03B: The Road to the Investiture Controversy

Chris Wickham: local focus not international narrative


Two narratives at different levels:

  • papacy acquires strong Europe-wide identity; clearer church hierarchy, organization
  • Rise of communal government in Italian cities; Rome’s version (1142+)

Euratlas 900
Euratlas 1000
Euratlas 1100

Italy 1000

Disorderly Europe and the end of the Carolingians

  • Technology of fighting: stirrup marks transition to fighting on horse
  • Invasions and Migrations: Northmen; Muslims; Slavs; Magyars


Rome: Muslim attacks; control in Sicily, threats in S Italy

Byzantine, local responses


New power centers, kingships northern Europe

Old eastern Carolinian realm will revive imperial title

  • survived breakup of Carolingians better than France
  • local groups elected kings

Otto, King of Germans (Otto I)

The Emperor Otto I (912–73) Presenting a Model of His Church at Magdeburg to the Enthroned Christ in the Presence of Saints Peter and Mauritius (?) and Other Saints, 962–968; Ottonian. Made in Milan(?) Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ivory; 5 1/8 x 4 7/16 x 5/16 in. (13 x 11.3 x .8 cm)


defeat of Hungarians, 955 (Lechfeld)

crowned king of Italy

962 Crowned emperor


Ottonian leaders expected control over church appointments

Extended to papacy: appointed several popes

Otto III, from a German ms, late 10th c

New politics: Monastic devotion in the world

Burgundy Cluny Abbey Skip the Line Entrance Ticket

910  Cluny founded by Duke of Aquitaine

  • Dedicated to St. Peter
  • directly under papal control; then daughter houses in hierarchy
  • strict devotion

Milan: Patarenes: efforts to define bishops more as spiritual leaders. Some connected with Cluny

Some goals of reformers

  • Educated clergy
  • High moral standards: Simony? Celibacy?
  • Proper lines of authority and oversight
  • Practice similar everywhere

1054 Schism with Eastern (Byzantine) Church (Leo IX)

1059 College of Cardinals   (Nicholas II)

Clashes in Milan over appointment of archbishop: Henry IV

  • Among reformers: Hildebrand or Gregory VII (1073-85). Tuscan, raised in Rome

1075 Gregory issues a decree again lay investiture of bishops

Fight over Milan: Gregory threatens Henry with excommunication

1076 Synod of  German bishops: declare Gregory’s election   invalid

Gregory declares Henry invalid ruler because he has violated oath to defend and obey church;

German princes give Henry a year to surrender

1077 Henry asks forgiveness of Gregory at Canossa 

A faction of German lords declare a new king; civil war

Gregory excommunicates Henry again

Henry and some nobles declare Gregory deposed, elect another pope

1122 Concordat of Worms

  • Italian groups agreed not to interfere in elections
  • Imperial rep at elections


Effects: political

  • Survival of College of Cardinals
  • Political development
  • German region of HRE: small states, not centralization
  • Italian cities: weak contested bishops speed rise of new governments: commune (Rome 1142)


Effects on papacy

  • Rivalry with HRE
  • Strong international role in clergy
  • Use of spiritual tools in political battles (excommunication)
  • International role versus local/regional role


Normans in Italy

  • 911 Normandy
  • 1066 England
  • 1061-91 Sicily; 1130 Kingdom
  • Naples; Southern Italy
  • Allies of Gregory against Henry

Robert Guiscard (C1015-1085)  Invested By Pope Nicholas II As Duke Of Apulia Calabria And Sicily 1059

1083: Henry IV besieged Gregory VII  in Castel Santangelo;  Robert Guiscard in Rome with troops


1084 looting by Normans  Ex: Santi Quattro Coronati


Some local features in Rome

  • Church as major landowner outside Rome   (agro romano)
  • Ownership includes titular churches
  • Roman “nobles” or leading families lease these lands. In other ways, resemble other regional nobles
  • Castle building in countryside; control of land outside church-owned regions
  • House towers in city itself
  • Violence, feuds over papal elections