Revised: 18 January, A.D. 2002
This is a fairly long document, adapted from the Web Monk's M.A. Thesis, Boniface VIII and the Decline of Papal Power. You can scroll through it or pick an area of interest by "clicking on" the appropriate topic in the list below. Return to this menu to select another area of interest, or simply scroll up or down.
Simony - The Sale of Church Offices
Since 313 A.D. and the reign of Constantine, the Church and clergy were recognized, given property and income, and often integrated into the workings of the government. The rise of feudal kingdoms found bishops and abbots as vassals of the king. In twentieth century terms they were prelates who were also part time Counts, but the distinction blurred in contemporary minds. In England, for example, "bishops became important property holders and influential ministers in royal and feudal administration: a development reflected most directly in their dual possession of spiritual office and material benefice." Or as in France, where the historian Joseph Strayer remarks of Philip IV that "He couldn't have governed without the ... professional skills of bishops, archdeacons, and canons who filled his court." As early as the seventh century, the archbishop of Ravenna in Italy was recognized by the emperor as holding territories as far away as Sicily and even as heading an autocephalous Church. The aristocracy of Siena and Milan included their bishops. The heads of the Church were important functionaries of state.
The Church also held monastic properties, often vast tracts of land complete with vassals and serfs to produce a living for the abbot and his monks. Wealthy landowners established monasteries as a means of gaining the spiritual benefits earned by the monks for themselves and their heirs. Prior to the tenth century many monasteries were "proprietary," that is they remained the property of the landholder and were subject to his control. The landholder might be a layman or another monastery. The owner might retain some of the property's income and dictate the rule of life to be observed by the monks. He had at least some say in the selection of the monastery's abbot.
In many instances, proprietary parish churches were established in much the same way as monasteries. A landowner, wishing to make it convenient for his family and his tenants to attend Mass and receive the Sacraments could set aside some land and income producing property, build a church, and have his man ordained parish priest. The landowner might receive some of the land's income and a share in the tithes of the parishioners.
Clearly, ecclesiastical offices possessed an economic as well as a spiritual value. A man appointed bishop, abbot, or parish priest was entitled to the income of his benefice. He would gather part or all of the produce of its fields, the production of its shops, and perhaps tithes and tributes owed to it by parishioners or other foundations. In the medieval world, these things were simply the benefice holders means of legitimate support. Many benefices were modest, but some, particularly those of the bishops, were extremely lucrative. By the eighth century monastic benefices could be held "in commendam" by a bishop or even a layman. Holdings "in commendam" extended even to noble women. The beneficiary, having no interest in the monastery, might hire a low paid substitute and pocket the remaining revenues.
Simony, the purchase and sale of ecclesiastical offices, could be expected wherever the appointment or confirmation to lucrative benefices was under the control of unscrupulous men. Named for the magician, Simon Magus, who attempted to buy ordination from Saint Peter, simony was universally held to be a sin of the worst order. A bishop was normally said to be married to his church, but a simoniacal bishop was described as having hired a harlot. Simony brought men to high office in the Church without regard to qualification or dedication to duty. Benefices went to those able to purchase them.
To be clear though, it must be understood that in the tenth or eleventh century simony and its spiritual consequences were not as clearly defined as they would be in later centuries. The theologians of the time were divided in their opinions. Some argued that simony made ordinations invalid, others that it did not. Most agreed that there was a distinction between the spiritual and temporal aspects of an office. While buying the spiritual powers was sinful, one could justify paying a price for (or renting) the temporal aspects of a bishopric or an abbacy, such as castles, lands, revenues, and tithes, and one could justify receiving these temporalities at the hands of a layman.
Marriage of the clergy caused the medieval Church occasional difficulties. Christ and the Apostles did not forbid priests and bishops to marry. The first pope, Saint Peter, was married. Saint Paul wrote that bishops and deacons "should be married but once." Yet Saint Paul did urge voluntary celibacy, which was sporadically adopted by the secular clergy. Some saw it as necessary for closer union with God, who was deserving of the priest's undivided love. Others viewed celibacy as a practical necessity. Married priests would have to support and spend time with their families, and those very families might become a source of scandal.
On the other hand, economic necessity pressured the poorer clergy to marry. The rural cleric was often a serf, newly freed in order to be appointed canonically, who had to make his living and pay his dues to the bishop by working the small plot of land assigned to the parish. As he was unable to hire personal servants, he married a helpmate and raised children with whom he could divide his labors.
As celibacy remained only a theoretical ideal until well into the eleventh century, the Church occasionally had to demand respect for its married clergy. Celibacy could not be imposed at the cost of leaving people without priests to provide the Mass and Sacraments. Burchard, the early eleventh century Bishop of Worms, prescribed a year long penance for those who refused the ministrations of a married priest.
The monastic clergy were governed by a more inflexible rule. Monks were expected to live in a community under close supervision, sleeping in a common dormitory, "not fulfilling the desires of the flesh, hating one's own will [and] ... loving chastity." Saint Augustine advised them that "it is wrong to desire a woman, or to want her to desire you." The essence of the monastic life was to deny one's self of all unnecessary pleasures in order to focus complete attention on God -- a vocation quite incompatible with married life.
By the middle ages celibacy was the theoretical ideal for priests and bishops; yet, many were married. Church laws in some locations forbade clerical marriage but were rarely enforced. The practice, either accepted or condoned in most places, was that men might marry before receiving the subdiaconate but not thereafter. As late as the ninth century, the respected Pope Adrian II (867-872) lived with his wife and daughter in the papal apartments. Adrian was no libertine. He was merely living in accordance with the generally accepted standards of the time.
Adrian II's pontificate was marred by the tragic murder of his wife and daughter by a political rival. They might have been called martyrs and canonized if the concept of a papal wife and daughter were not such an embarrassment to those later on trying to eliminate clerical marriage. In any event, their deaths did demonstrate that a family could be a liability to a prelate. Clement IV (1265-1268), a widower before ordination, had two marriageable daughters living with him. There was considerable discussion about the kind of dowry that would be fit for the pope's daughter. Perhaps mercifully they both entered convents.
The Jesuit historian, Philip Hughes suggests that clerical marriage plagued the system of clerical appointments. Married priests and bishops arranged to have their sons take over benefices when they died, tending to make the clergy an "hereditary caste." In spite of a church law that forbade the ordination of a son born after the father's ordination, several bishops designated their sons as the successors and one even installed his son before his own death. In the tenth and eleventh centuries "we meet such married bishops in Normandy and in Brittany, at Rouen, Le Mans, Sez, Quimper and Nantes, at Gascogne and at Agen."
Even the absolute prohibition of marriage to monks was ineffective. Monasteries occasionally housed married abbots and their families and sometimes married monks. Reformers trying to correct such abuses often met with violence or death. Hughes cites the abbot of Erluin, blinded by his monks at Lobbes in order to halt his reform.
The need for reform brought about a variety of movements. Some worked within the Church, some called for poverty among the clergy and for the elimination of benefices while others challenged the very authority of the Church itself. Yet others simply attempted to disentangle the complex web of church-state interdependence. The first attempts at reform were directed at the monasteries.
Monastic reform moved in two directions: restoration of the monastic rule, and reformation of monastic land ownership. Perhaps the most notable example of the restoration of the rule took place between about 1098 and 1115 with the creation of the Cistercian Order. Under three successive abbots, (Saints) Robert of Molesme (1098), Albric (1099), and Stephen Harding (1109), a group from the French Abbey of Molesme established a group of monks devoted to the literal observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict. The order flourished as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux became its most notable abbot (1115-1153). The Cistercian ideal molded monks who were to be truly other- worldly.
The foundation at Cluny (11 September 910) predated Cteaux and shared its emphasis on personal austerity. However, while the Cistercian monasteries carried this austerity into their architecture, ornamentation, and liturgy, Cluny did not. Indeed Cluny took the daily round of Mass and the chanting of the Psalms and made it into a liturgical pageant copied by many other abbeys and cathedrals.
Cluny is remembered as the first major attempt at monastic land ownership reform. In Cluny's foundation charter William IX of Aquitaine intended to give the monks a monastery neither controlling nor controlled by the secular power. In theory, the monks had only nominal economic obligations to the Holy See and complete independence from the diocesan bishop. They governed themselves, under their Abbot Berno and his elected successors. Pope John XIX confirmed Cluny's independence from the bishop of Macon in 1024. This ensured that Cluny would not be influenced by an absentee abbot or one chosen for political or economic reasons. Cluny established and assumed the direction of other monasteries as priories of Cluny itself and influenced the establishment of independent monasteries along Cluniac lines.
At the height of its eleventh century influence Cluny had an enormous number of foundations under its direction. Estimates ran as high as two thousand locations if priories and hermitages were counted. Some of these were considered part of Cluny itself, managed by a prior who reported to the Abbot of Cluny. Others had abbots who had served as priors at Cluny and sent their monks to Cluny for novitiate and profession of vows. A few simply followed Cluniac customs. In all, the degree of centralized control by the mother house was remarkable.
Cluny-like charters were adopted by other monasteries, such as Hirsau in Germany, Calmoldi and Vallombrosa in Italy, and a number of houses in Spain. These houses were subject directly to the pope. At least one house, Frutturia, founded by William of Volpiano in 1000, "was to be God's property alone." The prosperity of the Cluniac foundations may be contrasted with that of Flavigny, a conventional house in the same general area, dominated by counts and bishops. Flavigny's fortunes varied greatly, depending upon who was ruling at the moment, and it exercised none of the leadership of Cluny. Over the centuries, the Cluny model exercised enormous influence on the reform movement -- yet the model was too self contained to influence the Church at large. Limited to a monastery or group of monasteries, it failed to deal with the most important issues: lay investiture, simony, and the autonomy of the papacy itself.
The dual role of prelates serving Church and state caused potential problems for both. In any ecclesiastic there was at least the possibility of divided loyalty. From the state's point of view, it meant that a foreign power might exercise control over its domestic affairs. From the Church's point of view, it meant that prelates might be appointed more for their political reliability or connections than for the salvation of souls or the prosperity of the Church.
Everywhere, lay investiture brought the twin scandals of simony and absentee leadership. Since prelacies carried with them prestige, power, and income, they might be sought through simoniacal bribery. Prelacies, like abbacies, might be obtained as political plums, a benefice in commendam providing revenue to an absentee bishop. Obviously, such appointees were not generally known for their holiness.
Rome itself suffered from simony, clerical marriage, and the decline in church discipline. The tenth and eleventh centuries were filled with these abuses at the highest level of the Church. Theophylact, the commander-in-chief of the imperial forces at Ravenna, and his descendents controlled most of the appointments to the papacy between 904 and 964. His wife Theodora and daughter Marozia were lovers to various popes. Marozia's son reigned as John XI (931- 935) while in his early twenties, and her great-grandson ruled as John XII (955-964) at eighteen. Riotous living prevailed.
Another Roman family bearing the name Crescentius appointed a later line of popes. Some of these were good men, others even more scandalous than those of the Theophylact family. By 1012 and the election of Benedict VIII, the counts of Tusculum took control of papal appointments until Henry III of Germany stepped in during 1045.
The German kings (later emperors) occasionally became involved in the papal appointments of the tenth century. Otto I deposed John XII in 963; Otto II appointed John XIV in 983; and Otto III installed the first German pope as Gregory V. Benedict VIII appealed to Henry I for confirmation of his appointment by the Count of Tusculum. As king, Henry exercised control over the German church but did so benevolently, being given the surname "the pious" and canonized by Pope Eugenius III in 1152.
The Emperor, Henry III (1039-1056), became regularly involved in the election of popes. In 1046 three men claimed the papacy under the titles of Benedict IX, Gregory VI, and Silvester III. Henry marched troops into Rome and, together with a council held at Sutri, replaced the three claimants with his own man, Clement II, former Archbishop of Bamberg. Following Clement, Henry's appointees reigned as Damasus II, Leo IX, and Victor II. Of these, Leo IX was particularly important as a major reformer who brought in advisors from Lorraine and who visited the important sees of Europe to enforce the ban on lay interference, simony, and clerical marriage.
Leo IX's advisors held a variety of theories as to how the Church's independence from lay control and simony might be secured. At first, Leo sided with Peter Damian (former Camaldolese monk, theologian, and cardinal bishop of Ostia), who wanted to make the power of the empire a permanent part of the appointment procedure. Peter, ordained by a simoniacal bishop, was much more liberal about that abuse than Leo's other principal advisor, Cardinal Humbert.
Humbert of Silva Candida sought complete independence from or even dominance of all secular powers. He suggested that the "world" of Pope Gelasius was identical with "Christendom," that as one large "ecclesia" it was modeled on the Church of Rome, and would best be ruled, as the Church is, by the priesthood. Humbert insisted that all the acts of those who purchased an office were invalid. In April 1060 a compromise was reached with a council at the Lateran condemning simoniacal acts as sinful but recognizing their validity and excluding the emperor from interference in papal elections. Humbert's theories about the Church's superiority to the state would be tested a few years later, during the pontificate of Gregory VII.
The emperor had not always been a party to selecting the pope. Ancient custom assumed that the people of a city would name their own bishop when his predecessor died. In practice, this might mean anything from mob rule to careful deliberation by the previously appointed members of a cathedral chapter. In some cases tradition dictated confirmation of the bishop-elect by a higher ecclesiastical authority, by a metropolitan archbishop, or by the pope. In other cases, particularly where the bishop was a secular vassal and exercised temporal jurisdiction, the civil authorities had a right to confirm and invest candidates.
In Rome itself a considerable number of forces could enter into the election of a new pope. The Roman people claimed the traditional privilege, as did the municipal senate, the important Roman families, the Roman Emperor, the papal Curia, and the College of Cardinals. Depending on the prevailing circumstances, each of these factions (and sub-factions) could and did influence or determine papal elections. Today the cardinals invariably elect the pope, but no fixed and authoritative rules prevailed until the eleventh century.
The cardinals did not have the exclusive right to elect the new pope until 1059. Not called a "college" until 1150, the cardinals originated as the secular clergy of Rome. Before the eleventh century, the cardinals' functions were limited to local affairs and to participation in the papal liturgy. Like many other Metropolitan- Archbishops, the pope had several suffragan bishops. The suffragans directed the suburban sees around Rome: Ostia (the most important), Albano, Frascati, Palestrina, Porto and Santa Rufina, Sabina, and Velletri. The bishops of these cities came to be called the cardinal bishops. The pope also had seven priests responsible for maintaining each of the four major basilicas of Rome: Saint Peter's, Saint Paul's, Saint Mary Major, and Saint Lawrence. These twenty eight clerics formed the cardinal priesthood. The Roman deacons were also represented. Originally responsible for Rome's charitable work, the Roman archdeacon, together with six municipal deacons and twelve suburban deacons, constituted the cardinal diaconate. For some reason the Roman subdeacons were excluded although at least one of them was accorded the title of cardinal subdeacon in papal correspondence. The College of Cardinals thus theoretically numbered fifty-four (reduced to fifty-three in the late eleventh century) although this maximum was often not met in the middle ages and has been substantially exceeded in modern times.
As the power of the Church began to be concentrated in the pope, the cardinals came to function more as a papal senate rather than as the bishops, priests, and deacons of the Roman archdiocese. During the mid-to-late eleventh century, the various ranks of cardinals became the principal advisors of the pope and frequently represented him on business abroad. Although it was he who appointed them, the pope was expected to seek the advice of his cardinals before acting on important matters.
Nicholas II made a clear assertion of the Church's independence in selecting Its supreme head. In April 1059, at a council in the Lateran he issued a decree that placed the responsibility for electing future popes exclusively in the hands of the cardinal-bishops, upon consultation with the lower cardinals, clergy and people. "Due honor and reverence" were reserved for the emperor, whose role in all of this was unspecified. Possibly it was hoped that he would be satisfied with protecting the City from foreign powers during the interregnum. The Lateran Council also forbade simony and clerical marriage.
Thereafter, only the cardinal-bishops voted to elect the pope. Uta-Renate Blumenthal holds that the Cardinal Priest Deusdedit, active in obtaining the same privilege for the other cardinals, went so far as to alter the decree of 1059 in his collection of canonical writings, referring to the cardinal-bishops simply as Cardinals. In 1179 the Third Lateran Council recognized all of the cardinals as electors in the decree "Licet de evitanda."
Walter Ullmann suggests that the strongest believers in absolute papal power were those Cardinals who most strongly opposed absolutism within the Curia. He attributes this to their contention that the Holy See was a "corporation" rather than a "monarchy." As "directors of the corporation," they shared in the absolute power of the pope. Blumenthal says that for Cardinal Deusdedit, the Holy Roman Church is a corporation represented by the Cardinals together with the popes elected from their number.
Perhaps the most notable figure in the internal reform movement was Gregory VII (1073-1085). Originally called Hildebrand and born about 1020 in Tuscany, Gregory started his ecclesiastical career in the service of Gregory VI. After a brief stay at Cluny following Gregory VI's death, Hildebrand returned to papal service as an advisor and policy maker for Nicholas II and Alexander II. His zeal and effectiveness in reform was so well known that on Alexander's death, Hildebrand was named pope by public acclamation. (Contrary to the previously mentioned decree of Nicholas II
Gregory is best known for his struggle with Henry IV over lay investiture. In Gregory's time it had become common for the emperor or a king to "invest" new abbots and bishops with their offices. This right of investiture implied great power over the territories where it was practiced. Prospective prelates had to be politically favored to obtain appointment and might be given offices to hold in commendam. Lay investiture might gave the impression that offices were bought and sold. To the uneducated it might suggest that the bishops' spiritual powers came from temporal sources rather than by way of apostolic succession. As pope, one of Gregory's greatest priorities was to eliminate lay investiture
As early as 1068 Emperor Henry IV and Gregory, then the legate Hildebrand, clashed over Henry's attempt to fill the see of Milan following the resignation of Archbishop Wido. Henry invested the subdeacon Godfrey, backing down only after Hildebrand convinced Wido to withdraw his resignation. Wido died in 1072 and the following year Henry had his man Godfrey consecrated bishop and installed at Milan. Almost simultaneously, Hildebrand became pope and Henry faced rebellion in Saxony. Henry had offended the Saxons by excluding them from important offices and by depriving Otto of Nordheim of his duchy in 1071. In order to hold the loyalty of his other subjects, Henry wrote an apology to Pope Gregory and once again backed down on his appointment to Milan.
In 1075, Gregory VII issued a list of twenty-seven propositions, Dictatus Papae, in which he dogmatically expounded his understanding of the relationship between the pope and the secular power. Several of the propositions directly conflicted with the authority of the secular power:
8. He [the pope] alone can use the imperial insignia.
9. That only the pope's feet are to be kissed by all princes.
12. That it is licit for him to depose emperors.
18. That his sentence ought to be reconsidered by no one, and he alone can reconsider the judgments of all.
20. That no one may dare to condemn a person appealing to the Apostolic See.
27. That he can absolve the subjects of wicked men from fealty.
Propositions 8, 12, 18, and 27 made Gregory's famous clash with the Henry inevitable. Geoffrey Barraclough observes that Gregory's "reform was not a matter of preaching and example, but of organization." He wanted to order change, not inspire it. It remained to be seen if real reform could take place without the genuine conversion of individuals.
Gregory's declaration of papal supremacy concerned many of the bishops as well as the emperor and secular rulers. In earlier years, direct papal control over each diocese was uncommon. Various cities claimed primacy or autonomy for their bishops. Poor transportation and communication made it possible to ignore those in authority who remained at a distance. Now Gregory was regularly in conflict with his own bishops and cardinals.
Henry IV, meanwhile, had resolved his difficulties with the rebellious Saxons. He won a major victory against them at the battle of Hohenburg, on 12 June 1075. He then proceeded to appoint Tedaldus, another subdeacon, archbishop of Milan. Gregory forbade Tedaldus' consecration and summoned the subdeacon to Rome. In a letter dated 8 December 1075, Gregory demanded the emperor's obedience and explained the papal edict against lay investiture.
The appointment at Milan was significant to Henry for several reasons. Certainly, it must have been embarrassing to him, victorious in war, to be personally threatened with excommunication. Then too, Milan was strategically important, often conquered and sitting on the trade routes that crossed Lombardy and over the Alps. But Milan also represented all of the other German and Italian benefices that the emperors had controlled since the time of the Ottonians. Gregory was captured by Henry's agent, Censius, for a few hours on Christmas 1075, but was rescued by the threatening Roman mob. Henry answered Gregory's threat of excommunication with a letter, beginning with the renowned greeting: "Henry, king not by usurpation, but by the pious ordination of God, to Hildebrand, not now pope, but false monk." The letter, written from Worms on 24 January 1076, where Henry had the German bishops' synod depose Gregory brought Henry's excommunication.
Not only was he denied the sacraments of the Church, but Gregory "release[d] all Christian men from the allegiance they have sworn or may swear to him," and forbade "anyone to serve him as king." Gregory had "played his trump card" -- a move of enormous theoretical significance. With the stroke of his pen Gregory disavowed the traditional structure of Christendom within the empire. He replaced it with his view of an empire within Christendom. Gregory told the Catholic world that Christendom existed not because of the benevolence of Constantine and his successors but because God willed it. And Gregory, as God's vicar, would determine who Constantine's successors would be.
In order to regain the allegiance of his subjects, Henry sought absolution from his excommunication. He performed his well known penance, during January of 1077, kneeling in the snow at the papal retreat in Canossa near Reggio. Quite probably, Gregory was torn between his political desire to keep Henry in check and his duty as a priest to absolve the repentant sinner. Persuaded by the Countess Matilda of Tuscany and Abbot Hugh of Cluny, Gregory granted the requested absolution.
Between 1077 and 1080 Henry was constantly at war with his rebellious princes. He refused Gregory's offer to mediate peace and was excommunicated again on 7 March 1080. Henry deposed Gregory, establishing Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna as his own pope, under the title Clement III. After repeated attacks on Rome, Gregory was exiled and died in Salerno on 25 May 1085, reportedly breathing a paraphrase of Psalm 44, "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."
Superficially, Henry may appear to be the victor. Yet, Gregory proved that the weapon of excommunication was powerful enough in practice to release subjects from obedience to their sovereign. The "sword" of the Church could be effective against the "sword" of the state. It was not as though Gregory repudiated Pope Gelasius' doctrine of twin swords; but as Christ's representative on earth, he felt he could control both. Even before Gregory, popes had controlled territory and sometimes seemed to usurp the jurisdiction of the empire, but with Gregory VII a new way of looking at the relationship between the Church and the empire became possible.
For a very brief period Gregory's position was reversed. Paschal II (1099-1118) supported Henry V (1106-25) in his revolt against his father, expecting greater compliance from the younger Henry. But the investiture debate continued to rage. In February 1111, Paschal decreed a radical compromise with Henry V: churchmen would relinquish all claims to secular properties and jurisdiction, and secular lords would likewise abandon their claims to those of the Church.
Although worded with the customary prohibitions and anathemas, Pope Paschal's decree was bilaterally ignored. The Church and the governments of western Europe were interdependent. They could not simply separate on command. Henry V's nobles ridiculed him. Paschal's clergy were equally disobedient. Henry persuaded Paschal to grant him limited rights of investiture, but this so infuriated the clergy that Paschal was forced to revoke the privilege. In 1115 Henry responded to Paschal by setting up the Archbishop of Braga as the antipope Gregory VIII, and having himself crowned a second time by his new "pope." During Paschal's reign Ivo of Chartres and Anselm of Canterbury worked out compromises in France and England with distinctions made between the temporal and religious aspects of investiture, following the pronouncements on investiture made by the (Lent of 1102) synod at the Lateran Palace.
With Henry's support several men falsely claimed the papacy during Paschal's lifetime. At his death on 21 January 1118, the cardinals quickly elected a legitimate successor in the person of Gelasius II. Gelasius resisted the efforts of Henry V to replace Paschal with the antipope Gregory VIII but became ill and died one year after his election, on 29 January 1119.
Callistus II, a strong defender of the Church's position, took office on 2 February 1119. He renewed Henry's excommunication and captured the emperor's antipope, Gregory VIII. In September 1122, Henry and Callistus reached a compromise in the Concordat of Worms. The emperor guaranteed elections according to Church law and gave up the right to invest with the spiritual symbols of office (specifically, ring and crosier). Within the German kingdom the emperor retained the right to supervise selections and some rights to decide disputed elections, and he would invest the elected bishop with a scepter as a symbol of the regalia or temporal properties. Outside of Germany the conferring of regalia might wait up to six months after the new bishop's consecration. The distinction between German and non-German imperial territories reflected papal concern with the influence of the emperor in Italy. Callistus presided at Lateran I (1123), a full general council, that codified the Church's position on simony and investiture.
At Lateran I, the Concordat of Worms was ratified. It was further ordered that only the Church could sell ecclesiastical property and canonical election was required before a bishop's consecration. Henry's antipopes were all declared not to have held the papacy. Finally, the council made Holy Orders an impediment to matrimony, so that any priest who attempted to marry would do so invalidly.
Several turbulent and highly disputed elections followed Callistus' death. In some cases two men claimed the papacy with the backing of Church leaders. Six antipopes and twelve popes reigned between Callistus II and Innocent III, and one (Honorius II) of the twelve legitimate popes simply forced the resignation of his predecessor (Celestine II).
The famous clash between Henry II of England, and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury came over the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164). Henry claimed the authority to limit the Church's power of excommunication and interdict. He controlled episcopal elections, travel, and communication with Rome. Clerics accused of crimes would be tried in royal rather than ecclesiastical courts. He claimed the revenues of unfilled benefices. Becket, who challenged Henry in this measure, was exiled to France and eventually martyred in Canterbury cathedral.
The reigning pope, Alexander III, defended Becket's position only weakly -- perhaps for fear of alienating Henry II's loyalties in favor of the antipopes, Victor IV, Paschal III, and Callistus III backed by the emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. Alexander conducted something of a "balancing act." The Angevin claims in western France became more and more worrisome to Louis VII. Barbarossa became more hostile in southern France, driving the pope into exile in 1162. Louis feared the possibility of an attack from both sides. Barbarossa conducted a series of military campaigns in northern Italy between 1156 and 1178. A decisive loss against the Lombard league at Legnano in 1176 prompted him to withdraw from Lombardy and to seek peace with Alexander III.
Although Alexander III died exiled from Rome, his successors, Lucius III and Urban III, could negotiate with Frederick Barbarossa, from positions of relative strength. Thomas Becket's martyrdom in 1170 and the capture of the last antipope, Innocent III, in 1180 restored some of the power of the papacy.
Urban III (1185-1187) campaigned vigorously against the practices by which ecclesiastical revenues were appropriated by civil rulers. He repudiated the practice of having the revenues of vacant sees accrue to the crown. His strong anti-imperial position brought invasion of the papal states. Only death prevented him from excommunicating Frederick Barbarossa. Urban's successors were more conciliatory but continued to remain active in the politics of the empire, often as brokers of political marriages and small kingdoms.
Lotario de' Conti had the good fortune to be elected Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) during an imperial minority. The death of the Hohenstaufen emperor, Henry VI, left Frederick II, a boy of three, as the heir apparent. Coupled with the pope's relative youth (37 when elected) and his strong family connections, this interruption in imperial succession made Innocent a force to be reckoned with. Educated in theology and law at Paris and Bologna, Innocent had risen rapidly through the papal service while creating a rich legacy of theological, pious, and literary works. As a member of the Orsini family, his career was blocked only momentarily during the pontificate of his predecessor, Celestine III (1191-1198).
As pope, Innocent responded to the imperial minority by restoring papal authority in Rome and the Papal States, occasionally driving out German rulers by force. He appointed the young Frederick II king of Sicily, but only after Frederick's regent-mother, Constance, recognized papal suzerainty on the island. Upon her death, Constance designated her son a ward of the pope, and Innocent served as imperial guardian for nine years until Frederick reached his majority. Innocent supported and then rejected both adult claimants to the empire -- the Ghibelline, Philip of Swabia and the Guelph, Otto IV. Ultimately, on 12 July 1215, he crowned Frederick II to succeed his father.
Innocent made use of the interregnum, ardently asserting the primacy of papal power and the right of the pope to judge the qualifications of the emperor. His letter, "Sicut universitatis," of 30 October 1188 taught the duality of authority on earth. God, he said, created the pontifical authority "luminare majus, ut presset diei" -- "like the sun to guard the day," and the royal power "luminare minus, ut presset nocte" -- like the moon to guard the night." In May of 1202, the decree "Venerabilem" expressed these ideas in the form of a written set of guidelines for papal approval of future elections. His Fourth Lateran Council, a general council in 1215, made significant pronouncements concerning the papal primacy, and condemned the heretical Waldensians and Albigensians.
Innocent's involvements in the affairs of Europe and the Near East read like a litany. In England and France, he was able to force a peace treaty between kings John and Philip Augustus, coerce the French king to take back his lawful wife, Ingeburga of Denmark, and set aside two elections and installed his candidate, Stephen Langton into the vacant See of Canterbury. He protected King John from his rebellious barons, received England as a fief of the papacy, and annulled the Magna Carta. In 1208 Innocent, perhaps still smarting from the abortive Fourth Crusade in the Holy Land, instituted a "crusade" internal to France, attempting to destroy the Albigensians of the southern region.
This Albigensian "crusade" was never quite successful, turning more to massacre and territorial conquest than religious conversion. It set the stage for the French expansion into the south, with which Boniface VIII would have to contend. Some of Philip IV's southern lawyers (notably Nogaret) came from this region and persecution of their families gave them reason to hate the papacy. The crusade was the occasion for the establishment of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans. Over the years this first of the mendicant orders would intellectually challenge the political concepts that Innocent took for granted.
Innocent III is generally acknowledged as the most politically powerful pope of all time. Some of his success came simply from good fortune of being at the right place at the right time. Yet, there he possessed unmistakable competence and great personal energy. Innocent might be described as a character, "larger than life," whom future popes would find impossible to imitate. Sixteen popes ruled during the seventy-eight years between Innocent III and Boniface VIII. These years represented an almost constant struggle with the emperor and European monarchs. They were also years of internal dissent; family squabbles among cardinals and difficult papal elections. After Innocent, there was only one direction for the political power of the popes -- and that one way was "down." As will be seen the weakening of the empire, coupled with a general change of philosophy, would seriously restrict papal power in the future.
1. Constantinius and Licinius, Edict of Milan (313) in Barry, Readings in Church History, 77-78
2. Charles Duggan in Lawrence, The English Church, 69.
3. Joseph Strayer, The Reign of Philip the Fair, 237.
4. Giovanni Tabacco, The Struggle for Power in Medieval Italy, 82, 92, 99-101.
5. Gerd Tellenbach, Church, State and Christian Society, 79-81.
6. Ibid., 72-75.
7. Jacques Le Goff, Medieval Civilization, 34.
8. Clifford Hugh Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism (London: Longman House, 1989), 276-277, 293
9. Philip Hughes, SJ, History, 2: 200.
10. Acts viii: 18-23.
11. Tellenbach, Church, State and Christian Society, 130-132.
12. Gerd Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe From the Tenth to the Early Twelfth Century, Timothy Reuter, trans., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 132. Hereafter cited as Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe.
13. Matthew viii: 14.
14. 1 Timothy iii: 2 and 12; Titus i: 7.
15. 1 Corinthians viii.
16. Hughes, History, 2: 199.
17. Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 90.
18. Burchard of Worms, Decretum, Bk. XIX, Ch. 5, No. 89 in John T. McNeil and Helena M. Gamer, Medieval Handbooks of Penance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), 332.
19. Leonard J. Doyle, Saint Benedict's Rule for Monasteries (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1948), Ch. 4.
20. Raymond Canning, OSA, trans., The Rule of Saint Augustine (Garden City: Image Books, 1986), Ch. 4.4.
21. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 109-110.
22. Ibid., 109-110.
23. The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Clement IV."
24. Hughes, History, 2: 201.
25. Ibid., 2: 200.
26. The monastic reforms of Benedict of Aniane began about 815, Cluny was founded about 908, and Cteaux in 1098. All three are described in Bede K. Lackner, S.O.Cist., The Eleventh-Century Background of Citeaux (Washington: Cistercian Publications, 1972).
27. Ibid. Also see Fr. M. Raymond, OCSO, The Saga of Citeaux (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1944) which is not a scholarly work, but outlines the beginnings of the order in such a way as to explain its original spirit.
28. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism, 174-205.
29. Ibid., 111-148.
30. Foundation Charter of the Abbey of Cluny in Joan Evans, Monastic Life at Cluny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1931) 4-6.
31. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism, 91.
32. Ibid., 91-98.
33. Giles Constable, "Cluniac Administration and Administrators in the Twelfth Century" in Jordan, Order and Innovation, 17-30.
34. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism, 91-98, 152-156.
35. Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 296.
36. Constance Brittain Bouchard, ed., The Cartulary of Flavigny 717-1113 (Cambridge Mass: The Medieval Academy of America, 1991), 4.
37. Recent articles on the impact of the Cluniac reform include John Howe, "Monasteria Semper Libera: Cluniac-Type Monastic Liberties in Some Eleventh-Century Italian Monasteries," The Catholic Historical Review 78 (January 1992): 19-34, and William Ziezulewicz, "The School of Chartres and Reform Influences before the Pontificate of Leo IX," The Catholic Historical Review 77 (July 1991): 383-402.
38. Hughes, History, 2: 191-201.
39. Ibid., 2: 192-195.
40. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 123, 126-127.
41. Hughes, History, 2: 195 quotes L. Duchesne, Les premiers temps del' etat pontifical. 3rd ed. 1911, p. 335 in describing the living style of John XII, "His sacriligious love affairs were flaunted unashamedly. . . . the Lateran was become a bad house. . . . we hear of a boy of ten consecrated a bishop. . . . [and] in the Lateran, the pope used to drink to the health of the devil."
42. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 141.
43. Hughes, History, 2: 197-198.
44. Henry was the first emperor but the second German king to bear this name.
45. Brevarium Romanum, 15 July.
47. Emperor Henry I is said to have died a virgin and left no heir. He was succeeded by Conrad II, to whom he was related through his great-grandfather King Henry I, and who in turn fathered Henry III.
48. Hughes, History, 2: 213-218.
49. Lester K. Little comments on the effects of Peter Damian's personal life on his theories of reform, particularly in regard to clerical wealth and marriage. See his "The Personal Development of Peter Damian,"in Jordan, Order and Innovation, 317-341.
50. Hughes, History, 2: 215. and The American Council of Learned Societies, Dictionary of the Middle Ages (New York: Chas. Schribner's Sons, 1987) s.v. "Peter Damian," and "Humbert of Silva Candida."
51. Walter Ullmann, "Cardinal Humbert and the Roman Ecclesia," Studi Gregoriani 4 (Rome: 1952) 111-127, reprinted in Ullmann's The Papacy and Political Ideas in the Middle Ages. London: Variorum Reprints, 1976.
52. Denzinger Nos. 691-694.
53. Robinson, The Papacy, 41.
54. Kittler, The Papal Princes, 29-30.
55. Robinson, The Papacy, 33.
56. Ibid., 33-34.
57. Ibid., 38.
58. Ibid., 98-102.
59. Decree of Pope Nicholas II in Barry, Readings in Church History, 238-240.
61. Denzinger, Nos. 691-694.
62. Uta-Renate Blumenthal, "History and Tradition in Eleventh Century Rome," The Catholic Historical Review 79 (April 1993): 185-196. Hereafter cited as Blumenthal, "History and Tradition."
63. Robinson, The Papacy, 40.
64. Walter Ullmann, "Cardinal Humbert and the Roman Ecclesia," Studi Gregoriani 4 (Rome: 1952), 126.
65. See "Decreetists and Decreetalists" on the http://personal.lig.bellsouth.net/~orccfl/history/decretists.htm page.
66. Blumenthal, "History and Tradition," 194.
67. Robinson, The Papacy, 59.
68. William Stubbs, Germany in the Early Middle Ages (New York: Longmans Green, 1908), 164.
69. Ernest F. Hendersen, A History of Germany in the Middle Ages (New York: Haskell House Publishing Ltd., 1968), 191-193. Hereafter cited as Henderson, A History of Germany.
70. Gregory VII, Dictatus Paae, in Tierney, Crisis, Doc. 26, 49-50.
71. Geoffrey Barraclugh, The Medieval Papacy (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1968), 86.
72. Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 34-35 and Tabacco, The Struggle for Power, 82, 92, 99-101.
73. Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 67.
74. Barraclugh, The Medieval Papacy, 88 and Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 207-222.
75. Gregory VII, "To Tedaldus of Milan, on his candidacy for the Bishopric." in The Correspondence of Gregory VII, translated by Ephraim Emerton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932), 85-86.
76. Gregory VII, "To Henry IV, admonishing him to show more defference to the Holy See and its decrees." The Correspondence of Gregory VII, 86-91.
77. Hendersen, A History of Germany, 197.
78. Stubbs, Germany in the Early Middle Ages, 167.
79. Henry IV's letter of 24 January 1076, in Barry, Readings in Church History 242.
80. The decree of Gregory's deposition is given in Ibid., 148-150.
81. Gregory VII, "The Roman Lenten synod of 1076: Excommunication of Henry IV." The Correspondence of Gregory VII, 90-91.
82. Tellenbach, Church, State and Christian Society, 165-168.
83. Hendersen, A History of Germany, 202-203.
84. Gregory VII, "Excommunication of Henry IV." The Correspondence of Gregory VII, 149-152.
85. George Stebbing, CSSR, The Story of the Catholic Church (London: Sands & Co., 1915), 288-289.
86. Barraclugh, The Medieval Papacy, 88.
87. Sancho Ramirez received Aragon as a papal fief in 1068, as Robert Guiscard received Apulia and Calabria in 1059. (Tellenbach, Church in Western Europe, 330, 332.) and Richard of Aversa in 1059 (Thompson, 377.)
88. The church as wielder of the military sword will be examined in a later chapter.
89. Tierney, Crisis, Doc. 42, 89-90.
90. Hughes, History , 2: 236-239.
91. Denzinger, Nos. 705-708.
92. The Concordat of Worms in Barry, Readings in Church History, 253-254.
93. Tellenbach, The Church in Western Europe, 283-285.
94. Denzinger, Nos. 710-712.
95. Philip Hughes, A History, 2: 273-274. See the glossary http://personal.lig.bellsouth.net/~orccfl/history/glossary.htm for an explanation of the terms "validity" and "liciety."
96. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 164-186.
97 The Constitutions of Clarendon (1164) in Carl Stephenson and Frederick George Marcham. Sources of English Constitutional History (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), 73-76.
98. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 176-179.
99. Robert Somerville, Pope Alexander III and the Council of Tours (1163): A Study of Ecclesiastical Politics and Institutions in the Twelfth Century. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977) 1-11.
100. An antipope, not the Innocent III who would reign with the same name in 1198.
101. When elected pope, he retained his own See of Milan to prevent its revenues from going to the emperor.
102. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, 181-182.
103. The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Innocent III."
104. David Abulafia, Fredrick II, 90-93.
105. Ibid., 102-120. See the glossary http://personal.lig.bellsouth.net/~orccfl/history/glossary.htm for an explanation of the terms "Guelf" and "Ghibelline."
106. Denzinger, 767.
107. P.L., ccxvi, columns 1065-1067.
108. Denzinger, 800-820.
109. The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Innocent III."
110. Inncocent III, Bull Annulling Magna Carta (1215) in Krishner, Readings, 367-369.
111. Strayer, The Albigensian Crusades, 139-142. 112. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P., Saint Dominic (Saint Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1959) 25-35.