investiture dispute

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Otto von Freising, "World Chronicle": Gregory VII's flight from Rome in 1084 (above), exile and death of Gregory in Salerno (1085) (below), 1177-1185, Jena, Thuringian University State Library: Ms. Bos. q. 6, fol. 79r.

Since the 19th century, the Investiture Controversy has been a period in the 11th and 12th centuries in which a dispute was fought between the Salians and the reform papacy about the relationship between sacerdotium (spiritual power) and imperium (secular power). The question of the investiture , i.e. the appointment of the abbots and bishops, played a decisive role in the course of the dispute, although it should be pointed out that it only received this penitential journey to Canossa after 1077 .

The power struggle between the German King Henry (1056-1106) and the papacy began in 1075, when Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) - supporter of the radical Roman Reform Party - questioned the previous order regarding the papacy and the empire . In order to regain his capacity to act, Henry went to Italy and waited three days in front of the Castle of Canossa until the Pope received him back into the communion of the Church. In 1084 Henry took Rome and let himself be conquered by the anti-pope Clemens III. crown. It seemed as if Henry had won a complete victory, but the triumph did not last long. Soon his sons turned against him one after the other, and the reformers also gathered their strength again. With the call for an armed pilgrimage to the Holy Cities in the Holy Land, the new Pope Urban II succeeded in presenting himself as the spearhead of Christianity . Henry's son, later Henry V , allied himself with the pope, arrested his father in late 1105 and forced him to abdicate on December 31, 1105. But Heinrich was able to escape. Another battle at arms seemed inevitable when the emperor died unexpectedly in Liège on August 7, 1106 . On his deathbed, the emperor forgave his son. The young king initially continued his father's policy: he arrested Pope Paschalis II and forced the recognition of the lay investiture and his coronation. In 1112 this concession was annulled at a Council of Rome. It was not until 1122 that Henry gave in in his dispute with the Pope .

With the Pactum Calixtinum sive Heinricianum – also known as the Worms Concordat since the end of the 17th century – the Salian dispensed with the investiture with rod and ring, but retained a say. The granting of investiture for temporal goods continued to be reserved for the emperor. According to traditional historiography, this ended the investiture dispute, even if the dispute between Sacerdotium and Empire flared up again and again well into the 14th century.

In other states, such as France and England, similar conflicts took place somewhat offset to the conflicts in the Holy Roman Empire, but they were conducted there much less violently. In 1106, the long-excommunicated French king Philip I reached an agreement with the pope . A year later, the English King Henry I.

The Terms "Investiture" and "Investiture Controversy"

In the context of the European Middle Ages , the term "investiture", from the Latin term investire - to clothe, clothe - is a "formal [understood] act by which a layman or cleric was endowed with rights and possessions or appointed to an office “. The act itself by no means gave a uniform picture, it was much more a spectrum of different actions. There were neither uniform symbols nor did the act follow a specific ceremonial process. The sphere of spiritual law was just as affected as the sphere of secular law, that of ceremonial or that of the liturgy . A further complication for modern research is that the medieval authors do not know of any term for this action, which was common in the Middle Ages, that fully corresponds to the term “investiture” today.

In the pre-forms of feudalism in the early Middle Ages, it was customary to express the handing over of churches or estates from the lord to the vassal with a symbolic action – such as the handing over of bell ropes, straws, altar cloths, clods of earth or keys. The verb investire , which is only available in the verb form , was used for this. Around the turn of the 11th century, the term was then also applied to the initiation of church office, which had previously often been referred to as donum regis . Around the middle of the 11th century, the term investitura for this act of inauguration arose in the circle of church reformers , which, however, cannot be regarded as congruent with the modern term "investiture".

When instituting clergy, the rulers used the symbols ring ( anulus ) and staff (often baculus pastoralis ), which were also used for consecration. Despite their anointing and blessing, kings and emperors were not considered clerics. From the middle of the 11th century, the idea became popular among church reformers that the investiture was an obvious "usurpation of spiritual symbols", although the symbols were to a certain extent ambiguous and also symbolized secular power. This also explains why these symbols were also suitable for the appointment of clergy by the secular rulers "and could be adopted without being considered spiritual signs from the outset".

Soon after the settlement of the conflict in the so-called "Worms Concordat" of 1122 (in which the emperor declared his willingness to dispense with the investiture with ring and staff ) and the internal church recognition of the peace agreement at the Lenten Synod of March 1123 , some made use of it contemporary authors, including the English historian William of Malmesbury , used the term investiture controversy ( investiturae controversia ), still in use today, to describe the recently ended controversy between Sacerdotium and Imperium. Thus "[they] brought the investiture problem to the fore as the dominating issue of the entire conflict", although the investiture question in the dispute between the empire and the pope had only gained special importance in a late phase of the dispute and Pope " Calixtus II [...] had a different interpretation [wanted] to see fixed”.


Proprietary church law and the imperial church system

Already in the Frankish Empire, the Frankish kings had the right to appoint bishops and abbots. They justified this right with the ecclesiastical law, which allowed a landlord with places of worship on his territory to influence their administration.

From the 10th century onwards, the successors of the Carolingians in East Francia endeavored to continue the policies of their predecessors, who “always [had] disposed of the bishoprics at their own discretion”, but also to link the imperial and church administrations more closely together. Significant steps in this endeavor were the establishment of the court chapel by King Henry I , which included abbots and bishops in the administration of the empire, and the creation by Otto I of the (today) so-called "Ottonic-Salian imperial church system" . The term suggests that "With this system, something new was suddenly and systematically created", but in fact it was only the shaping, structuring and shaping of "traditional and long since taken for granted". The goal of the Liudolfinger was to a certain extent to transform the bishops into agreeable tools in the fight against their adversaries. To this end, Otto and his successors significantly expanded the powers, privileges and territories of the clergy and thus tied the bishops more closely to royal power through targeted appointments. A few clerics condemned this action as early as the 10th century, but overall the Ottonian church policy was generally accepted among the clergy, with Otto I particularly benefiting from his progress in the Slav mission. The great conflict between Sacerdotium and Empire was only to break out under the Salic rulers of Central Europe.

The road to conflict - the monastic and church reform

The Lorraine-Burgundian monastery reform

Starting in the early 10th century, a movement of renewal emerged from Gorze in Lorraine and Cluny in Burgundy , which was soon to encompass all of western Christianity. This movement is mostly known today under the name "Cluniac reform" or also Lorraine-Burgundian monastery reform .

The primary goal of the monastic reform was to reorganize and regulate monastic life, which had suffered badly from the collapse of the Frankish Empire , the invasions of numerous foreign peoples, the civil wars between the sons of Louis the Pious and encroaching lay abbots. Community life was strictly regulated and geared towards worship. This became the focus of monastic life, while manual work receded into the background. To a certain extent this was in contradiction with the Benedictine rules, which wanted a balance between work and prayer. In Cluny Abbey, on the other hand, an abbey was understood as a "fully functioning prayer community". The monks did not do physical work in the strict sense here. Instead, they were allotted six to seven hours of prayer each day. The ideas of Cluny and Gorze quickly spread throughout Europe. Soon there were monasteries directly under Cluny all over western Europe, in northern Spain and Italy, as well as in England and France. At its peak, well over 1,000 monasteries were under the control of the centralized monastery association. In some places, the reform movements of other monasteries mixed with the reform efforts of the Lorraine-Burgundian monastery reform.

Church reform and the German rulers

Dedicatory picture with Pope Gregory the Great (590–604) and an enthroned ruler, probably Henry II. A monk presents him with the codex, Gregory the Great: Homiliae in Hiezecihelem, southern Germany, first quarter of the 11th century, Bamberg State Library, Msc. 84, fol. 1av.

Over time, the monastery reform increasingly became a reform of the canons, which also had to do with personnel overlaps. Here the reform took place according to the so-called Aachen Rules. Under Henry II (1002–1024), in particular , these reform efforts received generous support from the crown. The Ottonian hoped that his church policy, which basically only continued the policy of his predecessors, would strengthen the power of the king against the power of the dukes. In part, however, it may have been a religious zeal that brought Heinrich to decisions in favor of the reform, because "he not only paid attention to the political reliability of his bishop candidates, but also to their spiritual quality". What was new overall was the scope of the funding, which significantly exceeded the scope of the funding of its predecessors. In 1022, at the Council of Pavia, Henry decreed an "amendment for the whole Church" in relation to priestly celibacy.

After the death of the childless Heinrich in July 1024, the royal power in the Roman-German Empire fell to the Salians in 1024 . The new king, Conrad II (1024–1039), clearly subordinated the interests of the church to his own interests in power and used the allocation of bishoprics for money as a cheap source of income. However, he did not treat the reform of the Church with complete indifference, as evidenced by the summoning of the Synod of Tribur.

This allocation of bishoprics against the payment of money was viewed with great suspicion by the reformers, who regarded it as a criminal act that had to be prevented with all their might. Konrad's course of action therefore drew a sharp condemnation. The important cardinal and writer Humbert von Silva Kandida († 1061) judged Konrad and all "Simonists" sharply after Henry's death in his writing Against the Simonists (after 1057), but also praised Henry's efforts to prevent the purchase of offices. He wrote: "It still preserves the memory of many people, as from the times of the Ottonians down to Henry [III] , the son of Conrad [...], again the bad habit of selling [dioceses] in all of Germania, Gaul and Italy raged. This emperor [Henry III] in his day pushed this terrible crime at least a little back from himself and from clerics in the empire under his charge, and he was persistent in eradicating it altogether. But in the midst of that heart's desire, an untimely death overtook him.”

Unlike his father, Henry (1039–1056) was a staunch supporter of church reform . When appointing bishops, like Henry II, he not only paid attention to political reliability, but also to their suitability from a moral point of view. He also saw it as the king's task to reorganize the chaotic situation within the Roman Church , where in 1045 three competing popes ( Benedict IX , Gregory VI and Silvester III ) were fighting for the papal throne. Henry had all three popes deposed and replaced by Bishop Suitger von Morsleben, who henceforth called himself Clemens II (1046-1047). Shortly after his enthronement, the new pope crowned Heinrich emperor. Heinrich died in October 1056 at the age of just 38 in the Palatinate of Bodfeld. His successor was his six-year-old son Henry IV , who was to take on a difficult inheritance, because the great people of the empire started to rebel and in 1049 the reform party had come to power in Rome, whose primary goal was to a certain extent “the ecclesiastical to make the order an independent order, […] to snatch the appointment of bishops, abbots and parish priests away from the secular lords and to limit the lay investiture to the granting of secular things”. This forced the reform party, which had grown stronger, into opposition to the empire. Although Leo IX entertained. (1049–1054) still had good relations with the emperor, but the inner contradiction was soon to become apparent.

Scene 46 of the Bayeux Tapestry shows William († 1087) with a banner in his right hand which, according to Lucien Musset , could be the banner of Peter sent by Pope Alexander II in 1066. In 1063 the Normans of Italy also received such a flag from the Pope. This made the conquest of southern Italy a sacred task, around 1070, Bayeux, Center Guillaume le Conquérant.

This happened in 1058 when the radical reformers triumphed over the moderates with Gerhard of Burgundy , who called himself Nicholas II (1058–1061) from January 1059.

At the same time, the new pope began to reorient the political course of the papacy - this meant mainly weakening the influence of the Roman kingship or empire on the papacy. For this purpose, the papal election was newly regulated. Nicholas II also tried the southern Italian Normans against whom Pope Leo IX. had suffered a heavy defeat in 1053 in order to gain new allies and a counterweight to the Roman kingdom. This subsequently led to considerable disagreements between the empire and the papacy.

The beginning of the crisis between kingship and papacy

Nicholas II died in July 1061 and at the beginning of October of the same year the reformers elected Anselm of Lucca, who henceforth called himself Alexander II (1061–1073), as the new pope. The Salian royal power was no longer involved in this election. At the urging of the Roman nobility and some Lombard bishops, who were striving to push back the unwelcome reformers, Empress Agnes (1056 to 1061), the mother of Henry IV. had taken over the affairs of state of the empire, at the end of October the Basel bishop Cadalus von Parma, who from then on called himself Honorius II. † ( 1071 or 1072 ), as (anti-)pope. Agnes, who like her husband had long been a zealous promoter of the reform papacy, now stood in an almost paradoxical opposition to it.

The schism did not last long, as Honorius was unable to assert himself against his opponent. At the end of May 1064 he was convicted in absentia at a synod in Mantua, at the instigation of Anno von Köln , Hildebrand and Pertrus Damiani , with which the schism came to an end. According to Lampert von Hersfeld († between 1082 and 1085), the so-called Cadulus schism gave the final impetus for the disempowerment of the empress in 1061 by the dissatisfied German bishops, princes and nobles.


The actual cause of the dispute between Emperor and Pope, which would later become known as the "Investiture Controversy", was a difference of opinion regarding the occupation of the office of Archbishop of Milan .

The Milan Bishops' Controversy

In the mid-1150s, a radically reforming group of laypeople and clerics, known by their opponents as Pataria – “rags” – fought in Milan with the support of the Roman Reform Party against the way of life of Archbishop Wido, who was also the lord of the city was, and other high-ranking clerics who wore their marital and family life, as well as their material wealth, conscious and open to the public. With the support of the Patarenes - to whom Alexander II had even sent a banner of St. Peter's in 1063/64 - the Roman reform party attempted to subjugate the idiosyncratic archbishopric to the authority of the papacy. After Erlembald - the leader of the Patarener - had succeeded in obtaining an excommunication from Wido, he finally resigned his office. This led to great irritation with the German ruler Heinrich , because Wido was the son of his father Heinrich III. invested representative of Salian church sovereignty in northern Italy. His deposition could therefore be seen as an attempt by the reformers on royal power in northern Italy.

Because of this, Heinrich wasted no time after Wido's death, in harmony with the high nobility of Milan, in 1070/71 appointing the nobleman Gottfried, who had been designated by Wido to be his successor, as the city's new archbishop. The Patarans, on the other hand, opposed Henry with a cleric of humble origin named Atto. The Pope supported Atto's election by having several of Heinrich's councilors involved in Gottfried's elevation excommunicated at the Lenten Synod of March 1073.

After Alexander died on April 21, 1073, a new protagonist appeared in the middle of the Milan conflict: during Alexander's funeral the day after his death, archdeacon Hildebrand, who henceforth called himself Gregory VII , was elected pope in a downright tumultuous process . He was finally enthroned on Sunday June 30th. During his tenure (1073-1085), the role of the papacy was to undergo a fundamental change. Like no other pope before him, he was convinced of the "absolute primacy of the pope" in Christianity. In the so-called Dictatus papea (spring 1075) , which was a kind of internal memorandum or policy paper, he shed light on his ideas about the role and order of the Roman kingship, or empire, in relation to the papacy and "[set down] the principles of his papal rule[. ..]". For example, a mistake by the Roman Church is ruled out (clause 22), the pope can depose the emperor (clause 12) and release all those who have sworn an oath of allegiance to him (clause 27). Nevertheless, Gregory's attitude towards Heinrich was still fundamentally forgiving in July.

The dispute between Gregory VII and Henry IV.

outbreak of the quarrel

Depiction of Gregory VII. Beginning of the Vita Gregorii VII. Paul von Bernried, first half of the 12th century, Heiligenkreuz, Abbey Library, Cod. 12, fol. 181v.

In the autumn of 1075 Henry installed a new bishop in Milan, this time a member of his court orchestra, after the Milanese had rid themselves of the Patarans in June of the same year. At the same time he also intervened directly in the Pope's sphere of activity by appointing new bishops in Spoleto and Fermo - dioceses that were directly subordinate to the Pope. Gregor reacted to this outrageous provocation "promptly and unequivocally". In a verbal message he threatened the king with excommunication , having already written in December urging him to obey. The fact that the young king still associated with the councils that Alexander II had banned also played a role here.

The mutual condemnation of 1076 and its consequences

Henry IV saw his royal dignity attacked by this threat and reacted by having a court assembled in Worms on January 24, 1076, at which he was able to obtain an indictment and conviction of “Brother Hildebrand”. In a document intended for the public, he described him as a "monk" and "intruder" as well as the "most insidious enemy of the Roman community". This was made possible by the negative attitude of the clergy of the Salian imperial church towards the reform efforts of the pope, who felt that Rome treated them as if they were little more than estate managers. In addition, the numerous arbitrary accusations, summonses and judgments based on actual or supposed "Simonistic activities" had led to great resentment among the German clergy. Nevertheless, a certain amount of pressure from the king cannot be completely ruled out. Along with 26 bishops, the majority of the German episcopate, Henry asked the pope to descend from the throne of Peter, since his elevation was illegal. Henry legitimized this removal from office with his function as Patricius Romanorum and made it clear that he did not receive his sovereignty from the pope, but from God himself. At a synod in Piacenza, the bishops of Northern Italy agreed with the judgment of the German bishops.

The news of the papal judgment and its support by the bishops of northern Italy reached the Roman synod of February 1076 in good time. Gregory had the letter read out to the public and immediately had the bishops involved in his condemnation suspended and excommunicated. He also declared the king deposed, pronounced the ban on him and freed all his subjects from the oath of allegiance. With that, Gregory VII took a measure that had never been seen before. Denying a king and future emperor the sovereignty over his empire and pronouncing an excommunication over him was an absolute novelty. Gregory justified Henry's dismissal by saying that Henry had rebelled against ecclesiastical sovereign rights and could therefore no longer be king. It had already become clear in the Dictatus papae that he felt entitled to such an act by emphasizing the papal binding and loosing powers. At the same time, Gregory caused the news of the emperor's deposition and excommunication to be spread to all believers.

The Emperor then had the Pope excommunicated by Bishop William of Utrecht († 1076 ), but this could not prevent his position from collapsing at breakneck speed. The Pope had given bishops the opportunity to be restored to office if they showed remorse, leading many bishops to switch to the papal camp. As a result, three parties were formed. One supported the removal of the emperor, another that of the pope, and a relatively large third attempted to strike a balance between the king and the pope. In their opinion, however, the lifting of the ban imposed by Gregory on Heinrich was necessary.

Soon after his excommunication, Heinrich was confronted with strong opposition from the princes. After another uprising broke out in Saxony, his numerous enemies gathered their forces and took up positions against him. Gradually, people began to think about the election of a new king. The princely opposition, led by the South German dukes Welf , Bertold and Rudolf von Rheinfelden , therefore met in October 1076 at Tribur am Rhein to deliberate on the king's authority. Also present were the two papal legates, Siegehard of Aquileia and Altmann of Passau . Meanwhile, Heinrich was camped in Oppenheim on the opposite side of the Rhine. After lengthy negotiations, it was agreed that a new meeting would take place in February 1077 in Augsburg , to which the Pope was also invited. If Henry has not been released from the ban by then, a new king will be elected and Henry declared deposed. Furthermore, the king had to undertake to revoke the impeachment of the pope and to render him obedience and satisfaction.

Heinrich knew how to prevent the planned meeting between Gregory and the princely opposition in Augsburg in February 1077, at which he was to hold court over Heinrich. In December 1076, Henry set out for Italy with his wife, child and entourage in order to intercept the pope before he met the renegade princes.

The Penitential Journey to Canossa and Its Consequences

Since the southern German dukes blocked the other Alpine passes, the king chose the route via Mont Cenis , which, however, was to be difficult to cross due to the comparatively severe winter. Henry's arrival in northern Italy was accompanied by storms of enthusiasm from the worldly and spiritual leaders. It can be assumed that the northern Italian towns would have followed Henry in an armed conflict against Gregory - but Henry had other things in mind.

After Gregory VII learned of the arrival of Henry and his entourage in northern Italy, he withdrew to the castle of Canossa , owned by the Margravine Mathilde of Tuscia , who was well disposed towards him . On the feast day of the conversion of Saint Paul, Henry IV walked barefoot and only in penitent's robes to the gates of the castle and begged in a touching manner for the lifting of his ban, which he finally did, three days later, on January 28, 1077 through the intercession of Hugo von Cluny, and Margravine Mathilde from the Pope. Gregor himself describes the events as follows:

"In front of the castle gates the king endured for three days without any royal splendor in a pathetic manner, namely barefoot and in woolen clothing, and did not stop imploring the help and consolation of the apostolic mercy with numerous tears, until he those who received this information were moved to such mercy and merciful pity that everyone prayed for him with many pleas and tears and marveled at the unusual harshness of our attitude; some complained that there was not in us the firmness of apostolic rigor, but, as it were, the cruelty of savage tyranny.”

This justifying description of the events to the German princes shows that Heinrich had succeeded in "achieving a day's political success with his self-humiliation" and that Gregory had basically lost his decision-making power. However, Gregor continued to try to give the impression that the final decision was still pending, so that his presence in Germany and the Princely Council were still necessary despite the lifting of the ban. In granting absolution, Gregory had also succeeded in getting Henry to swear an oath by the king agreeing to submit to arbitration and the pope's verdict and to grant the pope safe conduct .

Mathilde of Tuscia and Hugh of Cluny as advocates of Henry IV, Vita Mathildis des Donizio, 1114, Vatican City, Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Vat. lat. 4922, fol. 49v.

As a result of the act of penance, Heinich had lost a lot of respect and dignity. On the one hand, contemporaries accepted the king's piety expressed by the act of penance, but on the other hand they regarded it as undignified "that the king had turned about for the sake of a momentary advantage".

Although Heinrich had succeeded in forestalling an alliance between the reform papacy and the opposition princes in the empire, the relaxation he had hoped for did not materialize in the empire. In March 1077 the dukes of Carinthia and Bavaria, together with the archbishops of Mainz, Salzburg and Magdeburg and other bishops in Forchheim , elected a new king. Two papal legates were also present. The choice fell on the Swabian Duke Rudolf von Rheinfelden, since he was closely related to the Salic family. However, he had to promise beforehand to guarantee the free, canonical election of the bishops and to refrain from succession. The king was to be determined by election in the future as well.

On March 26, Rudolf was consecrated and crowned by Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz. Even the coronation was a bad omen, because the day after the coronation, the citizens of Mainz, who were loyal to the king, drove the newly crowned man and his Archbishop Siegfried out of the city.

The Pope initially avoided deciding on either king. The following years were marked by Gregory's neutral policy, who avoided taking sides.

The German Throne Controversy

In 1078, under threat of excommunication, the pope issued a general ban on lay investiture for the first time. This was primarily directed against the previous practice of appointing bishops and abbots by the secular lords and aimed at weakening the king's power within the spiritual order. Heinrich did not accept this demand - it was in complete contradiction to the concept of the Ottonian idea of ​​empire, which was also active under the Salian rulers, which "knew no other choice than between subjecting the church to the empire and blowing up its entire state structure". Although Henry did not make the prohibition of investiture the subject of the ongoing dispute over the relationship between Sacerdotium and Empire , and even for Gregory it "was one goal among others without any particular priority", this gradually led to the fact that the dispute between the king and the pope now also turned into an "investiture dispute" . Gregory VII repeated and tightened the ban on investiture at the synod of 1080. In this repeated dismissal of Heinrich at the same synod, through which the pope now clearly sided with Rudolf von Rheinfelden, the disregard of the investiture ban by the German ruler played only a minor role. Much more important was that after his defeat at the Battle of Mühlhausen in early 1080, Henry had asked the pope to decide against Rudolf, otherwise he would proclaim an anti-pope. However, the upswing for the princely opposition did not last long. Gregory's prophecy during the festive mass on Easter Monday in St. Peter 's - Henry will perish if he has not done penance by August 1 - was not fulfilled.

Heinrich reacted by deposing Gregory again at a synod in Brixen at the end of June 1080 and Archbishop Wibert von Ravenna, who from now on Clemens III. (1084-1100) called when the anti-pope had it proclaimed. In the decree of deposition, Gregory was accused of schism and undermining of ecclesiastical order, as well as supporting a false king and oathbreaker. However, there are also some bizarre charges, such as the claim that Gregory was responsible for the poisoning of various popes.

Heinrich was defeated in the Battle of the White Elster on October 15, 1080, but Rudolf von Rheinfelden lost his right hand in battle and died of his injuries a few days later. The loss of the hand of oath was often interpreted as a judgment of God , which weighed all the more heavily because Gregory's prophecy had not been fulfilled, and the clear opposite had occurred with Henry's victory. Due to this event, the princely opposition collapsed after the battle within a short time. Rudolf's successor , Hermann von Salm , who was only elected in August 1081 because the princes were at odds with one another, never posed a serious threat to Heinrich Headed to Italy. At this stage of the dispute, Heinrich was still hoping for an agreement with the pontiff.

In May 1081 Henry was able to advance to Rome with the support of his local allies, but the capture failed. The renewed siege of the Eternal City in the following year and the subsequent negotiations with the Roman city population were not crowned with success either. In June 1082, Henry was banned by Gregor once again. On the third attempt in June 1083, however, Heinrich finally succeeded in taking at least Leostadt with the St. Peter's Church there. Heinrich began to negotiate again with Gregor, but the negotiations proved to be so cumbersome and lengthy that Heinrich finally lost interest in an amicable solution to the conflict.

Gregor's position deteriorated visibly, because he also lost more and more support among his supporters. In the spring of 1084, the war-weary townsfolk summoned Heinrich to the town to pass judgment on Gregory. Thirteen cardinals, under their spokesman Cardinal Beno von Santi Martino and Silvestro, also turned away from Gregory and finally excommunicated him on March 24, 1084 at a synod for crimes against majesty. Following Wibert was elected Pope of Ravenna and on the same day as Clemens III. Enthroned. Gregor took refuge in the Engelsburg, from where he formally elected and subsequently enthroned Wibert as Clemens III. could watch. A day later, on Easter 1084, Clemens III. Henry and his wife Bertha of Turin to Emperor and Empress. Belatedly, Pope Gregory VII now received support from the Normans ruling in southern Italy under Robert Guiskard . Henry IV retired, but the Normans left Rome a plundered and devastated city. The extent of the devastation was so great that Gregory was forced to go into exile in Salerno. He died there on May 25, 1085. The reformers were initially unable to agree on a successor. It was not until the end of May 1087 that agreement was reached on Abbot Desiderius of Montecassino, who took the name Viktor III. accepted, but died in 1087, only a few months after his enthronement in St. Peter.

With the death of Gregory and the installation of Clemens, who on the one hand was pro-reform but at the same time did not touch the royal or imperial privileges, Heinrich had reached the peak of his power in the empire. Although "[t]he reform papacy in the form implemented by Gregory [...] was close to collapse" and the self-image of the reformers was in complete contrast to reality, the reformers around Gregory had not basically failed completely, because in France, in Christian Spain and also in England, had succeeded in considerably expanding the church's position of power. Gregory had given the church reform a completely new orientation, which was not to change even after Gregory's death. The fight against Nicolaitism and simony faded into the background and the content of the reform narrowed down to the question of appointing bishops and abbots. This began a phase that can be described as the Investiture Controversy in the proper sense .

Investiture Controversy after Pope Gregory VII.

Further course

A few months after Victor's death he was succeeded by Odo of Ostia, a Frenchman of noble origin who had been Prior of Cluny before his time as Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, as Urban II (1089-1099) to the cathedra petri . Under him the power of the papacy over the empire swelled again. Already in the summer of 1089, Urban succeeded in taking Rome and expelling Clemens. Through a marriage alliance he engineered between the Countess Mathilde von Tuzien and the only 17-year-old Welf V., Urban succeeded in blocking Heinrich's path to Rome.

At first it seemed as if Henry could overcome his enemies, since they were clearly inferior to him in military terms, but then he suffered a painful defeat at Canossa Castle, at the gates of which he had appeared 15 years earlier as a penitent. The cities of Lodi , Milan , Cremona and Piacenza , which were striving for independence , saw this as an opportunity to shake off the hated rule of the Salians and, as a result, concluded an anti-imperial alliance, which severely weakened Henry's position.

But Heinrich's situation was to deteriorate further. The year after the defeat at Canossa, his eldest son Conrad - who had been crowned co-king in 1087 - began a rebellion against his father. In the same year he had himself crowned king with the support of the papal camp in Milan. Henry completely lost the initiative, whereas Urban II was able to steadily expand his power. In the spring of 1095, a church assembly was held in Piacenza in the presence of the pope, "which declared all the consecrations that the imperial pope had given to be invalid". However, the following event was even more sensational. Urban had Heinrich's second wife Adelheid, who had been treated like a prisoner by her husband on suspicion of infidelity until she managed to escape to freedom in 1094, had her appear at the papal synod and make downright monstrous accusations against her husband that he morally and personally in order to create the necessary basis for further excommunication. Before the eyes of the churchmen, she accused him in a propaganda way of having badly abused her by repeatedly forced adultery. Also present at the synod was a Roman embassy requesting the Pope's military aid against the Seljuks, who had managed to advance deep into Asia Minor in the previous decades.

The humiliating gesture of submission that Konrad performed when he met the pope shows that Urban had found a loyal ally in the young king's son. By arranging marriages with the Normans, Urban also succeeded in binding Konrad even more closely to him. But the long-term success of this policy did not materialize, because Konrad was not able to assert himself in Italy or Germany, which is why he was soon to lose his importance. In 1095 Urban turned to other concerns. In Clermont he presented himself as a champion of Christianity with a call for armed pilgrimages against the heathen people , “while the emperor no longer seemed to play a role”. Alongside this, Urban demonstrated his power over the French King Philip I (1060-1108) by confirming the ban imposed the previous year by Hugh of Lyons for the repudiation of his first wife Bertha and the kidnapping and marriage of the wife of Count Fulco of AnjouBertrada von Montfort – had been imposed on him. In addition, the synod enacted an extensive ban on investiture, which prohibited clerics from accepting investiture from kings or other laypeople or from taking the ligic oath of allegiance ( ligia fidelitas ) to them. This ban on homage was to play a crucial role in the English investiture controversy. In addition, princes and kings were also forbidden to invest clerics.

The year 1095 brought Heinrich the long-awaited turning point in his dispute with Urban. Welf V separated from Mathilde and Heinrich was able to bring about a reconciliation with Welf IV in 1096 by granting him the Bavarian dukedom and thus his return to Germany in the spring of 1097. He also reached a compromise with his other enemies in the Reich. In May 1089 he turned back to his son Konrad. At a court day in Mainz, he had his kingship and inheritance stripped from him because of his betrayal. He would eventually die in Florence in 1101, meaningless and without power or influence. Instead, he had his only 12-year-old son Heinrich elected king and crowned co-king on Epiphany 1099 in Aachen. Previously, he had been forced to swear to stay out of government business while his father was alive.

Urban II died in Rome on July 29, two weeks after the army took Jerusalem . His successor was Cardinal Priest Rainer von S. Clemente (1099-1118), who was enthroned as Paschalis II on August 14, 1099 in St. Peter's Church. A favorable circumstance soon after the beginning of his tenure was that the schism came to an end in September 1100 with the death of Clemens. Finally, in 1102, Paschalis II excommunicated Henry again. The argumentative basis of this anathema was the Salian's non-compliance with the ban on investiture, in which the Pope recognized the cause of simony. With a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the proclamation of a kingdom-wide peace of God - as proof of his piety - Heinrich tried to break the ban on himself, but this was not possible due to Paschalis' unwillingness to compromise. His son Henry V , supported by the Pope, captured his father in 1105. However, Henry IV managed to escape from Ingelheim to Cologne and found refuge in Liège . Duke Henry I of Lower Lorraine , Count Gottfried of Namur and Bishop Otbert of Liège were loyal to him. He also established relationships with Philip I of France . The strong following that the emperor found in Lower Lorraine forced Henry V to move there in order to advance on Liège. However, the attack on the city failed. On Maundy Thursday 1106 his troops were defeated at the Meuse Bridge near Visé . A new battle with arms seemed inevitable - Henry IV died suddenly on August 7, 1106 in Liège.

In England (1105/07 in the Westminster Concordat ) and France (1107) there was agreement on questions of investiture. Only in the Holy Roman Empire did the conflict continue to smolder. In 1111, King Henry V captured Pope Paschal II. The pope was forced to transfer investiture rights to the king and to crown Henry emperor. The Pope then concluded the Treaty of Ponte Mammolo on April 11, 1111 . Accordingly, the election of bishops and abbots will be free in the future, but with the king's approval. Then the investiture was to be carried out by the king with ring and staff . The Pope agreed to crown Henry Emperor, which he did on April 13. In return, the king pledged to set the captives free and to be loyal and obedient to the pope, but only to the extent consistent with the rights of the empire. The treaty was immediately heavily criticized and rejected by advocates of church reform.

At the synod in Fritzlar in 1118, under the presidency of the papal cardinal legate Kuno von Praeneste , the ban imposed on Henry V by the late Pope Paschalis II was confirmed by a new ban by the new Pope Gelasius II .


In 1119, Pope Calixtus II and Emperor Henry V met to reach an agreement. This was finally achieved in 1122 with the Worms Concordat, which has its origins with Ivo von Chartres , among others. Emperor Henry V accepted the Church's claim to the right of investiture and renounced the investiture with ring and baton. Furthermore, he granted every church the freedom of choice of investiture. In return, Pope Calixtus II conceded that the election of the German bishops and abbots would be negotiated in the presence of imperial deputies, but that the elected person should be enfeoffed with the regalia that were connected with his spiritual office by the emperor through the scepter (" scepter fiefdom ") ). Emperor Lothar III. also gave the Church the right to bestow the ring and staff first, effectively eliminating the emperor's influence over the appointment of bishops. Agreements comparable to the Worms Concordat were already concluded in 1107 with England (Concordat of Westminster) and France .


The investiture dispute was thus settled, but the empire had suffered severe losses as a result. The sacral aura of the emperor was shaken and the unity of empire and papacy that had existed until then was abolished, and the imperial church system was actually shattered, even if not eliminated. The bishops expanded their territories, which partly happened in competition with the secular princes, which promoted the territorialization of the empire - much to the detriment of the kingship. All of this led to a reorientation of the idea of ​​the empire under the Staufers , whereby the problems of the relationship between the empire and the papacy increased during the interregnum and lasted until the late Middle Ages .


  • Bayer, Axel: Split in Christianity. The so-called schism of 1054, Cologne 2002.
  • Blumenthal, Uta-Renate : The Investiture Controversy, Stuttgart 1982.
  • Dhont, Jan : World History. 10. The early Middle Ages, Augsburg 2000.
  • Dittmar, Heinrich ; Schmitz-Aurbach, Carl von; Vogt, Wilhelm: The history of the world before and after Christ with regard to the development of life in religion and politics, art and science, trade and industry of the world-historical peoples, presented for the general need for education, Volume 3, Heidelberg 1850
  • Hage, Wolfgang : Christianity in the Early Middle Ages (476-1054). From the end of the Western Roman Empire to the West-Eastern Schism, Göttingen 1993.
  • Hartmann, Wilfried ; Gall, Lothar (ed.): The Investiture Controversy, Munich 2 1996.
  • Le Goff, Jacques : World History. 11. The High Middle Ages, Augsburg 2000.
  • Schneidmüller, Bernd, Stefan Weinfurter (eds.): German rulers of the Middle Ages, historical portraits from Heinrich I to Maximilian I (919-1519), Kempten 2003.
  • Zey, Claudia : The Investiture Controversy, Munich 2017.



  1. The term was essentially coined by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716).
  2. From now on the cardinal bishops should elect the new pope, the people should only approve the election.
  3. The papal election procedure was in no way in line with the procedure proclaimed by the reformers.
  4. Specifically, the letter says: "Henry, not by force, but according to God's pious decree, king, to Hildebrand, not the pope, but the false monk! You have earned this greeting through the confusion you have brought to all ranks of the Church […] You who are cursed and condemned by our and all bishops' courts, come down! Leave the presumptuous apostolic chair! Someone else should mount it, who does not cloak his arrogance with the divine word. I, Henry, King by God's grace, and all our bishops say to you: 'Descend'! Descend!'”; Dittmar, Heinrich; Schmitz-Aurbach, Carl von; Vogt, Wilhelm: The history of the world before and after Christ with regard to the development of life in religion and politics, art and science, trade and industry of the world-historical peoples, presented for the general need for education, Volume 3, Heidelberg 1850, p. 86 .
  5. Later, contrary to the general consensus, he even denied that he had reinstated Henry's right to rule by lifting the ban.
  6. After 1080, the topic even disappeared from the Pope's agenda; See Zey, 2017, p. 72.

individual receipts

  1. a b Cf. Zey, Claudia: The Investiture Controversy , Munich 2017, p. 7.
  2. a b c d e Cf. Schneidmüller, Bernd, Stefan Weinfurter (eds.): German rulers of the Middle Ages, historical portraits from Heinrich I to Maximilian I , (919-1519), Kempten 2003, p. 173.
  3. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 57.
  4. a b c d e Cf. Le Goff, 2000, p. 92.
  5. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 178 f.
  6. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 119.
  7. Zey, 2017, p. 104.
  8. a b Cf. Le Goff, 2000, p. 93.
  9. Cf. Le Goff, p. 93 f.
  10. ^ Le Goff, Jacques : World History. 10. The Early Middle Ages, Augsburg 2000, Augsburg 2000, p. 91.
  11. Zey, 2017, p. 29.
  12. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 29
  13. Cf. Zey, 2007, p. 30.
  14. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 32.
  15. Zey, 2017, p. 33.
  16. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 32 f.
  17. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 33.
  18. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 109 f.
  19. ^ a b Zey, 2017, p. 110.
  20. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 56 f.
  21. Hage, Wolfgang : Christianity in the early Middle Ages (476-1054). From the end of the Western Roman Empire to the west-east schism, Göttingen 1993, p. 80 ff.
  22. Dhont, Jan: World history. 10. The Early Middle Ages , Augsburg 2000, p. 200.
  23. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 123.
  24. ^ a b Hage, 1993, p. 123.
  25. Cf. Dhont, 2000, p. 201.
  26. Cf. Dhont, 2000, p. 202.
  27. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 121 ff.
  28. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 23.
  29. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 23 f.
  30. Cf. Hage, p. 122.
  31. Dhont, 2000, p. 240.
  32. Cf. Dhont, 2000, p. 241.
  33. Cf. Dhont, 2000, p. 240.
  34. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 122.
  35. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 25.
  36. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 26.
  37. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 27.
  38. a b Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 131.
  39. ^ a b Hage, 1993, p. 131.
  40. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 115 f.
  41. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 120.
  42. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 132.
  43. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 132 f.
  44. ^ Hage, 1993, p. 133.
  45. Cf. Hage, 1993, p. 133.
  46. Cf. Hartmann, Wilfried ; Gall, Lothar (ed.): The Investiture Controversy, Munich 2 1996, p. 9 f.
  47. Cf. Hartmann, 1996, p. 10.
  48. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 153.
  49. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 154.
  50. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 153 f.
  51. Cf. Hartmann, 1996, p. 11.
  52. ^ a b Le Goff, 2000, p. 89.
  53. a b Cf. Le Goff, 2000, p. 89.
  54. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 36 f.
  55. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 49.
  56. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 50.
  57. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 42.
  58. Cf. Bayer, Axel: Splitting Christianity. The so-called schism of 1054 , Cologne 2002, p. 76.
  59. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 43 f.
  60. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 45.
  61. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 155.
  62. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 45 f.
  63. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 46.
  64. a b Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 47 f.
  65. a b c d Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 48.
  66. a b c See Hartmann, 1996, p. 20.
  67. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 49.
  68. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 50.
  69. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 51.
  70. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 168.
  71. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 51 f.
  72. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 52.
  73. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 168.
  74. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 54.
  75. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 168 f.
  76. ^ a b Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 169.
  77. a b c Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 169.
  78. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 58.
  79. a b Cf. Hartmann, 1996, p. 25.
  80. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 59.
  81. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 169 f.
  82. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 60 f.
  83. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 170.
  84. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 61.
  85. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 170 f.
  86. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 171.
  87. ^ a b Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 171.
  88. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 62.
  89. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 63.
  90. Hartmann, 1996, p. 26.
  91. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 64.
  92. a b Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 172.
  93. Cf. Hartmann, 1996, p. 26.
  94. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 172 f.
  95. Dhont, 2000, p. 265.
  96. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 173.
  97. a b Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 174.
  98. Cf. Blumenthal, Uta-Renate: The Investiture Controversy, Stuttgart 1982, p. 137.
  99. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 174 f.
  100. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 70 f.
  101. Cf. Blumenthal, 1982, p. 138.
  102. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 72.
  103. Zey, 2017, p. 71.
  104. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 71 ff.
  105. Cf. Blumenthal, 1982, p. 139.
  106. Cf. Blumenthal, 1982, p. 147.
  107. a b Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 176.
  108. Cf. Blumenthal, 1982, p. 147.
  109. Cf. Blumenthal, 1982, p. 147 f.
  110. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 80.
  111. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 176.
  112. a b See Zey, 2017, p. 81.
  113. a b c Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 177.
  114. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 80 f.
  115. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 177.
  116. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 81 f.
  117. Cf. Schneidmüller, 2003, p. 179 f.
  118. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 83.
  119. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 84.
  120. Cf. Zey, 2017, p. 85.

web links

Wiktionary: Investiture Controversy  – Explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations