Pope Gregory VII
Overview
Pope St. Gregory VII born Hildebrand of Sovana
Sovana
250px|thumb|A view of a street in Sovana.Sovana is a small town in southern Tuscany, Italy, a frazione of Sorano, a comune in the province of Grosseto.-History:...

 , 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
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

, his dispute with 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...

 affirming the primacy of the papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by 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...

. He was at the forefront of both evolutionary developments in the relationship between the emperor and the papacy during the years before becoming pope.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Pope St. Gregory VII born Hildebrand of Sovana
Sovana
250px|thumb|A view of a street in Sovana.Sovana is a small town in southern Tuscany, Italy, a frazione of Sorano, a comune in the province of Grosseto.-History:...

 , 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
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

, his dispute with 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...

 affirming the primacy of the papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by 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...

. He was at the forefront of both evolutionary developments in the relationship between the emperor and the papacy during the years before becoming pope. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584, and canonized in 1728 by Pope Benedict XIII
Benedict XIII
Benedict XIII may refer to:*Pope Benedict XIII , Pope from 1724–1730*Antipope Benedict XIII , based in Avignon, France in opposition to the Pope in Rome...

 as Pope St. Gregory VII. He twice excommunicated 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...

, who in the end appointed the 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 oppose him in the political power struggles between Church and Empire. Hailed as one of the greatest of the Roman pontiffs after his reforms proved successful, Gregory was, during his own reign, despised by some for his expansive use of papal powers. Joseph McCabe
Joseph McCabe
Joseph Martin McCabe was an English writer and speaker on freethought, after having been a Roman Catholic priest earlier in his life.-Early life:...

, an untrained historian and avid opponent of ecclesiastical hierarchy, describes Gregory VII as a "rough and violent peasant, enlisting his brute strength in the service of the monastic
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 ideal which he embraced." In contrast, the noted historian of the 11th century H.E.J. Cowdrey writes, "he {Gregory} was surprisingly flexible, feeling his way and therefore perplexing both rigorous collaborators...and cautious and steady-minded ones...His zeal, moral force, and religious conviction, however, ensured that he should retain to a remarkable degree the loyalty and service of a wide variety of men and women."

Early career

Gregory was born as Hildebrand in Sovana
Sovana
250px|thumb|A view of a street in Sovana.Sovana is a small town in southern Tuscany, Italy, a frazione of Sorano, a comune in the province of Grosseto.-History:...

, in what is now southern Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, central Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. He was said to be of humble origins. According to Johann Georg Estor
Johann Georg Estor
Johann Georg Estor , was a German theorist of public law, historian and book collector. To his opinion the Roman Law is strange to the original German law-culture and must be considered as a foreign body.- Life :...

 his birth-name was Hildebrand Bonizi and he was the son of a blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

. As a youth he was sent to Rome, where, according to some unconfirmed sources, his uncle was abbot of a monastery on the Aventine Hill
Aventine Hill
The Aventine Hill is one of the seven hills on which ancient Rome was built. It belongs to Ripa, the twelfth rione, or ward, of Rome.-Location and boundaries:The Aventine hill is the southernmost of Rome's seven hills...

, to study. Among his masters were the erudite Lawrence, archbishop of Amalfi and the future Pope Gregory VI
Pope Gregory VI
Pope Gregory VI , born John Gratian , was Pope from 1 May 1045 until his abdication at the Council of Sutri on 20 December 1046....

. When the latter was deposed by Henry III
Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry III , called the Black or the Pious, was a member of the Salian Dynasty of Holy Roman Emperors...

 and exiled to 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...

, Hildebrand followed him to Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

.

According to some chroniclers, Hildebrand moved to Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

 after Gregory's death; his declaration to have become a monichus in that convent must not be taken literally. He then accompanied 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...

 Bruno of Toul in Rome; there, Bruno was elected Pope, choosing the name Leo IX
Pope Leo IX
Pope Saint Leo IX , born Bruno of Eguisheim-Dagsburg, was Pope from February 12, 1049 to his death. He was a German aristocrat and as well as being Pope was a powerful secular ruler of central Italy. He is regarded as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, with the feast day of April 19...

, and named Hildebrand as deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 and papal administrator. Leo sent Hildebrand as his legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

 to Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in the wake of the controversy raised by Berengar of Tours
Berengar of Tours
Berengar of Tours was a French 11th century Christian theologian and Archdeacon of Angers, a scholar whose leadership of the cathedral school at Chartres set an example of intellectual inquiry through the revived tools of dialectic that was soon followed at cathedral schools of Laon and Paris, ...

. At Leo's death, the new Pope Victor II
Pope Victor II
Pope Victor II , born Gebhard, Count of Calw, Tollenstein, and Hirschberg, was Pope from 1055 to 1057. He was one of a series of German reform Popes.-Life:...

 confirmed him as legate, while Victor's successor Stephen IX sent him and Anselm of Lucca
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...

 to Germany to obtain recognition from Empress Agnes de Poitou
Agnes de Poitou
Agnes of Poitou, Agnes of Aquitaine or Empress Agnes was Holy Roman Empress and regent of the Holy Roman Empire from 1056 to 1062.-Family:...

. Stephen died before being able to return to Rome, but Hildebrand was successful; he was then instrumental in overcoming the crisis caused by the Roman aristocracy's election of an antipope, Benedict X
Antipope Benedict X
Pope/Antipope Benedict X , was born John Mincius, and later became Cardinal Bishop of Velletri. He was elected in 1058, his election having been arranged by the Count of Tusculum. However, a number of Cardinals alleged that the election was irregular, and that votes had been bought; these cardinals...

, whom, thanks also to Agnes' support, was replaced by the Bishop of Florence, Nicholas II
Pope Nicholas II
Pope Nicholas II , born Gérard de Bourgogne, Pope from 1059 to July 1061, was at the time of his election the Bishop of Florence.-Antipope Benedict X:...

. With the help of 300 Norman knights sent by Richard of Aversa
Richard I of Capua
Richard I Drengot was a count of Aversa and prince of Capua .He was the son of Asclettin, count of Acerenza, younger brother of Asclettin, count of Aversa, and nephew of Rainulf Drengot, the Norman adventurer who had first travelled to southern Italy in 1017 and progressed to set up the first...

, Hildebrand personally led the conquest of the castle of Galeria
Galeria
Galeria is the name of a Roman gens, or family. Male members of the gens Galeria bore the nomen Galerius, female members Galeria.Galeria may refer to the following persons:* Galeria , a Roman actress during the 1st century BC....

, where Benedict had taken refuge. Between 1058 and 1059, he was created archdeacon
Archdeacon
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in Anglicanism, Syrian Malabar Nasrani, Chaldean Catholic, and some other Christian denominations, above that of most clergy and below a bishop. In the High Middle Ages it was the most senior diocesan position below a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church...

 of the Roman church, becoming the most important figure in the Papal administration.

He was again the most powerful figure behind the election of Anselm of Lucca the Elder as 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...

 in the October 1061. The new Bishop of Rome put forward the reformation programme devised by Hildebrand and his followers. In his years as papal advisor, Hildebrand had an important role in the reconciliation with the Norman kingdom of southern Italy, in the anti-German alliance with the Pataria
Pataria
The pataria was an eleventh-century religious movement in the Archdiocese of Milan in northern Italy, aimed at reforming the clergy and ecclesiastic government in the province and supportive of Papal sanctions against simony and clerical marriage...

 movement in northern Italy and, above all, in the introduction of a law which gave the cardinals exclusive right concerning the election of a new Bishop of Rome.

Election to the Papacy

On the death of Alexander II (April 21, 1073), as the obsequies were being performed in the Lateran Basilica, there arose a loud outcry from the clergy and people: "Let Hildebrand be pope!", "Blessed Peter has chosen Hildebrand the Archdeacon!" Later, on the same day, Hildebrand was conducted to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli
San Pietro in Vincoli
San Pietro in Vincoli is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, best known for being the home of Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.-History:...

, and there elected in legal form by the assembled cardinals, with the due consent of the Roman clergy and amid the repeated acclamations of the people. That this extraordinary outburst on the part of the clergy and people in favour of Hildebrand could have been the result of some preconcerted arrangements, as is sometimes alleged, does not appear likely. Hildebrand became Pope, taking the name of Gregory VII.
The mode of his election was highly criticized by his opponents. Many of the charges brought may have been expressions of personal dislike, liable to suspicion from the very fact that they were not raised to attack his promotion until several years later; but it is clear from his own account of the circumstances of his election that it was conducted in a very irregular fashion, and that the forms prescribed by the law of 1059 were not observed; above all, the requirement of Pope Nicholas II that the German Emperor be consulted in the matter. However, what ultimately turned the tide in favour of validity of Gregory's election was the near universal acclaim of the populus Romanus. In this sense, his election hearkened back to the earliest centuries of the Church of Rome, regardless of later canonical legislation. Gregory's earliest pontifical letters clearly acknowledge this fact, and thus helped defuse any doubt about his election as immensely popular. On May 22 he received presbyetral ordination, and on June 30 was ordained to as a bishop
Bishop (Catholic Church)
In the Catholic Church, a bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith and ruling the Church....

.

In the decree of election those who had chosen him as Bishop of Rome proclaimed Gregory VII "a devout man, a man mighty in human and divine knowledge, a distinguished lover of equity and justice, a man firm in adversity and temperate in prosperity, a man, according to the saying of the Apostle, of good behaviour, blameless, modest, sober, chaste, given to hospitality, and one that ruleth well his own house; a man from his childhood generously brought up in the bosom of this Mother Church, and for the merit of his life already raised to the archidiaconal dignity". "We choose then", they said to the people, "our Archdeacon Hildebrand to be pope and successor to the Apostle, and to bear henceforward and forever the name of Gregory" (April 22, 1073).

His first attempts in foreign policy were towards a reconciliation with the Normans of Robert Guiscard
Robert Guiscard
Robert d'Hauteville, known as Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, from Latin Viscardus and Old French Viscart, often rendered the Resourceful, the Cunning, the Wily, the Fox, or the Weasel was a Norman adventurer conspicuous in the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily...

; in the end the two parties did not meet. After a failed call for a crusade
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 to the princes of northern Europe, and after obtaining the support of other Norman princes such as Landulf VI of Benevento
Landulf VI of Benevento
Landulf VI was the last prince of Benevento. Unlike his predecessors, he never had a chance to rule alone and independent. The principality lost its independence in 1051, at which point Landulf was only co-ruling with his father, Pandulf III.Landulf was the eldest son of Pandulf and he was first...

 and Richard I of Capua
Richard I of Capua
Richard I Drengot was a count of Aversa and prince of Capua .He was the son of Asclettin, count of Acerenza, younger brother of Asclettin, count of Aversa, and nephew of Rainulf Drengot, the Norman adventurer who had first travelled to southern Italy in 1017 and progressed to set up the first...

, Gregory was able to excommunicate Robert in 1074. In the same year Gregory summoned a council in the Lateran palace, which condemned 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...

 and confirmed celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 for the Church's clergy. These decrees were further stressed, under menace of excommunication, the next year (February 24–28). In particular, in this second council Gregory decreed that that only the Pope could appoint or depose bishops or move them from see
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 to see, an act which was later to cause the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

.

The main focus of the ecclesiastico-political projects of Gregory VII is however to be found in his relationship with Germany. Since the death of Henry III the strength of the German monarchy had been seriously weakened, and his son 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...

 had to contend with great internal difficulties. This state of affairs was of material assistance to Gregory. His advantage was further accentuated by the fact that in 1073 Henry was only twenty-three and thus inexperienced.

In the two following years Henry was forced by the Saxon Rebellion
Saxon Rebellion
The Saxon Rebellion or Rebellion of the Saxons refers to the struggle between the Salian royal family and the rebel Saxons during the reign of King Henry IV. This reached its climax in the period from summer 1073 until the end of 1075, in a rebellion that involved armed conflict...

 to come to amicable terms with the Gregory VII at any cost. Consequently in May 1074 he did penance at Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 - in the presence of the papal legates - to atone for his continued friendship with the members of his council who had been banned by Gregory, took an oath of obedience, and promised his support in the work of reforming the Church. This attitude, however, which at first won him the confidence of the pope, was abandoned as soon as he defeated the Saxons
Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 by his victory at 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...

 on June 9, 1075 (also called the Battle of Homburg or Battle of Hohenburg). Henry then tried to reassert his rights as the sovereign of northern Italy without delay. He sent Count Eberhard to Lombardy
Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

 to combat the Patarenes; nominated the cleric Tedaldo to the archbishopric of Milan
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milan
The Archdiocese of Milan is a metropolitan see of the Catholic Church in Italy. It has long maintained its own rite: the Ambrosian rite. It is led by the Archbishop of Milan who serves as metropolitan to the dioceses of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Crema, Cremona, Lodi, Mantova, Pavia, and Vigevano.The...

, thus settling a prolonged and contentious question; and finally tried to establish relations with the Norman duke, Robert Guiscard
Robert Guiscard
Robert d'Hauteville, known as Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, from Latin Viscardus and Old French Viscart, often rendered the Resourceful, the Cunning, the Wily, the Fox, or the Weasel was a Norman adventurer conspicuous in the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily...

.

Gregory VII replied with a rough letter, dated December 8, in which, among other charges, he accused the German king of breaching his word and with his continued support of the excommunicated councillors; while at the same time he sent a verbal message suggesting that the enormous crimes which would be laid to his account rendered him liable, not only to the ban of the Church, but to the deprivation of his crown. Gregory did this at a time when he himself was confronted by a reckless opponent in the person of Cencio I Frangipane
Cencio I Frangipane
Cencio I Frangipane was a Roman nobleman of the Frangipani family of the latter half of the eleventh century. He was a Roman consul...

, who on Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

-night surprised him in church and carried him off as a prisoner, though on the following day Gregory was released.

Conflict with the Emperor

The reprimands of the Pope, couched as they were in such an unprecedented form, infuriated Henry and his court, and their answer was the hastily convened national council in Worms, Germany
Worms, Germany
Worms is a city in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, on the Rhine River. At the end of 2004, it had 85,829 inhabitants.Established by the Celts, who called it Borbetomagus, Worms today remains embattled with the cities Trier and Cologne over the title of "Oldest City in Germany." Worms is the only...

 (synod of Worms
Synod of Worms
The Synod of Worms was an ecclesiastical synod convened by the Emperor Henry IV in January 1076, at Worms, Germany. It was intended to agree a condemnation of Pope Gregory VII, and Henry's success in achieving this outcome marked the beginning of the Investiture Controversy.Of the 38 German...

), which met on January 24, 1076. In the higher ranks of the German clergy Gregory had many enemies, and a Roman cardinal, Hugo Candidus, once on intimate terms with him but now his opponent, had hurried to Germany for the occasion. All the accusations with regard to Gregory that Candidus could come up with were well received by the assembly, which committed itself to the resolution that Gregory had forfeited the papacy. In one document full of accusations, the bishops renounced their allegiance to Gregory. In another Henry pronounced him deposed, and the Romans were required to choose a new pope. The council sent two bishops to Italy, and they procured a similar act of deposition from the Lombard bishops in the synod of Piacenza
Piacenza
Piacenza is a city and comune in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Piacenza...

. Roland of Parma informed the pope of these decisions, and he was fortunate enough to gain an opportunity for speech in the synod, which had just assembled in the Lateran Basilica, and he delivered his message there announcing the dethronement. For the moment the members were frightened, but soon such a storm of indignation was aroused that it was only due to the moderation of Gregory himself that the envoy was not murdered.
On the following day the Pope Gregory pronounced the sentence of excommunication against Henry IV with all due solemnity, divested him of his royal dignity and absolved his subjects from the oaths they had sworn to him. The act of excommunicating a king was incredibly bold, but not without precedent. Pope Zachary
Pope Zachary
Pope Saint Zachary was Pope of the Catholic Church from 741 to 752. A Greek from Calabria, he was the last pope of the Byzantine Papacy...

 had brought significant challenges to rulers of his era a full 200 years earlier, in a move Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

 famously called one of the greatest abuses of the Papacy in the history of the Church. This sentence purported to eject a ruler from the Church and to strip him of his crown. Whether it would produce this effect, or would be an idle threat, depended not so much on Gregory as on Henry's subjects, and, above all, on the German princes. Contemporary evidence suggests that the excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 of Henry made a profound impression both in Germany and Italy. Thirty years before, Henry III had deposed three claimants to the papacy, and thereby rendered an acknowledged service to the Church. When Henry IV tried to copy this procedure he was less successful, as he lacked the support of the people. In Germany there was a rapid and general feeling in favour of Gregory, and the princes took the opportunity to carry out their anti-regal policy under the cloak of respect for the papal decision. When at Whitsun
Whitsun
Whitsun is the name used in the UK for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples...

 the king proposed to discuss the measures to be taken against Gregory in a council of his nobles, only a few made their appearance; the Saxons snatched at the golden opportunity for renewing their rebellion, and the anti-royalist party grew in strength from month to month.

Impact on the Eucharist

Gregory VII was seen by Pope Paul VI as instrumental in affirming the tenet that Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 is present in the Blessed Sacrament
Blessed Sacrament
The Blessed Sacrament, or the Body and Blood of Christ, is a devotional name used in the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Old Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches, to refer to the Host after it has been consecrated in the sacrament of the Eucharist...

. Gregory's demand that Berengarius perform a confession of this belief was quoted in Pope Paul VI's historic 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei
Mysterium Fidei (Encyclical)
Mysterium Fidei is an encyclical letter of Pope Paul VI on the Eucharist, published in September 1965.Mysterium Fidei was issued just as the closing session of the Second Vatican Council was beginning. Written in a stern and troubled tone, its purpose was to counter certain theological movements...

:
This profession of faith began a "Eucharistic Renaissance" in the churches of Europe as of the 12th century.

To Canossa

The situation now became extremely critical for Henry. As a result of the agitation, which was zealously fostered by the papal legate Bishop Altmann of Passau, the princes met in October at Trebur
Trebur
Trebur is a community in Groß-Gerau district in Hesse, Germany. It is 13 km southeast of Mainz, and 8 km south of Rüsselsheim.-Location:Trebur is located in the Frankfurt Rhein-Main Region...

 to elect a new German ruler; Henry, who was stationed at Oppenheim
Oppenheim
Oppenheim is a town in the Mainz-Bingen district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The town is well known as a wine town, the site of the German Winegrowing Museum and particularly for the wines from the Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen vineyards.- Location :...

 on the left bank of the Rhine, was only saved from the loss of his throne by the failure of the assembled princes to agree on the question of his successor. Their dissension, however, merely induced them to postpone the verdict. Henry, they declared, must make reparation to Gregory and pledge himself to obedience; and they decided that, if, on the anniversary of his excommunication, he still lay under the ban, the throne should be considered vacant. At the same time they decided to invite Gregory to Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

 to decide the conflict. These arrangements showed Henry the course to be pursued. It was imperative, under any circumstances and at any price, to secure his absolution from Gregory before the period named, otherwise he could scarcely foil his opponents in their intention to pursue their attack against him and justify their measures by an appeal to his excommunication. At first he attempted to attain his ends by an embassy, but when Gregory rejected his overtures he took the celebrated step of going to Italy in person.

Gregory VII had already left Rome, and had intimated to the German princes that he would expect their escort for his journey on January 8 in Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

. But this escort had not appeared when he received the news of the Henry's arrival. Henry, who had travelled through Burgundy, had been greeted with enthusiasm by the Lombards, but resisted the temptation to employ force against Gregory. He chose the unexpected course of forcing Gregory to grant him absolution by doing penance before him at 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...

, where he had taken refuge. This event
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...

 soon became legendary. The reconciliation was only effected after prolonged negotiations and definite pledges on the part of Henry, and it was with reluctance that Gregory at length gave way. This was because for, if Gregory gave absolution, the diet
Diet (assembly)
In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries.-Etymology:...

 of princes in Augsburg, in which he might reasonably hope to act as arbitrator, would either become useless, or, if it met at all, would change completely in character. It was impossible, however, to deny the penitent re-entrance into the Church, and Gregory's religious obligations overrode his political interests.

The removal of the ban did not imply a genuine reconciliation, and no basis was gained for a settlement of the main question: that of investiture
Investiture
Investiture, from the Latin is a rather general term for the formal installation of an incumbent...

. A new conflict was inevitable from the very fact that Henry considered the sentence of deposition repealed along with that of excommunication; while Gregory on the other hand was intent on reserving his freedom of action and gave no hint on the subject at Canossa.

Second excommunication of Henry

That the excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 of Henry IV was simply a pretext for the opposition of the rebellious German nobles is transparent. Not only did they persist in their policy after his absolution, but they took the more decided step of setting up a rival ruler in the person of Duke Rudolf of Swabia (Forchheim
Forchheim
Forchheim may refer to the following places in Germany:*Forchheim, capital of the district of Forchheim, Bavaria*Forchheim am Kaiserstuhl, a municipality in Baden-Württemberg*Forchheim , part of Rheinstetten, Baden-Württemberg...

, March 1077). At the election the papal legates present observed the appearance of neutrality, and Gregory himself sought to maintain this attitude during the following years. His task was made easier in that the two parties were of fairly equal strength, each trying to gain the upper hand by getting the pope on their side. But the result of his non-committal policy was that he largely lost the confidence of both parties. Finally he decided for Rudolf of Swabia after his victory at the Battle of Flarchheim
Battle of Flarchheim
Battle of Flarcheim was fought between Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and the German anti-king Rudolf of Swabia on January 27, 1080 near Flarchheim.-Prelude:...

 (January 27, 1080). Under pressure from the Saxons, and misinformed as to the significance of this battle, Gregory abandoned his waiting policy and again pronounced the excommunication and deposition of King Henry (March 7, 1080).

But the papal censure now proved a very different thing from the one four years before. It was widely felt to be an injustice, and people began to ask whether an excommunication pronounced on frivolous grounds was entitled to respect. To make matters worse, Rudolf of Swabia died on October 16 of the same year. A new claimant, Hermann of Luxembourg, was put forward in August 1081, but his personality was not suitable for a leader of the Gregorian party in Germany, and the power of Henry IV was at its peak. The king, now more experienced, took up the struggle with great vigour. He refused to acknowledge the ban on the ground of its illegality. A council had been summoned at Brixen
Brixen
Brixen is the name of two cities in the Alps:*Brixen, South Tyrol, Italy*Brixen im Thale, Tyrol, AustriaBrixen may also refer to:*Bishopric of Brixen, the former north-Italian state....

, and on June 16 it pronounced Gregory deposed and nominated the archbishop Guibert of Ravenna as his successor. In 1081 Henry opened the conflict against Gregory in Italy. The latter had now become less powerful, and thirteen cardinals deserted him.

The pope's chief military supporter, Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany was an Italian noblewoman, the principal Italian supporter of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. She is one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments...

, blocked Henry's from the western passages over the Apennines, so he had to approach Rome from Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

.
Rome surrendered to the German king in 1084, and Gregory thereupon retired into the exile of Sant'Angelo, and refused to entertain Henry's overtures, although the latter promised to hand over Guibert as a prisoner, if the sovereign pontiff would only consent to crown him emperor. Gregory, however, insisted as a necessary preliminary that Henry should appear before a council and do penance. The emperor, while pretending to submit to these terms, tried hard to prevent the meeting of the bishops. A small number however assembled, and, in accordance with their wishes, Gregory again excommunicated Henry. Henry upon receipt of this news again entered Rome on March 21 to see that Guibert of Ravenna be enthroned as 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....

 (March 24, 1084). Henry was crowned emperor by his creature, but Robert Guiscard, with whom in the meantime Gregory had formed an alliance, was already marching on the city, and Henry fled towards Civita Castellana
Civita Castellana
Civita Castellana is a town and comune in the province of Viterbo, 65 km north of Rome.Mount Soracte lies about 10 km to the south-east.-History:...

. The pope was liberated, but, the people becoming incensed by the excesses of his Norman allies, he was compelled to withdraw to Monte Cassino, and later to the castle of Salerno by the sea, where he died in the following year. Three days before his death he withdrew all the censures of excommunication that he had pronounced, except those against the two chief offenders—Henry and Guibert.

Papal policy to the rest of Europe

The relationship of Gregory to other European states was strongly influenced by his German policy; as Germany, by taking up most of his powers, often forced him to show to other rulers the very moderation which he withheld from the German king. The attitude of the Normans brought him a rude awakening. The great concessions made to them under Nicholas II were not only powerless to stem their advance into central Italy but failed to secure even the expected protection for the papacy. When Gregory was hard pressed by Henry IV, Robert Guiscard
Robert Guiscard
Robert d'Hauteville, known as Guiscard, Duke of Apulia and Calabria, from Latin Viscardus and Old French Viscart, often rendered the Resourceful, the Cunning, the Wily, the Fox, or the Weasel was a Norman adventurer conspicuous in the conquest of southern Italy and Sicily...

 left him to his fate, and only intervened when he himself was threatened with German arms. Then, on the capture of Rome, he abandoned the city to his troops, and the popular indignation evoked by his act brought about Gregory's exile.

In the case of several countries, Gregory tried to establish a claim of sovereignty on the part of the Papacy, and to secure the recognition of its self-asserted rights of possession. On the ground of "immemorial usage", Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

 and Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

 were assumed to belong to the Roman Church. Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 were also claimed as her property, and an attempt was made to induce the king of Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 to hold his realm as a fief from the pope. Philip I of France
Philip I of France
Philip I , called the Amorous, was King of France from 1060 to his death. His reign, like that of most of the early Direct Capetians, was extraordinarily long for the time...

, by his practice of 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...

 and the violence of his proceedings against the Church, provoked a threat of summary measures; and excommunication, deposition and the interdict appeared to be imminent in 1074. Gregory, however, refrained from translating his threats into actions, although the attitude of the king showed no change, for he wished to avoid a dispersion of his strength in the conflict soon to break out in Germany. In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, William the Conqueror also derived benefits from this state of affairs. He felt himself so safe that he interfered autocratically with the management of the church, forbade the bishops to visit Rome, made appointments to bishoprics
Diocese
A diocese is the district or see under the supervision of a bishop. It is divided into parishes.An archdiocese is more significant than a diocese. An archdiocese is presided over by an archbishop whose see may have or had importance due to size or historical significance...

 and abbeys, and showed little anxiety when the pope lectured him on the different principles which he had as to the relationship of spiritual and temporal powers, or when he prohibited him from commerce or commanded him to acknowledge himself a vassal of the apostolic chair. Gregory had no power to compel the English king to an alteration in his ecclesiastical policy, so he chose to ignore what he could not approve, and even considered it advisable to assure him of his particular affection.

Gregory, in fact, established some sort of relations with every country in Christendom; though these relations did not invariably realize the ecclesiastico-political hopes connected with them. His correspondence extended to Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus was a medieval polity in Eastern Europe, from the late 9th to the mid 13th century, when it disintegrated under the pressure of the Mongol invasion of 1237–1240....

 and Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

. He unsuccessfully tried to bring Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 into closer contact with Rome. He was particularly concerned with the East. The schism between Rome and the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 was a severe blow to him, and he worked hard to restore the former amicable relationship. Gregory successfully tried to get in touch with the emperor Michael VII
Michael VII
Michael VII Doukas or Ducas , nicknamed Parapinakēs , was Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078.- Life :...

. When the news of the Arab attacks on the Christians in the East filtered through to Rome, and the political embarrassments of the Byzantine emperor increased, he conceived the project of a great military expedition and exhorted the faithful to participate in recovering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

. In his treatment of ecclesiastical policy and ecclesiastical reform, Gregory did not stand alone, but found powerful support: in England Archbishop Lanfranc
Lanfranc
Lanfranc was Archbishop of Canterbury, and a Lombard by birth.-Early life:Lanfranc was born in the early years of the 11th century at Pavia, where later tradition held that his father, Hanbald, held a rank broadly equivalent to magistrate...

 of Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 stood closest to him; in France his champion was Bishop Hugo of Dié, who afterwards became Archbishop of Lyon.

Internal policy and reforms

His life-work was based on his conviction that the Church was founded by God and entrusted with the task of embracing all mankind in a single society in which divine will is the only law; that, in her capacity as a divine institution, she is supreme over all human structures, especially the secular state; and that the pope, in his role as head of the Church, is the vice-regent of God on earth, so that disobedience to him implies disobedience to God: or, in other words, a defection from Christianity. But any attempt to interpret this in terms of action would have bound the Church to annihilate not merely a single state, but all states. Thus Gregory, as a politician wanting to achieve some result, was driven in practice to adopt a different standpoint. He acknowledged the existence of the state as a dispensation of Providence
Divine Providence
In Christian theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God's activity in the world. " Providence" is also used as a title of God exercising His providence, and then the word are usually capitalized...

, described the coexistence of church and state as a divine ordinance, and emphasized the necessity of union between the sacerdotium and the imperium. But at no period would he have dreamed of putting the two powers on an equal footing; the superiority of church to state was to him a fact which admitted of no discussion and which he had never doubted.

He wished to see all important matters of dispute referred to Rome; appeals were to be addressed to himself; the centralization of ecclesiastical government in Rome naturally involved a curtailment of the powers of bishops. Since these refused to submit voluntarily and tried to assert their traditional independence, his papacy is full of struggles against the higher ranks of the clergy.

This battle for the foundation of papal supremacy is connected with his championship of compulsory celibacy among the clergy
Clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these...

 and his attack on 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...

. Gregory VII did not introduce the celibacy of the priesthood into the Church, but he took up the struggle with greater energy than his predecessors. In 1074 he published an encyclical
Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

, absolving the people from their obedience to bishops who allowed married priests. The next year he enjoined them to take action against married priests, and deprived these clerics of their revenues. Both the campaign against priestly marriage and that against simony provoked widespread resistance.
His writings treat mainly of the principles and practice of Church government. They may be found under the title "Gregorii VII registri sive epistolarum libri".

Death

He died an exile in Salerno
Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

; the epitaph on Gregory VII's sarcophagus in the city's Cathedral says: "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore, I [now] die in exile."

See also

  • 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...

  • First Council of the Lateran
    First Council of the Lateran
    The Council of 1123 is reckoned in the series of Ecumenical councils by the Catholic Church. It was convoked by Pope Calixtus II in December, 1122, immediately after the Concordat of Worms...

  • 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...

     (1075–87)
  • Libertas ecclesiae
    Libertas ecclesiae
    Libertas ecclesiae is the notion of emancipation from ecclesiastical authority in relation to the temporal power, which guided the movement of Reform begun in the 11th century...

     (1079)

External links

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