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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

I: Western Europe on the eve of the Crusades,   pp. [2]-29 PDF (56.0 KB)

Page 25

progress. Hence their eyes turned toward the papacy. The pope was elected
by the clergy and people of Rome, which meant in practice by the dominant
faction of the Roman nobility. But when a strong monarch occupied the imperial
throne, his influence could be decisive. Neither of these methods of choice
pleased the re formers. If the papacy was to lead in the reform of the church,
it had to be removed from lay control. The emperor Henry III was a pious
as well as an efficient ruler, and he gladly supported the reformers by appointing
popes favorable to their aims. The first important step was the creation
of the college of cardinals. The six bishops who were suffragans of the pope
as bishop of Rome, the pastors' of the more important Roman churches, and
some of the deacons of the Roman church were formed into a corpo ration.
When a pope died, these men were to meet and elect his successor. If outside
pressure was put upon them, the election was to be void. 
 The next problem was to increase the pope's authority over the church as
a whole. Several devices were used for this purpose. It had long been customary
for the pope to summon peculiarly worthy archbishops to Rome to receive the
pallium from his hands. If the prelate to be honored was unwilling to go
to Rome, the pope sent him the paiium. The reformers advanced the theory
that as soon as an archbishop was elected, he must go to Rome to seek the
pallium and could not perform the functions of his office until he did so.
This gave the pope an effective veto on archi episcopal elections and a chance
to instruct the new prelate. In theory it had always been possible to appeal
a decision rendered by an archbishop's court to the papacy, but the journey
to Rome was long and costly and only the rich could make such an appeal.
The reformers established a system by which cases could be heard by local
prelates appointed by the pope. If anyone wanted to' ap peal a case to the
papal court, he wrote to the pope asking him to appoint delegates to hear
the appeal. The pope then directed a group of ecclesiastics in the region
where the appellant lived to hear and determine the case. This device greatly
increased the business of the papal courts,, and enormously expanded the
pope's influence. But the most important official was the papal leg ate.
The legate was an agent of the pope sent to carry out his master's will in
some part of Christendom. Sometimes a legate was sent to deal with a particular
problem, but more often he was given a broad commission to carry out papal
policy in a region. Armed with the full spiritual authority of the papacy
he was an 

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