THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HILDEBRAND
POPE GREGORY VII
ARNOLD HARRIS MATHEW
1.-EARLY LIFE OF HILDEBRAND TO THE DEATH OF NICHOLAS II,1025 (?) JULY 27, 1061
2.-THE PONTIFICATE OF ALEXANDER II, 1061-1073
3.-THE ACCESSION OF GREGORY VII HIS FIRST ACTS. APRIL 22, 1073- MARCH 9, 1074
4.-THE FIRST STRUGGLES, MARCH 9, 1074 FEBRUARY 24, 1075.
5.-THE BREACH BETWEEN HENRY IV OF GERMANY AND GREGORY VII, FEBRUARY 24, 1075 - FEBRUARY 24, 1076
6.-THE ROAD TO CANOSSA, FEBRUARY 14, 1076 - JANUARY 28,1077
7.-THE INTRUSION OF RUDOLPH OF SUABIA, JANUARY 29, 1077-FEBRUARY 27, 1078
8.-CIVIL WAR IN GERMANY, FEBRUARY 27, 1078 - MARCH 7, 1080
9.-HENRY IV AGAIN EXCOMMUNICATED THE ANTI-POPE GUIBERT. MARCH I, 1080 - FEBRUARY 1081
10.-THE LAST STRUGGLES OF GREGORY VII. HIS DEATH. FEBRUARY 1081 - MAY 25, 1085
11.-THE CANONIZATION OF GREGORY VII. HIS CHARACTER
12.-GREGORY VII AS POPE; AND AS THE FOUNDER OF THE HIEROCRATIC SYSTEM
13.-THE AFTER-EFFECTS OF THE HIEROCRATIC SYSTEM
The Pontificate of Gregory VII is important as having occurred at a very critical period in the history of the Papacy, and as having left an indelible impression upon its later aims and policy. A great revival of the Empire had slowly taken place (A.D. 950-1046). “The German peoples within the empire of Charles the Great were united by the urgent necessity of protecting themselves against barbarous foes. They formed a strong elective monarchy, and shook themselves free from their Romanized brethren, the Western Franks, amongst whom the power of the Vassals was still to maintain disunion for centuries. The German kingdom was the inheritor of the ideas and policy of Charles the Great, and the restoration of the Imperial power was a natural and worthy object of the Saxon line of kings”. The restoration of the Empire involved a restoration of the status of the Papacy. The great monastery of Cluny and the monastic reformers there became a centre of the revival of Christian feeling, and aimed at uniting Christendom under the headship of the Pope. The reformers aimed at a strict enforcement of the celibacy of the clergy and the suppression of simony—to check, in fact, the secularization of the clerical office, to which many causes, especially the growing wealth of the Church, had contributed. The first desideratum was a reform of the Papacy, and the Emperor Henry III was called upon to effect this. The great Emperor, in whom the mediaeval empire touched its highest point, was not unnaturally hailed as a second David when, at the Synod of Sutri, he superintended the deposition of three Popes who simultaneously occupied the chair of St. Peter.
With Henry III the Empire attained its maximum of power, its maximum or influence upon the Roman See. In Rome no German sovereign had ever been so absolute. He became hereditary Patrician, and wore constantly the circlet of gold and the green mantle which were the badges of that office, seeming, as one might think, to find in it some further authority than that which the Imperial name conferred. To Henry was granted the nomination of the Pope, and by his instrumentality German after German succeeded to the Papacy, at the bidding of a ruler so powerful, so severe, and so pious.
A mere chance checked the course of Imperial patronage. The great Emperor died suddenly in 1056, leaving as his successor his son, a mere child, the unfortunate Henry IV.
Under the line of German popes the Papacy learned to borrow the strength of the Imperial system under which it had grown to power. So strengthened, the Papacy aimed at independence. A critical step was taken by entrusting the Papal election to the cardinal-bishops, priests and deacons, which aimed a blow at Imperial interference. Politically an alliance with the Norman settlers in Southern Italy enabled the popes to count upon a counter-balance to the Imperial power. The Papacy slowly prepared to assert its independence.
Under Gregory VII, the struggle between the Empire and the Papacy took an acute form. Not content with claiming for the Church an entire independence from the temporal power, he declared that the independence of the Church was to be found solely in the assertion of its supremacy over the State—Gregory VII did not aim at securing the Papal monarchy over the Church—that had been established since the days of Nicholas I. He aimed at asserting the freedom of the Church from worldly influences which benumbed it, by setting up the Papacy as a power strong enough to restrain Church and State alike. In ecclesiastical matters Gregory enunciated the infallibility of the Pope, his power of deposing bishops and restoring them at his own will, the necessity of his consent to give universal validity to synodal decrees, his supreme and irresponsible jurisdiction, the precedence of his legates over all bishops.
In political matters, he asserted that the name of Pope was incomparable with any other, that to him alone belonged the right to use the insignia of Empire; “that he could depose emperors, and all princes ought to kiss his feet; that he could release subjects from their allegiance to wicked rulers”. Such were Gregory's tremendous claims for the Papacy, and such claims naturally came into conflict with the temporal power of other great rulers.
Gregory VII died in exile, after a comparatively brief pontificate of not much more than ten years, but the theory of his office and the prerogatives which he asserted were brought by his successors to a marvelous realization. Without Gregory VII there would have been no Innocent III—that Pope who succeeded in effectively impressing the theory of hierarchic government upon Europe, and became in effect “the king of kings, lord of lords, the only ruler of princes”: for the influence of Gregory VII, like that of many another politician, was greater upon succeeding generations than upon his own.
EARLY LIFE OF HILDEBRAND TO THE DEATH OF NICHOLAS II
In a country now laid desolate by malaria rises the little town of Sovana (Saona). At the present day Sovana is almost completely abandoned, but in the Middle Ages it was a fairly important place. Almost the whole valley of the Fiora, whose sluggish waters flow close to Sovana, gives an impression of gloom to the traveller; and the ground is undermined by innumerable Etruscan vaults and tombs. Near Sovana (Saona) lay a small village, “Rovacum” (Rovaco), which has since disappeared, and here, says Bonitho, Hildebrand, the future Pope Gregory VII, was born, of very humble parentage. Hildebrand’s father, according to Bonitho and the catalogue of the Popes in Watterich, was named Bunicus, or Bonizo, while Paul of Bernried gives the name as Bonicus. Benzo relates that Hildebrand's father was a goatherd, and his mother a “suburbana” (a native of the district around Rome). The name Hildebrand is frequently met with in Italy after the Lombard invasion, and is of German origin. In appearance Hildebrand cannot have been imposing. His friend the Abbot Hugh of Cluny writes of his small stature, and Benzo scornfully describes him as a “homuncio”, i.e. a dwarf; and another annalist writes of his swarthiness and his ill-shapen appearance—valde fuscus; deformis aspectu. The date of Hildebrand's birth was probably about 1025. If not a Roman by birth, he was an adopted Roman by education; his youth was passed in the Romanum Palatium, the Lateran school, where he had as fellow-students several youths of the Roman aristocracy, among them Alberic and Cenci, the latter the son of John Cenci, prefect of Rome.
During the schooldays of Hildebrand, in the early years of the eleventh century, the Papacy had touched the lowest depths of its degradation; the feudal princes, the “refuse” of Rome, had gained complete ascendency over the Popes. The Counts of Tusculum had gradually assumed an immense power, and attached themselves to the new Imperial House which succeeded to that of Saxony.
They bought and corrupted the venal people, and appointed Popes by the most open and unabashed simony. The Papacy became for a time an appanage in their family; three of its members in succession became the heads of Christendom, Benedict VIII John XIX and Benedict IX (1033-1046), and had almost succeeded in making it hereditary in their family. The first two Popes of the House of Tusculum had maintained the peace of Rome for twenty years, and, as secular princes, they had not been wanting in energy and vigour. For the third Pope, as if from wantonness, the House provided a boy not more than ten or twelve years of age, the nephew of his two predecessors.
Benedict IX, “blessed in name but not in deed”, had all the vices of a youth born to power, and for twelve years ruled in Rome, while leading a life “so shameful, so foul and execrable” that one of the later Popes, Victor III, “shuddered to describe it”. His rule was that of a “captain of thieves and brigands”, and his crimes passed unchecked and unavenged, for his brother Gregory was patrician of the city, and another brother, Peter, was an active supporter. Finally, in desperation, the citizens of Rome, weary of his misrule and oppression, his robberies and murders, assembled and drove him from the city, and elected another Pope in his stead: John, Bishop of Sabina, who took the name of Silvester III. But the consuls were partisans, doubtless relatives, of Benedict IX, and he returned in triumph. Finally, this Pontiff sold his office to John Gratian, another member of the Tusculan House, who had earned a high reputation for his learning and probity, and who took the name of Gregory VI (1044-1046). According to one story, Benedict was in love with his cousin, the daughter of one Gerard de Saxo, but the father refused his daughter unless the Pope would surrender the Papacy! John Gratian, by his own admission, had heaped up great wealth, which he, however, intended to devote to pious uses. Among these “pious uses” must have been included his own advancement, for he bought the suffrages of the people, and with them the Papacy. As soon as he was established in the Holy See, Gregory VI at once bent his attention towards the recovery of the lost papal possessions, and to the suppression of the custom of plundering the pilgrims to Rome. So busy was he with these schemes, that the Roman people gave him a colleague to officiate in his stead, within the Church, when he was engaged in war. So comparatively spotless was Gregory VI’s character, so pure his aims, in comparison with those of some of the preceding Popes, that even Peter Damiani, afterwards the sternest of the opposers of simony, could not refrain from welcoming his accession. “Let the heavens rejoice”, writes Damiani, “let the thousand-formed head of the venomous serpent be crushed, ... let no false coiner Simon make money now within the Church”—this of a Pope who had purchased the Holy See! Benedict's brother, however, brought back the abdicated Pope and reinstated him, and there were now three rival Popes in Rome, each one denouncing the others’ claims, and ready to defend his rights by force of arms, Benedict holding the Lateran; Gregory, Santa Maria Maggiore; and Silvester, St. Peter’s and the Vatican.
This state of things was too scandalous to endure long. The more serious portion of the Church, the more devout of the laity, were revolted by this spectacle, and commissioned Peter, the Archdeacon of Rome, to implore the help of the Emperor Henry III, a man of strong character and deep religious feeling. They summoned him, in the language of a popular verse of the day, to dissolve the “trigamy” of the Church:—
Una sunamitis nupsit tribus maritis,
Rex Henrice, omnipotentis vice,
Solve connubium triforme dubium.
Henry III crossed the Alps, and was met by Gregory VI, nothing doubting of his legitimacy, at Piacenza. Henry, however, did not, as was expected, declare in Gregory's favor, but proceeded to Sutri. There, in 1046, he assembled a council of many prelates, and proceeded to examine into the claims of the three Popes. Benedict IX at once made a voluntary abdication; Silvester III was condemned as an usurper, degraded from his orders and imprisoned or life in a monastery, while Gregory VI was called upon to give an account of his election. He was forced to admit that he was guilty of simony, and stripping off the pontifical robes, and entreating forgiveness, he quietly surrendered the Papacy. His degradation was followed by his retirement to Germany. According to one account, Gregory VI, in his earlier days as John Gratian, had been one of the teachers of Hildebrand; but, however this may be, we know from Hildebrand's own lips that he followed the Pope Gregory VI into exile in Germany.
The Synod of Sutri had now to consider the choice of a successor to Gregory VI. To rescue the Papacy from the corrupting influences of the barons of Rome, and the still powerful counts of Tusculum, the only remedy seemed to be the appointment of a stranger to Roman politics, and a foreigner. The Germans declared that in the whole Church of Rome there was scarcely a man who was not disqualified for the position of Chief Pontiff, either by illiteracy, or as tainted with simony, or through living in concubinage. Finally, a German prelate, Suidger, Bishop of Bamberg, was chosen by Henry III and consecrated Pope, and when the Emperor entered Rome the customary appeal to the Roman people to state whether they knew any one worthier to be Pope was received in silence. The new Pontiff was given the name of Clement II, and Henry III and his wife, the Empress Agnes, received the Imperial Crown at Rome from his hands.
In January 1047 a council was summoned at Rome in which simony was forbidden under pain of excommunication. The extreme party among the clergy were disposed to remove from his office any one of their number who had been guilty of this offence, but were reduced to admit that if this reform were carried into effect the Church would be deprived of nearly all its pastors, since the orders conferred by a simoniacal bishop were, at this period, declared null, and his episcopal acts void. The council, assembled to reform, was interrupted by a dispute for precedence between the Archbishops of Ravenna, Milan and Aquileia; and Peter Damiani complains that Clement II did not combat simony with sufficient energy. He was allowed no time to carry out his reforms more completely; Rome might herself seem impatient of her foreign master, and its fatal climate—"Rome, devourer of men; Rome, rich in fevers”—asserted its supremacy. The first of the German Popes died before the first year of his pontificate was concluded.
A short-lived attempt was made by Benedict IX, under the protection of the Marquis of Tuscany, to make another bid for the Pontificate; but he fled again from Rome when a new German Pope, nominated by the Emperor, arrived in the city with an escort of German soldiers. This second choice of the Emperor—Boppo, Bishop of Brixen, a bishop “full of pride”, according to Bonitho—had hardly time to reach Rome and assume the name of Damasus II when he was carried off by Roman fever, after a pontificate of only twenty-three days. The singularly brief pontificates of the two German Popes could not but give rise to rumors of foul means employed by the unscrupulous Italians to rid themselves of these strangers.
After Pope Gregory VI had died in Germany, probably at Cologne, in 1048, Hildebrand had no further reason to remain in that country. That Hildebrand was present at the assembly held at Worms at the end of November or the beginning of December 1048 is proved by a passage in the life of Leo IX by Bruno of Segni, but nothing else is recorded of his sojourn in Germany. It is possible that the Archbishop of Cologne was at this assembly, as he was present at the assembly at Mainz in 1049, and Hildebrand may have accompanied him and have been introduced by him to Bruno, Bishop of Toul.
It was at Worms, after the death of Damasus II, that Bruno was chosen Pope, with the concurrence both of the Emperor Henry III and the Roman delegates; but Bruno stipulated as a condition of his acceptance that he should first proceed to Rome, and be canonically elected by the voice of the clergy and the people. At Rome he was received with great cordiality, and took the name, at his consecration, of Leo IX. Hildebrand, who followed him to Rome, became cardinal-subdeacon, and was appointed by him in 1050 to the post of Oeconomus, or rector, of the monastery of St. Paul. According to a very improbable statement of Bonitho, he was appointed Oeconomus of the Roman Church.
The fact that Hildebrand is mentioned in a Bull (1066) of Alexander II as Oeconomus, or rector, of St. Paul is a proof that he was not the abbot of that monastery, in spite of Lambert of Hersfeld’s assertion that, in 1058, the legate Hildebrand was Abbot of St. Paul. Hildebrand never became a monk, but, during his connection with this monastery he must have adopted, temporarily, the habit of the order, and worn it when legate in Germany—hence Lambert’s statement, and the statement of the Synod of Brixen that Hildebrand, although no monk, had for his own evil ends adopted the dress of the order. The fact that Hildebrand’s enemies of the Henrician party, such as Benzo, Beno, Wenrich, Petrus Crassus and Ekkehard of Aura, reiterate that he was a “monk” is not conclusive; their object was merely to cast aspersions upon him as a “bad” monk; while the efforts of the Gregorian writers, Donizo, Ordericus Vitalis, Manegold of Lauterbach and Bonitho, were directed to prove that Hildebrand was a true monk, and a distinguished one.
Bonitho’s statement that Hildebrand became a monk at the rich and influential monastery of Cluny, after the death of Gregory VI, is more precise than those of the other Gregorian writers, but was equally influenced by the desire to silence the slanders of the Henricians, who declared that Hildebrand was a vagabond monk, who had quitted his cloister without permission, and so drawn upon himself the censures of the Church. The myth of Hildebrand's connection with Cluny may have been originated by his visit to that monastery during the pontificate of Leo IX. No notice was taken of it until the twelfth century, when it gradually gained universal credence, and it is repeated by modern historians, such as Creighton, Milman and others.
The new Pope, Leo IX, was a distinguished Churchman; his early life is related by his affectionate and admiring follower, Archdeacon Wibert, with its full portion of legendary marvel. Though of noble descent, and closely related to the Emperor Henry III—the Emperor Conrad's mother and the father of Leo were cousins-german—the Churchman predominated in him; he had hitherto contented himself with the unimportant Bishopric of Toul, where his life was marked by his great gentleness to those below him. According to his biographer, he was skilled in all the arts of his time, especially in music; before his pontificate he had won some slight reputation as a military leader, having commanded the vassals of the Bishopric of Toul in one of the Emperor Conrad's expeditions into Italy; and he had interfered as ambassador between the Empire and the kingdom of France.
As Pope, one of Leo’s first acts was to hold the well-known Easter Synod of 1049, in which he succeeded in making clear how strongly his convictions went against every kind of simony; and the celibacy of the clergy was anew enjoined. The greater part of the year that followed was occupied in one of those progresses through Italy, Germany and France which form so marked a feature of Leo’s strenuous pontificate. He did not restrict his attempts for the reformation of the Church to the city of Rome, or even Italy, but strove to include the whole of Latin Christendom under his personal superintendence. To do this, a religious visitation of the three great kingdoms of Western Europe was necessary. Latterly the Popes, perhaps fortunately for the credit of the Holy See abroad, had restricted themselves to Rome.
At Cologne, Leo IX met the Emperor, who was engaged in a war with Godfrey, Duke of Upper Lorraine, and the Duke's allies. Leo excommunicated Godfrey—who was accused of burning churches in his marauding expeditions—and the Duke, bowing before the anathema, came as a humble suppliant to Aix-la-Chapelle, where he submitted to a most humiliating penance—that of a public scourging before the altar.
When Leo IX proceeded to France, at a meeting of the higher clergy at Rheims many important reforming decrees were passed, and careful inquiry was made into the cases of those bishops accused of simony. Simony and the marriage of the clergy were the principal matters dealt with at this council. The synod is remarkable for the first tentative attempt to attack the “old custom” of lay investiture; and though this attack is restricted to a council convened for France, and attended by French prelates, the prescription ne quis sine electione cleri et populi ad regimen ecclesiasticum provehetur is phrased in general terms. The Norman historian Ordericus Vitalis sums up the acts of this council as follows: "Priests were forbidden to bear arms, or to have wives. The bearing of arms they gave up gladly, but even now they will not give up their harlots (such is the name with which their wives are stigmatized), nor submit to chastity."
To the Council of Rheims succeeded a German council at Mayence, attended by forty prelates; from Germany Leo returned to Italy, and, after having passed Christmas at Verona, proceeded to Rome. In 1050 he presided over synods at Salerno, Siponto and Vercelli, and in September, immediately after the Synod of Vercelli, he revisited Germany, visiting some of the great cities, and everywhere making munificent grants, confirming the rights and possessions of monasteries. A third journey beyond the Alps took place in 1052, when Leo appeared as a mediator between Henry III and Andrew, King of Hungary, joining Henry at Presburg; but his mediation was rejected by both parties. The Pope withdrew, and peace was not established until the following year, and then without his interference.
The Pope and the Emperor celebrated Christmas together with many of the great prelates of Germany, at Worms. Leo, it is clear, wished to restore to himself and his successors their rank as Italian potentates. The Holy See laid claim to a great number of wealthy churches and abbeys in Germany, among them the famous abbey of Fulda and the Bishopric of Bamberg; and these endowments Leo agreed to surrender in exchange for the city and territory of Beneventum, stipulating at the same time for a strong force to put him in possession of that city and subdue the hostile Normans. The Emperor, however, was persuaded to withdraw the greater part of the troops which were to escort Leo into Italy and put him in possession of Beneventum; but the Pope retained in his service five hundred Suabian knights, and with these, and a host of mercenaries who gathered to his standard, he marched through Italy at the head of his own forces—almost the first warrior Pope. This act aroused considerable criticism at the time, and it has been supposed that he was urged to it by Hildebrand. There is no evidence to support this supposition; but, on the other hand, there is little doubt that Hildebrand's warlike character would be entirely in sympathy with such an act on the part of the Pope. Later, as Gregory VII, Hildebrand himself headed an unsuccessful expedition against the Normans.
In a stern recluse like Peter Damiani the Pope's warlike measures aroused a strong protest. “When the saints have power”, he writes, “they do not even slay heretics and infidels”; and proceeds to condemn Leo IX, comparing his wars to sins like the denial of Peter and the adultery of David. It is amusing to read Damiani's commentator trying to make out that Damiani does not condemn the Pope's use of the sword as a temporal prince!
To Pope Leo, Southern Italy afforded a likely field for the extension and consolidation of his sovereignty. It was divided between three races bitterly hostile to each other—the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Normans—of which the Saracens were the weakest power, the Normans the strongest and most united. The deliverance of Southern Italy from these half-Christianized people seemed, perhaps, a justification to Leo for his expedition. As Leo wrote to the Greek Emperor, Constantine Monomachus, the Normans were ravaging Italy with more than pagan impiety, they spared neither age nor sex, and not merely slew Christians indiscriminately in promiscuous fray, but put them to death slowly with torture, and plundered, burned and razed churches.
The advent of the Normans in Southern Italy had a far-reaching effect upon the history of the peninsula. In the beginning their rule was of the slightest. Some Norman adventurers, on pilgrimage to St. Michael’s shrine on Monte Gargano in 1017, came to the help of the Lombard cities of Apuleia against the Greeks. Twelve years later there was a settlement of Normans at Aversa, under their leader, Count Rainulf, consisting of a body of adventurers making their own fortunes and gathering round them followers from all quarters. They fought simply for their own hands, and took what they could by the right of the stronger. From this small centre the Norman power radiated; and by playing off the Greeks against the Lombards, and the Lombards against the Greeks, the Normans gradually became the most considerable force in Southern Italy. William of Hauteville was proclaimed Count of Apuleia.
Leo IX fixed his quarters at Civitella, and launched the thunders of excommunication against the Normans. The Normans had mustered 3,000 knights, men who were said to be able to cleave an enemy from the head to the saddle with one blow, and were commanded by Humfrey, Richard of Aversa, and the yet undistinguished Robert Guiscard, who was to play such an important role in the pontificate of Gregory VII. For three days the opposing armies watched each other; on the fourth day (June 18, 1053) the Normans rushed down in three squadrons from the hill they occupied and utterly routed the composite and ill-disciplined army of Leo IX. After this crushing defeat, Leo was received with every token of submission by the Norman troops, who entreated his pardon and expressed deep repentance; but the Pope was at the same time detained in honorable captivity, with Count Humfrey as gaoler or attendant upon him, from June 1053 to March 12, 1054, at Beneventum.
During his imprisonment Leo resorted to the severest practices of austerity; he wore nothing but sackcloth, and the few hours he allowed for sleep were passed on a carpet, with a stone for a pillow. Every day he celebrated Mass, and almost all the rest of the day and the night were passed in prayer and the recital of the Psalter. His admirers glorify the period of his imprisonment with many miracles. At length he was released by the Normans, and returned to Rome—worn out by his austerities and the earlier labors of his active pontificate—where he died April 19, 1057, before the altar of St. Peter's.
Hildebrand comes into prominence during Leo's pontificate. In the early part of 1050 he received the minor orders and the sub-diaconate. As subdeacon he became, either ipso facto or by special nomination, one of the cardinal clerics.
In the year 1053 he was sent as legate to France to investigate the question of the heretical teachings of Berengarius, with which an Easter synod of April 29, 1050, had been largely occupied.
Berengarius, a distinguished mediaeval theologian, was born at Tours, 998 AD, and was appointed in 1040 Archdeacon of Angers. Shortly after this, rumors began to spread of his heretical teaching with regard to the Sacrament of the Altar. His views came to the notice of Leo IX, and Berengarius was condemned as a heretic, without being heard, at a synod at Rome, and at another at Vercelli, both held in 1050. Hildebrand, at the Council of Tours (1054), was satisfied with the fact that Berengarius did not deny the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacramental Elements, and succeeded in persuading the assembly to be content with a general acknowledgment from him that the bread and wine, after consecration, were the Body and Blood of Christ, without requiring him to define how. He also suggested, or ordered, that the accused should appeal directly to the Pope, and have the case investigated at Rome. This counsel has been interpreted as an attempt to glorify the Roman See, to “centralize” all authority there; but a simpler explanation is that Hildebrand, who was no philosopher, did not feel capable of deciding the question himself. A personal liking for Berengarius also tended to make Hildebrand incline to adopt gentle measures.
During Hildebrand's stay in France he visited for the first—and probably the last—time the great monastery of Cluny, so memorable as a centre of reform in the Church.
Before the mission was concluded Pope Leo IX had died in Rome. It is clear that Hildebrand had a deep and sincere respect for the saintly Leo, whom later, when Pope himself, he calls his “father”, and describes as sanctus. It is a mistake, however, to assume, as some historians have assumed, that Hildebrand was, during Leo’s pontificate, the “power behind the Papacy”; and it is noteworthy, in this connection, to observe that Leo’s biographer, Wibert of Toul, never once mentions Hildebrand’s name, and that Petrus of Monte Cassino only introduces his name after Leo’s death.
Hildebrand, who was in France at the time of the death of Leo IX, traveled thence, with instructions from Rome, to the Court of Henry III. The object of his mission was to ask the Emperor to nominate a new Pope. Henry's choice fell upon Bishop Gebhard of Eichstadt, one of his chief advisers, a man devoted to the Empire and to the Salic House. Bishop Gebhard came to Italy, and upon his consecration took the name of Victor II.
The Emperor, at the head of an army, followed the Pope into Italy, where a new enemy had arisen. Godfrey the Bearded, the deposed Duke of Lorraine, had been Henry's ancient antagonist, and as such had, as we have said, been anathematized by Pope Leo IX, though his brother, Frederick of Lorraine, had been elevated by Leo to the cardinalate. Godfrey had strengthened his position by marrying Beatrice, widow of Boniface, Marquis of Tuscany, who had been murdered a few years before: so that the whole estates of the most powerful family in Italy (which, afterwards falling to the Countess Matilda, were the source of power and independence to Gregory VII) were in the hands of the Emperor’s enemy. The reduction of the House of Lorraine was now the chief object of Henry III. The mother and her daughter fell into his hands, and Godfrey himself was forced to abandon his Italian estates and fly to Germany. Even the Cardinal Frederick did not feel himself secure from the heavy hand of the Emperor, and leaving the abbey of Monte Cassino, took refuge in a more unapproachable monastery in the rocky island of Thermita.
On May 27, 1054, Pope Victor II held a council at Florence, at which the Emperor was present. Simony was condemned anew; a fresh sentence was passed against the already excommunicated Berengarius; and the alienation of the estates of the Church was placed under anathema.
Next year the Emperor summoned Pope Victor II to Germany. The Empire was in open revolt, for the discontented Godfrey of Lorraine had organized an insurrection, and the Pope hastened to the aid of his old master. Victor II was with the Emperor when he died, in consequence of a fever caught from violent exertion in the chase, October 5, 1056.
The death of Henry III in the prime of life had a far-reaching effect upon the relations of the Papacy and the Empire: for the long minority of Henry’s infant son was a source of strength to the Papacy, “in which there are no minorities”.
As guardian of Henry’s son, the young Henry IV, and adviser of the Empress Agnes, Victor II wielded his enormous power with great tact and skill, for the maintenance of peace throughout the Empire, and for the strengthening of the papal power. He reconciled Godfrey of Lorraine to the Empire, and also another enemy, Baldwin of Flanders. The papal power was now secure for some time from the intervention of a King of Germany in a papal election; and upon Victor II's death at Arezzo in 1057 the Romans proved that they had shaken off the power of the Empire by the method of their election of the new Pope.
Victor II, who had entrusted Hildebrand with a mission to France to reform the Church and to depose simoniacal prelates, was respected by him, and passed as a true representative of the Roman Church; and there is no evidence for Benzo's malicious assertion that Hildebrand fawned upon the new Pope like a canis importunus, but was distrusted by him and excluded from the secretum apostolicum.
Upon the death of Victor II the House of Lorraine was in the ascendant. Duke Godfrey had been permitted to take again his hereditary rank, and he and his wife, Beatrice of Tuscany, had been acknowledged by Victor II as the joint representatives of the Empire and rulers of Italy. The Romans determined to seize the opportunity of reasserting their privilege by themselves choosing a Pope without regard to the sanction of the Emperor, and elected Frederick, younger brother of Godfrey of Lorraine, the hereditary enemy of the Imperial House.
There was no deputation to Germany to the Empress-Regent to nominate the new Pope, who was chosen by acclamation and without any outside influence. It does not, appear that Hildebrand played any part in this election.
Five days after the death of Victor II, Frederick, under the name of Stephen IX, was consecrated in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, and installed in the Lateran Palace.
Stephen IX, an austere monk, appointed Peter Damiani, the stern ascetic and champion of clerical celibacy, to the cardinalate, a measure which showed to the world the inclination of his mind upon this burning ecclesiastical question. Damiani was always a recluse at heart, and it was only by pressure that he was compelled to take upon himself the episcopate and the cardinalate by his “persecutor”, as he called Stephen IX, rather than his patron. It was during the pontificate of Stephen that the Milanese Patarines, the party in favor of the reform of the Milanese married clergy, entered into relations with the Holy See.
Milan had the most numerous and best-organized clergy of the day. According to a proverb of the time, Milan was to be admired for its clergy, Pavia for its pleasures, Rome for its buildings, and Ravenna for its churches. The Church of Milan used the Ambrosian Liturgy, and supported the tradition of a married clergy. In the assertion of this latter privilege it defied Rome, and was evidently slow to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope. The practice of marriage was widespread, we may say almost universal, among the Milanese clergy, who were publicly, ecclesiastically and legally married with ring and dowry, precisely as were the laity. The more austere clergy, headed by three persons, raised objections to this privilege: these were Anselm of Badagio, Bishop of Lucca; a certain Ariald, a man of humble station; and an eloquent noble, named Landulph. Landulph and Ariald began to agitate against the married clergy, preaching to the populace and the peasantry. At a festival for the translation of the relics of the martyr Nazarius, the two parties broke into open conflict. Ariald had driven the clergy out of the choir of the church, and had caused a paper to be written, binding them to maintain chastity, to which he endeavored to compel all ecclesiastics to subscribe. A priest harangued against Ariald and struck him, and a general tumult followed, during which the populace—on the side of reform—insulted the higher clergy, plundered their houses, and forced them to abandon their wives, and divorce them by a summary process.
Ariald and Landulph proceeded to Rome to enlist the Pope upon their side, while Cardinal Dionysius, a Milanese, appealed against the violence of the Patarines and the stirring up of the populace, and finally Pope Stephen appointed a mission, consisting of Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, and Hildebrand, to proceed to Milan.
The legates spent several days in striving to calm the popular excitement, and encouraging the Patarines to pursue peacefully, and in unison with the Holy See, the work of reformation.
On leaving Milan, the two legates went to Germany to defend the election of the Pope before the Empress Agnes. Although the late Emperor Henry had no formally accepted right to nominate to the Papacy, he had done so in the case of the late Popes, and it had been understood that the influence and consent of the Emperor was an indispensable element in the election. Moreover, the new Pope, as brother of Godfrey of Lorraine, was hardly a persona grata at the Imperial Court. The Pontiff, however, wished to avoid a direct breach with the Empire, and in this mission, which was ultimately successful, several weeks were spent.
A strong proof of the confidence reposed by the Pope in Hildebrand is shown by the fact that shortly before his death he compelled the Roman clergy and people to take an oath not to elect his successor to the Papacy before Hildebrand returned from Germany, hoping thereby to secure a free election, independent of Imperial influence. At Christmas (1057) the Pope was seized with a violent illness, and was at the point of death. His health improved, but he was labouring under a mortal illness. He set out from Rome for Florence; turned aside to visit the saintly Gualbert in his retirement at Vallombrosa; and a few days later—on March 29, 1058—died in Gualbert’s arms.
The death of the Pope caused great agitation in Rome. At once the old feudatory barons caused to be consecrated, under the name of Benedict X, John, Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri, of the famous house of Crescentius. Hildebrand was absent from Rome at the time of Stephen's death, and on his return to Italy in June he attempted to carry out the wishes of the late Pope with regard to the election of his successor. An election in Rome was impossible, owing to the strength of the party of the Roman feudatory barons, who stood firmly for their creature, Benedict X; Hildebrand, therefore, decided, with his party, that the election should take place at Siena. Here, in November or December, his candidate, Gerard Bishop of Florence, was proposed and chosen Pope. The enthronement was deferred. Hildebrand, as representing the last wishes of Stephen IX, played an important rôle in the election, and chose the new name of the Pope, “Nicholas”. We need not suppose however, that Hildebrand was omnipotent at this juncture; distinguished cardinals, like Peter Damiani and Humbert, were present at Siena. Later, it was to these cardinal-bishops, and not to Hildebrand, that Nicholas II entrusted the direction of ecclesiastical affairs The epoch-making manifesto of the year 1059 is not from the pen of Hildebrand, but of a cardinal-bishop. It has often been asserted that Hildebrand, when in the neighborhood of the Imperial Court (or later, from Italy), had submitted his choice, the Bishop Gerard to the Empress-Regent, and that she empowered him to proceed to the election.
As Hildebrand had taken part in a mission to the Imperial Court during the lifetime of Henry III, to ask the Emperor to nominate a Pope (Victor II), such an act on his part is neither absolutely impossible nor improbable. Stephen IX died in March and Nicholas II was not elected until the close of the year, so that there would have been ample time for negotiations between the Court and Hildebrand's party. But, on the other hand, it is highly improbable, after the successful precedent of Stephen IX’s election that the consent of the Empress-Regent was asked before the election of the Bishop of Florence to the Papacy. After such a victory, new concessions to the Court would have been an absurdity. Again, Hildebrand acted in the election of Nicholas II as the representative of the late Pope, who would have been strongly opposed to such a concession. The submissive message to the Empress Agnes, laying the nomination at her feet and those of her son, which we find recorded by Lambert of Hersfeld, and in the Annales Altahenses, we must attribute to the desire in Germany to gloss over the second check to the Court. A strong presumption in favor of the idea that the Empress Agnes learnt of the nomination of the new Pope after his election, is afforded by the two writers Benzo and Bonitho, who, from widely-differing motives relate that the election was carried through without influence from the Court.
The new Pope was supported by Godfrey of Lorraine, the Duke of Tuscany. Escorted by Godfrey and Guibert, Bishop of Parma—recently named by the Empress Agnes Chancellor for the Kingdom of Italy—Nicholas II proceeded to Sutri, where, in a council of bishops, Benedict X was declared to be “an intruder and a perjurer”, and Nicholas II the rightful Pope. Resistance was vain. Nicholas advanced to Rome, and was welcomed by the clergy and the people, if not by the barons.
The Annales Romani give the following account of the fate of Benedict X, and his persecution by Hildebrand. The whole narrative, however, is biassed and untrustworthy, and is merely quoted for its curious party spirit—
“Nicholas II besieged his rival in Galeria, where the Count of that fortress had offered him refuge, but now repented of his generosity. Benedict mounted the walls, and began to make signs and utter curses against the Roman people. ‘You have forced me, against my will, to be your Pope; give me security for my life and I will renounce the Pontificate’. Thirty Roman nobles thereupon pledged themselves as guarantees for his safe reception in Rome, and Nicholas II proceeded to Rome, followed by his rival, who had stripped off his pontifical robes. Thirty days after, Hildebrand, the Archdeacon, seized him by force, and placed him before Nicholas and a council in the Lateran church. They denuded him before the altar of his episcopal vestments (in which he had been again invested), set him thus despoiled before the synod, and put a document in his hand containing a long confession of every kind of wickedness. He resisted for a long time, knowing himself to be perfectly innocent of such crimes, but he was eventually compelled to read the document with very many groans and tears. His mother stood by, her hair dishevelled, and her bosom bare, uttering sobs and lamentations. His kindred were weeping around. Hildebrand then cried aloud to the people: ‘These are the deeds of the Pope whom ye have chosen!’. They then re-arrayed him in the pontifical robes, and formally deposed him. He was allowed to retire to the monastery of St. Agnes, where he lived in the utmost wretchedness. They prohibited him from exercising all holy functions, and would not allow him to enter the choir. By the intercession of the Archpriest of St. Anastasia, he was permitted at length to read the Epistle, and a short time after the Gospel also; but he was never suffered to celebrate Mass. He lived to the pontificate of Hildebrand, who, when informed of his death, said, ‘In an evil hour did I behold him; I have committed a great sin’. Hildebrand commanded that he should be buried with pontifical honours!”
The first act of historical importance in Nicholas II's pontificate was the fundamental change introduced in the method of electing the Pope. An immense and steadily-increasing controversy centres round the Lateran decree of 1059, which is to be attributed, not to Hildebrand but, to the Cardinal-Bishop Humbert. On April 13, 1059, Nicholas II assembled at the Lateran a synod attended by one hundred and thirteen bishops. By this council the nomination to the Papacy was vested in the cardinal-bishops, who, upon the death of the Pope, were to assemble and propose to the other cardinals one candidate, whom these latter could either accept or reject. If the candidate of the cardinal-bishops were approved, the choice was fixed and unalterable by the action either of the lower clergy, or the Roman people, or the King of Germany, or the Emperor. The choice was thus vested in a small college, consisting of—at most—seven persons—an unheard-of innovation in the history of the Papacy. The natural inference is, that this scheme was drawn up by a cardinal-bishop. The Cardinal-Bishop Humbert’s work, Adversus Simoniacos, shows many points in common with the Lateran decrees, so that the latter may be safely attributed to his initiative. The root-idea of the work Adversus Simoniacos is that the intervention of the State in ecclesiastical affairs is to be minimised and removed, and that the election of bishops should be free from all lay interference. Again, in Humbert’s book, the old rule, that the bishop is to be chosen from the diocese, if possible, is emphasized; and this is also the case in the Lateran decree of 1059. Humbert, in his book, allows, in the election of bishops, princes to assent to the choice after that choice is made; and the Lateran decree allows the consensus subsequens to the King Henry IV, as the honor debitus.
The council established that the nominee to the Papacy should always be one of the Roman clergy, unless no eligible person could be found among their number; and the preponderance thus acquired for Italian interests had a far-reaching effect upon the subsequent character of the Papacy. Rome was to be the place of election, but even Rome, by tumult or obstinacy, might forfeit this privilege. Wherever the cardinal-bishops assembled, there was Rome. In case the election could not take place within the city, the cardinals might proceed elsewhere.
This decree, with an anathema skillfully worded from among the most terrible imprecations in the Scriptures, was ratified by the consent of all. The anathema condemned the offender against the statute to excommunication, and misfortune in this life. “May he endure the wrath of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that of St. Peter and St. Paul, both in this life and in the next! May his house be desolate, and no one dwell in his tents! Be his children orphans, his wife a widow, his sons outcasts and beggars! May the usurer consume his substance, the stranger reap his labours; may all the world and all the elements war upon him, and the merits of all the saints who sleep in the Lord, confound and inflict visible vengeance during this life! Whosoever, on the other hand, shall keep this law, by the authority of St. Peter is absolved from all his sins”.
What was Hildebrand's attitude towards this decree? He subscribed to the acts of the synod, and must have welcomed the paragraph reducing the influence of the King of Germany to an unmeaning consent to a completed choice. The prominent position of the cardinal-bishops must have displeased him and his colleagues, the other cardinals. The accusation made at the Diet of Worms in 1076, that he was “author and instigator” of the decree is unfounded. It rests upon the malice of Cardinal Hugh Candidus, who was well aware of the tumultuous nature of Hildebrand’s own elevation to the Papacy in 1073, and wished by pointing the contrast between the stormy acclamation of Hildebrand at that date and the Lateran decree of 1059 (of which, he asserted, Hildebrand was the originator) to blacken his character. It is noteworthy that the later Synod of Brixen (1080) does not repeat the assertion of Hildebrand's responsibility for this decree.
Benzo has a fanciful and fabricated anecdote of this council, that Hildebrand—whom he hated with an inextinguishable hatred—had bribed the Romans, and at the synod crowned the Pope, Nicholas II, with a royal crown. Upon this crown was the inscription—
Corona regni de manu Dei:
Diadema imperil de manu Petri.
By which he wishes to express that (1) the Pope (not the King—Patrician) was by God’s will sovereign of Rome; (2) the Pope, as such, is superior to the Emperor. Alexander II also (after the death of Nicholas II), Benzo continues, was crowned “like a king” in the synod; and Hildebrand, he says, upon his elevation to the Papacy, was crowned, as he expresses it briefly, daemonium coronatur. Martens rightly dismisses the anecdote to the “kingdom of fables”.
The Lateran Council, influenced by the Cardinal-Bishop Humbert, protested against lay investiture, and forbade “any cleric or priest to accept a benefice at the hands of a layman”. The same council, the second of Lateran, which had made this epoch-making provision for a new form of election for the Pope, aspired also to establish unity of doctrine, and authoritatively to decide the theological controversy that had arisen around the teaching of Berengarius of Tours.
At this council Berengarius was temporarily induced to admit the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. Trusting in Hildebrand’s support, Berengarius had presented himself at the synod, but found himself forced by the fear of death to signify his acceptance of the doctrine “that the bread and wine, after consecration, are not merely a symbol, but the true Body and the true Blood of Christ, and that this Body is touched and broken by the hands of the priests, and by the teeth of the faithful, not merely in a symbolical, but in a real manner”.
He had no sooner done so than he, bitterly repented of his act, and on the principle that, as he says, “to take an oath which never ought to be taken is to estrange oneself from God, but to retract what one has wrongfully sworn to is to return back to Him”, when he arrived safely in France, free from the imminent fear of compulsory martyrdom, he attacked transubstantiation as vehemently as ever, and reassumed the contemptuous language of a superior mind towards Nicholas II. This elusive heretic, who continued throughout his life to “bend but not to break”, wrote and taught without being interfered with by his ecclesiastical superiors, greatly to the scandal of the zealots of the day, in whose eyes Berengarius was “that apostle of Satan”, and the Academy of Tours “the Babylon of our time”.
Hildebrand, in September of the year 1059, received deacon’s orders, and shortly afterwards became Archdeacon—according to Bonitho, during the pontificate of Stephen IX, according to Paul of Bernried, under Leo IX; while the cardinal-bishops, the “eyes” of the Pope, and Cardinal Humbert in particular, were entrusted with the direction of ecclesiastical matters. Hildebrand’s sphere was the political relations of the Holy See. The alliance with the Normans—now in almost undisputed possession of the whole of Southern Italy—was his work. Nicholas II ratified the grant of Leo IX to Robert Guiscard (after the Battle of Civitella, Robert Guiscard received from Leo IX the investiture of all present and future conquests in Calabria and Sicily, which he agreed to hold as fiefs of the Holy See), and confirmed the title of Count. The sympathy of Hildebrand for the Normans—both for William the Conqueror and for the Norman princes in Southern Italy—is a marked feature of his policy. Benzo, Hildebrand’s bitterest enemy, writes of Prandellus (a contemptuous diminutive of Hildebrand) as a partisan of the Nullimanni. Hildebrand little suspected the difficulties which would arise later, when he himself was Pope, between the Holy See and its new vassal.
Nicholas II made a progress, partly of a spiritual, partly of a secular character, in the south. He held a synod at Melfi, where the Norman, Richard, was invested in the principality of Capua, and Robert Guiscard in the Dukedom of Apuleia, of Calabria, and of Sicily, which he was to recover from the Saracens. The Pope, on returning to Rome, was followed by his new allies, who were to undertake the grateful task of humiliating the Roman barons. “They trod underfoot the pride of the Counts of Tusculum, Praeneste, and Nomentana”, writes Bonitho; they crossed the Tiber, and attacked the Count of Galeria, whose robber-castle commanded the road to Rome, and who plundered all the pilgrims on their way to the Eternal City. This bandit, whom Nicholas had excommunicated for robbing the English primate, Stigand, and an English count, of one thousand pounds, had been anathematized by the preceding Popes in vain. His castle, and others as far as Sutri, the invincible Normans sacked and burnt.
The synodal decree of 1059, relative to the election of the Pope, and this close alliance with the only race who could hope to make a stand against the Germans, were the causes of a rift between the Holy See and German Regency; and the Imperialists in Italy and all Germany anxiously watched for the death of Nicholas—who felt his approaching end in Florence, and died, July 27, 1061.
THE PONTIFICATE OF ALEXANDER II,
Upon Nicholas II’s death an opportunity was given for testing the operation of the Lateran decree of 1059, which had been made public, to serve as a rule for future elections. Unfortunately, many in Rome itself were dissatisfied with the decree—the inferior cardinals were jealous of the power of the cardinal-bishops, while the lower clergy and the people were discontented at the diminution of their rights to a meaningless “consent” after the election to the Papacy had taken place. So enraged was the German Court at the decree, that the legate who notified it did not receive an audience.
The rift between the Papacy and the Court was sensibly widened by the Norman alliance until, during the early part of 1061, the Regency threw aside all obedience to Nicholas II, and forbade the clergy of Germany to mention his name in the Canon when celebrating Mass.
While the Roman Imperialists were for asking the young King of Germany, Henry IV, to nominate the successor to Nicholas II, the party in Rome which was anxious to preserve the freedom of the election from German influence had every reason to obey the decree of 1059. As a matter of fact, in spite of the anathema directed against disobedience to the decree, the decree itself was entirely disregarded in the election of 1061, as Bonitho indirectly lets us know. This was rendered more possible by the death, in the May of 1061, of Cardinal Humbert, in whom the cardinal-bishops lost their mainstay and strongest personality.
After the death of Nicholas II Hildebrand proceeded to Lucca; persuaded Bishop Anselm to accept the papal dignity; and with an escort of his allies, the Normans, carried his candidate to Rome. The vacancy in the Papacy had continued for three months, and it was on September 30 that Anselm was elected, in great haste, by an assembly of the clergy and laity opposed to the Imperial interests. The new Pope was a Lombard, Anselm of Badagio, but a Lombard with peculiar claims and marked opinions, who brought with him a strong and increasing party in Northern Italy—that of the Patarines. He was the declared enemy of the marriage of the clergy. As Bishop of Lucca, Anselm, without losing the favor of the German Court, became the friend of Godfrey of Tuscany, and his wife the Duchess Beatrice. He had lived, previously, in Normandy, where, at Bec, he had been taught by the famous Lanfranc. The new Pope, who took the name of Alexander II, was enthroned in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli; and the Prince of Capua, who quitted Rome shortly afterwards, took an oath of fidelity to him, as he had done to the Pope Nicholas II at Melfi.
The election of Alexander was followed by the nomination of an anti-Pope by the Regency, October 27, and Bishop Cadalus of Parma was selected for the position. Peter Damiani is very severe in his strictures upon the character of Cadalus, whom he calls “an arrow from the quiver of Satan”, “a son of Belial”, “the sink of all vices”, “the abomination of heaven”, “food for hell-fire”, etc.; and writing to the Archbishop of Ravenna, who seems to have doubted which side to take, he represents him as without character or learning: “If he can explain a single verse, I will not say of a psalm but, of a homily, I will at once submit to him, and own him not merely as the successor of the Apostle, but as an apostle”. Unfortunately for himself, Damiani, not content with stern denunciations of Cadalus’s character, foretold that the usurper should not live a year from the period of his elevation—a prophecy that remained unfulfilled, and had afterwards to be sophistically explained away by its author.
Guibert, the chancellor of the Empire for Italy, had caused a council to be summoned at Basle, composed of German and Lombard prelates, at which Cadalus was chosen Pope—taking the name of Honorius II—and the election of Alexander II was annulled. Winter had suspended hostile operations, for the passes of the Alps were closed, but in the spring Cadalus, though unsupported by any troops from the Regency, assembled an army to descend upon Italy, where he was welcomed by the Lombard prelates.
On March 25, 1062, Cadalus pitched his camp at Sutri, and in the month of April he appeared at the gates of Rome near the Tiber, in the plain which to this day bears the name of Prata Neronis.
Neither Pope nor anti-Pope was the most prominent man of his party. Supporting Cadalus was Benzo, Bishop of Albi, a strong Imperialist, unscrupulous, with a ready tongue and coarse saturnalian humor eminently pleasing to an Italian ear. His account of the affairs in which he was personally engaged is very characteristic of the man, but so bitter and biassed as to be almost valueless as evidence. Hildebrand, the leader of the opposing party, receives the compliment of Benzo’s most furious and malicious invective. He, the leading spirit in Rome at the moment, organized an armed resistance to Cadalus: for the synod of 1060 had declared it right to repel by human weapons any usurper of the throne of St. Peter. The details of the accounts of Hildebrand’s energetic measures for arming Rome are, however, to be distrusted, as the Annales Romani and Benzo are our only authorities upon this matter.
Hildebrand attacked the troops of Cadalus on the Prata Neronis (April 14, 1062), but his complete defeat and rout were the only result, and the anti-Pope gained possession of the Leonine city, with the exception of St. Peter’s, the doors of which were hastily barricaded against him. Cadalus remained some days in Rome, and then returned with his troops to Tusculum.
An unexpected act on the part of Godfrey, Duke of Tuscany, shattered all Cadalus’s schemes. Godfrey of Tuscany aspired to hold the balance of power in Italy. So far he had declared for neither Pope; he had not checked the march of Cadalus along his frontier, nor prevented the attack upon Rome. Peter Damiani suspected him of too friendly intercourse with the anti-Pope. Godfrey now advanced towards Rome with a large force, and encamped on the borders of the Tiber, near the Ponte Molle. Thence he ordered both Alexander II and Cadalus to cease to compete for the Papacy, but to retire immediately to their respective Bishoprics of Lucca and Parma, and to remain there until the King of Germany had come to a decision as to their pretensions.
The explanation of this sudden intervention of Duke Godfrey was the revolution which had taken place a short time before in the royal palace of Germany, in April 1062.
Up to this time, the Empress Agnes had, during her son's minority, governed the kingdom with the assistance of Henry, Bishop of Augsburg. A young widow was the person least suited to govern the turbulent feudatories of the Empire, the almost independent princes and prelates all aspiring to rule, all being disinclined to obey. It was murmured aloud that the young King was kept entirely under the control of women, and not taught the use of arms and manly studies. A conspiracy of the princes of the Empire was formed, with a prominent Churchman, Hanno, Archbishop of Cologne, at their head, to remove Henry IV from the guardianship of his mother. Among this league were Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, Otto of Nordheim, and the Count Ekbert of Brunswick. They paid the Empress a visit at Kaiserwerth, on the Rhine, and after a banquet Hanno invited the young King to embark on a gay and richly-decorated barge. As soon as he was on board, the crew rose to their oars, and the barge went rapidly against the stream. The boy, terrified and thinking the princes plotted his death, sprang overboard, and would have been drowned had not Count Ekbert jumped overboard after him, and rescued him at the peril of his own life. The Empress Agnes made but a feeble protest against the abduction of her son, and from this time onward, although appearing several times at Court, she abandoned herself to piety and rigorous asceticism, in which she persevered until her death.
Under the new régime, the policy of Germany as to the Papacy veered suddenly round. Cadalus was the candidate nominated by the Empress Agnes, and as such was to be discredited. As Cadalus had been hostile to the reforming party in the Church, enthusiasts like Peter Damiani hailed the success of the new régime in Germany. Damiani writes a letter to Hanno urging him to fulfill his design of routing the “scaly monster of Parma”. Hanno’s act is that of “the good priest Jehoida rescuing the pious youth of Jous from the influence of the wicked Queen Athalia!”. But he has done nothing until he “stamps out the smouldering brand, the limb of the devil, the anti-Pope!”. A Diet at Augsburg (October 28, 1062) decided to send Burchard, Bishop of Halberstadt, nephew of the Archbishop of Cologne, to Rome, to examine into the claims of the two Popes. Burchard, in the name of the King, decided in favor of Alexander II, a decision which, though favorable to the personal claims of the late Bishop of Lucca, was profoundly humiliating to the newly-elected Pope and his electors. By the decree of 1059 a meaningless honor debitus was the only privilege left to the King in papal elections; now Hanno and his régime assumed the right to judge the enthroned Pope! The Government of Germany, however, took no steps to force Cadalus to abandon his pretensions; a large part of the Italian clergy still adhered to his cause, with the barons of his faction in and about Rome; and hence Alexander II's position grew daily more and more difficult.
Cadalus, who had meantime gathered recruits in the north of Italy, arrived before Rome with his forces towards the end of May 1063. His faction commanded the gates of the Leonine city, and he therefore entered with all his forces; and here in the castle of St. Angelo he was able for a long time to hold out against Alexander II, and to render powerless all attempts to subdue him. Hanno of Cologne had before espoused the cause of Alexander II, and was desirous, as a Churchman, to put a term to this dangerous and disgraceful schism. To him Peter Damiani appealed, in his sincere but over-hasty zeal, to summon a synod to proclaim the definitive and exclusive recognition of Alexander II. Damiani’s measure was taken without the knowledge of Alexander II and Hildebrand, and must have been a bitter blow to the latter. Such an appeal was very welcome to the Archbishop’s pride, who now had an opportunity of deciding the question himself, in the name of the King. The Feast of Pentecost, May 29, 1064, was the date chosen for the council, and at that time a large number of bishops and of the Italian nobility, the Duke Godfrey of Tuscany, and his wife the Duchess Beatrice, assembled at Mantua. Hanno himself, as representative of King Henry IV, presided, and Alexander II and Cadalus were both invited to appear. Cadalus refused to do so, but Alexander II forced himself, though with a heavy heart, to submit to this humiliation.
Hanno, naturally, pressed his advantage at the Synod of Mantua, and though decided himself in favor of Alexander, he obliged that Pope to give an account of his election. In his justification, Alexander admits that he was chosen by the clergy and the people, according to the old Roman custom; and not according to the provisions of the decree of 1059. The synod decided in favor of Alexander, and excommunicated Cadalus. Hanno, who had played such an important role at Mantua, soon afterwards lost his influence; but he had shown that the German Court would not be content with the formality of the honor debitus, but was decided in its claim to a voice in the papal elections.
Cadalus, who had refused to appear at Mantua, had left Rome, having emerged from the castle of St. Angelo before the synod, and contrived to reach the north of Italy. During the synod, Cadalus remained at Aqua Nigra, not far from Bardi and Mantua, and hardly had the synod declared Alexander II the legitimate Pope, when the city was disturbed by a sudden irruption of the soldiers of Cadalus, swarming through the streets, hurling abuse upon Alexander. But Godfrey, Duke of Tuscany, had guaranteed the safety of the Pope, and drove the insurgents in flight from the town. The Lombard bishops threw themselves at the feet of Alexander, and begged his forgiveness. Cadalus never acknowledged the justice of the sentence of the Council of Mantua, and never renounced the title of Pope. His friends, however, fell away from him, and he retired into obscurity; and the rest of Alexander's pontificate, though troubled by the disputes concerning the married clergy, and the consequent strife in Lombardy and in other parts of Northern Italy, was free from actual warfare.
Alexander, in his first address as a Milanese to the clergy and people of Italy, had declared the enforcement of celibacy on the clergy the great object of his pontifical ambition. The measures of Peter Damiani, and his own success in the spring of 1059 in combating the married clergy in Milan, had had no lasting effect; the smouldering fire broke out again, and in 1066 a crisis more serious than the former one began to threaten the city. Peter Damiani complained that the Simoniac and Nicolaitan “heresies”, which he thought he had stamped out, had broken out again, and he indited an invective against the married clergy even more furious and grotesque than before.
Landulph, one of the triumvirate of reformers, had died, but his place was taken by his brother, the knight Herlembald, a stern warlike character. The historian of the Church of Milan, Landulph, though a determined foe to the Patarines, draws a fine portrait of Herlembald: “Descendant of an illustrious race of warriors, himself a soldier of consummate bravery, in appearance he was like a hero of antiquity, red-bearded, eagle-eyed and lion-hearted. Indomitably brave, his fiery eloquence stirred the hearts of all, and, in the fight, he was unflinching as a Caesar”. When Ariald, after the death of Landulph, begged Herlembald to take his brother's place, he consented, the more willingly by reason of a personal grudge against an unworthy priest. On his return from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, his offer of marriage was accepted by a young maiden, whom he soon after had to give up all thought of marrying, having learned from a sure source that illicit relations existed between his betrothed and a priest. Thus, in defending the honor and discipline of the Church, Herlembald was at the same time avenging his own outraged honor and forfeited happiness. For several years, and until he himself fell in the struggle, his standard—Rome's gift, which he always carried himself when haranguing the people or leading his troops—was the terror of incontinent or simoniacal clergy.
Herlembald ruled in Milan by espousing the cause of the people against the nobles, and by the help of the populace he attacked the married priests, dragged them from the altar, and consigned them to shame and insult. Infected with Patarinism, the lowest rabble, poor artisans and ass-drivers, secretly placed, it is said, female attire and ornaments in the houses of priests, and then attacked them and plundered their property. The argument of the Patarines was force. They did not admit the authority of Archbishop Guido, doubtless because he was considered guilty of simony.
Guido at length, after nine years of strife, determined to throw off the yoke of the reformers. The married clergy had been expelled, and there were none to take their place. A synod at Novara (1065) summoned Herlembald and Ariald to answer for their proceedings, and they were excommunicated as refractory. Ariald, however, appealed to Rome. He returned, armed with full powers, and with the ban of the Church pronounced against the offending Guido. But Ariald proceeded to carry his power further than his popularity warranted. He had been supported by the people in the campaign against simony and marriage of the clergy, for the clergy belonged to a large extent to the aristocratic families of Milan. He lost his popularity, with Herlembald, when he proceeded to treat as heathen a peculiarity in the rite of the Church of St. Ambrose. Disturbances began at the end of May 1066.
An Ambrosian tradition was that the Church of Milan should devote three days, during the octave of the Ascension, to solemn prayer with fasting. Ariald and Herlembald, in accordance with the Roman liturgy, maintained that this fast was contrary to the usual practice of the Catholic Church, and should be discontinued. Many of the Milanese were most indignant, any attack upon the use of the Church of St. Ambrose seeming to them to menace the independence of their city.
The factions of the different parties met in open conflict, and the Archbishop Guido headed the insurrection. Milan was the scene of the most dreadful disturbances; Herlembald and Ariald were attacked in the Church of St. Ambrose, and at night the palace of the Archbishop was pillaged and the aged Guido himself maltreated in the struggle. Finally the nobles and the more distinguished citizens revolted at these horrors, and could endure the tyranny of faction no longer. The city was laid under an interdict till Ariald was driven out. He fled to Legnano, where he fell into the hands of Oliva, a niece of Archbishop Guido, who conveyed him to an island on Lake Maggiore, where he was subjected to frightful tortures. “Yes, jail-bird”, exclaimed the soldiers, “is not our master the true and worthy Archbishop?”. “No”, replied Ariald, “his conduct is not, and never has been, that of an Archbishop”. Upon this they cut off his ears. Then Ariald, raising his eyes to heaven, cried out in a loud voice, “Thanks be to Thee, O Christ, for this day Thou hast deigned to admit me among Thy martyrs”. Questioned a second time, he replied as firmly, “No”. Then they cut off his nose and upper lip, and blinded his eyes. After that they cut off his right hand, saying, “This is the hand that wrote the letters sent to Rome!”. Then followed other shameful and hideous mutilations, accompanied by cruel taunts. His tongue was finally torn out.
Ariald soon found, and still holds, his place as a martyr in the annals of the Church.
The strife was not allayed by the death of Ariald nor by the appearance of two Roman legates, Mainard, Cardinal-Bishop of Silva Candida, and the cardinal-priest John Minuto. They renewed the prohibitions against simony and clerical incontinence, adding, however, this important clause, that any layman having any authority whatsoever in temporal matters over a cleric, and knowing with certainty that the said cleric was not a celibate, should denounce him promptly to the Archbishop and to the Ordinary. Should the cleric be punished by his superiors, the layman would see to it that the penalty was enforced in all that concerned temporal things. If the Archbishop and the Ordinary allowed such a case to drop, neglecting their duty, the layman might still deprive the delinquent of his temporal benefice, restoring it, however, later on, together with the revenues fallen due meanwhile, either to the said cleric, after performance of a sufficient penance, or to his rightful successor.
The measures of the legates were marked by great moderation; and the violence of the Patarines is blamed. We read in the official report of their mission: “As to those persons, whether clerics or laymen, who have formed an association against the simoniacal and incontinent clergy, binding themselves by oath to make these discontinue their evil course, and who, to gain their end, have shrunk neither from fire, nor plunder, nor bloodshed, nor other acts of violence, we formally command them to desist for the future from such conduct. Let them see to their own duties, denouncing delinquents either to the Archbishop and his Ordinary or to the Suffragan-Bishops. This is the canonical mod of procedure”. The report then gives the measures sanctioned all penalties being proportioned to the position of the transgressor a hundred pounds fine for an archbishop; twenty pounds for priest; for a layman holding the rank of commander, twenty pounds; for a vassal, ten pounds; for a tradesman, five.
Herlembald, who had fled to Pavia, returned, and, openly supported by the Pope's power, became again the dominant personality in Milan. Guido, who had been Archbishop twenty-seven years, the last ten of civil war, decided to vacate his see. According to Arnulf, Hildebrand believed that the resignation of Guido was the best means of restoring religious peace in Lombardy, and it is probable that the legates urged the aged Archbishop to resign. In doing so, however, he burdened the see with a fixed pension to himself, then made it over to a certain Godfrey with the Crozier and Ring of investiture. Godfrey ingratiated himself with Henry IV by promising to destroy the Patarines, and he was appointed am consecrated at Novara. Rome excommunicated him without delay; Herlembald refused to acknowledge him, expelled him from the city, and besieged him in Castiglione. Upon the death of Guido August 23, 1071, Cardinal Bernard was sent as legate to Milan with instructions to avail himself of Herlembald’s support in the choice of an archbishop for the Church of St. Ambrose. Their choice fell upon Atto, a youth just entered into holy orders. Scarcely had the consecration taken place when an excited throng burst into the archiepiscopal palace. They seized Atto, dragged him by the legs and arms into the church, and there compelled him to renounce his dignity. It was with difficulty that the Roman legate escaped, with his robes torn to ribbons.
When Alexander learned what had taken place he declared this promise, extorted by terror, to be null and void. Nevertheless Atto’s position remained as difficult and precarious as before. On several occasions he was obliged to seek refuge in Rome from the attack of the Milanese, and when, after the death of Alexander II, Hildebrand succeeded to the government of the Church, two Archbishops were still disputing the See of Milan.
It was not in Milan alone that the agitated populace raged against the married clergy. The strife in Milan had its counterpart in the bishoprics of Northern Italy. In Parma, Cadalus claimed to be the rightful Pope; in Ravenna, the Archbishop Henry supported the cause of the anti-Pope; in Cremona and Piacenza the Patarines were by turns conquerers and conquered. In Cremona, encouraged by an exhortatory letter of Alexander II, the people rose upon the married clergy. In Florence the secular clergy, headed by Peter, Bishop of Florence, offered an obstinate resistance to the reformers, and those especially of Vallombrosa, and their Abbot, John Gualbert, who was afterwards canonized. A curious incident in the history of the Church in the eleventh century is the ordeal by fire undergone by a priest to prove Peter, Bishop of Florence, a simoniac.
This is the story as told in the Life of St. John Gualbert, and confirmed by an official letter from the clergy and people of Florence to Alexander II.
In the Life of St. John Gualbert, written by his disciple Andrew, we read as follows—
“At this time a certain Peter of Pavia, by means of secret bribery, had obtained possession of the See of Florence. Father John and his brethren having learnt what had taken place, unhesitatingly prepared to sacrifice their lives rather than betray the cause of truth. They declared Peter of Pavia to be a simoniac and a heretic. This gave rise to a violent quarrel between the clergy and the people, the former, anxious about their temporal interests, defending Peter, while the latter sided with the monks and protested energetically against him. These disturbances, and the fights which they occasioned, had been going on for a considerable time and were becoming more serious, when the heretic Peter resolved to terrify both clergy and people by a massacre of the monks who had been the first to resist him. He sent therefore by night a number of horse and foot soldiers with orders to set fire to the Convent of St. Salvi, and to put all its inmates to death. They hoped to find St. John among them, but he had left the day before
The Community was reciting the night office, when the soldiers forced their way into the church. Drawing their swords, these cruel butchers began to slay the sheep of Christ. One had his skull cleft; another’s face was savagely cut open, so that nose, teeth and upper lip were torn from their place and hung down over the beard. Several were stabbed through the body. These murderous invaders then robbed the altars, took all they had a fancy for out of the house, set the place on fire, and made off with their sacrilegious spoils. The monks, who were in the church reciting the Seven Penitential Psalms and the Litanies when this scene took place, offered neither resistance nor remonstrance. They were left naked and half dead.
The next day, men and women ran in crowds from Florence to the monastery, all eager to help the brethren in any way. It was esteemed a privilege to set eyes on one of these monks, and a stone, a piece of wood, or some drops of their blood, taken away by those who flocked to the scene, were prized ever afterwards as precious relics.
The Blessed John was, at this time, at Vallombrosa. Having heard what had passed, and longing for martyrdom, he hastened back to St. Salvi. When he beheld the Abbot and the brethren scourged, wounded and stripped, he exclaimed: Now indeed you are truly monks; but why have you suffered all this without me? He was grieved not to have been present at the moment of danger, and yet, is not the palm of victory his who inspired his brethren with such zeal for martyrdom?
The monks went to Rome at the time of the synod, and declared, publicly and persistently, that Peter was a simoniac and a heretic. They offered even to go through the ordeal of fire to prove the truth of their assertion. Alexander was then seated on the Chair of St. Peter. He would neither depose the accused nor allow the ordeal of fire. The majority of the bishops were, in fact, favorable to Peter, while nearly all the monks were against him; but the Archdeacon Hildebrand never ceased to uphold and defend the monks.
Appeals to Rome were in vain; Alexander II inclined to more conciliatory measures. The monks therefore determined to appeal to God himself, and demanded the ordeal of fire. Many of the clergy had fallen off from the Bishop Peter, and declared they would not obey a simoniac. The civil authorities were called in to deal with the refractory priests and to imprison them. The clerics who had taken refuge in the oratory of St. Peter were called upon either to submit without delay or to be driven from the city. On the evening of the Saturday preceding the fast [of Lent], while the clergy were reciting the Lessons and Responses of the following Sunday in the same Church of Blessed Peter, they were expelled by order of the municipal government, because out of respect for this same Apostle Peter they had refused obedience to a heretic and simoniac. What an insult to the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles!
At the news of this brutal conduct, a number of good Catholics, men and women, hurried to the place; the women, casting aside their veils, appeared with hair dishevelled, weeping loudly.
These cries, and signs of distress, roused us at last into action; and we clerics, who had hitherto supported Peter of Pavia, being treated as heretics for not deserting him, now hastened to close our churches; and, to show our sympathy with those who had been driven away, we would neither ring our bells nor chant the Psalms, nor say Mass, in presence of the faithful. Now, when we were all together, God put a wise thought into our hearts. Some of our number were chosen, unanimously, to go to Settimo, and entreat the monks of St. Salvi to tell us the truth of this affair. We promised, as soon as that were known to embrace the good cause at once and for ever.
We were told in reply that if we would profess and defend the Catholic faith with all our strength, and endeavour to destroy heresy and simony, the power of the Saviour would certainly dispel all doubt in this affair, and cure the blindness by which we had been attacked. We promised again to do what they would ask, if things were as they said and as they undertook to prove.
The day was fixed for that ordeal so long desired, which, according to the monks, was to make manifest to us the truth. It was the Wednesday in the first week of Lent. On the Monday and Tuesday we offered fervent prayers to God, begging Him, who is truth itself, to discover to us the truth.
In the early morning of Wednesday, one of us went to Peter of Pavia and spoke to him as follows : My Lord, if what the monks say of you is true, I entreat you, for love of God, and for the sake of your own soul, not to allow the clergy and people to make so long a journey. Do not tempt God by this ordeal, but return to the Saviour by a full confession of your guilt. If, on the other hand, you are conscious of your innocence, come with’ us. He replied: I will not go, and you will not go either, if you have any affection for me’. The cleric made answer: ‘I go with the others, to be witness of God’s judgment. By the sentence of His justice shall my conduct be guided. Be not offended with me for going to witness this ordeal. This day will God make known to us your true character. You will then either be dearer to us than ever, or you will become the object of our contempt’.
Without awaiting the return of this cleric, we went our way, as by an inspiration of God, accompanied by other clerics, laymen and even women, bound for Settimo ... The people immediately prepared two long piles of wood placed lengthwise, side by side. Each pile measured ten feet long by four feet and a half wide; a passage, an arm's length in width, was left between the piles.
This passage was also strewed with dry wood, easily ignited.
Meanwhile the Litanies, Psalms, and Prayers were sung. The monk chosen to pass through the fire went up to the altar by order of Abbot John, to celebrate Holy Mass. The Mass was sung in the midst of devout and even eager supplications. All shed tears—monks, clerics, and laymen alike. At the Agnus Dei four monks went out to set fire to the two piles. One of these carried a crucifix, another holy water, a third twelve blessed candles ready lighted, a fourth a censer full of incense. A great clamor arose on all sides when they appeared. The Kyrie Eleison was sung in a loud voice. The people entreated Jesus Christ to rise and take His own cause in hand; men, and especially women, invoked Mary, His Mother, begging her to intercede with her Divine Son.
The priest having communicated, and finished the Mass and put off his chasuble, but still wearing the other sacerdotal vestments, took the Cross of Christ in his hands and proceeded to the burning piles, accompanied by the Abbots and monks, saying the Litanies. It would be impossible to say, or to imagine, with what earnestness all present prayed.
We were at last warned to keep profound silence in order to hear and understand under what conditions the impending trial was to take place ... The two piles being now in full blaze as well as the passage between them, the monk-priest, by order of the Abbot, pronounced in a loud and clear voice a prayer. Then, bearing the crucifix, with fearless heart and cheerful countenance, undaunted by the flames, which burst forth on all sides, he walked through the fire with the utmost composure, miraculously preserved by the power of Jesus Christ from even the slightest injury to himself or harm to the garments he wore.
The flames played around him and within the very folds of his linen alb, but, as if their nature had been changed, they did not burn It. The same with maniple and stole. The fringes of these waved to and fro as in a breeze, but the fire was powerless to hurt them. Those feet that trod on glowing coals—O, marvellous power of God! praised be the clemency of Christ!—remained unhurt. His hair was tossed up and down by the flames that leaped about his head and face, but not one hair was so much as singed. All rushed round him, and kissed his feet and the folds of his garments. The Bishop Peter yielded to the storm, and withdrew from Florence”.
While Northern Italy was thus agitated by religious discord, the Normans were gradually extending their conquests in the south of the Peninsula. The prodigious activity of the Normans during the eleventh century is one of the strangest phenomena of the Middle Ages. At one and the same time they established their rule over Southern Italy with Sicily; they extended their fame through the Eastern Empire by supplying the Empress of Constantinople with troops and generals; and under the leadership of William, Duke of Normandy, they conquered England. Richard of Aversa took possession (May 1062) of Capua; and, no longer limited by the narrow boundaries of a small city, Richard's authority was now recognized in the valley of the lower Volturnio and on the banks of the Garigliano. He now governed in the south-west of Italy from Naples to Latium.
Among the followers of Richard was a certain knight, William of Montreuil, to whom Richard had given his daughter in marriage. William, however, more than once sided with the Lombard nobles of the Campagna, and endeavored to overthrow his father-in-law. He even went so far as to repudiate his wife and offer marriage to Mary, widow of the former Duke of Gaeta, and regent of the Duchy during the minority of her young son Adenulf. William, fearing the vengeance of Richard, now offered his services to Pope Alexander II, who accepted them, although William was a declared enemy of Prince Richard. William, however, proved as fickle in his allegiance to the Pope as he had been to Prince Richard, and giving as a pretext for his change of front that his services had not been generously requited at Rome, he deserted the Pope and made his peace with Prince Richard.
In 1066 Richard marched through the Campagna and besieged and captured Ceperano, and advanced against Rome. Meanwhile Godfrey, Duke of Tuscany, took upon himself to march against the Normans and drive them from the dominions of the Holy See.
He collected an army of Teutons and Lombards and led them to Rome, accompanied by his wife Beatrice and her daughter, the young Countess Matilda. The Pope and the Cardinals joined the troops which left Rome at the beginning of May 1067 to march against the Normans of the Campagna. Godfrey attempted to take the city of Aquino, but was repulsed by William of Montreuil; and this success of the Normans, combined with a scarcity of provisions in his own camp, decided Godfrey to conclude peace with the Prince of Capua. The terms of peace are not known, but the interests of the Holy See must have been safeguarded, for during the summer of the same year (1067) the Pope, accompanied by Hildebrand, made a journey through Southern Italy, and visited several Norman towns. In August 1067 Alexander II held a synod at Melfi, at which, owing to the complaints of Alfano, Archbishop of Salerno, he excommunicated William, son of Tancred, for having taken possession of certain goods belonging to the church of Salerno. William, who was present at the synod, chose rather to be excommunicated than to make restitution. From Melfi, Alexander proceeded to Salerno, where the Norman and Lombard nobles and several bishops of Southern Italy came to pay him homage; and there William, son of Tancred, at last decided to make satisfaction to Alfano, and restored the property he had carried off. Shortly afterwards, in the month of October, another Norman, Troytius de Rota, who in concert with William had taken goods from the church of Salerno, came to Capua, presented himself to the Pope, and made his submission. The presence of Alexander in the capital of the Prince of Capua was a sure indication that he and the Prince were on friendly terms. This peace, however, was of short duration. It was again broken by William of Montreuil, who revolted against Richard a second time, and turned again to Rome, where he was favorably received, and accepted from the Pope the investiture of the property which Richard had restored. Immediately afterwards he left Rome to march against Richard. During this campaign, “William’s onward passage”, says Aimé, could be traced by the glare of incendiary fires." After William had conquered Jordan, son of Richard of Capua, the latter appealed for help to his brother-in-law, the great Robert Guiscard; but the sudden death of William of Montreuil, in Rome, removed all necessity for Guiscard's intervention. The death of William of Montreuil restored peace to the Campagna, and for the moment suspended hostilities between the Holy See and the Normans of Capua.
The Normans, in taking, in March 1041, the strong town of Melfi, key to the whole of Apuleia, laid the foundations in the south-east of Italy of that second Norman power which became, at the end of a few years, much larger and more important than the principality of Aversa and Capua. At the elevation of Alexander II this state was governed by Robert Guiscard. The boundaries of his Duchy, spreading further and further, quickly extended to the shores of the Adriatic on the east, and to the Ionian Sea on the south. The conquest of Reggio in Calabria, and of Scilla by Guiscard and his brother Roger, in 1060, showed clearly that the Normans would pursue their southward course to the confines of Italy. During the pontificate of Alexander II, from 1060 to 1072, the two brothers added nearly the whole of Sicily to their already vast possessions, thus putting an end to the rule of the Saracens in that land.
Though in crossing the Taro and fighting the Saracens in Sicily the Normans were certainly actuated by their love of adventure and their insatiable desire for booty and vast territorial possessions, the religious character of the campaign between these Christians and the Saracens was emphasized by the Norman leaders. “Roger”, says Malaterra, “had two aims in view, one spiritual, the other temporal. He wished to restore the worship of the true God to a land now possessed by idolaters—that is, he wished to accomplish a work conducive to his own salvation—and at the same time to enrich himself with the spoils of the infidel”. Again, Malaterra concludes his account of the battle between the Saracens and the army of Count Roger, which took place on the banks of the little river Cerami, near Traina, in 1063:—
“Roger, knowing that he owed this great victory to God and to St. Peter, would not show himself ungrateful for so signal a favor. He chose for his share of the booty, four camels, and deputed Melodios to take them to Rome, and offer them to Pope Alexander, who, at that time, occupied the Papal Chair and governed the Catholic Church with all prudence. More thankful for the victory gained by God's help over the infidel than for the presents he received, the Pope, in virtue of his apostolic power, in addition to the apostolic benediction, granted remission of their past sins to Roger and to all those who had already joined or would henceforward join, in freeing Sicily from the yoke of the Saracen, to restore it for ever to the faith of Christ. But to obtain this pardon the Christians were required to have sorrow for their sins, and to resolve to amend their lives in future. He also sent the Normans, in the name of the Holy See, a banner blessed by apostolic authority, that thus sure of St. Peter's help they might march in all confidence against the enemy”.
Alexander II also had given a direct sanction to the Norman conquest of England (1066), by sending the banner of St. Peter to William, Duke of Normandy. These banners of the Holy See, floating in Sardinia and Sicily, and at Hastings, show how greatly the prestige and influence of the Papacy had increased during the last few years throughout the whole of Christendom.
On April 16, 1071, the Normans, under Robert Guiscard, crowned the long series of their conquests in Southern Italy by entering as victors into Bari, the ancient capital of the Greek possessions in the peninsula. This triumph secured the expulsion of the Greeks and the complete separation of Italy from the Empire of the East.
On January 5, 1072, the Normans, led by Robert Guiscard and Count Roger, took Palermo by assault, thus giving the death-blow to the Saracen power in the island.
In 1072 the successors of that handful of Normans, who had come to Italy as pilgrims or to aid the Lombard princes of the southern parts of the peninsula, had established their power over the whole country. They were masters from Mount Gargano to the farthest coasts of Western Sicily, from Reggio in Calabria and Taranto to Latium.
Among the changes which marked the Norman occupation was that the Greek populations of Calabria, Apuleia, Campagna, and Sicily, as well as the Saracens of Sicily, all embraced Roman Catholicism, whereas before the advent of the Normans nearly the whole of Magna Graecia followed the customs of the Church of Constantinople, while in Sicily the Moslem Saracens had formed the bulk of the population. After their victories, the Normans willingly turned their attention to the restoration of churches and holy places, which were either falling into ruin or had been converted into mosques. They gave to the Church a portion of the lands of the conquered, together with a certain number of these, who became slaves; indeed, the generosity of the Normans to the Church is a marked feature of that singular race. Thus before the end of the eleventh century a Latin hierarchy had been established throughout the whole of Sicily; Traina, Messina, Calabria and Syracuse became bishoprics, and their bishops were, nearly always, either Normans or of Norman extraction, relatives and friends of the conquerors. With regard to Palermo, the Archiepiscopal See had been maintained there during the whole period of the Saracen domination, but, it is to be supposed, under conditions of great difficulty. The Normans, to increase its authority and prestige, enriched it with generous donations.
In Southern Italy there was no necessity to create new bishoprics. The sees existed already, and had their titulars. Many of these followed the Greek rite, but as they died their places were filled by Latin bishops.
It is easy to understand that these political, and the consequent religious, changes in Southern Italy were of deep interest to the Holy See, and Pope Alexander II made many journeys into that part of Italy. In the autumn of 1071, at the petition of Abbot Didier, he consecrated the new church of the abbey of Monte Cassino, which, thanks to the energy of the Abbot, had been built in less than five years. The Pope was accompanied by Hildebrand and several cardinals; and fifty-one archbishops and bishops of Southern Italy arrived on the appointed day to swell his train; while various princes from the Norman and Lombard lands were also present—among them Richard, Prince of Capua, and his son Jordan. A multitude from all the surrounding country continued, during eight days, to gather on the summit of the holy mountain. Nobles and serfs, clergy and laity, monks and soldiers, Lombards and Normans, representatives of the ancient populations of Latium, Campania, Apuleia, and Calabria, all vied with each other in their eagerness to pray at the tomb of St. Benedict, and there receive, with the Pope's blessing, the remission of their sins.
As the banner of St. Peter was given to the Normans by way of sanction to their conquest of Sicily, a direct sanction to the Norman conquest of England was likewise given by another banner of St. Peter, which floated over the van of the Bastard at Hastings, in 1066. William was grateful for the banner, and after his victory returned a standard taken from the conquered Saxons to the Pope, together with rich presents.
Hildebrand had been strongly in favour of William's enterprise, though he was severely criticized for his attitude in favoring an attempt which necessitated the loss of so many lives, and so many deeds of violence and rapine. He may have felt some admiration for and even awe of the Conqueror. Milman speaks of their minds as "congenial", while Voigt asserts that William I was the only ruler whom Hildebrand regarded with reverence not without an admixture of fear.
From an undated letter of William I's to Hildebrand (then Pope Gregory VII) we gather that to the demand of fealty—based, perhaps, upon the above-mentioned exchange of flags—the Conqueror returned an answer of haughty brevity: “I have not sworn, nor will I swear, fealty, which was never sworn by any of my predecessors to yours”. Gregory received this energetic answer in silence. In spite of this rebuff, Gregory’s language to the Conqueror is throughout courteous; and in a letter to Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, William is designated Unicus filius Romanae ecclesia.
A cause for the especial favor with which William I was regarded by Gregory VII is to be found in the king’s dying utterance, that he was free from the guilt of simony, and had always preferred ecclesiastics of good character to bishoprics. Such freedom from the “plague” of simony was rare among rulers of that period, and thus William retained the favor of Gregory, though the Conqueror maintained his independence, created bishops and abbots at his will, and was absolute lord over his ecclesiastical as over his feudal liegemen. William’s temper in such matters was well known. An Abbot of Evreux went to complain at Rome. William said: “I have a great respect for the Pope's legate in things which concern religion—Mais, ajouta-t-il, si un moine de mes terres osait porter plainte contre moi, je le ferai pendre a l'arbre le plus élevé de la foret”.
In Germany, the young King, Henry IV, attained his majority on March 31, 1065. Hanno, Archbishop of Cologne, who had ruled when Agnes had been forced to resign the regency at Easter 1062 by the coup of Kaiserwerth, was a harsh despotic Churchman, and had excited Henry’s hatred by the sternness of his discipline, while Adalbert, Archbishop of Bremen, gay, magnificent, sociable and good-humored, was an influential rival, as he had gained Henry's affections; and he became the King’s sole guardian. Henry IV had grown up entirely undisciplined, for the Churchmen who surrounded him had been only indulgent to his amusements. According to Lambert of Hersfeld, the first use Henry IV wished to make of his liberty on attaining his majority was to march against Hanno and lay waste his diocese, and he was only with difficulty deterred by his mother from carrying out this project.
For two years Adalbert retained his influence, but Henry's affection for him was unable to prevent the Archbishop’s fall from power. Adalbert had aroused the jealousy of the German princes by his wealth and magnificence, and by his opposition to their usurped powers. The prelates and secular princes combined against him, and Hanno of Cologne, Siegfried of Mayence, Rudolph, Duke of Suabia, and Otto of Nordheim, Duke of Bavaria, obtained the help of Duke Godfrey of Tuscany, and at a diet held at Tiebur they laid before the King this alternative—the abandonment of Adalbert, or the loss of his crown. Adalbert was compelled, in 1066, to return to his diocese. In danger of his life, under a strong guard, he reached his bishopric. There still further humiliations were in store for him. Duke Ordulf of Saxony, his son Magnus, and his brother Hermann, Count of Salm, broke into the territories of the See, and threatened with death the Archbishop, who sought refuge in a distant estate. Finally, he was compelled to grant away one-third of his estates, as a fief of the archiepiscopate, to Magnus of Saxony, and other estates to other secular princes. Adalbert the Magnificent now suffered poverty, and alms consequently ceased to be distributed in his church of Bremen.
In order to replace Adalbert, the nobles made the arrangement that the bishop of the diocese in which the young King happened to be, should have control over him, and should manage the affairs of the kingdom. This really meant that the nobles were returning to power, and intended to dominate Henry IV as they had done after the events of Kaiserwerth. They succeeded for a time, and a historian of the period describes Henry IV as silent and inert, compelled to approve the decisions and measures of Hanno of Cologne and his party.
Hanno had caused the King, in June 1066, to marry Bertha, daughter of the Margrave of Susa, to whom he had been betrothed when a boy of five years of age. At first he regarded her with some aversion, as the woman who had been forced upon him by the tyranny of the nobles, and attempted to bribe Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, to sanction a divorce by promising his aid in despoiling the Abbots of Fulda and Hersfeld of the tithes of Thuringia; but the Pope Alexander II sent Peter Damitni to forbid this evil example. “Welll, then”, said Henry, “I will bear the burden I cannot throw off”. After she had borne him a son, in 1071, she succeeded in gaining his affections, and he became deeply attached to her.
The power of the king had been gradually in the wane, and in consequence it was decided to send an embassy to the Holy See in order to revive once more the influence of Germany. A chronicler of the period relates a curious detail, viz. that, in order to obtain an audience from the Pope, Hanno, Archbishop of Cologne, had to submit to walk barefoot in public as a penitent. The fact that such a reception could be given to Hanno and the other envoys shows how greatly the prestige of the Papacy had increased since the Council of Mantua, when Hanno had taken the lead and passed judgment upon Alexander II; and it shows, also, how the influence of Germany in the affairs of the Holy See had weakened and declined.
Not long after died Godfrey of Lorraine, Duke of Tuscany who held a high position in Germany and Italy, and had been an intermediary between the Church and the Empire. The empress Agnes, after the dead of Henry III, had appointed Guibert Chancellor of the kingdom of Italy. In this capacity he had cooperated in the rise of the anti-pope Cadalus. When Hanno of Cologne inaugurated his new régime, which discredited Cadalus and supported Alexander II, Guibert was deposed, and his stead Gregory, Bishop of Vercelli, was appointed to succeed as a chancellor.
After the death of Cadalus, Guibert did his utmost to obtain from Henry IV the bishopric of Parma, and for this purpose he went to the German Court. But in vain, for he met with firm opposition from the prince's counsellors. Archbishop Hanno had not forgotten the past; and the bishopric of Parma was given to a cleric of Cologne, named Everard. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Ravenna also died, and Guibert then began his intrigues to obtain this most important benefice. He now addressed himself to the Empress Agnes, who was then with her son; and succeeded in obtaining the Archbishopric of Ravenna. He came to Rome during the Lent of 1073, and attempted to obtain consecration at the hands of Alexander II. The Pope was unwilling to officiate; but ultimately his objections were overborne by Hildebrand—though, according to Bonitho, he uttered the prophetic words: “I am about to die, the time of my deliverance is near at hand; but you will know the bitterness there is in this man”. Guibert, who was afterwards set up by Henry IV as anti-Pope during the papacy of Gregory VII, did indeed become a source of bitterness, a thorn in the flesh, to the Pontiff.
When Guibert came to Rome for consecration, the annual Roman synod, the last of Alexander's pontificate, had already been held. At this synod Alexander II excommunicated certain friends and admirers of Henry IV. A certain monk, Robert of Bamberg, wished to obtain the abbey of Reichenau, and intrigued with three courtiers to win his end. He promised to enrich the Counts Eberhard of Nellenburg, Leopold of Moersburg, and Ulrich of Cosheim (or Godisheim) with the goods of the Church, if the abbey fell to his share. Henry IV, influenced by his three favorites, invested Robert as Abbot of Reichenau in 1071. Although Robert was removed in the following year as unworthy of his position, the three did not give up their bribe, and were excommunicated by the Pope. Henry IV, from his intercourse with them, fell ipso facto under sentence of excommunication.
Scarcely a month after the synod, on April 21, 1073, Alexander II passed away, after a pontificate of nearly twelve years.
After the death of Cardinal Humbert, Hildebrand was the leading spirit; next to Alexander II, whom he loved and admired, he was the chief person in Rome and the most influential in the political relations of the Papacy. He was even popularly supposed to be the “Lord of the Lord Pope”; and William of Malmesbury and Peter Damiani suggest that his influence over Alexander II was unbounded. Damiani even goes so far as to write.
Papam rite colo sed te prostratus adoro.
Tu facts hunc Dominum, te facit ille Deum.
This influence of Hildebrand has perhaps been over-estimated, for it is certain that on many occasions Alexander II went his own way, unheeding or not hearing the protests of the Archdeacon.
THE ACCESSION OF GREGORY VII - HIS FIRST ACTS.
APRIL 22, 1073 - MARCH 9, 1074
The death of Alexander was neither sudden nor unexpected; the election of his successor could not but be a subject of intense public anxiety. At Alexander’s death there was no definite legal modus sanctioned by use for the election of the Pope. The decree of 1059, which was to establish the method for future elections and annul the previous laws and customs, had fallen into abeyance owing to the opposition of the inferior cardinals. Alexander II, who had been elected contrary to the letter of the decree, had not pronounced any judgment upon the question.
Hildebrand, as Archdeacon, it appears, took charge of the necessary preliminaries. The Roman people, contrary to their custom, were quiet, and made no disturbance. He prescribed three days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving as a prelude to a deliberation as to what method were best to be adopted in electing the new Pope. That deliberation never took place.
The clergy were assembled in the Lateran church to celebrate the obsequies of Alexander II, on April 22, and Hildebrand, as Archdeacon, was officiating at the service. Before it was ended, all at once, from the whole multitude arose a simultaneous cry, “Hildebrand is Pope!”. The choice was a popular one; there is no hint of an election by the cardinals, or by the voice of the clergy. The enthronement was hurriedly carried out in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli.
Bonitho, who appears to have been an eyewitness of the tumultuous scene, tells it in the following manner. At the noise of the disturbance the Archdeacon rushed towards the pulpit to allay the tumult, but the cardinal-priest, Hugh Candidus, a man yet under the accusation of simony, and excommunicated by Alexander II came forward and spoke to the excited crowd: “Well know ye”, he said, “beloved brethren, that since the days of the blessed Leo the tried and prudent Archdeacon has exalted the Roman See, and delivered this city from many perils. Wherefore, since we cannot find any one better qualified for the government of the Church or the protection of the city, we, the bishops and cardinals, elect him as the pastor and bishop of your souls”. The voice of Hugh was drowned in universal cries of, “It is the will of St. Peter Hildebrand is Pope!”.
Hildebrand was led to the papal throne and presented to the people as “a man of profound theological knowledge, as a man of prudence, a lover of equity and justice firm in adversity, temperate in prosperity; according to the Apostolic words, of good conversation; blameless, modest, sober chaste, hospitable—one that ruleth his own house; a man well brought up in the bosom of his mother, the Church, and advanced already for his distinguished merits to the dignity of Archdeacon. This our Archdeacon, then, we choose, to be called henceforth and for ever by the name of Gregory, for our Pontiff, as the successor of the Apostle”. He was hastily arrayed in the scarlet robes, crowned with the tiara, and, reluctant and in tears, enthroned in the chair of St. Peter.
Bonitho’s account is interesting, as it states that the clergy took part in the tumultuous election, while Gregory VII himself does not mention this. The Cardinal-Priest Hugh Candidus’s initiative is not mentioned in any other authority, but it is probable that, as Hugh became one of the bitterest enemies of Gregory VII, Gregorian writers naturally did not wish to emphasize the prominent part he had played in Gregory’s election. Bonitho adds that the enthronement took place in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, where there was an ancient Cathedra Petri. As he often gives details of the enthronement of other Popes, and here says nothing of the details of Gregory’s enthronement, we may assume that it was of an informal nature. No doubt he was hurriedly seated by laymen on the cathedra, which was regarded at that period as the main point. Gregory himself says nothing about his enthronement. He appears most deeply impressed by the suddenness and the violence of the popular movement, and at his own unpreparedness and unworthiness; again and again he asserts that he had never desired nor striven to obtain the papal dignity. Being chosen, he comforted himself with the thought that it was the Divine will, the “hidden dispensation of God”.
The tumultuous character of Gregory's elevation was recognized both by the Pope himself and by the Abbot Didier, of Monte Cassino, who, after Gregory's death, opined that the election took place tumultuarie. In spite of this, Didier recognized Gregory as Pope, and he introduces him, with words of commendation, in one of his dialogues.
The name of Gregory was given to Hildebrand in memory of Gregory I “the Great”, who had left a profound impression upon his contemporaries and his immediate successors. Martens has shown that in the eleventh century the Popes did not choose their official name on their elevation, but received it from another person or persons, such as the prince who had a hand in the election, or the assembled electors.
Of the personal characteristics of Gregory I the most remarkable are beyond all question the singular strength and energy of his character. Firmly and intensely convinced of the divineness of the Christian doctrine and life as these presented themselves to his mind and heart, he suffered no obstacle and no discouragement to triumph over his determination to give them all the currency and prevalence that were possible in his day. The refinements alike of literature and of art were not for him; the uniformity of the Roman ritual, the prevalence of Catholic dogma—these were not merely the highest, they were the only, ideals he ever caught sight of. Such was the man in whose spirit Hildebrand was expected to rule; and upon Hildebrand “truly the spirit of Gregory I rested”, as Paul of Bernried, his biographer, writes. In the same way, Hildebrand’s patron, Bruno, was given the name of Leo, in order that he should act in the spirit of the great Pope Leo I.
The theory that Hildebrand “chose” the name of Gregory VII as a slight to the memory of the Emperor Henry III, who had deposed Hildebrand's earliest patron, Pope Gregory VI, is without any foundation. Anti-Gregorian writers were not slow to seize the opportunity of contrasting the hated Gregory VII with the sainted first Gregory, to the disadvantage of the former.
Two days after his election, on April 24, Gregory VII imparted to Didier of Monte Cassino, afterwards his successor, the struggle of mind with which he undertook the inevitable office, and how deeply he was stirred by the responsibilities of his new position—
“Gregory, Roman Pontiff-elect, to Didier, Abbot of the Monastery of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino, greeting in Christ Jesus.
“Our Lord the Pope Alexander II is dead, and his decease has fallen upon me, shaking my very bowels, and causing me deep distress.
“Contrary to their custom, the Roman populace remained calm on the announcement of the death, and allowed themselves to be governed by us, they are manifesting such complete docility that every one has perceived it to be the operation of God's mercy. After mature deliberation, we had therefore ordered a fast of three days to be observed, litanies and prayers to be publicly recited, with almsgiving, proposing to make known afterwards, with the help of God, whatever seemed to us the wisest course concerning the election of the Roman Pontiff. But suddenly, during the funeral ceremonies of our Lord the Pope, in the church of the Saviour, a great noise and tumult arose, the people seized hold of me like madmen, without giving me time to speak or take advice. It was by force that they raised me to this Apostolic government, a burden too heavy for my shoulders to bear. I can now say with the Prophet: I am come into the depths of the sea, and a tempest has overwhelmed me; or, My heart is troubled within me : and the fear of death is fallen upon me. But as I am confined to my bed, overwhelmed with fatigue, I cannot dictate long, therefore I postpone the relation of my troubles to you. In the name of Almighty God, I beg of you to ask the brethren and the sons whom you are bringing up in the Lord to pray to God for me, so that the prayer which should have spared me such trials as this may at least uphold me in my struggles with them”.
In a letter of the same date, sent to Gisulfo, Prince of Salerno, Hildebrand relates, in the same way, his election and his perplexities; and asks him to come to Rome as soon as possible. Similar letters were sent to Guibert, Archbishop of Ravenna, to the Duchess Beatrice, to Hugh, Abbot of Cluny, to Maranes, Archbishop of Rheims, to Svind Estrithson, King of Denmark, and to Bernard, Abbot of St. Victor at Marseilles; but one seeks in vain in the Pope's extant correspondence for a single letter from him to the King of Germany announcing his elevation. That the collection, however, is not complete may be assumed, as there are no extant letters addressed to any prelates of Germany, who must have received notification of the election. It is unlikely that Gregory would have written to the King of Denmark and have passed over the King of Germany, the future Emperor, whom he calls the “head of the laity”. Even if Gregory took no thought of the decree of 1059, the honor debitus was a factor to be reckoned with; and Bonitho expressly says that Gregory at once sent a letter to Henry IV announcing the death of Alexander II and his own elevation to the Papacy. It is possible, but by no means probable, that the new Pope asked the Royal consent to his elevation. By his enthronement he was already Pope, and the possible refusal of the Royal consent could make no difference to his position. Henry IV was occupied at the time with his own difficulties with the Saxon nobility, and, as no Imperialist movement agitated Rome, he was obliged to accept the situation
Gregory, who was only a deacon at the time of his elevation, received priest's orders on May 22. Some six weeks later he was consecrated Pope, according to Bonitho, on the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, though the Chronica S. Benedicti speaks of the thirtieth of June. Bonitho’s date receives confirmation from the Pope's well-known veneration for St. Peter; and Gregory would doubtless have chosen to receive priest's orders upon the feast-day of the Apostle. It is probable that Gregory delayed his consecration in order to give Henry IV an opportunity to send a representative to that ceremony. Until his consecration, Gregory had contented himself with the title of Roman Pontiff-elect. We find him, however, acting and deciding authoritatively as Pope from April 29, seven days after his election, in a letter addressed to Rainier, Bishop of Florence. On May 6 he writes to Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, the husband of the Countess Matilda, a letter which defines his future attitude towards the young King. Gregory will not shrink from remonstrating with Henry IV with the affection and vigilance of a father; but if the King refuses to listen “the sentence cursed be he that withholdeth his sword from blood” (he writes) “will not fall upon us, thanks be to God”.
What was the attitude of the King of Germany at this juncture?
From various quarters he was advised to oppose Gregory VII, and to refuse his royal consensus. The bishops of Lombardy, and some of the German prelates, were hostile to the new Pontiff. Gregory, Bishop of Vercelli and Chancellor of Henry IV for the Kingdom of Italy, made himself the intermediary of the Lombardian bishops; Ille diabolus Vercellensis cum suis complicibus elaborat, ut tu in sede non debeas confirmari, writes Walo of Metz to Pope Gregory; and some of the German bishops made similar attempts to influence the King. But these intrigues had no result, and the chancellor was obliged to go to Rome to represent the King at the consecration of Gregory. It is certain that Gregory was acknowledged as Pope by Henry IV; and, not long afterwards, in a letter, Henry uses memorable and unmistakable expressions of recognition of Gregory’s position as the legitimate Pope.
According to Hugh of Flavigny, the new Pope was consecrated by the Cardinal-Bishops of Albano and Porto, and the representative of the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, then absent from Rome. The Empress Agnes and the Duchess Beatrice were also present.
Surrounded by the clergy and the Roman people, Gregory proceeded to the Basilica of St. Peter, and entered the sacristy, where he assumed the pontifical vestments. He then immediately prostrated himself before the confession of St. Peter, whilst the choir chanted the introit, Elegit te Dominus. Rising, he ascended the altar steps, where he again prostrated himself in prayer, all the clergy accompanying him. The bishops came forward to raise him, and place him between the throne and the altar, holding over his head the book of the Gospels. Another bishop then approached, and recited a prayer, a second did the same, and a third consecrated him. After having received the pallium from the hands of the archdeacon, Gregory ascended the throne, and standing between the archdeacon and the deacon, intoned the Gloria in excelsis Deo. The Pax having been given, the choir chanted the Litanies. The Pope then celebrated Mass and gave Holy Communion to his assistants. After Mass, Gregory VII left the altar and advanced between two lines of soldiers, followed by all the clergy, and surrounded by the customary ecclesiastical pomp; the students from the Roman schools asked his blessing. In the sacristy the Pope seated himself upon the apostolic chair, and then descended the steps of the church. The rulers of the choir then approached, and three times one of them sang Dominus Gregorius, the chorus responding Quem Sanctus Petrus Elegit in sua sede multis annis sedere. The majordomo then placed on the head of the Pope the crown, made of a white fabric, in the form of a helmet, and Gregory then advanced, on horseback, surrounded by the Roman judges, the immense crowds that filled the streets greeting him with loud acclamations.
From the Diet of Worms (1076) Henrician writers began to spread many false reports concerning Gregory's elevation. At the Diet the Pope was accused (and rightly) of being elected without any consideration of the decree of 1059. At the Synod of Brixen (1080), when the strife between Henry IV and the Holy See had broken out afresh, Gregory was falsely accused of having garrisoned the Lateran with his soldiers, and threatened with death the clergy who did not wish to elect him Pope. Lambert of Hersfeld fabricates a story, by which Gregory absolutely submitted the validity of his election, not only to the King, but also to the princes of the Empire! His story is as follows. Henry IV is strongly urged to annul the election. “If he did not at once tame this violent man, upon no one would the storm fall so heavily as upon himself”. Count Eberhard of Nellenburg was therefore sent to Rome to demand of the Romans why they had dared, contrary to ancient usage, to elect the Pope without consulting the King. If the answer was unsatisfactory, Eberhard was to force Gregory to abdicate. Count Eberhard was, however, deferentially received by Gregory, who declared that he had not striven nor sought for the honor of the Papacy, but had been forced into his position by the clergy and the people. He considered the consent of Henry IV and the princes necessary, and had deferred his consecration until he had received their assent. The concession was accepted, and Eberhard returned to Germany, satisfied!
The astonishing statement that Lambert puts into Gregory's mouth is the keynote of the story. Lambert of Hersfeld’s leading bias was love, not for Gregory nor for Henry IV but, for the princes of the Empire; and to add to their importance he invented the theory that their consent was a necessary factor in the election of the Pope. We shall see, later on, that he lays great stress upon the excommunication of Henry IV, to justify the action of the princes.
According to Bonitho, an admirer of Gregory VII, when the Pope dispatched messengers to Germany to inform Henry IV of his elevation, he warned the King at the same time not to sanction his nomination. The warning was couched in these severe words: “If I be indeed made Pope, I must no longer patiently endure your great and flagrant excesses”. The king takes the threat in good part, and gives his official consent! This is the language of an admirer, who wished to assert that Gregory was not ambitious, but really humble. The story is in reality an incident from the life of Gregory I, who, before his enthronement, begged the Emperor Maurice not to confirm his nomination. Bonitho forgot that Gregory was already enthroned, and had undertaken the direction of the Church; and that for him at this juncture to submit the validity of his election to the King of Germany, and acknowledge the King’s power to cancel his promotion, would have been to betray the interests of the Church. The tendency to transfer incidents in the life of Gregory the Great to his successor and namesake, is shown in the story related by Bernold and Berthold, that Gregory VII hid himself in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, when he became aware of the intention of the Roman people to elect him to the Papacy.
One of Gregory VII’s first aims was the restoration of the temporal power of the Holy See. Wido of Ferrara writes that he at once ordered the towns and villages belonging to the Church, and also the castles and municipal buildings, to be occupied and garrisoned, and set himself to recover what had been lost, or forcibly wrested from the Holy See.
Hearing that Guibert, Archbishop of Ravenna, was in the habit of exacting from the inhabitants of Imola an oath of fidelity apart from that which bound them to the temporal authority of the Roman Church—a rumour that afterwards proved unfounded—Gregory complained bitterly to Guido, Count of Imola, concluding his letter with these strong words—
“We earnestly desire to live in peace, if possible with all the world, but we shall not hesitate to oppose the efforts of those who, for the sake of self-aggrandizement, work against the interests of St. Peter, whose servant we are”.
Another Churchman who afterwards proved a determined enemy of Gregory VII was Cardinal Hugh Candidus, who was sent on a mission to Spain (April 30, 1073). To two other legates of the Roman See, in France, Gerald, Bishop of Ostia, and the Subdeacon Raimbald, Gregory writes urging them to reconcile Hugh Candidus with the congregation of Cluny, and cause the cardinal's past to be forgotten. Hugh is designated a “dear son”; and the accusations brought against him during the lifetime of Alexander II are attributed to the faults of others, rather than of Hugh himself. Unfortunately, Gregory showed more optimism than judgment in proclaiming the good qualities of the new legate. Hugh Candidus, or Blancus, had been appointed cardinal by Pope Leo IX; and, according to Bonitho, his deeds were “as oblique as his eyes”. On the death of Nicolas II, Hugh was instrumental in the setting up of the anti-Pope Cadalus. Afterwards, “constant only in inconstancy”, he submitted to the legitimate Pope, and was sent by him on a mission to Spain, where he used his opportunities to extort money. In 1072 he was entrusted with another mission to France, but his conduct on this occasion was so reprehensible that the Diocese of Cluny and the Roman synod of 1073 bitterly complained of him, shortly before Alexander’s death. His prominent share in Gregory’s elevation to the Papacy no doubt influenced the Pope in his favor, but shortly afterwards Hugh again compromised himself, and broke with Gregory, finally. It is certain that from 1074 onwards he worked in concert with Guibert to oppose the Pope and undermine his power. Later, as we shall see, he came forward openly at the Diet of Worms as the avowed opponent of the Pope whose election he had been instrumental in bringing about.
Hugh Candidus was sent by Gregory to France as spiritual chief of a crusade against the Saracens of Spain, which several French nobles had promised to undertake under the leadership of one Ebles de Roncy, son-in-law of Robert Guiscard. Ebles had appeared in Rome during the lifetime of Alexander II, when he laid before the Pope his scheme for a crusade against the Saracens of Spain. The support of the Holy See was promised to him, on condition that the lands wrested from the infidels should become fief of the Holy See. Ebles agreed to this, and it was this agreement which Gregory now wished to see carried out. To the kings of Spain, in one of his early letters, Gregory boldly asserts the whole realm of Spain was not only within the spiritual jurisdiction of the Holy See, but her property. Whatever may be conquered from the infidels, may be granted by the Pope or held by the conquerors as his vassals. He reminds the kings of Spain—Alphonso of Castile, and Sancho of Aragon—of the ancient obedience due to the Apostolic See, and exhorts them not to recognize the Liturgy of Toledo, but that of Rome. He appeals to a legend relating that St. Paul sent seven bishops from Rome to convert Spain—"No part of Latin Christendom was so remote or so barbarous as to escape his vigilant determination to bring it under his vast ecclesiastical unity”.
Though some of Gregory’s letters do not belong to the first year of his pontificate, it is convenient to consider together his relations with foreign powers, exclusive of the kingdom of Germany. He writes, as we have seen, to the King of Denmark. In a letter to Olaf, King of Norway, he dissuades him from assisting the rebellious brothers of the Danish king. He mediates between the Duke of Poland and the King of the Russians, for the Duke of Poland had come to Rome to receive his kingdom from the hands of St. Peter. He treats the kingdom of Hungary as a fief of the Papacy, and reproaches King Solomon for daring to hold it as a benefice of the King of Germany. His legates, in Bohemia, take under their care the estates of the Church; in Africa, the clergy and people of Carthage are exhorted to adhere to their Archbishop, and not to dread the arms of the Saracens. He occupied himself with Sardinia, which he considered to be one of the islands which had been ceded to the Holy See. During his stay in Capua he consecrated Constantine of Castra as Archbishop of Torres in Sardinia, and told the new prelate of his intention to assert the claim of the Church to the island.
The steadily increasing power of the Normans in Southern Italy was now, more than ever, a factor to be reckoned with in Italy. Richard, Prince of Capua, as master of the Campagna, coveted the south-west portion of the pontifical States, Ceprano and Velletri; while Robert Guiscard, sovereign of Apuleia and Calabria, sought to acquire the papal territory in the East, in the marches of Fermo and of Chieti. His nephew, Count Robert of Loritello, subjugated the dynasties one after another, which had until then preserved their independence in that region. Gregory VII foresaw that Rome was in imminent danger of becoming what Beneventum, Naples and Salerno already were —a mere town surrounded by Norman possessions, whose political independence must sooner or later succumb.
Shortly after Gregory’s election, a rumor was spread abroad that the great Robert Guiscard had died at Bari, after a short illness, and the Pope hastened to condole with Guiscard’s wife, the Duchess Sikelgaita. The letter is interesting as showing Gregory’s sentiments at the time of his elevation towards the Normans in general, and Robert Guiscard in particular.
The report was false. Guiscard, after having taken Cannes and conquered the Norman barons who had risen against him, fell ill, it is true, at Trani, and was moved to Bari, where his health became worse. Sikelgaita herself, believing the report of her husband’s death, hastily assembled the Norman nobles, and caused them to elect as their chief, and as successor to Robert Guiscard, her son Roger, to the exclusion of Boemond, Guiscard's eldest son by his repudiated wife Alberada. The Duke’s strong constitution, however, triumphed, and he recovered by the time the bearer of Gregory VII's letter to Sikelgaita arrived at Bari. Upon this news Gregory sent a messenger to the Duke to invite him to an interview at San Germano, which lies at the foot of Monte Cassino. The Duke did not respond to this invitation, but encamped at the head of his army at Rapolla, in the south, a short distance from Melfi. In July 1073 Gregory went to Monte Cassino, and not finding Guiscard awaiting him at San Germano, continued his journey as far as Beneventum, accompanied by the Bishops of Porto, Tusculum and Praeneste, and by the Abbot of Monte Cassino. The latter he instructed to push forward as far as Rapolla, and persuade the Duke to come to Beneventum. Didier succeeded in bringing Robert Guiscard to the walls of Beneventum, but the Norman leader refused to enter the town without his army, and encamped outside the town, so no understanding was arrived at between him and the Pope. Robert Guiscard probably deliberately avoided a meeting, as he did not wish to become a liegeman of the Pope, whom he knew to be intimately allied with Gisulfo, Prince of Salerno, upon whose principality Duke Robert had designs. In becoming also a vassal of the Holy See, Robert would have been obliged to cease his continual encroachments upon Central Italy.
Before leaving Beneventum, Gregory VII concluded a treaty on August 12 with Landulf, Prince of Beneventum, affirming the rights of the Papacy over the town and the principality, and threatening the Lombard Prince with deposition if he betrayed the interests of the Holy See, particularly if he consented to an alliance with Robert Guiscard. Immediately after this the Pope went to meet Prince Richard at Capua, where he arrived on September 1, and remained there nearly three months.
This journey to, and the sojourn at, Capua were significant. Richard, who was then at war with Robert Guiscard, had fomented the last revolt of the Norman barons against the Duke, in which he had himself taken an active part. After the defeat of his enemies, Robert Guiscard, if his illness at Bari had not interfered with his plans, would have marched upon Capua, to punish Richard in his own capital. The Pope was thus engaged in rallying his forces to the standard of the enemies of Robert Guiscard, and in forming a league between Gisulfo of Salerno and Richard of Capua. With these allies, with the forces already organized in Rome and in Latium, the troops of the Duchess Beatrice and the Countess Matilda, he hoped to overcome Robert Guiscard and restore the temporal power. On September 14 Richard of Capua formally acknowledged Gregory VII as his suzerain, and undertook to assist him, to the fullest extent of his power, to recover and defend the possessions of the Roman See. The terms of Richard's oath are almost identical with those of the oath sworn in 1059 at Melfi, in the presence of Pope Nicholas II—
“I, Richard, by the grace of God and St. Peter Prince of Capua, from this day forth promise fidelity to the Holy Roman Church, to the Holy See, and to thee, my Lord Gregory the universal Pope. Never will I take part in any enterprise or conspiracy by which you might lose a limb, your life, or your liberty. If you should confide any secret to me, with the request that I should preserve secrecy, I would do so, guarding the secret sedulously from all, lest any mishap to your person should result.
“I will be loyal to you, and above all your ally, and the ally of the Roman Church, in whatever concerns the maintenance, acquisition, and defence of the domain of St. Peter and of his sovereign rights. I will come to your assistance so that in all honor and security you may occupy the papal throne of Rome. As for the lands of St. Peter and the principality of Beneventum, I will not attempt to invade them, nor seize or pillage them, without express permission from you or your successors invested with the honors of Blessed Peter. I will conscientiously pay annually to the Roman Church the rents due for those lands of St. Peter which I now or at any future time may possess. I submit to your authority the churches which are actually mine, with everything belonging to them, and I will maintain them in their fidelity to the Holy Roman Church. Should you or your successors command it, I will swear fidelity to King Henry without prejudicing my obligations to the Holy Roman Church. If you or your successors should quit this life before me, according to the advice I may receive from the best cardinals, clerics, and laymen of Rome, I will undertake to see that the Pope shall be elected with the honors due to St. Peter. I will loyally observe towards the Roman Church, and you, the undertakings now proposed to me, and I will do the same with regard to your successors who shall be promoted to the throne of the Blessed Peter, who will grant me the same investiture which you have granted to me”.
It is noteworthy that the reference to the allegiance to the King of Germany drops out of later formulas, but at this moment the relations of the Papacy with the kingdom of Germany were undisturbed and cordial.
The deferential attitude adopted by Henry IV towards the Pope in the autumn of 1073 was the direct outcome of his difficulties with the Saxons. His chief anxieties had begun in consequence of Otto of Nordheim, Duke of Bavaria, being charged with an intention of murdering him. Otto was declared to have forfeited his titles, and his lands were taken from him, and overrun. Duke Magnus of Saxony came to Otto's support, but both princes were quickly subdued. This high-handed dealing with these two princes spread disaffection in Saxony. The great barons saw themselves excluded from State affairs, and they feared the resentment of the King, who could not pardon them for having kept him so long in a humiliating state of tutelage. Otto of Nordheim’s Duchy of Bavaria was given to Welf; Magnus, heir to the crown of Saxony, was imprisoned for making common cause with Otto of Nordheim, and in spite of the protests of the Saxons, Henry IV refused to set him at liberty. In 1073 a pretext was given for the rising discontent of Henry’s enemies. The King had appointed for August 22 a levy of troops, who were to march against the Poles, who had attacked Bohemia, an ally of Germany. The Saxons, on the pretext of fearing that this army was intended for the subjugation of Saxony, rose as one man, headed by Wezel, Archbishop of Magdeburg, and Burchard, Bishop of Halberstadt, nephew of Hanno, Archbishop of Cologne, and other prelates and secular princes. They marched towards Goslar, and encamped before the city, but the King had already fled to the strong castle of Harzburg, carrying with him the royal insignia. The Saxons did not attempt an assault upon this stronghold, but contented themselves with occupying all the roads leading to it, in force. The King, however, escaped on August 9, accompanied by a few followers and adherents. At Spieskappel, near Ziegenhain, he was forced, on August 13, to meet his enemies, who had taken advantage of the strength of their position to press their advantage.
Gregory VII was still in the south of Italy when Robert Guiscard commenced hostilities against Richard of Capua. The Duke had appealed for help to his brother, Count Roger of Sicily, who immediately responded by the capture of Venafro—to the south of and not far distant from Monte Cassino. There he formed an alliance with the sons of Borel, counts of Sangro, separated them from the party of the Prince of Capua, and incorporated them in his own army. All the castles in the neighborhood were taken and burnt, and the allies then marched on Capua. Everywhere their passage was marked by fire and pillage, and once again the Campagna as far as Tagliacozzo was laid desolate. Unable to effect an entrance into Capua, Robert Guiscard and Roger drew off their army to the banks of the Garigliano. The terrified inhabitants capitulated without resistance, the towns of Irajetto and Saco spontaneously acknowledged Roger of Sicily as their sovereign, and abandoned Richard. In the midst of these disturbances the Abbot Didier was politic enough to preserve the property of Monte Cassino, and even received a present of five hundred gold pieces from Robert Guiscard.
After Robert Guiscard had made a fruitless attempt to besiege Aquino, the property of the house of Lombardy under the suzerainty of Richard of Capua, he retired to Apuleia, where he was joined by his brother, Count Roger.
Gregory VII did not leave Capua until the latter part of November. On the 20th of that month he was at Monte Cassino, whence he returned to Rome by way of Argentia, Terracina, Piperno and Legge, and reached the Lateran a few days before Christmas.
At the end of the year 1073 Gregory's attention was occupied by the kingdom of France. He had taken the measure of the weakness of that monarchy—the first kings of the House of Capet were rather the heads of a coequal feudal federalty than kings— and as Philip I (1060-1108) was guilty of simony, he addressed the King in the naughtiest and most energetic terms: “No king has reached such a height of detestable guilt in oppressing the Churches of his kingdom as the King of France”. He puts the King to the test by the immediate admission of a Bishop of Macon, elected by the clergy and people without payment or reference to the Crown. If the King persisted in his obstinacy Gregory proposed to lay the whole realm of France under an interdict, so that the people, “unless they were apostates from Christianity”, should refuse to obey the King.
Upon his return to Rome, Gregory began his preparations for a synod to be held in the March of 1074. Almost all his letters written at this period have been lost, but those addressed to the suffragans of Milan, and to Sighard, Patriarch of Aquileia, are still extant, and the latter is an arraignment of Christian society in the eleventh century, and almost an indictment of the whole of the clergy of that epoch: “The rulers and princes of this world”, he complains, “oppress the Church as if she were a vile slave. They do not blush to cover her with confusion, if only they can satisfy their cupidity. The priests and those who are charged with the guidance of the Church completely neglect the law of God, are neglectful of their obligations towards Him and towards their flocks. In aiming at ecclesiastical dignities they seek only worldly glory, and they waste in their own presumptuous pomp and foolish expenses that which should serve to save and aid many. The people, like sheep without a shepherd, are unguided and fall into error and sin, and Christianity is a mere name to them”. To remedy these evils Gregory decided to hold a council in the first week in Lent, “in order to find, by the help of God, and with the aid of our brothers, some help and remedy for this grave situation, that we may not see irreparable ruin and destruction fall upon the Church in our days”. This is a prelude to the strong measures condemning simony, and the marriage of the clergy, of the synod of March 9, 1074.
THE FIRST STRUGGLES,
MARCH 9, 1O74 - FEBRUARY 24, 1O75
THROUGHOUT Latin Christendom there had been long a doubt as to the authority of the prohibitions against the marriage of the clergy, and in many places there was either a public resistance to, or a tacit infringement of, the law, which had, in point of fact, become a dead letter. The whole clergy of the kingdom of Naples under Nicholas II, from the highest to the lowest, were openly married and living with their wives. Leo IX protested against this undisguised licence, which prevailed even in Rome itself. The Lombard cities—Milan especially—were the strongholds of the married clergy, and the married clergy were still the most powerful faction in Italy. In Germany the influence of the married clergy was to make itself felt as a bond of alliance between the Emperor and the Lombard clergy, and Adalbert, Archbishop of Bremen, almost conceded the legality of clerical marriage in order to avoid worse evils.
Gregory was not, as has often been maintained, the first to declare the duty of celibacy for the clergy, but he was certainly custos integerrimus canonum, though not the suscitator canonum, for, besides the earlier development of the principle, his immediate predecessors in the Papacy, Leo IX, Nicholas II and Alexander II, had had the cause at heart. But Gregory’s zeal was kindled to enforce clerical celibacy; and he brands the marriage, together with the immorality, of the priests as a “plague”, like simony.
On March 9, 1074, a synod was held in Rome, which condemned the simony that had grown so prevalent throughout Christendom, and also enacted the old stringent laws of the celibacy of the clergy, which had become a dead letter in Northern Italy and in Germany, as elsewhere. All those priests qui in crimine fornicationis jacent were to be excluded from celebrating Mass; if they remained obstinate in their sin and careless of the statutes of the Holy Fathers, the laity were to refuse to attend their services. We learn incidentally that Duke Robert Guiscard and all his followers were excommunicated at this synod, at which were present the Marquis Azzo, Prince Gisulfo of Salerno, and the Countess Matilda. These stringent measures against the abuses in the Church were to a great extent popular among the multitude. Floto has shown that the peasants held that an accusation of simony or of marriage exempted them from payment of tithes, and there were some fearful instances of the ill-usage of the clergy by the rabble.
The decrees of the synod caused strife and rebellion in the countries where both simony and a married clergy had become the rule rather than the exception. The resistance of the clergy to these decrees was utterly in vain. They were enforced for the first time by a very strong hand; papal legates visited every country, and, supported by the popular voice, compelled submission.
While advocating strong measures for the reform of the clergy throughout Christendom, Gregory VII was careful not to forget to apply them, especially in Rome itself. Immediately after his accession he ordered the Roman priests to live in community and to observe celibacy, or else to return to the life of laymen and abandon the service of the altar. Many adopted the alternative, and retired from the priesthood. The Basilica of St. Peter was served by more than sixty lay clerks, most of whom led evil lives and abused their position. Gregory got rid of these men, and confided St. Peter's to the care of priests specially recommended for their virtue.
Already in the month of December 1073 Gregory had expressed a desire to mediate between the King of Germany and the Saxons. He had wished both parties to lay down their arms, and the causes at issue to be examined by papal legates. Nothing, however, came of this scheme.
An important event in the year 1074 was the absolution of Henry IV by the papal legates in Germany. In the first months of his pontificate Gregory VII does not touch upon this question, and it was Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, who reminded him that the King had still to do penance for his intercourse with his excommunicated advisers, Count Eberhard of Nellenburg, Leopold of Moersburg and Ulrich of Cosheim. The Empress Agnes was anxious for her son to be freed from the enemies of the Church, and it was owing to her efforts that Henry IV forsook his excommunicated friends and paved the way for a reconciliation. Gregory thanks the Empress for her good work in a letter still extant.
The legates, the Cardinal-Bishops Humbert of Praeneste and Gerald of Ostia, proceeded to Germany to give the King absolution, and were accompanied by the Empress Agnes and her advisers, Rainald, Bishop of Como, and Henry, Bishop of Coire. The mission reached Nuremberg in Franconia about Easter 1074, where the King hastened to meet them.
Henry IV’s position at the time of the arrival of the legates was still full of difficulty. In spite of the concessions forced from him, after his flight to Harzburg in August 1072, by the princes, at Spieskappel near Ziegenhain, there was widespread discontent among the Saxons. Before the assembly at Spieskappel (August 13) Rudolph Duke of Suabia had written to the Pope a letter full of complaints against Henry IV, which has unfortunately been lost. Henry IV had also sought to enlist Gregory VII upon his side, and addressed to him a letter, which is included in the first book of Gregory’s Register. The address is an additional proof that at this time Henry IV regarded Gregory as the legitimate Pope. The King somewhat naively admits that the pressure of external circumstances prompted the letter, and confesses—not to immorality, nor to dishonurable actions, but to lack of respect to the Apostolic See, to simony, and to the nomination of unworthy persons to bishoprics.
Gregory received this communication, which has been described as “a masterpiece of hypocrisy”, in the middle of September, and was, not unnaturally, delighted with the “words full of sweetness and obedience, such as neither Henry IV nor his predecessors had ever before sent to Roman pontiffs”. He declared his intention of helping the King, if his heart, omissis puerilities studiis, would turn to God. As far as we know, he made no answer to the King's letter, and his attempt to mediate between him and the Saxons proved fruitless. He had wished the Saxons to lay down their arms, and allow papal legates to investigate the causes at issue. No such investigation, however, took place. A further breach between the King and the princes had been made by one Reginger, formerly a confidant of the King, who declared to the Dukes Rudolf of Suabia and to Berthold of Carinthia that the King had charged him to assassinate them. Henry IV protested with the utmost vehemence that Reginger’s story was false, but the affair made a bad impression upon the princes. Henry took refuge in his faithful city of Worms, and after a fruitless invasion of Saxony in midwinter (January 1074) he concluded peace with his enemies at Gerstungen, on February 2. Among the conditions of this peace was the demolition of his fortresses. The people at once began to demolish them; the peasants scaled the walls of Harzburg and destroyed everything within it, including the church with the fortress containing the relics of the saints and the bodies of some of his relatives buried there, which were scattered to the four winds. Henry's anger at this outrageous piece of sacrilege knew no bounds; and since he was unable to avenge it, he begged the Church to take action against its perpetrators. It was at this juncture that the Empress Agnes and the legates of the Holy See arrived in Germany. After a penance, Henry IV received absolution, in May 1074, at the hands of the legates.
Attempts were now, with the King’s consent, made to root out simony among the clergy of Germany. A council was ordered to be summoned. But the bishops were by no means anxious for an investigation into their titles. Some, headed by Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen, stood upon the privileges of the German Church, and declared that the Pope alone could hold such a council in their sees. Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, a man of weak character and little personal courage, in fear alike of the Pope and of the King, was ill fitted to summon this council and to carry out the decrees of Gregory and of the council which he had held at Rome for the suppression of the married clergy. These decrees had met with sullen resistance in Lombardy; and Siegfried knew the disposition of the German clergy so well that it was not till he was formally threatened with the Papal censure that he consented to promulgate the decrees. He did not summon the clergy at once to show their obedience, but allowed them six months for consideration.
A synod met at Erfurt. The majority of the assembled clergy were openly in favour of clerical marriage. “The Pope”, they said, “must be a heretic or a madman. He would compel all men to live like angels”. They would rather abandon their priesthood than their wives, and “then let the Pope, who thought men too grovelling for him, see if he can find angels to govern his Church”. Siegfried, who openly admitted his sympathy with their opinions, could not command their obedience, and his arguments had little effect. When the clergy withdrew to deliberate, the more violent among them threatened to depose the Archbishop and even to put him to death, as a warning to his successors not to publish such statutes. Siegfried, in terror of his life, offered to appeal to Rome, and attempt to win some mitigation of the law. Perhaps to distract the angry clergy from the subject under discussion, Siegfried suddenly revived an old question of his claim on the tithes of Thuringia, which had been settled at Gerstungen. The Thuringians on this broke into open violence, and the Archbishop was glad to escape out of the town, surrounded by his own soldiers. So, ignominiously, closed the Council of Erfurt.
In December of this year Gregory begins his correspondence with Henry IV—a correspondence which closed exactly a year later, on December 8, 1075. In this Gregory expresses himself rejoiced at Henry's determination to extirpate simony in his kingdom, and to further the cause of celibacy among the clergy. In July 1075 Gregory gives the King praise for his “firm stand” against simony.
In France the two “plagues” were also deeply rooted, and at the close of the Lent Synod, Gregory VII appointed as his legate the fiery and zealous Hugh, Bishop of Die, to reform the clergy of that country. Hugh had been elected Bishop of Die by the clergy and people of that diocese; the Count of Die made no opposition to this election at first, but subsequently he organized a popular rising against the Bishop-elect. Hugh went to Rome to demand justice, and Gregory himself consecrated him in March 1074. Gregory gave him letters for his diocesans and for the Count of Die, threatening the latter with excommunication unless he entirely changed his unworthy attitude towards his Bishop. Other letters accredited Hugh as legate of the Holy See to the whole of France, and were addressed to all abbots and prelates, commanding them to pay to Hugh the tax called Peter's Pence.
The “crimes” of the King of France occupy Gregory’s attention in this, as in the preceding year. Another disgraceful incident had occurred at the church at Beauvais. Guido, Bishop of Beauvais, who had been driven away by the people at the King’s instigation, took refuge in Rome. The Pope, when he heard of this, wrote immediately to the people of Beauvais and to the King requiring that the Bishop should be restored to his see, and that the ecclesiastical property should be given back to him. In an epistle to the bishops of France Gregory describes the wickedness of the land, and notices, among other crimes, the punishment and imprisonment of pilgrims on the way to Rome, and he charges the King as being the head and front of all this guilt, “a bandit among kings”. The plunder of the merchants, especially of Italians, who visit France, takes place by the King's authority. Gregory exhorts the bishops to admonish him, and rebukes their fears and lack of dignity. If the King is still stiff-necked, he commands them to excommunicate him, and, what is more, to suspend all religious services throughout the land! Such a strong measure, however, was never actually taken against France.
The three letters which Gregory VII wrote in 1074 to the princes of Christian Spain prove that the campaign against simony and the marriage of the clergy, which provoked such determined opposition in France, Germany, and parts of Italy, did not prove equally unacceptable in Spain. These letters do not even allude to opposition, but merely to that of a liturgical question which is of historic interest.
In the beginning Spain, evangelized by missionaries from Rome, received from them, along with the principles of the faith, the Roman rite, that is to say, the Liturgy for the celebration of the Mass and the other offices. Later, through the influence of the Priscillianists and the Arians, following upon the invasion by the Goths and the Saracens, the Roman rite became modified in Spain in many details, and had been gradually replaced by the Liturgy of Toledo, known as the Mozarabic rite. Gregory now insisted, through his legates, that the rite of Toledo should be abolished, and replaced by that of Rome. On March 20, 1074, he wrote to Sanchez Rumuez, King of Aragon, to congratulate him on accomplishing this reform; the day before he had written to Alphonso VI, King of Leon, and Sanchez II, King of Castile, a joint letter, begging them to introduce the same reform in their dominions. But a Liturgy does not disappear at once, especially when it forms a part of the religious conscience of the people, and is identified with it. The Mozarabic Liturgy gave way very gradually to the Roman rite, and at the present day it is with the approbation of Rome that this Mozarabic Liturgy, with its beautiful prayers, ceremonies, and ancient melodies, is still used in the Cathedral of Toledo.
The relations between Gregory and the King of England are at the beginning of his pontificate very cordial. Gregory advances a claim for the tribute of Peter’s Pence in England, which William I admits. In a letter to the famous Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, Gregory reminds him of their old friendship, and draws a melancholy picture of the state of the Church, exhorting him to oppose with the utmost energy a custom of the Scotch, who, the Pope writes, not only readily abandon their wives, but even put them up for sale!
During the spring of 1074, the Pope continued his military preparations against Robert Guiscard. Aimé’s is the only account of this campaign that has come down to us. He writes:
“The Pope came to Rome (after his stay at Capua), and continued that which he had begun. Men not having responded to his appeal, Gregory called upon Beatrice and her daughter Matilda to come and consult with him at Rome, and explained to them the reason for the interview. Their perfect faith in St. Peter and the love which they bore towards the Vicar of God, decided Beatrice and Matilda to accept this invitation. They hastened to Rome, prepared to do all that the Pope might require of them. They promised to bring to him thirty thousand knights, among them five hundred Teutons, to render the victory more certain. The Pope replied: ‘As for those vile little Normans, with twenty thousand men, if it pleases God, we can attack and vanquish them, for we have on our side Prince Richard and all the inhabitants of his lands, and the protection of God and the Apostles, which will be with us’. Then the two noble ladies replied: ‘If the knights we have promised should fly before the enemy, it would be a great shame for us. All the world would say, these women occupy themselves with what is not at all their affair, and it is just that they should bear the blame, since they pretend to assume the role always reserved for princes. We must act like men, therefore, vanquish and confound the Normans. Therefore may your holiness permit us to bring as many men as may be required; we shall thus have the honor of the victory, and oblige the enemy to restore what he has stolen from the prince of the Apostles’. The Pope admired the wisdom of the two ladies, and allowed them to act as they wished”.
This account of Aimé’s, though anecdotal, is not improbable; for Gregory VII was inclined to underrate the powers of his enemies. Gisulfo of Salerno was summoned to take his share in the preparations, and an army took the field, and assembled, June 12, 1074, at Monte Cimiano. But when the Pisans saw Gisulfo, home do loquel il avoient receu damage, prison el traison, as Aimé writes, they cried out, “Death to Gisulfo”; he was without pity, he condemned us and our fellow-citizens to perish by sea or in prison, he has stolen our goods. Death to all who would defend him, to all who are favorable to him and his”.
The Pope, hearing these outcries and accusations, was greatly surprised, and finally, to save Gisulfo, caused him to leave secretly for Rome. The departure of Gisulfo did not appease the anger of the Pisans, who now refused to obey the Pope or to follow him. Gregory proceeded to the castle to ask for more troops from the Duchess Beatrice and her daughter. Beatrice and Matilda, at this juncture, however, were recalled by a revolt that had broken out among their subjects in Lombardy, and departed in haste to the north of Italy. Gregory returned to Rome, where, saddened by the defeat of his cherished plans, he fell seriously ill.
Before the expedition of Monte Cimiano, which thus ended in a fiasco, Gregory VII had reopened negotiations with Robert Guiscard, and the legates of the Holy See invited the Duke to come to Beneventum. The Duke assumed a conciliatory attitude in the face of the possibility of a coalition of his enemies in the northern, the central, and the south-western portions of Italy, and expressed his willingness to meet the Pope. On the appointed day he arrived at Beneventum, accompanied by many of his knights, and his wife, with his sons and daughters—the treasures he most prized, of whom he was accustomed to say, “Qui me levera ma moillier et mi fill, ce que ai, sont tien”. After waiting three days for the arrival of Gregory VII, who did not appear, probably on account of his illness, the Duke quitted Beneventum, taking the road to Naples.
Gregory's ill-health lasted more than two months. During this time, from June 15 to August 28, his pen, usually so busy, is completely silent; there is no trace in the Register of the dictatus, that is to say, the notes which the Pope dictated, when his health, often feeble, did not permit him to write letters himself. It was “with regret”, as he himself says, that he entered upon convalescence.
Aimé writes that when he was at Beneventum in June 1074, Robert Guiscard, wishing to continue the war against Richard of Capua, desired to have the Duke of Naples as an ally. He therefore encamped with his army not far from this city, in a fertile plain, watered by streams “which came from beneath the earth”, and sent word to the Duke of Naples that he wished to speak with him. Sergius V, the reigning Duke, accepted the invitation, and formed an alliance with Robert Guiscard. All was ready for a new campaign against Richard of Capua, when the politic Abbot of Monte Cassino appeared on the scene as mediator to reconcile the two Normans.
Since the autumn of 1074 the Abbot Didier had actively employed himself in the pacification of Southern Italy, but his first efforts were not crowned with success. Richard of Capua and Robert Guiscard had, it is true, had several interviews at Aversa, at Acerra, and at Pisa, at which the Abbot was present. They even spent a month together, arranging conditions of peace, but found agreement impossible. They parted, at last, irritated afresh against each other, and hostilities recommenced, Richard returning to Capua and Robert to Calabria. The negotiations, however, were not broken off before the winter of 1074-75. It is evident that at this period Robert Guiscard entertained no thought of a reconciliation with the Holy See. In January of 1075 the Pope thought of a new scheme for the subjugation of Robert Guiscard. He writes to Svend, King of Denmark, that there was “a very rich province not far from us on the sea-coast held by vile heretics”. He suggests that one of the Kin’'s sons should take possession of this province and oust the Normans, and hold the fiefs of Apuleia and Calabria as a vassal of the Holy See. “Heretics”, in the strict sense, the Normans were not, but Gregory probably considered them as of doubtful Christianity, from the carelessness with which they regarded the sentence of excommunication. The abusive epithets (viles et ignavi) applied to the bold and active warrior race are singularly infelicitous, and show Gregory's habit of underrating his opponents, a lack of judgment which has its counterpart in his very mistaken estimates of individuals.
On recovering his health, Gregory held a synod, November 30, 1074, though no mention of this assembly is found in the Registrum, or in contemporary letters, etc. The Archbishop Liemar, and Bishop Cunibert of Turin, who were invited, did not appear. On December 12 following, Gregory dispatched a second invitation to Liemar for the Lent Synod of 1075, and suspended him from all episcopal functions until such time as he should appear. A similar invitation was also sent (December 4) to Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, and to six of his suffragans. As this Archbishop was aged and in ill-health, Gregory, foreseeing that he might be unable to travel to Rome, authorized him, should it be necessary, to send delegates to represent him. He commanded Siegfried to inform him concerning the private life of the six suffragans who were required to appear at the Lent Synod, and to state how they had been appointed to the episcopate. Grave charges had been brought against some of these bishops; Otto of Constance and Hermann of Bamberg were the most severely compromised. To Otto the synopsis of the decrees of the synod of 1074 relating to simony and incontinence of the clergy had been sent, but the bishop had taken no notice of this, and had not even deigned to promulgate the decrees in his diocese. We know of only three Italian bishops who were invited by name to the Lent Synod of 1075. One of these was Cunibert of Turin, who had been summoned to the November synod, and who, in spite of the protest of the Abbot and the command of the Holy See, had insisted on retaining possession of the monastery of St. Michael at Chiusi in Tuscany.
It has been questioned whether Gregory VII was the father of the Crusades. Some limit the meaning of the Crusades to an attempt to recover the Holy Sepulchre, but a scheme for recovering the whole of the Holy Land floated before Gregory’s eyes, and he must be considered as the originator of the movement.
At the close of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries the strong religious movement, which arose from the hope, or fear, of an imminent millennium, wrought with no less intensity on the pilgrimages to the Holy Land than on other forms of religious service. Men crowded to Jerusalem—so soon, they expected, to be the scene of the great assize. The wars which followed the fall of the Caliphate had, towards this time, made Syria less secure, and in 1010 there was a fierce persecution of the Christians by Hakim, the fanatical Sultan of Egypt. Hakim, however, himself grew weary of persecution, and the pilgrims were permitted to resume their travels; they had to undergo no persecution, nothing but the payment of a toll on the entrance to Jerusalem.
Through the earlier half of the eleventh century men of all ranks, the princely bishops of Germany, and princes like Robert of Normandy, headed pilgrimages. Monks and peasants, even, found their way to the Holy Land.
When, however, the Turks became masters of Jerusalem, the Christians of Palestine, from tributary subjects, became despised slaves; the pilgrims, from respected guests, hated and persecuted intruders. But these difficulties did not deter the flood of pilgrims. Lambert, a monk of Hersfeld, whose biassed and partial history has been such a source of error to historians, made, a furtive pilgrimage, and was much alarmed lest his abbot should die without having forgiven him. He speaks of having incurred great peril, and of having returned to his monastery quasi ex imfiis redivivus (1059).
A league of the whole Christian world against the Mohammedans had expanded before Gerbert, Pope Silvester II. The Caesar of the West, his master, Otho III, was to add at least Palestine to the great Christian realm. It was now among the bold visions that floated before the mind of Gregory VII.
Gregory, in his enthusiasm as a dreamer of dreams, was desirous of summoning an army from the whole of Christendom, which, under his leadership, should conquer Byzantium, unite the Eastern and Western Churches under one head, and then march against the Saracens and drive them from the lands which they had conquered and possessed. “A worthy domain was to be secured for the papal monarchy, by the restoration of the old limits of Christendom, and the glories of the brightest age of the Church were to be brought back once more. It was a splendid dream—fruitful, like all Gregory did, for later times; but with a sigh Gregory renounced his dream for the harsh realities of his actual position”.
Gregory's former appeal to the French nobles for aid in a crusade in the East had failed; he now resolved to try to enlist the King of Germany’s interest in the cause in December 1074. It is curious to observe that Henry is not asked to lead the crusade in person—that is to be the Pope's own privilege! while to Henry IV is to be left (“after God”) the care of the Roman Church. This military inclination of the Pope did not meet with universal approval, and Godfrey of Vendome writes, Populus a pontifice docendus, non discendus. No notice, apparently, was taken by Henry IV of this remarkable letter of Gregory’s.
A few days later (December 16) Gregory addressed a letter to “all the faithful of St. Peter, and especially those beyond the Alps”, in which he seeks to arouse their interest in the defence of the Greek Empire. A contemporary letter to the Countess Matilda confesses that his desire to “cross the sea” in his crusading enterprise appeared to many people as worldly ambition. Not content with expressing a wish to be general and leader of the crusade, he wishes for the company and support of the Empress Agnes and of Matilda! “In company of such sisters, I would most gladly cross the sea, to lay down my life, if need be, with you, for Christ”.
It is probable that the subjection of Robert Guiscard was considered as the preliminary to this expedition in aid of the Empire of Constantinople, since Bari, Brindisi, Otranto, Tarentum, Reggio, and Messina, all the best ports from which to embark for the Greek Empire, were in the hands of the Duke. “But the deliverance of the decrepit, unrespected, often hostile empire o the East would have awakened no powerful movement in Latin Christendom. The fall of Constantinople would have startled too late the tardy fears and sympathies of the West”.
In the last days of January 1075 Gregory acknowledged the impossibility of his great project, and from this month onwards the suggestion of an expedition to the East no longer figures in Gregory VII’s correspondence.
THE BREACH BETWEEN HENRY IV OF GERMANY AND GREGORY VII
THE old method of the assembling of the clergy and laity to elect a bishop for the diocese had never been prohibited by law in Germany. When the emperors and kings nominated or influenced the election of bishops, this predominant lay factor was tacitly accepted by the Church, without, however, granting any direct papal or synodal concession. Pope John X, however, in 928, had spoken of a prisca consuetudo, by which bishops had been nominated by kings, and which required that no bishop should be consecrated without the royal command.
The diocesans often begged the king or the emperor to nominate a candidate, and it frequently happened that powerful rulers nominated persons to bishoprics from political motives, without regard to the character of their nominees. No lay prince, however, assumed that by his nomination or by his investiture with any insignia he could lay claim to any spiritual or ecclesiastic power over the bishop.
Strictly speaking, the war of investitures—if by this we mean the dispute about the modus of investiture by the prince, and the use of the Ring and Crozier—began after the death of Gregory V and came to an end in the compromise between Calixtus II a Henry V. In Gregory VII’s pontificate the question of investiture was restricted to the nomination of ecclesiastics to bishop, etc., by laymen.
Very characteristic was the attitude of the Emperor Henry towards the bishoprics of his dominions. His personal piety excludes any thought of simony, but nevertheless he disposed bishoprics as it seemed good to him. The diocesans of the Arch-bishopric of Cologne had already chosen their archbishop, but Henry simply set their candidate aside, and gave the archbishopric in 1021 to Pilgrim. Again, he nominated his chancellor, Eberha Bishop of Bamberg, and his nominee was immediately consecrated by Willegis, Archbishop of Mayence. Henry II’s successor, Conrad was stained with the all-prevalent simony of the time, and demanded large gifts of money from the Churchmen he appointed to bishoprics. Henry III, a man of high personal character, in whose life-time the mediaeval empire touched its highest point, followed in the footsteps of Henry II. The Emperor, who had four times nominated the Pope, naturally held himself justified in appointing whom he would to the bishoprics of his dominions, without considering the electoral right of the diocesans in allowing the Pope any voice in the matter. Consequently, Hermannus Contractus (of Reichenau) assumes that the right to appoint to bishoprics and to duchies is an attribute of the German kingdom. As Henry III was stern opponent of simony, Peter Damiani greeted his intervention with joy, and spoke of it as a Divine dispensation, that the ordinatio sedis apostolicce was entrusted to the Emperor as a reward of his piety. Under these circumstances, Damiani saw nothing against the Emperor’s appointing and deposing bishops. When the Archbishopric of Ravenna became vacant, he appealed to the Emperor directly to appoint another archbishop—"appoint a pastor so that the Church may rejoice”. After the death of Henry III the Empress-Regent continued the practice, and in 1057 she appointed Gundechar to the Bishopric of Eichstadt.
The German Popes appointed by the powerful Emperor could hardly hope to oppose the Imperial nomination of bishops. Leo IX, however, made the first and tentative attempt to oppose the “old custom”, and to bring forward the still older Laws of the Church. This reform was, indeed, restricted to France, and was promulgated in a French council, that of Rheims (October 1049), where it decreed that ne quis sine electione cleri et populi ad regimen ecclesiasticum provehetur.
This synod was the prelude to an attempt to return to the Laws of the Church. Cardinal Humbert voiced the growing discontent at the influence of lay princes in ecclesiastical elections. The appointment of a bishop by a lay prince is, he writes, the greatest of crimes, and he laments the widespread nature of the evil.
The question of the nomination to bishoprics by lay princes was not laid before the synods of the year 1074; this was reserved for the Lent Synod of the year 1075. Unfortunately the text of this decree has not been preserved, and the Registrum throws no light upon the matter. But we are enabled, from a letter of Gregory’s, dated December 8, 1075, to gather what were the aims of the decree. Gregory describes the reform as “a return to the decrees of the holy fathers”, consonant with the teaching of Christ and the Apostles. He does not state what were the provisions of the decree, but certain fideles of King Henry who were present at the synod were commissioned, on their return to Germany, to inform him that Gregory was willing to make concessions, to soften the categorical prohibitions of the decree if it could be done, “saving the honor of the eternal King, and without peril to our souls”. It is probably for this reason that he did not at once give the decree any wide publicity.
The synod of February 1075 is also remarkable for the number of censures which it fulminated. Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen, was suspended from all episcopal functions, and lost the right to celebrate Mass. Bishop Dionysius of Piacenza was deposed, and Bishop Cunibert of Turin was suspended. Robert Guiscard, already under anathema, was again excommunicated, as was Robert of Loritello, “for having invaded the territory of St. Peter”. Philip I of France was threatened with the ban unless he gave satisfaction to the Pope in a certain matter; and also it is related of five supporters of the King of Germany, “whose counsel had led to making profit from the sale of Church property, that, unless these supporters should have reached Rome by the kalends of June, and there made full and proper satisfaction, they were to be regarded as excommunicate”. The condemnation of the five favourites of Henry IV was somewhat ill-timed, as Henry had just succeeded in re-establishing his authority in Germany, and was preparing to take revenge upon the Saxons, so that he was not likely to attend to the papal censure.
It was to this synod of February that the English bishops and abbots were invited as early as August 1074, though in his letter Gregory writes that the synod was to be held during the second week of Lent (March 1 to 9), whereas this synod was actually held from February 24 to 28, the first week of Lent.
One of Gregory’s chief anxieties had been the re-establishment of order in the Church of Milan, agitated by the disputes of rival factions. The numerous letters which he wrote in 1073 and 1074 to the suffragan-bishops of Milan, and to the Knight Herlembald, manifest his constant anxiety in this direction. His efforts to bring about the triumph of the Patarines were to some extent successful, as he was strongly supported by Beatrice and Matilda, who governed the greater part of Northern Italy, and there had as yet been no open breach with the King of Germany, who was also suzerain of Milan.
Throughout Lombardy the decrees condemning the marriage of the clergy had met with overt or covert opposition, and not the preaching of Ariald, nor his martyrdom, not the stern eloquence of Damiani, nor the tyranny of Herlembald had succeeded in entirely eradicating the custom. Herlembald had added to his unpopularity (1074) in Milan by attempting to abolish the Ambrosian rite in favor of the Roman Liturgy; and now a fire which had destroyed a large portion of the city at the end of March 1075 became the pretext for accusing him and his party as incendiaries. The storm burst on Holy Saturday, and when the clergy were about to proceed with the numerous baptisms which took place on that day, according to the ancient custom, Herlembald forbade the use of the chrism which had been consecrated according to the Ambrosian rite on the preceding Holy Thursday; he even attempted to pour the holy oils upon the ground, and ordered the anointing to be given with the chrism consecrated according to the Roman ceremonial. The Milanese cardinals refused to carry out this injunction; but a priest named Luitprand volunteered to baptize all catechumens who might be presented to him, using only the Roman chrism for the usual anointings prescribed by the ritual, to the intense anger and resentment of the clergy. A few days later, when Herlembald, carrying St. Peter’s banner in his hand, was haranguing the people in the market-place, he was surrounded, and slain after a brave resistance. His body was stripped by the mob, mutilated, and carried in triumph through the streets. The next day, the mob, hot for another victim, found out the hiding-place of the priest Luitprand, and cut off his nose and ears. The Patarines fled before the storm, and some took refuge in Cremona. Herlembald’s tragic end caused a profound sensation, not only in Rome, but in all other countries, “even”, says Bonitho, “as far as the coasts of Brittany”; and no one was more affected than Gregory VII, who was in sympathy with the aims and perhaps with the high-handed and forcible methods of the Milanese knight. His enemies would scarcely allow Herlembald decent burial. A solemn procession passed to the Church of St. Ambrose, with hymns of thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Church of Milan from her oppressor. Yet he, too, is placed as a martyr in the calendar of Christian saints. The death of this violent Churchman or demagogue, who, whatever his aims, governed by popular insurrection, by violence, and by plunder, closes a melancholy chapter in Church history. The married priests continued to exercise their functions in Milan, though with greater caution. A synod, held in 1098, condemns as an abuse a practice adopted by the clergy of handing down their benefices to their children by a kind of hereditary succession.
Robert Guiscard had continued his hostilities against Richard of Capua, but this dissension between the two Norman princes in no way weakened Guiscard’s strong position in Southern Italy. So powerful, indeed, was he, that about this time the Emperor of the East, Michael VII, asked for the hand of one of Guiscard's daughters for his son Constantine. The Eastern Empire had been governed since 1071 by Michael, “whose character was degraded rather than ennobled by the virtues of a monk and the learning of a sophist”, and who was by no means fitted for his position. His authority was menaced at this time by a twofold danger. The Turks, who in 1073 had again invaded the eastern frontiers of the Empire, and had advanced as far as Chalcedon and Chrysopolis, and taken Damascus and Mabog, after a siege lasting eight years, were pushing their conquests still further into Asia Minor; while, within his dominions, two Greek generals, Isaac Comnenius and Nicephorus Botoniatis, were plotting against him. Michael, forgetting that Robert Guiscard had done more than any man to expel the Greeks from Italy, proposed this alliance, and after very protracted negotiations Guiscard's daughter was taken to Constantinople, where she changed her name to Helen, and was betrothed to Constantine. Aimé gives a very complete account of this marriage.
In Germany, meanwhile, the action of the peasants, who had destroyed and violated the chapel of the Harzburg fortress, had indirectly strengthened Henry IV's hands. The princes, both spiritual and secular, were so alarmed that they rallied to Henry's side, and in 1075 he was able to advance a large army into Saxony. In vain had the great Saxon nobles proposed to the King that they should rebuild, at their own expense, the Church of Harzburg. In the early days of June of that year the royal army marched against the Saxon forces, gained a decisive victory at Hohenburg, and re-established the authority of the Crown. Henry continued his triumphal march as far as Halberstadt, and then the army was brought back to Eschwege and disbanded. Before giving leave, however, to his vassals and their troops to return home, Henry ordered them to reassemble in the following October at Gerstungen, hoping, by embarking upon a winter campaign, to complete the subjugation of Saxony. On the appointed day the army reassembled at Gerstungen, but without the troops of the greater nobles, Rudolph, Duke of Suabia; Welf, Duke of Bavaria; and Berthold, Duke of Carinthia, afterwards the bitterest enemies of the young King, and even now the leaders of disaffection.
The Saxons were, however, in a difficult position, and in spite of the defection of the three great nobles from the King, were obliged to surrender unconditionally. Upon October 25 the nobles of Thuringia and Saxony came before his army, one after another, to surrender. The King gave these hostages into the custody of his friends to be closely guarded, some in Franconia, others in Bavaria, Suabia, and even in Italy and Burgundy. Among the prisoners were Otto of Nordheim, Magnus of Saxony, Frederick, Count Palatine, and Wezel, Archbishop of Magdeburg.
Saxony, thus shorn of its strength, was no longer able to make head against Henry IV, and the King proceeded in triumph to his faithful city of Worms to celebrate the Feast of St. Martin.
From this time onwards the relations between Henry and the Pope rapidly developed. Henry had expressed a wish to receive the Imperial dignity, and the Pope, not averse from this step, was anxious to receive certain guarantees and promises from Henry before his coronation. From the spring of the year 1075 Gregory spent his energies in attempting to reform the Church in that country. He writes, for once tempering the sternness of his denunciations, to the Bishop of Liege, a very old man, who was accused of simony, and who died shortly after the receipt of the Pope's letter. Again, he addresses three German prelates, Hanno, Archbishop of Cologne; Wezel, Archbishop of Magdeburg; and Burchard, Bishop of Halberstadt, in March 1075, urging them to promote the cause of clerical celibacy, and to exclude all simoniacs from the service of the Church. To Hanno he writes, very characteristically, that the celibacy of the clergy and the condemnation of simony rest on the authority of the early Fathers of the Church, but, “the Church of Rome now, as much as in times past, possesses the right to oppose new decrees and new remedies to new abuses”.
Not content with exhortations, Gregory took care that the sentence of deposition, which he had pronounced against Hermann, Bishop of Bamberg, who had been guilty of simony, was promptly executed. A few days after the condemnation of Hermann, Gregory signified by letter to the clergy and laity of Bamberg (April 20, 1075) that their bishop had forfeited for ever his charge and his dignities, and he commanded that no one should venture to lay hands upon any of the property of the bishopric “until Almighty God should, through the representative of St. Peter, send them a good and worthy pastor”.
Hermann returned to Germany, and though he did not dare to attempt to act as a bishop, or as a priest, he persisted in attempting to retain the temporal possessions of his forfeited benefice. To remedy this state of affairs in the Diocese of Bamberg, Gregory wrote to the clergy and people of Bamberg, to Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, and to Henry IV. The first letter pronounced canonical penalties against all those who took part with Hermann in despoiling the goods of the Church, and forbade all intercourse with the excommunicated bishop. To Siegfried of Mayence, the Metropolitan of Bamberg, he writes in the most pressing terms, urging him to proceed with the election of a new bishop without delay.
Gregory’s letter to Henry IV is couched in the mildest language. Gregory addresses him as "most glorious King," and continues thus: “Several good reports concerning you have reached us, dear son. We know that you are endeavoring to improve, and that from more than one point of view you deserve well of your Mother, the Holy Roman Church. You have manfully opposed the simoniacs, and moreover you appreciate and wish to promote chastity among the clergy, who are the servants of God. By acting thus you cause us to hope that, with the help of God, your own virtues will go on increasing and come to shine with a most brilliant lustre. Therefore I desire earnestly, and pray with all my heart, that God may give you grace to persevere in the way upon which you have entered, and that He may shower His choicest gifts upon you”. Gregory concludes his letter by asking the King to find a new bishop for Bamberg, and to consult with the Archbishop of Mayence on this matter. The high praise of Henry IV's action in ecclesiastical matters should be remembered in his favor, for later Gregory shows a tendency to assert that Henry's life from 1073 onwards was an unbroken chain of vice and misdeeds.
This letter, which has been denounced by Gregory’s enemies as “flattering and insincere”, is dated July 20.There is no mention of Henry IV's victory over the Saxons, but it seems probable that the Pope feared that the young King, flushed by success, might break off his amicable relations with the Holy See, and enter upon some rash course detrimental to the interests of the Church, for Henry IV was easily elated by prosperity and depressed by adversity. Before Gregory's communication could have reached Henry, two of his ambassadors were dispatched upon a secret mission to Rome, bearing a letter from the King. A letter of Gregory's, written shortly afterwards, reveals the fact that the secret mission of these envoys was to announce to the Pope the impending arrival of Henry IV in Italy, and to ascertain from him whether he would consent to accord the King the Imperial dignity. Henry’s letter referred to ambassadors who were to be sent to Rome at the close of the Saxon expedition. These ambassadors never arrived. Only a messenger was sent, who left after having declared that the King still intended to arrange matters with the Holy See, independently of the princes of the Empire, and that the first envoys were to remain in Rome to await further orders. At the end of August, or the beginning of September, Gregory sent an answer to Henry by the returning messenger, in which he declared himself ready to crown Henry if only the King would “hearken to advice concerning his salvation, and not refuse to render to God the tribute of glory and honor which he owed Him”. At the close of the letter the King is again reminded of the difficulty about the Bishopric of Bamberg. In answer to this Henry now declared that he no higher wished to negotiate “secretly” with the Papacy, but openly, i.e. with the consent and knowledge of the princes of his kingdom. Foreseeing rightly that the Pope would be dissatisfied with this change of policy, Henry begged his cousins, the Duchess Beatrice and the Countess Matilda, to intercede with Gregory, and incline him to entertain the King’s further proposals. Gregory, in his answer to them, expresses his dismay at the King’s change of policy, and a fear that he is not anxious for peace; he dreads, it is evident, the intervention of the princes, “who would rejoice more at discord than at our union”. “Let the King know”, the letter continues, “that We shall not consent to his demands, because though convenient in his own interests they do little honour to St. Peter or to us. If he comes back to his first idea, well and good”.
During the autumn of 1075 the relations between Henry and Gregory became still more strained. At the end of October or at the latest the beginning of November, Henry had sent tree messengers with a letter to Rome, in which, no doubt, he imperatively ordered the Pope to take “steps about” crowning him Emperor. Meanwhile the King’s enemies, and the subdued Saxons, sought to influence the Pope against him, accusing the King of every kind of vice and crime. At the same time, Henry’s action in ecclesiastical matters was not above reproach. He had, it is true, appointed a successor to Hermann, Bishop of Bamberg, who, deserted by all, became a monk in the Monastery of Schwarzach, and had advanced two poor and humble monks to be abbots of the great Monastery of Fulda and the Abbey of Lorsch, for which many rich abbots and monks were competing. But the deeds and words of the King’s envoy, Eberhard of Nellenburg in Lombardy, were at variance with these excellent appointments, and with his expressed relations to Pope Gregory. Eberhard, when in Lombardy, congratulated the people upon Herlembal’'s death, and suggested their sending an embassy across the Alps to his master, who, he promised them, would give them any bishop they chose. All the Patarines were declared to be the King’s enemies, those in Piacenza were turned out of their town, and some were made prisoners, though they were shortly afterwards set free owing to the intervention of the Duchess Beatrice. By order of the King the capitani of Milan made choice of a priest named Tedaldo, and the King, though he had already invested Godfrey, granted the investiture of the Bishopric of Milan to Tedaldo, despite the fact that Godfrey was still living. On December 8, 1075, Gregory wrote to all the suffragans of the Diocese of Milan collectively, and also sent separate letters to various Italian bishops, forbidding them to confer Holy Orders on Tedaldo, or to consecrate or recognize him as Archbishop of Milan. To Tedaldo himself Gregory writes, commanding him to retire, and forbidding him to receive consecration. Henry IV's action in this matter merits the sharpest censure, and Gregory reproaches him bitterly for the breach of his promises. Tedaldo was summoned before the Lent Synod of 1076, to justify himself if possible; he did not, however, appear, but joined the dissatisfied German and Italian prelates, who met at the Diet of Worms, and was suspended and excommunicated in company with them. Later he was definitely deposed.
At this juncture, also, Henry IV presented two of his clergy to the Bishoprics of Fermo and Spoleto, in the very heart of Italy, without even informing the Pope of his choice. These nominees of the King were altogether unknown to the Pope. Gregory hesitated no longer, and dispatched to Henry a letter which, if not a direct declaration of war, was the sullen rumbling of the thunder before a storm. The letter is dated 6 Idus Januarii, but this is an oversight, as it is closely linked with the events of the early part of December. It is important to observe the ground which he took in that warlike manifesto. The letter begins with a conditional blessing, and continues: “Deeply and anxiously weighing the responsibilities of the trust committed to us by St. Peter, we have with great hesitation granted our apostolic benediction, for it is reported that thou still holdest communion with excommunicated persons. If this be true, the grace of that benediction avails thee nothing. Seek ghostly counsel of some holy bishop”. He proceeds to reproach the King for the contrast between his submissive letters and the deferential language of his ambassadors, and his disobedient conduct. The grant of the Archbishopric of Milan without waiting for the decision of the Apostolic See; the investiture of the Bishoprics of Fermo and Spoleto, made to persons unknown to the Pope, were acts of irreverence to St. Peter, and to his successor who represents him. Finally, the synod of February 1075 is mentioned, which “thought fit, in the decay of the Christian religion, to revert to the ancient discipline of the Church, that discipline on which depends the salvation of man. This decree (however some may presume to call it an insupportable burden or intolerable oppression) we esteem a necessary law; all Christian kings and people are bound directly to accept and observe it. As thou art the highest in dignity and power, so shouldest thou surpass others in devotion to Christ. If, however, thou didst consider this abrogation of a bad custom hard or unjust to thyself, thou shouldest have sent to our presence some of the wisest and most religious of thy realm, to persuade Us, in our condescension, to mitigate its force in some way not inconsistent with the honor of God and the salvation of our soul”. The letter ends with a significant allusion to Saul, who “in the flush of triumph refused to listen to the words of the prophet, and was punished by God”, and adds that he, Gregory, will give his final answer, no doubt about the question of the Imperial dignity, when Henry has made up his mind and returned to the Pope a reply by the ambassadors who bear his letter. Besides this document a message was sent by word of mouth by these ambassadors, that Henry should do penance for the crimes of which his subjects accused him. These horrenda scelera are not specified; and it will be remembered that Gregory had, in the early part of the year, spoken in praise of Henry. The shock and surprise of the King must have been great when, instead of hearing of his prospects in the Empire, he was told that he deserved to be deprived of the kingdom of Germany. In spite of these “horrid crimes”, Gregory, we learn, was willing to crown Henry IV as Emperor, if he would follow his advice and reform. Gregory’s informants were the Saxons, and others of Henry's enemies who had gained the Pope’s ear; and, not content with complaints and accusations against the King, invented the grossest lies and most disgraceful calumnies. The writer of De Unitate Ecclesiae complains that the Pope gave a too ready credence to these slanders. The secret mission and the letter were taken to the King in Germany by the three envoys—Gregory gives their names as Rabbodi, Adelpreth and Uodescalki.
In the meantime, Gregory’s strained relations with Germany were not without their effect upon his Italian allies. Gisulfo, Prince of Salerno, and Richard, Prince of Capua, had laid aside their private differences and become allies, since both were menaced by the ambition of Robert Guiscard. Guiscard, who had designs upon Salerno, now determined to detach the Prince of Capua from Gisulfo. Such an alliance would be invaluable to him in the case of a fresh intervention on the part of Gregory VII, or a descent on Southern Italy by Henry IV. Richard also wished for peace; the alliance with Gisulfo had not procured for him the advantages he expected from it, and he reflected that Gisulfo’s fall seemed imminent; therefore, like a true Norman, he joined the winning side. The alliance with Robert Guiscard was of especial moment to the Prince of Capua, as he wished to annex Naples and its territory, and to do this a fleet was indispensable; with Robert Guiscard, the sovereign of Palermo, Messina, Reggio and Bari, as an ally, the capture of Naples was rendered possible. Robert Guiscard and Richard of Capua had an interview and “laisserent la compaignie de li amis non polens et jurerent de l'un traitier la utilité de l'autre et estre en damage de touz los anemis”. The wording of the old chronicler is most happy, and accurately describes this new alliance. The Prince and the Duke mutually gave back the conquests they had made at each other's expense, and promised to help each other, the one to take Naples, and the other Salerno. While Richard and Robert Guiscard were preparing to fall upon Salerno and Naples, Robert of Loritello, who had been excommunicated at the synod of 1075, continued to push his conquests at his neighbors’ expense, especially to the detriment of Trasmond, Count of Chieti. Trasmond, after a long series of hostilities, “seeing the will of God to be against him”, surrendered unconditionally to Robert of Loritello, paid him sums of money, acknowledged his suzerainty, and received again from him part of the lands he had lost.
A few weeks after Count Eberhard had been sent into Italy by the King of Germany, died Hanno, the great Archbishop of Cologne, who had been responsible for much of Henry’s early education in the gloomy palace in Cologne. Hanno was a rigid Churchman, of imposing personality, dead to the world, and austere, but full of single-eyed devotion to his office. Lambert writes of him as “a man endowed with every virtue, and renowned for his justice in civil as well as in ecclesiastical causes”; but he admits that “he was liable to transports of ungovernable anger”. After the death of Hanno, Henry, knowing too well the danger from that princely See in able hands, had forced a monk named Hildorf, of obscure birth and feeble mind, to take the bishopric.
While the difficulties between Henry IV and Gregory were growing to a head, Gregory’s person was not safe from assault at Rome, though he could still count upon the fidelity of the people at large. There was living at Rome a certain Cenci, son of Stephen, a powerful prefect of Rome. Cenci had been the master of the Castle of St. Angelo, and the master of that stronghold was an important personage in Rome. Paul of Bernried writes that Cenci spent the whole of the year 1075 in recruiting enemies against the Pope. We know nothing of the motives or the accomplices of Cenci, nor whether the act was due to political motives or to private animosity.
Cenci chose Christmas Day for the execution of his project. The rain poured down in torrents, and very few Romans were abroad, but the Pope, with a few ecclesiastics, went to celebrate the midnight Mass in the remote Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Only a small number of people attended; the Pope and his assistant clergy had just received the Holy Communion, and were in the act of administering it to the people, when Cenci's soldiers burst into the church, swept along the nave, dashed down the rails, rushed to the chapel of the Presepe, and seized the Pontiff. He was wounded on the forehead; and bleeding, stripped of the pallium, chasuble and alb, the Pope made no resistance. They dragged him out of the church, mounted him behind one of the soldiers, who galloped off and imprisoned him in a strong tower. The priests hurried to Rome to report the outrage, and the clergy in the different churches broke off their services and rushed into the streets, inciting the people to rescue and revenge.
All night trumpets pealed and bells tolled. The city gates were immediately shut and guarded, so as to prevent Cenci from taking his victim out of the city. At daybreak a meeting was held in the Capitol, and on learning that the Pope was not dead, but a prisoner in a tower near the Pantheon belonging to Cenci, the Romans rushed to his rescue. Engines were brought to the siege, and the walls began to give way. Cenci awoke to the consciousness of his danger and the inadequacy of his outrage. “One faithful friend and one noble matron had followed the Pope into his dungeon. The man had covered his shivering body with furs, and was cherishing his chilled feet in his own bosom; the woman had staunched the blood and bound up the wound in his head, and sat weeping beside him”.
As soon as Cenci realized his danger he threw himself at the Pope’s feet and implored him to save his life. Gregory, it is said, contrived to save him from the mob, who on breaking into the fortress would have torn him to pieces. Paul of Bernried, in his biography of Gregory VII, improves the occasion by putting a long and tasteless discourse into the mouth of the captive Pope, which deserves no further notice. Gregory VII was brought from his prison, and the populace broke down the walls. The Pope, still stained with blood, was carried back to Santa Maria Maggiore, surrounded by a great crowd, there to complete the interrupted Mass before returning to the Lateran. The different accounts unite in ascribing great courage, self-command and generosity to Gregory VII, which must have won the sympathies of the people. Such popularity was not to be underrated when a breach between the Pope and the King of Germany was in prospect.
The King was in the royal palace of Goslar, in Saxony, in January, when the three envoys returned from Rome, bringing with them the Pope’s letter and secret instructions. In the face of Gregory’s message Henry’s anger burst forth uncontrollably. His one thought was now to avenge this insult, as he considered it.
Lambert of Hersfeld expressly states that the ambassadors bade Henry appear before a synod at Rome to answer for his offences. If he should refuse or delay, he was to incur sentence of excommunication. This, however, is an error into which the chronicler has been led by the strength of party feeling, for there was no hint in Gregory’s letter of December, or in the embassy, of an invitation of the King to Rome. Henry at once convoked a great council at Worms for Septuagesima, January 24, 1076.
The message, though it perhaps did not state that Gregory VII would depose Henry IV, yet must have certainly asserted that such a measure lay within the Pope's power. Henry IV evidently understood the message as a threat of deposition, otherwise his action at Worms would appear like a tilting at windmills. Bonitho attributes it to Henry's exultation at the subjugation of Saxony.
In the emergency one course alone seemed left open to Henry. “In Germany the idea of a temporal sovereign was but vague, indistinct and limited; he was but the head of an assemblage of independent princes, his powers, if not legally, actually bounded by his ability to enforce obedience”. The spirit of Teutonic independence was often opposed to the Empire, while the idea of the Papacy was an integral part of German Christianity.
It was only by questioning the title of the individual Pope, and degrading him from his high position, that the Papacy could be lawfully opposed by Christian nations or its power shaken. It was a daring expedient, but one which commended itself to Henry and his counsellors.
Upon the appointed day twenty-four bishops and two archbishops of Germany obeyed the royal summons and assembled at Worms. Prominent among the assembly were Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, and Cardinal Hugh Candidus.
At the head of the document stood the names of the Archbishops Siegfried of Mayence and Udo of Treves. The former, who in 1076 was a zealous partisan of Henry IV, changed front suddenly, and in the following year became an ardent Rudolphian; the latter, though he withdrew his assent later from the Decree of Worms, retained his fidelity to his King, and would have nothing to do with the Rudolphian party. Gregory VII had a deep respect for the independent and staunch Churchman and loyal subject, as we gather from his letters.
No secular partisans of Henry IV attended the diet, with the exception of Godfrey of Lorraine. Hugh Candidus, who must have suspected the outbreak of the storm between Henry IV and the Pope, came in the hope of opposing Gregory VII. According to Bonitho, the Cardinal delivered his accusations against Gregory in a speech, while Paul of Bernried states that he came with letters from Rome. Lambert of Hersfeld is doubtless correct in his statement that the Cardinal was provided with a formal document containing the accusations against Gregory VII. It has been assumed that these are the same as those charges which were brought forward four years later at the Synod of Brixen, but this is unlikely, or the bishops would have made use of the Brixen charges in the letter from Worms. This document, which was signed by six-and-twenty prelates, declared the accused had forfeited the power of binding and loosing, and was no longer Pope. The renunciation of allegiance was drawn up in the strictest form.
“I,------ , Bishop of ------, disclaim from this hour all allegiance to Hildebrand, and will neither esteem nor call him Pope”.
Only two bishops, Adalbero of Würzburg and Hermann of Metz, hesitated to sign the document. They argued that it was unjust and uncanonical to condemn a bishop without a general council, without accusers and defenders, and without warning the accused of the charges made against him; how much more a Pope. William of Utrecht, the boldest partisan of Henry, offered them the choice of disclaiming their allegiance to the King, or signing the document. To this force they yielded. The chronicle of Hildesheim states that the bishop of that city, who had been a leader in the Saxon insurrection, signed only from fear of death sed quod scripserat, obelo supposito damnavit!
The bishops’ letter accuses Gregory of having seized the Papacy by force, “in defiance of right and all justice”; of taking away from the bishops, as far as he possibly could, the powers that the grace of the Holy Spirit confers upon them; of withdrawing from bishops the right of condemning or absolving anyone who has committed a crime in their dioceses; of the scandal he had given to the Church by his “unbecoming familiarity” with a married woman, whose name is not mentioned by the bishops, but who we learn from Lambert of Hersfeld was intended for the Countess Matilda of Tuscany; and the undue influence of women upon the judgments and decrees of the Holy See. This last accusation is based upon Gregory's sympathy with three women, the Empress Agnes, Beatrice and Matilda, and there is no doubt that he appealed to them for advice and sympathy. In one letter he says: “We desire your, counsel in our affairs, as our sisters, and daughters of St. Peter”, and it is on the advice of Matilda, and of the Empress Agnes, that Gregory wrote in 1074 his first letter to Henry IV. Finally, in a remarkable letter to Matilda, Gregory wishes to lead a crusade, accompanied by both Agnes and Matilda, his “sisters”. These utterances of Gregory, and his close relations with these three women, would naturally have aroused unfavourable comment at the time, and suggested the charge of “undue familiarity”.
With the bishops’ letter was sent one written by the King, in his own name, to “Hildebrand”, beginning: “Henry, not by usurpation, but by God’s ordinance, King, to Hildebrand, no longer Pope, but a false monk”. The letter accuses him of the pride with which he had tyrannized over all orders of the Church, and trampled them underfoot like slaves—archbishops, bishops and the whole clergy; of a pretence to universal knowledge or to universal power. (Taking the King’s humility for fear, Hildebrand had threatened to rob the King of his royal power, “as though royalty and Empire were in thy hands, and not in the hands of God”.) By craft thou hast obtained money, by money influence, by influence the power of the sword; by the sword thou hast mounted the throne of peace, and from the throne of peace destroyed peace, arming subjects against their rulers, bringing bishops appointed by God into contempt, and exposing them to the judgment of the laity. Us, too, consecrated of God, amenable to no judge but God, who can be deposed for no crime but absolute apostacy, thou hast ventured to assail, despising the words of that true Pope, St. Peter, Fear God, honor the King! Thou that honourest not the King, fearest not God! St. Paul held accursed even an angel from heaven who should preach another gospel; this curse falls upon thee who teachest this new doctrine. Thus accursed, then, thus condemned by the sentence of all our bishops, and by our own, come down! Leave the apostolic throne which thou hast usurped. Let another take the chair of St. Peter, one who preaches not violence and war, but the sacred doctrine of the Holy Apostle. I, Henry, by the grace of God King, with all the bishops of my realm, say unto thee: Down! down!”
Another letter was addressed by Henry to the clergy and people of Rome. In this he accuses Hildebrand of having denied him coronation as Emperor, and tried to deprive him of the kingdom of Italy. Gregory “would hazard his own life to strip the King of his life and kingdom”; therefore, acting on his rights as patrician of Rome, Henry has deposed the Pope, and calls on the people to rise up against him. “Be the most loyal—the first to join in his condemnation. We do not ask you to shed his blood; let him endure life, which, after he is deposed, will be more wretched to him than death; but if he resist, compel him to yield up the apostolic throne, and make way for one whom we shall elect, who will have both the will and the power to heal the wounds inflicted on the Church by their present pastor”. This letter to the clergy and people quotes the text of Henry's letter, quum hactenus, to the Pope, which is somewhat less energetic than the letter hanc talem, of which we have quoted on the preceding page. Quum hactenus was probably the first to be written; and, after writing it, Henry seems to have felt the need of more bitter and precise expression of his anger, hence the letter hanc talem. It is in this latter alone that the accusations that “Hildebrand paved his way to the Papacy by simony and violence” are found, and the expressions of scorn at the beginning and conclusion of the letter are more pronounced.
In neither letter does Henry IV attempt to clear himself of the accusations of the “horrid crimes” that Gregory had brought against him. He contents himself with taking the war into his enemy’s country. He stands forth as the defender of the oppressed clergy of Germany. He accuses the Pope of attempting to diminish the rights of the bishops, and of treating the clergy as “slaves”. The stern and harsh measures frequently adopted by Gregory, a certain tactless and domineering tone which he occasionally adopted towards the bishops, account for this charge. Henry complains that Gregory had refused to crown him Emperor, a title to which he, as King of Germany, claimed the hereditary right; and had attempted to alienate the kingdom of Italy—probably by Gregory’s alliance with the Normans, a rising menace to the King’s power in Italy. In the letter hanc talem the Pope is reproached with having gone beyond the limits of his proper province, and of having denied the apostolic doctrine of the independence of Kingship.
The Bishops of Spires and Basle were charged with the promulgation of the Decree of the Council of Worms in Italy and in Rome, and they started on their mission accompanied by the old Count Eberhard, who undertook to protect them on their errand. Henry’s plan was to have the deposition of Gregory VII proclaimed at the Roman Synod, and he hoped that the Romans would send him an embassy begging him to appoint the future Pontiff, whom Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine, offered to conduct to Rome, to be there consecrated and enthroned. The two bishops were welcomed with enthusiasm by the Lombard clergy, the old party of Cadalus and the married clergy, and a synod held at Piacenza ratified the Decree of Worms. When it came to the point of carrying the decree to the Pope himself, the Bishops of Spires and Basle refused to proceed any further, and finally a priest named Roland, of the Diocese of Parma, consented to bear the communication to Rome.
Even contemporary writers recognized the importance of the Decree of Worms and the action of Henry IV. Gebhard of Salzburg and Hugh of Flavigny lay stress upon the fact that “Worms was the beginning of all the calamities”. Some lines in the Codex Udalrici complain that the Pope is seeking to unseat the King, and the King the Pope; and express the wish that some third power would restrain the opponents and confine them to their respective provinces ut rex regnum papatum papa teneret.
Modern critics emphasize the hasty, impolitic and unconsidered nature of the Decree of Worms and the volte-face of Henry IV in attempting to invalidate the election of the Pope, whom he had more than once recognized as the legitimate head of the Church. His wiser course would have been to answer Gregory's accusations, and to protest against the Pope’s novel assumption of a right to depose him. Gregory, too, in sending his ultimatum in such extreme and mortifying language, is not beyond blame.
However the blame may be apportioned, it is clear that both men were fighting for an idea. Gregory’s principle was that it was his right as Pope, as successor to St. Peter, to depose kings, while Henry withstood such an assumption, as an unheard-of novelty in Christendom, with all his energy. He himself was permeated with the idea that in temporal matters he was independent of the Pope, and subject to God alone. This began the first political struggles of the Church in the Middle Ages, in which a great principle was at stake.
THE ROAD TO CANOSSA,
FEBRUARY 14, 1O76-JANUARY 28, 1O77
In the first week of Lent in the year 1076 the Roman Synod was assembled under the presidency of the Pope in the Church of St. John Lateran. The bishops, who numbered 110, had come some from France and Central or Southern Italy, while a large concourse of clerics, abbots, monks and laymen filled the church. No prelates from Germany or Lombardy had responded to the summons of the Holy See.
At the opening of the first session, immediately after the singing of the hymn, Veni, Creator, the Pope was about to pronounce the preliminary discourse when Roland entered with a companion, and presented the letters of the King and the bishops to Gregory, with an appropriate speech. His words at once aroused a tumult, swords were drawn, and Gregory had to interpose his own person to save the King’s ambassador.
Paul of Bernried supplies the miraculous element in this scene, and states gravely that the synod were considering a new-laid egg, upon which a black serpent rose, as it were, in high relief, and coiled round the smooth shell, but it had struck on what seemed a shield, and recoiled writhing. This was interpreted by the Pope as follows: “The egg was the Church; the serpent, the emblem of evil, stood for Henry, who should strike his head against the Church”, and so forth. The speech put into the Pope’s mouth by Paul of Bernried is weak, and crowded with biblical quotations. The anecdote of the egg is paralleled by Beno’s story, that the seat upon which Gregory sat to deliver sentence upon the King (whom Beno’s sympathies paint as innocent, and friendly to the Pope) broke asunder!
The Pope’s answer to Henry was threefold: He forbade him to govern Germany and Italy, dispensed all his subjects from the oath of allegiance they had taken to him, and forbade everyone to obey him as a king.
Finally, the King was excommunicated. Gregory considered Henry’s action from two standpoints: Henry as a ruler had risen against St. Peter, and was therefore forbidden to govern his kingdom; as a Christian he had made himself unworthy of fellowship with the Church, and received excommunication. Another ground is given by Gregory for this excommunication, viz. Henry’s disobedience in continuing to hold intercourse with excommunicated persons, his “many sins”, and his contempt for the advice the Pope had given him. The King’s mother, the Empress Agnes, was among the audience, and heard sentence passed upon her son.
One might have expected the definite deposition of Henry IV after Gregory’s embassy to the King, which had said that the King deserved to lose his kingdom irrevocably for his horrenda scelera; but Gregory did not carry out the programme indicated in his embassy in its entirety. It is possible that he may have suspected that Henry’s enemies had overstated their case against him, and had carried their accusations too far, and that he had listened to baseless slanders.
The February synod excommunicated, with Henry IV, Siegfried of Mayence and the bishops who had of their own free-will concurred in the proceedings of Worms. They were suspended from their episcopal functions, interdicted from the Holy Eucharist, except in the hour of death and after due penance. Those who assented from weakness and compulsion were allowed time to make their peace with the Holy See. The bishops of Lombardy who had ratified at Piacenza the Decree of Worms were suspended from their episcopal functions and severed from the communion of the Church, like Siegfried of Mayence and those bishops who had signed, of their own free-will, the Worms document.
As Hefele remarks, there was no compulsion in the case of the Lombardian bishops: they had not come under the influence of the King.
It is noteworthy, in this connection, that whereas the majority of the German bishops made their peace with the Holy See in the course of the summer, the Lombard bishops remained firm in their opposition. They replied to the censures of the February synod by an assembly in Pavia, in which the Pope was condemned in the harshest terms.
In the Register, after we are informed that the Worms prelates were censured at the February synod, the text of Gregory’s excommunication of the King is given under the heading : Excommuncatio Henrici regis Teutonicorum. The form of the speech is original, and could have had no precedent, as hitherto no reigning prince in such a position as Henry IV’s had ever been excommunicated.
The King’s messengers appear to have been ill-treated by the Roman mob after the synod. Henry IV, writing to Altwin, Bishop of Brixen, complains that the Pope treated them cruelly, imprisoned them, caused them to suffer cold, hunger, thirst and cruel blows, and made them a spectacle to the people as they were led through the streets of Rome. The Empress Agnes, however, says that the messengers were attacked by the Romans, and it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the Pope was innocent and unaware of the “rough justice” of the Romans, especially as it is admitted by Henrician writers, as well as by his own partisans, that he saved the life of Roland at the synod.
Shortly after the council the Pope wrote an encyclical, in which the bishops who attended the Diet of Worms are not anathematized directly, but are stigmatized as “schismatics”, “those who blaspheme the name of the Lord in Blessed Peter”. At the close of this document reference is made to the King of Germany, whom “Blessed Peter” (that is to say, Gregory himself, who here, and elsewhere, identifies himself with the prince of the Apostles, in his official capacity) has anathematized.
The mandates of Gregory were to promulgate themselves, they were unsupported by any strong temporal forces. The Pope, indeed, was master in Rome, and might depend, perhaps, on his firm ally, the Countess Matilda; he might possibly, as a last resource, summon the Normans; but it was not to these secular powers that he trusted, but to the spiritual terrors of the papal threats, “the incomparable powers” of the Pope as the “earthly Peter”.
It is not surprising, however, to find that in the early months of 1076 negotiations took place for the purpose of reconciling Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger of Sicily to the Holy See. Gregory orders Arnold, Bishop of Acerenza, to go to Count Roger, who “begs to be blessed and absolved by the Holy See”, and if he promises obedience and does penance, to absolve him. If Robert Guiscard also consents “to obey the Holy Roman Church as a son should obey his mother”, Gregory, for his own part, is ready to absolve him from excommunication.
The negotiations failed, as had all similar attempts in the preceding year. Gisulfo of Salerno proved to be an unsurmountable obstacle in the way of reconciliation.
Immediately after Easter, the bishops and abbots of Lombardy assembled at Pavia, under the presidency of Guibert, Archbishop of Ravenna, anathematized Gregory VII and declared their allegiance to Henry IV. A complete schism was formed, and seemed to be irremediable.
Meanwhile, the Duchess Beatrice, the mother of the Countess Matilda, and a firm ally of Gregory VII, died on April 18, 1076. Beatrice, who was a cousin of the Emperor Henry III, had, as we have said, married, firstly, the Margrave Boniface of Tuscany, who was murdered in the year 1052; secondly, Godfrey (the Bearded) of Lorraine. As Beatrice and Godfrey were related in the fourth degree of consanguinity, the marriage must have been considered invalid at the time; but no steps were taken about the matter. Godfrey the Hunchback—son of Godfrey the Bearded, and husband of the Countess Matilda—was assassinated not long before the death of the Duchess Beatrice (it is said by the emissaries of Robert, Count of Flanders), and in him Henry IV lost a devoted adherent and an experienced soldier, who had fought with him in his campaign against the Saxons.
The excommunication of the King of Germany, the fact that he was cut off from all fellowship with the Church, and to be avoided by all Christian subjects, made a deep impression. When the news of the excommunication spread abroad, says Bonitho, “the whole world of Rome shook and trembled”. It is true that to many distant and outlying districts the news must have been slow in penetrating, for as late as 1077 the Archbishop of Cambray declared himself uncertain as to Henry’s fate, but Henry’s position became gradually more and more isolated. The direct consequence of the excommunication of a prince was that subordinates, officials, soldiers, etc., were obliged to desert the excommunicated person, so that such a sentence in time became ipso facto one of deposition.
After his defiance of the Pope at Worms, Henry went to Goslar, where he busied himself with the exile of the Saxon hostages to the most distant parts of the kingdom, the imprisonment of all suspected persons, and the construction of numerous fortified castles. From Goslar he proceeded to Cologne in the beginning of March, as he was anxious to settle the matter of the nomination of his creature, Hildalf (or Hildorf), as Archbishop. In spite of the strong opposition of the clergy and people, he refused to alter the choice he had made, and arranged that Hildalf should be consecrated by William, Bishop of Utrecht. The King kept Easter at Utrecht, and there he presented his young son and heir, Conrad, with the Duchy of Lorraine, vacant by the death of Duke Godfrey. It was here, on March 27, that he heard the sentence of the Pope. His first impression was that of dismay, but he soon recovered, and declared he would revenge himself. At once he ordered Bibo, Bishop of Toul, who was staying at the court, to declare, during the solemn Mass in the cathedral, before all the people, that the excommunication was invalid. The Bishop dared not execute this order, and, though attached to Henry, he secretly withdrew from the city with the Bishop of Verdun, who shared his fears and anxieties.
In William of Utrecht fidelity to the King was combined with a fierce hatred of the Pope, and he it was who took the place of the Bishop of Toul, and made the declaration requested by Henry IV. He even went further. At every opportunity he broke forth against the Pope, whom he called “the perjurer, the adulterer and the false apostle”, and declared him excommunicated, not by himself alone, but by all the bishops of Germany.
If he had hoped for the King’s favor in return for his zeal and services he was deceived. Henry met William’s request for a bishopric for his nephew with a refusal. So greatly was the Bishop chagrined, that he separated himself from the King’s party, without, however, going over to the Pope’s side. He died in April of the same year. That the people of Utrecht were not well disposed towards Gregory is shown by the fact that they gave the excommunicated Bishop honorable burial.
He had died under the ban, and Bishop Henry of Lüttich, who had retracted his share in the Diet of Worms, asked the Pope’s advice as to the prayers that were used for the soul of the departed Bishop. Gregory’s answer proves that he was not fully informed as to William of Utrecht’s share in forcing his reluctant colleagues to subscribe to the letter of the bishops. He suggested that William’s consent at Worms might have been due to pressure, and on this false hypothesis he allowed masses and prayers to be said for his soul.
Gregory VII had expected Henry to lead the royal army into the plains of Lombardy, and accordingly assembled troops, and in concert with the Countess Matilda organized a plan of resistance. Henry’s only reply was to summon another council at Worms, like that of the preceding year. Besides a general invitation to the bishops of his realm, he addressed a special letter to Bishop Altwin of Brixen, in which he reiterated his conviction that “Hildebrand” was an intruder, who “took possession of the Papacy and of royal authority contrary to the will of God”.
The King’s summons received but little attention; of the three bishops who, by the King’s command, were to accuse the Pope, one only, Ebbo of Naumburg-Zeitz, was present at Worms. We have mentioned the sudden death of William, Bishop of Utrecht; and Altwin, Bishop of Brixen, was held prisoner, on his way to Worms, by Hartmann, Count of Dillingen. One single accuser was insufficient, and the question had to be deferred to another assembly convoked at Mayence (June 29, 1076).
Meantime, the Pope’s excommunication of Henry was the opportunity of the Saxon princes; on every side of the King sprang up a growing hostility, conspiracy or desertion. Bishop Hermann of Metz had surreptitiously released some of the Saxon chieftains entrusted to his charge, and began to take the foremost place among the partisans of Gregory in Germany. The King, it was said, had threatened revenge by marching upon Metz, but had been obliged to abandon this measure. Udo, Archbishop of Treves, and his suffragans, Theodoric and Hermann, had already made their peace with the Holy See, shortly after the February synod. The Pope contented himself with allowing the three prelates to choose their own penance, and to perform it in their own dioceses without journeying to Rome. Udo therefore remained in Germany, and received the papal absolution from the legate at Tribur in October.
The assembly at Mayence was considerably larger than the second assembly at Worms. No attempt was made by it to name a successor to Gregory VII. The leaders of the opposition to Henry held aloof and maintained a menacing neutrality. The King’s strongest hold upon the disaffected Saxons was that he still held some of their leaders as hostages. Now some of the greater nobles, following the example of the Bishop of Metz, liberated the Saxon prisoners whom the King had confided to their charge. Thus Hermann of Salm, uncle of Duke Magnus, and many other nobles, were able to regain their country. The King’s policy now began to be wild and vacillating. He determined to set the remaining Saxon hostages at liberty. To the Bishops of Magdeburg, Meiseburg and Meissen, to Duke Magnus and the Palatine Frederick, and other Saxon and Thuringian nobles, he offered their liberty on promise of fidelity. Before they left their guardians Henry earnestly begged them to aid him in the pacification of Saxony. This they promised willingly, regarding these promises as extorted from them during their captivity, and hence null and void. They were brought to Metz to receive their freedom from Henry in person; but even in this he failed, for the prisoners escaped in the confusion resultant upon a fray in the city between the Bishop of Bamberg and a rival Churchman.
The King decided to lead an army into Saxony, attacking it from the west on the side of Bohemia. He took with him only a very small body of men from Germany, and recruiting a small army in Bohemia, with the assistance of Duke Wratislas, waited for the arrival of the troops of Otto of Nordheim and other lately-released hostages who had sworn fidelity in the marches of Meissen. Otto, however, had fallen from the King’s side, and refused to come to his assistance, and a retreat was inevitable for the King and his army. Within six months the authority so ably consolidated by Henry IV in 1075 had melted away.
Gregory, meantime, neglected none of his own weapons of warfare, and from this point of view it is interesting to examine the correspondence carried on during this year between Germany and the Holy See. He addressed himself both to the Churchmen and to the lay people. In a letter to Henry, Bishop of Trent, Gregory assures him that before the Feast of St. Peter (June 29) he will make known to all the faithful the reasons which placed him under the necessity of excommunicating the King.
In an undated letter (probably written in April 1076) Gregory mentions that people begged of him to make peace with the King of Germany, and at the end of July he addresses a manifesto to all Christians in the Roman Empire, reiterating his accusations against the King and expressing his wish for his repentance. Another undated letter was sent, probably in August, to Germany in answer to the reproaches as to his excommunication of the King, which had been criticized as overhasty and unconsidered. Gregory reverts in this letter to his former affection for Henry, the care with which, even when a deacon, he had warned his youth, and had continued his warning in mature age. In spite of Henry’s fair words and messages the King had returned evil for good, and “lifted up his heel against St. Peter”, and had caused nearly all the bishops of Germany and Italy to “apostatize”. When gentle measures had failed with him, Gregory was forced to try the sharper method of excommunication. The letter concludes with an expression of Gregory’s willingness to receive back the King, if penitent, to the communion of the Church.
That Gregory’s action was not entirely satisfactory even to his party is proved by his letter to Hermann, Bishop of Metz, who had pressed him for an explanation. The Pope’s letter was short, and not, apparently, satisfactory to the inquiring Bishop, for later, in 1080, Bishop Hermann repeated his question. Gregory’s second and very full letter also was not destined to set the Bishop’s mind at rest, for even after the Pope’s death we find the Bishop referring his difficulty twice to the Archbishop of Salzburg!
The two letters to Bishop Hermann may be considered together; they both attempt to answer the assertion of Henry’s supporters that the Pope had no power to excommunicate the King.
The Pope wrote that “though their folly deserved it not, he would condescend to answer”. What was his answer? A fiction of the forged Decretals, an extract from a charge delivered by St. Peter to Clement of Rome; the deposition of Childeric of France by Pope Zacharias, and certain sentences of Gregory the Great, intended to protect the estates of the Church, and anathematizing all, even kings, who should usurp them; and finally the example of St. Ambrose of Milan and Theodosius the Great. No single conclusive passage is given from the New Testament in favor of Gregory’s hierocratic power of deposition which he claimed for the Papacy, and the instances chosen from the early history of the Church have no real bearing whatever upon the case. They are, historically, valueless as precedents for Gregory’s step.
Turning from historical instances, Gregory, using his favorite argument a fortiori, demands: “Why is the King alone excepted from that universal flock committed to St. Peter? If the Pope may judge spiritual persons, how much more must seculars give an account of their evil deeds before his tribunal? Think they that the royal exceeds the episcopal dignity, the former the invention of human pride, the latter of divine holiness; the former ever coveting vainglory, the latter aspiring after heavenly life?” “The glory of a king”, St. Ambrose says, “compared to that of a bishop is as lead is to gold”. Constantine the Great took his seat below the lowest bishop, “for he knew that God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”.
It will be seen that instead of answering the Bishop of Metz’s question, or stating that, as a possible standpoint, the King was excommunicated as any other private person might be, and that the political consequences of the excommunication of a ruling prince were not the concern of the Pope, Gregory utters a series of reflections, such as those upon the nothingness of the royal dignity and the wickedness of princes, which have no bearing upon the point at issue.
A third letter to the German people commanded them, if the King did not immediately repent, to dismiss his excommunicated advisers, and admit that the Church was not subject to him as his servant, but superior as a mistress, and to forsake those usages which had been established in the spirit of pride against the liberty of the Holy Church (the investiture), to proceed at once to the election of a new sovereign, and one approved by the Pope. The Empress Agnes, the Pope believes, will give her consent to this when Henry is deposed. As Henry had made no attempt to reconcile himself with the Pope, the Pope considered the possibility of setting up a king in his stead. On October 31 Gregory insisted that it was high time for Henry to repent, if he did not wish to lose all.
But before this date an attempt was made in Germany to solve the difficulty. Henry IV appeared in October at Oppenheim, while the princes assembled at the neighboring town of Tribur, on the 16th of that month. Hither came Rudolph of Suabia, Welf of Bavaria, the bishops of Henry’s and of the papal party, which was steadily increasing its adherents. Already at Ulm, where the assembly at Tribur had been agreed upon, Otto, Bishop of Constance, had made his peace with the Holy See, and Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, had done the same, and henceforth cut himself entirely adrift from Henry IV. The Bishops of Strasburg, Liege, Munster and Utrecht obtained easier absolution, some of them having, from the beginning, shown their disapproval of the King’s policy.
It is unfortunate that the only detailed account of the Diet of Tribur is from the unveracious Lambert of Hersfeld, whose object was to show that to remedy the state of Germany only one course remained, which was to elect another king. Lambert is responsible for the statement that Henry offered abject submission to the Diet, and that he had to accept the hard terms that they chose to impose. The whole affair, he writes, was to be reserved for the Pope’s decision, who was to hold a council at Augsburg on the Feast of the Purification in the ensuing year. In the meantime, if the King was not absolved from the ban of excommunication before the full year expired from the date of his sentence, he forfeited irrevocably all right and title to the throne, and his subjects were released from their allegiance. He must dismiss all whom the Pope had excommunicated, disband his army, and retire to Spires with the Bishop of Verdun and some chosen servants, who, in the opinion of the princes, were not under sentence of excommunication. At Spires the King was to live as a private individual, he was never to enter a church, never to interfere in the government of Germany, not to wear any distinctive sign of royalty, and this was to continue until the final sentence should have been pronounced at the Synod of Augsburg. He was to deliver the city of Worms to its bishop, and to disband its garrison. Worms was to swear fealty to its bishop, and give him hostages, so that the bishop need fear no revolt or treason in the town so faithful to Henry IV.
Lambert of Hersfeld is the only authority for the number of obligations which Henry was obliged to take upon himself, and his testimony cannot be accepted in its entirety, as he was biassed by his wish to blacken Henry’s character and set the conduct of the princes in the best light. The princes are bound by no obligations, according to him; but if Henry IV broke even one of his promises, they are to be justified in taking what steps they please, without waiting for the Pope’s decision!
Still further to justify the princes, Lambert even goes so far as to invent a “law of the Empire” providing for the special case of the King’s losing his crown, in the event of his excommunication lasting over a year!
Henry, after the Diet of Tribur, left for Spires; the Bishops of Bamberg, Basle, Lausanne, Osnaburg and Naumburg-Zeitz, with the Archbishop of Cologne, were left to make their peace with the Holy See.
Putting upon one side that accumulation of promises by which Lambert of Hersfeld declared that Henry IV was bound, we get the real results of the Diet of Tribur in two documents wrung from the King by the princes, the Promissio and the edict. Ekkehard is correct in saying that the King resolved on a journey to Rome, to make his peace with the Pope, as the result of the diet, and the Annales Yburgenses assert that the princes threatened to revolt unless the King became reconciled with the Pope.
There is no doubt as to the authenticity of the Promissio; and only the latter part of the superscription,
Promissio Henrici regis quam fecit Hildebrando papae, qui et Gregorius,
dates from a later period.
There is no mention of the excommunication, but the King declares his willingness to give satisfaction for any imminutio of the papal dignity arising from his actions; that is to say, he repudiates the results of the first Diet of Worms, and recognizes Gregory as legitimate head of the Church. He also promises obedience to the Pope in ecclesiastical matters.
In the second paragraph Henry declares: “As to the graver accusations formulated against me in reference to my conduct towards this See and towards your Holiness, I shall prove my innocence at any opportune moment. I will refute them by God’s assistance, or I will spontaneously submit to the penance I shall have deserved”.
What were the “graver charges” of which Henry speaks, which were attributed to him by rumor? The only possible explanation is that Henry had been accused of connivance at, if not of participation in, Cenci’s attack upon the Pope’s person. That such an accusation is baseless is shown by the fact that, at the time of Cenci’s attack, there were strained relations truly, but there was no open breach, between the King and the Papacy; and later, in Henry’s letter from Worms, he cautions the Romans to depose the Pope, but not to shed his blood. Even the Pope does not appear to have thought at this date that Henry was guilty of aiding or abetting Cenci; and it is only later, in 1080, when strife broke out afresh between them, that he appears to lean to this opinion. The last section of the Promissio contains the following strange appeal to Gregory: “It is also advisable that your Holiness should pay attention to the reports that have been circulated about you, and which cause scandal in the Church; purify the conscience of the Church from this stumbling-block, thus securing, by your wisdom, universal peace, both for the Church and for the kingdom”.
That Henry should have dared to address such a remonstrance to the Pope at such a moment seems at first sight so unprecedented as to cause us to look upon this paragraph with suspicion. It seems, however, clear that Henry, while recognizing the Pope, and taking no notice of the frivolous charges brought against him, was firm on one point, and we are reminded of the accusations of the influence and intimacy of a mulier aliena brought forward by the bishops at Worms. The name of the lady is not mentioned in either this or the letter from Worms; but Henry is anxious that Gregory should prove the falsity of these reports, for the good of both Church and State.
While the Promissio was addressed to the Pope, the King’s edict was addressed to the King’s subjects. In this edict Henry speaks in royal style, and offers “the glorious expression of his good-will” to his people. He suggests that he has been led into his breach with the Pope by some one’s advice or influence, a statement which is belied by Henry’s very independent letter to Gregory after the Diet at Worms, and concludes by cautioning all those who have been excommunicated by the Pope to take the necessary steps to gain their absolution.
Both the Promissio and the edict give the impression that they were forced from the King by the pressure of his nobles. They are hardly mentioned by the chroniclers, for those who were partisans of Henry were not anxious to bring them into prominence when war broke out anew between the King and the Papacy. Those opposed to the King, especially those of the party of Rudolph of Suabia, could make little use of them; what they wanted was a document embodying many promises made by the King, which he was afterwards to treacherously deny and repudiate.
According to the chronicler Berthold, Udo, Archbishop of Treves, was charged with conveying the King’s letter to the Pope. The Pope would not read it except in the presence of the ambassadors deputed by the Assembly of Tribur. On hearing the letter, the ambassadors exclaimed and protested that it was not the same as the one which had been composed at Tribur; they declared that important modifications had been introduced. The Archbishop of Treves, after first defending the authenticity of the document, was obliged to admit that it had been tampered with; he protested, however, that he did not know the author of the interpolations!
Berthold is notoriously unveracious; the double role he assigns to Udo is not in harmony with the Archbishop’s open and loyal character, and finally, Gregory makes no mention in his correspondence about such a falsification of the King’s letter, which must, if true, have been commented upon by him. He merely says that he has colluctationes with the King’s messenger.
The princes, independently of Henry, had begged the Pope to come in person to Germany and act as arbiter at Augsburg, and Gregory welcomed this proposal. It was to Henry IV’s interest to receive absolution in a personal interview with the Pope, independently of accepting the Pope as arbiter between him and the princes of Augsburg. To this, however, Gregory would not agree.
As appears from two interesting letters written at the close of the year 1076, the Pope had decided to undertake the journey into Germany, and the princes had, of their own free-will, offered him an escort. Great changes had taken place since the pontificate of Leo IX, who travelled with safety, without an escort, where he pleased, but now the hostile feelings of Northern Italy towards Gregory rendered a strong guard essential if he were to pass through it in safety. His letters show that the Pope was ready to brave even martyrdom in attempting this journey to Augsburg, and all his advisers and friends, with the exception of Matilda, sought to dissuade him from such a step. We do not know what grounds they had to fear such evil consequences, but the political condition of Northern Italy was always unfavorable to Gregory, and others may have feared a political or diplomatic failure for him. In December, too, Robert Guiscard had taken possession of Salerno, and Gisulfo, the only ally in Italy upon whom the Pope could rely, was at the conqueror's mercy; and it might have occurred to Robert Guiscard to make an attack upon Rome during Gregory’s absence.
In spite of all difficulties in his way, Gregory left Rome after Christmas, and reached Mantua on January 8. The escort, however, was not ready to meet him, and Gregory turned aside and took up his abode in Canossa, a strong castle belonging to his devoted friend the Countess Matilda, to await it.
Meantime, the news that Henry had left Spires had entirely altered the views of the princes, who foresaw that when Henry was freed from the sentence of excommunication the Diet of Augsburg would sink into insignificance. The escort, therefore, they deliberately withheld, now the Pope was no longer a useful tool to them. It must be admitted, at the outset, that the princes’ object was, not the reform, but the deposition of the King; they had wished to humiliate him by means of the Pope, and then to induce the Pope to set them free from their allegiance. All their schemes were shattered by Henry’s sudden journey into Italy. The attitude of chroniclers who were opposed to Henry IV confirms the theory that the absence of the escort was deliberate. Lambert of Hersfeld, usually so full of information, is entirely silent, and other chroniclers have invented a tissue of fabrications to explain its absence. The princes, it appears from one of Gregory’s letters, informed him that there were “difficulties” in the way of sending the escort.
Henry had left Spires, and now carried out the programme suggested in his Promissio. In October he had recognized Gregory as the legitimate Pope, and it was still necessary for him to offer a devota satisfactio for his policy at the Diet of Worms. In leaving Germany for Italy, his intention was to do penance and win his absolution before the Diet of Augsburg. His messengers had failed in inducing the Pope to agree to give him an audience at Rome, but he wished to try the effect of a personal interview. He had not bound himself in the Promissio to await the Pope’s decision in Germany; the place and nature of his submission were still undefined, and he knew that if he made his act of submission for the Decree of Worms, absolution could not be refused him. Hardly had he left Spires, when the princes foresaw that his move would checkmate his opponents, and attempts were made to stop his entry into Italy. Henry, however, succeeded in reaching Italian soil after a long and dangerous journey, of which Lambert gives this detailed and somewhat romantic account.
With difficulty Henry had collected from his friends and followers sufficient money to defray the expenses of the journey across the Alps, of which the passes were guarded by the dukes of Bavaria and Carinthia. He started on his journey with his wife and their infant son Conrad and one faithful servant, and turned aside into Burgundy. According to Berthold, it was at Besancon that he was joined by his wife and son. At Besancon Count William of Burgundy, his mother’s cousin, entertained him with courtesy, and here he passed Christmas with something approaching to royal state. From Besancon he crossed the Rhone at Geneva, and advanced to the foot of Mont Cenis. Here he was met by Adelaide, Marchioness of Susa, his mother-in-law, and her son Amadeus, who gave him a favorable reception, but demanded the cession of five rich bishoprics in Italy as the price of his free passage through her dominions. Finally, Henry ceded to her instead a rich district which he possessed in Burgundy. The King now began to cross the Alps.
“The winter”, writes Lambert, “was very severe; the mountains they must cross were nearly lost to view, and seemed to disappear in the clouds; the cold was intense, and there had been heavy falls of snow, so that neither men nor horses could advance in the narrow roads alongside precipices without running the greatest risks. Nevertheless, they could not delay, for the anniversary of the King’s excommunication was drawing near, and the King knew, according to the decision of the princes, that if he were not absolved before this first anniversary, his cause would be irrevocably ruined, and that he would lose his kingdom ... Accordingly they enlisted the help of some peasants accustomed to the perilous passes of the Alps, who consented, on receipt of payment, to precede the King and his escort, and cut a passage for them along the edge of the precipices through the snow. By the help of these guides, and after surmounting the greatest difficulties and hardships, they reached the summit of the mountains; but it was impossible to advance further: glaciers covered the other side which they had to descend, and how could they venture upon that polished surface? To escape this imminent danger the men were obliged either to crawl upon their hands and knees, or to be carried upon the shoulders of their guides, but even then they could not avoid a great many falls, and frequently rolled down the steep inclines. They only completed the descent after having thus many times risked their lives. As for the Queen and the women attached to her service, they were placed on a kind of sledge made of oxhide, and the guides dragged them the whole way. Some of the horses were hauled along the pass by means of machines, others were dragged with their feet tied; but many died, or were lamed, and very few reached their journey’s end in safety”.
No sooner was the King’s unexpected arrival made known in Italy than the bishops and nobles assembled in great numbers to meet him, and within a few days he had a large army at his disposal. One reason for his popularity was the belief that he had crossed the Alps to depose the Pope. Henry, however, had to admit that he could not now plunge into this new warfare, and that his only object was to free himself from the sentence of excommunication.
To Canossa, before Henry appeared, had come many of the nobles and prelates who had been included under the ban of excommunication, with bare feet and in the garb of penitents. The bishops were shut up in solitary cells, with but a small supply of food, till the evening; the penance of the laity was apportioned to their age and strength. After this ordeal of some days they were called before the Pope and received absolution, with a mild rebuke and repeated injunctions to hold no communion with their master till he should be reconciled to the Holy See.
Canossa is planted on the summit of a craggy hill, a spur of the Apennines as they descend on the plain of the Po, about twenty miles south-east of Parma. It is now entirely deserted, and every tradition of the great scene which it witnessed has perished. But its situation and the outline of its ruins agree with the notices in the contemporary chronicles. It stands on a rock of a white or ashy tint, which probably gave it the name of Canossa, as the ruddy color of the crags of a neighboring fortress, also belonging to the Countess, is perpetuated in the name of Rossina. Alba Canossa is the designation given to it by Donizo, who puts into the mouth of the castle a long panegyric on the family of Matilda, and a proud remonstrance with the neighboring Mantua :
Sum petra non lignum. Nuda silex
well describes its bare, stony eminence. The only habitations near the place are a few cottages gathered round a church at the foot of the hill. It is not possible to ascertain distinctly where the chapel stood within the castle, where the absolution took place. Indeed, the space is so narrow on the crest of the rock that it is difficult to imagine how the Countess and her illustrious guest could have found room. But the triple wall mentioned by Lambert can easily be traced.
Henry, on hearing that the Pope had taken refuge in Canossa, went to Reggio, where he left part of his escort, notably the bishops of Lombardy, and advanced towards Canossa accompanied by the Marchioness Adelaide, Amadeus Azzo, Marquess of Este, and a few servants.
Having arrived within a short distance from Canossa, the King sent for the Countess Matilda and Hugh, Abbot of Cluny, who were then with Gregory, to come and confer with him, probably seeking their influence and mediation with the Pope. Then, in the penitent’s garb of wool, and barefoot, the King appeared before the walls of the fortress. He had laid aside every mark of royalty, and, fasting, he awaited the pleasure of the Pope for three days. The severity of the penance was enhanced by the coldness of the season. Bonitho speaks of it as a “very bitter” winter, and says that the King waited in the courtyard amid snow and ice. Even in the presence of Gregory there were loud murmurs against his pride and inhumanity. At last, owing to the intercession of the Countess Matilda and Hugh, Abbot of Cluny, the Pope relented, and admitted Henry to his presence. Henry promised, by word of mouth, to amend his life, and gave a written promise, which Gregory refers to as “The oath of Henry, King of the Germans”. The official document of January 28 begins with the words Ego Henricus rex, and closes with adjuvabo, and is witnessed by the Bishops Humbert of Praeneste and Gerald of Ostia, two cardinals, Romani, Peter and Conon, two Romani diaconi, Gregory and Bernard, and the sub-deacon Humbert on the Pope’s side; and upon the King’s by the Bishops of Vercelli and Osnaburg, the Abbot of Cluny and many noblemen. The document is more remarkable for its omissions than for its contents; there is no reference to Gregory’s assumptions of the February synod of 1076, and Henry does not recognize the Pope’s right to depose him and free his subjects from their allegiance. There is no word of the question of investiture; all the document amounts to is that the King will set no obstacle in the way of the Pope, if the Pope desires to journey into Germany; and that he, the King, will abide by the Pope’s decision as arbiter. That Gregory was still contemplating this journey into Germany is proved by a letter (R. IV. 12), where he remarks that, in spite of the King’s absolution, the real point at issue is still in suspenso.
Henry took no steps at Canossa, as he had suggested in his Promissio of October of 1076, to clear himself from certain grave charges that were brought against him, and his scrupulus scandali about the Pope in the same document is also left untouched and undiscussed.
Henry, having submitted as penitent to the Pope, was now absolved, practically unconditionally. He thus gained his object, freedom from the sentence of excommunication; he had submitted as a Churchman, and had made no effort to induce Gregory to remove the contradictio regiminis or give back his subjects to their allegiance, since, according to Henry’s views, these were not in the Pope’s power either to grant or to dispose of.
The unconditional absolution of the King was not to the taste of the historians inimical to Henry. Bruno, therefore, and Lambert invent a conditional absolution. Lambert relates all the conditions necessary for the King to fulfill. He was to appear in the place and at the time which the Pontiff should name to answer the charges of his subjects before the Pope himself, if it should please him to preside in person at the trial. If he should repel these charges, he was to receive his kingdom back from the hands of the Pope. If found guilty, he was practically to resign his kingdom, and pledge himself never to attempt to seek revenge for his deposition. Till that time he was to assume none of the insignia of royalty, to perform no public act, to appropriate no part of the royal revenue which was not necessary for the maintenance of himself and of his attendants; all his subjects were to be held released from their oath of allegiance; he was to banish for ever from his court the Bishop of Bamberg and the Count of Cosheim, with his other evil advisers; if he should recover his kingdom he must henceforward rule according to the counsel of the Pope, and correct whatever was contrary to the ecclesiastical laws. On these conditions the Pope granted absolution, with the further provision that, in case of any prevarication on the part of the King on any of these articles, the absolution was null and void, and in that case the princes of the Empire were released from all their oaths, and might immediately proceed to the election of another king. Naturally, Henry does not fulfill these conditions, and, according to Lambert, again falls under sentence of excommunication.
After absolution in due form, Henry received Holy Communion, to show that he was fully reconciled to the Church. That he did so is attested by two Italian writers on the papal side, Bonitho and Donizo, and by the author of De Unitate Ecclesiae.
If Henry had refused to receive the Sacraments, Gregory must have mentioned the fact in his letter to the Germans, whereas he says that the King was received in communionis gratiam, et seminio sanctae matris ecclesiae. In his address at the council in 1080 there is no hint that any painful or disturbing incident had occurred at Canossa. But two writers, Berthold and Lambert of Hersfeld, both biassed by their partisanship of Rudolph of Suabia, chose to represent Henry, for their own purposes, as refusing the Sacraments. Berthold simply states that the Pope found new causes of suspicion in the King’s refusal, but Lambert’s lengthy and detailed anecdote deserves closer scrutiny.
His story is as follows : When Gregory was proceeding to celebrate the Eucharist, he called the King and his partisans to the altar, and lifting in his hands the consecrated Host, the Body of the Lord, he said : “I have been accused by thee and by thy partisans of having usurped the Apostolic See by simoniacal practices, and of having been guilty, both before and after my elevation to the Episcopate, of crimes which would disqualify me for my sacred office. I might justify myself by proof, and by the witness of those who have known me from my youth, and whose suffrages have raised me to the Apostolic See. Yet, in order not to appear to rely on the testimony of men rather than that of God, and to take from every one all pretext of scandal, by a rapid and prompt satisfaction, here is the Lord's Body, which I am going to receive; may It become for me the proof of my innocence, so that the All-powerful God may absolve me today from the crime of which I am accused if I am innocent, or strike me dead if I am guilty”.
He then received the Sacred Host. A pause ensued, he still stood unharmed. Then all the people shouted for joy, praising God and congratulating the Pope. Gregory, then turning to the King, said: “Do thou, my son, as I have done. The princes of the German Empire have accused thee of crimes heinous and capital, such as in justice should exclude thee, not only from the administration of public affairs, but from the communion of the Church, and all intercourse with the faithful, until thy dying day. They demand that the day and the place should be fixed to discuss the accusations brought against thee. But human judgments are liable to error; falsehood, set off by fine words, is listened to with pleasure; truth, without this artificial aid, meets with contempt. But I wish to assist thee, because thou hast implored my protection; act now according to my counsel. If thou art conscious of innocence, and persuaded that thy reputation is falsely attacked by calumny, by this course free the Church of God from scandal, and thyself from a long and doubtful trial. Take this part of the Body of our Lord, and if God avouches thy innocence thy accusers may cease to charge thee with crimes, and I shall become the advocate of thy cause, the assertor of thy innocence, thy nobles shall be reconciled to thee, the kingdom given back, and the tumult of civil war that desolated the Empire be stilled for ever”.
Henry, in his amazement, hesitated, and retired to consult with a few followers how he should escape this terrible ordeal. He then declared that he must first obtain the opinion of those princes who had adhered to his cause; that though this trial might be satisfactory to the few present in the Church, it would not have any effect upon the obstinate incredulity of his absent enemies. He adjured the Pope to reserve the whole question to a general council, in whose decision he would acquiesce. The Pope consented, and then condescended to receive the King at a banquet, treated him courteously, and gave him much good advice.
In the whole episode Lambert trusts to the credulity of his readers. Gregory here is simply made the mouthpiece of the princes, through which they express their dissatisfaction with Henry. Henry had, in October 1076, withdrawn all the charges he had made against the Pope, and yet Lambert makes the Pope address Henry as if the King still obstinately persisted in his standpoint of the Diet of Worms. Finally, Lambert puts into Henry’s mouth an earnest request for a general council, whereas the one object of his dangerous journey into Italy and his painful penance at Canossa was to render the General Council of Augsburg, with the Pope as arbiter, unnecessary.
Gregory had meantime announced to the Italian nobles the absolution of the King, while he himself wrote to the princes of the Empire, giving an account of Henry’s penance, and saying that he “desired to pass into their provinces at the earliest opportunity, in order to settle everything fully for the peace of the Church and the union of the kingdom, as we have long desired to do”.' Gregory’s triumph was by no means as complete as has been generally represented by historians, who have been misled by the picturesque accessories of the scene. The King’s absolution was actually a political checkmate to Gregory.
It is not true to say, with Milman, that “the triumph of sacerdotal Christianity, in the humiliation of the temporal power, was complete”; nor with Bryce, that “one scene in the yard of Countess Matilda’s castle, an imperial penitent standing barefoot and woollen-frocked in the snow, till the priest who sat within should absolve him, was enough to mark a decisive change and inflict an irretrievable disgrace on the crown so abused”.
There was actually no point in which Henry acceded to Gregory’s assumptions, and “the historical incident which, more than any other, has profoundly impressed the imagination of the Western world”, resolves itself into a simple act of penance to which no far-reaching political consequences could be attached, and which cannot be described as an “epoch-making” event in the struggle between the Papacy and the Empire. Of far more moment, far more decisive in the history of Gregory’s pontificate, was the February synod of 1076, for from this dated the beginning of his “hierocracy”.
The King’s penance, it is true, was a severe one, but his health does not appear to have suffered from it. As to the exterior form of it, the “humiliation” of the bare feet and woollen frock was customary at that time, and every penitent submitted to it. In 1074 Henry had presented himself in the same garb before the papal legates at Nuremberg. It should be remembered that Henry went to Canossa of his own free-will, uninvited by Gregory; the penance was his own unaided and free choice. He came and left the castle as King, without seeking from the Pope any new recognition or restitution of his royal dignity. What he had gained was that it was now possible for him to enter into normal relations with his subjects and with all Christians, who had avoided him since the ban.
Gregory’s apparent triumph thus vanishes, if we closely consider it. He had wished to be arbiter at the Diet of Augsburg; he is checked by the absence of the escort. As a priest he cannot refuse absolution to a sincere penitent, and Henry’s absolution overthrows the plans of his opponents. He delays, foreseeing, as a politician, the effect of the absolution upon the princes of the Empire, but in vain. His hand had been forced by the King, and his delay only caused an unfavorable impression among those of his party assembled at Canossa.
It is certain that the Pope himself felt no triumph. Doubtless he foresaw that the absolution of Henry was not to be the prelude to peace and reconciliation between the opponents, but to new difficulties and new struggles.
THE INTRUSION OF RUDOLPH OF SUABIA,
JANUARY 29, 1O77-FEBRUARY 27, 1O78
If the penance of the King at Canossa was looked upon with disfavor by the “Lombard bulls”, the Patarines of Northern Italy gathered new strength from such an exhibition of the influence of the Holy See, and sent a deputation from the city of Milan to the Pope promising obedience for the future. Arnulf, the historian of the Church of Milan, who had abandoned his prejudices against the Papacy, tells us that he took part in this embassy.
Henry IV, after his penance and absolution at Canossa, had retired to Reggio. From Lombardy he intended to return to Germany. In later Rudolphian writers we find it stated in various forms that Henry had lost the crown in February 1076, and had not been restored to the royal dignity at Canossa; in the meantime he was not to be considered as king. Thus Berthold complains that Henry kept Palm Sunday at Verona “as king”, without having received the Pope’s permission for this royal state, and Bernold is responsible for a foolish story that Henry, almost immediately after leaving Canossa, wished to depose Gregory, and to set up Gregory, Bishop of Vercelli, in his stead. Paul of Bernried relates that Henry sent to demand permission for his coronation as King of Italy at Monza, and even among the partisans of Henry there was a suggestion that the royal power was limited at Canossa, and the author of De Unitate Ecclesiae asserts that the Pope had forbidden Henry to use the ensigns of royalty.
Henry, meanwhile, was making a progress through Lombardy. That his presence there increased the bitterness of the Lombard bishops against Gregory is evident from Gregory’s own testimony in a letter written at the end of February or in the early days of March 1077; but, though Gregory regrets the King’s presence in Lombardy, he does not expressly blame him for the seething discontent of the bishops. That Gregory had no intention or wish to break with the King is certain.Around the King were assembled almost all the distinguished prelates and laity who had formed his small court at Oppenheim, now released from their excommunication:
Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen;
the Bishops of Zeitz, Osnaburg, Lausanne and Basle;
Ulric of Cosheim
and Eberhard of Nellenburg, the favorite counsellors of the King; and last, but not least, the ambitious Guibert of Ravenna. The relation of Henry to his Lombard subjects is obscured by the Rudolphian writers, whose object it was to represent Henry as infringing some condition, or conditions, imposed upon him by the Pope. Bonitho relates that the Pope had required from the King no guarantees, no promise to amend his life, but an understanding that he would avoid the company of the excommunicated, i. e. the Lombard bishops; hence he represents him as avoiding the Lombard bishops by day, and holding secret conferences with them by night.
Lambert of Hersfeld gives a different version of Henry’s attitude. Henry had met with an ill reception in Lombardy; everywhere he was greeted with contemptuous indignation. There were no deputations of the magistrates; no processions of the people to meet him; the gates were closed; he was left to lodge in the suburbs. Provisions were doled out in barely sufficient quantity for his maintenance, and altogether unbefitting his royal station; guards were posted to watch his followers, lest they should dare to rob and plunder in the neighboring villages. Henry perceived this, not without some satisfaction, for, if it showed hatred and contempt for him, it showed a yet deeper hatred and contempt for the Pope. In order to reconcile the Lombards, Henry now resolved to break his foedus with the Pope, and, as Lambert rhetorically says, to “brush away contemptuously, like cobwebs”, the conditions the Pope had bound upon him.
This, if true, would go far to justify the next step of the German princes, viz. the election of Rudolph of Suabia as king, in opposition to Henry IV.
The revolted German princes had decided among themselves that they had no wish to welcome Henry, even though absolved from his excommunication. The Dukes of Suabia, Bavaria and Carinthia, with some of the Saxon chiefs, and Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, who was now deeply committed, chose the course of advancing boldly to the deposition of the King. They had met at Ulm at the beginning of February, but the severity of the weather forced them to disperse, and the snow had prevented the arrival of many. They now appointed the decisive diet on March 13, at Forchheim.
The princes took no steps to inform Gregory of their intentions; indeed, they deliberately misled him. Gregory had sent a letter to them by a trusted messenger, Rapoto, who was charged by them with a verbal communication to the Pope. Rapoto reached Gregory at Canossa or Carpineto, where the Pope was residing at the beginning of March. The princes warmly urged the Pope to come to Germany, but recommended him only to undertake the journey with the consent and concurrence of the King! With the firm intention of electing an anti-king, the princes referred the Pope to King Henry to make the journey possible. Gregory was entirely duped, and immediately after the return of Rapoto sent messengers to the King to attempt to arrange matters with him. Meantime, he sent his two legates, the Abbot Bernard of Marseilles and Bernard the cardinal-deacon, in whom he had “all confidence”, as his representatives to the diet. They took with them, when they started on their journey on the last day of February, a letter from him to the archbishops, bishops, princes and people of Germany, of which the following extracts are of especial interest :
“At last we have heard from our son Rapoto, whom We sent to you, what were your desires and intentions. You ask Us to come to you, and, for greater safety, to undertake this journey by the advice and with the concurrence of the King. Accordingly, acting on your request, desirous to conform Ourselves in all things to your will and counsels under the good pleasure of God, We have tried, through our legates, to settle this point with the King. Will he agree with you and Us on this matter? We cannot answer before our legates leave, for the King is too far off; but as soon as We shall hear, We will not delay to communicate with you.
“You must know, then, that Our will, Our desire, is to join you, for the sake of the common interests and for the good of all, either with the King's consent, or in spite of him, if need be. If the sins and efforts of the wicked make this project impracticable in my absence, I shall always beg the All-powerful God to strengthen your hearts and your faith, in grace and virtue, to give a happy direction to your counsels and actions”.
Before Gregory’s negotiations with the King could be brought to a decisive termination he was surprised by the tidings that Rudolph, the Duke of Suabia, had been elected King on March 15, at the Diet of Forchheim.
Rudolph, who was born about the year 1020, became Duke of Suabia in 1057. In 1059 he married Henry IV’s sister Matilda, who died shortly afterwards. Rudolph’s second wife was Adelheid of Turin, whose sister Bertha was married to Henry IV. In spite of these alliances Rudolph and Henry never appear to have stood on friendly terms. When the King was in difficulties in the summer of 1073, Rudolph wrote to the Pope complaining of the King, and begging the Pope’s interference. Gregory praised him for his zeal, but required fuller information, and suggested that Rudolph and other persons aggrieved should come to Rome to discuss the question. Rudolph answered bluntly in the negative. After a long pause, Gregory again entered into relations with him in January 1075, at which period he urged upon Rudolph and the Duke of Carinthia to deal severely with the bishops who were stained with simony and immorality. Rudolph had openly accused himself of having been guilty of simony, and suffered a kindly correctio.
In the summer of 1075 he had fought on Henry’s side against the Saxons, before his final desertion.
No sooner had the news of the absolution at Canossa reached the princes, than they prepared to set up a king in opposition to Henry. They had welcomed the King’s excommunication with joy, and they were proportionately disgusted at his rehabilitation. They had failed in making the Pope their tool to overthrow Henry, and they now prepared to discard and even act counter to the Holy See.
The diet met at Forchheim, and among those present were the Archbishop of Mayence, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg, the Dukes Welf, Otto and Berthold. Arnulf of Milan admits that the princes, especially Rudolph, Berthold and Welf, had long plotted Henry’s downfall, and discussed the election of a new king daily. Finally, Henry was deposed in great haste at the diet, and Rudolph of Suabia chosen king. Gregory, in 1080, speaks of the electors of Rudolph as episcopi et principes ultramontani; later on he uses the more comprehensive term Teutonici.
Bruno the Saxon states that among the terms to which Rudolph swore were : I. To leave the choice of the bishops free; and II. Not to endeavor to make the throne hereditary in his family. The former stipulation is absurd, for, theoretically, the German throne was regarded as elective; but it is probable that Rudolph declared, either spontaneously or owing to pressure from others, that he would make no claim for the crown for his heirs.
The second stipulation is not supported by any authority, and is in itself extremely improbable. The temper of the Forchheim election and the heat of party feeling would have been unfavorable for the discussion of such questions.
A Rudolphian anecdote, that Rudolph sent an admonition to King Henry in Italy not to enter Germany until his mother, or the Pope, should have prepared the way for his reception, may be dismissed, together with the equally untrustworthy assertion of Saxo, that the cardinal-legate Bernard excommunicated the King anew shortly after the absolution at Canossa, and forbade him to rule—for what sins it is not stated.
Rudolph was crowned at Mayence, and Paul of Bernried remarks gravely that the election of Rudolph at Forchheim was pleasing to God, for shortly afterwards “mild weather set in!” But in spite of this indication of divine satisfaction the inauguration of Rudolph was in blood. No sooner had he been crowned than a fierce tumult broke out between the followers of some of his supporters and those of Henry. Though quiet was restored, the Archbishop and the anti-King left Mayence never to return. Paul of Bernried passes over the event in silence, but Berthold and Bernold admit the tumult, though their account of the proportion of the loss of Rudolph to that of his adversaries cannot be taken seriously, while Bruno the Saxon admits that several of Rudolph’s men were slain and many wounded.
That the election of Rudolph was without the knowledge and consent of Gregory, and even against his wishes, is abundantly proved by the Pope’s own utterances. It is not until later, in 1080, that Gregory declared himself in Rudolph’s favour, and at that date he proudly declared that he had stood aloof from the Forchheim election:
Episcopi et principes ultramontani sine meo consilio elegerunt sibi Rodulfum ducem in regem.
Rudolph’s election besides being a surprise, must have been a severe blow to him. Gregory had declared, after the absolution of Henry IV that his presence as arbiter was necessary in Germany; but the princes, by the election of Rudolph, no longer desired the papa intervention in the affairs of Germany. The Pope was no longer to stand in the proud position of umpire between Henry and his dissatisfied subjects.
Gregory utters no word in defence of the princes’ policy, and never suggests that it met with his approval. In a later encyclical before November 1083, he speaks very strongly on the subject This, however, is after the death of the anti-King. “God is our witness that if Rudolph, who has been made king by those beyond the Alps, has been thus raised to the throne, it has not been done by our advice. We even decided in synod that if the archbishop and bishops who arranged it were unable to explain their conduct satisfactorily they should be deprived of their dignities, and that Rudolph also should lose his crown”.
Gregory never suggests that the princes were justified or forced into this election by any action of Henry IV, and though he dared not openly condemn the princes, it is clear that he is quite aware of the emptiness of their pretexts for revolting against the King.
As he had not foreseen the Forchheim election, it was impossible for him to have given instructions to his legates to go and confirm it in his name. Ekkehard speaks of Rudolph’s being elected in the presence of the papal legates, who did not consent of their own freewill; and the annalist assumes that they were subjected to some pressure. It is possible that they were recommended to be silent as they might have protested against the election. On the other hand, it was to the interest of both Henrician and Rudolphian writers to represent the Pope (either personally or by means of his legates) as actively favoring the Forchheim election.
On the one hand, the Henrician party wished to paint Gregory in even blacker colors, as deserting the rightful King after having given him absolution, while the Rudolphian side felt the need of claiming the support of the Holy See in their revolt.
The Henrician writers care little for the papal legates; it is the Pope himself they wish to brand as treacherous. They accuse him of being silent about, and therefore consenting to, the Forchheim election, or of being the instigator, and entirely responsible for it.
The Rudolphian party, who were greatly shaken by the death of their leader so early in the struggle, felt the necessity of making the Pope, in the person of his legates, responsible for the election of the anti-King. Berthold, Bernold and the romantic Lambert of Hersfeld have each contributed their share in the fabrication of Gregory’s responsibility but Lambert, as usual, is the most productive and plausible in his fictions. His story runs as follows: “The King had brushed away his promises like spiders’ webs”; and consequently the princes sent an embassy to the Pope beseeching him to appear at Forchheim in person. The Pope, who had heard of Henry’s faithlessness from other quarters, now sent the cardinal-bishop Gregory to Henry to beg him to decide to appear in March at Forchheim, so that the question of the restoration to him of the crown of Germany or his final deposition might be settled. Naturally Henry refused, upon absurd pretexts. The Pope, however, sent two legates to Germany with the message that it was impossible for him to travel to Germany in person, but he recommends the princes to do their best for the kingdom, too long troubled by the puerile levity of one man, until, if God will, he is enabled to conquer the difficulty of the journey and consult with them for the future good of all, and for the peace of the Church. With these phrases Lambert concludes his annals, but leaves his readers with the impression that Gregory's communication to the princes necessitated the deposition of Henry IV!
Bernold’s account of the matter is very short. He makes the legates assert that Henry had broken his promises to the Pope by taking captive the Bishops Gerald of Ostia and Anselm of Lucca, and by protecting and favoring at his court in Lombardy all simoniacal and excommunicated persons! After this communication of the legates the princes elected Rudolph king.
Berthold, on the other hand, lays greater stress upon the complaints of the princes than upon those of the Pope ; so many and bitter, indeed, are the princes’ complaints of Henry’s misgovernment, that the legates express their astonishment that the German nation should so long have endured such a king. Henry is deposed and declared unworthy of the name of king ob inaudita ipsius millefaria flagitia.
Gregory’s biographer, Paul of Bernried, agrees with Berthold in some respects, but introduces some variations of his own into the story. According to him, a certain Count Manegold had been dispatched to Gregory with the account of the proceedings at Ulm and a respectful invitation to the Pope to attend in person at the Diet at Forchheim. According to Paul of Bernried, Manegold’s interview with Gregory took place on March 1 at Canossa, a date upon which we know that Gregory was no longer at Canossa, but at Carpineto, where he remained several days, while the remainder of the month was spent by him in Carpi and Bibianello.
Gregory at once decides to send the “cardinal-deacon” Gregory to Henry to arrange with him for the escort. While the Pope remarks that this will be the test of Henry’s fidelity, that the result will show if Henry is to receive his crown again, or be for ever deposed, blood flows from his hand. The company present feel that this is a forewarning of some great event. The King refuses the safe-conduct, and Manegold immediately returns to Germany and vanishes from the scene for ever!
The papal legates to Germany read the Pope’s letter to the Diet at Forchheim. They make, at first, some show of moderation, and mildly suggest the expediency of postponing the choice of a king until the Pope’s arrival, but, with convenient modesty, they intimate doubts whether it can be done without danger. This rouses a storm of recrimination against the King; every man brings forward his grievance, and Bernried says that the legates could not count even the half of the complaints urged against him.
On the following day it was repeated that Henry should remain king not an hour longer. The two Bernards reiterate that the best course is to refrain from making a definite choice at present. Upon a little further pressure, they give consent to the election of Rudolph, and thus the princes were provided with the authority and sanction of the Church for the step they had taken.
Bruno’s story is that Henry had made two promises at Canossa viz. not to assume the insignia of royalty without the Pope’s permission, and to avoid the company of excommunicated persons. He breaks both these engagements. Bruno then narrates the story of the Forchheim election, at which, he says, the legates confirmed the choice of the princes, apostolicce sublimitatis auctoritate.
To the tendency of Henrician and Rudolphian writers to make Gregory largely instrumental in the election of Rudolph is to be referred the anecdote of the Pope sending a crown to Rudolph shortly after, or before, the Forchheim election. Sigbert of Gembloux writes that the crown bore the inscription—
Petra dedit Petro
Petrus diadema Rudolpho.
Another version of the inscription is—
Petra dedit Romam Petro
Tibi papa coronam.
The anecdote has no greater historical value than Benzo’s story ol the coronation of Nicholas II; Gregorian and Rudolphian writers do not mention it, and the sending of a crown to Rudolph—thereby symbolizing the desertion of Henry’s and the recognition of Rudolph’s cause—would have been impossible in the year 1077, for it was not until three years later that Gregory consented to recognize Rudolph as king.
Landulf elaborates the anecdote still further, for he writes that upon the instigation of Matilda, Gregory sent Rudolph a crown of cunning workmanship, set with precious stones (before March 1077), in order to incite him against Henry; and Petrus of Monte Cassino assumes that a crown was sent twice : first by Matilda’s instigation, in the year 1077, and again in 1080, after the Pope’s final breach with Henry IV!
Owing to the Forchheim election and the changes resultant from it, Henry’s Promissio had become a dead letter; he had promised at Canossa to accept the Pope as arbiter between himself and the revolted princes; there was, naturally, no thought at the time of the pope as arbitrator between himself and an anti-king.
No sooner had the news of his rival’s election reached King Henry in Italy than he sent from Pavia to the Pope to demand Rudolph’s excommunication. The King did not, as yet, feel strong enough to do without the support of the Holy See. Gregory had recourse to an unworthy subterfuge—the injustice of condemnation without judicial investigation of the cause. Every unprejudiced person must admit this was a most unsatisfactory response; for there was no necessity to investigate the rivals’ claims to the throne. Henry had reigned since the year 1056, and had won a tacit recognition at least of his royal dignity even at Canossa. Rudolph could bring forward no claim; he was plainly an usurper. Gregory had once nobly written that it was his duty and business “to defend the rights of all”. Why did he not defend those of Henry?
Unfortunately the Pope could not lay aside his deep-rooted suspicion of the King’s character, and at the same time dared not seriously oppose the German princes; thus he came to speak of the King’s indubitable claims as open to discussion, and in consequence this lack of frankness was to cause him the utmost embarrassment.
Rudolph, immediately after his proclamation as King, sent an ambassador to the Pope, declaring that he had been forced to take upon himself the cares of the government, and that he would obey the Pope in all things. The idea of pressure in Rudolph’s election is a pure fiction on the part of the anti-King.
Neither Henry nor Rudolph had appealed to the Pope to settle their rival claims, though each was doubtless anxious for the papal support for himself and the papal denunciation of his opponent. Gregory, however, appears to have seen an opportunity to step forward as an arbiter, to command both parties to lay aside their arms and await his award. As we shall see, for nearly three years Gregory maintained this doubtful policy, holding the language of peace, but claiming the right, which could not but be inadmissible, to dictate the terms. From Mayence Rudolph went to Ulm, in the centre of his former Duchy of Suabia, and thence proceeded to Augsburg, where he intended, in order the better to strengthen his royal authority, to preside at an assembly composed of the great ecclesiastical and lay feudatories. The positive opposition of Emmeric, Bishop of Augsburg, and the ill-will of the inhabitants of the city, did not permit him to realize this project; besides, several nobles in his suite, anxious to return, home, had left him, and did not answer to his summons. Rudolph then announced that the proposed diet would take place at Esslingen in the middle of May, and he then started off in the direction of the west, towards German Switzerland and Burgundy.
It might seem that the intrusion of a rival king called into action all the dormant forces of Henry’s cause. Everywhere a large part of the clergy even in Rudolph’s Duchy of Suabia refused to break their oath of fealty to Henry, and it became evident that Rudolph would have to conquer by force of arms half of his new kingdom. While besieging the fortress of Sigmaringen news was brought to Rudolph that Henry, having crossed the Alps, was advancing towards him with an army, and had already reached the confines of Suabia, leaving his son Conrad and the government of Italy to the Bishops of Milan and Piacenza.
On arriving at Ratisbon on May 1, Henry was at one received with ardor by his partisans. The fierce Bohemian, half pagan allies, led by their duke, Wratislas, also joined the standard of Henry, and Berthold estimates his army at 12,000 men.
Rudolph, outnumbered, was obliged to withdraw into Saxony to raise more troops, leaving the Dukes Welf and Berthold to defend the Duchy of Suabia, so that Henry was able to proceed to Ulm the capital of Suabia, where he pronounced sentence against Rudolph Welf and Berthold. The three confederates were declared traitors and as such despoiled of all their fiefs and dignities, and condemned to death. The King’s unforeseen return had disconcerted his enemies, and in Bavaria, Suabia and Franconia, and in nearly the whole of the valley of the Rhine, only a few of the great nobles fortified in their strong castles, dared still resist; the people submitted, and gave up Rudolph’s cause as irrevocably lost. In the course of June, Henry removed to Nuremberg, where he announced his intention of leading a large army into Saxony.
But Rudolph had resolved to take the initiative, instead of waiting to be attacked in Saxony, and at the Diet of Moersburg he persuaded the Saxons to advance on the enemy, and to spare their own country the terrors of invasion. Accordingly he set to work to besiege Würzburg, and to reinstate the Bishop of Würzburg, whom Henry had expelled; but the city defended itself bravely, and Rudolph’s rams and battering machines did not succeed in effecting a breach in its walls.
Fearing the concentration of Rudolph’s forces with those of the Dukes Welf and Berthold, Henry had fled to Worms; but changing his plans, and recrossing the Rhine, he now placed his troop; along the banks of the Neckar. The formation of the land, the absence of any ford across the river, and the strong entrenchments he had caused to be thrown up, enabled Henry to wait in perfect safety for reinforcements from Bavaria and Bohemia. Rudolph attempted by various ruses to draw the King from his strong position, but in vain.
While Henry was at Ulm, Gregory dispatched from Carpineto two letters, both dated May 31, which are among the most curious documents of the eleventh century and of the whole period of the Middle Ages. The first letter is addressed to the two Bernards— the Cardinal-Deacon Bernard, and his namesake, the Abbot Bernard of Marseilles; the second is to the archbishops, bishops, princes, clergy and laity in the kingdom of Germany. In the first letter the two Bernards are addressed as carissimi in Christo filii, which is a proof that they had not acted counter to the Pope’s policy by favoring the election of Forchheim. If they had not been passive at Forchheim, it would have been impossible for the Pope to entrust them with their delicate and difficult mission without seriously offending King Henry and his partisans.
In both letters no preference is shown for either party, and Gregory even impartially speaks of the “two kings”. In the letter to the Germans, Gregory writes that both kings had asked his aid, but he will only help him who is “most strongly recommended by justice for the government of the State”. Wherever the final Council, or Diet of the Empire, was to meet and adjudicate on the conflicting claims of the two kings, there the Pope was to be present, to preside in person or by his legates. Total submission to the award of the Roman See was required from both; and as a preliminary an escort was to be provided for him by both kings in concert. It is next assumed that opposition from either party was a sign that that party was not favored by justitia. Gregory might perhaps assert that the one who offered the escort deserved praise, and the one who refused the escort blame; but to state that the providing or refusing of this escort had any relation to the claims of the two rivals to the throne is, in the highest degree, absurd. It is surprising, also, to see that Gregory expected the two bitter enemies to work harmoniously together to provide the escort!
In the event of either king resisting his commands, Gregory instructs his legates to” resist him in every way and by every means, if necessary, till death”. “Refuse to him the government of the kingdom, do not allow him or his partisans to receive the Body and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, or to enter a holy church”.
To the Germans he writes: “Each of the two kings seek our support, or rather the support of this Apostolic See, which We occupy notwithstanding our unworthiness; and We, confiding in the mercy of the All-powerful God, and in the assistance of blessed Peter, are disposed, with the advice of all of you who fear God and love the Christian faith, to scrutinize with care the just claims of each side, and to favor that one whom justice clear shows is called to the government of the kingdom.
“If one of the two kings, puffed up with pride, should, by some artifice, put an obstacle in the way of our journey, and being aware of the injustice of his cause, should shrink from the judgment of the Holy Spirit, rendering himself thereby guilty of disobedience by resisting Holy Church, the universal mother, despise him as member of anti-Christ and a scourge of the Christian religion, and respect the sentence that our legates will, in our name, pronounce against him; know well that God resists the proud, whilst He grants His grace to the humble. The other, on the contrary, who will give proofs of humility, who will incline towards the decree of the Holy Spirit proclaimed by you—for We are persuaded that when two or three are gathered together in the name of the Lord they are illumined by His presence—the other, We say, has a right to your devotion and your respect, in the measure pointed out by our legates”.
At the close of the letter to the Germans the Pope assure them that he has not “promised any assistance, inconsistent with justice, to either of the two kings”. The Pope must have foreseen that both parties would be unwilling to submit to his arbitration; hence the threatening emphasis laid upon the providing of an escort. As was natural, Gregory’s utterances of May 31 pleased neither side. Rudolph had expected some recognition, for he had given himself out as a faithful servant of the Holy See; but in Gregory’s letter Henry is equally recognized as “king”.
Henry’s submission, on the other hand, to the papal arbitration would have invalidated his title. That he was the actual, undeposed and undeposable king, while Rudolph was an usurper and rebel, was the strength of his cause.
The outcome of Gregory’s utterances of May 1077 was one that he had not foreseen. Neither party made any show of providing an escort, and in consequence his instructions to the legates remained a dead letter. In his address to the council of 1080, Gregory makes no mention of these two letters, and the annalists and Paul of Bernried are equally silent on this head.
Not many days afterwards (June 9) the Pope had expressed his fear that his journey to Germany was impracticable. Yet he remained for some time in Northern Italy, buoyed up by the hope that, in spite of all obstacles, he might officiate as arbiter in Germany. At last he gave up all hope. In the beginning of August we find him at Florence, then in Siena, and on September 16 he writes a letter from Rome. At the close of September Gregory again raises the question of arbitration, and writes to Udo, Archbishop of Treves, and his suffragans, the Bishops of Metz, Toul and Verdun, upon the subject. He speaks of the bitter and pitiful civil strife that had broken out in Germany, and urges upon them to use all zeal to bring his project to pass. He suspects that his letters, written in May, may not have reached them, or may have not been accepted by them as genuine, so he encloses a copy of them.
Gregory sincerely respected the Archbishop of Treves, a staunch, straightforward prelate and a devoted adherent of Henry IV, but, though he was well aware of the Archbishop’s loyalty to the King, he was unable to refrain from speaking to him of Henry with acrimony or with bitter irony. Yet the letter makes no definitive accusation against Henry in person, but rather against his partisans for whom Henry is considered responsible. Gregory urges that the Cardinal-Bishop Gerald of Ostia was taken prisoner by Henry’ supporters in Northern Italy, and the Abbot Bernard in Germany but gives no dates for these outrages. Bernold, as we have seen has used the imprisonment of Bishop Gerald as an accusation against Henry before the election of Rudolph; but as Gregory mentions it in his earlier letters, it would appear that the Bishop was captured after the Forchheim election. Bishop Dionysius o Piacenza, an old opponent of the Pope, was responsible for the outrage. We do not know when Gerald regained his freedom but he is mentioned later as having been active in France. The Abbot Bernard was made prisoner by Udalrich, Count of Lenzburg on his return journey to Rome, stripped of all his possessions, and imprisoned in a dungeon. Henry IV after his return to Germany refused to take measures to release him, and it was only owing to the intervention of Hugh, Abbot of Cluny, that he attained his freedom.
The letter to the four bishops, like Gregory’s letters of May had no political result. That the Pope should have had inter course with Udo of Treves, whose convictions were so well known may have offended Rudolph’s party, but did not conciliate Henry’s.
Henry, after having received from Bavaria and Bohemia the reinforcements which he expected, at length quitted his entrenchments and started in the direction of Augsburg. On his way hi ravaged the country through which he was passing; everything was put to fire and sword on his passage.
The winter was spent by the King in Bavaria, reducing some of the Bavarian nobles to subjection who had obstinately refused to recognize his authority.
Certain Rudolphian writers are responsible for the story that at this juncture, when Henry was at Goslar, the papal legate, the Cardinal-Deacon Bernard, who had made common cause with the confederates, ventured to renew the excommunication, and at the same time confirmed the election of Rudolph. Later historians, such as Giesebrecht, repeat this anecdote, and say that Bernard’s action was neither avowed nor disclaimed by the Pope, and the interdict, therefore, had no great effect.
But is the story of Bernard’s excommunication founded on fact? We shall be obliged to admit that it is not, and that no recognition of Rudolph, in the name of the Pope, took place at Goslar. No mention of such an act is found in Gregory’s correspondence. Indeed, in his letter to Udo of Treves, September 30 (which could not have reached the Archbishop until the end of October), Gregory had reiterated his wish to arbitrate, which such an act as Bernard’s would have rendered impossible by forestalling the decision.
Gregory’s speech at the council of 1080 contains no reference to an excommunication by his legate; while Bonitho and Gregory’s biographer, Paul of Bernried, who describes the Forchheim election in such detail, are silent upon this head. The Henrician writers, also, would not have failed to accuse the Pope most bitterly had Rudolph’s election been confirmed at Goslar. But a conclusive proof that no excommunication by the Cardinal-Deacon Bernard had taken place is furnished by a letter of his colleague, Abbot Bernard, to Udo of Treves and his suffragans, in which he urges them to action, and complains that nothing has hitherto been done to carry out the Pope’s instructions, and recommends Udo to try his influence upon the two rival kings. It is impossible that Abbot Bernard should have written such a letter towards the end of October if shortly afterwards his colleague was to declare definitely in favor of one of the rivals, and it is noteworthy that the Abbot refers to Rudolph as the emulus Henrici, and not as the recognized king. In conclusion, the Abbot begs Udo to arrange a conference to decide their claims.
No such conference was, however, called, and the question was brought by Gregory before the next synod at Rome (February 27— March 3, 1078).
Shortly before Gregory had returned to Rome, in September, Cenci, the prefect of Rome, a devoted adherent of the Pope, was assassinated by his namesake, Stephen Cenci. The murdered prefect had wished to end his days in a monastery, but the Pope persuaded him that he could do better service to the Church as a layman. The Romans; exasperated by the death of the prefect, who was much beloved in the city, succeeded in capturing his murderer, who had fled to a castle near Rome, and cut off his head and hands, and hung them up, after burying the body, in the very portico of St. Peter’s. The murdered prefect was buried in the great basilica, and Stephen Cenci’s accomplices were either killed or driven into exile.
The Empress Agnes—who, after Henry’s excommunication, had lived in Rome as a recluse, devoting herself to almsgiving and good works—died at the end of January 1078. During her last illness she was ministered to by the Pope, who, after her obsequies, caused her remains to be buried in the church of St. Petronilla.
CIVIL WAR IN GERMANY,
FEBRUARY 27, 1O78-MARCH 7, 1O80
At the opening of the Synod held in the first week of Lent (February 27—March 3, 1078), Henry’s ambassadors, whom he had sent to represent him—Bruno, Bishop of Osnaburg, and Theodoric, Bishop of Verdun—demanded that the Pope should declare in his favor.
This Synod marks a change in Gregory’s attitude; he had now definitely relinquished all idea of appearing in person in Germany as arbiter between the two kings, and entrusted the solution of the question to his legates.
The important results of the deliberation of the Synod were the following: Papal legates were to be sent to Germany, who were to call an assembly of clergy and laity, and either to reconcile the two parties or to give judgment between them. The intention of this mission was an excellent one, but, under the circumstances, no peace or reconciliation was possible, unless either the King or the anti-King would abdicate of his own free-will. Lastly, as it was well known that the papal intervention was not looked upon with favor in Germany, Gregory anathematized all who should impede the assembling of a general diet to judge between the two kings, “whether king, archbishop, duke, marquis, or of whatsoever station or dignity”. The Pope and the members of the Synod held lighted candles whilst the voice of the Pope uttered his dreadful imprecations, immediately after which the blazing candles were reversed, and extinguished on the ground, as a sign of the fate threatening those who should cause disturbance. The following are Gregory’s words :
“Since this quarrel, and the troubles of the realm, cause, and have caused, incalculable evils to Holy Church, We judge it right to dispatch to that country legates from the Apostolic See, who shall be as well known for their religious spirit as for their learning, and who shall convoke such clergy and laymen of the kingdom of Germany as are truly devout and desire the triumph of justice. By the help of God the legates will, in union with these latter, reestablish peace and concord, or, at least, when the truth shall appear, they will favor, by all the means in their power, that side which rests on justice, in order that the other may yield, and that justice and law may regain their ancient vigor. There are, however, certain persons, instigated by the devil, who wish tyranny to be enforced, or else, led away by shameful avarice, prefer discord to peace, and express their desire for the continuance of strife. Knowing this, We have ordained as follows: That no one, whatever rank he may hold, whether King, Archbishop, Bishop, Duke, Count, Marquess or Knight, shall venture, through presumption or audacious boldness, to make use of fraud, or otherwise excite disturbance, in the way of the execution of that mission with which the legates are charged. Any one having the temerity to violate this decree, and deceitfully to oppose Our legates who are engaged on this errand of pacification, is, by Us, laid under the ban of anathema, not only spiritually but also corporally. In virtue of Our apostolic power We deprive him of all prosperity in this life, and of all success in battle, in order that he may be humbled and brought to a twofold repentance”.
It will be noticed that the decision of the Synod of 1078 is diametrically opposed to Gregory’s instructions to his legates in May 1077. The May instructions threatened to excommunicate the king who denied an escort to the Pope, whereas there is no mention of an escort in the Lent Synod. In the May instructions, the king who refused the escort was to be deposed on that very insufficient ground; while in the Lent Synod, if the reconciliation failed, the question of the claims of the kings was to be investigated. Finally, all, of whatever degree, who impede the diet are anathematized at the Lent Synod, while the May instructions level the threat of the ban only against the two kings if disobedient.
Bernold and Berthold have introduced some fictitious statements in their accounts of the Lent Synod, to bring them into line with their narrative of Henry’s excommunication at Goslar. The former states that Henry had complained to the Pope before this Synod of the injustice of his condemnation. Berthold, on the contrary, first asserts that at the time of the Synod the Pope had not yet received certain information as to the action of his legate in November; and later, when narrating the events of the year 1079, suggests that the Pope knew of the excommunication at Goslar a year before, but hypocritically concealed his knowledge.
The attention of the Synod was also absorbed by various ecclesiastical questions. The sentences promulgated by the legate, Hugh of Die, against some of the highest dignitaries of the Church of France were examined, and in almost every case revised in favor or the accused. Archbishop Manasses of Rheims was reinstated in his office; so were Hugh, Archbishop of Besancon; Riches, Archbishop of Sens; Geoffrey, Bishop of Chartres; and Richard, Archbishop of Bourges, who had left his diocese, had his Crozier and Ring restored. Raoul, Archbishop of Tours, was reinstated in his sacerdotal and episcopal dignities, since the accusations brought against him, even by bishops, had fallen to the ground. Gregory, at the same synod, anathematized the Archbishops of Ravenna and Milan, the Bishops of Cremona and Treviso, and Cardinal Hugh Candidus.
With the object of emphasizing the excommunication which had been decreed several years previously against the Normans, Gregory forbade the clergy, under severe penalties, to celebrate the Eucharist before them. The synod went on to lay down regulations of general interest; one of these concerning shipwrecks gives evidence to the continual part taken by the Papacy in the cause of humanity and civilization; the same consideration is shown in regulating the dealings with the excommunicated, who, except for this case, would, in many cases, have been condemned to a life of inextricable difficulties and perplexities. The extraordinary number of excommunications in Gregory’s pontificate rendered necessary some consideration for the masses of innocent people inevitably involved.
The decree of the synod is as follows :
“Tedaldo, nominal Archbishop of Milan, and Guibert, nominal Archbishop of Ravenna, having risen up against the Holy Catholic Church by uttering heresies with unheard-of pride, We interdict them from all sacerdotal or episcopal functions, and renew the anathema already pronounced against them. We forbid, likewise, Arnulfo of Cremona to exercise any episcopal functions whatsoever, for, in Our presence, he was convicted of simony, and compelled to acknowledge his guilt; he must never hope to be reinstated, and We lay him under anathema until he shall have made complete satisfaction. Roland of Treviso, in order to be promoted to the episcopal dignity, accepted the part of a mock legate, and was not ashamed to create a schism between the secular and the spiritual authorities; therefore, in virtue of the apostolic censure, he shall for ever be deprived of the episcopal office. We forbid, in the most express terms, that any of Our successors shall consent, at any future time, to his consecration, and We pronounce him to be under an eternal anathema, if he do not show proofs of repentance, as well as offer entire satisfaction to God.
“Hugh, Cardinal of the title of St. Clement, has been, three times already, condemned by the Apostolic See. In the first instance, he was the mover and accomplice of the heretic, Cadalus, Bishop of Parma; then, after being again appointed legate of the Apostolic See, he entered into relations with heretics and men guilty of simony, who had been condemned by the Apostolic See; thirdly and lastly, having become an apostate and a heretic, he has endeavored to bring schisms, divisions and rents into the Church of God. We interdict him, also, from all sacerdotal functions, likewise from entering the afore-named church, or any other. We lay him under a perpetual and irrevocable sentence of condemnation, and strike him with anathema, until he shall have satisfied fully for all his offences”.
With regard to the entourage of excommunicated persons the sentences are somewhat softened:
“Day after day, in consequence of Our sins, We perceive that these excommunications are the cause of loss to many souls, either through ignorance or too great simplicity; either from motives of fear, or from yielding to necessity; therefore, in obedience to the suggestions of mercy, We have determined to mitigate and to soften, temporarily, so far as We can, those sentences of anathema.
“Thus, in virtue of Our apostolic authority, We take off this sentence from such wives, children, servants, slaves, tenants and domestics, in fact from all members of a household as are Incapable of influencing others for evil; the same applies to all who have dealings with the excommunicate unknowingly. Should any pilgrim or traveler, in a country lying under interdict, desire to pray in some sanctuary, or to be able to purchase or ask for necessaries, We permit him to receive them from the hands of the excommunicate. Finally, We in no manner condemn those who bestow gifts on excommunicated persons solely from motives of humanity, not to uphold their pride”.
In recent times it has been discovered that simoniacs, as such, were excommunicated at this Synod, and in the Synod of November of this year. Not many days after the Synod Gregory writes to the German people, and informs them briefly of the decision of the Synod, and instructs the bearer of the letter to come to an understanding with “our venerable brother the Archbishop of Treves, who is one of Henry’s partisans”, and also with some other bishop belonging to Rudolph’s party, who shall together appoint the place and date of the forthcoming assembly, so that “Our legates may reach your country with greater safety”. On the same day he addresses a letter to Udo of Treves himself, in whose wisdom he places great confidence. He expresses a wish that his legates should not cross the Alps without an escort; but who will provide one? He hopes that both parties will take part in arranging the matter; therefore he suggests Udo should treat with a “bishop of Rudolph’s party”. It is curious that the Pope is not able to mention any bishop by name who would be helpful in the negotiations; and the fact that Gebhard of Salzburg and Altmann of Passau are not brought forward is probably an indication that they did not belong to the Rudolphian party proper.
In the letter to the Germans, Udo and the “Rudolphian” bishop are desired to fix the place and time for the diet, so that the legates may travel to Germany “with greater certainty and safety”; whereas in the letter to the Archbishop of Treves, Udo and the “Rudolphian” bishop are to travel to Rome to escort the legates. In the event that no Rudolphian bishop is able or willing to undertake this journey, Udo alone is to come to Rome, and undertake the responsibility of conducting the legates in safety. The preference given to the Henrician party by such a selection suggests the reflection that the Pope could not entirely trust the Rudolphian. We do not know what Udo answered to this appeal, but the fact remains that he did not go to Rome. Gregory thus found himself in a very difficult position, and it is not surprising, in this period of doubt and uncertainty, that he wrote to Hugh, Abbot of Cluny: “This life is a weariness to us, and death desirable”.
On July 1, without mentioning the proposals he had made to the Archbishop of Treves, and indeed without even mentioning him, Gregory breaks into loud complaints that nothing has been effected—in other words, that no legates have been sent, owing to the lack of an escort. The responsibility of this is ascribed in general terms to “enemies of God” and “sons of the devil”, and Gregory assures the Germans that he will not “knowingly favor the unjust cause”.
Only a month after this letter was written Henry’s and Rudolph’s forces met in the undecided battle of Melrichstadt, on the banks of the little river Streu. Upon Rudolph’s side, the Bishops of Magdeburg and of Moersburg, Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence, and the Bishop of Worms, according to Bruno, gave the signal for flight—“Their place was not there”, says the annalist ironically, “they had learnt to chant the psalms, but by no means to hold their ground in a raging battle”—while the Saxons in another part of the field, under Otto of Nordheim, and the Saxon Count Frederick, repulsed the attack of the King’s forces. Both sides claimed the victory, as, later, at Harchheim.
After the battle, Henry turned his attention to a partisan of Rudolph’s, Hugo of Tubingen, and besieged his castle. The Archbishop of Treves, who took part in this expedition, was mortally wounded, and died in the following November—an irreparable loss for the King and for the kingdom of Germany.
While Germany was torn in two by war, Italy also suffered in a less degree.
Beneventum, which, from 1051, had belonged to the Pope, now began to suffer from the aggressions of the all-conquering Robert Guiscard. Landulf VI, the last descendant of the Dukes of Lombardy, once lords and masters of the town and duchy, was only a vassal of the Pope, and upon his death at the close of 1077 he was succeeded by a governor directly appointed by the Holy See. Almost immediately Robert Guiscard resolved to take away this possession from the Papacy, and to substitute the rule of the Normans for that of the Lombards. As early as January 1078 he was before Beneventum, but the town resisted, and refused to open its gates to the invader.
Robert Guiscard then ravaged the environs, and caused a line of fortresses to be constructed enclosing Beneventum in an impassable barrier. Hence the fresh excommunication of the Normans pronounced in the Lent Synod of 1078 when they were besieging Beneventum : “We excommunicate all the Normans who are invading the dominions of St. Peter, namely, the Marches of Fermo and the Duchy of Spoleto; those also who are besieging Beneventum, or are endeavoring to invade and pillage the Campagna, the Maritime Province and Sabinum, as well as those who are trying to disturb the city of Rome”.
The censures of the Church had no effect upon Robert Guiscard, who continued to besiege Beneventum. During the same year Robert attacked Gisulfo of Salerno, his brother-in-law, and a firm ally of the Pope, and drove him from his principality. Gisulfo, dispossessed of his dominions, came to Rome, where he was kindly received by the Pope.
During the siege of Beneventum, Richard, Prince of Capua, persisted in continuing the siege of Naples, which he had begun in May 1077. In spite of the reinforcements which Robert Guiscard sent to him, both in troops and in ships, he had not been able to force an entrance into the bravely-defended town before he fell ill and had to raise the siege. He died at Capua on April 5, 1078. Before his death he made his peace with the Church, restoring the land he had taken in the Campagna. It was on this condition that the Bishop of Aversa consented to give him absolution.
Richard, Count of Aversa from 1050, and Prince of Capua from 1062, though not so renowned in history as Robert Guiscard, or as the greater Roger of Sicily, played a not unimportant part in the affairs of Southern Italy. The founder of the Norman principality of Capua, he had often, during the pontificates of Nicholas II and Alexander II, rendered signal service to the Holy See. Aimé, Leo de Marsi and Peter the Deacon cannot forget his great liberality to their monastery whenever they mention him. Romuald of Salerno more impartially sums up his character thus: “Richard was both wary and liberal; good and kind to those who were faithful to him, but inexorable towards any who rebelled against his authority, or played him false”.
The last days of Richard’s life were saddened by his son Jordan, who again rebelled against him, and had persuaded his uncle, Roger of Sicily, to take his part. When the Normans were excommunicated on March 3, 1078, Jordan and Roger submitted to the Holy See, and deserted Robert Guiscard and Prince Richard. They both went to Rome, where, as Aimé says, ils furent absolut de la excommunication et firent ligue de fidelité avec lo pape. A passage in the Chronicles of Monte Cassino shows that Jordan was far from being disinterested in making his submission; indeed, they assert that the people of Beneventum gave him four thousand five hundred besants to deliver them from Robert Guiscard. Two unexpected circumstances enabled Jordan to be of service to Beneventum. His father’s death at this time gave him the command of all the resources of the principality, both in men and money; and besides this, the Norman barons, who had long been watching for an opportunity to take up arms against their Duke, Robert, thought they had found it in the death of his ally, and in the new line of policy adopted by Prince Richard’s son. Insurrections broke out simultaneously in Apuleia and Calabria. Robert, taken unawares, had his hands full with his rebellious subjects. Jordan consequently managed to destroy the outworks and set Beneventum free. The Duke had no leisure to attend to this slight reverse; for the next two years, 1078-1080, all his forces were required to quell the insurrections in which many of his own relations among the Norman barons took part, including his nephew, Abagilard, besides Jordan and his uncle, Rannulfus. The revolt, however, delayed the conqueror in his march towards Central Italy, and gave some respite to the Pope.
During the autumn of 1078 Gregory was absent from Rome for several months. On August 22 we find him at San Germano, at the foot of Monte Cassino; on October 8 at Acquapendente, north of Rome, near Sovana, his native place, and on October 22 at Sutri; but the details of journeys are unrecorded.
On November 19 the Pope held a Synod1 at the Lateran, with the object, if possible, of putting an end to the civil strife in Germany. Henry’s court, we learn, allowed the German bishops who were invited, a safe-conduct to and from Rome. At the Synod, ambassadors were sent by Henry and Rudolph to declare that their sovereigns had not in any way interfered to prevent the meeting of the papal legates in Germany. The ambassadors were doubtless ready to take this oath; for the King and the anti-King were not responsible for the failure of Udo of Treves in arranging for an assembly in March. Finally, those who prevented the meeting of the legates were again excommunicated. Bonitho had stated that the Lent Synod of this year had ordered both sides to lay down their arms; but from a letter of Gregory’s after the November Synod, we see the war is ordered to cease when the legates had arrived in Germany and had fixed a day for the colloquium.
The November Synod not only deliberated de causa regis, for many canons were promulgated, but we have only to compare the canons themselves with the summary to see that only part of this legislation has been handed down to us. No part, it may be said, of Christendom was so remote or so barbarous as to escape Gregory’s vigilant determination to oversee and govern it; the social revolution in Constantinople attracted his attention, as well as the political situation in Germany; and the Emperor of Constantinople—the usurper Nicephorus Botoniatis, who had dethroned Michael VII in 1078—was excommunicated. The prohibition of lay investiture was repeated, and many minor matters of ecclesiastical discipline were settled. The Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna was also finally deposed by the synod sine spe recuperationis.
With regard to lay investiture, it was decreed that “no cleric should receive the investiture of a bishopric, abbey or church from the hands of an emperor or king, or any other lay person, man or woman”. The lay investiture is declared null and void, and the cleric who receives it is excommunicated. Pflugk-Harttung has in recent times discovered a reference to the decree of the November Synod, in which not the cleric only who receives investiture, but the lay investitores, are excommunicated.
November once more brings before us Berengarius of Tours. It was with great unwillingness that Gregory had seen Berengarius condemned in 1059 in council, by the instrumentality of Cardinal Humbert, and forced to recant; and he had no wish, as Pope, to have the question of Berengarius’s heresies raised again. The Pope’s purely practical mind was, little concerned with theological subtilties, and, as he liked and admired Berengarius, he had written to him urging him to keep silence upon his theory, and not to discuss it further. Berengarius, however, was not to be restrained, and he was summoned to appear before a Synod held in France. He refused to appear, and appealed to Rome, and in the autumn of 1078 the preliminary discussion took place. We know from Berengarius himself that he spent most of the year 1078 near the Pope in Rome. At a meeting of bishops on November 1, the formula of Berengarius was caused to be read aloud by the Pope before them all, but while Gregory declared himself satisfied with it, and said “it was all that was required in point of faith”, many of the bishops present were dissatisfied, and Berengarius was obliged to await the decision of the Synod to be held in the following Lent (1079). Gregory’s submission to the party who sternly opposed Berengarius is a sign of a certain irresolution and lack of resource which is also shown in his policy with regard to the situation in Germany, 1077-1080. We may assume that he could not refute Berengarius, and did not wish to condemn him, yet was unwilling to break with Berengarius’ enemies. The question of Berengarius’s heresy was not raised at the November Synod, but was brought before that of February 1079. In the Registrant of Gregory we have the following account of the proceedings of the Synod, in which Gregory appears to have been passive :
“All being assembled in the Church of the Holy Saviour, question was raised concerning the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, many being of the same opinion, but some holding different views. A very great majority affirmed that, in virtue of the words of the holy prayer, in virtue of the consecration by the Priest, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, working in an invisible manner, the bread and wine were changed substantially into the Body of the Lord, that same Body which was born of a Virgin and hung upon the Cross, and that Blood which the lance of the soldier had shed from His opened Side, and they supported this opinion by many quotations from the orthodox Fathers, both Greek and Latin. But there were some present who, for a long time, had been struck with blindness, and these maintained that this was only a figure, and, deluding themselves as well as others they pretended to demonstrate this by the help of certain sophisms The discussion being opened, the minority was only able to continue its struggle against the Truth so far as the third day of the Synod. The Fire of the Holy Spirit, burning up all that straw and eclipsing all the false lights, which, before It, faded away and disappeared, shone with brilliant light, penetrating all the shadowy depths of night. Berengarius, the author of this error, confessed before all the assembled Council that he had erred for many years in expressing an opinion of such impiety. He asked pardon, and his petition gained for him the clemency of His Holiness”.
We learn from Berengarius that the mouthpiece of the majority was a monk of Monte Cassino named Alberic, and he it was who proposed to introduce the word substantialiter into the formula proposed to Berengarius. In a later pamphlet Berengarius cannot find words dark enough to describe Alberic. “He is no monk”, he writes, “but a real devil, an impudent liar, and anti-Christ in person”. Berengarius, who, notwithstanding his indignation, had no taste for martyrdom, was obliged to sign the following profession of faith, which is much more precise and complete than the form he had already signed under Pope Nicholas II in 1059:
“I, Berengarius, believe with my heart, and profess with my mouth, that the bread and wine placed on the Altar are changed, substantially, by the mystery of the holy prayer and the words of our Redeemer, into the very true, life-giving Flesh and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ; and that, after the consecration, It is the very Body of Christ, which was born of the Virgin, which was sacrificed for the salvation of the world, hung on the Cross, and is now seated at the Right Hand of the Father; and the very Blood which flowed from His Side : and this, not only in figure and by the virtue of the Sacrament, but actually the same in nature and in truth of substance as is stated in this writing, which I have read, and which you have heard. So help me God and His holy Gospels”.
Immediately following this profession of faith we read in the official report in the Registrum:
“By the authority of Almighty God and the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, His Holiness the Pope forbids Berengarius, for the future, to engage with any person in discussions concerning the Body and Blood of the Lord, or to instruct any one on this point : the only exception being in case of those who have been withdrawn from the Faith of the Church by the doctrines of Berengarius”.
In the account of the Registrum, Berengarius submits of his own free-will to the decision of the majority, while in Berengarius’s own narrative of the transaction the introduction of the new formula was due to Gregory’s own initiative, and was forced upon the surprised Berengarius. There is no doubt that Berengarius’s account is the correct one, and that Gregory, weary of theological discussion, put a term to it in favor of the burning question of the struggle in Germany with which the synod had also to deal.
Two letters from Gregory bearing upon Berengarius (Ep. 24 and 36) are not included in the Registrum, probably because they appeared to treat the heresiarch with too great clemency. Gregory seems to have seized an opportunity after the Synod to protect Berengarius from unjust or too rigorous treatment. Ep. 24, written immediately or soon after the February synod of 1079, anathematizes those who call Berengarius, the “son of the Roman Church”, a heretic, or who molest him in any way. From the letter it appears that Berengarius lived with the Pope at the Lateran for some time. One writer, indeed, describes him as convictor papae, and Berengarius himself asserts that he “lived a year with the Pope”.
The object of the second letter addressed to the Archbishop of Tours and another (unnamed) French bishop, is also to protect Berengarius, who is introduced as a “dearest son”. Berengarius had been molested by a Count Jules, and it was Gregory’s earnest desire that the two bishops should intervene in his favor. Thus the “heretic” is dismissed uncondemned, even with honor, and though censured by former Popes, enjoyed the special protection of Gregory. He is allowed to die in peace, in full possession of his ecclesiastical dignities.
Gregory, by his protection of Berengarius, laid himself open to the bitter taunts which he must well have known that his enemies would seize every opportunity to heap upon him. He had to bear from Egilbert, Archbishop of Treves, the reproach that he (the Pope) doubted the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament, and that he was an infidel. The Synod of Brixen accused him of doubting the “catholic and apostolic doctrine of the Body and Blood of our Lord”, and of being infected with Berengarius’s heresy, while Beno tells a story that Gregory ordered the cardinals to fast in order that God should show by a sign who was in possession of the true doctrine of the Body of our Lord, the Church of Rome or Berengarius; and that two cardinals and a cleric fasted and prayed for three days, waiting for a sign from Heaven, which, however, was not vouchsafed.
The same Synod which arraigned Berengarius busied itself with the political condition of Germany. The decree de causa regis, promulgated anew by the November Synod of 1078, remained as ineffective as when it was issued in its first form at the earlier Lent Synod. The Rudolphian party especially, were dissatisfied, for they had expected the Pope to declare himself unconditionally upon their side, and Welf, Duke of Bavaria, must have expressed his discontent very strongly, for the Pope was obliged to write him a special letter, in which he urged him not to “murmur against” the policy of the Holy See. The exhortations of Gregory did not, however, prevent Duke Welf from going to war shortly before the Lent of 1079, nor from ravaging the lands of the Grisons of Rhaetia, which had up to that time taken the part of Henry IV.
Henry IV, meantime, had agreed to allow the Pope’s intervention, in the hope that Gregory’s verdict would be favorable to him. This we gather from a declaration of the King’s in January, in which he states that he is willing to send representatives to the forthcoming Synod, who will give fuller information; and he confidently expects the condemnation of his rival, Rudolph. Rudolph’s representatives were also present at the Synod, and brought serious and no doubt exaggerated accusations against Henry IV; no man’s life, they declared, was safe; he had ravaged and laid waste the whole trans-Alpine district; he had captured and killed many clerics. They therefore urged the Pope to “unsheath the apostolic sword”; but the Pope delayed, owing to his clemency. There were two session: de causa regis at the Synod, which took place February 11, 1079 and an agreement was sworn to by the representatives of the two kings.
Oath taken by the ambassador of King Henry IV—“The deputies of the King, my master, will come to You before the Feast of the Ascension, unless prevented by some legitimate cause of absence death or grave sickness, or captivity, real and unfeigned; and they will conduct, and bring back in all safety, the legates of the Holy Roman See. His Majesty the King will obey the said legates in all things, conformably to justice and their decisions Herein they will observe good faith, and such reserves only as may be ordained by You. I swear this by order of my master, King Henry”.
Oath taken by the ambassador of King Rudolf —“If a conference takes place according to Your commands, in the country of Germany our master King Rudolph will present himself in person before You or Your legates, in such place, and at such time, as shall be appointee by You, or else he will send his Bishops and some of the faithful he will submit to Your decisions, whatever they may be, or that the Roman Church may decide, on the subject of the Realm. He will not hinder, by any malicious artifice, the Synod assembled by You, or by Your legates. When he sees that Your nuncio has pointed out the sure means for re-establishing and consolidating peace in the kingdom, he will do what in him lies in order to arrive at peace and the establishing of concord. All these stipulations shall be observed saving only such reserves as may be granted by Your dispensations and saving the legitimate hindrances of death, grave sickness or captivity, real and without dissimulation”.
The oath of Henry’s ambassador stands first in order, and Gfrorer is correct in saying that Henry appears as the rightful king at the February Synod, and enjoys royal precedence. Another important point in the oaths is that the safe-conduct of the papa legates to and from Germany is entrusted to King Henry alone while Rudolph only declares his readiness to present himself in person before the Pope or his legates, or else to send his bishops and some of the faithful, and to submit to the papal decisions, whatever they be—a proof of the low state of Rudolph’s fortunes.
At the same Synod a number of persons were excommunicated, among them the already condemned Tedaldo of Milan and Roland of Treviso. Theodoric, Duke of Lorraine, and Folmar, Count of Metz, were also excommunicated, as well as all who, profiting by the expulsion of the Archbishop of Mayence and of other bishops, had seized upon the goods of those bishops. The soldiers of Eberhard, successor of Cadalus in the Episcopal See of Parma, having taken the Abbot of Reichenau prisoner when on his way to the Synod to plead his cause there, were excommunicated, and Bishop Eberhard himself was suspended from his episcopal functions. Finally, the Archbishop of Narbonne, Siegfried, Bishop of Bologna, the Bishops of Fermo and Camerino, were alike excommunicated, and the same penalty was pronounced against all their adherents, whether ecclesiastics or laymen.
The new Patriarch of Aquileia, Henry, formerly one of the clergy of the Diocese of Augsburg, assisted at the Synod, and, probably being called upon by the Pope to do so, explained the conditions under which his elevation to the see had taken place. His election, it is true, had been canonical; but he was obliged to admit having received investiture by Ring and Crozier at the hands of a layman, that is to say, from the King of Germany. He pleaded ignorance of the prohibition of the Holy See, and, as he further consented to take an oath of obedience to Gregory VII and his legitimate successors, he was not proceeded against; the Pope reinvested him with the Ring and the pectoral cross, and his elevation was then considered legitimate. The terms of the oath taken by him have come down to us in the official report of the synod.
It is probable that the representatives of Henry at the Synod conducted the legates, Peter, Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, and Ulrich (Odelricus), Bishop of Padua, to Germany; for in a letter dated March 3, Gregory writes that the legates had already set out on their journey. Bonitho adds that the Patriarch of Aquileia, a personal friend of Henry’s, by Gregory’s wish accompanied the legates, and this is the more probable because Gregory writes in praise of the Patriarch for his kind treatment and support of the mission.
The wording of the oaths distinctly gives the impression that the two legates mentioned were to be entrusted with full powers in dealing with the affairs of Germany. But two later communications neutralize this first impression, or suggest that the Pope had changed his mind; the Bishops of Albano and Padua are only pioneers to prepare the way for the assembly, to which are to be dispatched later “fit and wise” legates who are to give judgment there.
“Here are your instructions”, said Gregory VII about the middle of October. “Here is what We ask of you : You must not allow yourselves to come to any decision on the subject of kings or of kingdoms, nor regarding those who have been elected to fill the Sees of Treves, Cologne and Augsburg, or who have received investiture at the hands of laymen : apply yourselves solely and entirely to obtaining the consent of the King to the projected Diet, for the peace of the kingdom and the reinstallation of those Bishops who have been expelled from their Sees. As soon as you have achieved this, let Us know, either by coming yourselves to inform Us, or else by sending the news by trusty messengers, so that We may have time to send other legates, who may join with you, and who, by the help of God, may bring this most important matter to a satisfactory conclusion”.
In the encyclical letter, dated October 1, sent to the faithful of Germany, he reiterates his instructions to the legates (Peter and Ulrich), which were limited to fixing by common consent a time and place for the general assembly, and reinstating the expelled bishops in their sees. In the course of the letter he admits that, with hardly any exceptions, “all the (Italian) laity have taken the part of Henry and approve his conduct”. “But, by the help of God, We have up to the present time kept firm against all opposition, allowing ourselves to be guided by justice and equity, deviating, so far as We know, neither to the right hand, nor to the left ...
“If by violence or by artifice Our legates have been hindered in their fidelity to our commands, We regret it ...
“Since Our legates have not yet returned, We can give you no further instructions in the affair; as soon as they arrive, We shall hasten to inform you, in all sincerity, as to the report they shall have brought”.
It is impossible to resist the conviction that these two letters were written to gain time, and that this also was the object of sending two missions to Germany. In Ep. 31, Gregory wishes Peter and Ulrich to first travel to Germany, to arrange the date and place of the assembly, to return thence to Rome, and proceed with the “fit and wise” legates to Germany again! If we consider the amount of time such a journey would require, we must admit that months and months would have to pass before the real business of the assembly could begin. This was the policy of delay—a temporizing policy, for up to this time Gregory still hoped that one of the two weary and exhausted parties might be crushed, and with the final triumph of one cause, a new and less complicated situation would be created. But in the attempt to maintain a judicial and absolute neutrality between the two factions, occasional deviations to right and left were almost unavoidable; hence the ingratiating letter to the discontented Duke of Bavaria, and the letter to Matilda of Tuscany, in which he assures her he has no “hostile feelings” towards Henry. That Gregory had no preference for Rudolph is proved by his express statement in a letter to the Duke himself of his neutrality :
Romana gravitas et apostolica mansuetudo me per mediam justifiae viam incedere cogit.
The temporizing policy of Gregory may be criticized as unfortunate, and doomed to failure; but the accusation based on a misunderstanding of his letter to Rudolph and his followers, that he “held the sword in one hand, and the palm of peace in the other”, that he perfidiously urged Rudolph to war, while holding the language of peace, cannot be admitted.
During this time, the political division of Germany into two parties became more and more marked, the two Kings disputing over the various great fiefs of the kingdom one after another. Thus Henry IV gave the Duchy of Suabia to one of his nobles, whose descendants, in course of time, would wear the royal insignia, and leave an immortal name on the pages of German history.
This noble was the young Count Frederick of Hohenstaufen : and, the better to insure his fidelity, Henry gave to him in marriage his own daughter, Agnes.
On the other side, the partisans of Rudolph, with Duke Well at their head, caused Berthold, the son of Rudolph, to be elected and proclaimed Duke of Suabia at Ulm, which place, like all the surrounding countries, was ravaged by the armies of the two dukes alternately, and the student of history asks what must have been the lot of the unhappy population of districts incessantly harassed by this civil war.
After having kept Easter at Ratisbon, Henry IV marched against Luitpold, Margrave of Austria, who, in concert with Ladislas, King of Hungary, had assumed a threatening attitude. No memorable incident characterized the rapid march which brought the King to the confines of Hungary, and he returned to Ratisbon.
The legates Peter and Ulrich had set out from Rome either in February or in the beginning of March; by mid-May we learn they were in Germany. They arrived at Ratisbon towards the Feast of Pentecost (May 12, 1079), where they were received by Henry IV satis magnifice. Henry, says Berthold, granted his consent to the convocation of the projected assembly, and messages were sent to Duke Welf and the chief Saxon nobles, inviting them to attend a conference at Fritzlar.
The assembly, however, was not so well attended as might have been hoped. Duke Welf and the Suabians remained in their own country, whilst the Bohemians took advantage of the departure of the great Saxon lords to invade the march of Meissen, whence they were, however, finally repulsed.
It is impossible to form a clear picture of the exact causes which prevented the success of the colloquium held by the two legates. Each party used cunning and treachery in its methods; each accused the other of entire responsibility for the failure of the scheme; each party as represented by its own historians was “as wise as the serpent and as harmless as the dove”.
At Fritzlar, a meeting at Würzburg was arranged soon after the Feast of the Assumption, and at this assembly, whither the papal legates had followed Henry IV, Berthold openly accuses the legates of weakness or of corruption. The council dispersed without having accomplished anything. Accusations against the legates—from the Rudolphian party—reached Gregory also in the course of the summer, and he mentions these in his already quoted letter to the Germans of October 1, but unfortunately gives no details on this head. A letter written at the beginning or towards the middle of October is more precise, and we learn that one is accused of incompetence, the other of being corrupted, the latter accusation referring, doubtless, to Ulrich, whom Bonitho describes as a firm partisan of Henry. Berthold relates that on Ulrich’s return to Rome (before his colleague) he actually pleaded the cause of Henry IV warmly, and laid the failure of their mission to the account of the Saxons, who were blamed for the breaking off of the negotiations. The letter to the legates repeats Gregory’s preliminary orders to favor neither party, and to keep within their instructions; and that Gregory had not declared in Rudolph’s favor is proved—if proof were needed—by the fact that Henry’s name is understood as the “King” when the word King is mentioned.
The turning-point for the history of the struggle, and of the German Empire, was the battle of Harchheim, near Mühlhausen.
During the autumn of 1079, Henry, as we have seen, had not been disinclined to urge forward the colloquium the Pope desired. When the Rudolphian party, however, saw that he was in earnest, they attempted to evade it by various pretexts and conditions, until Henry lost patience, and required the papal legates to declare at once in his favor without further discussion, and excommunicate his enemy. This the legates, remembering their instructions, were naturally unable to do, and war at once broke out.
Henry had taken the field in the winter, and the battle, which began in the afternoon, raged until night in the midst of a sudden heavy snowstorm. Historians vary as to the issue of the hardly-contested field.
Rudolphian chroniclers relate that Henry was entirely routed, his army forced to withdraw in disorder to Thuringia, and the King himself compelled to fly to Ratisbon. Berthold, with characteristic naiveté, assures us that Henry lost 3,255 men, whilst Rudolph’s loss was but 38; and Berthold also ascribes the victory to the anti-King. Bonitho is neutral, and contents himself by saying that the battle was hardly contested, and that many thousands of both armies were slain. The Henrician annalists, on the other hand, are unanimous in crediting Henry with the victory, while the attitude of the King after the battle was undoubtedly that of a victor; and the fact—if it be a fact—that a Saxon legion won an isolated success in their attack upon the King’s camp, where they killed several pages and carried off various valuables, cannot affect the main issue.
HENRY IV AGAIN EXCOMMUNICATED-THE ANTI-POPE GUIBERT.
MARCH 1, 1080- FEBRUARY 108l
Early in March 1080 the council reassembled in the Constantine basilica at the Lateran, and, according to Cardinal Deusdedit, numbered nearly fifty archbishops and bishops, without reckoning a very large gathering of the secular and regular clergy. The council first considered the question of lay investiture, and ordained the method of the election of bishops. Directly the see is vacant, a new bishop is to be elected by the combined act of the clergy and the faithful of the diocese, without allowing any secular prince to name a candidate, or to influence the election in any way. A bishop, representing the Pope or the Metropolitan, who is called the visitator, is to direct the election.
With regard to the question of the investitures of ecclesiastical dignities conferred by the laity, the council passed the following decree : “We being inspired by the statutes of the holy Fathers, as we have already done in the Councils, which, by the help of God, we have already held, and which treat of ecclesiastical dignities—we hereby decree and confirm the following prescriptions : If any one shall receive a Bishopric or an Abbey, as the gift of a lay person, he shall not, on any account whatever, be reckoned among the number of the Bishops or Abbots, and no one may act in his regard as if he were a Bishop or an Abbot. We furthermore declare him to be excluded from the patronage of St. Peter, and also from the Church Itself, until such time as he, with sentiments of sincere repentance, shall have abandoned that place which his sinful disobedience and ambition have procured for him, sins which are equivalent to the sin of idolatry. This applies with equal force to all the inferior ecclesiastical dignities.
The same penalty will be incurred by any emperor, king, duke, marquess, count, or any other lay dignitary, or by any lay person whatever, who shall dare to bestow the investiture of any Bishopric or Abbey or any other ecclesiastical dignity. If he does not repent, if he does not cede to Holy Church that liberty which is Her right, may he suffer in this life, as well in his body as in his goods, the effects of the divine vengeance, so that his soul, at least, may be saved in the Day of the Lord”.
Such is the complete formula of the prohibition of Gregory VII of all lay investiture of ecclesiastical dignities. For some time he had aimed his legislative terrors only at the ecclesiastics who had consented to receive investiture at the hands of laymen; he now imposed the same penalties upon the investing laymen.
Immediately following this decree came a number of sentences of excommunication and deposition against several bishops. We do not possess the complete list of these sentences, for the Registrum speaks only of four bishops, three in Italy and one in France—Tedaldo of Milan, Guibert of Ravenna, Roland of Treviso, and Pelir, intruded Bishop of the Church of Narbonne.
The interdict pronounced against the Normans is not so absolute as in the preceding councils; indeed, it would seem that Gregory may have thought of the possibility of an alliance with Robert Guiscard at the Synod itself. After the excommunication of those Normans who “dare to invade or pillage the lands of St. Peter”, follows the conciliatory concluding paragraph—
“If any Norman shall have just cause for complaint against any of the inhabitants of these countries, let him demand justice from Us, or from our deputies and officers; if justice should be refused him, We authorize him to take from Our said lands compensation for the injury that he has suffered, but he is not to take this compensation in excess after the fashion of brigands, but in a way worthy of a Christian who wishes to recover the goods that belong to him, rather than to help himself to those of another, fearing to lose the grace of God, and incur the malediction of St. Peter”.
This rapprochement with the Normans, so often excommunicated by him, was the only course left open to Gregory, in view of the breach now imminent between Henry IV and the Holy See. Henry, readily cast down in ill fortune, and as readily elated with success, had sent, shortly after the victory of Harchheim, bishops to Rome with an ultimatum to the Pope. The only writers who mention this embassy are Berthold, Wenrich and Bonitho. Berthold relates that the embassy consisted of the Bishops of Bremen and Bamberg, who were provided by the King with gold to corrupt the Romans. Wenrich says that the Archdeacon Burchard was also of the embassy, and says nothing of the mission of the three ambassadors, but complains of their ill-treatment at Rome. Bonitho, however, is more precise. His account is that after the battle of Harchheim, the King sent Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen, the Bishop of Bamberg, and many others, with a superbam et inauditam mission—that he (the King) was ready to obey the Pope, if the Pope would excommunicate Rudolph; if not, he would find another Pope who would do his will. Thus, Henry, flushed with victory, threatened the Pope with deposition, and it appears that the ambassadors appeared before the Pope, and before the Synod took place, for nothing is said of such an ultimatum delivered before the Synod itself, and Wenrich says that the ambassadors were either not admitted to the Synod, or were commanded to keep silence there.
The ambassadors, like Henry’s earlier embassy in 1076, in which the priest Roland took part, were shamefully ill-treated. Not only Wenrich, but Henry himself, is loud in complaint of the humiliations his representatives were subjected to, and accuses the Pope himself of the responsibility of this outrage.
At the Synod were also present ambassadors from Rudolph, who, as in the February Synod of 1079, brought the bitterest accusations against Henry. A formal act of accusation, inscribed Propositio Rudolfi regis Romanorum et principum imperii in synodo Romana contra Henricum IV imperatorem, may be quoted here, but is probably a later fabrication, composed from passages from Bruno’s Saxon War and from utterances of Gregory’s. In the title, it may be noticed that Rudolph had never been “King of the Romans”, and that Henry was not at this time Roman Emperor.
“We, the ambassadors of King Rudolph and of his princes, all make complaint to God, to St. Peter, to Your Paternity, and to all this holy Council, concerning this Henry, whom Your Apostolic Authority has deprived of the kingdom, that he has tyrannically invaded the same kingdom, notwithstanding Your interdict, and has introduced everywhere, fire, pillage and the sword. By his impious cruelty Archbishops and Bishops have been driven from their Sees, which. Sees he has then given as benefices to his favourites. His tyranny has caused the death of Wezel, Archbishop of Magdeburg, of pious memory; Adalbert, Bishop of Worms, still languishes in the King's dungeons, the orders of the Holy See notwithstanding. Many thousands of people have lost their lives through him, a very great number of churches have been burnt and completely destroyed, and their relics scattered. It is impossible to give any adequate account of the insults offered by him to our princes, because they have refused to obey him as their King, being unwilling to disobey the decrees of the Apostolic See. If the meeting which You had convened, in order to inquire as to who had justice on his side, and to re-establish peace, has not been able to take place, it is Henry's fault, and that of his adherents.
Furthermore, we humbly ask of Your Clemency in our interests, or, rather, in the interests of the Holy Church of God, that You will carry into execution the sentence You have already pronounced upon this sacrilegious invader of the churches.
Given at Rome, in the year 1080 of the Incarnation of our Lord, the seventh year of the pontificate of the Lord Pope Gregory VII”.
The Pope now proceeded again to the terrific sentence: again he pronounced against Henry the decree of excommunication and of deposition. The anathema against him—the excommunicatio regis Henrici—the epoch-making speech of Gregory's, is worded with great care and solemnity. It begins with prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul. It repeats the often-repeated declaration of Gregory as to the unwillingness with which he had entered into public affairs, the compulsion which had forced him into the Papacy: “You have appointed me to ascend a very high mountain, and to reproach the people of God for their crimes”. It recites the misdemeanours of Henry, his attempts to overthrow the Pope, the excommunication and absolution of the King. “Not only this”, the speech continues; “but I have not re-established him upon that throne from which I deposed him in the Council of Rome, and I have not obliged those who had already sworn, or who should thereafter swear fealty to him, to consider as again binding on them that fidelity from which I released them in the same Synod.
“I had imposed all these restrictions, in order to be able later on to perform the work of justice by re-establishing peace between him and the Princes and Bishops beyond the Alps, who had resisted him in obedience to the commands of Your Church. Now these Princes and Bishops, hearing that he did not keep his promises, and, as it were, despairing of him, without receiving any advice from me, as You are witnesses, chose the Duke Rudolph for their King. This King Rudolph, without delay, sent a message, announcing to me that he had been constrained to accept the government of the kingdom, and that he was ready to obey me in everything. The better to convince me of his sincerity, he has ever since treated with me and spoken in the same terms, offering me his own son as a pledge of his word, together with the son of his fief, the Duke Berthold. Henry, meanwhile, entreated me to support him again the said Rudolph. I answered him that I would willingly do a after having heard the causes of the two parties, and examined on whose side lay the justice of the matter. But he, persuaded that his own forces were sufficient to overcome Rudolph unassisted, disdained to attend to my reply. When he found that he could not do as he wished, two from among the Bishops who were his partisan, viz. the Bishop of Verdun and the Bishop of Osnabrück, came to Rome to ask me in the Council to have justice done him, whilst the envoys sent by Rudolph asked a similar favor for that Prince. At last, as I believe, by the inspiration of God, I decided in the same Council that a Conference should be held beyond the Alp with the intention either of restoring peace, or to decide which of the two parties had right on his side. As for me, You, my Fathers and Lords, can bear witness, that I have never, up to this very day, wished to take part on any side but that of justice. As I foresaw that those who knew their claim to be unjust would be again holding the Conference, I threatened with excommunication and anathema all those persons, whether King, Duke, Bishop or another, who should by means of any artifice put an obstacle in the way of this meeting. Now Henry, who no more fears the danger of that disobedience, which is equivalent to the sin of idolatry, than do his mistaken abettors, in opposing the holding of this Conferee has incurred the penalty of excommunication, and lies under the ban of anathema. He has delivered a great number of Christian people over to death, has pillaged and destroyed churches, and laid waste almost the entire realm of Germany.
“Therefore, trusting in the judgment and mercy of God, and of Mary, His most holy and ever-virgin Mother, I excommunicate and anathematize Henry, so-called King, together with all his supporters; in the Name of the Omnipotent God and in Your name, I depose him from the kingdom of Germany and the government of Italy, and strip him of all regal power and dignity. I forbid any Christian to obey him as his King, and I absolve from their oaths those who have sworn or who should hereafter swear fealty to him. May he, with all his supporters, be impotent in battle, and may he gain no victory so long as his life shall last. As for Rudolph, chosen by the Germans as their King, in Your name grant and concede to him the right to govern and defend, with the aid of Your support, the entire kingdom of Germany, and, in union with You, I absolve all his adherents from all and every one of their sins and crimes, and do You grant to them, oh, ye Apostles, Your Benediction in this life and in the next. If Henry, by his disobedience, his pride and his insincerity, has been justly deprived of the kingly dignity, so in reward for his humility, his submission and his candour, Rudolph now receives the title of King and the regal power.
“Deign now, I pray You, most holy Fathers and Lords, to make known to the whole world that, as You can both bind and loose in Heaven, so also on earth You have the power to deprive of and to bestow upon every man, according to his deserts, all worldly things, be they honors, empires, kingdoms, principalities, duchies, marquessates, earldoms, and any other possessions whatsoever. Many times You have withdrawn patriarchates, primacies, archbishoprics and bishoprics from the perverse and unworthy, and have bestowed them upon such recipients as were truly religious. Since You are judges in spiritual matters, how great must be Your power in merely temporal things! Since you judge the very Angels who have dominion over proud princes, what can You not do with these princes, their slaves? Let the kings and rulers of this world learn today the greatness of Your Authority! May they in future dread to think lightly of the economics and organization of Holy Church. Let Your judgment then be accomplished upon this Henry, so promptly, that all the world may see and acknowledge that he falls, not by chance, but by Your Power! May his confusion lead him to repentance, in order that his soul may be save in the day of the Lord.
Done at Rome, the Day of the Nones of March, Indiction III (March 7, 1080)”.
The sentence upon Henry is given upon the ground of disobedience, with the additional reason that he had delivered a great number of Christian people to death, pillaged and destroyed churches, and laid waste almost the entire realm of Germany and his disobedience consisted in his alleged hindrance of the colloquium. But this is not the real reason of the condemnation—it is Henry's ultimatum, delivered by Liemar of Bremen, in which he threatens to depose the successor of St. Peter. The King had once before, at the Diet of Worms, threatened to depose the Pope; for this he was excommunicated and "suspended from rule"; this second threat deserved, in Gregory's opinion, severer punishment. In the first case, Henry IV was only temporarily forbidden to rule; now he is deposed definitively, and for ever.
We do not know the reason of Gregory’s silence upon what constituted, in his eyes, the “head and front of the offending” of Henry. It is certain that Liemar’s mission was not public, and that he was probably received in a special audience, perhaps with very few or no witnesses present; hence Gregory might not consider himself obliged to make public and open use of it. There is also a second consideration. Upon Henry's excommunication in 1076, voices were raised in protest, declaring that the Pope was actuated by motives of revenge for the personal affronts conveyed in the Decree of Worms. The Pope had been obliged to reassure those dissatisfied as to his motives, and it is possible that he may have passed over the embassy of Liemar in silence, in order to avoid a repetition of the same reproaches.
While Henry loses his kingdom for ever, Rudolph—already elected King in 1077 at Forchheim—receives his crown as a new gift from the Pope's hands, and it is noteworthy that he receives it ad fidelitatem apostolicam : that is to say, Rudolph, like the Norman princes, is to become a vassal of the Holy See. While Rudolph is given Germany, no mention is made of the kingdom of Italy; and as Henry was deposed from his kingdom also, it is possible that Gregory entertained the idea of setting up Robert Guiscard in his place.
As was natural, Henrician writers condemned the Pope's decision. The biographer of Henry IV says that the ban was disregarded; because it appeared to be the “result of caprice, not of reason; of hate, not of love”; and Benzo expresses his disgust at the Pope's procedure in the following couplet—
Ultra furias furentem furit ille rutifer
Contra Deum, contra regent, delatrando jugiter.
The allocution is a dexterous piece of party pleading, in which, in spite of the preliminary prayer to St. Peter and St. Paul, “lovers of truth”, the truth is in certain passages obscured; and it is essentially the speech of an advocate, not the impartial verdict of a judge. In especial should be noticed the misleading account of the Pope’s measures with regard to Henry IV, whom, says Gregory, he did not re-establish upon the throne; and whose subjects he had not obliged to return to their allegiance. The “restrictions” which Gregory states that he imposed, “in order to be able, later on, to perform the work of justice by re-establishing peace between him and the Princes and Bishops beyond the Alps”, had no existence. As we have said, Henry IV received an unconditional absolution; he gave the Promissio at Canossa as King; and was designated as King in Gregory's letters; and even after the Forchheim election, the Pope makes use of more than one expression which leaves upon his readers the conviction that he regarded Henry as the legitimate King.
The unjustified action of the German princes at the Forchheim election is very lightly, too lightly, touched upon. It was a difficult task to mention this election without a sacrifice of truth, and without at the same time criticizing it; and Gregory’s words are very skilfully chosen to obscure the real issue. “The Princes heard that he (the King) did not keep his promises, and as it were despairing of him” and so forth, which admits that the princes had not taken the trouble to ask if the accusations against Henry were justified, but they had acted on hearsay evidence. Gregory, it seems, becomes suddenly convinced that “justice” favored the cause of Rudolph after Henry’s aggressive embassy. Rudolph's services—his humility, obedience, and sincerity—are purely relative to Henry's policy; positively, the Duke of Suabia had tacitly disobeyed the Holy See in his endeavors to elude the colloquium.
A comparison of the whole speech with Gregory’s in February 1076, after Henry’s personal and abusive communication to the Diet of Worms, is unfavorable to the later utterance. In the earlier he had shown a calm and impartial composure, he had refrained from self-justification, and made no undeserved reproaches: while in the later a deep-seated hostility to Henry runs like a red thread through the whole, and colours the speech. He hopes that Henry may be brought to repentance, and that his “soul may be saved in the day of the Lord”, but at the same time he confidently expects the ruin and defeat of the King as a consequence of the ban.
How soon was he to be deceived in his confidence, that he could compel the expression of divine wrath against his enemies in this anathema, and in an even extremer form in his Easter prophecy!
With regard to the speech’s results, Voigt, in his life of Gregory VII, says : “Never has a voice been heard from Italy which commanded such attention in Germany; what the Romar Emperors, with their legions of soldiers, could never effect, a single monk achieved by his word alone. He realized this miracle by bringing the consciences of men under the sway of his sovereign moral authority”. On the contrary, however, the ban of 1080 had very little practical result. Rudolph was slain a few months after the sentence, while Henry, from this time forward, retained possession of his kingdom, and saw his party increase. The “unique monument to the memory of Gregory VII”, as Giesebrecht calls it, remains a singularly ineffective piece of oratory.
The anathema seemed to have lost all its terrors for the popular mind; no defections took place, no desertions from the court, the council, or the army. All disclaimed at once further allegiance to Gregory.
Not content with the ban, Gregory, shortly after the Synod, ventured to assume the prophetic office. He declared publicly, and either believed himself, or wished others to believe, with the authority of divine revelation, that unless Henry made his submission before the Festival of St. Peter (June 29) (one of the Saints whom he had invoked in his allocation to the council), he would be deposed or dead; and if his prophecy failed, men were to cease to believe in the authority of Gregory. The truth of this story is attested by both Beno and Bonitho.
Neither Beno nor Bonitho states what is the date of this prophecy, but it can only be referred to this year (1080); for Bonitho attempts to prove a fulfilment in the spiritual death of Henry, consequent upon his setting up the anti-pope Guibert at Brixen (June 25, 1080), although, he admits, the popular mind interpreted Gregory’s words as referring to “natural” death.
Gregory’s “Easter prophecy” has been criticized as improbable by some historians; but, rightly considered, the improbability vanishes. Appeals to the judgment of God by means of ordeals were common, and a feature of these was, that God was appealed to declare against some person or persons. This is not widely removed from the tendency to predict, under “inspiration” from God, a disastrous future for some person or persons. Thus Peter Damiani had assured the anti-Pope Cadalus that he (the anti-Pope) would die, or lose his usurped position, before a certain date; but the prediction was not fulfilled, and Damiani was driven to make use of ignoble artifices to explain away his over-hasty prophecy. Like Damiani, Gregory VII was not endowed with the gift of foreseeing the future; and after August was passed, he was obliged to admit that Henry was still living and unconquered. Worse was to come, for within the year Rudolph of Suabia, whose cause he had espoused, fell in battle. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Rudolphian historians preserve a discreet silence about Gregory’s Easter prophecy.
At the Synod in which Henry was again excommunicated, the Bishop of Dol defended the autonomy of Brittany as an ecclesiastical province, governed by the Archbishop of Dol, and at the same time the Archbishop of Tours upheld the rights of his Church over the same province of Brittany; and the Synod therefore decided that legates of the Holy See should proceed to France, in order to investigate and decide this complicated question on the spot. The Pope, furthermore, confirmed the sentence of deposition which had been pronounced against Manasses, Archbishop of Rheims, at the Council of Lyons, by Hugh of Die, as the Archbishop had never fulfilled the promises he had made to the Pope, after the Roman Synod of February 1078, and to which he owed his reinstallation in the archiepiscopal see.
Manasses, in the summer of 1078, had written to Gregory, making a distinction, which he endeavored to establish, between Roman-born legates of the Holy See and those of other nationalities a pretext for disobeying the latter. In answer, Gregory stated that the popes had chosen their representatives from different countries without any such objection having ever been raised. Gregory cited, in support, many historical precedents, and concluded by advising Manasses not to shelter himself under subterfuges, but to justify himself, as he had promised to do, before the two legates, Hugh of Die and Hugh of Cluny. As to the privileges and prerogatives of the Archbishops of Rheims, the Pope laid down that these, having been granted according to circumstances, and for the good of the faithful, could be abrogated if the interests of the Church so demanded.
The real aim of the French prelate was to oppose the ancient privileges of the Church of Rheims to the authority of the legates of the Holy See, and to refer for necessary decisions to Rome immediately—the distance of this court of appeal rendering the prelates more independent of papal control than if subject to papal legates, who were on the spot. Manasses did not stand alone, but many of the bishops and archbishops of France were in sympathy with this policy, as was also the King of France himself. The history of the Council of Poitiers reveals the King's bias, and the French bishops, under the pretext of defending the rights and liberties of their own Churches, were fighting against Gregory's disastrous policy of centralization.
To isolate Manasses, Gregory (April 19, 1079) had recognized the primacy of the Church of Lyons over the four ecclesiastical provinces of Lyons, Rouen, Tours and Sens. By this measure the Archbishop of Lyons was given the precedence, and, in certain cases, was made the counsellor and judge of a considerable number of the clergy and bishops of France, whereas the Archbishops of Rheims had for a long time claimed and exercised primatial rights over all the Churches of that country. The Archbishop of Rheims perhaps realized that he had compromised his position too completely at Rome to be able to contest the right of precedence in the French Church with any hope of success. The Archbishops of Rouen and Sens, however, opposed the privileges accorded to their Churches by earlier popes to the privileges granted to the Church of Lyons by Gregory VII, and their successors continued the contest, not altogether unsuccessfully, until towards the close of the twelfth century.
The Archbishop of Rheims had been ordered by Gregory VII to appear before Hugh, Bishop of Die, and Hugh, Abbot of Cluny. The Bishop of Die, therefore, summoned him to appear at a council to be held at Lyons, at which, however, on various pretexts (such as the insecurity of the roads and the dangers of the journey) he refused to appear. By the Council of Lyons, which was probably held in the early part of February 1080, Manasses was consequently solemnly and finally deposed from the episcopate, and the sentence was confirmed by the Roman Synod of March 1080. On the following April Gregory made a last attempt to move the deposed Archbishop, and proposed to him that he (Manasses) should appear before the legate, Hugh of Die, assisted by the Abbot of Cluny, or Aimé, Bishop of Oleron, and exculpate himself as best he could, producing six bishops as witnesses in his favor. Manasses, however, made no sign, and on December 27 Gregory had given up all hope, and wrote to the King of France to “accord no favors whatsoever to Manasses, sometime Archbishop of Rheims, but now deposed for ever by reason of his crimes”.
Manasses was vanquished. He left Rheims in the beginning of the year 1081, and went to seek Henry IV, who was then in open warfare against Gregory VII. Later on he took part in the first Crusade, was made prisoner on his way to Jerusalem, and died soon after his release from captivity without having been reconciled with the Pope, as we are informed by Guibert de Nogent.
By the anathema directed against Henry IV, war was declared. The ambassadors of the King immediately left Rome for Tuscany, where they raised a rebellion against the Countess Matilda; and they next raised the standard of revolt in Lombardy. Henry IV, who was at Bamberg when the news of the excommunication reached him, considered it as a challenge, and issued his commands that the prelates of the empire should be summoned to Mayence to depose the Pope and elect a new head of the Church. At Mayence (May 31) nineteen bishops met, and with one voice determined to renounce Hildebrand as Pope; and shortly afterwards the King issued a proclamation addressed to the archbishops, bishops, and princes of Germany and Lombardy, in which the troubles in Church and State are regretted; and it is stated that the only way to put an end to the confusion is to "cut off the head of the venomous serpent" (i. e. Gregory VII). In this proclamation Henry promises that there shall be “no going back” upon his side. “It were more easy to separate Hercules from his club, than me (while I have life) from you”. This proclamation, which was disseminated by the Bishop of Spires, must have been followed by letters convoking an assembly on the 25th of the following June at Brixen—a small town lying hidden in the Noric valley (now the Austrian Tyrol) which was chosen since it lay on the road of communication which by the Brenner pass connected Italy with Germany.
“To the Archbishops, Bishops, Dukes, Marquesses, Counts, and to all the Princes of the Roman Empire, to great and small, to the clergy and people of the Holy Church”, Theodoric, Bishop of Verdun, wrote to explain the necessity for the election of a new Pope, pronouncing that Gregory’s own “life accuses him, his perversity condemns him, the obstinacy of his malice anathematizes him”. Theodoric, who was present at the assembly at Mayence, was destined to go back from his position: on his return to Verdun he was coldly received by his flock, and he confesses to Guibert, whom Henry IV wished to thrust into the Archbishopric of Treves, that he had “disowned him who is seated on the throne of St. Peter”, and disowned him without any reason. “I have denied him”, he writes, “to whom I promised obedience and submission at the moment of my ordination, and to whose authority, after that of Blessed Peter, I was committed, when I took upon myself the government of my see”.
At the Synod of Brixen were assembled Henry IV, Cardinal Hugh Candidus (the stormy petrel of anti-papal movements), and thirty prelates from Germany and Italy; some among whom—the Bishops of Lausanne, Bamberg, Brandenburg, and Verona—had taken part in the Diet of Worms. Bishop Hazmann of Spires, however, who had in 1076 brought to Italy the decree of the deposition of Gregory VII, and who had issued the royal proclamation of May 31, was not present. The Synod of thirty bishops confirmed the deposition of the “false monk Hildebrand”, called Gregory VII, and the document was signed by all, present. Henry IV’s is the last name among those who subscribed; Hugh Candidus, who signs “in the name of all the Roman cardinals”, the first. Roland, Bishop of Treviso, who brought the Decrees of Worms to Rome in 1076, cannot refrain from adding that he signs with joy; but Guibert of Ravenna's signature is absent. He, no doubt, was aware that he would be elected Pope, and took no trouble to share in the debates and formalities at Brixen.
We give the document in extenso:
“In the year of the Incarnation of our Lord, 1080, being the 26th year of the reign of his most serene majesty, King Henry IV, the 7th of the Kalends of July, a Thursday, and during the third indiction (June 25, 1080) an assembly composed of thirty bishops and a very great number of noble and influential personages, not only from Italy, but also from Germany, having met together, by order of the King, at Brixen, in Norica, the most vehement complaints were preferred against the insane fury of a certain man called Hildebrand, a false monk, called the Pope Gregory VII. Reproaches were made against the King (who is ever invincible), for having so long allowed the ravages committed by this fanatic, whilst Paul, that vessel of election, declares that a prince does not bear the sword in vain1 and whilst Peter, the first of the Apostles, proclaims that a king should not only rule, but also that it is incumbent upon him to send judges to punish the wicked and to reward the good.
“In order to silence these complaints, the most glorious King, and his Princes, have decided that the judgment of the Bishops, who are the mouth-pieces of the Divine reprobation, shall be pronounced against this same Hildebrand, before proceeding against him with the sword of the temporal power. The royal authority having, after this sentence, absolute liberty to punish him whom the Bishops shall first have deposed from his proud prelature. Can anyone who is faithful, hesitate to condemn him? From his earliest years, and without any particular merit, he has sought to make himself remarkable by his vain glory. To that order which God has established, he has preferred his dreams, his fancies, and those of other persons. He wears the habit of a monk, whilst he is not one in reality; he has withdrawn himself from all ecclesiastical discipline, and has never been subject to any master; he is a greater admirer of obscene theatrical representations than even secular people are; from love of filthy lucre, he has permitted the money-changers to place their tables under the very portico of the church, publicly. After having amassed much money by all these means, he seized upon the Abbey of Blessed Paul, and supplanted the rightful Abbot. Stretching out his covetous hand for the Archidiaconate, he deceived a certain Mancius, whom he persuaded to sell him that dignity; Pope Nicholas did not wish to have him for his procurator, he accordingly aroused sedition among the people, and the Pope was obliged to accept him. It has been proved against him that he has caused the violent deaths of four of the Roman pontiffs, whom he poisoned by the aid of an accomplice, a certain intimate of his, John Brachintus, who, although his repentance was very late, yet, at the moment of death, confessed in a loud voice that it was he who had administered the poison.
“The very night when the funeral of Pope Alexander was taking place in the Basilica of Our Saviour, this pestiferous fellow, whom we have already named several times, arranged that all the bridges and gates of Rome should be manned by an armed force, as also every tower and triumphal arch. Soldiers, by his orders, established themselves in the Lateran Palace as in the fortress of an enemy. Among the clergy no one wanted him for Pope, but swords were unsheathed and clerics were menaced with death if they dared to make the slightest opposition to his election; thus it was that, even before the dead Pope had been laid in the tomb, this man took possession of the throne which he had long secretly coveted.
“Some of the clergy, however, tried to remind him of the decree of Pope Nicholas, promulgated under pain of anathema, by one hundred and twenty-five Bishops and approved by Hildebrand himself; the decree ordained that if any one pretended to be Pope, without the consent of the Prince of Rome, he should be considered by all, not as Pope, but as an apostate. He replied that he did not acknowledge any king, and that, further, he could annul any decree of his predecessors.
“What more shall we say? Not Rome alone, but the whole Roman world, can certify that he was never chosen of God, but that he, most impudently, intruded himself into the Throne of Peter, by force, by fraud, and by bribery. The fruit is such as might be expected from such roots, his deeds bear witness to what his intentions were. He has overthrown the economy of the Church; he has equally modified the structure of the Christian Empire; he has made war to the death against the body and soul of a most Catholic and pacific king; he supports as king, one who is perjured and a traitor; he sows discord among those who are at peace; thanks to him, the one time contented and tranquil now go to law one against another, there are scandals among the brethren; divorces take place among the married, and all those who would fain live in peace, are disturbed and endangered.
“For all the motives, above-mentioned and afore-said, we all, here assembled, by the Will of God, having further, with us here, the envoys and letters, from nineteen other Bishops who assembled at Mayence, on the holy day of Pentecost of this present year, we, believing it to be our duty to canonically depose and rid the Church of this strange man Hildebrand, who preaches sacrilege and incendiarism; who defends perjury and homicide; who doubts and questions the Catholic and Apostolic Faith touching the Body and Blood of our Lord; who was formerly a disciple of the heretic Berengarius, a man given up to divination and dreams, an unconcealed necromancer, possessed by the pythonical spirit, and whom, if, after having heard this present sentence, he does not quit his See, we hereby damn for ever and ever”.
As Ranke remarked, the hatred of the Henrician party had steadily increased since 1077, and reached its highest point in the Synod of Brixen. To the accusations of simony, bribery, and licentiousness which were brought forward at Worms, they added those of heresy and necromancy, of the murder of no fewer than four popes, and of the attempt to destroy the body and soul of the King.
The accusations are more detailed, more passionate and bitterer than those contained in the Worms document, and the only accusation which was not revived against him in 1080, is that of an undue intimacy with the Countess Matilda, and his senatus mulierum; perhaps as both Agnes and Beatrice had died in the meantime, this latter was no longer a charge that could plausibly be urged against him. The accusation of heresy no doubt arose from Gregory’s acceptance of the ambiguous confession of Berengarius, and probably much was made of the declaration which Berengarius asserted him to have made, that he had received a special message from the Blessed Virgin Mary, testifying that the doctrine of Berengarius was consonant with the Scriptures. Gregory’s protection of the heresiarch after he had subscribed to the new formula would also have told against him. The accusation of heresy was the trump card of the Synod of Brixen, for, as a heretic, Gregory had no right to retain the papacy. As Henry in his Worms letter had asserted that he could be rightly deposed, if he fell from the faith, how much the more did the Pope—the head of Christendom— deserve deposition, if he proved false to the Apostolic and Catholic faith!
The charge against Gregory that he had attempted to compass the death of the King “in body”, can be paralleled by the accusation Beno brings against him of having (at the time of the Easter prophecy) attempted to destroy the King per occultos proditores. The “Death of the Soul” refers to the excommunication of Henry.
The accusation of having purchased the archidiaconate was a bitter and telling charge to make against the Pope who fought so long and so strenuously against simony in the Church. His election to the Papacy is assumed by the Synod as having been compassed by “fraud, force and bribery”; and, in addition to this, the choice of a Pope by the Romans, without the consent of the King, is declared null and void; that is to say, that Gregory had never been duly elected to the Papacy.
The deposition of Gregory was but a preliminary measure: means to an end, and that end, the nomination of a new Pope whom Henry should receive the crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
Landulf relates that there was some hesitation in the Synod to the choice between Guibert of Ravenna, and Tedaldo, Archbishop of Milan; but this seems improbable, and is not substantiated by Wido of Ferrara. It is not certain whether Guibert of Ravena was elected by the bishops at the Synod, or nominated by the King, who was assured of the consent of the bishops, but the latter is the more probable. It is a mistake to suppose, with some historian that Henry designated Guibert in his right as Roman patrician; for if the patriciate had had such a definite right attached to it, the Synods of Worms and of Brixen could not have failed to assert that Gregory had, through his elevation in 1073, neglected and set aside this patrician right.
Guibert of Ravenna had now attained the object of his ambition, he was invested with the insignia of the Papacy; and all—the King among the number—paid homage to him as the Supreme Head of the Church. In this adoratio of Henry, Bonitho sees the fulfilment of Gregory’s prophecy; the King becomes spiritually dead, as consequence of his homage “to the beast” at Brixen.
Guibert, who then proceeded to Italy, retained, however, his dignity as Archbishop of Ravenna until his death.
In the course of this history Guibert has already been mentioned; he was, at the time of his elevation as anti-Pope, a highly intelligent and ambitious man, in the prime of life, with numerous devoted adherents in Germany and Northern Italy. An Italian by birth he had early entered into relations with the German court, and was appointed Chancellor of Italy by the Empress Agnes shortly after the death of Henry III. He had taken an active part in the elevation of Cadalus, Bishop of Parma, as anti-Pope in the pontificate of Alexander II; but when the Empress Agnes lost power after the young King was snatched from her care at Kaiserwerth, Guibert was helpless to support Cadalus; and the party in power in Germany wished to repudiate Guibert's action, and the anti-Pope himself. Guibert was removed from the Chancellorship and retired into private life. His wish to obtain the Bishopric of Parma, after the death of Cadalus, remained unfulfilled, but, by the influence of the Empress, he succeeded in winning the Archbishopric of Ravenna. According to Bonitho, Alexander wished to withstand the promotion of Guibert, but Hildebrand had obliged the Pope to withdraw his objection. Hildebrand, adds Bonitho, was deceived, with many others, by the hypocrisy of Guibert, who appeared as a wolf, but in sheep's clothing; but the Pope was not blinded, and broke out into a prophetic warning of the evils Hildebrand should endure through this same Guibert in the future. The charges brought against him by Gregory with regard to Imola were unfounded, and Guibert was present at the Lent Synod of 1074, dwelt in the Lateran, and took the place of honor at the right hand of the Pope, during the sessions.
From the time of the Diet of Worms until his death, Guibert, throwing aside his former neutrality, ranged himself with the extreme enemies of the Pope and with the adherents of Henry IV; he was the life and soul of the anti-Gregorian agitations in Northern Italy, and so came implicitly under the ban and suspension of the February Synod of 1076. When, however, he did not answer to the invitation to appear at the February Synod of 1078, Gregory adopted stronger measures; and, bitterly complaining of the pride and arrogance of the Archbishop, excommunicated him, and suspended him from his priestly and episcopal functions.
While Bonitho heaps up all possible charges against the Archbishop, Gregory also speaks of him, from 1080 onwards, in the sharpest terms;—he is “sacrilegious, anti-Christ, and heresiarch”, by reason of his schismatical attitude towards the Holy See. Upon his private life, however, there is no stain; he was and always remained an opponent of simony and clerical immorality. Whether bitter personal hatred of the Pope, or antipathy to Gregory’s new policy and measures, or an exaggerated loyalty to Henry IV led him into his schismatical position, we cannot say.
After the Synod of Brixen, Henry IV returned to Germany to continue the struggle against Rudolph, and before his departure, he confided his young son Conrad to the care of Guibert, as a testimony to the confidence he reposed in the Archbishop. The anti-Pope and the various bishops who had attended the Synod went back to their dioceses.
The only allies and protectors to whom Gregory could now look were the Normans; but the Normans, who refused to abandon certain Papal territories at the word of the Pope, were still under the ban of excommunication. With them, however, Gregory proceeded to make a hasty treaty, withdrawing the interdict even without a seeming concession on their part. The wording of the interdict in 1080 indicates that the Pope foresaw this eventuality, and that he contemplated a reconciliation with the race he had described in 1075 as “worse than Jews and Pagans”.
Petrus of Monte Cassino relates that when his Abbot came to Rome to petition Gregory to relieve the Duke of Normandy of the ban, “which weighed heavily upon the Duke's Catholic conscience”, the Pope showed evident signs of an inclination to treat with Robert Guiscard.
It is most improbable that Robert Guiscard felt any inconvenience for the ban which had rested on him for six years; and it is much more likely that Gregory took the first step towards the rapprochement. That the alliance proved a difficult one to negotiate is shown by the fact that the treaty was not arranged until the end of June, for Robert Guiscard wished to embark upon a wild enterprise against the Greek Empire, in which a coalition with the Holy See would be of small value to him; and, secondly, he must have refused any concession to the Pope.
Towards the end of June Gregory left Rome, accompanied by several cardinals, and went to Ceprano, a small town of the Campagna on the banks of the Liris, which he had appointed as the meeting-place between himself and Robert Guiscard. The interview took place on June 29—at least that is the date upon documents containing Robert's oath of allegiance and Gregory's investiture. It was the first time the Duke had seen Hildebrand after his elevation to the Sovereign Pontificate. As soon as he approached the Pope he prostrated himself and kissed the Pontiff's feet. His Holiness raised him up, made a sign to his two escorts to retire to a little distance, and a long conversation took place between the two dignitaries, the details of which are unknown. The drawing up of the legal documents of the reconciliation shows that the Pope and the Duke had some difficulty in coming to terms. Gregory refused to acknowledge the conquest of Salerno, or that of Amalfi by Robert Guiscard—still less willing was he to cede to the Duke a part of the Marches of Fermo, which he claimed as belonging to the Holy See. Robert, on the other hand, refused to cede an inch of territory.
The following is the oath of fidelity sworn by Robert Guiscard to Gregory VII and his successors, together with the formula of the investiture of the Duke by the Pope; with a few modifications, advantageous to Robert Guiscard, these documents are identical with those subscribed by the Duke when, in 1059, at the Council of Melfi, he swore fidelity to Pope Nicholas II:
“Robert, by the grace and favor of God and of St. Peter, Duke of Apuleia and Calabria, and Sicily. I will from this time forth and for evermore be faithful to the Holy Roman Church, to the Holy See, and to You, my sovereign Lord Gregory Universal Pope. Never will I take part in any oath or enterprise, which is liable to endanger Your life, Your members, or Your liberty. If any secret should be confided by You to my keeping, I will never knowingly commit it to any other, for fear lest thereby evil might befall You. Everywhere, and against all others I will be, according to my strength and power, Your ally and the ally of the Holy Roman Church, in order that she may retain, acquire and defend the revenues and possessions of St. Peter,—with the exception of parts of the Marches of Fermo, of Salerno, and of Amalfi, with regard to which nothing has as yet been agreed upon. I will lend You a strong hand in order that You may occupy the Papal See of Rome with the honor due to Your position and in full security. As to the lands of St. Peter which You already possess, or which in the future You may possess, so soon as I know that they belong to You, I will abstain from invading, ravaging or laying them waste unless I receive express permission to the contrary either from Yourself or from Your Successors, in whom the dignity of Blessed Peter shall be vested. No lands shall be excepted save those which shall be granted to me by Yourself or by Your Successors. I will conscientiously pay to the Roman Church the tribute agreed upon for those territories belonging to St. Peter which I now possess, or shall in the future possess. All the churches which are actually in my power, together with all their rights and possessions, I will submit to Your jurisdiction, and I will maintain them in fidelity to the Holy Roman Church. If You, or Your Successors, should depart this life before me, I will do my utmost that the new Pope shall be elected and enthroned according to the honor due to St. Peter and in agreement to such advice as I shall receive from the best-informed among the cardinals, the clergy, and laity of Rome. I will faithfully observe these engagements into which I now enter with You and with the Holy Roman Church, and I will continue to act in the same way with Your Successors who shall be promoted to the dignity of Blessed Peter, and who will grant to me, should no fault of mine prevent it, the investiture which You have accorded to me. May God and His Holy Gospels come to my help.
Done at Ceprano, the 3rd of the Kalends of July (June 29, 1080)”.
“I, Gregory, Pope, invest you, Duke Robert, with all the lands granted to you by My predecessors of holy memory, Nicholas and Alexander. As to the estates which you unjustly retain, such as Salerno, Amalfi, and part of the Marches of Fermo, I patiently suffer you to do your will at the present time, trusting in God, and in your goodness, and in order that for the future you may conduct yourself in such a way as will tend to the glory of God and of Blessed Peter, as is incumbent both for you and myself”.
Robert, it is clear, is master of the situation, and Gregory, who had maintained the right of the Pope to dispose of empires and kingdoms at his will, was obliged to “patiently suffer” Robert Guiscard’s encroachments, trusting in the “goodness” of the Prince that restitution would be made in the future. He was thus entirely unable to obtain any restitution for his ally, Gisulfo of Salerno, or for the Holy See. Robert was released from the ban, although he refused the one satisfaction in his power. Whether he suffered a penance suitable to his obstinate carelessness of the censure of the Church, and his unjustifiable encroachments upon the possessions of the Holy See, is not recorded. By such an absolution Gregory acted counter to the principles he had often proclaimed; he would have appeared to far greater advantage if, firm in danger and adversity, the very depth of his soul filled with confidence in the justice of his cause, and the certainty of divine favor, he had remained inflexible, refusing to absolve a penitent who refused to give satisfaction for his sins. The consciousness that “to things temporal” had given away “things eternal” must have weighed upon his conscience, and he had soon to learn that no blessing lay upon this alliance.
Ceprano must have been more painful, more humiliating to Gregory, than was Canossa to Henry IV.
During the months following the treaty with the Normans, Gregory was overjoyed at the apparent resultant strengthening of his position. He announced that the Norman leaders, with Robert at their head, had sworn to defend the Holy See “against all men”, and confidently hoped to lead an army of them to rescue the Church of Ravenna from the hands of Guibert. This dream, however, was destined to remain unfulfilled; and, in the following year, Gregory was obliged to admit that Robert persisted in a wise passivity.
The object of Robert, meanwhile, was to seize upon the throne of Constantine the Great and become the Emperor of the East. His pretext for attacking the Greeks was the revolution of March 1078, in Constantinople, in which Michael VII was overthrown by Nicephorus Botoniatis, and Constantine Porphyrogenitis, Robert Guiscard's son-in-law, exiled, while his daughter Helen was held captive in Constantinople. Shortly after the overthrow of Michael VII, a Greek impostor presented himself at the court of Robert Guiscard in Salerno, giving out that he was the dethroned Emperor of the East, who had escaped from the monastery in which he had been confined, and had come to implore the powerful Duke to help him to recover his throne. If the Duke believed in this audacious charlatan, the deception lasted only a very short time. Many members of Guiscard's suite, who had known Michael VII at Constantinople, declared that the pretender bore no resemblance to him; nevertheless, the shrewd Norman prince resolved to make use of the impostor for his own ends. The pretended Emperor was caused to make a royal progress through the towns and villages of Apuleia and Calabria to excite the populace against Nicephorus Botoniatis, and Guiscard induced Gregory to write to the Bishops of Apuleia and Calabria recommending them to support the Duke’s projects.
“Your prudence has certainly received the intelligence that the most glorious Emperor of Constantinople, Michael, has been dethroned in an unjust and rebellious manner, and that he has come into Italy to implore the help of Blessed Peter and of Our very valiant son, Duke Robert.
For this reason, We, Who, notwithstanding Our unworthiness, occupy the throne of St. Peter, moved by compassion, have thought well to hearken to the prayers of this Prince, as well as to those of the Duke, and declare that it is the duty of all the faithful subjects of St. Peter to lend him their assistance. The aforesaid Princes being persuaded that the most availing help will be that of the good faith and persevering affection which their soldiers will bring, to the defence of that Emperor. We command, in virtue of the Apostolic Authority committed to Us, that those who shall have promised to enter into his army may beware of treacherously passing into the enemies' camp to fight under that banner, but that they shall faithfully give him their support, as honor and the Christian religion demand of them. We recommend equally to your charity to warn all those who are about to set sail with the armies of the Duke and the Emperor to perform a sincere act of penance before they set out, to preserve unbroken fidelity to those Princes and in all things to keep the love and fear of God before their eyes, and to persevere in well-doing on these conditions; strong in Our authority or rather in the power of Blessed Peter, you shall absolve them from their sins.
Given, the 8th of the Kalends of August (July 23, 1080)”.
To the Council of Brixen’s declaration of war Gregory had wished to respond with a well-equipped expedition. This, however, was not to be, but Gregory still wielded his moral thunders, and when at Ceccano, not far from Ferentino, he wrote a letter to the Bishops of the principality and in Apuleia and Calabria. In this document of Gregory's, Henry is singled out as the soul and support of the anti-Papal movement, and the Pope continues that:—"It is but three years ago since at the instigation and by the orders of this Henry, the principal bishops of Lombardy plotted and organized abominable conspiracies against Us; but you do not forget that thanks to the protection of Blessed Peter We came out of the conflict, not only unscathed, but with great access of honor to Ourself and to all the faith. This humiliation not having sufficed to correct them, they were struck anew by the Apostolic sword, with a force and vigor to which the depth and gravity of their wounds bear witness. These men are as bold-faced as harlots, and by their shamelessness are amassing stores of Divine wrath”.
Guibert is then stigmatized as a sacrilegious, man, an antichrist, and a heresiarch, the “scourge of the Church of Ravenna”, and the Brixen Synod, a “Synod of Satan where were assembled all those whose lives are abominable and whose ordination is altogether heretical, and that by reason of their crimes, which are of every kind”.
The whole letter bears the stamp of passion and exaggeration, a blind antipathy to Henry, which leads him into the misleading statement that Henry had instigated the Lombard prelates, against the Holy See, and armed and led their rebellion. This is absurd, and contrary to facts, for the Lombard bishops were already bitterly hostile to Gregory in the early part of 1077, before the Synod of Brixen, and reproached the King for seeking absolution at his hands at Canossa. Also, Gregory himself urged no such reproaches against Henry at the time of the King’s sojourn in Northern Italy after Canossa.
In an undated letter written certainly during the last days of July or the first days of August, and addressed to “all who are faithful to St. Peter”, Gregory announces his alliance with Duke Robert, Jordan, “and the other great Norman nobles who have unanimously promised Us on the faith of their oath, to give Us help against all men, in the defence of the Holy Roman Church, and of Our dignity”; and his hopes of delivering the Church of Ravenna from impious hands and his (misplaced) confidence that “before long” all troubles will be ended by the downfall of his enemies.
In all these expectations Gregory was deceived. Peace and victory were by no means near at hand; the expedition against Ravenna had to be abandoned; the Normans proved but self-seeking and inactive allies; Jordan of Capua especially, added to his earlier misdeeds by an audacious act of sacrilege, in breaking into and pillaging the Church of St. Benedict.
Unable to drive Guibert from Ravenna by force of arms, Gregory endeavoured to attain the same result by all the other means at his disposal. On October 15, 1080, he ordered the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Marches of Tuscany and Fermo, as well as those of the Exarchate of Ravenna, to choose a successor to Archbishop Guibert, whom he pronounced for ever deposed and anathematized.
On the same day Gregory wrote a similar recommendation to the clergy and laity of Ravenna. In order to invest his injunctions with still more authority, he sent the Cardinal-Archdeacon and several Cardinal-Deacons to Ravenna, with instructions to act with the Bishops of the province, for the election of the new Archbishop. This attempt to send the Papal legates was fruitless: it is questionable whether they were able even to reach Ravenna. The Pope, therefore, himself appointed a successor in the Archbishopric, in the person of a priest named Richard (December 11, 1080); but, in, spite of all the Pope's efforts, Richard was not a formidable rival to Guibert, and the entire body of the clergy, together with the laity, preferred to make common cause with the excommunicated Archbishop, and defy the Pope.
While Gregory was thus engaged in Italy, Germany was the scene of events, the consequences of which were felt in Italy, and contributed to strengthen the power of Henry IV in his struggle against the Pope. Shortly after the Synod of Brixen hostilities recommenced. The two armies met for a decisive battle near the Elster. It might seem a religious less than a civil war. The Saxons advanced to the charge with the bishops of their party and the clergy chanting the eighty-second psalm as a war-song, “God standeth in the congregation of the Princes”. Henry was accompanied to the battle by the Archbishops of Cologne and Treves, and fourteen other prelates, and as soon as the army of Henry won a success, the bishops of his party intoned the Te Deum. The issue of this battle is again obscured by the prejudices of party-historians. Bruno the Saxon paints the rout of Henry’s troops in the liveliest colors, and states that the King’s camp was plundered, containing much gold and silver, the baggage of the Archbishops of Cologne and Treves, and of Duke Frederic and others. But the account of Bruno has to be taken with great caution, as his patriotic feeling led him into undue glorification of the Saxons. The Vita Henrici, on the other hand, attributes a decisive victory to Henry, and so do Marianus Scotus, and the Annales Laubienses. If Henry were defeated, the defeat was more than counterbalanced by the death of his rival, the anti-King, who, notwithstanding that he was the champion of the Pope, and the subject of his triumphant prophecy, was mortally wounded in the engagement. His hand had been struck off, his stomach laid open by a sword-cut, and he lived but a few minutes after reaching the camp. According to Bruno, he submitted piously to the Divine will, and joyfully welcomed the news of the victory gained by his friends; Ekkehard, however, writes that he was carried, still living to Moersburg, where some misgiving as to the justice of his cause darkened his last hours. He gazed upon his severed hand and said:—"With this hand I ratified my oath of fealty to my sovereign Henry; I have now lost life and kingdom. Bethink ye, ye who have led me on, in obedience to whose counsels I have ascended the throne, whether ye have guided me right”.
The Saxons, says Bruno, buried the body of Rudolph in the Cathedral of Moersburg, and later erected an effigy of gilded brass over his remains, and made large offerings for the repose of his soul.
The unexpected death of Rudolph created a deep sensation. The hands of Henry were strengthened, while his adversaries of the Gregorian and Rudolphian party were almost paralysed by the blow. Gregory’s adherents naturally felt that the end of the anti-King was a humiliation for the Pope, though they dared not admit it. If it had been the lot of Henry to fall in battle they would certainly have clamored that this was a divine judgment, a verdict in favor of the anti-King and Gregory. As it was Rudolph who lost his life, they endeavored to prove that his death was in nowise contradictory to the Pope’s Easter prophecy. Paul of Bernried, who before had spoken so enthusiastically of the virtues of Rudolph, maintains a discreet silence upon his tragic death—a proof, if proof were needed, that this was a very sore point with Gregory’s biographer. In the Life of Anselm of Lucca, it seems to be hinted that Rudolph died a natural death, which is another way out of the difficulty; while Bonitho laments that, in this event, the ways of Divine justice were dark, but that Henry's undeserved success only added to the tale of his sins.
Benzo, upon the Henrician side, treats of the death of the anti-King with cruel malevolence and bitter insults, and hopes that the same fate will befall “Folleprandus”. In another passage he exults over the death of Rudolph, and the confusion of his "prophet."
Inque brevi meta cadet ipse suusque propheta
Practise collo moritur, mentitur Apollo.
His pulsus caret vita, Ephod Sarabaita.
Lastly, Sigbert of Gembloux has remodelled the wording of Gregory’s Easter prophecy, in order to pour scorn upon the Pope. “Hildebrand the Pope”, he writes, “prophesied, as from Divine inspiration, that this year the false King should die; and his prediction came true; but he was mistaken in his judgment as to which king was false”.
The death of Rudolph, as we have said, was a moral victory for Henry IV; his following had increased when the ban appeared to have lost its terrors, and the untimely death of the anti-King seemed like the manifest judgment of God to his adherents. Gregory had been shown in the face of the world a false prophet; Heaven had ratified neither his predictions nor his anathema. Henry could now confidently attribute his success and the fall of his rival to the intervention of Providence. There was no reluctance now to follow him in a way which before seemed sacrilegious and impious.
After Rudolph’s death, Henry turned his attention towards his more irreconcilable enemy, the Pope. He also wished to fulfil the promise he had made to Guibert, of personally conducting him to Rome for the solemn ceremonies connected with a Papal enthronement; and after Guibert’s enthronement, to receive himself the crown of the Empire. Towards the end of March 1081 he crossed the Alps, in far different condition from that in which he had, four years before, hastened as a penitent to the feet of the Pope, at Canossa.
THE LAST STRUGGLES OF GREGORY VII.—HIS DEATH.
FEBRUARY 1081--MAY 25, 1085
During the month of February, 1081, Gregory held the annual Synod at Rome in the Lateran basilica. The Registrant devotes no more than a few lines to this assembly, which pronounced more than one sentence of anathema. Henry IV and all his adherents were again placed under the ban; and two nobles of the Campagna, Ildemundus, and Landon were anathematized, together with their accomplices—for what reason we do not know. Furthermore, the Synod confirmed the excommunications which had been previously pronounced by the legates of the Holy See against the Archbishop of Arles and Narbonne.
The Archbishop of Arles was a certain Achard of Marseilles who had long been at variance with the Holy See. So long ag as 1st March, 1079, Gregory had written to the clergy and people of Arles charging them to elect a successor to Achard, the Archbishop having been definitely condemned by the stern Bishop of Die, the Papal legate. Achard was condemned a second time by the Council of Avignon, and a certain Gibelin was appointed his successor. The Archbishop of Narbonne, whom the Pope condemned, was Peter de Berenga, who, when Bishop of Rodez, attempted, contrary to canonical right and justice, to seize upon the Archbishopric of Narbonne; and to the condemnation of 1081 he, like his predecessor Guifred, paid no heed whatever. Finally the Council suspended from the exercise of their functions seven bishops who, having been summoned to take part in the Synod, had neither appeared themselves nor sent representatives.
The renewal of the excommunication of Henry IV clearly showed that the death of Rudolph had not shaken Gregory’s convictions. He refused all concessions, and rejected the advice of his adherents to open negotiations for peace with Henry. Even at a time when Henry IV was rapidly advancing towards Rome, the Pope wrote to Hermann of Metz (18th March) a letter exposing his principles regarding the relations between Church and State, in which kingship is spoken of in language, for him, unprecedented, bold and contemptuous. The secular power is no longer admitted as being, like the sacerdotal, divinely appointed. It is founded on human wickedness and diabolic suggestion, in ambition and intolerable presumption; kingship, moreover, is a usurpation of the natural rights of equality among all men.
Every king, he continues, is, on his death-bed, a suppliant to the priest to save him from hell. Can a king baptize? Can king make the Body and Blood of Christ by a word? What king has ever wrought miracles? Could Constantine, Theodosius, Honorius, Charles, or Louis, the most Christian kings, do so?
The King is, by this reasoning, made lower than the lowest priest.
Shortly after the Synod, Gregory wrote to Altmann, Bishop of Passau, and to William, Abbot of Hirschau, letters in which he boldly faced the difficulties of his position: the fact that the Italians had almost universally taken the side of Henry IV; the weakness of his allies; and the possibility of the election of a new anti-King :—
“We have to communicate to you”, he says, “that since the death of King Rudolph, of happy memory, almost all the faithful have besought Us on various occasions and continue to entreat Us, to receive Henry anew into favor. He, as you know, is now disposed to make concessions to Us on many points, and almost all the Italians take his side. The faithful also tell Us that should Henry come to Italy, as he intends doing, and should he exalt himself in opposition to Holy Church, they are informed We can expect no help from you. Should such help not reach Us, Who scorn his pride, it will cause Us no great inconvenience. But if our daughter Matilda should not be supported by you, whilst the soldiers are in such dispositions as you are aware of, what can We expect? If her soldiers refuse to fight, and treat her as a mad woman, she may be forced rather to make a treaty with Henry, or else to lose her possessions. Therefore it will be necessary to inform her definitely whether she can depend upon your help, or not. If by any chance, Henry should come to Lombardy, We desire, well-beloved brother, that you warn the Duke Welf faithfully to observe, in duty to Blessed Peter, those promises which he made to Us in the presence of the Empress Agnes, and of the Bishop of Como, when it was decided, after the death of his father, that he should inherit his possessions. We wish to attach him closely to Blessed Peter and to employ him specially in our service. If he is so disposed, and if, out of love to Blessed Peter, and to obtain the pardon of their sin other great personages are, to your knowledge, of the same mind, you must so arrange that they may act according to their convictions, and you must give Us exact information of all you have thus heard. This, if you believe Us, will be the most certain way to detach the Italians from Henry, and with the help of God, to decide them firmly to devote themselves to the service of Blessed Peter.
“Furthermore, We charge you to warn all who fear God, an wish for the liberty of the Spouse of Christ, not to allow themselves to be guided either by fear or favor, and not to hurry themselves to make choice of any person who shall be devoid of the moral or other qualities necessary for a king, or who will not undertake the defence of the Christian Religion. It would be better after some delay, to elect a king according to the heart of God, who, will act for the honor of Holy Church, than to precipitate the elevation to the throne of one who is unworthy. We know, it is true, that Our brethren are wearied by the long struggle and by the numerous troubles it has involved.
“If the King does not show himself obedient, humbly devote and useful with regard to Holy Church, as is becoming in Sovereign, and as We had hoped of Rudolph, not only will he receive no favor from Holy Church, but She will war against him. You yourself, oh well-beloved brother, know perfectly well what the Holy Roman Church hoped from this King Rudolph, and to what he had pledged himself in Her regard. We must, therefore, be well assured, in the midst of so many perils and toils, that We shall not have less to hope for from him, whomsoever he be, that shall be elected to the regal dignity. These, then, are the promises which the Holy Roman Church exacts from him, on the faith of his oath:
-From this moment and for ever I will in good faith be loyal to St. Peter and to his Vicar the Pope Gregory now living : all that the Pope shall demand of me, in making use of this formula in virtue of true obedience, I will faithfully accomplish, as is the duty of a Christian. On the subject of the administration of churches, on the subject of lands and causes which the Emperor Constantine and the Emperor Charles have given to Saint Peter, also, on the subject of all churches or possessions offered or conceded at any time whatever, to the Apostolic See, whether by men or by women, which are, or which shall be, in my power, on all these subjects I will consult with the Pope, in order to avoid danger of perjury and the loss of my soul. With the help of Christ I will render to God and Saint Peter the honors and services which are due to them. When I shall come into the presence of the Pope, I will put my hands within his, to be his loyal man, and true to him and to Saint Peter-.
“For the rest, knowing your faithful attachment to the Apostolic See, and having experienced how sincere is that attachment, We leave to your authority and the fidelity you owe to Blessed Peter the care of examining if in any point aught should be added to or diminished from this formula, without in any way modifying that which concerns the promise of fidelity and obedience...”
In a second letter to Altmann of Passau, written probably before the arrival of Henry IV in Italy, Gregory urges great moderation in dealing with the clergy of Germany. The bishops who had ranged themselves on Henry’s side, but now wished to retrace their steps, were to be received “in a fraternal manner”; and the Bishop of Osnaburg, one of Henry's following, who showed signs of wavering, was to be welcomed warmly.
At this juncture we find Gisulfo of Salerno appointed legate to the Holy See, in France, with Peter, Cardinal Bishop of Albano. It is somewhat surprising to find Gisulfo in this position, for the chroniclers of the time, and in particular Aimé and the chronicler of Monte Cassino, cannot find words strong enough to express their fear and hatred of him, and of the cruelties he had committed at Salerno. After Gisulfo had lost Salerno, he had been employed by Gregory to take charge of the defence of that part of the Campagna which had not yet fallen into the hands of the Normans. Later on, after Gregory'’s alliance with the Normans, Gisulfo was dispatched into France to collect the funds due from the tribute of Peter's pence, a mission which could be undertaken by a layman without interfering in any purely ecclesiastical question.
Counsels of moderation similar to those which Gregory sent to Altmann of Passau, and William, Abbot of Hirschau, he sent also at this time to Hugh, Bishop of Die, and to Aimé, Bishop Oleron, who were alike charged with the office of representing the Holy See in Gaul. With the exception of the Archbishop Rouen, all the prelates of Normandy had been suspended by the two legates of Gregory VII, including the Abbot of Couture at Mans—who had only recently been restored to his office—because they had not appeared at the Council to which they had been summoned. The Pope now asked the legates to annul the sentence of suspension, and excused the prelates, saying that they had not been intentionally disobedient, but had acted under the influence of fear of the King of England, lest by appearing at the Council they should excite his anger against themselves. He adds that they ought to be careful to avoid exasperating the King of England, because, although he was less pious than could desired, “this king does not sell or destroy the churches of God but assures his subjects the blessings of peace and justice”. Gregory also blamed the two legates for having excommunicated (under the pretext that they would not pay tithes) several persons who he previously aided them in their efforts to reform the clergy; and repeats his advice to temporize and wait for better times. Gregory evidently felt, as chief pastor, that—
“In such a time as this it is not meet
That every nice offence should bear his comment”.
In the spring of this year, Gregory was sorely troubled as the relations between Robert Guiscard and himself, and turned to Didier, Abbot of Monte Cassino, the ordinary intermediary between himself and the Normans, to complain that hitherto the hopes he had entertained of Duke Robert’s support had not been realized. The failure of the support from Duke Robert against the anti-Pope at Ravenna made him doubtful of the future. Nevertheless, he commissioned Didier to invite the Norman Duke to Rome in Lent, “during which holy season the Normans are accustomed to suspend their wars”, and suggested that the Duke should appear with an appropriate retinue. But Gregory had already had bitter experience of the instability of the oaths of the Normans; the Duke’s own nephew, Robert of Loritello, in spite of promises to the contrary, continued to encroach upon the lands of the Church. Not long after, the Pope was still more disquieted by a rumor that an alliance was in progress between Henry IV, who had by this time advanced into Italy, and Duke Robert; and that to cement this treaty, the King’s son was to marry the daughter of the Duke. Gregory informs Didier of this report, adding that it will find easy credence among the Romans when they see that “the Duke refuses us that help which he had solemnly and on his oath sworn to send to us”. The report of this alliance proved to be unfounded, and somewhat later, at the end of April, or the beginning of May, 1081, papal envoys arrived at the court of Robert Guiscard, and found him completing his preparations for embarking for the Empire of the East. With regard to this expedition, Anne Comnenus says—
“Having started from Salerno Robert Guiscard came to Otranto, where he stayed some days, awaiting his wife Sikelgaita, for she accompanied her husband in this war, and it was indeed a hateful sight to see that woman dressed in his armor. When she arrived, he embraced her, and at once directed his troops towards Brindisi, the chief port of all Apuleia. At Brindisi he reunited his whole forces, both the warships and the land transports, and thence he planned to depart for the invasion of our country.
Whilst still at Salerno, Duke Robert had dispatched one of his nobles, by name Raoul, on an embassy to the Emperor Botoniatis who had seized upon the sovereign power after having driven away Ducas, and before setting sail for our country, the Duke wished to learn the result of this Raoul's journey. The mission with which this man had been entrusted was that of acquainting the Emperor with the causes which had moved Robert to make war against him. Botoniatis had separated the daughter of Rober Guiscard from her husband, the Emperor Constantine, who had been dethroned; and it was to avenge this insult and injure without delay that the Duke planned his invasion. The same ambassador brought presents, and letters filled with protestations o friendship, to the chief minister, and to the commander-in-chief of all the Western troops: that is to say, to my Father, Alexis, who at that time was vested with the supreme powers of the Empire. Robert, therefore, awaited at Brindisi the return of Raoul.
The concentration of his troops and fleet was not complete when Raoul, returning from the East, landed at Brindisi, but the replies which he brought only excited the anger of the barbarian Robert, and most of all because they turned against himself the absurd reasons which he had invented to make his intended aggression appear legitimate. Thus, Raoul showed that the pretended Emperor Michael, who was at that time under the protection and at the Court of Robert Guiscard, was but a monk and an impostor, who tried to pass himself off as the Emperor, and that the whole attempt was nothing but a hoax. He, Raoul, had seen the real Michael in Constantinople, in mourning costume, in a monastery at that City, stripped of all power, but with his identity established beyond dispute. To this declaration Raoul added, what he had learnt since his return, that is to say, that my father, as I shall relate further on, having overthrown Botoniatis, was himself possessed of the Imperial power, and had recalled and associated with himself the illustrious Constantine, the son of Ducas.
Raoul took advantage of this intelligence to attempt to dissuade Robert from making war against my father. For by what right, said he, can you attack Alexis, when it is Botoniatis who is the author of the injury against your family, since it is he who has deprived your daughter Helen of her husband and of her dignity as Empress. You will act unjustly, if, to avenge yourself of wrongs committed against you, you should attack those who have done you no injury, and further, I fear lest, in carrying on an unjust war, you should lose all, men, ships, and ammunition. The words so infuriated Robert, that he could with difficulty be prevented from falling upon Raoul, like one beside himself with rage, whilst the false Michael, that pretended Emperor, was all the more exasperated, because the evidence against himself was so crushing, as to leave him no chance of reply. The Duke had, beyond all this, another cause for his anger against Raoul, because one of Raoul's brothers, the Count Roger, had gone over to the Romans, and had acquainted them with the plan of campaign meditated by Robert. Raoul, therefore, seeing that some grave consequence, even death itself, threatened him from the wrath of Guiscard, fled and took refuge with Boemond".
In the month of April, 1081, a new revolution convulsed Constantinople. The old Emperor, Nicephorus Botoniatis, who thought to make up by his astuteness and intrigues for his lack of military spirit, was compelled to abdicate. He took refuge in the monastery of Peribleptos and Comnenus assumed the Imperial power. Alexis Comnenus, nephew of the old General Isaac Comnenus, forced to adopt extreme measures by the jealousy of Nicephorus Botoniatis and his subsequent malicious intrigues, was proclaimed Emperor by his legions, and afterwards attacked Adrianople, and marched thence to Constantinople, where he was crowned.
As Anne Comnenus states, the new sovereign, Alexis, was not ignorant of Guiscard's preparations against the empire, and, in order to disarm his anger showed great solicitude regarding the family of Michael VII. Constantine Porphyrogenitus was authorized to adopt the title of Emperor, to assume the crown and the purple, and to take part in the government, whilst his wife, the young Princess Helen, daughter of Robert Guiscard, was treated at Constantinople with all the honors due to her rank.
The attitude of Comnenus made no change in the determination of Guiscard to seize Constantinople; and in the latter part of May he embarked at Otranto with the bulk of his army for Valona, on the coast of Epirus. Before setting sail, he named his son Roger as governor of his states during his absence, and presented him to the nobles of Calabria and Apuleia as his successor in the event of his death during the expedition to the East. As Roger was still very young, being scarcely twenty-one, his father appointed as his counsellors the two counts, Gerhard and Robert of Loritello. William of Apuleia writes that Duke Robert recommended his son and his advisers to keep watch over the movements of Henry IV, and to go to the help of the Pope in case of need; but, as the better part of the Norman troops followed Guiscard to the East, it would not be in the power of the government he left behind to render any very substantial service to the Pontiff, even if they wished to do so.
When Robert Guiscard set sail for Epirus, Henry IV had already crossed the Alps and entered Lombardy. On April 4 he kept Easter at Verona; and thence proceeded to Milan and Pavia. As Gregory mentions in a letter, Henry’s following was small. Among the people who accompanied him were the anti-Pope Guibert; Tedaldo, Archbishop of Milan; Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen; Burchard, Bishop of Lausanne and Chancellor of the Kingdom of Italy; and lastly, Manasses, the deposed Archbishop of Rheims. So small was Henry's army that Gregory had little fear of an attack; and Rome was not merely faithful to its Pope, it was also firm, united, and courageous. The city must have been well provisioned, the fortifications had been strengthened, and, as two senators of Rome (according to Benzo) admitted, at the Synod at Brixen, Gregory had f”ascinated the Romans”.
When Henry, on the Friday before the Feast of Pentecost (May 21,1081), presented himself at the gates of Rome, he found them barred against him; no deputations sallied forth to meet him; his only greetings were the taunts and abuse shouted at him from the ramparts. He was obliged to encamp outside the City of Rome, in the Praia Neronis, and there he issued a proclamation to the Romans, in which he proclaimed his intention of assuming “that hereditary dignity which is by right ours”, and his wish that his visit should be a pacific one, to “put an end to the discord which has so long divided the priesthood and the Empire, and to restore all to peace and unity in Christ”.
The Romans, however, appeared insensible to the royal proclamation; possibly they were not even aware of it. In default of a coronation at Rome, Benzo relates an anecdote of Henry’s receiving the crown in camp, when he was celebrating Whitsunday, but if such a ceremony took place, it was of no real importance.
Henry’s expedition to Rome can be looked upon only as a failure. The Pope, within those impregnable walls which the Germans did not venture at first to storm, held him in defiance, and after having obstinately remained encamped outside the city until the end of June, Henry was obliged to raise the siege and retire to Lombardy. On July 10 he appeared at Siena, and proceeded to Pisa and Lucca.
On reaching the North of Italy, Henry sought to revenge himself upon Gregory’s ally, the Countess Matilda. The biographer of Bardo, Anselm of Lucca, writes that the King “turned all his fury against Matilda; he burnt the houses and destroyed the castles in her dominions, but the mercy of God so provided that he did not do any very considerable harm”.
In order to detach the great cities of Northern Italy from their allegiance to Matilda, Henry granted to some of them, such as Lucca, Pisa and Siena, many and valuable privileges, together with various rights and customs with which all students of medieval history are acquainted, of which those municipalities took advantage.
In Germany, the Saxon and Rudolphian parties, in spite of the death of Rudolph, would not acknowledge their defeat. Some ten months after Rudolph’s death they agreed to nominate as King of all Germany, Count Hermann of Salm. This agreement was made at Ochsenfurt-on-the-Maine at the beginning of August and on December 16 the Count was anointed King at Goslar, and it would appear, also crowned. Hermann owned large possession in Lorraine and Franconia, and was an intimate friend of Hermann, Bishop of Metz, who took an active part in the affair; he was also the candidate of the Saxon party, and just as Lambert of Hersfek closes his history with the Forchheim election, Bruno concluded his Saxon War with the anointing of Hermann:—"The prince: of Saxony, greatly rejoiced, received their King, Hermann, with great demonstrations of joy at Goslar, a few days before Christmas day, upon the Feast of St. Stephen, the protomartyr. He was anointed King by Siegfried, Archbishop of Mayence”. We do no know whether Gregory had any influence in the election of this “Man of Straw” (as he has been called by Gfrorer), who died unnoticed, in 1088. In Gregory’s letters the name of Coun Hermann never occurs, and Bonitho and Paul of Bernried do not mention him, which goes to prove that Gregory was no instrumental in the election. Shortly after the February Synod of 1081 Gregory had written to Altmann, Bishop of Passau, and to William, Abbot of Hirschau, his instructions with regard to the kind of person who should be chosen by the princes of Germany to take the place of the dead Rudolph. Gregory insist that the future King should be a devoted son of the Church, or not only will he receive no favor from her, but she will openly oppose him. The future King is to swear obedience to the Pope in a formula prescribed by Gregory.
This letter of Gregory's has left no apparent effect, and we do not even know if the Bishop of Passau, and the Abbot o Hirschau were able, and had the opportunity, to do what Gregor recommended them.
It was probably whilst Henry IV was recruiting the army in Northern Italy which he hoped would throw open the gates of Rome, that he received an embassy from Alexis Comnenus, Emperor of the East, at the head of which was the famous Cheirophaetus. Previous to this, pourparlers had been held between the two sovereigns, for the purpose of forming an alliance, offensive and defensive. Alexis, while his Empire was being invaded by Guiscard and his Normans, did everything in his power to persuade Henry to march upon Calabria and Apuleia, and thus compel Guiscard to abandon his Eastern expedition, and return to defend his own States; and, to gain Henry’s help, he sent him presents of money, a golden cross ornamented with precious stones, a casket containing the relics of several Saints, with the names of the Saints carefully attached to each relic, a goblet set with sardonyx stones, a crystal vase, and a battle-axe shaped like a star!
Early in 1082 Henry’s preparations were sufficiently advanced to enable him to renew his attempt upon Rome. When he appeared before the city in February, he found it armed and closed against him. From his camp he issued a second proclamation to the Roman people, in which he sought to avoid the difficulties of his position by a strange proposition: Hildebrand, who is spoken of as a “stumbling block, a tyrant worse than Decius”, should, the King suggests, be summoned to appear before an assembly, which should decide whether he were innocent or guilty: to be deposed, or to be recognized as the legitimate Pope. In case the assembly should have to take place outside the city, Henry offered guarantees for the safety of Hildebrand on his way to and from the place appointed for the conference. “If Hildebrand is recognized by the assembly”, Henry concludes, “I will obey him ...”
That Henry should have made such a proposal after the very unfavorable references to Hildebrand in the proclamation itself, and after the still more explicit accusations of the Synod of Brixen (where the Pope was accused of murder, heresy, and a number of other crimes), seems incredible. By such a proposition he incontestably throws aside Guibert of Ravenna, and treats his own nomination of him as “Pope” as of no validity!
The whole policy is so strange that the question naturally arises, did Henry intend his proposal to be seriously considered? He cannot, certainly, have wished for a reconciliation with Gregory, to be attained by the sacrifice of his staunch adherent Guibert. The only object of the proclamation must have been to gain time and to win over the Romans. If he were true to Guibert, the proposal must appear an astonishing piece of hypocrisy, unworthy of a king. In either case the public assumption of the possibility of Guibert’s election at Brixen being set aside (which is implicit in the proposal to judge whether Gregory were the legitimate Pope or not) must have been highly humiliating and distasteful to Guibert himself.
In Rome, and before Rome, Henry effected nothing, though he took possession of several castles in the Agro Romano. The only advantage he gained by his second appearance before the Eternal City was an alliance which he formed with Jordan, Prince of Capua, who seems to have had more than his share of the “Norman fickleness”. Peter the Deacon relates that before abandoning Gregory VII, Jordan and his Normans for some time sought to bring about a reconciliation between the Pope and the King of Germany; but when they found that Gregory was inflexible, Jordan and his party went over to Henry’s side. A letter from Gregory to John, Archbishop of Naples, proves that the Pope excommunicated Prince Jordan in return for his defection.
However patriotic, the resistance of the Romans to Henry IV was purely defensive, and could not, as the Pope well knew, be indefinitely prolonged. Henry IV was tenacious of his purpose, and capable of a third appearance, when the papal treasury might be exhausted and further funds not forthcoming.
On May 14, 1082, after Henry’s departure, Gregory summoned a council composed of the cardinals, bishops, abbots, and all the principal ecclesiastics then in Rome, and consulted with them as to whether, under the stress of circumstances, he could alienate the possessions of the Church, and thus obtain funds for the relief of the most urgent necessities of the moment. The reply of the assembly was in the negative, and to this decision Gregory was obliged to conform.
According to Donizo, the Countess Matilda, acting on the advice of Anselm of Lucca, whom the Pope had appointed his vicar and representative in Lombardy, melted down all the gold and silver vessels she possessed in the fortress of Canossa, and sent to Gregory seven hundred pounds’ weight of silver and nine pounds’ weight of gold; but this was but a trifling sum in comparison with what was required to meet the urgent needs of the situation.
In his difficulty, Gregory turned to his inactive but prosperous ally, Robert Guiscard, who had written to him to inform him of a brilliant victory over Alexis Comnenus. He urges the victorious Duke to be mindful of his promises, “and of that promise which you have not made, but which it is incumbent upon you to fulfil as a Christian”, and of the urgent need of the Church of his support; but the nature of the support is not specified. The Pope dared not, he concludes, affix the leaden seal to the letter, for fear it should be seized upon and fall into the hands of his enemies.
This letter reached Robert Guiscard after his capture of the town of Castoria, when he was starting for Thessalonica, intending to march on Constantinople. It would be beyond the scope of this work to recount in detail the history of Guiscard's campaign in the East. It must suffice here to state that after taking the island of Corfu, Robert Guiscard and his troops laid siege to the town of Durazzo, the key to the western portion of the empire. Here the Normans had to reckon with the Venetian fleet by sea, which had come to the aid of the Greeks, whilst by land the Emperor Alexis himself did his best to avert the fall of Durazzo. But nothing could save the city, and Robert, having captured and garrisoned it, advanced resolutely with his army into the interior of the empire, where no one dared to resist him. Castoria, where the Emperor had placed three hundred Varangians, with orders to defend the place to the last extremity, was seized with a panic and capitulated; and its example was followed by all the surrounding country.
After giving an account of this march, which resembled a triumphal progress rather than a war, Malaterra adds that the fear inspired by the very name of Robert Guiscard was so great that it caused “all Constantinople and the entire empire of the East to tremble and shake”.
It was while marching from Castoria upon Thessalonica, that the Duke checked his advance, and summoning the officers of his army, informed them that matters in Italy required his immediate return, and presented to them his son Boemond as their General during his absence. The Duke himself hastened to the coast of Illyricum, and taking with him only two vessels, landed at Otranto, accompanied by his wife Sikelgaita. William of Apuleia relates that the Duke was absent in the East an entire year, consequently we must place his return about the month of May, 1082.
The first care of Robert Guiscard, after disembarking at Otranto, was to restore peace in Apuleia and Calabria. Without loss of time he set out for Oria, which was then besieged by Geoffrey of Conversano, and when the assailants learned that the Duke had returned to Italy and was marching against them in person, they abandoned the siege without waiting for his arrival. The Duke was received with acclamations at Oria by the inhabitants, who were overjoyed at their deliverance.
Robert now proceeded to threaten his nephew, Jordan of Capua, who had entered into an alliance with Henry IV against the Holy See. Whenever the Norman Barons revolted against their Duke, it was always at Capua that they found support and sympathy. The Duke, to crush Jordan, found it necessary to call in Roger of Sicily to his assistance, and the united brothers then invaded the Campagna. They were unable to gain possession of either Capua or Aversa, but Jordan, hiding in his fortified towns, was obliged to witness the devastation of his principality, while he was powerless to hinder it. Robert Guiscard then returned to his own states, and Roger to Sicily.
We know only in a very indistinct way what were the motives which induced Robert Guiscard to remain stationary in the south of Italy, during the greater part of the eighteen months which passed between the expedition against Capua and Aversa, and the arrival of the Duke in Rome, in the month of May, 1084. Instead of returning to the East, where his presence was so necessary at the head of his army, or hindering the return of Henry IV to Rome by organizing his forces in defence of the Holy See, he fell upon the town of Bari, in 1083, and laid it under heavy contributions towards his wars. After this, from May to July, 1083, he laid siege to the city of Cannes, and utterly destroyed it. Hermann and Abagilard, who defended Cannes against the Duke, were fortunate in being able to escape, and take refuge at the Court of the Emperor Alexis. The rebellions of Bari and Cannes were clearly the result of Byzantine intrigue, since it is stated by Anne Comnenus that the Emperor Alexis himself wrote to Hermann of Cannes, instigating him to revolt against Robert Guiscard, and many other Norman nobles allowed themselves to be won over by the gold and diplomacy of the Byzantines.
Henry IV meantime, after spending the month of November, 1082, at Bergamo and Verona, returned to the neighborhood of Rome in the December of the same year, and whilst leaving a sufficient number of soldiers before Rome to carry on the siege and prevent, as far as possible, any communication with the outside world, he made several excursions into Latium to ensure the recognition of his authority. He celebrated Easter (9th April, 1083) at S. Rufina, to the north-west of Rome. The Romans attempted a sortie, but were compelled to retreat in disorder, when many of them perished under the hoofs of the horses or were drowned in the Tiber. At last, when all his attempts to storm the city or to make a practicable breach in the walls had been in vain, an accident made him master of the Leonine part of Rome. “On 2nd June”, writes Landulf, in his History of Milan, “while both parties were in profound repose, two followers of the Archbishop of Milan stole under a part of the walls which had been slightly broken. They climbed up, found the sentinels asleep, killed them, got possession of the power, and made a signal to the royal army, which advanced rapidly to their support”. It is probable that Landulf exaggerates the prowess of his compatriots, the Milanese, in the taking of Rome. But, whoever was responsible for the first success, that of Henry was assured when his troops had once made their way into the Eternal City; the Leonine city was won, but the Pope withdrew into the strong castle of St. Angelo, and the whole of Rome on the left bank of the Tiber still defied the Germans.
It has been incorrectly stated that after the taking of the Leonine city, Gregory took refuge finally in the Castle of St. Angelo, for the chronicler Lupus states the contrary, and says that the Pope afterwards changed his quarters to the Lateran and the Coelian Hill. During Henry’s occupation of the Leonine city, Gregory, in the grip of a real danger, proposed that a general Synod should be held in a “safe” place (that is to say, outside Rome) where clergy and laymen, friends and enemies might assemble to deliberate : to find a way out of the troubles which oppressed, and to discover who was responsible for the strife between Church and State. Gregory, it would seem, inclined to lay the blame, not upon Henry but, upon Guibert. The assembly, however, was never held.
Henry meantime showed that he still supported Guibert, and, oblivious of his last royal proclamation to the Romans, allowed him to officiate in St. Peter's. Certain authorities have concluded that Guibert was enthroned in 1083, but this is clearly an error, for the ceremony did not take place until the following year.
The General Council “from all parts of the world” that Gregory wished for, was not possible, and the Synod held at the Lateran in November 1083 was but poorly attended; for besides Italian bishops and abbots, only a few prelates from France were present.
Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, Anselm, Bishop of Lucca, and Reginald, Bishop of Como were stopped on their way and prevented from attending, as were also the Ambassadors of the anti-King Hermann, and Odo, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, who was charged with a diplomatic message to Henry, from the Holy See. The council lasted three days. Gregory’s allocution treated of the faith and life of a Christian, and the firmness and constancy necessary under the present circumstances. The Registrum does not say that sentence of excommunication was levelled anew against the King, but merely details the complaints and accusations against him.
As Gregory’s allocution breathed of the virtue of constancy, a letter of this date expresses his thankfulness that he has remained inflexibly firm, unmoved by outward pressure from the path he had decided to tread :—
“We thank God”, he writes, “the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He has been Our shield and buckler against the snares of Our enemies, and the violence of Our persecutors. He has made use of Our hand for the defence of justice, according to the witness of Our conscience. His strength has fortified Our human weakness, so that neither false promises nor the terrors of persecution have been able to persuade Us to make a truce with iniquity. All Our most profound thanksgivings then go up to Him who has enabled Us to remain firm in the midst of our torments, and whose will it is that We should await more tranquil times without abandoning Our liberty, without acting contrary to justice, without deserving the reproaches of Our conscience or the blame of those religious and serious persons who know the circumstances of Our case”.
Henry had temporarily left Rome, to reappear there in February or in the beginning of March, 1084. The Romans at length grew weary of enduring the manifold miseries of a siege, there seemed no hope of speedy relief from the Normans, and the resources of Gregory began to fail. Negotiations were commenced between them, and the oppressed Romans agreed that, at an appointed time, either Gregory himself, or another Pope elected for that purpose, should present Henry with the Imperial crow. Nothing is said of the anti-Pope Guibert, and it would see that the Romans, even in that hour of need, clung firmly to the right of election, although they must have been aware that, if Henry bore hard upon them, their choice must fall upon Guibert.
The oath taken by the Romans was discovered in London in the British Museum, in a manuscript formerly belonging the family of Lord Arundell of Wardour. Bernold relates an extraordinary anecdote with reference to this oath. When Gregory heard of it (according to this chronicler) he released the Roman nobles from their oaths. When, therefore the King demanded the fulfilment of the treaty, they evaded it by pitiful casuistry. They had promised, they said, that the Pope should give the crown, not that he should crown and anoint the King. They proposed, if the King should make satisfaction, he should receive the crown, with the Papal benediction. If not, he should still receive the crown—it was to be let down upon from the Castle of St. Angelo.
Bernold alone has this story, which lacks all inherent probability; it has “a fabulous ring”, as Hefele remarks. If Bernold’s object, as is most probable, was to belittle the King, he only succeeded in belittling the Pope, in his stead.
The oath itself, however, was never kept, for when he returned to Rome, the fickle Romans were once more faithful subjects of the Pope, and he was obliged to lay siege to the city.
Henry, as we have said, had temporarily left Rome when the summer heats began, leaving behind him a small garrison under the command of Ulrich of Cosheim, established in a hastily-constructed fortress close to St. Peter's, while he himself departed to subdue the territory of Gregory's staunch ally, the Countess Matilda, with fire and sword. The subjects of Matilda began openly to revolt, and to make terms with Henry. Adelaide the Marchioness of Susa, attempted to negotiate an alliance between the King and the Papalist Countess, but in vain. Her adviser, Anselm of Lucca, counteracted the intrigues of the royal party, and raised troops to avenge the burning of Matilda's castles by burning those of the nobles who had deserted to King Henry.
Upon his return, after the expedition into Northern Italy, Henry found his small garrison wasted by fever; its leader, Ulrich of Cosheim, dead; the fortress near St. Peter’s demolished; the Romans, now faithful to Gregory, banded against himself. He renewed the siege with resolute determination to hear of no further terms: all was to recommence anew. He made, meanwhile, some predatory excursions into Campagna, and (perhaps to watch any hostile movements of Robert Guiscard) into Apuleia, where he had interviews with Jordan of Capua and the avowed enemies of the Duke. In a letter to Theodoric, Bishop of Verdun, Henry states that at this time he was discouraged and despairing of being able to take Rome, and of being crowned Emperor, and had serious thoughts of leaving Italy altogether and returning to Germany, where his presence was imperatively required. But, suddenly an embassy arrived from Rome offering to surrender the city. On March 21, 1084, the King was again at St. Peter’s in the Leonine city, together with his wife Queen Bertha, the anti-Pope Guibert, the Bishops of Padua, Basle, Utrecht, Strasburg, and Vicenza, Duke Ranieri, and a fairly large army. The same day, the St. John’s Gate was opened to him by the people. Henry, accompanied by the anti-Pope Guibert, at length took possession of the Lateran, and Gregory hastily retired into the Castle of St. Angelo. The bridges on the Tiber, however, were still occupied by Gregory's soldiers, as was the ancient Septizonium near the Palatine by a certain Rusticus, a relative and friend of Gregory's. Near the Arch of Titus the Frangipani held the Cartularian tower, and finally, on the heigh of the Capitol, the family of the Corsi had barricaded every exit, to bar the passage of the troops of Henry IV.
In spite of this Papal resistance, which lasted for two months, Henry was practically master of the situation, and Gregory, from the Castle of St. Angelo, could see the King, with his anti-Pope, enter in triumph through the Lateran Gate, and the procession pass first to an assembly of prelates to elect another Pope. From the Lateran Henry convoked a synod in the time-honored residence of the Popes. Three successive summonses were sent to Gregory to require his presence at the assembly, but it may readily imagined that he returned no reply to them. The meeting now declared him excommunicate, pronounced sentence of deposits against him, and formally chose Guibert for his successor. Henry wrote to Theodoric, Bishop of Verdun, that all the cardinals, and the entire people had declared against Gregory and for Guibert, but this can only mean that the oppressed Romans dared to offer no resistance to Henry’s will.
It is not correct to assume that Henry acted at this juncture, in his quality of Roman patrician. The patriciate deserves even less emphasis here, as the Henrician writers differ widely among themselves on this point. The Vita Henrici relates that the Emperor when crowned, was by the new Pope named Patrician, which is quite erroneous; while Sigbert of Gembloux makes the nomination come from the Romans themselves. In these two accounts some apparent analogy is observed with the events of 1046, when the Emperor Henry III was joyfully welcomed as Patrician by the Romans.
As a consequence of the forced election in the synod, Guibert was enthroned on March 24, 1084, at St. Peter’s. On his enthronement Guibert was given by Henry IV the name of Clement (III), which name Henry IV doubtless intended to recall the Pope (Clement II) whom his father had nominated in the year 1046. Deusdedit makes a jest of the name of the anti-Pope, and says that a better one for him would have been that of Papa Demens, or mad Pope.
Seven days afterwards, on Easter Day, March 31, Clement III placed the Imperial Crown upon the head of Henry IV, and consecrated him Emperor amidst the acclamations of the multitude. Thus the King at last reached the goal of his ambition; and from this time forward called himself divina favente clementia Romanorum tribus Imperator Augustus. He is, likewise, now the “defender of the church”; and is filled with the consciousness that he ranks above all other men,—constat nos, divina disponente clementia, cunctis praecellere mortalibus.
After having received the Imperial Crown, Henry remained at Rome in order to acquire possession of those strong strategic points of the City which still held out. On April 29 he was master of the Capitol, but to take the fortress of St. Angelo by storm was beyond his power; so he caused his troops to raise another circle of fortifications outside the old fortress, in such a way as to bar all egress, and all relations with those without, and then waited until fatigue and famine should open to them the gates of the last refuge of Gregory VII.
Tidings, however, were received which at once changed the aspect of affairs. Didier, the Abbot of Monte Cassino, arrived in Rome and communicated to the Emperor and the Pope the fact that the formidable Robert Guiscard was advancing at the head of a great army to Rome. “It was a strange army of the faithful; from every quarter men had rushed to his banner, some to rescue the Pope, others from love of war. The Saracens had enlisted in great numbers”.
Gregory had, in the hour of his distress, turned to the Duke, and sent in embassy to him an Abbot from Dijon, named Jarento. The Duke’s great army was a response to this appeal. According to William of Apuleia, this army consisted of not less than a thousand horse and thirty thousand foot soldiers—Normans, Lombards, Greeks, Calabrians, Apuleians, Saracens—all welded into one as an engine of war by the military genius of the great commander. At the news of the approach of this formidable army Henry I left Rome (May 21), without striking a blow. On May 27, a fee days after the departure of the Emperor, the vanguard of the Norman army appeared before the walls of Rome and encamped near to an aqueduct, not far from the Gate of St. John. It was composed of one thousand picked men, and was followed at a short distance by a body of troops three thousand strong, Robert Guiscard himself bringing up the rear.
Not yet aware of the flight of Henry IV, and expecting a attack, the Duke advanced with prudence, keeping his troops readiness for battle. When he reached the walls of Rome, he learned the truth. Opinions differ as to the date of Robert's entry into Rome. According to Malaterra, he waited outside Rome for three days; Wido of Ferrara, on the other hand, says that he entered Rome on arriving; while Bonitho says that he entered the day after his arrival, May 28. Then, two gates, the Flaminia and one in the direction of Pincian hill, were opened to the soldiery, who precipitated themselves into the city shouting “Guiscard Guiscard!” a terrible and sinister cry which had been heard to ring through the streets of many an Italian and Sicilian city on the day of their fall. Palermo, Bari, Salerno, Durazzo and mar others in Illyricum, had trembled at the sound as the victors entered the vanquished cities.
The Norman troops took possession of the Prata Neronis and of the Field of Mars. The first act of the Duke was to release the Pope from his imprisonment in the Castle of St. Angelo. Gregory, and those cardinals who had remained faithful to him, again took possession of the Church of the Lateran, and the entire City was then in the military occupation of the troops of Robert Guiscard. At first, apart from the pillage of some of the churches in the Field of Mars, the Norman band did not commit any great excesses, but on the third day after the entry into Rome one of Robert Guiscard’s Normans was killed in a street brawl by a Roman, and upon this small provocation the fury of the Normans broke out. The troops of Robert Guiscard—“Christian” Normans and “pagan” Saracens alike—spread through the city, treating it with all the cruelty suffered by a captured town, pillaging, violating, murdering wherever they met with opposition. A large part of the old City between the Colosseum and the church of St. John Lateran was burnt, and the Colosseum was partially destroyed. The Saracens, who had been foremost in the pillage, were now foremost in the conflagration and massacre. No religious house was secure from plunder, murder and rape. Nuns were violated, matrons forced, and the rings cut from their living fingers. Besides those murdered, thousands of Romans, both men and women, their hands tied behind their backs, were made to defile before Guiscard’s host, and then sold as slaves; some of them were taken away to Calabria and sold “like Jews”, as a chronicler writes. “It is probable that neither Goth nor Vandal” writes Milman, “neither Greek nor German brought such desolation on the city as this capture by the Normans. From this period dates the desertion of the older part of the city, and its gradual extension over the site of the modern city, the Campus Martius”"
New Rome is built in the valley, on the banks of the Tiber, upon the Prata Neronis where Henry IV encamped. The heights about the Lateran have remained almost silent and deserted, while the traces of the passage of the Normans are still visible, and the undulations of the ground cover, while they still indicate, the outlines of ancient Rome. In his history of Milan, Landulf, an enemy of Gregory’s, points the bitter and amazing contrast between the Pope himself—the Vicar of Christ on Earth—and the Pope's deliverer and allies; and lays all to Gregory’s charge—the baptism of blood for Rome’s sons, the infamous laying-on of hands for her daughters; while Paul of Bernried, a Gregorian, passes over the horrors of the time in silence. Bonitho goes further in his Gregorian sympathies, and relates and triumphs over the Norman's vengeance, and with unprecedented callousness suggests that these unfortunate Romans deserved their fate—to be sold like Jews—because, like the Jews, they had betrayed their Pastor!
So great was the misery in Rome that Gregory dared not trust himself in the city without his foreign guard. As Robert Guiscard wished to leave Rome and withdrew all his troops from the city, the only course left to Gregory was to depart also in the company of the Norman duke. He left the smoking ruins and desolated streets, and travelled first to Monte Cassino, and thence to Salerno. To Rome he never returned; death came slowly upon him at Salerno.
Duke Robert took part of his troops northward to recall to their allegiance the castles and cities which belonged to the Papal states, notably Sutri and Nepi, and returned to Rome during the last days of June. During the early days of July the Romans witnessed the departure of the Norman troops, who marched towards the south, leaving only a small garrison in the Castle of St. Angelo. As the anti-Pope Clement III was at Tivoli, the Normans endeavored to capture the city by assault, but Tivoli, protected by its strong walls, resisted, and the Duke, seeing that a siege would be necessary to subdue the town, preferred to draw off his troops.
When Gregory and Robert Guiscard arrived at Monte Cassino, the Abbot Didier received them with the highest honors, and took upon himself all the expenses of the entertainment of the Pope and his suite, for Gregory had left Rome without resources. In return Robert Guiscard bestowed upon the abbey many valuable gifts, which have been recorded by Peter the Deacon in his chronicle.
After some days spent at Beneventum Gregory reached Salerno, where he decided to remain. By a strange irony of fate, the Pope had in his train the Lombard Prince Gisulfo, whom the Normans had dispossessed of the principality. We do not know the exact date of the arrival of Gregory at Salerno, but we know from Malaterra that Robert Guiscard started on his Eastern expedition in September 1084, and as he had previously accompanied the Pope to Salerno he must have done so in August or early in September.
His sojourn in Salerno must have been a humiliating and painful trial to Gregory, for Salerno itself had been part of the property of the Church, until it fell into the iron hand of Robert Guiscard; and the Pope was also entirely without resources, and was obliged to depend upon the generosity of the Abbot of Monte Cassino, with whom his relations had not always been quite amicable, and who had not entirely approved his censures of Henry IV.
The events of the few preceding years, and especially the numerous attacks made by Henry IV on Rome, had rendered the situation of Gregory as ruler of the Church very difficult. The correspondence of the Pope, which was so abundant during the early years of his pontificate, becomes reduced almost to nothing after 1083. During the early part of his sojourn at Salerno Gregory, finding more leisure at his disposal, occupied himself with renewing his interrupted relations with different nations. He summoned a Synod here, and, unshaken by the horrors he had witnessed or the perils he had escaped, thundered out again the greater excommunication against the anti-Pope Guibert, Henry IV, and all their followers; and here he wrote his last Encyclical, addressed to all the faithful"—his "last testament". Four legates were charged with the duty of promulgating the new Encyclical, and the anathemas pronounced at the Synod of Salerno, and Peter, Cardinal Bishop of Albano, and the Prince Gisulfo set out for France with this mission. Odo, Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, received a similar mission for Germany, while the Abbot of Dijon was sent to Spain to the valiant Sisenand, who had recently conquered the Arabs at Coimbra, to gain him to the Pope's cause.
The Encyclical, as carried and distributed by the legates, is distinctly pessimistic in tone. There is no explicit reference to Henry IV, or to Guibert, but reproaches against “enemies of the church” are darkly hurled, and the reign of Antichrist is foretold as near at hand. In an interesting paragraph, Gregory gives as the summing up of his life and the aim of all his efforts, that the “church should recover her ancient splendor and remain free, chaste and catholic”:—
“Gregory, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all the faithful in Christ, and to all who truly love the Apostolic See, greeting and the Apostolic Benediction.
You are not ignorant, beloved brethren, that Our time has seen the fulfilments of the Psalmist's words :—Why have the Gentiles raged and the people devised vain things? The kings of the earth stood up and the princes met together against the Lord and against His Christ. The princes of the nations and the chief priests are joined together at the head of a great multitude against Christ, the Son of God, and against His Apostle Peter, in order to extinguish the Christian religion, and to propagate heresy. But, by the grace of God, they have not been able by any fear, by any cruelty, or by any bribes, to gain those who trust in the Lord. The only reason for which they conspire against Us, is, that We would not keep silence as to the peril of Holy Church, or give way to those who were not ashamed to make a prisoner of the Spouse of God. Everywhere on earth the poorest woman is allowed, by the laws of all lands, and with their full consent, one legitimate husband, whilst Holy Church, who is the Spouse of God, and Our mother, alone cannot, according to the evil pretensions of the impious and their damnable customs, unite herself legally, and by her free-will with her Divine Spouse. We can never admit that the sons of Holy Church should have for their fathers, heretics, adulterers, or usurpers, nor that their birth should be stained by bastardy.
Our legates will explain very clearly to you how, from this, all sorts of evils have arisen, perils of all sorts, and the crimes of a cruel war; and if you are touched by compassion, if the ruin and the confusion of the religion of Christ touches you, if the grief you then feel decides you to come to our aid, these same legates will explain how you should do so. They are most faithful to Blessed Peter, the first of their rank in his household. No threats, no promise of temporal goods, have been able to detach them from him, or separate them from their mother the Church.
To Us also, though unworthy, and a sinner, has been addressed this word of the Prophet: Go up into a high lofty mountain, and this also, Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice. Thus, whether We will or not, setting aside all shame, all affection, and all fear, We evangelize, We cry, We cry without ceasing, and We declare to you, that the Christian religion, the true faith, which was taught to our forefathers by the Son of God descended from Heaven, is today transformed into a detestable and secularized observance, is indeed almost reduced to ruin, is become from the many modifications forced upon it, the derision of the devil, of the Jews, the Saracens, and the Pagans. These people have laws, which cannot save their souls, which are not, like ours, confirmed by miracles, as proof of the aid of the Eternal King, yet they observe them, whilst we, blinded by the love of the present time, and fascinated by vain ambitions, sacrifice all things to our cupidity, and our pride, even our religion and honesty itself. We seem no longer to possess either principles or consistency; we no longer think of honor in this life or in that which is to come!
If there are still some who fear God, they are rare exceptions who think chiefly of saving their own souls, and show little zeal for the good of their brothers. How many are there who, inspired by the fear of God, or the love of God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, suffer and work, even till death, as so many soldiers do for their captains, and even for their friends, or their inferiors? Yet, every day, thousands of persons risk death for their earthly masters. Yet, for the God of Heaven, for the Redeemer, not only do men fear to expose themselves to danger of death, but they hesitate lest they should incur the enmity of men! Those who (and thank God there are still some, though alas so few), out of love for the law of Christ, resist the impious even unto death, are not only unaided by their brethren, but are even regarded as imprudent, indiscreet and senseless!
Being now obliged to address to you these and other similar admonitions and earnestly desiring, by the help of God, to root out of your hearts these vices, and to replace them by Christian virtues, We demand, We implore for the sake of the Lord Jesus, who has redeemed us all by His death, that you will carefully study the causes which have brought about the tribulation and agony which We suffer, from the enemies of the Christian religion.
Since the day when, by the dispensations of Divine Providence, the Church placed Us upon the apostolic chair, unworthy as We are and in spite of Our inclinations, God is Our witness, Our most ardent desire, and the aim of all Our efforts has been that Holy Church, the Spouse of God, Our mistress and Our mother, should recover her ancient splendor and remain free, chaste and catholic. But an aim so lofty displeased the evil one; to hinder it he has set in motion every force he could control. The harm he has done to us and to the Holy See has surpassed everything he has been able to accomplish since the time of Constantine the Great. There is nothing surprising in this, for, as the time of Antichrist approaches, the more ardently does the demon strive to crush and annihilate the Christian religion.
And now, beloved brethren, listen to my words; In the world, all Christians, all who are instructed in their religion know and acknowledge that Blessed Peter, prince of the Apostles, is the Father of all Christians, and after Christ, the chief Pastor, and that the Holy Roman Church is the Mother and Mistress of all churches. If, then, such is your faith, your firm belief in the name of Almighty God, We, your brother, and in spite of Our unworthiness, your master also, make this appeal to you, and We command that you come to the support of your father and your mother, if you would that they obtain for you in this world and the next the absolution of sins and the blessing of the grace of God.
May the Almighty Lord, the Author of all good, enlighten your spirit and fertilize it by His love, and the love of your neighbor; thus you will have as debtors your father and your mother, and the day will come when you shall be united to them. Amen”.
Gregory could never go back to Rome unprotected, but all possibility of his return was precluded by the action of Robert Guiscard, who, still intent upon his golden dream of the Empire of the East, in September 1084 started from Brindisi for his new campaign. Boemond had remained at the head of the army after his father's return to Italy, and had gained several victories over the Byzantines, but gold and the intrigues of the Imperial court had won over a number of his men from their allegiance, and disorganization crept into the camp of the Normans when the strong hand of Robert no longer held them in check. At the close of 1084, when Boemond also departed for Italy, he left in the East only some few Norman garrisons in a few fortified towns, where they maintained themselves with difficulty.
In his new campaign the Duke, instead of seeking entrance by way of Illyricum and Macedonia, resolved to proceed by sea and to attack and seize the coastguard towns only, without penetrating into the interior. He would not embark until he had succeeded in collecting a very considerable fleet; his ships numbered one hundred and twenty, besides transports for cavalry and machines. After landing at Valona and rallying at Corfu, the Duke was attacked by the Venetian fleet, which once more came to the aid of the Empire of the East. Beaten in the first encounter, the Normans continued the contest without losing heart, and finally gained a decisive victory which cost the Greeks and Venetians some thirteen thousand lives.
The season was now too far advanced for Robert to think of reaching the Isles of Greece, and he therefore withdrew his fleet to the mouth of the river Glycys, which flows into the Adriatic near Orieus, and his troops wintered in Bundicia. There the plague made its appearance, and during the winter no fewer than ten thousand men were swept away, and his son Boemond was obliged to return to Italy.
The Duke waited until the plague had spent its strength, and then recommenced hostilities; but he was attacked by fever as he set sail for Cephalonia, intending to conquer this island, which his son Roger had already sought to take. The ship put in at Corfu; and there, on July 17, 1085—two months after the death of Gregory VII—the Duke died in the presence of his wife Sikelgaita and his son Roger. Upon the death of the great Norman leader panic seized his army, and the soldiers embarked and set sail in hot haste, unexpectedly freeing the Emperor Alexis from his most pressing danger.
Pope Gregory died May 25, 1085, at Salerno. No mention is made of a long illness, and it may be assumed that the bitter agitations and troubles of the last years contributed to his death. The attacks of Henry IV upon Rome; the enthronement of the anti-Pope; the bloodshed caused by the Normans; and his forced exile to Salerno—all must have shaken his health and vitality.
The accounts of his death vary considerably. One story relates that Gregory foretold the very day and hour of his departure; and on that day entered the church, received Holy Communion, and addressed the people, and died on returning to his dwelling. In this address he bore witness to the presence of Christ in the Sacrament, and gave a general absolution to all mankind. This last detail is, in any case, incorrect; Henry IV and the usurping Pontiff Guibert were never released from the ban at Salerno.
Paul of Bernried relates that Gregory realized in the early part of 1085 that his life was drawing to a close, and announced his approaching dissolution to those about him; that he gave a general absolution to mankind, but from this all-embracing act of mercy he excepted his enemies Henry, “the so-called King, and the usurping anti-Pope Guibert, and those who were their counsellors and abettors in their ungodly cause”. Then the Pope proceeded to designate his successor.
It would appear that three persons were proposed, but the names vary in the various accounts. The most probable choice was one of his staunch servants, Odo of Ostia, Hugh of Lyons, Anselm of Lucca; but according to other versions the Pope named Didier, Abbot of Monte Cassino, alone.
The nomination of Didier by Gregory is perhaps improbable. Didier, who, later, became Pope under the name of Victor III, had not approved Gregory’s stern measures with regard to Henry IV; indeed, at the end of the year 1083, or, the beginning of 1084, he had approached the excommunicated King, in the hope of bringing about a rapprochement between him and Gregory. By so doing he fell, ipso facto, under the sentence of excommunication. His whole policy was to spare Henry as much as possible—to “build golden bridges” for his reconciliation with the Holy See; and Gregory must have been aware that if Didier became Pope, Henry IV would be reconciled to the Church upon easy terms, in which the interests of the Church would not be sufficiently safeguarded.
Paul of Bernried, however, relates that Didier was nominated by the dying Pope, who, inspired by the spirit of prophecy, recommended that he, Didier, should take the name of Victor, saying that he would be “worthy of the name, though his victory would be of only short duration”. In the same spirit of prophecy, Gregory, according to his biographer, foretold that Didier would not be present at his death-bed. Didier, who had hastened to Salerno on hearing of the Pope's illness, and intended to remain to the end, is naturally surprised, and cannot see what should lead to the fulfilment of this saying; but receives the unexpected information that the Normans are laying siege to a Castle belonging to his Abbey of Monte Cassino, and is compelled to leave Salerno. During his absence Gregory dies.
Another version is that of William of Malmesbury, who relates that Gregory named two persons as his successors—Didier, and Odo, Bishop of Ostia, who both became Popes in succession. The natural reflection arises that William of Malmesbury and Paul of Bernried were wise after the event.
Anti-Gregorian writers fabricate a dying retractation of Gregory's, in which he admits that he has wronged Henry IV, and this story won a wide circulation both in Germany and in Italy. Benzo gives the fullest details of this imaginary scene. According to him, Gregory summons the twelve cardinals to his death-bed, and confesses to one of them his remorse for his evil deeds, and commissions this cardinal to announce his repentance to the King, and entreat the royal pardon! Such a story needs no comment.
The dying words of the Pope are well and widely known. According to Paul of Bernried, Gregory twice asserted his love of justice and hatred of iniquity; first, when the cardinals, who surrounded his death-bed, spoke of the good works he had accomplished, the dying Pope answered: “Beloved brothers, all these things I regard as nothing; one thing only gives me confidence—that I have loved justice and hated iniquity”. Finally, when about to breathe his last, his words were:— “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile”. “In exile," said a bishop who was present, “in exile thou couldst not die! Vicar of Christ and His Apostles, thou hast received the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession”.
It is curious to read the various interpretations that have been put upon the last dying utterance of the great Pope. One writer regrets that so great a man was not completely master of his disappointment and self-love; and while one sees in the words a bitter expression of doubt, another sees only the expression of the dying man’s most intimate lifelong convictions. Another compares this “cry of oppressed innocence” to the “exceeding bitter cry” that rang from the cross!
The real meaning of Gregory's last words only becomes evident when they are compared with the verse of the psalm from which they are partly taken : "Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." In the Epistle to the Hebrews this verse is quoted in reference to the Son of God. The Saviour is "anointed with the oil of gladness" because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity; but Gregory himself—such was the antithesis in his mind—had also loved the right and hated the wrong, but had met with no gladness on earth, but humiliation; no praise, but defeat.
Gregory’s body remained at Salerno, where it was buried in the Church of St. Matthew, and was never removed to Rome. Many miracles took place, according to Bonitho, at his tomb, and Pope Anastasius IV (1153—1154) caused a picture to be painted representing Gregory with a halo; but many centuries were to elapse before the great Pope took his place in the Roman Martyrology. Under Gregory XIII (1572- 1583) it was ascertained that his body was preserved intact, and Paul V (1605-1 621) canonized him in the year 1606. At first Gregory was venerated as a Saint only in Salerno, Florence and Siena, but later this cultus was extended to Rome and to the Orders of the Benedictines and Cistercians. Finally Benedict XIII (1724-1 730) decided that the Feast of Gregory VII (May 25) should be kept by the whole church. For the confessor pontifex a special office was prepared, in which the collect refers to the virtus constantiae pro tuenda ecclesiastica libertate. The biographical sketch contained in the second nocturn, was written by the Benedictine Tedeschi, Bishop of Lipari, but it is full of historical errors, and is entirely valueless.
One passage in it excited great indignation at the time. The author, speaking of Gregory VII's resistance to Henry IV, writes:
Contra Henrici imperatoris impios conatus
fortis per omnia athleta
People thought that this statement contained “a justification” of the policy of Gregory, and a renewal of forgotten mediaeval claims of the Papacy. There were popular disturbances in France, Naples and Belgium in consequence of it; the governments of France, Venice and Austria dispatched strong remonstrances to Rome; and Maria Theresa ordered that the offending words should be struck out of the book, or should be covered with paper pasted over. The passage remains unaltered in the Roman breviary to this day.
The fact of Gregory’s canonization does not, of course, affect the verdict of history upon the character of this Pontiff. Even for Roman Catholics, a Papal canonization has not the weight of a definitio ex cathedra; the Pope who pronounces a canonization is not necessarily infallible. As Schwane writes, “the act of canonization rests upon the testimony of men, which is subject to error; and although great care is always taken in investigating, previous to canonization, and it may be said that it is theologically certain that the canonized person is sure of glory in the life to come, yet many theologians consider it not impossible that the canonized may have to spend some period in Purgatory. The act of canonization does not state that the ‘saint’ has been, during his life on earth, entirely free from sin; nor that, by this act, his faults are changed into virtues, nor his imperfections into perfection; nor that the saint's doctrines and ideas in this life are to be considered infallible”.
As Peter Damiani writes in answer to his own criticism of the Papal campaigns of Leo IX: “Leo is not honoured for his wars, nor David for his adultery, nor Peter for his denial”. Damiani was canonized, like Leo, whose warlike enterprises he condemned. Hanno of Cologne was canonized, though his action at Mantua aroused the displeasure of Hildebrand; while Saint Gregory I’s view was far removed from those maintained by the later Gregory, upon the power and prerogatives of the Papacy.
Hildebrand’s character and attainments were of a very high order; he was reputedly possessed of vast theological learning; and Peter Damiani relates that he had a knowledge of the poetry and philosophy of the ancients. He cultivated an intimate acquaintance with both the Old and New Testaments, which he was fond of quoting; and he refers more often to events drawn from Bible history than to those from the history of the Church. Among the Fathers of the Church, Gregory I was an especially sympathetic figure to him. Gregory’s Latin style is vigorous, pithy and “full of matter”, and when he occasionally accuses himself of rusticity, this is only the expression of his personal modesty.
His two speeches in council in 1076 and 1080 are masterpieces of rhetoric, and show a splendid natural gift of oratory. In 1083, when he spoke of the faith of a Christian, the virtues of constancy and firmness, he spoke, we learn “not as a man, but as an angel”, so that almost the whole assembly broke into sobs and tears.
Gregory showed no deep knowledge of human nature, no ability to rule and use men such as is often found in the great; and this is emphasized by Bonitho, who is otherwise uncritical as far as Gregory is concerned. This curious lack of perspicacity, even of common shrewdness, shows itself again and again in the course of his life. He warmly supported Guibert, when Alexander II doubted the advisability of his elevation to the Archbishopric of Ravenna; he was, throughout his Pontificate, in intimate relations with a man of the doubtful character of Gisulfo of Salerno; he accepted the action of Hugh Candidus in furthering his elevation to the Pontificate as a proof of amendment upon the part of that already deeply compromised cardinal; he was evidently blinded by the hypocritical policy of the Saxon princes and the Rudolphian party; and he was bitterly deceived in his estimate of the Norman princes, such as Robert Guiscard and Jordan of Capua.
Gregory made little use of the “subtle policy which bordered on craft”, which has been attributed to him; there was, indeed, very little that was subtle in his political programme, and in the political sphere he was constantly blinded and out-planned by men more far-seeing and more unscrupulous than himself. The intrepidity which seemed to delight in confronting the most powerful, a stern singleness of purpose, which, under its name of Churchmanship, gave his partisans unlimited reliance on his firmness and resolution, also seem overstated by many historians; for throughout the period from 1077-1080 Gregory's policy showed manifest signs of vacillation and lack of resource. He was, it must be admitted, once and for all, no statesman, and his essay to arbitrate in the affairs of Germany led eventually to the bitterness of his exile at Salerno.
Amid the gross and revolting licentiousness of a great portion of the clergy at this period, Gregory's private life shows an austere virtue, a simple piety. The consciousness of the purity of his life stood him in good stead, when he came to answer, by ignoring, the invectives of the Diets of Worms and Brixen. The absurd nature of the charges made against him at Brixen is a testimony that of real blots upon his private life there were none. His domestic habits were of the simplest, and Peter Damiani, who knew him well, speaks of his asceticism.
On the occasion of Cenci’s attack upon his person, Gregory showed high courage and self-command, which justifies his assurances, when he was contemplating the possibility of a danger -fraught journey to Germany, that he was ready to lay down his life for the liberty of the Church. Had Gregory been placed in a position such as that of Pope Paschal II in Rome, in the year 1111, never would he have been induced by fear or favor to deny his principles or to surrender what he considered to be his rights.
Gregory was permeated with the atmosphere of the Old Testament, and though a fervent admirer of St. Peter, there is no doubt his deepest sympathies lay with the Hebrew prophets and warriors. He was likened to Elijah; his energetic campaign against the immoral and simoniac clergy, to Elijah's slaughter of the priests of Baal; and when Gregory, in 1078 and 1080 threatens the disobedient with retribution in this life, we are reminded of the stern Elijah calling down fire from Heaven to consume the emissaries of the King who would do him wrong. With Samuel also he has great sympathy, and it is possible that he thought of himself as resisting Henry IV as the prophet withstood King Saul. Indeed, in the December letter to the young King, Henry is warned to avoid the fate of Saul. It is more than probable that Gregory’s view of kingship, as confessed in his two letters to Hermann, Bishop of Metz, is based upon the utterances of Samuel, who, to the people who ask for a king, replies :—
“Your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king”; while the people in their turn admit this, saying:—"Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not : for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king”.
The tendency to “prophesy evil” against an adversary is also of the Old Testament; and we see this, not only in Gregory’s speech in the Council of 1080, but also in Peter Damiani’s prophecy with regard to the anti-Pope Cadalus.
Some aspects of Gregory’s character are brought into greater prominence by his relations with his contemporaries. Very characteristic and interesting is the contrast between him and Peter Damiani. Both were churchmen of pure—nay, austere—life, devoted sincerely to the interests of the Church, and anxious for the extermination of her crying evils, but here the similitude ceases. Damiani was a monk at heart. He had been compelled by Pope Stephen, his “persecutor” as he named him, rather than his patron, to take upon himself the episcopate. He had been raised by the same “violence” to the rank of cardinal, but had addressed an earnest argument to Nicholas II to be allowed to abdicate the unthankful office. He pens a bitter satire against the bishops of his day:—"What would the bishops of old have done, had they to endure the torments which now attend the episcopate. To ride forth constantly attended by troops of soldiers, with swords and lances; to be girt about with armed men, like a heathen general! Not amid the gentle music of hymns, but the din and clash of arms! Every day royal banquets, everyday parade! The table loaded with delicacies, not for the poor, but for voluptuous guests; while the poor to whom the property of right belongs, are shut out, and pine away with famine”. He shrinks from the world, and Gregory, to judge from the words in his last Encyclical, in which he condemns the “fugitive and cloistered virtue” of those who seek only the safety of their own souls, must have found it impossible to sympathize with the pusillanimity, the spiritual selfishness, which caused Damiani, in anxious apprehension for his own soul, to become a recluse. The personal qualities of the two men, and their temptations, were as the poles asunder, as we may see by Damiani’s black account of the sins he had to struggle against. Those which clung to him most were scurrility and disposition to laughter and sarcasm—from which two failings we may safely assume that Gregory was exempt.
Damiani, again, was swayed by feeling, easily led into exaggeration, and over-hasty action. He was an idealist, who wished the clergy to withdraw from the dust and turmoil of the world:
a man by temperament opposed to strong measures.
Gregory, on the contrary, was more interested in his great scheme of dominant churchmanship; and was by no means averse from the use of stern measures, and the “temporal arm” in the interests of the Church.
Hildebrand’s capacity, his
earnest wish for reform in the Church, were acknowledged by the undisguised but
exaggerated homage of Damiani, who speaks of him as “twin of the apostolic
seat, a firm column, a man of the holiest and purest counsel”, while the two
epigrams referring to Hildebrand’s influence upon the Pope Alexander II are
well known. “You made him Pope”, writes
The inevitable breach between two such men was precipitated by Damiani’s over-hasty action in calling in Hanno of Cologne to settle the claims of the Pope Alexander II, and the anti-Pope Cadalus. The Synod of Mantua decided, it is true, in favor of Alexander; but that the Pope should have to appear to defend himself before a council presided over by the Archbishop of Cologne, was in itself a bitter humiliation, which was keenly resented by Hildebrand, and we are not surprised to find that he addressed a severe rebuke to Damiani for his impolitic and arbitrary appeal. Damiani answered by a letter addressed jointly to Alexander and to Hildebrand, in which he contrasts the tone of their respective letters—the Pope's, as paternal, “kindly as the Sun of Heaven”; the Archdeacon’s, as “angry and threatening, like the furious gusts of the North wind”. In this letter we find the famous description of Hildebrand as “holy Satan”—sanctus Satanus —which Reumont interprets as an expression of the powerful damonic influence of the Archdeacon upon the writer; to Damiani, Hildebrand appears in other passages of his works, paradoxically as a hostilis amicus, and blandus tyrannus, and one epigram goes so far as to wish that the wolf might be transformed into a lamb :
—Qui rabiem iyrannidem donat ora cruenta leonum
Te nunc usque lupum mihi mitem vertat in agnutn.
The bitterness of Damiani’s paradoxes convinces one that he is not in jest, and we can imagine that Damiani found something peculiarly antipathetic in Hildebrand's personality.
Gregory has written that opinions varied widely as to himself; and that while some thought him over-stern, nay, cruel, others considered him too lax and mild; and it may be generally said that he was too indulgent towards his friends and dependents, and too severe to his enemies and opponents. A peculiar and, it must be considered, undeserved, indulgence was shown by him to Berengarius of Tours, and to the princes of Germany who stood in opposition to Henry IV. When the princes, in January 1077, causelessly refused an escort to the Pope, and thereby rendered impossible one of his most cherished dreams, the journey to Germany as arbitrator in her affairs, Gregory can hardly find it in his heart to blame them, and he never openly resented the Forchheim election, which was a very severe blow to him. Again, Gregory showed the greatest indulgence to the Norman prince, Robert Guiscard, “a bandit without religion”, which can only be explained, but cannot be justified, by the exigencies of his position during the last years of his pontificate.
His severity to his opponents, such as Henry IV, is very marked, and even William of Malmesbury remarked upon his “perhaps over-great severity towards men”. The growth of his mistrust of Henry IV distinctly biassed his policy towards the young King, and from the time of the Diet of Worms (1076) it overrides all other feelings with regard to him. That Gregory, in the February Synod, gave judgment against Henry without having invited the King to appear, or heard his defence, is frequently insisted upon by Henrician writers as a proof of his party-bias, and it is impossible to clear Gregory from this imputation.
Again, Gregory himself admits that his own friends and followers exclaimed against his “cruelty” in delaying to receive the royal penitent at Canossa. But after the King’s renewed opposition at the time of the Synod of Brixen, Gregory’s antipathy to the King knows no bounds. In a document written in July 1080 he accuses the King of having aided and supported the anti-Pope Cadalus, to the injury of the Church—that is to say, he makes a boy of eleven responsible for an act of ecclesiastical policy! This is the more to be regretted, as Peter Damiani expressly emphasizes Henry IV’s innocence on this point, and Bonitho leaves Henry's complicity entirely out of the question, and even inclines to excuse the more responsible Empress-regent.
Towards the later period of his pontificate, from 1077 onwards, a pessimistic strain, a feeling of disillusion appears in Gregory’s utterances, and sometimes takes the form of unfounded complaints, such as those of the speech of the Council of 1080, where he accuses the kings and princes of this world of rising up against him, to contrive his death or exile. A still deeper depression clouded his mind, when his Easter prophecy of 1080 remained unfulfilled, and the anti-King Rudolph met with an untimely death. His second letter to Hermann, Bishop of Metz, runs over with bitterness against kingship in general, and Henry IV in particular; and in his last letter he utters the exceedingly painful and heartfelt cry of disappointment and sorrow, that his efforts to ensure the freedom, purity, and catholicity of the Church are in vain.
A curious side-light—which has been almost universally overlooked— upon his character when a cardinal, is afforded by Leo of Monte Cassino. In the monastery of Tremito, which was under the jurisdiction of Monte Cassino, a certain Trasmund, son of the Count Oderisius, was Abbot, and he, on hearing complaints against certain members of the community, acted with a barbarity not unusual at the time; the eyes of those monks were torn out; the tongue of one cut off. According to Leo, Didier of Monte Cassino was bitterly moved by the occurrence, and for the disgrace of Monte Cassino, and condemned Trasmund, the offending Abbot, to do penance for his misdeeds. But (and this is the extraordinary part of the story) the Cardinal Hildebrand interfered, and took Trasmund—who had already been condemned by Didier—under his protection, and declared that he had acted not cruelly, but firmly and worthily, to evil men; and finally, with some difficulty, he took Trasmund out of the monastery! Later on, when Hildebrand became Pope, he raised Trasmund to the bishopric of Valva, in Fermo.
The conduct of Trasmund in his bishopric was such as to justify Didier’s action, and affords another proof, if proof were needed, of Gregory’s blindness to the characters of men. The Bishop of Valva suddenly, in 1080, decided to abandon his bishopric. Gregory was naturally angered by this move, and stigmatized Trasmund’s action as “folly”, and recommended him to retire to Monte Cassino, and place himself under the authority of Didier. As might be expected, Trasmund paid no attention to the Pope's commands, but decided to return to his abandoned bishopric. Upon this the people of his diocese were warned to avoid Trasmund, who had committed the sin of disobedience, which in Gregory's favorite quotation, was equivalent to that of idolatry.
That Gregory could have approved the atrocious barbarity of Trasmund is a proof that he was a child of his age, and that age a callous one. A similar callousness marks his support of the Norman invasion of England.
There remains another characteristic of Gregory, which has not been sufficiently emphasized. It has been generally assumed that he was a monk by disposition, one who wished to convert the world into a monastery, where the same self-command and rigor were to be practised, which he enforced upon himself. This view leaves out of consideration the fact that he possessed the warrior's, one may say the Napoleonic, disposition loving conquest and command. Wido of Ferrara remarks that Hildebrand from his boyhood interested himself in military matters; and we know that when the anti-Pope Cadalus threatened Rome, Hildebrand was the moving spirit of the defence of the city. The Registrum, too, shows how characteristic of him were a soldier-like turn of phrase, and military images, and that he demanded from the clergy as well as the laity, a military obedience. God appears to him as “the unconquerable King”; the priests are “soldiers of the eternal King”; the ban of excommunication is frequently likened by him to a weapon, a sword, a spear, or a dart. In spite, however, of this predisposition to military enterprise, Gregory only once led a campaign, as Pope: viz. the uneventful campaign against the Normans in 1074.
In connection with Gregory's military aspirations may be considered his desire for a crusade to gain possession of the Holy Land, and to lead that crusade in person. Such a bold vision had floated before his eyes in the early part of the year 1074; and he endeavoured to interest Henry IV in the cause. He does not, however, suggest that the young King is to lead the campaign; he himself will be the leader and general! In a confidential letter to the Countess Matilda, which for good reasons was not included in the Registrum, the Pope admits that his desire to lead an army “across the sea” might be criticized as a proof of worldly ambition (levitas), but he cannot relinquish his cherished idea. He even wished to associate with him the Empress Agnes and the Countess Matilda :—
Ego, talibus ornatus sororibus, libentissime mare transirem, ut animam meam, si oporteret, vobiscum pro Christo funerem!
Had Gregory’s cherished dream been realized the world would have been the richer for a strange and unprecedented spectacle—that of the head of Christendom, the representative of the Prince of Peace, as general, at the head of an army, accompanied, as by a staff, by his “sisters”, the two princesses.
For the conquest of the Holy Land a zealous Pope might alone, in more favorable times, have raised a great Christian army; he might have enlisted numbers of nobles, even sovereigns, in the cause. But the cause and the time were not yet ripe. Humbler and more active instruments were wanted for a popular and general insurrection in favor of the oppressed pilgrims, for the restoration of the Holy Land to the dominion of the Cross. The great convulsions of society are from below. Gregory's dream, like his scheme of a hierarchy, was not fulfilled in his time.
Yet further signs of Gregory’s truculent disposition are shown in his anxiety to attack the anti-Pope Guibert, and to rescue the Church of Ravenna by force of arms from “impious hands”, thus ridding himself effectually of a dangerous enemy; and in his express prediction of victory to the followers of King Rudolph, with defeat in battle to the adherents of King Henry, when the excommunication was renewed in 1080.
In conclusion we may say that
Gregory was a child of his age, with his full share of its weakness,
callousness, and errors. A sincere Christian, direct, simple, energetic and stern, he was filled with a deep sense of his
dependence upon God, and of the nothingness of this world, as we may realize
from his letters; but in his policy his ambitious and warlike character and his
“Neither the love of gain, nor favouritism had any influence with him. His life was in perfect harmony with his doctrine; there was nothing unstable in it, nothing of the lightness of the reed shaken by the wind”. He was no theologian; and in his efforts for ecclesiastical reform he followed in the footsteps of his immediate predecessors; his one claim to greatness lies in his creation of the hierocratic system—his undying legacy to Church and State.
Gregory VII entertained an exaggerated idea of the Pontificate. The Pope is, officially, divinely inspired; his judgment is that of the Holy Spirit; he who obeys the Pope obeys God. From the divine command that God, rather than man is to be obeyed, Gregory draws the conclusion that the Pope, rather than the King is to be obeyed by all Christians. The Pope’s hierarchic power of binding and loosing is unlimited, unconditioned, and the jurisdiction of the Pope, again, has the widest sphere. Especially can he ordain whom he will and when he will. Although Gregory VII, like Pope Gelasius I, had declared against compulsory ordination, yet, strangely enough, he wished, in one instance, to force a priest who had been chosen bishop but who did not wish for the episcopate, to receive consecration. An Archdeacon had been chosen Bishop of Macon, but was unwilling to accept the dignity. Gregory wrote to Humbert, Archbishop of Lyons, December 1073, recommending him, and Bishop Aguno of Autun, to use force to induce the Archdeacon to accept episcopal rank. As a matter of fact force was not used, for the Archdeacon waived his objection, either of his own freewill, or in consequence of the Papal threat, and the Pope himself consecrated him in Rome. But, in any case, the instructions in the letter to Humbert of Lyons were an interference with personal liberty, a measure that was not in harmony with the teaching of the Church.
As a consequence of Gregory's high conception of the pontifical position, an attempt to unseat the rightful Pope, or even the threat to do so, ranked with him as the greatest imaginable crime.
In his early life, however, he had seen, in 1046, Gregory VI deposed by means of the formality of a Synod, by Henry III, and had, notwithstanding, always sincerely honoured the truly pious Emperor no less than the undeniably simoniacal Pontiff, whom, as we have seen, he followed into exile.
Gregory VII considered himself justified in setting aside, if necessity arose, the decrees and decisions of his predecessors. At the same time, he, in one instance, limited the action of his successors; by the Decree of the Lent Synod, 1078, that the priest Roland, who had been appointed to a bishopric, should never receive consecration, and that none of his successors in the Holy See should ever consent to his consecration. He forgot that every Pope has the same rights and privileges, and that it was within the bounds of possibility that a later Pope might set aside the prohibition of the Synod of 1078.
He had a strong desire for uniformity in the services of the Church in various countries, and wrote twice to the Spanish King to disapprove the variations, from the Roman rite which were practised in Spain. In the same spirit the appeal of the Bohemian Duke Wratislas for the use of the Slav tongue in the officium divinum was resolutely withstood by him.
It was a bitter trial to the fiery zeal of the Pope that he was constantly withstood by so many unsympathetic churchmen. In spite of his dislike to compromise, he was obliged to tolerate the customs that he hated. In an interesting letter, written by him at the beginning of April 1081 to Altmann, Bishop of Passau and to William, Abbot of Hirschau, he recommends tolerance “on account of the evils of our times, and because of the small number of the good”, but suggests that greater strictness must be observed when peace and tranquillity return to the world :—
“As to the priests, with regard to whom you have asked us certain questions, it seems to us that, at this moment, they must be borne with, and that the rigour of the canons in their case, should be somewhat softened, and this on account of the evils of our times, and because of the small number of the good, for there are indeed but few who fulfil the duties of their calling, as faithful Christians, on the return of peace and tranquility, which, it is to be hoped, may before long be accomplished, you can more conveniently occupy yourself with them, and make them observe the canonical regulations”. With the worldly Bishops—of whom his complaints are frequent and terrible—he inclines to no compromise. Besides general strictures, which may be paralleled by similar complaints of Peter Damiani—who in one passage declares that there is no single clerk fit to be a bishop : one is little better than another—we find specific accusations of the evil deeds of certain bishops. Thus, Bishop Stephen, of Annecy, is branded as a murderer (homicida). Bishop Jubellus, of Dole, is not only a simoniac but a Nicolaita, i. e. married, and Bishop Jaromis of Prague meets with the reproach that he has taken refuge in lies. In consequence of his painful experiences with single bishops, Gregory frequently adopted a slighting, bitter and contemptuous line towards them as a class.
Difficulties with these unruly and powerful prelates caused Gregory also to adopt a mistaken policy towards them. Thus, he informs Count Robert of Flanders that bishops who are disobedient to the Papal decrees must not expect to be obeyed in their dioceses. Such an informal suspension of the relation of obedience between the Bishop and his diocesans is, canonically, unjustifiable. So long as the Bishop had not been definitely removed from his Episcopal dignity, or suspended from his bishopric he had the right to expect obedience from his diocesans.
Then, too, Gregory was only too much inclined to use the strong arm of secular princes against disobedient prelates. Thus the young king, Henry IV, is asked to use force, if necessary, to oblige the German bishops to appear in Rome, as the Pope had commanded them. One of the most comprehensive and astounding threats Gregory ever uttered was directed against the bishops of France, who were instructed to use their influence upon Philip, their King. If the King persisted in his obstinacy, he was threatened with the loss of his kingdom; but if the bishops showed themselves lukewarm and negligent in the affair, they were all threatened with the loss of their bishoprics, “as accomplices” in the King’s crimes!
A natural consequence of Gregory’s language and methods was to arouse a violent opposition in the hostile, and irritation even in the well-disposed, bishops. It will be remembered that one of the accusations brought against Gregory by the Diet of Worms was his humiliating treatment of the bishops; but even before the Diet two of the most prominent and individual personalities among the German prelates, Liemar, Archbishop of Bremen, and Udo, Archbishop of Treves, had expressed their disapproval of Gregory’s attitude. Udo openly reproached Pope Gregory for his unfounded denunciations of the German bishops, and to this outspoken criticism Gregory had no answer. He must have been conscious that Udo was right, and, as later events proved, he retained, in spite of, and perhaps because of, Udo’s candor, a sincere respect for that excellent Archbishop.
Although Gregory’s relations with the bishops were not altogether harmonious, he was better served by his legates, who were men chosen by him for their “piety and wisdom” as his representatives, and entrusted with special missions. As far as we know, he only once employed a layman (Prince Gisulfo of Salerno) upon a legation. Among the legates dispatched by Gregory upon various missions were Peter, Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, the Cardinal-Bishop Gerald of Ostia, the Cardinal Hugh Candidus, the Cardinal-Deacon Bernard, the Sub-Deacon Hubert (or Humbert), the Bishops Ulrich of Padua and Altmann of Passau.
Gregory reposed especial confidence in Hugh, Bishop of Die, who afterwards became Archbishop of Lyons. Hugh’s fiery zeal, which no doubt recommended him to the Pope, led him into several hasty and imprudent decisions, which the Pope was obliged to rectify.
Another zealous legate was Richard, the successor of Bernard, Abbot of Marseilles, who, with the Cardinal Bernard, had been entrusted with a legation to Germany in the year 1077. The devotion of Richard, and of Hugh of Lyons, to Gregory is counterbalanced by their disobedience to his successor, Victor III, who found himself obliged to excommunicate them both. They persisted, however, in their obstinacy, and were never reconciled to the Pope.
In his efforts to root out simony, Gregory followed in the footsteps of Clement II, Leo IX, Nicholas II, and Alexander II, his immediate predecessors. In the first half of the eleventh century, simony, though acknowledged to be a crime and a sin, was deeply rooted in the Church. The layman who purchased holy orders bought, usually, peace, security, and comparative ease. What was so intrinsically valuable began to have its money price; it became an object of barter and sale. At this time, even the acts and decrees of Councils declare that from the papacy down to the lowest parochial cure, every spiritual dignity and function was venal. The Bishopric of Rome had often been notoriously sold, and Tedaldo, Bishop of Arezzo, so detested simony that he would have become a simoniac Pope himself to root out the sin—at least, so says Donizo; and John Gratian himself bought the papacy, some say, to end the vicious pontificate of Benedict IX. Clement II, who declared that until Henry III intervened the Church of Rome had laboured under the morbus hereticus (simony), forbade the sale of spiritual offices under the penalty of anathema; and Leo IX and Nicholas II also strove to root out the deep-seated evil. Alexander II had vigorously combated it in the synods of 1063 and 1068, as also did the Cardinal-Bishops Peter Damiani and Humbert in their works Liber Gratissimus and Contra Simoniacos; but while Peter Damiani rejoiced in the salutary intervention of Henry III, Humbert's wish was that the Church should reform itself from within.
Like Damiani and Humbert, Gregory was keenly alive to "the plague", and almost his first public act was a declaration of war against simony, and the marriage of the clergy, in the Lent Synod of 1074. The Registrum is silent as to details. The two Synods of 1078 also deal with this subject, and in both of them simoniacal priests, as such, are anathematized. This was the last time Gregory brought the question of simony before a Synod. To the end of his life, however, he continued to use his influence to extirpate this sin—this commune malum paene totius terrae, as he writes to his legate Hugh of Die.
An important decision is given by Gregory in the year 1079, that a cleric who received ordination at the hands of a simoniacal bishop, if he were unaware of the bishop's simony and if there were no other defect in the ordination, should be considered validly ordained, provided the ordination took place before the year 1059, and that the ordained had led a blameless life. Gregory, like Nicholas II, recommended the faithful to hold themselves aloof from the services performed by simoniacal priests and attempted to enlist the power of secular princes against them. The Dukes of Suabia and Carinthia were asked to drive the simoniacal clergy, by force if necessary, from the churches and altars; and foreseeing the ill impression that this intervention of the secular powers would cause, Gregory wrote very characteristically, that if any protested they were to go to Rome and complain to the Holy See itself!
As in the campaign against simony, the efforts of Leo IX, Nicholas II, and Alexander II preceded those of Gregory VII in the campaign against clerical marriage. In the Lent Synod of 1074 Gregory first appears as an opponent of any breach of celibacy among the clergy. The faithful are not to attend the divine offices performed by clergy who do not respect this decree. It was decided that if a priest, deacon, or sub-deacon had a wife or a concubine, and did not dismiss her and do penance, he should be excluded from the service of the altar and declared incapable of holding any benefice in the Church.
Further, Gregory anathematized the Haeretici Nicolaitae who persisted in their obstinacy, together with the simoniacal clergy, at the Lent Synod of 1078; and we learn from the Registrum of the November Synod of this year that if any breach of celibacy among the clergy is condoned by the bishop of a diocese, that bishop is to be suspended. This is the last time the question is brought before a Synod; but, as in the case of efforts to uproot simony in the Church, he continued the war against the marriage of the clergy throughout the later years of his pontificate. In an Encyclical addressed to all the clergy and laity of Germany, he again adopts the doubtful policy of recommending their diocesans to withdraw their obedience from bishops who condone breaches of celibacy among their clergy, a proof of Gregory's dissatisfaction with the negligence of the bishops or their covert resistance to his reforms and the deeply-rooted power and influence of the married clergy. In 1079, a letter, addressed to both Italy and Germany, recommends the faithful not to attend the services performed by churchmen who are guilty of an infringement of the rule of celibacy; and priests, deacons, and sub-deacons who are thus guilty are to be denied the introitus ecclesiae.
Gregory never holds out any reason for the duty of celibacy; he probably considered this superfluous. The supporters of celibacy had the prejudices of centuries in their favor, the greatest names in the Church, long usage, positive laws, decrees of Popes, and axioms of the most venerable Fathers; the married clergy only a vague appeal to an earlier antiquity with which they were little acquainted, the true sense of many passages of the sacred writings which had been explained away, a dangerous connection with suspicious or heretical names, and the partial sanction of the unauthoritative Greek Church. Gregory's efforts for reform were certainly not uninfluenced by political motives, such as that (which has often been attributed to him) of securing the independence and isolation of the clerical caste, and thus clearing the ground for the stately fabric of his theocracy. Such a view must be supported by anyone who reads Gregory’s decrees and letters and who is capable of understanding the fundamental ideas and aspirations of the great champion of Pontifical autocracy and despotism.
Gregory’s headstrong tendency to coerce, to cut and hack at the root of the tree, is shown by the policy advocated in his letters. The Dukes of Suabia and Carinthia were by violence to expel the simoniacal priests from the service of the Church; they were to treat those in crimine fornicationis jacentes in a like rigorous manner. In his zeal, indeed, he occasionally uttered unfounded accusations against the lukewarmness of the bishops in their treatment of the Nicolaitae; while many in Germany and other lands, with much reason, condemned Gregory’s measures as too sweeping, too sudden, and too rigorous. Sigbert of Gembloux is discontented with Gregory; and Wenrich accuses him of having stirred up the “madness of the laity” against the clergy. Moreover, the Pope draws no distinction between those ecclesiastics who had contracted marriages in the Church, who were in the majority, and those who were leading vicious lives. All are branded and condemned alike as living in fornication! Even the Archbishop Siegfried of Mayence, who declares his willingness to endeavor that the celibacy of the clergy shall be observed, recommends the Pope to take milder measures, and lets him know that he may “break the bow by overstraining it”. It is noteworthy, however, that some of Gregory’s bitterest opponents were at one with him in their desire for clerical celibacy. Among the Henricians, Benzo was strongly in favor of it, and Guibert, the anti-Pope, promulgated a decree in 1089 recommending celibacy to the clergy as a duty.
It is astonishing that among Gregory’s partisans, Paul of Bernried and Bonitho make no mention of Gregory’s efforts in that direction. This is the more surprising, as the question is so prominent in Gregory’s correspondence and decrees; and in his last letter (Ep. 46), summing up the programme of his life, Gregory, in the phrase that describes his efforts that the Church should be “free, chaste, and Catholic”, makes in the word “chaste” a special reference to his life-struggle to secure universal clerical celibacy, and thus promote the aggrandizement and supremacy of the Pontifical authority.
The war of investitures, strictly speaking, began after the death of Gregory VII, and ended under Pope Calixtus II and Henry V. Dur