The Medieval World hi127, Lecture 11: The Rise of the Papal Monarchy 1050-1300 The Rise of Christian Rome



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The Medieval World HI127, Lecture 11: The Rise of the Papal Monarchy 1050-1300
The Rise of Christian Rome

- Rome becomes “capital” of the Christian west, drawing on the spiritual power of figures like St. Peter, apostle and first bishop of Rome (and thus first pope?), buried under St. Peter’s Basilica

NB. Eastern (Orthodox) Christian Church continues, with head at Byzantium (Constantinople); “great schism” between the eastern and western churches takes place in C11th

- Early medieval Rome a primary site of pilgrimage, with > 300 churches by late C12th

- Roman papacy expands its influence eg. in recently converted areas of Europe

- But papacy is still embroiled in local Roman politics, and falls to very low levels in C10th

- 1046 German Emperor deposes several rival popes and initiates period of reform
The Reform Movement

- From the C11th lay people, monasteries, lay rulers and finally the papacy itself call for reform of the Church, concerned that it has become too corrupted by secular influences

Eg. monastic reforms at Cluny (C10th) then with the Cistercians and Carthusians (C11th)

- Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-85) a leader of the so-called “Gregorian Revolution”

- reforms aim to separate clergy more from the laity and make them more holy eg. enforcing clerical celibacy, cracking down on simony (sale of church offices), formalising election of pope by Cardinals

- Papacy increasingly presents itself as only legitimate source of authority on religious practice eg. taking over canonisation process in C10th

- popes like Innocent III (r. 1198-1216) tried to rule on all aspects of Christian life, particularly at Fourth Lateran Council (1215), including commercial practice, sacraments, sexual behaviour

- popes developed ideological justification for their supremacy

eg. Use of Donation of Constantine (forged document claiming that Emperor Constantine had given the pope legal dominion over the western empire)

eg. Gregory VII’s Dictatus papae (c. 1075) declared pope as universal monarch over all secular rulers


The Investiture Controversy (C11-12th)

- controversy regarding who had the right to appoint (invest) bishops and other clergy

- conflict dragged on into the C12th, particularly between the popes and German emperors

- 1122 Concordat of Worms reached a compromise: ecclesiastical appointments made by pope alone but secular rulers could invest bishops with secular authority

- resulted in growth in power of the papacy at the expense of lay rulers
The Expansion and Peak of Papal Authority (C12-13th)

- Extension of church power also necessitates a growing administration, with new figures such as the chancellor (supervises writing and notaries) and the chamberlain (in charge of finance)

- papal court (curia) becomes a major legal centre, with appeals from all over Europe

- codification of canon (Church) law in Gratium’s Decretum (c. 1140) helps to cement papal authority

- meanwhile, papacy is increasing power over its temporal state (the Papal States) in central Italy

- papacy benefits from supporting new orders the Franciscans and Dominicans in the C13th

BUT relations with secular rulers remain problematic

Eg. Henry II’s role in the murder of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket (1170) and ongoing struggle over the jurisdiction of the Church in England

Eg. struggles with the German emperors over their dynastic claims in Italy; many Italian cities divided by factions which support the emperor (Ghibellines) or the papacy (Guelphs)

- Boniface VIII (r. 1294-1303) represents a climax of papal claims to supremacy over secular rulers



- 1296 issued bull Clericis laicos responding to French King Philip IV’s heavy taxation of the clergy

- 1302 issued bull Unam sanctam which made extravagant claims for papal power

RS 6.12.11


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