Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years
I: Western Europe on the eve of the Crusades, pp. -29 PDF (56.0 KB)
26 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES effective agent. Through his legates the pope could take an active part in the affairs of the church as a whole. One of the ablest and most energetic members of the papal curia under the first reforming popes was an ecclesiastic named Hilde brand. Deeply imbued with the ideas of the Cluniac group, he was convinced that the church must be independent of all secular control and that the pope must be the absolute master of the church. In 7073 he was elected pope and took office under the name of Gregory VII. During the pontificates of Gregory's five predecessors much progress had been made. The college of car dinals had been established, papal legates and judges-delegate in troduced, and stern decrees issued against simony and married clerks. The emperor Henry III was in favor of these reforms and supported them. But when reformers remarked that bishops should be chosen without lay interference, Henry turned a deaf ear. Control of the prelates was the very foundation of his power and he had no intention of abandoning it. Gregory found the imperial throne occupied by Henry IV, who had but recently come of age. The pope informed the emperor that bishops should be elected according to canon law — that is, by the clergy and people of the diocese. Henry ignored the warning and went on his way. Gregory wrote a stern letter of rebuke. The emperor replied by calling the German prelates together at Worms and having them declare Gregory a false pope improperly elected. Gregory then excommunicated Henry. This gave the emperor's enemies in Germany, the Saxons and the great lords who feared he would become too strong, a perfect excuse for revolt. They rose in rebel lion and informed the emperor that unless he obtained absolution from the pope, they would choose a new ruler. To make his search for absolution impossible of success, they carefully guarded the Alpine passes. But Henry slipped through his kingdom of Bur gundy into Lombardy where the bishops and their levies promptly rallied around him. The emperor met the pope at the castle of Canossa in northern Tuscany, went through a humiliating form of penance, and was absolved. All this was dramatic and pictur esque but it accomplished little. Henry would not abandon his claim to the right to appoint and invest bishops and Gregory was determined to win his point. The pope continued to support the German rebels against the emperor and used his Norman vassals to check the imperial power in Italy. Gregory died in 7085 in exile with his Norman allies while imperial troops occupied Rome. After the short pontificate of Victor III, pope Urban II continued with.
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