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ON 21 April 1073 Pope Alexander II died. The strained relations between the Papacy and the ruler of the Empire made the occasion more than usually critical; moreover, the Election Decree of Nicholas II, for which so narrow a victory had been won at the previous vacancy, was to be put to a second test. Fortunately for the Papacy, there was no division of opinion within the Curia; the outstanding personality of the Archdeacon Hildebrand made it certain on whom the choice of the cardinals would fall. But their deliberations were anticipated by the impatience of the populace. While the body of Alexander was being laid to rest in the church of St John Lateran on the day following his death, a violent tumult arose. The crowd seized upon the person of Hildebrand, hurried him to the church of St Peter ad Vincula, and enthusiastically acclaimed him as Pope. The formalities of the Election Decree were hastily complied with; the cardinals elected, the clergy and people gave their assent, and Hildebrand was solemnly enthroned as Pope Gregory VII. Popular violence had compromised the election, and provided a handle for the accusations of his enemies. But the main purpose of the Election Decree had been fulfilled. The Pope was the nominee neither of the Emperor nor of the Roman nobles; the choice of the cardinals had been anticipated indeed, but not controlled, by the enthusiasm of the multitude. Hildebrand only held deacon’s orders; a month later he was ordained priest, and on 30 June consecrated bishop, hi the interval, he seems, in accordance with the Election Decree, to have announced his election to the king and to have obtained the royal assent.

We have little certain information’ of the origin and early life of this great Pope. He is said to have been the son of one Bonizo and to have been born at Sovana in Tuscany; the date of his birth is uncertain, but he was probably about fifty years old at the time of his accession. The important fact, to which he himself bears emphatic testimony, is that his early days were passed in Rome and that it was there that he received his education. So he saw the Papacy in its degradation and was to participate in every stage of its recovery. He received minor orders (reluctantly, he tells us) and was attached in some capacity to the service of Gregory VI, the Pope who bought the Papacy in order to reform it. With him he went into exile in 1047, and spent two impressionable years in the Rhine district, then the centre of the advanced reform movement of the day, and probably it was at this time that he received the monastic habit. In 1049 Leo IX, nominated Pope by Henry III, was filling the chief places in the Papal Curia with leading reformers especially from this district; on his way to Rome he took with him the young Hildebrand, whose life was for the future to be devoted entirely to Rome and the Papacy. With every detail of papal activity he was associated, in every leading incident he played his part; his share in the papal councils became increasingly important, until at the last he was the outstanding figure whose qualifica­tions for the papal throne none could contest.

By Leo IX he was made sub-deacon and entrusted with the task of restoring both the buildings and the discipline of the monastery of St Paul without the walls. Later he was sent to France to deal with heresy in the person of Berengar of Tours, whose views he condemned but whose person he protected. By Victor II he was given the important task of enforcing the decrees against simony and clerical marriage in France, where in company with Abbot Hugh of Cluny he held synods at Lyons and elsewhere. With Bishop Anselm of Lucca he was sent by Pope Stephen IX to Milan, where the alliance of Pope and Pataria was for the first time cemented; and from Milan to Germany to obtain the royal assent to Stephen’s election. He had a share in vindicating the independence of papal elections against the turbulence of the Roman nobles at the election of Nicholas II, and again in the papal Election Decree which was designed to establish this independence for the future. By Nicholas he was employed in initiating the negotiations which led to the first alliance of the Papacy with the Normans in South Italy. In the same year (1059) his appointment as Archdeacon of the Roman Church gave him an important administrative position; shortly afterwards occurred the death of Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, and Hildebrand took his place as the leading figure in the Papal Curia. To his energy and resolution was due the victory of Alexander II over the rival imperial nominee, and he held the first place in the Pope’s councils during the twelve years of Alexander’s papacy. The extent of his influence has been exaggerated by the flattery of his admirers and by the abuse of his enemies. He was the right-hand man, not the master, of the Pope; he influenced, but did not dominate Alexander. That other counsels often prevailed we know. When he became Pope he revoked more than one privilege granted by his predecessor, suggesting that Alexander was too prone to be led away by evil counsellors. Even when, as in the case of the papal support given to the Norman conquest of England, his policy prevailed, it is clear from his own statement that he had to contend against considerable opposition within the Curia. On all the major issues, however, Pope and archdeacon must have been in complete agreement, especially with regard to Milan, the greatest question of all. They had been associated together in the embassy that inaugurated the new papal policy with regard to the Pataria, and, as Bishop of Lucca, Alexander had been more than once employed as papal legate to Milan. This was the critical issue that led to the breach between Pope and king, and it was the extension of the same policy to Germany that produced the ill-will of the German episcopate which is so noticeable at the beginning of Gregory’s papacy. That there is a change of masters when Gregory VII becomes Pope is clear. The policy is the same, but the method of its execution is quite different. Hildebrand must have chafed at the slowness and caution of his predecessor. When he becomes Pope, he is urgent to see the policy carried into immediate effect. The hand on the reins is now a firm one, the controlling mind is ardent and impatient. Soon the issue is joined, and events move rapidly to the catastrophe.

Superficially the new Pope was not attractive. He was small of stature, his voice was weak, his appearance unprepossessing. In learning he fell short of many of his contemporaries; the knowledge of which he gives evidence is limited, though very practical for his purpose. Thus he had a close acquaintance with the collections of Decretals current in his time. Besides them he depended mainly on Gregory the Great, with several of whose works he was obviously familiar. Otherwise there is practically no indication of any first-hand acquaintance with the works of the Fathers or other Church writers. He adduces the authority of a few passages from Ambrose and John Chrysostom in urging on Countess Matilda of Tuscany the importance of frequent communion. Once only does he quote from Augustine, and then the reference is to the De doctrina Christiana, the Civitas Dei, quoted so frequently by his supporters and opponents alike, is not mentioned by him at all.

The chief authority with him was naturally the Bible. The words of Scripture, both Old and New Testament, were constantly on his lips. But, though quotations from the New Testament are the more numerous, it is the spirit of the Old Testament that prevails. His doctrine is of righteousness as shewn in duty and obedience, rather than as expressed in the gospel of love. The language of the Old Testament came most naturally to him; he was fond of military metaphors, and his language is that of a general engaged in a constant campaign against a vigilant enemy. A favourite quotation was from Jeremiah, “Cursed be the man that keepeth back his sword from blood,” though he usually added with Gregory the Great “that is to say, the word of preaching from the rebuk­ing of carnal men.” He was, in fact, in temperament not unlike a prophet of the Old Testament—fierce in denunciation of wrong, confident in prophecy, vigorous in action, unshaken in adversity. It is not surprising to find that contemporaries compared him with the prophet Elijah. His enthusiasm and his ardent imagination drew men to him; that he attracted men is well attested. One feature his contemporaries remarked—the brightness and keenness of his glance. This was the outward sign of the fiery spirit within that insignificant frame, which by the flame of its enthusiasm could provoke the unwilling to acquiescence and stimulate even the fickle Roman population to devotion. It was kindled by his conviction of the righteousness of his aims and his determination, in which self-interest did not participate, to carry them into effect.

This had its weak side. He was always too ready to judge of men by their outward acquiescence in his aims, without regarding their motives. It is remarkable that with his experience he could have been deceived by the professions of Cardinal Hugo Candidus, or have failed to realise the insincerity of Henry IV’s repentance in 1073. Here he was deceived to his own prejudice. It is not easy, however, to condone his readiness in 1080 to accept the alliance of Robert Guiscard, who had been under excommunication until that date, or of the Saxons, whom he had spoken of as rebels in 1075, and who were actuated by no worthier motives in 1076 and 1080. In the heat of action he grievously compromised his ideal. Another and a more inevitable result of his temperament was the frequent reaction into depression. Like Elijah, again, on Mount Carmel we find him crying out that there is not a righteous man left. Probably these moods were not infrequent, though they could only find expression in his letters to intimate friends such as Countess Matilda of Tuscany and Abbot Hugh of Cluny. And the gentler tone of these letters shews him in a softer light—oppressed by his burden, dependent solely on the helping hand of the “pauper Jesus.” It was a genuine reluctance of which he spoke when he emphasised his unwillingness at every stage of his life to have fresh burdens, even of honour, imposed upon him. There is no reason to doubt that he was unwilling to become Pope; the event itself prostrated him, and his first letters, announcing his election and appealing for support, had to be dictated from his bed.

This was a temporary weakness, soon overcome. And it would be a mistake to regard him merely, or even mainly, as an enthusiast and a visionary. He had a strong will and could curb his imagination with an iron self-control. As a result he has been pictured most strangely as cold and inflexible, untouched by human weakness, unmoved by human sympathies. It is not in that light that we should view him at the Lenten Synod of 1076, where he alone remained calm and his will availed to quell the uproar; it was self-control that checked his impatience in the period following Canossa, and that was responsible for his firmness and serenity amid defeat and disappointment, so that he remained unconquered in spirit almost to the end. But there was another influence too, the experience of the years that preceded his papacy. As cardinal-deacon for over twenty years, and Archdeacon of the Roman Church for thirteen, his work had lain particularly among the secular affairs of the Papacy; from this he had acquired great practical knowledge and a keen sense of the actual. It coloured his whole outlook, and produced the contrast between the theories he expressed and the limitation of them that he was willing to accept. He had a clear vision both of what was essential and of what was possible; it was later clouded by the dust of conflict, after he had joined issue with the Emperor.

His early life had been spent in the service of the Church and the Papacy. This service remained his single aim, and he was actuated, as he justly claimed, by no feeling of worldly pride or self-glorification. He naturally had a full sense of the importance of his office, and realised both its potentialities and its responsibilities. To St Peter, who had watched over the training of his youth, he owed his earliest allegiance; as Bishop of Rome he had become the successor and representative of St Peter. It was not the least of his achievements that he realised the logical inferences that could be drawn from the Petrine authority; he was careful to sink his own individuality, and to picture himself as the channel through which the will of the Apostle was expressed to mankind. Every communication addressed to the Pope by letter or by word of mouth is received by St Peter himself; and, while the Pope only reads the words or listens to the message, St Peter can read the heart of the sender. Any injury done, even in thought, to the Pope is thus an injury to the Prince of the Apostles himself. He acts as the mouthpiece of St Peter, his sentences are the sentences of St Peter, and from St Peter has descended to him the supreme power of binding and of loosing in heaven and on earths So his power of excommunication is unlimited: he can excommunicate, as in the case of six bishops with all their supporters at the Lenten Synod of 1079, sine spe recuperationis. Similarly his power of absolution is unlimited, whether it be absolution to the penitent, absolution from all their sins to those who fight the battles of the Church against her enemies, or absolution of the subjects of an excommunicated ruler from the oath of allegiance they had taken to him. These are not the assertions of a claim; they are the simple expression of his absolute belief. How supreme was his confidence is shewn in his prophecies. The authority descended from St Peter extends over material prosperity in this life; yes, and over life itself. Glory and honour in this life, as well as in the life to come, depend on obedience to him, he assured the magistrates of Sardinia in 1073. In 1078 he proclaimed that all who hindered the holding of a synod in Germany would suffer not only in soul but also in body and property, would win no success in war and no triumph in their lifetime. And at Easter 1080 he pronounced his famous prophecy that Henry, if he did not repent, would be dead or deposed before August. This is the confidence of complete conviction.

But it was a delegated authority that he was exercising, and therefore it must not be exercised arbitrarily. The obedience to God which he enforced on all Christians must be rendered by himself first of all. Obedience to God implies obedience to the Church and to the law of the Church, to the decrees of the Fathers, the canonical tradition. He shews no disposition to over-ride this; in fact he is careful to explain that he is subject to its authority. Frequently he protested that there was nothing new in his decrees. His decree against lay investiture was not new, not of his own invention; in promulgating it he had merely returned to the teaching and decrees of the Early Fathers and followed the prime unique rule of ecclesiastical discipline. He did not make new laws; he issued edicts which interpreted the law or prohibited the illegal practices that had grown up in course of time. The Holy Roman Church, he says, has always had and will always have the right of issuing new decrees to deal with particular abuses as they arise. Its custom has always been to be merciful, to temper the rigour of the law with discretion, to tolerate some things after careful consideration, but never to do anything which conflicts with the harmony of canonical tradition.

Now the prime importance of this consideration of Gregory VII’s views is in its bearing on his relations with the temporal authority. He started with the orthodox Gelasian view of the two powers each supreme in its own department, and it is clear that at first he sees no conflict of his ideas with this. In the ecclesiastical department of course he must be absolute master. Archbishops, bishops, and abbots must acknowledge his complete authority, obey his summons to Rome, submit to his over-riding of their actions, and not interfere with direct appeals to Rome. The legates he sends act in his name. Anywhere they can call synods, preside over them, and issue decrees on his behalf. But, as his own office is divinely ordained, so he recognises is the royal office. In 1073 he speaks of the two powers and compares them with the two eyes of the human body; as these give light to the body, so the sacerdotium and imperium should illumine with spiritual light the body of the Church. They should work together in the harmony of pure religion for the spiritual good of Christianity; the spiritual end is the final object of both, in accordance with the accepted medieval view. Obedience, therefore, is due to kings; he shows no indulgence with the Saxon revolt in 1073, and congratulates Henry on his victory over the rebels in 1075. Over churches he continually repeats that the lay power has a protective not a possessive function, but he is anxious not to appear to be encroaching on imperial prerogative. Though he is convinced that the practice of lay investiture is an abuse that has arisen in the course of time, he recognises that it has come to be regarded almost as a prescriptive right; he is careful not to promulgate his decree against it in 1075 until he has consulted the king, upon whose rights, he declares, he is anxious not to encroach. The language of these early days is markedly different from that of his later years. The normal contrast between medieval theory and practice is noticeable at the beginning, when he is content to subordinate his theory to practical considerations; in later years he is striving to bring his practice up to the level of his theory. The difference lies not so much in a change in his point of view, as in a recognition of its real implications and of its actual incompatibility with the orthodox Gelasian theory. This recognition was forced upon him by the circumstances of the struggle with the king, without which he might never have adopted the extreme attitude of his later years. His methods help to mark the difference. At first he attempts to promote his aims by mutual agreement and negotiation; afterwards he acts by decree, issuing his orders and demanding implicit obedience.

The key to his development is to be found in his insistence on righteousness as the criterion by which he tests his own actions and those of all with whom he has to deal. Righteousness, with him as with Augustine, consists in obedience to the commandments of God. Truth, obedience, humility, are the marks of the righteous man, the servant of God, as falsehood, disobedience, pride, are the marks of the wicked man, whose master is the devil. If this is merely medieval commonplace, it becomes something more in its application. It is when he has to deal with an unrighteous king that he discovers the logical results of his opinions. The Pope, as St Peter’s successor, has authority over the souls of men; he has in consequence an awful responsibility as he will have to answer for them before the tribunal of God. It is incumbent upon him to rebuke those that err; it is he, in fact, that must be the judge of right and wrong, and to this judgment all men, even kings, must be subject. Every act of a king must have the test of right and wrong applied to it, for it is a king’s duty to govern for the spiritual welfare of his subjects. Obedience to God is the sign of the iustus homo, how much more of the iustus rex! And so, if a king does not act as a iustus homo he at once becomes amen­able to papal jurisdiction. The head of the spiritual department is entitled accordingly to obedience from secular rulers. “As I have to answer for you at the awful Judgment,” he writes to William I of England, “in the interests of your own salvation, ought you, can you avoid immediate obedience to me?” The implication is that the obedience which is expected from all Christians is obedience to himself.

When the great question came as to the sentence of a king who was, in his view, manifestly unrighteous, there could be no doubt with him as to the authority he could exercise. The theory of passive obedience to a wicked king could not influence him or his supporters for a moment; a king who aimed at his own glory had ceased to be the servant of God and become the servant of the devil; he was no longer a king but a tyrant. With the Pope, the judge of right and wrong, lay the sentence. Saul, ordained by God for his humility, was deposed by Samuel, the representative of God, for his pride and disobedience. The Pope is through St Peter the representative of God; as he has power to bind and loose in spiritual things, how much more in secular! Henry had not merely been disobedient; his pride had led him to attempt the overthrow of the Pope, a direct outrage on St Peter himself. St Peter, therefore, through the Pope’s mouth, pronounces sentence of excommunication and deposition. Gregory has faced the logical outcome of his point of view. The two powers are not equal and independent; the head of the ecclesiastical department is dominant over the head of the temporal. And so, when the enemies of Henry in Germany were contemplating the election of an anti-king to succeed Rudolf, he sends them the wording of the oath that their new choice must take to him—the oath of fealty of a vassal to his over­lord.


1073 A.D.

Gregory found himself faced at his accession with a situation that gave him every cause for anxiety, but much real ground for optimism. In the twenty-four years following his recall to Rome by Pope Leo IX a great advance had been made. The reformed Papacy had assumed its natural position as leader and director of the reform movement. It had vindicated the independence of its own elections against the usurpation of the Roman nobles and the practice of imperial nomination, it was asserting its absolute authority in ecclesiastical matters over all archbishops and bishops, and it was beginning to recover its temporal power in Italy. But its progress was hampered by difficulties and opposition from every quarter. Papal decrees had been promulgated against simony and clerical marriage, but there was more opposition to these decrees than obedience. The absolute authority of the Pope over all metropolitans was not denied in theory, but it had not been maintained in practice, and much resentment was aroused by its exercise. The temporal possessions of the Pope were continually exposed to the encroachments of the Normans, who would acknowledge themselves vassals of the Papacy but paid no heed to its instructions. And all these difficulties were complicated and controlled by the relations of the Pope with the King of Germany, and by the clash of their conflicting interests. The situation would have been easier had Henry III been on the throne. He at any rate was an earnest promoter of ecclesiastical reform. Henry IV was not even in sympathy with the reform movement, and simony in episcopal elections had become frequent once more; while he was as firmly resolved as his father that royal control over all his subjects, lay and ecclesiastical, should be maintained, and this implied royal control of nominations to bishoprics and abbeys both in Germany and North Italy. Hence the crisis that had arisen with regard to Milan just before Alexander II’s death. In the establishment of his authority in the ecclesiastical department, Gregory was thus faced by the opposition of the higher clergy (except in Saxony where the bishops as a whole allied themselves with the local opposition to Henry), supported by the king, and also of the lower ranks of the secular clergy, who considered that clerical celibacy was an ideal of perfection to which they ought not to be expected to aspire. He was supported on the whole by the regulars and often by the mass of the common people, who were readily aroused to action, as at Milan, against the laxity of the secular clergy.

It was evident to the Pope that his best chance of success lay in obtaining the king’s support. Without it he could not coerce the higher clergy; with it the decrees for Church reform could be made efficacious. He regarded the royal power as the natural supporter of the Papacy, and the protector of its temporal authority in South Italy against Norman aggression. His imagination led him to visualise the magnificent conception of a united Empire and Papacy working together in harmony for the same spiritual objects, and he was sanguine enough to believe that Henry could be induced to take the same view. And so the first task he under­took was to bring about a reconciliation with the king. To effect this he sought assistance from every quarter—the Empress-mother Agnes, Beatrice and Matilda of Tuscany, Dukes Rudolf of Swabia and Godfrey of Lower Lorraine, Bishop Rainald of Como—from anyone in short who might exercise influence over the king, and who might be expected to influence him in the right direction. Henry yielded, but he yielded to necessity, not to persuasion. In August he had with difficulty evaded the Saxons by flight and had made his way south, where he was remaining isolated and almost without support. The situation was in many respects similar to that at Canossa, and the king’s policy was the same on both occasions—as his enemies in Germany had the upper hand, he must propitiate the anger of the Pope, and this could only be done by a complete outward submission. The letter Gregory VII received from the king in September 1073 was as abject as the humiliation of 1077, without the personal degradation of Canossa. The king confesses that he is guilty of all the charges brought against him and asks for papal absolution; he promises obedience to Gregory’s bidding in the matter of reform, especially in regard to Milan, and expresses his keen desire for the harmonious co­operation of the spiritual and temporal powers. The delight of Gregory was unbounded when he received this letter, so full, he says, of sweetness and obedience, such as no Pope had ever received from Emperor before. He failed to realise, though he saw it clearly enough later, that the Saxon situation was entirely responsible, and that Henry’s humility depended on his position in Germany; he even did his best to bring Henry and the Saxons to terms. To Henry’s appeal for absolution he responded with enthusiasm, and early in the following year it was effected by an embassy headed by two cardinal-bishops and accompanied by Henry’s mother Agnes.

Assured of royal support, or at any rate relieved from the embarrassment of royal opposition, he now took in hand the important questions of Church reform and the assertion of his ecclesiastical authority. He knew the hostility he had to face. In North Italy, Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna had submitted himself to Alexander II and promised obedience, but little reliance could be placed on his promises; in general, the morals of the clergy were lax, the episcopate was mutinous. In Germany, there was an atmosphere of sullen resentment against the measures already taken by Alexander, and of ill-will towards his successor. It was not until 1074 that the two leading metropolitans—Siegfried of Mayence, the German Arch-Chancellor, and Anno of Cologne (ex-regent of Germany, now living in retirement and devoted to good works)—wrote to congratulate Gregory on his election; and there is no evidence to show that any of the others were more forward in this respect. Siegfried took the opportunity of expressing his pleasure and congratulations in a letter which he wrote on the subject of the dispute between the Bishops of Prague and Olmutz, Bohemian sees within his province. In this letter he complained of the intervention of the late Pope in a matter which came within his own jurisdiction; particularly that Alexander had allowed the Bishop of Olmutz to appeal direct to Rome, and had sent legates to Bohemia who without reference to Siegfried had suspended the Bishop of Prague from his office. This was a test case, and Gregory replied with great vigour. He rebutted the arguments from Canon Law which Siegfried had urged, and accused him of neglect of his office and of arrogance towards the Apostolic See. Siegfried’s timid attempt to assert himself was overwhelmed by the Pope’s vehemence, and he made no further effort to interfere with the papal settlement of the question. The Bishop of Prague obeyed the Pope’s summons to Rome, and Gregory, by his lenient treatment of him, gave the episcopate a lesson in the value of ready obedience.

This was a signal victory. He passed on to deal with the questions of simony and clerical marriage. In the first synod he held in Rome, in Lent 1074, he repeated the decrees of his predecessors against these abuses, and proceeded to take measures for their enforcement in Germany. The two cardinal-bishops, who had given absolution to the king and to his excommunicated councillors at Easter 1074, had the further task imposed upon them of summoning a synod of German clergy, promulgating the decrees at this synod, and enforcing acquiescence in their execution. This was a difficult task, rendered impossible by the overbearing manner of the papal legates. They addressed themselves first to two of the leading archbishops, Siegfried of Mayence and Liemar of Bremen, with a haughty injunction to them to hold a synod. They met their match in Liemar. A supporter of the reform movement, the methods of the Pope and his legates roused his pride and independence. He refused to do anything without previous consultation with the episcopate as a whole, and sneered at the impracticable suggestion that he should hold a synod to which his suffragans far distant in North Germany or in Denmark would not be able to come. Siegfried deprecated the whole business, but from timidity rather than pride. He temporised for six months and at last called a synod at Erfurt in October. As he expected, he was faced by a violent outburst from the secular clergy, who fortified themselves against the decree enforcing celibacy by the words of St Paul, and the synod broke up in confusion. Another incident that happened at the same time well illustrates the temper of the episcopate. Archbishop Udo of Treves was ordered by the Pope to investigate the charges brought against the Bishop of Toul by one of his clergy. He held a synod at which more than twenty bishops were present. They commenced by a unanimous protest against the Pope’s action in submitting a bishop to the indignity of having to answer before a synod to charges that any of his clergy might please to bring against him. Needless to say, the bishop was unanimously acquitted. In only one quarter, in fact, could the Pope find support—in Saxony. Here the episcopate was allied with the lay nobility in opposition to Henry, and it was part of its policy to keep on good terms with the Pope. It is not surprising, then, to learn that Bishop Burchard of Halberstadt, one of the chief leaders of the Saxons, wrote to Gregory to deplore the unworthy treatment of the papal legates in Germany, and received his reward in a warm letter of commendation from the Pope.

Gregory now began to take vigorous action to enforce his will. Archbishop Liemar, defiant to the legates who had summoned him to appear in Rome in November, was ordered by the Pope himself to come to the Lenten Synod of 1075. The same summons was sent to Archbishop Siegfried, and to six of his suffragan bishops as well. The Pope further issued circulars appealing especially to prominent laymen to assist him in executing his decrees. Siegfried’s answer to Gregory’s summons was typical of the timid man striving to extricate himself from the contest between two violently hostile parties. Afraid to oppose the Pope’s will, and equally afraid to enforce it, he excused himself from coming to Rome on the ground of ill-health, pleaded lack of time for his inability to examine the conduct of the six suffragans mentioned in Gregory’s letter, but declared that he had sent on the Pope’s order with instructions to them to obey it. He expressed his compliance with the decrees against simony and clerical marriage, but urged moderation and discretion in their execution.

The synod sat at Rome from 24 to 28 February 1075. At this synod the Pope suspended the absent and disobedient Liemar, and passed the same sentence on the Bishops of Bamberg, Strasbourg, and Spires, three of the six suffragans of Mayence (Mainz) whose attendance he had ordered; the other three seem to have satisfied him, temporarily at any rate, by their appearance or through representatives. Decrees were also passed against simony and clerical marriage, with the special addition, in conformity with Gregory’s policy, of a clause calling on the laity to assist by refraining from attending the mass celebrated by an offending priest. In sending the text of these decrees to Archbishop Siegfried, he showed that the moderation urged by Siegfried was not in his mind at all. The decrees are to be issued and enforced in their full rigour. Instructions to the same effect were sent to other metropolitans and bishops, for instance to the Archbishops of Cologne and Magdeburg, with injunctions to hold synods to enforce the decrees. This was again pressed on Siegfried and distressed him still further. He eventually replied to the Pope in July or August, in a letter intended to be tactful and to shift responsibility from his own shoulders. It was no use; Gregory was quite firm. He replied on 3 September, acknowledging the weight of Siegfried’s arguments but declaring them of no effect when set in the balance against his pastoral duty. Siegfried was forced to comply, especially as the submission of the Saxons took away from him his chief excuse for delay. He held a synod at Mayence in October, and, as before, it was broken up by the turbulence of the secular clergy. But the whole question was now to be transferred to a larger stage, and the next act in the drama is the Council of Worms.

In this struggle with the German episcopate, in which matters were rapidly coming to a crisis, Gregory had been able to act unhampered by royal interference, and so far his policy of effecting a reconciliation with Henry had justified itself. But in North Italy, where he required the active co-operation rather than the non-interference of the king, the policy had not been so successful. Little, however, could be expected from Henry when his position in Germany itself was so difficult, and for two years Gregory seems to have persisted in his confidence in the king’s sincerity. He did complain, indeed, in December 1074 that Henry had not yet taken any action with regard to Milan, and he administered a gentle warning as to the councillors he had around him. But the more personal letter he wrote at the same time gives expression to his confidence in the king. In this letter he detailed his plan of leading a vast expedition to the East both to protect the Eastern Christians and to bring them back to the orthodox faith; he is careful to seek Henry’s advice and assistance in this, because in the event of his going he intends to leave the Roman Church under Henry’s care and protection. If he could trust the king to this extent, he was profoundly suspicious of his councillors and of their confederates the Lombard bishops. At the Lenten Synod of 1075, three Italian bishops were suspended for disobedience to his summons, and five of Henry’s councillors, promoters of simony, are to be excommunicated if they have not appeared in Rome and given satisfaction by 1 June. At the same synod was passed the first decree against lay investiture.

Against the practice of lay ownership of churches, great and small, the reformed Papacy had already raised its protest, and the necessity of obtaining suitable agents for the work of reform had turned its attention to the method of appointment. While denying the right of the king to control appointments, the Popes allowed him a considerable though undefined role, both as head of the laity and as the natural protector of the Church. In this Gregory VII acquiesced, and where the appointments were good from the spiritual point of view, as was the case in England under William I, he was little disposed to question the method. It was the insubordination of the episcopate in Germany and North Italy, and especially the clash of papal and imperial claims at Milan, that led him to take definite action against a royal control that led to bad appointments. The king, for his part, regarded bishoprics as being in his gift, and allowed no bishop to exercise his functions until he had invested him with ring and staff. To the Church party the use of these symbols betokened the conferring by the king of spiritual functions; this was an abuse the removal of which might lead to the restoration of true canonical election. In Gregory VII’s eyes it was clearly not an end in itself, but only a step towards the end, which was through free election by clergy and people to obtain a personnel adequate for its spiritual functions and amenable to papal authority.

The importance of lay investiture had been early recognised by Cardinal Humbert in his Liber adversus Symoniacos, but Gregory VII was the first Pope to legislate directly on the subject. The first decree prohibiting lay investiture (though not imposing any penalty on laymen who invested) was passed at this synod in 1075. But it was never properly published. Bishops elected and invested in 1075 and 1076 could plead ignorance of its existence and the Pope accepted their plea. No German writer seems to know of it, and we are indebted for its wording solely to a Milanese writer, Arnulf, which gives weight to the suggestion that the Milanese situation was principally responsible for the framing of the decree. The fact was that Gregory knew that he was dealing with a long-established custom, regarded by the king as a prescriptive right, and he knew that he must walk warily. He first of all sent the text of the decree to the king accompanied by a message to explain that it was no new step that he was taking but a restoration of canonical practice, and urging the king, if he felt his rights to be in any way infringed, to communicate with him, so that the matter could be arranged on a just and amicable footing. Gregory attempted to establish his point by negotiation, and he seems to have imagined that the king would recognise the fairness of his claim. Henry made no reply to these overtures, and the Pope does not seem to have been immediately perturbed by this ominous silence. In July he warmly praised the king for his zeal in resisting simony and clerical marriage, which gives him reason, he says, to hope for still higher and better things—acquiescence, doubtless, in the new decree. Just after this, two ambassadors from Henry arrived in Rome with a strictly confidential message to the Pope to be communicated to no one except the king’s mother Agnes, or Beatrice and Matilda of Tuscany. This has been conjectured, with great probability, to have had reference to the king’s desire to be crowned Emperor by the Pope; if this be so we have a ready explanation of his willingness to keep on good terms with the Pope, even after his great victory over the Saxons in June. Gregory took some time to reply, owing to illness; but, when he did, he warmly congratulated the king on his victory over the rebels, and wrote in a tone of confidence that they were going to work together in harmony.

This was the last time that he expressed any such confidence, and in the meantime the situation in Italy, especially at Milan, had been getting steadily worse. Revolt against the Pope was spreading in North Italy, and Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna once more took the opportunity of proclaiming the independence of his see. In Milan, Erlembald, the leader of the Pataria and practical ruler of the city, had, in accordance with the Pope’s appeal to the laity, forbidden the offending clergy to exercise their functions, which were usurped by a priest of his own party, Liutprand. A riot ensued in which Erlembald was killed and Liutprand mutilated. Their enemies in triumph reported the facts to Henry, and asked him to appoint a new archbishop in place of his previous nominee Godfrey, from whom he had practically withdrawn support. That Henry for some time ignored this request may have encouraged the Pope in the confidence that he expressed in August. But, with the situation in Germany becoming increasingly favourable, Henry seems to have felt himself strong enough to follow his own inclinations, and to listen again to those councillors from whom Gregory had been most anxious to separate him. His two ambassadors, who were still waiting instructions from him in Rome, suddenly received a message at the beginning of September to make public what he had previously wished to be a close secret, a discourtesy to the Pope which the latter rightly felt to be ominous. And at the same time he sent an embassy into Italy which revealed a complete change in his policy. It was headed by Count Eberhard of Nellenburg, who was almost certainly one of the councillors placed under a ban by the Pope. Its first object was to make an alliance with the Lombard bishops and to attempt to ally the king with the excommunicated Norman duke, Robert Guiscard. Further, by royal authority, bishops were appointed to the vacant sees of Fermo and Spoleto, sees which lay within the provincia Romano. But the main purpose of the embassy was to make a settlement of affairs at Milan, so as completely to re-establish the old imperial authority. Acceding to the request of the anti-Patarian party, Henry ignored both his own nominee Godfrey and also Atto, whom the Pope recognised as archbishop, and proceeded to invest one Tedald, who was consecrated archbishop by the suffragans of Milan. As in 1072, Henry so long compliant deliberately provoked a rupture on the question of Milan. It was an issue in which imperial and papal interests vitally conflicted, and now that he was master once more in Germany it was an issue that he felt himself strong enough to raise. Henry had revealed himself in his true colours. The Pope’s eyes were opened. He realised at last the meaning of Henry’s submission in 1073, and that it was due not to sincerity but to defeat. It was clear that compliance could be expected from Henry only when his fortunes were at a low ebb, and that at such times no reliance could be placed on his promises. The Pope’s dream is at an end; he is now awake to the realities of the situation, the bitter frustration of all his hopes.

His tone to the usurper Tedald and his orders to the suffragan bishops of Milan were sharp and uncompromising. With the king he tried the effect of threats to see if they would succeed where persuasion had failed. By the king’s own ambassadors he sent him a letter in which he summed up the leading offences of Henry—he is reported to be associating with his excommunicated councillors, and if this be true must do penance and seek absolution; he is certainly guilty with regard to Fermo and Spoleto and most culpable of all in his action at Milan, which was a direct breach of all his promises and a proof of the falseness of his pretended humility and obedience to Rome. A more mild rebuke follows for Henry’s silence to his overtures regarding the investiture decree; if the king felt himself aggrieved he ought to have stated his grievances. Until he has given satisfaction on all these points, the king must expect no answer to his previous. Hence Gregory’s complaint that they were men unknown to him. enquiry (again, doubtless, on the question of his coronation at Rome). He concludes with a warning to the king to remember the fate of Saul, who, like Henry, had displayed pride and disobedience after his victory; it is the humility of David that a righteous king must imitate. The letter was stem, but not uncompromising; the message given to the ambassadors to deliver by word of mouth was more direct. It amounted to a distinct threat that, failing compliance, Henry must expect the sentence of excommunication, and possibly of deposition also, to be pronounced against him from the papal chair. This verbal message was in effect an ultimatum.

The embassy reached Henry early in January 1076. He could not brook threats of this nature when policy no longer required him to yield to them. He had been humble to the Pope only until he had defeated his other foe; now that he was victorious, the need for humility was past, and he could deal directly with the other enemy that was menacing the imperial rights. His previous humiliation only made his desire for revenge more keen, and his indignation demanded a speedy revenge. The bishops he knew to be as bitter against the Pope as himself; and he summoned them to a Council at Worms on 24 January. The short notice given in the summons must have prevented the attendance of several, such as Archbishop Liemar, who would gladly have been present; even so, two archbishops, Siegfried of Mayence and Udo of Treves, and twenty-four bishops, subscribed their names to the proceedings. There was no need for persuasion or deliberation. They readily renounced allegiance to the Pope, and concocted a letter addressed to him in which they brought forward various charges (of adultery, perjury, and the like) to blacken his character, but laid their principal stress on the only serious charge they could bring—his treatment of the episcopate. The king composed a letter on his own account, making the bishops’ cause his own, and indignantly repudiating Gregory’s claim to exercise authority over himself, who as the Lord’s anointed was above all earthly judgment, ordered him to descend from the papal throne and yield it to a more worthy occupant. The next step was to obtain the adhesion of the North Italian bishops, which was very readily given at a council at Piacenza, and to Roland of Parma was entrusted the mission of delivering to the Pope the sentence of deposition pronounced by the king and the bishops of the Empire.

At Christmas 1075 had occurred the outrage of Cencius, who laid violent hands on the Pope and hurried him, a prisoner, into a fortress of his own. Gregory was rescued by the Roman populace, and had to intervene to prevent them from tearing his captor in pieces. The horror aroused at this incident gave an added reverence to the person of the Pope, and it was in these circumstances, and while the Lenten Synod was about to commence its deliberations, that Roland of Parma arrived. The message which he delivered to the assembled synod was an outrage beside which that of Cencius paled into insignificance. It shocked the general feeling of the day, which was accordingly prejudiced on the Pope’s side at the commencement of the struggle. At the synod itself there was a scene of wild disorder and uproar. The Pope, depressed at the final ruin of his hopes and at the prospect of the struggle before him, alone remained calm; he intervened to protect Roland from their fury, and succeeded at last in quieting the assembly and recalling it to its deliberations. The verdict was assured and he proceeded to pass sentence on his aggressors. Archbishop Siegfried and the other German bishops that subscribed are sentenced to deposition and separated from communion with the Church; a proviso is added giving the opportunity to those who had been coerced into signing to make their peace before 1 August. The same sentence is passed on the Lombard bishops. Finally he deals with the king in an impressive utterance addressed to St Peter, in whose name he declares him deposed and absolves his subjects from their oath of allegiance; and then he bans him from the communion of the Church, recounting his various offences—communicating with the excommunicated councillors; his many iniquities; his contempt of papal warnings; his breach of the unity of the Church by his attack on the Pope.

The hasty violence and the fantastic charges of the king and the bishops contrasted very strikingly with the solemn and deliberate sentence of the Pope. Confident himself in the justice of his action, there were some who doubted, and for these he wrote a circular letter detailing the events that led to Henry’s excommunication. The facts spoke for themselves, but there were still some who continued to doubt whether in any circumstances the Pope had the right to excommunicate the king; to convince these he wrote a letter to Bishop Herman of Metz (who had hastened to make his peace with the Pope for his enforced signature at Worms), in which he justifies himself by precedents, by the power given to St Peter, and by the authority of Scripture and the Fathers. It is rather a hurried letter, in which he answers briefly and somewhat impatiently several questions put to him by Herman. He makes it quite clear, however, that he regards the spiritual power as superior to the temporal, and that his authority extends over all temporal rulers. Henceforward there is no sign of his earlier attitude which seemed to imply adherence to the Gelasian standpoint; he is now the judge who decides whether the king is doing that which is right (i.e. is worthy to be king), and the test of right-doing is obedience to the papal commands. One point calls for remark. It is only the excommunication that he justifies. The sentence of deposition plays little part in 1076; it is not a final sentence as in 1080, and even by Henry’s enemies in Germany, who considered this to be a question rather for them to decide, little attention is paid to this part of the sentence. Probably in the Pope’s eyes it was subsidiary; deposition and the absolving of the king’s subjects from their oath of allegiance was a necessary consequence of excommunication in order to save from the same penalty the subjects of the excommunicated king. As is clear from his letter to Bishop Herman, he contemplated the absolution of the king as a possibility in the near future, and he did not at present contemplate the appointment of a successor to Henry.

The king received intelligence of the papal sentence at Easter, and immediately summoned a council to meet at Worms on Whitsunday. The crisis had been reached. The king had ordered the Pope to descend from St Peter’s chair; the Pope treated the king as contumacious, excommunicated him, and declared him to be no longer king. Which was to prevail? The answer to this was quickly given. The papal ban was seen to be speedily efficacious. It frightened the more timid of Henry’s adherents, it impressed moderate men who had been horrified by the king’s attack on the Pope. Moreover it gave the excuse for revolt to raise its head in Saxony once more, and to win adherents from among the higher nobility in the rest of Germany, alienated by the high-handed measures of the king in his moment of triumph and resenting their own lack of influence in the affairs of the kingdom. The situation in Germany is dealt with in another chapter. Here it is enough to say that Henry found himself isolated, and faced by a coalition far more dangerous to his power than the revolt of 1073. His summons to councils at Worms and Mayence were ignored, and the bishops of Germany were hastening to make their peace with the Pope, either directly or indirectly through the papal legate, Bishop Altmann of Passau. Only in North Italy were his adherents still faithful, and with them it was not possible for him to join forces.

The imperial authority was humiliated between the encroachments of the spiritual power on the one hand, and the decentralising policy of the leading nobles on the other. At the Diet of princes held at Tribur in October these two powers came to terms for mutual action. Two papal legates were present, and the Pope’s letter of the previous month, in which for the first time he contemplates the possibility of a successor to I Henry, was probably before the diet. He insists in that event on being consulted as to their choice, requiring careful information as to personal character; he claims that the Apostolic See has the right of confirming the election made by the nobles. Such a right was not likely to be conceded by them, but to obtain papal support they were willing to satisfy him essentially. Henry was forced to send a solemn promise of obedience to the Pope and of satisfaction for his offences, and to promulgate his change of mind to all the nobles, lay and ecclesiastical, of the kingdom. The diet then arrived at two important decisions. Accepting the justice of Henry’s excommunication, they agreed that if he had not obtained absolution by 22 February they would no longer recognise him as king. Secondly, they summoned a council to be held at Augsburg on 2 February, at which they invited the Pope to be present and to preside; at this council the question of Henry’s worthiness to reign was to be decided and, if necessary, the choice of a successor was to be made. These decisions were communicated to the Pope, and also to Henry, who was remaining on the other side of the river at Oppenheim, carefully watched, with only a few attendants, almost a prisoner.

The Pope received the news with delight and accepted the invitation with alacrity. It meant for him the realisation of his aims and the exhibition to the world of the relative importance of the spiritual and temporal powers; Pope Gregory VII sitting in judgment on King Henry IV would efface the unhappy memory of King Henry III sitting in judgment on Pope Gregory VI thirty years before. He left Rome in December and travelled north into Lombardy. But the escort promised him from Germany did not arrive, and the news reached him that Henry had crossed the Alps and was in Italy. Uncertain as to the king’s inten­tions and fully aware of the hostility of the Lombards, he took refuge in Countess Matilda’s castle of Canossa.

The king was in a desperate position. He could expect little mercy from the council of his enemies at Augsburg in February. The conjunction of the Pope and the German nobles was above all things to be avoided. The only resource left to him was to obtain absolution, and to obtain it from the Pope in Italy, before he arrived in Germany. To effect this a humiliation even more abject than that of 1073 was necessary: he must appear in person before the Pope not as a king but as a penitent sinner; it would be hard for the Pope to refuse absolution to a humble penitent. His decision arrived at, he acted with singular courage and resolution. He had to elude the close vigilance of the nobles and escape from his present confinement; as they were guarding the other passes into Italy, only the Mont Cenis pass was left to him, which was in the control of his wife’s family, the counts of Savoy; but the winter was one of the most severe on record, and the passage of the Mont Cenis pass was an undertaking that might have daunted the hardiest mountaineer. All these difficulties Henry overcame, and with his wife, his infant son, and a few personal attendants he reached the plains of Lombardy. Here he found numerous supporters, militant anti-Papalists, eager to flock to his banner. It was a serious temptation, but his good sense shewed him that it would ultimately have been fatal, and he resisted it. With his meagre retinue he continued his journey until he arrived at the gates of Canossa, where the final difficulty was to be overcome, the obtaining of the papal absolution. To this end he strove to obtain the intercession of his god­father Abbot Hugh of Cluny, of the Countess Matilda, of any of those present whose influence might prevail with the Pope. And he carried out to the full his design of throwing off the king and appearing as the sinner seeking absolution; bare-footed, in the woollen garb of the penitent, for three days he stood humbly in the outer courtyard of Canossa.

There are few moments in history that have impressed later generations so much as this spectacle of the heir to the Empire standing in the courtyard of Canossa, a humble suppliant for papal absolution. But it is within the castle that we must look for the real drama of Canossa. Paradoxical as it sounds, it was the king who had planned and achieved this situation; the plans of the Pope were upset by this sudden appearance, his mind was unprepared for the emergency. The three days of waiting are not so much the measure of Henry’s humiliation as of Gregory’s irresolution. Could he refuse absolution to one so humble and apparently so penitent? The influence of those on whom he was wont to lean for spiritual help, especially the Abbot of Cluny, urged him to mercy; the appeal of the beloved Countess Matilda moved him in the same direction. But they only saw a king in penitential garb; he had the bitter experience of the last two years to guide him, and what confidence could he feel that the penitence of Henry was more sincere now, when his need was greater, than it had been in 1073? He saw before him too the prospect of the wrecking of all his hopes, the breach of his engagement with the German nobles, which would probably result from an absolution given in circumstances that neither he nor they had contemplated. His long hesitation was due, then, to the conflict in his mind; it was not a deliberate delay designed to increase to the utmost the degradation of the king.

But at last the appeal to the divine mercy prevailed over all other considerations. The doors were opened and Henry admitted to the Pope’s presence; the ban was removed, and the king was received once more into communion with the Church. From him the Pope extracted such assurances of his penitence and guarantees for his future conduct as would justify the absolution and at the same time leave the situation as far as possible unaltered from the papal point of view. With his hand on the Gospels the king took an oath to follow the Pope’s directions with regard to the charges of the German nobles against him, whichever way they might tend, and further by no act or instigation of his to impede Gregory from coming into Germany or to interfere with his safe-conduct while there. The Pope sent a copy of this oath to the German nobles with a letter describing the events at Canossa. He realised that the absolution of Henry in Italy would appear to them in the light of a betrayal of the compact he had entered into with them. His letter is an explanation, almost an apology of his action; while he points out that the non-appearance of the promised escort had prevented him from reaching Germany, he is careful to insist firstly that it was impossible for him to refuse absolution, secondly that he has entered into no engagement with the king and that his purpose is as before to be present at a council in Germany. He lingered, in fact, for some months in North Italy, waiting for the escort that never came; at last he resigned himself to the inevitable and slowly retraced his steps to Rome, which he reached at the beginning of September.

Henry’s plan had been precisely fulfilled. He had counted the cost— a public humiliation—and was prepared to pay the additional price in the form of promises; he had obtained his end—absolution—and the results he had anticipated from this were to prove the success of his policy. In Lombardy he resumed his royal rights, but resisted the clamour of his Italian adherents, whose ardour he most thoroughly disappointed; he must still walk with great discretion, and Germany, not Italy, was his immediate objective. Thither he soon returned, and the effects of his absolution were at once revealed. By the majority of his subjects he was regarded as the lawful sovereign once more. He had endured a grave injury to imperial prestige, but he had administered an important check to the two dangerous rivals of imperial power—the spiritual authority and the feudal nobility.

The news of Henry’s absolution came as a shock to his enemies in Germany, upsetting their plans and disappointing their expectations. Nor were they comforted by the Pope’s effort to reassure them. They decided, however, to proceed with their original purpose and to hold a diet at Forchheim in March. Their invitation to the Pope to be present at this diet must have contained a reference to their disappointment at his action, for in his reply he finds it necessary to justify himself again, laying stress also on their failure to provide an escort. This was still the difficulty that prevented him from coming to Germany, but he sent two papal legates who were present at Forchheim, and who seem on their own responsibility to have confirmed the decision of the nobles and to have given papal sanction to the election of Duke Rudolf of Swabia as king.

The election of Rudolf created a difficult situation, but one full of possibilities for the Pope which he was not slow to recognise. He refused, indeed, to confirm the action of his legates at Forchheim, but he recognised the existence of two kings and claimed for himself the decision between them. If he could establish this claim and obtain acquiescence in his decision, the predominance of the spiritual power would be revealed as a fact. His decision must not be hurried; it must be given only after clear evidence and on the spiritual and moral grounds which were the justification of the supremacy he claimed. Righteousness must be the supreme test; he will give his decision to the king cut iustitia favet.

Again and again he emphasised this, and that the marks of iustitia were humility and obedience, obedience to the commandments of God and so to St Peter, and through St Peter to himself. Obedience to the Pope was to be the final test of worthiness to rule, and he gave one practical application of this principle. He still continued for a time to cherish the hope that he would preside in person over a council in Germany; when this was proved impossible, his plan was to send legates to preside in his place. From both kings he expected assistance. The king who was convicted of hindering the holding of the council would be deposed, and judgment given in favour of the other; for as Gregory the Great had said, “even kings lose their thrones if they presume to oppose apostolic decrees.” Naturally his attitude gave intense dissatisfaction to both Henry and Rudolf; neither felt strong enough to stand alone, and both expected papal support. Henry urged the Pope to excommunicate the traitor Rudolf, who had presumed to set himself up against God’s anointed. The supporters of Rudolf were equally persistent. The Pope had absolved them from their allegiance to Henry. In conformity with this they had made a compact with him for joint action, a compact which they felt he had broken by his absolution of Henry. They had persisted, however, with the scheme and had elected Rudolf, and papal legates had been present and confirmed the election. Moreover, a garbled version of Canossa soon prevailed among them, which made it appear that the king had been granted absolution on conditions (distinct from those in his oath) which he had immediately broken, and was thereby again excommunicate. In this view they were again supported by the papal legates, who continued to embarrass the Pope by exceeding their instructions. Rudolf and his supporters can hardly be blamed for interpreting the action of the legates as performed on behalf of the Pope and by his orders. His continued neutrality and his constant reference to two kings only bewildered and irritated them. He persisted, however, in neutrality, undeterred by the complaints of either side, determined to take no action until the righteousness of one party or the absence of it in the other could be made apparent. But there could never have been much doubt as to the final decision. He always shewed complete confidence in Rudolf’s rectitude; his previous experience could have given him little confidence in Henry. The three days’ hesitation at Canossa had ended when he allowed himself to be assured of Henry’s penitence; the hesitation of the three years following Canossa was to be resolved when he could feel complete assurance of Henry’s guilt.



From 1077 to 1080 the decision in Germany is naturally the chief object of the Pope’s attention. This did not divert his mind from the important questions of Church government and papal authority, but to some extent it hampered and restricted his actions; it would appear that he was careful to avoid any cause of friction with Henry which might compromise the settlement of the great decision. His authority was set at naught by the bishops of North Italy, who refused to execute his decrees and defied his repeated excommunications. In Germany there is hardly a trace of the struggle that had been so bitter in 1074 and 1075; this was mainly due to the confusion arising from the state of civil war. Probably too the German episcopate was not anxious to engage in another trial of strength with the Pope. Their revolt at Worms had resulted in bringing them in submission to the Pope’s feet, and their leader, Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz, had given up all further thoughts of revolt against him. He had even abandoned his royal master and had consecrated Rudolf as king; his instinct in every crisis for the losing side remained with him to the end. In Gregory’s correspondence during this period there is an almost complete absence of reference to ecclesiastical affairs in Germany. At the same time it is the period of his chief legislative activity. At the Lenten and November Synods of 1078, especially at the latter, he issued a number of decrees dealing with the leading questions of Church discipline, most of which were subsequently incorporated by Gratian into his DecretumThe increased stringency of the measures taken to deal with ecclesiastical offenders is the principal feature of these decrees. Bishops are ordered to enforce clerical chastity in their dioceses, under penalty of suspension. The sacraments of married clergy had previously been declared invalid, and the laity ordered not to hear the mass of a married priest; now entry into churches is forbidden to married clergy. All ordinations, simoniacal or otherwise uncanonical, are declared null and void, as are the orders of those ordained by excommunicated bishops. Naturally, then, the ordinations of simoniacal bishops are invalid; an exception is made in the case of those ordained nescienter et sine pretio by simoniacal bishops before the papacy of Nicholas II, who, after the laying-on of hands, might be confirmed in their orders. As to the enforcement of these decrees by the Pope we hear nothing; but they raised issues which were to be seriously contested after his death, and his immediate successors were eventually to take less extreme views. Further, the Pope dealt with the unlawful intervention of the laity in ecclesiastical affairs. Not only are the laity sternly prohibited from holding Church property or tithes; a decree is also passed in November 1078 condemning the practice of lay investiture. It is noticeable that it only prohibits investi­ture with the spiritual office, and that it enforces penalties only on the recipients, not on the laity who invest. Finally, there were a number of decrees connected with points of doctrine, the most important of which was issued after considerable debate at the Lenten Synod of 1079, affirming the substantial change of the elements after consecration. It was an answer to the heresy of Berengar of Tours, who is compelled once more to recant; Gregory as before shewed great leniency in dealing with him, and actually threatened with excommunication anyone who should molest him.

All this legislation, important as it was and fruitful in future contro­versies, was subsidiary to the question of the German kingdom, which at every synod took the leading place. Gregory was continually striving to bring about the council in Germany over which his legates were to preside. Both kings promised to co-operate and to abide by the decision of the legates; both promised an escort to ensure the safe-conduct of the legates. But nothing was done by either; Rudolf was doubtless unable, Henry was certainly unwilling. There was in consequence a strong feeling at the Lenten Synod of 1079 that the Pope should immediately decide for Rudolf. Gregory, however, persevered and contented himself with renewed promises, guaranteed by oath, from the ambassadors of both kings. Henry was becoming impatient. As his position in Germany grew more secure, his need to conciliate the Pope became less urgent. At the Lenten Synod of 1080 his ambassadors appeared not with promises but with the demand, accompanied probably by threats, that the Pope should immediately excommunicate Rudolf; Rudolf’s ambassadors replied with a string of charges against Henry, to prove his unrighteousness and insincerity. The Pope could remain neutral no longer. Henry’s embassy had provided the evidence he required to prove the king’s breach of faith. Against Henry the decision was given.

The proceedings of the synod commenced with a renewal of the decree against lay investiture, accompanied, now that negotiation with Henry was at an end, by a further decree threatening with excommunication the lay power that presumed to confer investiture of bishopric or abbey. A third decree enforced the pure canonical election of bishops, and provided that, where this was in any way vitiated, the power of election should devolve on the Pope or the metropolitan. The synod terminated with the pronouncement of the papal decision on the German kingdom. Again in the form of a solemn address, this time with added effect to both St Peter and St Paul, Gregory dwells on his reluctance at every stage in his advancement to the papal chair, and recounts the history of his relations with Henry during the three preceding years, marking the insincerity of the king and his final disobedience in the matter of the council, which, with the ruin and desolation he had caused in Germany, proved his unrighteous­ness and unfitness to reign. Then follows the sentence— Henry, for his pride, disobedience, and falsehood, is excommunicated, deposed from his kingdom, and his subjects absolved from their oath of allegiance. Rudolf by his humility, obedience, truthfulness, is revealed as the righteous man; to him the kingdom, to which he had been elected by the German people, is entrusted by the Pope acting in the name of the two Apostles, to whom he appeals for a vindication of his just sentence.

The sentence has a ring of finality in it that was not present in 1076. Henry is now deposed for ever and a successor appointed in his place. So it is on the deposition that the main emphasis is laid, as it was on the excommunication in 1076. Gregory’s justification of his action is again addressed to Bishop Herman of Metz, though not written till the following year. Unlike the similar letter of 1076 it shews no sign of haste or impatience; it is a reasoned statement, full of quotations from precedent and authority, and is concerned mainly with emphasising the complete subjection of the secular to the spiritual power, for even the lowest in the ecclesiastical hierarchy have powers which are not given to the greatest Emperors. It is a mighty assertion of the unlimited autocracy of the Pope over all men, even the greatest, on earth. And it was an assertion of authority in the justice of which Gregory had the supremest confidence. In the sentence he had prayed that Henry might acquire no strength in war, no victory in his lifetime. He followed this up on Easter Monday by his famous prophecy that Henry, if he did not repent, would be dead or deposed before St Peter’s day. He felt assured that the easy victory of 1076 would be repeated. But the situation was entirely different from that in 1076, as also the issue was to be. Then opinion in Germany had been shocked by the violence and illegality of the king in attempting to expel the Pope. The papal excommunication had been obeyed as a just retribution; to the sentence of deposition little attention had been paid. As soon as the king was absolved he received again the allegiance of all those who were in favour of legitimacy and a strong central authority, and were opposed to the local ambitions of the dukes who set up Rudolf. The Pope’s claim to have the deciding voice was not regarded very seriously by them, and still less attention was paid to his assertion of the complete autocracy of the spiritual power. When Henry would do nothing to make possible the council that the Pope so earnestly desired, his action was doubtless approved by them; and when the Pope in consequence excommunicated and deposed the king and appointed Rudolf in his place, he aroused very widespread indignation. It is Gregory who is the aggressor now, as Henry was in 1076; it is he that is regarded now’ as exceeding his powers in attempting to dethrone the temporal head of Western Christendom. The situation is completely reversed, and it is not too much to say that as a result of the papal sentence Henry’s power in Germany became stronger than it had been for some years.

Henry was probably more alive than Gregory to the real facts of the situation. Rapidly, but with less precipitancy than he had shown in 1076, he planned his counter-stroke. A council of German bishops held at Mainz on Whitsunday decreed the deposition of the Pope and arranged another council to be held at Brixen on 25 June, where a successor to Gregory was to be appointed. To this council the bishops of North Italy came in large numbers; the king was present and many nobles both of Germany and Italy. The bishops confirmed the Mainz decree and unanimously declared Gregory deposed; to the royal power was entrusted the task of executing the sentence. They also proceeded to the election of a successor, and their choice fell on Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna, the leader of the Lombard bishops in their revolt against papal authority.

A man of strong determination, resolute in upholding the independence he claimed for his see, he had been repeatedly summoned to Rome by the Pope, and for his absence and contumacy repeatedly excommunicated. Though violently attacked by papalist writers and likened to the beast in the Apocalypse, no charges were made against his personal character; he seems also to have been in sympathy with Church reform, as his decrees shew. A stubborn opponent of Gregory, unmoved by papal excommunications, he was eminently the man for Henry’s purpose in the final struggle that had now begun. For it was a struggle that admitted of no compromise—king and anti-Pope versus Pope and anti-king. St Peter’s day came and Gregory’s prophecy was not fulfilled; in October Rudolf was killed in battle. It was now possible for Henry to take in hand the execution of the Brixen decree, and to use the temporal weapon to expel the deposed Pope.

Even before the Council of Brixen met, Gregory had realised the danger that threatened him. Spiritual weapons were of avail no longer; he must have recourse to the aid of temporal power. The Romans, he knew, were loyal to him and would resist the invader. In Tuscany he could rely absolutely on the devotion of Countess Matilda, but against this must be set the hostility of Lombardy. To restore the balance in his favour he was driven to seek assistance from the Normans in South Italy. He knew that they would welcome the alliance if he was willing to pay their price. The issues at stake were so vital to the Papacy and the Church that he felt justified in consenting to the price they demanded, though it involved what in other circumstances he would have regarded as an important breach of principle. To understand this it is necessary to review briefly his relations with the Normans during the past seven years.

The relations of the Pope with the Normans were affected by two considerations—the protection of papal territory, and the possible need for their assistance. Robert Guiscard, Duke of Apulia, Calabria, and Sicily, who was trying to form a centralised Norman state in South Italy, had readily done homage to previous Popes in return for the cession of territory, and had rendered valuable assistance to the Papacy at Alexander II's accession. Gregory was determined to yield no more territory. This and the reconciliation with Henry were the two chief objects of his attention during the first few months of his papacy. He increased the area of papal suzerainty by the addition of the lands belonging to the surviving Lombard rulers in the south, especially Benevento and Salerno; in return for his protection they surrendered them to the Pope and received them back again as fiefs from the Papacy. Richard, Prince of Capua, the only Norman who could rival Robert Guiscard, took the same step, and Gregory was delighted at the success of his policy, which was, as he himself declared, to keep the Normans from uniting to the damage of the Church. Robert Guiscard, desiring to expand his power, could only do so at the expense of papal territory. This, in spite of his oath, he did not scruple to do, and was in consequence excommunicated at the Lenten Synods of 1074 and 1075. But the breach with Henry in 1076 caused the Pope to contemplate the desirability of Norman aid; Robert made the cession of papal territory a necessary condition, and negotiations fell through. Moreover Richard of Capua had in the meantime broken his allegiance and allied himself with Robert Guiscard, and together they made a successful attack on various portions of the papal territory. In Lent 1078 the Pope issued a bull of excommunication against them once more. Richard died soon afterwards and on his death-bed was reconciled with the Church; his son Jordan came to Rome and made his peace with the Pope on the old terms. So once more Gregory had brought about disunion; and a serious revolt of his vassals against Robert Guiscard, which it took the latter two years to quell, saved the Pope from further Norman aggression. The revolt was extinguished by the middle of 1080, at the very moment that the Pope decided to appeal to Robert for aid. They met at Ceprano in June. The ban was removed, Robert did fealty to the Pope, and in return received investiture both of the lands granted him by Popes Nicholas II and Alexander II and of the territory he had himself seized, for which he agreed to pay an annual tribute to the Pope. The Pope thus confirmed what he is careful to call “an unjust tenure,” and to gain Robert’s aid sacrificed the principle for which he had stood firm in 1076. Whether justifiable or not the sacrifice was ineffectual. Robert Guiscard welcomed the alliance because his ambitions were turned to the East. Instead of obtaining the immediate help he required, the Pope had to give his blessing to Robert’s expedition against the Eastern Empire. The duke’s absence in Greece gave the opportunity for a renewed outbreak of revolt among his vassals. This forced him to return and he was not successful in crushing the revolt until July 1083; it was not till the following year, when it was as much to his own interest as to the Pope’s to check the successful advance of Henry, that he at last moved to Gregory’s support. Up to this time the alliance, without bringing any advantage to the Pope, had actually assisted the king. It gained for him two useful allies, both of whom were anxious to hamper the power of Robert Guiscard—Jordan of Capua and the Eastern Emperor Alexius. The latter supplied Henry with large sums of money, intended for use against Robert, but which the king was eventually to employ with success in his negotiations with the Romans.

Robert Guiscard did at any rate, as previously in 1075, reject Henry’s proposals for an alliance. But he also disregarded the Pope’s appeals, and set sail for the East at the very time that Henry was marching on Rome. The Pope therefore had to rely on his own resources and the assistance of Countess Matilda. This did not weaken his determination; convinced of the righteousness of his cause he was confident of the result. At the Lenten Synod of 1081 he excommunicated Henry and his followers afresh, and from this synod he sent his legates directions with regard to the election of a successor to Rudolf. He must not be hastily chosen; the chief qualifications must be integrity of character and devotion to the Church. The Pope also sent them the wording of the oath he expected from the new king—an oath of fealty, promising obedience to the papal will in all things. This was the practical expression of the theories he enunciated at the same time in his letter to Bishop Herman of Metz justifying the excommunication and deposition of Henry. It is important as marking the culmination of his views, but it was without effect; at the new election it seems to have been completely disregarded.

The weakness of the opposition in Germany made it possible for Henry to undertake his Italian expedition. He came to assert his posi­tion, and to obtain imperial coronation at Rome: by negotiation and from Gregory, if possible, but if necessary by force and from his anti-Pope. His first attempt was in May 1081; whether from over-confidence or necessity he brought few troops with him. He announced his arrival in a letter to the Romans, recalling them to the allegiance they had promised to his father. The Romans, however, justified Gregory’s confidence in their loyalty, and Henry was forced to retire after a little aimless plundering of the suburbs. The situation was not affected by the election of Count Herman of Salm at the end of 1081 as successor to Rudolf. Henry could not reduce Saxony to submission, but he could safely ignore Herman and resume his Italian design. He reappeared before Rome in February 1082, preceded by a second letter to the Romans; this attempt was as unsuccessful as the former one, and for the rest of the year he was occupied with the resistance of the Countess Matilda in northern Italy. He returned to Rome at the beginning of 1083 and settled down to besiege the Leonine City, which he finally captured in June, thus gaining possession of St Peter’s and all the region on the right bank of the Tiber except the castle of Sant’ Angelo. This success shewed that the loyalty of the Romans to Gregory was weakening; they were not equal to the strain of a long siege, and the money supplied by the Emperor Alexius was beginning to have its effect. At the same time a moderate party was being formed within the Curia itself, which managed to obtain the papal consent to the holding of a synod in November, at which the questions at issue between Pope and king were to be discussed; Henry’s party was approached and promised a safe-conduct to those who attended the synod. Thus in both camps there were influences at work to procure a peaceful settlement. The king himself was not averse to such a settlement. He had moreover come to a private understanding with the leading Romans on the matter of greatest importance to himself. Unknown to the Pope they had taken an oath to Henry to obtain for him imperial coronation at Gregory’s hands, or, failing this, to disown Gregory and recognise the anti­-Pope.


The Norman sack of Rome

The attempt at reconciliation came to nothing. The Pope issued his summons to the synod, but the tone of his letters, addressed only to those who were not under excommunication, showed that he would not compromise his views or negotiate with the impenitent. The king, who had been further irritated by what he regarded as the treachery of certain of the Romans in demolishing some fortifications he had constructed, adopted an attitude equally intransigent. He deliberately prevented Gregory’s chief supporters from coming to the synod, and actually took prisoner a papal legate, the Cardinal-bishop Otto of Ostia. The synod, therefore, was poorly attended and entirely without result. But the secret negotiations of Henry were more successful. He was about to leave Rome, in despair of attaining his object, when a deputation arrived promising him instant possession of the main city. With some hesitation he retraced his steps to find the promise genuine and his highest hopes unexpectedly fulfilled. On 21 March 1084 he entered Rome in triumph with his anti-Pope. A council of his supporters decreed anew the deposition of Pope Gregory VII, and on Palm Sunday Guibert was enthroned as Pope Clement III. On Easter Day the new Pope crowned Henry and Bertha as Emperor and Empress, and Henry’s chief object was attained. He had followed in the footsteps of his father—the deposition of Pope Gregory, the appointment of Pope Clement, the imperial coronation—and felt that he had restored the relations of Empire and Papacy as they existed in 1046.

The Emperor proclaimed his triumph far and wide, and his partisans celebrated it in exultant pamphlets. But their rejoicing was premature and short-lived. Gregory VII was still holding the castle of Sant’ Angelo and other of the fortified positions in Rome, his determination unmoved by defeat. And at last his appeals to Robert Guiscard were heeded. The Norman duke at the head of a large army advanced on Rome. As he approached, Henry, who was not strong enough to oppose him, retreated, and by slow stages made his way back to Germany, leaving the anti-Pope at Tivoli. His immediate purpose had been achieved, and he had to abandon Rome to its fate. He could not, like his father, take the deposed Pope with him to Germany; the degradation of Gregory VII was to be the work of the man who came to his rescue. The brutal sack of Rome by the Normans lasted for three days, and put in the shade the damage done to the city in former days by Goths and Vandals. When Robert Guiscard returned south he took with him the Pope, whom he could not have left to the mercy of the infuriated populace. Gregory would fain have found a refuge at Monte Cassino; but his rescuer, now his master, hurried him on (as if to display to him the papal territory that had been the price of this deliverance), first to Benevento and then to Salerno. In June they arrived at the latter place, where Gregory was to spend the last year of his life, while the anti-Pope was able quietly to return to Rome and celebrate Christmas there. At Salerno the Pope held his last synod, repeated once more his excommunication of Henry and his supporters, and dispatched his final letter of justification and appeal to the Christian world. The bitterness of failure hung heavily upon him. He, who had prayed often that God would release him from this life if he could not be of service to the Church, had now no longer any desire to live. He passed away on 25 May 1085, and the anguish of his heart found expression in his dying words: “I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”

The emphasis was on righteousness to the last. And it was justified. Had he consented to compromise his principles and to come to terms with Henry he could have maintained himself unchallenged on the papal throne. The rough hand of the Norman had made his residence at Rome impossible; but without Norman aid it would have been equally impossible. The Romans had deserted him; the king was master of the city. His end might even have been more terrible, though it could not have been more tragic. What impresses one most of all is not his temporary defeat, but the quenching of his spirit. The old passionate confidence has gone; though still convinced of the righteousness of his cause, he has lost all hope of its victory on earth. “The devil,” he wrote, “has won no such victory since the days of the great Constantine; the nearer the day of Anti-Christ approaches, the more vigorous are the efforts he is making.” His vision was dimmed by the gloom of the moment, and this gave him a pessimistic outlook that was unnatural to him and was not justified by facts. The Papacy had vindicated its independence, had taken the lead in Church reform, and had established the principles for which the reformers had been fighting. It had also asserted its authority as supreme within the ecclesiastical department, and exercised a control unknown before and not to be relaxed in the future. This was largely the work of Gregory VII. The great struggle too in which he was engaged with Henry IV was to end eventually in a complete victory for the Papacy; his antagonist was to come to an end even more miserable than his own. The great theories which he had evolved in the course of this struggle were not indeed to be followed up in practice by his immediate successors. But he left a great cause behind him, and his claims were repeated and defended in the pamphlet-warfare that followed his death. Later they were to be revived again and to raise the Papacy to its greatest height; but they were to lead to eventual disaster, as the ideal which had inspired them was forgotten. They were with Gregory VII the logical expression of his great ideal—the rule of righteousness upon earth. He had tried to effect this with the aid of the temporal ruler; when that was proved impossible, he tried to enforce it against him. The medieval theory of the two equal and independent powers had proved impracticable; Gregory inaugurated the new papal theory that was to take its place.

The main interest of Gregory VII’s papacy is concentrated on the great struggle with the Empire and the theories and claims that arose out of it. If his relations with the other countries of Europe are of minor interest, they are of almost equal importance in completing our understanding of the Pope. He was dealing with similar problems, and he applied the same methods to their solution; the enforcement of his decrees, the recognition of his supreme authority in the ecclesiastical department, co-operation with the secular authority, are his principal objects. Conditions differed widely in each country; he was keenly alive to these differences, shrewd and practical in varying his policy to suit them. He had frequently to face opposition, but in no case was he driven into open conflict with the secular authority. This must be borne in mind in considering the claims which he advanced against the Empire, which were the result of his conflict with the temporal ruler; where no such conflict occurred, these claims did not emerge. Evidently then they must not be taken to represent his normal attitude; they denote rather the extreme position into which he was forced by determined opposition.

Gregory had himself been employed as papal legate to enforce the reform decrees in France, and had thus been able to familiarise himself with the ecclesiastical situation. The king, Philip I, had little real authority in temporal matters, but exercised considerable influence in ecclesiastical, as also did the leading nobles. The alliance of monarchy and episcopate, a legacy to the Capetians from the Carolingians, was of importance to the king, both politically and financially. The rights of regalia and spolia, and the simoniacal appointments to bishoprics, provided an important source of revenue, which the king would not willingly surrender; he was therefore definitely antagonistic to the reform movement. The simoniacal practices of the king and his plundering of Church property naturally provoked papal intervention. Remonstrance and warning were of no effect, until at the Lenten Synod of 1075 a decree was passed threatening Philip with excommunication if he failed to give satisfaction to the papal legates. The threat was apparently sufficient. Philip was not strong enough openly to defy the Pope and risk excommunication. Co-operation of the kind that Gregory desired was impossible, but Philip was content with a defensive attitude, which hindered the progress of the papal movement but did not finally prevent it. At any rate there is no further reference to papal action against the king, who seems to have made a show of compliance with the Pope’s wishes in 1080, when Gregory wrote to him, imputing his former moral and ecclesiastical offences to youthful folly and sending him precepts for his future conduct. The episcopate adopted an attitude similar to that of the king. The lay influence at elections, the prevalence of simony and of clerical marriage, had created an atmosphere which made the work of reform peculiarly difficult. The bishops, supporting and supported by the king, were extremely averse to papal control, but owing to the strength of the feudal nobility they lacked the territorial power and independence of the German bishops. They had to be content therefore, like the king, with a shifty and defensive attitude; they resisted continually, but only half-heartedly.



In Gregory VII’s correspondence with the French Church there are two striking features. In the first place his letters to France are, at every stage of his papacy, more than twice as numerous as his letters to Germany. These letters reveal the laxity prevailing in the Church, and the general disorder of the country owing to the weakness of the central government; they also shew the timidity of the opposition which made it possible for the Pope to interfere directly, not only in matters affecting the ecclesiastical organisation as a whole but also in questions of detail concerning individual churches and monasteries. Secondly, while the Pope’s correspondence with Germany was mainly concerned with the great questions of his reform policy, his far more numerous letters to France have hardly any references to these questions. His methods were the same in both countries: in 1074 he sent papal legates to France, as to Germany, to inaugurate a great campaign against simony and clerical marriage. The legates in Germany had met with determined resistance, but those in France had pursued their work with such ardour and success that the Pope established them eventually as permanent legates in France—Bishop Hugh of Die being mainly concerned with the north and centre, Bishop Amatus of Oloron with Aquitaine and Languedoc. To them he left the task of enforcing compliance with the papal decrees; hence the silence on these matters in his own correspondence. The legates, especially Bishop Hugh, were indefatigable. They held numerous synods, publishing the papal decrees and asserting their own authority. Inevitably they provoked opposition, especially from the lower clergy to the enforcement of clerical celibacy, and their lives were sometimes in danger; at the Council of Poitiers in 1078 there was even a popular riot against them. The archbishops were naturally reluctant to submit to their authority, but had to be content with a passive resistance. They refused to appear at the synods, or questioned the legatine authority. The sentence of interdict, which Hugh never failed to employ, usually brought them to a reluctant submission. Only Manasse, Archbishop of Rheims, for whose character no writer has a good word, took a decided stand. He refused to appear at the synods when summoned, and appealed against the Pope’s action in giving full legatine authority to non-Romans. As he continued obstinate in his refusal to appear before the legates, he was deposed in 1080 and a successor appointed in his place; not even the king’s support availed to save him. The action of the papal legates was often violent and ill-considered. Hugh in particular was a man of rigid and narrow outlook whose sentences never erred on the side of leniency. The Pope repeatedly reminded him of the virtues of mercy and discretion, and frequently reversed his sentences. The legate was aggrieved at the Pope’s leniency. He complained bitterly that his authority was not being upheld by the Pope; offenders had only to run to Rome to obtain immediate pardon. In the Pope’s mind, however, submission to Rome outweighed all else; when that was obtained, he readily dispensed with the penalties of his subordinates. An important step towards the strengthening of the papal authority was taken in 1079, when he made the Archbishop of Lyons primate of the four provinces of Lyons, Rouen, Tours, and Sens, subject of course to the immediate control of the Papacy; and in 1082 the legate Hugh was, practically by the Pope’s orders, promoted Archbishop of Lyons. The Pope, in his decree, spoke of the restoration of the ancient constitution, but the Archbishop of Sens had by custom held the primacy, and Lyons was now rather imperial than French in its allegiance. A consideration of this nature was not likely to weigh with the Pope; it was against the idea of national and independent churches, which monarchical control was tending to produce, that he was directing his efforts. If he was not able definitely to prevent lay control of elections in France, he had firmly established papal authority over the French Church. If his decrees were not carefully obeyed, the principles of the reform movement were accepted; in the critical years that followed his death, France was to provide many of the chief supporters of the papal policy.



The situation with regard to England was altogether different Gregory’s friendship with King William I was of long standing. His had been the influence that had induced Alexander II to give the papal blessing to the Norman Duke’s conquest of England. William had recognised the obligation and made use of his friendship. On Gregory’s accession he wrote expressing his keen satisfaction at the event. William was a ruler of the type of the Emperor Henry III. Determined to be master in Church and State alike, he was resolved to establish good order and justice in ecclesiastical as well as in secular affairs. He was therefore in sympathy with Church reform and the purity of Church discipline and government. He was fortunate in his Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, whose legal mind shared the same vision of royal autocracy; content to be subject to the king he would admit no ecclesiastical equal, and successfully upheld the primacy of his see against the independent claims of York. The personnel of the episcopate, secularised and ignorant, needed drastic alteration; William was careful to refrain from simony and to make good appointments, but he was equally careful to keep the appointments in his own hands. He took a strong line against the immorality and ignorance of the lower clergy, and promoted reform by the encouragement he gave to regulars. Frequent Church councils were held, notably at Winchester in 1076, where decrees were passed against clerical marriage, simony, and the holding of tithes by laymen; but the decrees were framed by the king, and none could be published without his sanction. The work of Church reform was furthered, as Gregory wished, by the active co-operation of the king; the separation of the ecclesiastical from the civil courts, creating independent Church government, was also a measure after Gregory’s heart. The Pope frequently expressed his gratification; the work of purifying the Church, so much impeded elsewhere, was proceeding apace in England without the need of his intervention. Disagreement arose from William’s determination to be master in his kingdom, in ecclesiastical affairs as well as in secular; he made this clear by forbidding papal bulls to be published without his permission, and especially by refusing to allow English bishops to go to Rome. The Pope bitterly resented the king’s attitude; a novel and formidable obstacle confronted him in the one quarter where he had anticipated none. Matters were not improved by the papal decree of 1079, subjecting the Norman archbishopric of Rouen to the primacy of the Archbishop of Lyons. So for a time relations were much strained, but an embassy from William in 1080 seems to have restored a better understanding, and even to have encouraged Gregory to advance the striking claim that William should do fealty to the Papacy for his kingdom. There is good reason to believe that the claim was made in 1080, and that it took the form of a message entrusted to the legate Hubert with the letter he brought to William in May 1080. The king abruptly dismissed the claim on the ground that there was no precedent to justify it. The Pope yielded to this rebuff and made no further attempt, nor did William’s refusal interfere with the restored harmony. Gregory was sensible, as he wrote in 1081, of the many exceptional merits in William, who moreover had refused to listen to the overtures of the Pope’s enemies. And in one respect William made a concession. He allowed Lanfranc to visit Rome at the end of 1082, the first visit that is recorded of any English bishop during Gregory’s papacy. It was only a small concession. For, while the reform movement was directly furthered by royal authority in England, the Church remained quasi-national under royal control; the introduction of papal authority was definitely resisted.



In the remaining parts of Europe the Pope’s efforts were mainly directed towards three objects—missionary work, uniformity of ritual, and the extension of the temporal power of the Papacy. With backward countries such as Norway and Sweden, where the difficulty of the language was an obstacle to the sending of Roman missionaries, he urged that young men should be sent to Rome for instruction, so that they might return to impart it to their fellow-countrymen. In Poland it was the undeveloped ecclesiastical organisation that called for his attention; it possessed no metropolitan and hardly any bishops, and he sent legates to introduce the necessary reforms. The question of uniformity of ritual arose with regard to the territory recently recovered to Christianity from the Saracens, especially in Spain. The acceptance by the Spanish Church of the Ordo Romanus was an event of great importance for Catholicism in the future. Over Spain, and on the same grounds over Corsica and Sardinia as well, the Pope claimed authority temporal as well as spiritual. They were all, he declared, in former times under the jurisdiction of St Peter, but the rights of the Papacy had long been in abeyance owing to the negligence of his predecessors or the usurpation of the Saracens. Though he does not state the ground for his assertion, it is doubtless the (forged) Donation of Constantine to Pope Sylvester I that he had in his mind. He was more precise in his claims over Hungary. St Stephen had handed over his kingdom to St Peter, as the Emperor Henry III recognised after his victory over Hungary, when he sent a lance and crown to St Peter. King Salomo, despising St Peter, had received his kingdom as a fief from King Henry IV; later he had been expelled by his cousin Geza. This was God’s judgment for his impiety. In these cases Gregory was trying to establish claims based on former grants. He was equally anxious to extend papal dominion by new grants. He readily acceded to the request of Dmitri that the kingdom of Russia might be taken under papal protection and held as a fief from the Papacy; the King of Denmark had made a similar suggestion to his predecessor, which Gregory tried to persuade the next king to confirm.

His positive success in this policy was slight. The interest lies rather in the fact that he rested all these claims on grants from secular rulers; in no case does he assert that the ruler should do fealty to him in virtue of the overlordship of the spiritual power over all earthly rulers. This was a claim he applied to the Empire alone, his final remedy to cure the sickness of the world, and to prevent a recurrence of the great conflict in which he was engaged. He seems to have been loth to resort to this remedy until open defiance drove him to its use. It is not unlikely, however, that he did contemplate the gradual extension over Western Christendom of papal overlordship; but he conceived of this overlordship as coming into being in the normal feudal manner, established by consent and on a constitutional basis. In this way, when he could compel obedience even from temporal rulers to the dictates of the moral law, his dream of the rule of righteousness would at last be fulfilled.




Gregory VII was dead, but his personality continued to dominate the Church, his spirit lived on in the enthusiasm of his followers. The great pamphlet-warfare, already in existence, became fuller and more bitter over his final claims against the Empire. But his immediate successors were concerned with the practical danger that threatened the Papacy. They had to fight not for its supremacy so much as for the continued existence of its independence, once more threatened with imperial control. With Henry, endeavouring to establish a Pope amenable to his wishes, there could be no accommodation. Until his death in 1106 everything had to be subordinated to the immediate necessities of a struggle for existence. But in the rest of Europe the situation is entirely different. Nowhere was Henry’s candidate recognised as Pope, and outside imperial territory the extreme claims of Gregory VII had not been put forward. In these countries, therefore, the policy of Gregory VII was continued and developed, and, considering the extent to which the Papacy was hampered by its continual struggle with the Emperor, the advance it was able to make was remarkable, and not without effect on its attitude to the Empire when communion was restored on the succession of Henry V to the throne.

When Gregory VII died, in exile and almost in captivity, the position of his supporters was embarrassing in the extreme, and it was not until a year had passed that a successor to him was elected. Nor was the election of Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino as Pope Victor III of hopeful augury for the future. Desiderius was above all things a peace­maker, inclined thereto alike by temperament and by the position of his abbey, which lay in such dangerous proximity to the encroaching Normans. He had acted as peace-maker between Robert Guiscard and Richard of Capua in 1075, and thereby assisted in thwarting the policy of Gregory VII; in 1080 he had made amends by effecting the alliance of Gregory with Robert Guiscard at Ceprano. But in 1082 he had even entered into peace negotiations with Henry IV and assisted the alliance of the latter with Jordan of Capua; hence for a year he was under the papal ban. Possibly his election was a sign that the moderate party, anxious for peace, had won the ascendency. More probably it indicates the continued dominance of Norman influence. Robert Guiscard, indeed, had died shortly after Gregory VII, but his sons Roger and Bohemond in South Italy and his brother Roger in Sicily continued his policy, affording the papal party their protection and in return enforcing their will. And for this purpose Desiderius was an easy tool. The unfortunate Pope knew himself to be unequal to the crisis, and made repeated attempts to resign the office he had so little coveted. It was, therefore, a cruel addition to his misfortunes that he was violently attacked by the more extreme followers of Gregory VII, especially by the papal legates in France and Spain, Archbishop Hugh of Lyons and Abbot Richard of Marseilles, who accused him of inordinate ambition and an unworthy use of Norman assistance to obtain his election. Perhaps it was this opposition that stiffened his resolution and decided him at last in March 1087 at Capua, fortified by Norman support, to undertake the duties of his office. He went to Rome, and on 9 May was consecrated in St Peter’s by the cardinal-bishops, whose action was in itself an answer to his traducers. But his reign was to be of short duration. Unable to maintain himself in Rome, he soon retired to Monte Cassino, his real home, where he died on 16 September. The only noteworthy act of his papacy was the holding of a synod at Benevento in August, at which he issued a decree against lay investiture, passed sentence of anathema on the anti-Pope, and excommunicated Archbishop Hugh and Abbot Richard for the charges they had presumed to bring against him.

For six months the papal throne was again vacant. At last, on 12 March 1088, the cardinals met at Terracina, and unanimously elected Otto, Cardinal-bishop of Ostia, as Pope Urban II. The three years of weakness and confusion were at an end, and a worthy leader had been found. On the day following his election he wrote a letter to his supporters in Germany, stating his determination to follow in the steps of Gregory VII, and affirming solemnly his complete adhesion to all the acts and aspirations of his dead master. To this declaration he consistently adhered; it was in fact the guiding principle of his policy. Yet in other respects he presents a complete antithesis to Gregory VII. He was a Frenchman of noble parentage, born (about 1042) near Rheims, educated at the cathedral school, and rising rapidly in ecclesiastical rank. Suddenly he abandoned these prospects and adopted the monastic profession at Cluny, where about 1076 he was appointed prior. Some two years later, the Abbot Hugh was requested by Pope Gregory VII to send some of his monks to work under him at Rome. Otto was one of those selected, and he was made Cardinal-bishop of Ostia in 1078. From this time he seems to have been attached to the person of the Pope as a confidential adviser, and he was occasionally employed on important missions. He was taken prisoner by Henry IV when on his way to the November synod of 1083. Released the next year, he went as legate to Germany, where he worked untiringly to strengthen the papal party. In 1085 he was present at a conference for peace between the Saxons and Henry’s supporters and, after the failure of this conference, at the Synod of Quedlinburg, where the excommunication of Henry, Guibert, and their supporters was again promulgated. On the death of Gregory VII he returned to Italy, and was the candidate of a section of the Curia to succeed Gregory, who had indeed mentioned his name on his death-bed. He loyally supported Victor III, and in 1088 was unanimously elected to succeed him. Tall and handsome, eloquent and learned, his personality was as different from that of Gregory VII as his early career had been. In his case it was the gentleness and moderation of his nature that won admiration; we are told that he refused at the price of men’s lives even to recover Rome. His learning, especially his training in Canon Law, was exactly what was required in the successor of Gregory VII. He was well qualified to work out in practice the principles of Church government inherited from his predecessor, and to place the reconstructed Church on a sound constitutional basis. The continual struggle with the Empire, which outlasted his life, robbed him of the opportunity, though much that he did was to be of permanent effect. It was in his native country, France, that his talents were to be employed with the greatest success.

It is mainly in connexion with France, therefore, that we can trace his general ideas of Church government, his view of papal authority and its relations with the lay power. There is no divergence from the stand­point of Gregory VII; he was content to carry on the work of his predecessor, following the same methods and with the same objects in view. Papal control was maintained by the system of permanent legates, and Urban continued to employ Archbishop Hugh of Lyons, and Amatus who now became Archbishop of Bordeaux. The former he had pardoned for his transgression against Victor III and he had confirmed him as legate. Hugh’s fellow-offender, Abbot Richard of Marseilles, was also pardoned and was soon promoted to the archbishopric of Narbonne. But he was not employed again as legate in Spain; this function was attached to the archbishopric of Toledo. Germany too was now given a permanent legate in the person of Bishop Gebhard of Constance. These legates were empowered to act with full authority on the Pope’s behalf, were kept informed of his wishes, and were made responsible for promoting the papal policy.

Urban’s ultimate object was undoubtedly the emancipation of the Church from the lay control that was responsible for its secularisation and loss of spiritual ideals. He had to combat the idea inherent in feudal society that churches, bishoprics, and abbeys were in the private gift of the lord in whose territory they were situated. To this he opposed the papal view that the laity had the duty of protecting the Church but no right of possession or authority over it. Free election by clergy and people had been the programme of the reform party for half a century, and even more than Gregory VII did Urban II pay attention to the circumstances attending appointments to bishoprics and abbeys. At several synods he repeated decrees against lay investiture, and forbade the receiving of any ecclesiastical dignity or benefice from a layman. At the Council of Clermont in 1095 he went further, prohibiting a bishop or priest from doing homage to a layman. According to Bishop Ivo of Chartres, Urban recognised the right of the king to take part in elections “as head of the people,” that is to say the right of giving, but not of refusing, assent. He also allowed the king’s right to “concede” the regalia—the temporal possessions of the see that had come to it by royal grant; here again the right of refusing concession is not implied. Ivo of Chartres was prepared to allow the king a much larger part in elections than the Pope conceded, and his interpretation of Urban’s decrees is, from the point of view of the king, the most favourable that could be put upon them. The Pope was undoubtedly advancing in theory towards a condition .of complete independence, but his decrees are rather an expression of his ideal than of his practice.

In practice he was, like Gregory VII, much more moderate, and when good appointments were made was not disposed to quarrel with lay influence. His temperament, as well as the political situation, deterred him from drastic action, for instance, in dealing with the Kings of England and France. He tried every means of persuasion before issuing a decree of excommunication against Philip I in the matter of his divorce; and though he took Anselm under his protection, he never actually pronounced sentence against William II. It was a difficult position to maintain. His legates, especially the violent Hugh, followed the exact letter of the decrees, and by their ready use of the penal clauses often caused embarrassment to the Pope. On the other hand, the bishops and secular clergy, as was shewn in France over the royal divorce question, were too complaisant to the king and could not be trusted. On the regular clergy he could place more reliance, and it is to them that he particularly looked for support. It is remarkable how large a proportion of the docu­ments that issued from Urban’s Chancery were bulls to monasteries, confirming their privileges and possessions, exempting them sometimes from episcopal control, and taking them under papal protection (always with the proviso that they shall pay an annual census to the papal treasury); the extension of Cluniac influence with Urban’s approval naturally had the same effect. Nor was his interest confined to Benedictine monasteries; he gave a ready encouragement to the new orders in process of formation, especially to the regular canons who traced their rule to St Augustine. And so, at the same time that he was trying to secure for the bishops freedom of election and a loosening of the yoke that bound them to the lay power, he was narrowing the range of their spiritual authority. Indirectly too the authority of the metropolitans was diminishing; it was becoming common for bishops to obtain confirmation of their election from the Pope, and in some cases consecration as well, while the practice of direct appeal to Rome was now firmly established. Moreover, the appointment of primates, exalting some archbishops at the expense of others, introduced a further grading into the hierarchy, and at the same time established responsibility for the enforcement of papal decrees. The primacy of Lyons, created by Gregory VII, was confirmed by Urban in spite of the protests of Archbishop Richer of Sens, who refused to recognise the authority of Lyons; his successor Daimbert was for a time equally obstinate, but had to submit in order to obtain consecration. Urban extended the system by creating the Archbishop of Rheims primate of Belgica Secunda, the Archbishop of Narbonne primate over Aix, and the Archbishop of Toledo primate of all Spain. The Pope, therefore, was modelling the ecclesiastical constitution so as to make his authority effective throughout. A natural consequence of this was his zeal for uniformity. He was anxious, as he had been as legate, to get rid of local customs and to produce a universal conformity to the practice of the Roman Church. This is evident in many of his decretals, those, for instance, that regulated ordinations and ecclesiastical promotions or that prescribed the dates of the fasts quattuor temporum.

While Urban II undoubtedly increased the spiritual authority of the Papacy, he was far less concerned than Gregory VII with its temporal authority. He certainly made use of the Donation of Constantine to assert his authority in Corsica and Lipara, but he did not revive Gregory VII’s claims to Hungary, nor did he demand from England anything more than the payment of Peter’s Pence. It was not until 1095 that he received the recognition of William II, and his mild treatment of that king, in spite of William’s brutality to Archbishop Anselm, has already been mentioned. In Spain and Sicily he was mainly concerned with the congenial task of re-creating bishoprics and rebuilding monasteries in the districts recently won from the infidel; he was careful to make papal authority effective, and to introduce uniformity to Roman practice by the elimination of local uses. One great extension of temporal authority he did not disdain.

In 1095 King Peter of Aragon, in return for the payment of an annual tribute, obtained the protection of the Holy See, and acknowledged his subordination to its authority.

Papal overlordship was recognised also by the Normans in South Italy, and Roger, Robert Guiscard’s son, was invested by Urban with the duchy of Apulia. The Normans, however, were vassals only in name, and never allowed their piety to interfere with their interests. In 1098 Urban was a helpless witness of the siege and capture of Capua, and the same year Count Roger of Sicily obtained for himself and his heirs a remarkable privilege. No papal legate, unless sent latere, was to enter his territory. The count himself was to hold the position of papal legate, and, in the case of a papal summons to a Roman Council, was allowed to decide which of his bishops and abbots should go and which should remain. Urban owed much to Norman protection, but he had to pay the price..

At any rate, at the time of his accession, Urban was safe only in Norman territory. Guibert held Rome, and Urban’s adherents in the city were few and powerless. Countess Matilda was loyal as ever, but all her resources were needed for her own security. Lombardy was still strongly anti-papal, while in Germany (apart from Saxony) there were hardly half-a-dozen bishops who upheld the papal cause, and the rebel nobles were absorbed in their own defence. But in North Italy the tide soon began to turn. Already in 1088 the Archbishop of Milan had renounced allegiance to Henry and had become reconciled with the Pope, who pardoned his offence of having received royal investiture. There followed in 1089 the marriage of the younger Welf with the ageing Countess Matilda of Tuscany, truly (as the chroniclers relate) not prompted by any weakness of the flesh, but a political move which reflected little credit on either party; the Duke of Bavaria, at any rate, was completely outwitted, but the Papacy gained the immediate help it required. It brought Henry into Italy to wage a campaign that was for two years successful, culminating in the capture of Mantua, and a signal victory over Matilda’s troops at Tricontai, in 1091, but he was now fighting to maintain his authority in Lombardy, where it had previously been unchallenged. The final blow came with the revolt of his son Conrad in 1093. Conrad, bringing with him stories of fresh crimes to blacken his father’s name, was welcomed by the papal party with open arms, and crowned (he had already been crowned King of Germany) with the iron crown of Lombardy. A regular Lombard League sprang into being with Milan at its head. The unfortunate father was in very evil plight, almost isolated at Verona, unable, as his enemies held the passes, even to escape into Germany until 1097.

Success in North Italy reacted on Urban’s authority elsewhere. The winter of 1088-1089 he had indeed spent in Rome, but in wretched circumstances, living on the island in the Tiber under the direction of the Pierleoni, and obtaining the necessities of life from the charity of a few poor women. Later in 1089 the expulsion of Guibert from Rome improved the Pope’s position, but it was only a temporary improvement. The hostile element (probably the recollection of 1084 was still smarting) was too strong for him, and he had to retire south in the summer of 1090. Though he managed to celebrate Christmas both in 1091 and 1092 in the suburbs, he was not able to enter the city again until Christmas 1093. Refusing to allow bloodshed to secure his position, he adopted the safer method of winning the Romans by gold, instituting collections for this purpose, especially in France. In 1094 Abbot Geoffrey of Vendome, on a visit to the Pope, found him living in mean state in the house of John Frangipani, and supplied him with money with which he purchased the Lateran from a certain Ferruchius left in charge of it by Guibert From this time Urban’s fortunes began to mend, and only the castle of Sant’ Angelo remained in the hands of the Guibertines. But his tenure of Rome was insecure; papal authority within the city was not popular, while outside his enemies made the approaches dangerous for those who came to visit the Pope. It was not surprising, then, that he took the opportunity of the success of his cause in North Italy to commence the northern tour which was to have such important results.

In Germany progress was made with difficulty. The bishops as a whole were too deeply implicated in the schism to withdraw, and the papal legate, Bishop Gebhard of Constance, in spite of his undoubted zeal, could make little headway. The deaths of Bishops Herman of Metz and Adalbero of Wurzburg in 1090, and of Abbot William of Hirschau and Bishop Altmann of Passau in 1091, robbed the papal party of its staunchest supporters. But Henry’s absence in Italy and the revolt of Conrad gave an opportunity to the two sections of opposition to Henry in South Germany to unite for concerted action. At an assembly held at Ulm in 1093 all present pledged themselves by oath to accept Bishop Gebhard as the spiritual head, and his brother Duke Berthold as the temporal leader, of the party; further, Dukes Berthold and Welf did homage as vassals to the papal legate and thus recognised the overlordship of the Pope. At the same time, the leading bishops in Lorraine renounced obedience to the excommunicated Archbishop of Treves and brought a welcome reinforcement to the papal party. The improvement in the situation is shown by the largely-attended synod presided over by Gebhard at Constance in the following Lent. Shortly afterwards Europe was devastated by a pestilence, which was particularly severe in Germany. The fear of death had a considerable effect in withdrawing adherents from an excommunicated king, and the increasing sentiment in favour of the lawful Pope was heightened by the commencement of the crusading movement. The political situation, however, was less satisfactory than the ecclesiastical. Duke Welf, foiled in his expectations of the results of his son’s marriage with Matilda, reverted to Henry’s allegiance in 1095, and Henry’s return to Germany in 1097 prevented the revolt against him from assuming greater proportions.

The reconciliation with the Church of so many that had been in schism before made it urgently necessary to find an answer to the question—in what light were to be regarded the orders of those who received ordination from schismatics or simonists? Ever since the war on simony began, the question of ordinations by simonists had agitated the Church. Peter Damian had argued for their validity. Cardinal Humbert had been emphatic against, and Popes Nicholas II and Gregory VII had practically adopted his opinion. On one thing all alike were agreed—there could be no such thing as reordination.

In Humbert’s view, simonists were outside the pale of the Church, and could confer nothing sacramental; those who received ordination from them in effect received nothing, and so, unless they afterwards received Catholic ordination, they had no orders at all. Urban was obviously at a loss for some time, and his rulings were of a contradictory nature. He uses the language of Humbert when he says in 1089 that he himself ordained Daimbert, Bishop-elect of Pisa, as deacon, because Daimbert had previously been ordained by Archbishop Werner of Mainz, heretic and excommunicate, and “qui nihil habuit, nil dare potuit”; and again in 1091 when he ruled that Poppo, Bishop-elect of Metz, must be ordained deacon by a Catholic bishop if his previous ordination had been simoniacal, because in that case it would be null. But circumstances were too strong for him, and even in 1089 he gave permission to his legate in Germany to allow the retention of their orders to those who without simony had received ordination from schismatic bishops, provided the latter had themselves received Catholic ordination. It was at the great Council of Piacenza in 1095 that he at last issued authoritative decrees on this subject. Those ordained by schismatic bishops, who had themselves received Catholic ordination, might retain their orders, if and when they returned to the unity of the Church. Also those who had been ordained by schismatics or simonists might retain their orders if they could prove their ignorance of the excommunication or simony of their ordainers. But in all cases where such ignorance was not alleged the orders were declared to be altogether of no effect (omnino irritae). The meaning of this is not clear, but evidently the validity of such orders is in fact recognised, as the validity of the sacrament could not depend on the knowledge or ignorance of the ordinand. Some light is thrown by a letter of uncertain date to one Lucius, provost of St Juventius.

After having declared the validity of the orders and sacraments of criminous clergy, provided they are not schismatics, he goes on to say that the schismatics have the forma but not the virtutis effectus of the sacraments, unless and until they are received into the Catholic communion by the laying-on of hands. This then was the bridge by which the penitent schismatic might pass into the Catholic fold, and the ceremony of reconciliation, which included the performance of all the rites of ordination save that of unction, was laid down by him in letters written both in 1088 and 1097. Urban’s position was neither easy to comprehend nor to maintain, and the anti­Pope Guibert was on firmer ground when he condemned those who refused to recognise the ordinations of his partisans. Urban’s successor was able, when the death of Henry IV brought the schism to an end, to assist the restoration of unity by a more generous policy of recognition.

As we have seen, in 1094, when the Pope was at last in possession of the Lateran palace, his cause was victorious throughout Italy and gaining adherents rapidly in Germany. In the autumn he left Rome and commenced his journey, which lasted two years and was not far short of a triumphal progress, through France and Italy. He came first to Tuscany where he spent the winter, and then proceeded into North Italy which had been persistent, under the lead of the bishops, in its hostility to the Pope, and which, now that the episcopal domination was beginning to wane, was looking to the Pope as an ally against imperial authority. Even the bishops, following the example of the Archbishop of Milan, were rapidly becoming reconciled with the Pope. In March 1095 Urban held a Council at Piacenza, which was attended by an immense concourse of ecclesiastics and laymen. The business, some of which has already been mentioned, was as important as the attendance. Praxedis, Henry IV’s second wife, was present to shock the assembly with stories of the horrors her husband had forced her to commit. These found a ready credence, and she herself a full pardon and the Pope’s protection. The case of King Philip of France, excommunicated for adultery by Archbishop Hugh at Autun the previous year, was debated and postponed for the Pope’s decision in France. Finally there appeared the envoys of the Emperor Alexius imploring the help of Western Christendom against the infidel, and the inspiration came to Urban that was to give a great purpose to his journey to France. From Piacenza Urban passed to Cremona, where he met Conrad, who did fealty to him and received in return the promise of imperial coronation. Conrad further linked himself with the papal cause by marrying the daughter of Count Roger of Sicily shortly afterwards at Pisa. It is easy to blame the Pope who welcomed the rebel son; but it is juster to attribute his welcome as given to the penitent seeking absolution and a refuge from an evil and excommunicated father. The fault of Urban was rather that he took up the unfortunate legacy from Gregory VII of attempting to establish an Emperor who would be his vassal, falling thus into the temptation that was to be fatal to the Papacy. Urban in this respect was as unsuccessful as his rival, who attempted to establish a compliant Pope; Conrad lived on for six more years, but without a following, and he and Guibert alike came to their end discredited and alone.

In July the Pope entered France, where judgment was to be passed on the king and the Crusade to be proclaimed. But the Pope’s energies were not confined to these two dominant questions. He travelled ceaselessly from place to place, looking into every detail of the ecclesiastical organisation, settling disputes, and consecrating churches. Philip I made no attempt to interfere with the papal progress, and the people everywhere hailed with enthusiasm and devotion the unaccustomed sight of a Pope. The climax was reached at the Council of Clermont in the latter half of November, where both of the important questions were decided. The king was excommunicated and the First Crusade proclaimed. Urban recognised that he was again following in the footsteps of Gregory VII, but his was the higher conception and his the practical ability that realised the ideal. A less disinterested Pope might have roused the enthusiasm of the faithful against his enemy in Germany; personal considerations might at least have checked him from sending the great host to fight against the infidel when the Emperor still threatened danger, the King of France was alienated by excommunication, and the King of England was anything but friendly. His disinterestedness had its reward in the position the Papacy secured in consequence of the success of his appeal, but this reward was not in Urban’s mind in issuing the appeal. Clermont was followed by no anti-climax. The papal progress was continued in 1096, the Crusade was preached again at Angers and oil the banks of the Loire, synods were held at Tours and Nimes, and the popular enthusiasm increased in intensity. He had the satisfaction too of obtaining the submission of Philip.

When he returned to Italy in September, and, accompanied by Countess Matilda, made his way to Rome, he was to experience even there a great reception and to feel himself at last master of the papal city. “Honeste tute et alacriter sumus” are the concluding words of his account of his return in a letter to Archbishop Hugh of Lyons. And in 1098 the last stronghold of the Guibertines, the castle of Sant Angelo, fell into his hands. But his joy was premature. It would seem that the turbulent Roman nobles, who had tasted independence, were not willing to submit for long to papal authority. It was not in the Lateran palace but in the house of the Pierleoni that Urban died on 29 July 1099, and his body was taken by way of Trastevere to its last resting place in the Vatican.

But, on the whole, his last three years were passed in comparative tranquillity and honour. The presence of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury, in exile from England, added distinction to the papal Court. Received with the veneration that his character merited, Anselm acted as champion of Western orthodoxy against the Greeks at the Council of Bari in 1098. And three months before his death Urban held in St Peter’s his last council, at which the decrees of Piacenza and Clermont were solemnly reaffirmed. Anselm returned to England with the decrees against lay investiture and homage as the last memory of his Roman visit. They were to bring him into immediate conflict with his new sovereign.



It was perhaps due to the unsettled state of Rome that the cardinals chose San Clemente for the place of conclave; there on 13 August they unanimously elected Rainer, cardinal-priest of that basilica, as Urban’s successor, in spite of his manifest reluctance. The anti-Pope was hovering in the neighbourhood and a surprise from him was feared, but nothing occurred to disturb the election. Rainer, who took the name of Paschal II, was a Tuscan by birth, who had been from early days a monk and, like his predecessor, at Cluny. Sent to Rome by the Abbot Hugh while still quite young, he had been retained by Gregory VII and appointed Abbot of San Lorenzo fuori le mura and afterwards cardinal-priest of San Clemente. By Urban II, in whose election he took a leading part, he had been employed as papal legate in Spain. Here our knowledge of his antecedents ceases. So general was the agreement at his election that he was conducted at once to take possession of the Lateran palace, and on the following day was solemnly consecrated and enthroned at St Peter’s. Guibert was dangerously close, but the arrival of Norman gold enabled the Pope to chase him from Albano to Sutri; soon afterwards he retired to Civita Castellana, and died there in September 1100. Two anti-Popes were set up in succession by his Roman partisans, both cardinal-bishops of his creation—Theodoric of Santa Rufina and Albert of the Sabina—but both were easily disposed of. Paschal, so far fortunate, was soon to experience the same trouble as Urban II from the Roman nobles. The defeat of Peter Colonna (with whom the name Colonna first enters into history) was an easy matter. More dangerous were the Corsi, who, after being expelled from their stronghold on the Capitol, settled in the Marittima and took their revenge by plundering papal territory. Closely connected with this disturbance was the rising of other noble families under the lead of a German, Marquess Werner of Ancona, which resulted in 1105 in the setting-up of a third anti-Pope, the arch-priest Maginulf, who styled himself Pope Sylvester IV. Paschal was for a time forced to take refuge in the island on the Tiber, but the anti-Pope was soon expelled. He remained, however, as a useful pawn for Henry V in his negotiations with the Pope, until the events of 1111 did away with the need for him, and he was then discarded. The nobles had not ceased to harass Paschal, and a serious rising in 1108-1109 hampered him considerably at a time when his relations with Henry were becoming critical. Again in 1116, on the occasion of Henry’s second appearance in Italy, Paschal was forced to leave Rome for a time owing to the riots that resulted from his attempt to establish a Pierleone as prefect of the city.

The new Pope was of a peaceful and retiring disposition, and in his attempts to resist election he shewed a just estimate of his own capacity. Lacking the practical gifts of Urban II and Gregory VII, and still more the enlightened imagination of the latter, he was drawn into a struggle which he abhorred and for which he was quite unequal. Timid and unfamiliar with the world, he dreaded the ferocia gentis of the Germans, and commiserated ;with Anselm on being inter barbaros positus/i> as archbishop. He was an admirable subordinate in his habit of unquestioning obedience, but he had not the capacity to lead or to initiate. Obedient to his predecessors, he was obstinate in adhering to the text of their decrees, but he was very easily overborne by determined opponents. This weakness of character is strikingly demonstrated throughout the investi­ture struggle, in which he took the line of rigid obedience to the text of papal decrees. Probably he was not cognisant of all the complicated constitutional issues involved,and the situation required the common sense and understanding of a man like Bishop Ivo of Chartres to handle it with success; Ivo had the true Gregorian standpoint. Paschal devised a solution of the difficulty with Henry V in 1111 which was admirable on paper but impossible to carry into effect; and he showed no strength of mind when he had to face the storm which his scheme provoked. A short captivity was sufficient to wring from him the concession of lay investiture which his decrees had so emphatically condemned. When this again raised a storm, he yielded at once and revoked his concession; at the same time he refused to face the logic of his revocation and to stand up definitely against the Emperor who had forced the concession from him. The misery of his later years was the fruit of his indecision and lack of courage. The electors are to blame, who overbore his resistance, and it is impossible not to sympathise with this devout, well-meaning, but weak Pope, faced on all sides by strong-minded men insistent that their extreme demands must be carried out and contemptuous of the timid nature that yielded so readily. Eadmer tells us of a characteristic outburst from William Rufus, on being informed that the new Pope was not unlike Anselm in character; “God’s Face! Then he isn’t much good.” The comparison has some truth in it, though it is a little unfair to Anselm. Both were unworldly men, drawn against their will from their monasteries to a prolonged contest with powerful sovereigns; unquestioning obedience to spiritual authority was characteristic of them both, but immeasurably the greater was Anselm, who spoke no ill of his enemies and shielded them from punishment, while he never yielded his principles even to extreme violence. Paschal would have left a great name behind him, had he been possessed of the serene courage of St Anselm.

For seven years the tide flowed strongly in his favour. The death of the anti-Pope Guibert in 1100 was a great event. It seems very probable that if Henry IV had discarded Guibert, as Henry V discarded Maginulf, he might have come to terms with Urban II. But Henry IV was more loyal to his allies than was his son, and he refused to take this treacherous step. It seemed to him that with Guibert’s death the chief difficulty was removed, and he certainly gave no countenance to the anti-Popes of a day that were set up in Rome to oppose Paschal. He was indeed quite ready to recognise Paschal, and, in consonance with the universal desire in Germany for the healing of the schism, announced his intention of going to Rome in person to be present at a synod where issues between Empire and Papacy might be amicably settled. It was Paschal, however, who proved irreconcilable. In his letters and decrees he showed his firm resolve to give no mercy to the king who had been excommunicated and deposed by his predecessors and by himself. Henry was a broken man, very different from the antagonist of Gregory VII, and it was easy for Paschal to be defiant. The final blow for the Emperor came at Christmas 1104, when the young Henry deserted him and joined the rebels. Relying on the nobles and the papal partisans, Henry V was naturally anxious to be reconciled with the Pope. Paschal welcomed the rebel with open arms, as Urban had welcomed Conrad.

The formal reconciliation took place at the beginning of 1106. Born in 1081, when his father was already excommunicated, Henry could only have received baptism from a schismatic bishop. With the ceremony of the laying-on of hands he was received by Catholic bishops into the Church, and by this bridge the mass of the schismatics passed back into the orthodox fold. The Pope made easy the path of reconciliation, and the schism was thus practically brought to an end. The young king, as his position was still insecure, shewed himself extremely compliant to the Church party. He had already expelled the more prominent bishops of his father’s party from their sees, and filled their places by men whom the papal legate, Bishop Gebhard of Constance, had no hesitation in consecrating. But he shewed no disposition to give up any of the rights exercised by his father, and Paschal did not take advantage of the opportunity to make conditions or to obtain concessions from him. Towards the old king, who made a special appeal to the apostolic mercy, promising complete submission to the papal will, Paschal shewed himself implacable. There could be no repetition of Canossa, but the Pope renewed the ambition of Gregory VII in announcing his intention to be present at a council in Germany. The temporary recovery of power by Henry IV in 1106 prevented the holding of this council in Germany, and it was summoned to meet in Italy instead. In the interval Henry died, and still the Pope was implacable, refusing to allow the body of the excommunicated king to be laid to rest in consecrated ground. It was a hollow triumph; the Papacy was soon to find that it had exchanged an ageing and beaten foe for a young and resolute one. The death of his father had relieved Henry V from the immediate necessity of submission to the papal will. He soon made clear that he was as resolute a champion of royal rights as his father, and he faced the Pope with Germany united in his support.




With the death of Henry IV and the reconciliation of Henry V with the Church, the schism that had lasted virtually for thirty years was at an end. The desire for peace, rather than any deep conviction of imperial guilt, had been responsible perhaps for Henry V’s revolt, certainly for his victory over his father. By the tacit consent of both sides the claims and counter-claims of the years of conflict were ignored; the attempt of each power to be master of the other was abandoned, and in the relations between the regnum and sacerdotium the status quo ante was restored. On the question of lay investiture negotiations had already been started before the schism began; they were resumed as soon as the schism was healed, but papal decrees in the intervening years had increased the difficulty of solution. Universal as was the desire for peace, this issue prevented its consummation for another sixteen years. The contest of Henry V and the Papacy is solely, and can very rightly be named, an Investiture Struggle.

Gregory VII’s decrees had been directed against the old idea by which churches and bishoprics were regarded as possessions of laymen, and against the practice of investiture by ring and staff which symbolised the donation by the king of spiritual functions. He shewed no disposition to interfere with the feudal obligations which the king demanded from the bishops as from all holders of land and offices within his realm. But his successors were not content merely to repeat his decrees. At the Council of Clermont in 1095 Urban II had prohibited the clergy from doing homage to laymen, and at the Lenten Synod at Rome in 1102 Paschal II also prohibited the clergy from receiving ecclesiastical property at the hands of a layman, that is to say, even investiture with temporalities alone. To Gregory investiture was not important in itself, but only in the lay control of spiritual functions which it typified, and in the results to which this led—bad appointments and simony; the prohibition of investiture was only a means to an end. To Paschal it had become an end in itself. Rigid in his obedience to the letter of the decrees, he was blind to the fact that, in order to get rid of the hated word and ceremony, he was leaving unimpaired the royal control, which was the real evil.

He had already obtained his point in France, and was about to establish it in England also. In France, owing to the weakness of the central government, papal authority had for some time been more effective than elsewhere; Philip I also exposed himself to attack on the moral side, and had only recently received absolution (in 1104) after a second period of excommunication. Relations were not broken off again, as the Pope did not take cognisance of Philip’s later lapses. The king, at any rate, was not strong enough to resist the investiture decrees. There was no actual concordat; the king simply ceased to invest, and the nobles followed his example. He, and they, retained control of appointments, and in place of investiture “conceded” the temporalities of the see, usually after consecration and without symbol; the bishops took the oath of fealty, but usually did not do homage.

Paschal was less successful in England, where again political conditions were largely responsible for bringing Henry I into the mood for compromise. Henry and Paschal were equally stubborn, and on Anselm fell the brunt of the struggle and the pain of a second exile. At last Henry was brought to see the wisdom of a reconciliation with Anselm, and the Pope relented so far as to permit Anselm to consecrate bishops even though they had received lay investiture or done homage to the king. This paved the way for the Concordat of August 1107, by which the king gave up the practice of investing with ring and staff and Anselm consented to consecrate bishops who had done homage to the king. Thus what the Pope designed as a temporary concession was turned into a permanent settlement. The subsequent practice is seen from succeeding elections and was embodied in the twelfth chapter of the Constitutions of Clarendon. The king had the controlling voice in the election, the bishop-elect did homage and took the oath of fealty, and only after that did the consecration take place. In effect, the king retained the same control as before. The Pope was satisfied by the abolition of investiture with the ring and staff, but the king, though hating to surrender an old custom, had his way on all the essential points.

Paschal II’s obsession with the question of investiture is shewn in the letter he wrote to Archbishop Ruthard of Mayence in November 1105, a letter which is a fitting prelude to the new struggle. Investiture, he says, is the cause of the discord between the regnum and the sacerdotium, but he hopes that the new reign will bring a solution of the difficulty. Actually it was the new reign that created the difficulty. During the schism papal decrees were naturally disregarded in Germany; royal investiture continued uninterruptedly, and Henry V from the beginning of his reign regularly invested with the ring and staff. But when Germany returned to the Catholic fold, papal decrees became operative once more, and the discrepancy between Henry’s profession of obedience to Rome and his practice of investiture was immediately apparent. He was as determined as his father that the royal prerogative should remain unimpaired, but he showed his sense of the direction the controversy was taking and the weakness of the royal position by insisting that he was only investing with the regalia?. This made no difference to Paschal, who refused all compromise on the exercise of investiture; his assertion of his desire not to interfere with the royal rights, which had some meaning in Gregory VII’s mouth, earned no conviction. He must have been sanguine indeed if he expected in Germany a cessation of investiture as in Prance; there was nothing to induce Henry V even to follow the precedent set by his English namesake. In Germany there was no parallel to the peculiar position in England of St Anselm, the primate who put first his profession of obedience to the Pope. Archbishops and bishops, as well as lay nobles, were at one with the king on this question; even the papal legate, Bishop Gebhard of Constance, who had endured so much in the papal cause, did not object to consecrate bishops appointed and invested by Henry. And the German king had legal documents to set against the papal claims—the privileges of Pope Hadrian I to Charles the Great and of Pope Leo VIII to Otto the Great—forged documents, it is true, but none the less useful. It needed a change in the political atmosphere to induce Henry V to concessions.

The council summoned by Paschal met at Guastalla on 22 October 1106. The Pope was affronted by the scant attention paid by German bishops to his summons. Instead there appeared an embassy from Henry claiming that the Pope should respect the royal rights, and at the same time inviting him again to Germany. To the first message Paschal replied by a decree against lay investiture, to the second by an acceptance of the invitation, promising to be at Mayence at Christmas. He soon repented of his promise, whether persuaded of the futility of the journey or wishing to avoid the personal encounter, and hastily made his way into France, where he could be sure of protection and respect. Here he met with a reception which fell little short of that accorded to Urban; in particular he was welcomed by the two kings, Philip I and his son Louis, who accompanied the Pope to Châlons in May 1107, where he received the German ambassadors with Archbishop Bruno of Treves at their head. To the reasoned statement they presented of the king’s demands Paschal returned a direct refusal, which was pointed by the decree he promulgated against investiture at a council held at Troyes on 23 May. At this council he took action against the German episcopate, especially for their disobedience to his summons to Guastalla: the Archbishops of Mayence and Cologne and their suffragans, with two exceptions, were put under the ban, and his legate Gebhard received a sharp censure. It was of little avail that he invited Henry to be present at a synod in Rome in the following year. Henry did not appear, and Paschal was too much occupied with difficulties in Rome to take any action. But at a synod at Benevento in 1108 he renewed the investiture decrees, adding the penalty of excommunication against the giver as well as the receiver of investiture. Clearly he was meditating a definite step against Henry. The king, however, had a reason for not wishing at this moment to alienate the Pope—his desire for imperial coronation. Accordingly during 1109 and 1110 negotiations were resumed. An embassy from Henry proposing his visit to Rome was well received by Paschal, who welcomed the proposal though remaining firm against the king’s demands. At the Lenten Synod of 1110 he repeated the investiture decree, but, perhaps to prevent a breach in the negotiations, abstained from pronouncing excommunication on the giver of investiture. He had reiterated to Henry’s embassy his intention not to infringe the royal rights. Had he already conceived his solution of 1111? At any rate he took the precaution of obtaining the promise of Norman support in case of need, a promise which was not fulfilled.

Duke Roger of Apulia died on 21 February 1111, and the Normans were too weak to come to the Pope’s assistance. In fact they feared an imperial attack upon themselves.

In August 1110 Henry began his march to Rome. From Arezzo, at the end of December, he sent an embassy to the Pope, making it clear that he insisted on investing with the temporalities held from the Empire. Paschal’s answer was not satisfactory, but a second embassy (from Acquapendente) was more successful. It was now that Paschal produced his famous solution of the dilemma—the separation of ecclesiastics from all secular interests. If Henry would renounce investiture, the Church would surrender all the regalia held by bishops and abbots, who would be content for the future with tithes and offerings. Ideally this was an admirable solution, and it may have appeared to the unworldly monk to be a practical one as well. Henry must have known better. He must have realised that it would be impossible to obtain acquiescence from those who were to be deprived of their privileges and possessions. But he saw that it could be turned to his own advantage. He adroitly managed to lay on the Pope the onus of obtaining acquiescence; this the Pope readily undertook, serenely relying on the competency of ecclesiastical censures to bring the reluctant to obedience. The compact was made by the plenipotentiaries of both sides at the church of Santa Maria in Turri on 4 February 1111, and was confirmed by the king himself at Sutri on 9 February.

On 12 February the king entered St Peter’s with the usual preliminary formalities that attended imperial coronations. The ratification of the compact was to precede the ceremony proper. Henry rose and read aloud his renunciation of investiture. The Pope then on behalf of the Church renounced the regalia, and forbade the holding of them by any bishops or abbots, present or to come. Immediately burst forth the storm that might have been expected. Not only the ecclesiastics, who saw the loss of their power and possessions, but also the lay nobles, who anticipated the decline in their authority consequent on the liberation of churches from their control, joined in the uproar. All was confusion; the ceremony of coronation could not proceed. Eventually, after futile negotiations, the imperialists laid violent hands on the Pope and cardinals; they were hurried outside the walls to the king’s camp, after a bloody conflict with the Romans. A captivity of two months followed, and then the Pope yielded to the pressure and conceded all that Henry wished. Not only was royal investiture permitted; it was to be a necessary preliminary to consecration. They returned together to St Peter’s, where on 13 April the Pope handed Henry his privilege and placed the imperial crown upon his head. Immediately after the ceremony the Pope was released; the Emperor, who had had to barricade the Leonine city against the populace, hastily quitted Rome and returned in triumph to Germany.

The Pope had had his moment of greatness. He had tried to bring the ideal into practice and to recall the Church to its true path; but the time was not ripe, the violence of the change was too great, and the plan failed. The failure was turned into disaster by the weakness of character which caused him to submit to force and make the vital concession of investiture; for the rest of his life he had to pay the penalty. The extreme Church party immediately gave expression to their feelings. Led by the Cardinal-bishops of Tusculum and Ostia in Rome, and in France and Burgundy by the Archbishops of Lyons and Vienne, they clamoured for the repudiation of the “concession”, reminding Paschal of his own previous decrees and hinting at withdrawal of obedience if the Pope did not retract his oath. In this oath Paschal had sworn, and sixteen cardinals had sworn with him, to take no further action in the matter of investiture, and never to pronounce anathema against the king. Both parts of the oath he was compelled to forswear, helpless as ever in the presence of strong-minded men. At the Lenten Synod of 1112 he retracted his concession of investiture, as having been extracted from him by force and therefore null and void. The same year Archbishop Guy of Vienne held a synod which condemned lay investiture as heresy, anathematised the king, and threatened to withdraw obedience from the Pope if he did not confirm the decrees. Paschal wrote on 20 October, meekly ratifying Guy’s actions. But his conscience made his life a burden to him, and led him into various inconsistencies. He felt pledged in faith to Henry, and wrote to Germany that he would not renounce his pact or take action against the Emperor. The unhappy Pope, however, was not man enough to maintain this attitude. Harassed by the vehemence of the extremists, whose scorn for his action was blended with a sort of contemptuous pity, he was forced at the Lenten Synod of 1116 to retract again publicly the concession of 1111 and to condemn it by anathema. Moreover, Cuno, Cardinal-bishop of Palestrina, complained that as papal legate at Jerusalem and elsewhere, he had in the Pope’s name excommunicated Henry, and demanded confir­mation of his action. The Pope decreed this confirmation, and in a letter to Archbishop Frederick of Cologne the next year, he wrote that hearing of the archbishop’s excommunication of Henry he had abstained from intercourse with the king. Paschal had ceased to be Head of the Church in anything but name.

If the events of 1111 brought humiliation to Paschal from all sides, the Emperor was to get little advantage from his successful violence. The revolt that broke out in Germany in 1112 and lasted with variations of fortune for nine years was certainly not unconnected with the incidents of those fateful two months. The Saxons naturally seized the opportunity to rebel, but it is more surprising to find the leading archbishops and many bishops of Germany in revolt against the king. Dissatisfaction with the February compact, indignation at the violence done to the Pope, as well as the ill-feeling caused by the high-handed policy of Henry in Germany, were responsible for the outbreak; if Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz was controlled mainly by motives of personal ambition, Archbishop Conrad of Salzburg was influenced by ecclesiastical considerations only. Henry’s enemies hastened to ally themselves with the extreme Church party, and Germany was divided into two camps once more. Even neutrality was dangerous, and Bishop Otto of Bamberg, who had never lost the favour of Pope or Emperor, found himself placed under anathema by Adalbert.

An important event in 1115, the death of Countess Matilda of Tuscany, brought the Emperor again into Italy. He came, early in 1116, to enter into possession not only of the territory and dignities held from the Em­pire but, as heir, of her allodial possessions as well. Matilda, at some time in the years 1077-1080, had made over these allodial possessions, on both sides of the Alps, to the Roman Church, receiving them back as a fief from the Papacy, but retaining full right of disposition. This donation she had confirmed in a charter of 17 November 1102. Her free right of disposal had been fully exercised, notably on the occasion of Henry’s first expedition to Italy. Both on his arrival, and again at his departure, she had shown a friendliness to him which is most remarkable in view of his dealings with the Pope. Moreover it seems to be proved that at this time she actually made him her heir, without prejudice of course to the previous donation to the Papacy. The Pope must have been aware of the bequest, as he made no attempt to interfere with Henry when he came into Italy to take possession. The bequest to Henry at any rate prevented any friction from arising on the question during the Emperor’s lifetime, especially as Henry, like Matilda, retained full disposal and entered into no definite vassal-relationship to the Pope. For Henry it was a personal acquisition of the highest value. By a number of charters to Italian towns, which were to be of great importance for the future, he sought to consolidate his authority and to regain the support his father had lost. His general relations with the Pope do not seem to have caused him any uneasiness. It was not until the beginning of 1117 that he proceeded to Rome, where he planned a solemn coronation at Easter and a display of imperial authority in the city proper, in which he had been unable to set foot in 1111.

During the previous year Paschal’s position in Rome had been endangered by the struggles for the prefecture, in which a boy, son of the late prefect, was set up in defiance of the Pope’s efforts on behalf of his constant supporters the Pierleoni. The arrival of Henry brought a new terror. Paschal could not face the prospect of having to retract his retractation; he fled to South Italy. Henry, supported by the prefect, spent Easter in Rome, and was able to find a complaisant archbishop to perform the ceremony of coronation in Maurice Bourdin of Braga, who was immediately excommunicated by the Pope. For the rest of the year Paschal remained under Norman protection in South Italy, where he renewed with certain limitations Urban IPs remarkable privilege to Count Roger of Sicily. Finally in January 1118, as Henry had gone, he could venture back to Rome, to find peace at last. On 21 January 1118 he died in the castle of Sant’ Angelo.




His successor, John of Gaeta, who took the name of Gelasius II, had been Chancellor under both Urban II and Paschal II, and had distinguished his period of office by the introduction of the cursus, which became a special feature of papal letters and was later imitated by other chanceries. His papacy only lasted a year, and throughout he had to endure a continual conflict with his enemies. The Frangipani made residence in Rome impossible for him. The Emperor himself appeared in March, and set up the excommunicated Archbishop of Braga as Pope Gregory VIII. In April at Capua Gelasius excommunicated the Emperor and his anti-Pope, and so took the direct step from which Paschal had shrunk, and a new schism definitely came into being. At last in September Gelasius set sail for Pisa, and from there journeyed to France where he knew he could obtain peace and protection. On 29 January 1119 he died at the monastery of Cluny.

The cardinals who had accompanied Gelasius to France did not hesitate long as to their choice of a successor, and on 2 February Archbishop Guy of Vienne was elected as Pope Calixtus II; the election was ratified without delay by the cardinals who had remained in Rome. There was much to justify their unanimity. Calixtus was of high birth, and was related to the leading rulers in Europe—among others to the sovereigns of Germany, France, and England; he had the advantage, on which he frequently insisted, of being able to address them as their equal in birth. He had also shown himself to be a man of strong character and inflexible determination. As Archbishop of Vienne he had upheld the claims of his see against the Popes themselves, and apparently had not scrupled to employ forged documents to gain his ends. He had taken the lead in Burgundy in opposing the “concession” of Paschal in 1111, and, as we have seen, had dictated the Pope’s recantation. But the characteristics that made him acceptable to the cardinals at this crisis might seem to have militated against the prospects of peace. The result proved the contrary, however, and it was probably an advantage that the Pope was a strong man and would not be intimidated by violence like his predecessor, whose weakness had encouraged Henry to press his claims to the full. Moreover the revival of the schism caused such consternation in Germany that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. It allowed the opinions of moderate men, such as Ivo of Chartres and Otto of Bamberg, to make themselves heard and to force a compromise against the wishes of the extremists on both sides.

Calixtus soon showed that he was anxious for peace, by assisting the promotion of negotiations. These came to a head at Mouzon on 23 October, when the Emperor abandoned investiture to churches, and a settlement seemed to have been arranged. But distrust of Henry was very strong among the Pope’s entourage; they were continually on the alert, anticipating an attempt to take the Pope prisoner. So suspicious were they that they decided there must be a flaw in his pledge to abandon investiture; they found it in his not mentioning Church property, investiture with which was equally repudiated by them. On this point no accommodation could be reached, and the conference broke up. Calixtus returned to Rheims to preside over a synod which had been interrupted by his departure to Mouzon. The synod pronounced sentence of excommunication on Henry V and passed a decree against lay investiture; the decree as originally drafted included a condemnation of investiture with Church property, but the opposition of the laity to this clause led to its withdrawal, and the decree simply condemned investiture with bishoprics and abbeys. A little less suspicion and the rupture with Henry might have been avoided.

Investiture was not the only important issue at the Synod of Rheims. During its session the King of France, Louis VI, made a dramatic appeal to the Pope against Henry I of England. On 20 November Calixtus met Henry himself at Gisors, and found him ready enough to make peace with Louis but unyielding on the ecclesiastical questions which he raised himself. They were especially in conflict on the relations between the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Calixtus had reversed the decision of his predecessors and denied the right of Canterbury to the obedience of York, which Lanfranc had successfully established. Perhaps his own experience led him to suspect the forgeries by which Lanfranc had built up his case, or he may have been anxious to curb the power of Canterbury which had rendered unsuccessful a mission on which he had himself been employed as papal legate to England. He insisted on the non-subordination of York to Canterbury; in return, he later granted to the Archbishop of Canterbury the dignity of permanent papal legate in England. This may have given satisfaction to the king; it also gave a foothold for papal authority in a country which papal legates had not been allowed to enter without royal permission.

For more than a year Calixtus remained in France. When he made his way into Italy and arrived at Rome in June 1120, he met with an enthusiastic reception; though he spent many months in South Italy, his residence in Rome was comparatively untroubled. The failure of the negotiations at Mouzon delayed peace for three more years, but the universal desire for it was too strong to be gainsaid. Two events in 1121 prepared the way. Firstly, the capture of the anti-Pope in April by Calixtus removed a serious obstacle; the wretched Gregory VIII had received, as he complained, no support from the Emperor who had exalted him. Secondly, at Michaelmas in the Diet of Wurzburg the German nobles restored peace between Henry and his opponents in Germany, and promised by their mediation to effect peace with the Church also. This removed the chief difficulties. Suspicion of the king had ruined negotiations at Mouzon; his pledges were now to be guaranteed by the princes of the Empire. Moreover with Germany united for peace, the Papacy could have little to gain by holding out against it; Calixtus shewed his sense of the changed situation by the conciliatory, though firm, letter which he wrote to Henry on 19 February 1122 and sent by the hand of their common kinsman, Bishop Azzo of Acqui. Henry had as little to gain by obstinacy, and shewed himself prepared to carry out the decisions of the Diet of Wurzburg and to promote the re-opening of negotiations. The preliminaries took time. The papal plenipotentiaries fixed on Mainz as the meeting-place for the council, but the Emperor won an important success in obtaining the change of venue from this city, where he had in the archbishop an implacable enemy, to the more loyal Worms; here on 23 September was at last signed the Concordat which brought Empire and Papacy into communion once more.

The Concordat of Worms was a treaty of peace between the two powers, each of whom signed a diploma granting concessions to the other. The Emperor, besides a general guarantee of the security of Church property and the freedom of elections, surrendered for ever investiture with the ring and staff. The Pope in his concessions made an important distinction between bishoprics and abbeys in Germany and those in Italy and Burgundy. In the former he granted that elections should take place in the king’s presence and allowed a certain authority to the king in disputed elections; the bishop or abbot elect was to receive the regalia from the king by the sceptre, and in return was to do homage and take the oath of fealty, before consecration. In Italy and Burgundy consecration was to follow a free election, and within six months the king might bestow the regalia by the sceptre and receive homage in return. This distinction marked a recognition of existing facts. The Emperor had exercised little control over elections in Burgundy, and had been gradually losing authority in Italy. Two factors had reduced the importance of the Italian bishoprics: the growing power of the communes, often acquiesced in by the bishops, had brought about a corresponding decline in episcopal authority, and the bishops had in general acceded to the papal reform decrees, so that they were far less amenable to imperial control. As far as Germany was concerned, it remained of the highest importance to the king to retain control over the elections, as the temporal authority of the bishops continued unimpaired. And here, though the abolition of the obnoxious use of spiritual symbols satisfied the papal scruples, the royal control of elections remained effective. But it cannot be denied that the Concordat was a real gain to the Papacy. The Emperor’s privilege was a surrender of an existing practice; the Pope’s was only a statement of how much of the existing procedure he was willing to countenance.

On 11 November a diet at Bamberg confirmed the Concordat, which forthwith became part of the constitutional law of the Empire. In December the Pope wrote a letter of congratulation to Henry and sent him his blessing, and at the Lenten Synod of 1123 proceeded to ratify the Concordat on the side of the Church as well. The imperial diploma was welcomed with enthusiasm by the synod; against the papal concessions there was some murmuring, but for the sake of peace they were tolerated for the time. It was recognised that they were not irrevocable, and their wording rendered possible the claim that, while Henry’s privilege was binding on his successors, the Pope’s had been granted to Henry alone for his lifetime. There were also wide discrepancies of opinion as to the exact implication of the praesentia regis at elections and the influence he could exercise at disputed elections. By Henry V, and later by Frederick Barbarossa, these were interpreted in the sense most favourable to the king. Between Henry and Calixtus, however, no friction arose, despite the efforts of Archbishop Adalbert to provoke the Pope to action against the Emperor. Calixtus died in December 1124, Henry in the following summer, without any violation of the peace. The subordination of Lothar to ecclesiastical interests allowed the Papacy to improve its position, which was still further enhanced during the weak reign of Conrad. Frederick I restored royal authority in this direction as in others, and the version of the Concordat given by Otto of Freising represents his point of view; the difference between Italian and German bishoprics is ignored, and the wording of the Concordat is slightly altered to admit of in­terpretation in the imperial sense. It is clear that the Concordat contained within itself difficulties that prevented it from becoming a permanent settlement; its great work was to put on a legal footing the relations of the Emperor with the bishops and abbots of Germany. What might have resulted in connexion with the Papacy we cannot tell. The conflict between Frederick I and the Papacy was again a conflict for mastery, in which lesser subjects of difference were obliterated. Finally Frederick II made a grand renunciation of imperial rights at elections on 12 July 1213, before the last great conflict began.

The first great contest between Empire and Papacy had virtually come to an end with the death of Henry IV. Its results were indecisive. The Concordat of Worms had provided a settlement of a minor issue, but the great question, that of supremacy, remained unsettled. It was tacitly ignored by both sides until it was raised again by the challenging words of Hadrian IV. But the change that had taken place in the relations between the two powers was in itself a great victory for the papal idea. The Papacy, which Henry III had controlled as master from 1046 to 1056, had claimed authority over his son, and had at any rate treated as an equal with his grandson. In the ecclesiastical sphere the Pope had obtained a position which he was never to lose. That he was the spiritual head of the Church would hardly have been questioned before, but his authority had been rather that of a suzerain, who was expected to leave the local archbishops and bishops in independent control of their own districts. In imitation of the policy of the temporal rulers, the Popes had striven, with a large measure of success, to convert this suzerainty into a true sovereignty. This was most fully recognised in France, though it was very widely accepted also in Germany and North Italy. In England, papal authority had made least headway, but even here we find in Anselm an archbishop of Canterbury placing his profession of obedience to the Pope above his duty to his temporal sovereign. The spiritual sovereignty of the Papacy was bound to mean a limitation of the authority of the temporal rulers.

Papal sovereignty found expression in the legislative, executive, and judicial supremacy of the Pope. At general synods, held usually at Rome and during Lent, he promulgated decrees binding on the whole Church; these decrees were repeated and made effective by local synods also, on the holding of which the Popes insisted. The government was centralised in the hands of the Pope, firstly, by means of legates, permanent or temporary, who acted in his name with full powers: secondly, by the frequent summons to Rome of bishops and especially of archbishops, who, moreover, were rarely allowed to receive the pallium except from the hand of the Pope himself.

A more elaborate organisation was contemplated in the creation of primacies, begun in France by Gregory VII and extended by his successors; while certain archbishops were thus given authority over others, they were themselves made more directly responsible to Rome.

And as papal authority became more real, the authority of archbishops and bishops tended to decrease. The encouragement of direct appeals to Rome was a cause of this, as was the papal protection given to monasteries, especially by Urban II, with exemption in several cases from episcopal control. Calixtus II, as a former archbishop, was less in sympathy with this policy and guarded episcopal rights over monasteries with some care. But the close connexion of the Papacy with so many houses in all parts tended to exalt its position and to lower the authority of the local bishop; it had a further importance in the financial advantage it brought to the Papacy.

Papal elections were now quite free. The rights that had been preserved to Henry IV in the Election Decree of Nicholas II had lapsed during the schism. Imperial attempts to counteract this by the appointment of subservient anti-Popes had proved a complete failure. In episcopal elections, too, progress had been made towards greater freedom. There was a tendency towards the later system of election by the chapter, but at present clergy outside the chapter and influential laymen had a considerable and a lawful share. In Germany and England the royal will was still the decisive factor. It may be noticed here that the Popes did not attempt to introduce their own control over elections in place of the lay control which they deprecated. They did, however, frequently decide in cases of dispute, or order a new election when they considered the previous one to be uncanonical in form or invalid owing to the character of the person elected; occasionally too, as Gregory VII in the case of Hugh and the archbishopric of Lyons, they suggested to the electors the suitable candidate. But the papal efforts were directed primarily to preserving the purity of canonical election.

The Reform Movement had led to a devastating struggle, but in many respects its results were for good. There was undoubtedly a greater spirituality noticeable among the higher clergy, in Germany as well as in France, at the end of the period. The leading figure among the moderates, Bishop Otto of Bamberg, was to become famous as the apostle of Pomerania, and Archbishop Conrad of Salzburg was to be prominent not only in politics but also for his zeal in removing the clergy from secular pursuits. In the age that followed, St Bernard and St Norbert were able by their personality and spiritual example to exercise a dominance over the rulers of France and Germany denied to the Popes themselves.

There was indeed another side of papal activity which tended to lessen their purely spiritual influence. The temporal power was to some extent a necessity, for spiritual weapons were of only limited avail. Gregory VII had apparently conceived the idea of a Europe owning papal suzerainty, but his immediate successors limited themselves to the Papal States, extended by the whole of South Italy, where the Normans recognised papal overlordship. The alliance with the Normans, so often useful, almost necessary, was dangerous and demoralising. It had led to the fatal results of Gregory’s last years and was for some time to give the Normans a considerable influence over papal policy, while the claim of overlordship of the South was to lead to the terrible struggle with the later Hohenstaufen and its aftermath in the contest of Angevins and Aragonese. In Rome itself papal authority, which had been unquestioned during Gregory’s archidiaconate and papacy up to 1083, received a severe check from Norman brutality; it was long before it could be recovered in full again.

The great advance of papal authority spiritual and temporal, its rise as a power co-equal with the Empire, was not initiated indeed by Gregory VII, but it was made possible by him and he was the creator of the new Papacy. He had in imagination travelled much farther than his immediate successors were willing to follow. But he made claims and set in motion theories which were debated and championed by writers of greater learning than his own, and though they lay dormant for a time they were not forgotten. St Bernard shewed what spiritual authority could achieve. Gregory VII had contemplated the Papacy exercising this authority, and his claims were to be brought into the light again, foolishly and impetuously at first by Hadrian IV, but with more insight and determination by Innocent III, with whom they were to enter into the region of the practical and in some measure actually to be carried into effect. Gregory VII owed much to Nicholas I and the author of the Forged Decretals; Innocent III owed still more to Gregory VII.