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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 27

enthusiasm the quarrel with the emperor. This quarrel was the chief reason
for the meagerness of the German participation in the First Crusade preached
by Urban in 1095. 
Although the investiture question was the chief cause of the bitter controversy
between Gregory VII and Henry IV, it was not the only point at issue. Gregory
was advancing a novel concept of the proper relation between secular and
ecclesiastical authority. During the ninth and tenth centuries the church
had bent every effort to support the authority of the kings against their
powerful subjects. It had preached that the royal office was a sacred one
instituted by God and that an anointed king had priestly char acteristics.
Gregory maintained that the pope was God's viceroy on earth and all men were
subject to him. Kings were merely high grade police chiefs to protect the
church and suppress criminals. If an emperor or king refused to obey the
pope, the pope could depose him. 
 The fact that Gregory was kept well occupied by his struggle with the emperor
was a great boon to the other princes of Europe. Philip I of France was a
cheerful sinner who was in continual dif ficulties with the church. Gregory's
legates attempted to stop lay investiture in France, but they made little
progress. Philip did not openly defy the pope; he simply ignored his commands.
On the very eve of the First Crusade, pope Urban II excommunicated Philip
for stealing the wife of the count of Anjou and making her his queen, but
this did not trouble the king very gravely. Most interesting of all were
Gregory's relations with William the Con queror. As duke of Normandy William
had appointed bishops as he saw fit and he continued the practice in England.
Moreover, he forbade any papal legate to enter his realm without his express
permission. But William, as a rule, made respectable episcopal appointments,
and Gregory felt that he could not afford to be at odds with all the monarchs
of Europe. When the English king complained that a papal legate was making
a nuisance of himself in Normandy, Gregory hastily ordered his agent to stay
out of the duchy. Incidentally, the Norman conquest of England had been a
major victory for the papacy. The Anglo-Saxon church had been firmly under
the control of the kings and largely independent of Rome. The conquest brought
it into the orbit of the centralized government being developed by the papacy.
 Although the eleventh century cannot be called a great era in the history
of European culture, it was by no means unimportant even in this respect.
Perhaps its most significant contribution was 

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