and all civil claims on ecclesiastical propertyand should canonically elect all the candidates for ecclesiastical office.

The effect of this second excommunication was inconsiderable. During the preceding years the king had collected a strong party; the bishops preferred to depend on the king rather than on the pope ; moreover, it was believed that the second excommunication was not justified. Gregory's party was thus greatly weakened, At the Synod of Brixen June, 1080 the king's bishops listened to ridiculous charges and exaggerations, and deposed the popeexcommunicated him, and elected as antipope Guibert, Archbishop of Ravennaotherwise a learned and blameless man.

Gregory had relied on the support of the Normans in Southern Italy and of the German enemies of the king, but the former sent him assistance.

Thus when in October, 1080, his rival for the throne was slain in battle, Henry turned his thoughts on the papal capital. Four times, from 1081 to 1084, he assaulted Romein 1083 captured the Leonine City, and in 1084, after an unsuccessful attempt at a compromise, gained possession of the entire city.

The deposition of Gregory and the election of Guibertwho now called himself Clement IIIwas confirmed by a synod, and in March, 1084, Henry was crowned emperor by his antipope.

The Normans arrived too late to prevent these events, and moreover proceeded to plunder the town so mercilessly that Gregory lost the allegiance of the Romans and was compelled to withdraw southward with his Norman allies.

He had suffered a complete defeat, and died at Salerno 25 May, 1085after another ineffectual renewal of excommunication against his opponents.

Though he died amid disappointment and failure, he had done indispensable pioneer work and set in motion forces and principles that were to dominate succeeding centuries. There was now much confusion on all sides. In 1081 a new rival for the crown, the insignificant Count Herman of Salm, had been chosen, but he died in 1088.

Most of the bishops held with the king, and were thus excommunicate ; a comparison of the authority of perpetua and pope gregory vii Saxony only was the Gregorian party dominant. Many dioceses had two occupants. Both parties called their rivals perjurers and traitors, nor did either side discriminate nicely in the choice and use of weapons.

Negotiations met with no success, while the synod of the Gregorians at Quedlinburg April, 1085 showed no inclination to modify the principles which they represented. The king, therefore, resolved to crush his rivals by force. At the Council of Mainz April, 1085 fifteen Gregorian bishops were deposed, and their sees entrusted to adherents of the royal party.

The Gregorian bishops recognized the king, who consequently withdrew his support from his own nominees. But the truce was a purely political one; in ecclesiastical matters the opposition continued unabated, and recognition of the antipope was not to be thought of. Indeed, the political tranquillity served only to bring out more definitely the hopeless antithesis between the clergy who held with Gregory and those who sided with the king.

There are yet extant numerous contemporary polemical treatises that enable us to follow the warfare of opinions after 1080 of the preceding period few such documents remain. These writings, usually short and acrimonious, were widely scattered, were read privately or publicly, and were distributed on court and market-days. It is but natural that the principles advocated in these writings should be diametrically opposed to one another.

The writers of Gregory's party maintain that unconditional obedience to the pope is necessaryand that, even when unjusthis excommunication is valid. The king's writers, on the other hand, declare that their master is above responsibility for his actions, being the representative of God on earth, and as such overlord of the pope. Prominent on the papal side were the unbending Saxon Bernhard, who would hear of no compromise and preferred death to violation of the canons, the Swabian Bernold of St.

Blasien, author of numerous but unimportant letters and memorials, and the rude, fanatical Manegold of Lautenbach, for whom obedience to the pope was the supreme duty of all mankindand who maintained that the people could depose a bad ruler as rightfully as one would dismiss a swineherd who had failed to protect the drove entrusted to his care.

Monarchy, he said, comes directly from God ; consequently, to Him alone is the king responsible.

Conflict of Investitures

The Churchon the other hand, is the totality of the faithfulunited in one society by the spirit of peace and love. The Churchhe goes on, is not called to exercise temporal authority; she bears only the spiritual sword, that is, the Word of God.

Here, however, the monk went far beyond the age in which he lived. In Italy the adherents of Gregory outmatched their rivals intellectually. Among their number was Bonizo of Sutrithe historian of the papal side, a valuable writer for the preceding decades of the conflict, naturally from the standpoint of the pontiff and his adherents. Anselm, Bishop of Luccaand Cardinal Deusdedit, at Gregory's request, compiled collections of canons, whence in later times the ideas of Gregory drew substantial support.

To the royal party belonged the vacillating Cardinal Beno, the personal enemy of Gregory and author of scandalous pamphlets against the popealso the mendacious Benzo, Bishop of Alba, for whom, as for most courtiers, the king was answerable only to Godwhile the pope was the king's vassal. Guido of Ferrara held more temperate opinions, and endeavoured to persuade the moderate Gregorians to adopt a policy of compromise. Petrus Crassus, the only layman engaged in the controversy, represented the youthful science of jurisprudence and strongly advocated the autonomy of the State, maintaining that, as the sovereign authority was from Godit was a crime to war upon the king.

He claimed for the king all the rights of the Roman emperors, consequently the right to sit in judgment on the pope. In 1086 Gregory was succeeded by a milder character, Victor IIIwho had no desire to compete for the supreme authority, and drew back to the position that the whole strife was purely a question of ecclesiastical administration.

He shared fully all the ideas of Gregorybut endeavoured to conciliate the king and his party and to facilitate their return to the views of the ecclesiastical party. Henry might perhaps have come to some arrangement with Victor, had he been willing to set aside the antipopebut he clung closely to the man from whom he had received the imperial crown.

In this way war soon broke out again, during which the cause of the king suffered a decline. The antipope's bishops gradually deserted him in answer to Urban's advantageous offers of reconciliation; the royal authority in Italy disappeared, while in the defection of his son Conrad and of his second wife Henry suffered an additional humiliation. The new crusading movement, on the other hand, rallied many to the assistance of the papacy.

In 1094 and 1095 Urban renewed the excommunication of Henry, Guibertand their supporters. When the pope died a comparison of the authority of perpetua and pope gregory viifollowed by the antipope 1100the papacyso far as ecclesiastical matters were concerned, had won a complete victory. The subsequent antipopes of the Guibertian party in Italy were of no importance.