Investiture Controversy

Investiture Controversy

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The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th
Christianity in the 11th century
In 1054, following the death of the Patriarch of Rome Leo IX, papal legates from Rome traveled to Constantinople to deny Michael Cerularius, the reigning Patriarch of Constantinople, the title of Ecumenical Patriarch and to insist that he recognize the Church of Rome's claim to be the head and...

 and 12th centuries
Christianity in the 12th century
-Monastic Reform Movement:The next wave of monastic reform came with the Cistercian Movement. The first Cistercian abbey was founded by Robert of Molesme in 1098, at Cîteaux Abbey. The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to a literal observance of the Rule of Saint Benedict...

, a series of Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

s challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investiture
Investiture
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...

s, of church officials such as bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s and abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

s. Although the principal conflict began in 1075 between Pope Gregory VII
Pope Gregory VII
Pope St. Gregory VII , born Hildebrand of Sovana , was Pope from April 22, 1073, until his death. One of the great reforming popes, he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy, his dispute with Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor affirming the primacy of the papal...

 and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV was King of the Romans from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century...

, a brief but significant struggle over investiture also occurred between Henry I of England
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 and the Pope Paschal II
Pope Paschal II
Pope Paschal II , born Ranierius, was Pope from August 13, 1099, until his death. A monk of the Cluniac order, he was created cardinal priest of the Titulus S...

 in the years 1103 to 1107, and the issue played a minor role in the struggles between church and state in France
France in the Middle Ages
France in the Middle Ages covers an area roughly corresponding to modern day France, from the death of Louis the Pious in 840 to the middle of the 15th century...

 as well. The entire controversy was finally resolved by the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

 in 1122.

By undercutting the Imperial
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 power established by the Salian
Salian dynasty
The Salian dynasty was a dynasty in the High Middle Ages of four German Kings , also known as the Frankish dynasty after the family's origin and role as dukes of Franconia...

 emperors, the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, and the triumph of the great duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

s and abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

s, until Imperial power was reestablished under the Hohenstaufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

 dynasty.

Origins


After the decline of the Roman Empire
Decline of the Roman Empire
The decline of the Roman Empire refers to the gradual societal collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Many theories of causality prevail, but most concern the disintegration of political, economic, military, and other social institutions, in tandem with foreign invasions and usurpers from within the...

, and prior to the Investiture Controversy, while theoretically a task of the Church, investiture was in practice performed by secular authorities. Since a substantial amount of wealth and land was usually associated with the office of bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 or abbot, the sale of Church offices (a practice known as simony
Simony
Simony is the act of paying for sacraments and consequently for holy offices or for positions in the hierarchy of a church, named after Simon Magus , who appears in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9-24...

) was an important source of income for secular leaders. Since bishops and abbots were themselves usually part of the secular governments, due to their literate
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 administrative resources or due to an outright family relationship (younger sons of the nobility would often be appointed bishops), it was beneficial for a secular ruler to appoint (or sell the office to) someone who would be loyal.

The crisis began when a group within the church, members of the Gregorian Reform
Gregorian Reform
The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, circa 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy...

, decided to address the sin of simony by restoring the power of investiture to the Church. The Gregorian reformers knew this would not be possible so long as the emperor maintained the ability to appoint the pope, so their first step was to liberate the papacy from the control of the emperor. An opportunity came in 1056 when Henry IV
Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry IV was King of the Romans from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century...

 became German king at six years of age. The reformers seized the opportunity to free the papacy while he was still a child and could not react. In 1059 a church council in Rome declared, with In Nomine Domini
In Nomine Domini
In nomine Domini, named for its Latin incipit , is a papal bull of Pope Nicholas II and canon of the Council of Rome, promulgated on April 13, 1059, establishing cardinal-bishops as the sole electors of the pope, with the consent of cardinal-deacons and cardinal-priests In nomine Domini, named...

, that secular leaders would play no part in the selection of popes and created the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

 as a body of electors made up entirely of church officials. To this day the College of Cardinals selects the pope, and once Rome regained control of the election of the pope it was ready to attack the practice of secular investiture on a broad front.

Investiture Controversy


In 1075 Pope Gregory VII asserted in the "Dictatus Papae
Dictatus papae
Dictatus papae is a compilation of 27 axiomatic statements of powers arrogated to the Pope that was included in Pope Gregory VII's register under the year 1075. Some historians argue that it was written by Gregory VII himself; others argue that it has been inserted in the register at a later...

", a “collection of canons” (see also Canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

), one of which claimed that the deposal of an emperor was under the sole power of the pope. It declared that the Roman church was founded by God alone - that the papal power (the auctoritas
Auctoritas
Auctoritas is a Latin word and is the origin of English "authority." While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political history of Rome, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the twentieth century expanded the use of the word.In ancient Rome, Auctoritas...

 of Pope Gelasius
Pope Gelasius I
Pope Saint Gelasius I was pope from 492 until his death in 496. He was the third and last bishop of Rome of African origin in the Catholic Church. Gelasius was a prolific writer whose style placed him on the cusp between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages...

) was the sole universal power; in particular, a council held in the Lateran
Lateran
Lateran and Laterano are the shared names of several architectural projects throughout Rome. The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the former Roman Empire...

 from February 24 to 28 of the same year decreed that the pope alone could appoint or depose churchmen or move them from see to see
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

. By this time, Henry IV was no longer a child, and he continued to appoint his own bishops and he reacted to this declaration by sending Gregory VII a letter in which he withdrew his imperial support of Gregory as pope in no uncertain terms: the letter was headed "Henry, king not through usurpation but through the holy ordination of God, to Hildebrand, at present not pope but false monk". It called for the election of a new pope. His letter ends, "I, Henry, king by the grace of God, with all of my Bishops, say to you, come down, come down, and be damned throughout the ages."

The situation was made even more dire when Henry IV installed his chaplain, Tedald, a Milanese priest, as Bishop of Milan, when another priest of Milan, Atto, had already been chosen in Rome by the pope for candidacy. In 1076 Gregory responded by excommunicating the king, removing him from the Church and deposing him as German king.

Enforcing these declarations was a different matter, but the advantage gradually came to be on the side of Gregory VII. German princes and the aristocracy were happy to hear of the king's deposition. They used the cover of religion as an excuse to continue the rebellion started at the First Battle of Langensalza in 1075, and for seizure of royal holdings. Aristocrats claimed local lordships over peasants and property, built forts, which had previously been outlawed, and built up localized fiefdoms to secure their autonomy from the empire.


Thus, because of these combining factors, Henry IV had no choice but to back down, needing time to marshal his forces to fight the rebellion. In 1077 he traveled to Canossa
Canossa
Canossa is a comune and castle town in Emilia-Romagna, famous as the site where Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV did penance in 1077, standing three days bare-headed in the snow, in order to reverse his excommunication by Pope Gregory VII...

 in northern Italy to meet the pope and apologize in person. As penance for his sins, and echoing his own punishment of the Saxons after the First Battle of Langensalza
First Battle of Langensalza
The First Battle of Langensalza was fought on 9 June 1075 between forces of German King Henry IV and several rebellious Saxon noblemen on the River Unstrut near Langensalza. The battle was a complete success for Henry, resulting in the subjugation of Saxony shortly before the Investiture...

, he dramatically wore a hairshirt
Cilice
A cilice was originally a garment or undergarment made of coarse cloth or animal hair used in some religious traditions to induce some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement...

 and stood in the snow barefoot in the middle of winter in what has become known as the Walk to Canossa
Walk to Canossa
The Walk to Canossa refers to both the trek itself of Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire from Speyer to the fortress at Canossa in Emilia Romagna and to the events surrounding his journey, which took place in and around January 1077.-Historical background:When, in his early...

. Gregory lifted the excommunication, but the German aristocrats, whose rebellion became known as the Great Saxon Revolt
Great Saxon Revolt
The Great Saxon Revolt was a civil war between 1077 and 1088 early in the history of the Holy Roman Empire led by a group of opportunistic German princes who elected as their figurehead the duke of Swabia and anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfeld, a two-way brother-in-law of the young Henry IV, Holy Roman...

, were not so willing to give up their opportunity. They elected a rival king, Rudolf von Rheinfeld.

Henry IV then proclaimed Antipope Clement III
Antipope Clement III
Guibert or Wibert of Ravenna was a cleric made antipope in 1080 due to perceived abuses of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy, a title that lasted to his death....

 to be pope. In 1081 Henry IV captured and killed Rudolf, and in the same year he invaded Rome with the intent of forcibly removing Gregory VII and installing a more friendly pope. Gregory VII called on his allies the Normans in southern Italy
Norman conquest of southern Italy
The Norman conquest of southern Italy spanned the late eleventh and much of the twelfth centuries, involving many battles and many independent players conquering territories of their own...

, and they rescued him from the Germans in 1085. The Normans sacked Rome
Sack of Rome (1084)
The Sack of Rome of May 1084 was a Norman sack, the result of the pope's call for aid from the duke of Apulia, Robert Guiscard.Pope Gregory VII was besieged in the Castel Sant'Angelo by the Emperor Henry IV in June 1083. He held out and called for aid from the Guiscard, who was then fighting the...

 in the process, and when the citizens of Rome rose up against Gregory he was forced to flee south with the Normans. He died soon thereafter.

The Investiture Controversy continued for several decades as each succeeding pope tried to diminish imperial power by stirring up revolt in Germany. These revolts were gradually successful. Henry IV was succeeded upon his death in 1106 by his son Henry V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry V was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor , the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. Henry's reign coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor...

, who had rebelled against his father in favor of the papacy, and who had made his father renounce the legality of his antipopes before he died. Henry V also chose one more antipope, Gregory VIII
Antipope Gregory VIII
Gregory VIII , born Mauritius Burdinus , was antipope from 10 March 1118 until 22 April 1121.He was born in the Limousin, part of Aquitaine, Occitania, France. He was educated at Cluny, at Limoges, and in Castile, where he was a deacon at Toledo. In 1098/1099 his Cluniac connections recommended him...

; however, he renounced some of the rights of investiture with the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

, and was received back into communion and recognized as legitimate Emperor as a result.

English investiture controversy of 1103 to 1107


At the time of Henry IV's death, Henry I of England
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 and the Gregorian papacy were also embroiled in a controversy over investiture, and its solution provided a model for the eventual solution of the issue in the Empire.

William the Conqueror had accepted a papal banner and the distant blessing of Pope Alexander II
Pope Alexander II
Pope Alexander II , born Anselmo da Baggio, was Pope from 1061 to 1073.He was born in Milan. As bishop of Lucca he had been an energetic coadjutor with Hildebrand of Sovana in endeavouring to suppress simony, and to enforce the celibacy of the clergy...

 upon his invasion, but had successfully rebuffed the Pope's assertion after the successful outcome, that he should come to Rome and pay homage for his fief, under the general provisions of the "Donation of Constantine
Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine is a forged Roman imperial decree by which the emperor Constantine I supposedly transferred authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the pope. During the Middle Ages, the document was often cited in support of the Roman Church's claims to...

".

The ban on lay investiture in Dictatus Papae did not shake the loyalty of William's bishops and abbots. In the reign of Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 the heat of exchanges between Westminster and Rome induced Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, to give up mediating and retire to an abbey. Geoffrey of Meulan, one of Henry's chief advisors, was excommunicated, but the threat of excommunicating the king remained unplayed. The papacy needed the support of English Henry while German Henry was still unbroken. A projected crusade also required English support.

Henry I commissioned the Archbishop of York to collect and present all the relevant traditions of anointed kingship. "The resulting Anonymous of York
The Norman Anonymous
The Norman Anonymous is the name given to the author of a collection of treatises, the Tractatus Eboracenses, dealing with the relationship between kings and the Catholic Church, written c. 1100...

treaties are a delight to students of early-medieval political theory, but they in no way typify the outlook of the Anglo-Norman monarchy, which had substituted the secure foundation of administrative and legal bureaucracy for outmoded religious ideology"

Concordat of London, 1107


The Concordat of London (1107) suggested a compromise that was taken up in the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

. In England, as in Germany, a distinction was being made in the king's chancery between the secular and ecclesiastical powers of the prelates. Employing the distinction, Henry gave up his right to invest his bishops and abbots and reserved the custom of requiring them to come and do homage for the "temporalities
Temporalities
Temporalities are the secular properties and possessions of the Christian Church. It is most often used to describe those properties that were used to support a bishop or other religious person or establishment. Its opposite description would be the spiritualities.In the Middle Ages, the...

" (the landed properties tied to the episcopate), directly from his hand, after the bishop had sworn homage and feudal vassalage in the ceremony called commendatio, the commendation ceremony
Commendation ceremony
A commendation ceremony is a formal ceremony that evolved during the Early Medieval period to create a bond between a lord and his fighting man, called his vassal . The first recorded ceremony of commendatio was in 7th century France, but the relationship of vassalage was older, and predated even...

, like any secular vassal. The system of vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

age was not divided among great local lords in England as it was in France, for by right of the Conquest the king was in control.

Concordat of Worms and its significance


On the Continent, after 50 years of fighting, a similar compromise (but with quite different long-term results) was reached in 1122, signed on September 23 and known as the Concordat of Worms
Concordat of Worms
The Concordat of Worms, sometimes called the Pactum Calixtinum by papal historians, was an agreement between Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V on September 23, 1122 near the city of Worms...

. It was agreed that investiture would be eliminated, while room would be provided for secular leaders to have unofficial but significant influence in the appointment process.

While the monarchy was embroiled in the dispute with the Church, it declined in power and broke apart. Localized rights of lordship over peasants grew, increasing serfdom and resulting in fewer rights for the population. Local taxes and levies increased while royal coffers declined. Rights of justice became localized and courts did not have to answer to royal authority. In the long term the decline of imperial power would divide Germany until the 19th century. Similarly, in Italy the effect of the investiture controversy was to weaken the authority of the emperor and to strengthen all those local forces making for separatism.

As for the papacy, it gained strength. During the controversy, both sides had tried to marshal public opinion; as a result, lay people became engaged in religious affairs and lay piety increased, setting the stage for the Crusades and the great religious vitality of the 12th century.

The dispute did not end with the Concordat of Worms. There would be future disputes between popes and Holy Roman Emperors, until northern Italy was lost to the Empire entirely. The Church would turn the weapon of Crusade against the Holy Roman Empire under Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

. According to Norman Cantor:
The investiture controversy had shattered the early-medieval equilibrium and ended the interpenetration of ecclesia
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

and mundus
Secularity
Secularity is the state of being separate from religion.For instance, eating and bathing may be regarded as examples of secular activities, because there may not be anything inherently religious about them...

. Medieval kingship, which had been largely the creation of ecclesiastical ideals and personnel, was forced to develop new institutions and sanctions. The result during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, was the first instance of a secular bureaucratic state whose essential components appeared in the Anglo-Norman monarchy
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

."

External links

  • "Investiture Constroversy", from Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
  • "Conflict of Investitures", from the Catholic Encyclopedia
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

    .
  • "Canonical Investiture", from the Catholic Encyclopedia.
  • "Investiture", from the Columbia Encyclopedia
    Columbia Encyclopedia
    The Columbia Encyclopedia is a one-volume encyclopedia produced by Columbia University Press and sold by the Gale Group. First published in 1935, and continuing its important relationship with Columbia University, the encyclopedia underwent major revisions in 1950 and 1963; the current edition is...

    .
  • "The Owl, The Cat, And The Investiture Controversy", from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB).
  • "Empire and Papacy", from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Sources