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Gregory Vii (Hildebrand)

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GREGORY VII (Hildebrand) (Pope, 1073-85). He was born in Tuscany about 1020, perhaps at Soana, a village of the southern border. His family belonged to the plebeian class. Although nothing of his remoter ancestry is known, his family name, Hildebrand, would imply a Teutonic descent; but by birth and education at least he was Italian. His youth was passed in Rome, in the monastery of St. Mary, on the Aventine, of which his uncle was abbot, and he probably took monastic vows. The Emperor Henry III took him to Germany, and he continued his studies in Cologne. Very likely he also visited Aix-la-Chapelle and Cluny. He attended the council at Worms at which Bishop Bruno of Toul was chosen Pope (Leo IX), and the latter took him to Rome (1049) and made him a cardinal subdeacon. He had great influence during the pontificate of Leo. On the latter's death (1054) the Roman people manifested a desire to have Hildebrand as successor; but this honor he declined, preferring to gain more experience. Besides important domestic employments which were assigned to him, he was sent as legate to the Council of Tours (1054), in which the cause of Berengarius was examined. (See BERFEGARIUS of TOURS.) He was likewise one of the three legates dispatched to Germany to consult about a successor to Leo IX. Under the four popes who followed Leo--Victor II, Stephen IX, Benedict X, and Alexander II, known in history as the German popes--Hildebrand continued to be the predominant. Power and inspired into their government of the Church the great principles to which his life was devote.
Henry IV (1050-1106) was Holy Roman emperor and king of Germany from 1056 to 1106. An able, ruthless, and secretive monarch, he led the empire into a disastrous confrontation with Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy.
Born in Goslar, Saxony, Henry IV was the only son of Emperor Henry III and Agnes of Poitou. His father died when he was only 6, and he had a long and difficult minority as king, since early in 1062 he was taken from his mother and raised by a bevy of quarreling, scheming bishops. In 1066 he came of age and began governing on his own. He was married twice, first to Bertha of Savoy and late in his reign, after her death, to Praxedis of Russia.
Henry attempted, initially, to reassert his father's old imperial rights throughout the empire and also to build up a new, strong imperial domain in Saxony. This led to serious uprisings in 1073 in which Saxons and southern German nobles combined against him. By 1075 he had suppressed these revolts, only to begin a quarrel with Pope Gregory VII over the imperial right to appoint or invest churchmen with their offices. Gregory and Church reformers claimed that neither rulers nor any other laymen could exercise this right—despite long precedent. Angry at Gregory's opposition to his appointing an archbishop of Milan, in 1076 Henry hastily summoned a council of German bishops who declared Pope Gregory deposed. Gregory answered by declaring Emperor Henry excommunicated and suspended from office.
During this conflict between the two, one must remember that Henry IV grew up being used by those who wanted his authority for themselves. When he eventually came of age, Henry IV began to reassert Royal authority within the German empire. When this began, his opponents brought open war against him and his allies. As was seen in the early middle ages, it was not uncommon to see kings travel throughout their empire making stops at monasteries or churches. In a civil war the importance of investing bishops and clergy into various ecclesiastical offices would give Henry IV a place of refugee as he fought his opponents. With those invested by Henry IV, he would not have to worry about their loyalty for they were granted their office by him. However, Pope Gregory VII mentioned that Henry IV was devoted to the church in his letter to Henry in December of 1075 saying that, "you confess yourself to be a son of the Church." Gregory VII goes on to say that if he claims he is such then why is he not listening to Gregory's demands (Miller, Doc.20, pg. 85). It is within this same document that Miller hints that Gregory VII had already threatened Henry IV not only with excommunication, but also deposition if again, he did not comply with his demands (Miller, pg.84).

Henry IV responded to Gregory's threats by holding an assembly whereby he and "all the foremost men... through their own declaration... took public action to the end that you could no longer continue in the Apostolic See" (Miller, Doc.21, pg.88). Henry's action showed that he had felt that Gregory was treating him unjustly and that he did not have the authority to not only excommunicate him but depose him. This would not happen until the Roman Lenten synod of 1076. This action only emboldened Henry's enemies to rise up again in outright civil war during which Henry struggled to subdue them. As a last resort Henry cut off Gregory at Canossa. Gregory was going to meet Henry's enemies, Henry's actions there were an attempt to not only stop this but to try and regain Gregory's confidence. What resulted of that meeting was that the pope could not refuse Henry and he eventually lifted the excommunication but it appears as if he still did not recognize Henry as the legitimate ruler of the German empire. This was due to Gregory's subtle attempt at putting Henry in his debt that by following his example of taking "the body of Our Lord which I will consume... so that the Almighty God might today cast his judgment either absolving me from every suspicion put forth, if I am innocent or, if I am guilty, may he kill me instantly" (Miller, Doc.22, pg. 98). In asking Henry to do the same he indirectly told Henry that he will not only become a "strong supporter of your innocence," he went on to say that he would restore Henry's kingdom and that the fighting that was ravaging his lands would cease (Miller, Doc.22, pg. 99). These all would be carried out under by the authority of the Pope. It is not surprising then to see Henry's reaction when he continued his war against his enemies and invested two more bishops at Augsburg and Aquileia. Later, after he was again excommunicated, Henry IV held a council of his own during which they (Henry and his supporters) did not recognize Gregory VII as pope and elected Wibert of Ravenna as Pope Clement II (Miller, pgs.104- 106). After Henry IV killed the anti-king Rudolf of Swabia in battle he took it upon himself to put the conflict to rest and marched on Rome where he chased Gregory VII out of the city. Although he appeared to have resolved the conflict, it proved to be short lived.
After both Gregory VII and Henry IV died, their successors renewed the conflict. It was not until the Agreements of Worms in 1122 did a basic understanding of each side's opinions form. In the agreement, Pope Calixtus II proclaimed that Henry V could preside over the elections of bishops and abbots however, they only receive the scepter (Miller, Doc. 30, pg.121). What is not mentioned in the document is that Henry is not recognized by the pope as having divine authority due to the absence of the crozier and a ring. This implies that the pope will allow the king to invest bishops with only temporal powers. In return, the king loses the claim that he is a representative of God to the people from which he claimed divine due to the exclusion of him handing out a crozier and a ring. This however, did not put a stop kings from claiming divine authority. In fact, many laypeople and kings went to greater lengths to justify the divinity of the kings. As the papacy continued to centralize its power in Europe and extend its authority over the European masses (that undoubtedly included kings), many continued to hold the view that kings were divine rulers. As the papacy continued to try and exert its influence, critics began asking questions about the papacy's character. Gracia, a canon of Toledo, wrote a satire which points out the faults of the church, and more specifically Pope Urban's prolific use of wealth. In it he writes that Pope Urban does not commit to sacred duty unless he has his richly decorated relics with him (Miller, Doc.43, Pgs. 158- 1160). These displays of wealth most likely gave weight to king's claims of divine ruler ship as they witnessed the clergy living in almost as much splendor as most dukes or lords.
The results of the reforms and the investiture conflict can be said to be still influencing society today. This stems from two groups of men who would not compromise their positions of authority and believing that they alone had the right to rule the people by way of divine blessings from God. As a result, relations between secular rule and ecclesiastical rule became polarized and it would take generations to finalize a solution to the issue. Meanwhile the church would not stop enacting internal reforms as it pursued its mission of leading the people to salvation. While the Investiture Conflict was indeed a titanic clash between beliefs it did not bring about an immediate solution to the problem. Gregory VII and Innocent III

Joseph Kendrick

Western Civ I
March 10, 2013

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