HIST 204 Lecture Outline (Spring 2023 – Week 7)

HIST 204


POPES AND THE PAPACY, c. 1000-1300



Offertorium: Letentur celi et exultet terra, in the Old Roman chant (6th cent.?) that accompanied the papal liturgy until the 14th century (6:35 min.):

Gregorian chant, by the monks of the Cistercian abbey of Stift Heiligenkreuz, near Vienna (3:45 min.):

Gregorian chant, by monks of the Benedictine abbey of St-Pierre de Solesmes, France (12:44 min.):

The Investiture Controversy:

1046 Emperor Henry III (r. 1039-1056) deposes 3 rival claimants to papacy and appoints
German reform pope
1054 Pope Leo IX’s legate to Constantinople, Humbert of Silva Candida, excommunicates the Patriarch for refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope
1059 Papal election decree
1075 Beginning of Investiture Controversy: Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand, r.1073-85) vs. Emperor Henry IV (1050-1106)
1075 or 1090: Dictatus papae (Dictates of the Pope)
1070s: Gregory VII prohibits lay investiture
Jan.-Feb. 1076: exchange of letters between Henry IV and Gregory VII
January 1077: meeting at Canossa, the castle of Countess Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115)
1084: siege of Rome by Henry IV, who is chased away by the pope’s Norman ally, Robert Guiscard
1085: death of Gregory VII in exile at Salerno
1122 Concordat of Worms, between Emperor Henry V and Pope Calixtus II: formally resolves Investiture Controversy

The papacy becomes stronger following the Investiture Controversy::

8 major church councils summoned by popes in 12th-13th cent., at Rome, Lyons, and Vienne, beginning in 1123 with the 1st Lateran Council at Rome

Rediscovery of Justinian’s codification of Roman law (Corpus Juris Civilis, mid 500s) leads to rise in study of both civil (secular) law and canon (ecclesiastical) law, especially at Bologna, where Gratian completed his codification of canon law (the Decretum) in 1140. Many popes of 12th-13th cent. are canon lawyers.

Papacy claims to inherit vast estates from Countess Matilda of Tuscany, but must contend with rival heir, Emperor Henry V; papacy also claims general dominion over all of Italy (relying on forged 8th-century “Donation of Constantine”)

The empire becomes weaker following the Investiture Controversy:

Henry IV (d. 1106) and Henry V (d. 1125) increasingly lose control over both clergy and aristocracy; they rely on knightly royal servants (“ministerials”) and try to build good relations with towns by granting many urban charters

Henry V also loses much control over Lombardy (N. Italy), where townspeople established free communes under nominal imperial control

Death of Henry V without heir in 1125 leads to return to custom of electing German kings, which leads to intense rivalry between two ducal houses: Welf of Saxony and Hohenstaufen of Swabia

Primary sources:

The papacy in the mid eleventh century:
Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida excommunicates the Patriarch of Constantinople (1054)
Papal election decree (1059)

Dictatus papae (The Dictates or Pronouncements of the Pope), 1075 or 1090

Gregory VII prohibits lay investiture, 1070s

Henry IV: Letter to Gregory VII, 24 Jan. 1076

Gregory VII deposes Henry IV, 22 Feb. 1076


Frederick II (9:24 min.):

Music from 12th-cent. Sicily (Troparium de Catania, now Madrid, National Library, MS 19421):

Congaudentes jubilemus (2:14 min.):

Tammuriddara — Assumata di lu corpu di la tunnara — Navaii (7:02 min.):

1140s-1155 Communal rebellion in Rome vs pope, led by Arnold of Brescia, who wants to restore Church to state of apostolic poverty; rebellion ended when Pope Hadrian IV (1154-9) puts Rome under interdict and, with Emperor Frederick I, hunts Arnold down and executes him, marking end of papal alliance with urban reforms
1152-1190 Emperor Frederick I “Barbarossa” (Hohenstaufen duke of Swabia)
Major goals: control of German nobility, of Italy, and of papacy
1162 Besieges and burns Milan
1176 Loses Battle of Legnano vs. Lombard League, leading to independence for Lombard cities
late 1170s Marries his son, later Henry VI, to Constance, Norman heiress of Sicily and S. Italy
1180 Crushes rival Henry “the Lion,” Welf duke of Saxony
1190 Drowns on way to Third Crusade
1159-1181 Pope Alexander III
Canon lawyer, and Barbarossa’s greatest opponent; ally of Lombard League

Emperor Henry VI and wife Constance of Sicily (d. 1198)

Map of Europe c. 1200

1198-1216 Pope Innocent III
University-trained theologian and canon lawyer; most powerful medieval pope.Preaches 3 Crusades:

  • Fourth Crusade (which sacks Zara and Constantinople, 1201-4)
  • Albigensian Crusade (against Cathars, 1209-29)
  • Crusade against Spanish Muslims (1212)

Places England and France under interdicts, forcing King John of England to grant England to pope as papal fief and to accept pope’s nominee for archbishopric of Canterbury; and forcing King Philip II “Augustus” of France to take back his repudiated wife, Ingeborg of Denmark

Attempts to decide disputed Imperial election, supporting first Welf candidate, Otto of Brunswick (1209), and, when Otto breaks promise not to claim Sicily and S. Italy, switches support to Hohenstaufen candidate, Frederick II (son of Henry VI, b. 1197)

Pope’s allies Philip II of France and Frederick II of Sicily win Battle of Bouvines (1214) against Otto of Brunswick and John of England

Supports new mendicant orders (Dominicans and Franciscans)

Convenes 4th Lateran Council (1215), whose canons include:

(Click here for summaries of all 70 canons of Lateran IV, plus some additional crusading statutes)


Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (=Hohenstaufen, grandson of Barbarossa)Brilliant administrator; founder of University of Naples; establishes uniform legal code (Constitution of Melfi); successful “checkbook” Crusaderauthor and intellectual

Loses control of German princes and towns; loses control of Lombard towns; impoverishes Sicily through taxation; excommunicated and ordered deposed by Council of Lyons (1245), leading to revolts against him throughout his dominions

(Click here for images of Frederick’s coronation gloves)

1250-1300 Decline of papacy and Holy Roman Empire:
after 1250

N. Italy broken up into independent and competitive city-states; pope offers crown of Sicily to Charles of Anjou, younger brother of Louis IX of France, but Sicilian revolt in 1282 leads to 20-year “War of the Sicilian Vespers,” resulting in Angevin kingdom of Naples, and Aragonese kingdom of Sicily

Papacy’s direct involvement in heavy clerical taxation, political scheming, interdicts, and European wars damages its spiritual prestige and moral standing

1254-73 Imperial Interregnum

Rudolf of Habsburg elected emperor (Habsburg dynasty survives until 1918)

Map of Europe c. 1300

1294-1303 Pope Boniface VIII, a canon lawyer, challenges Philip IV “the Fair” of France and Edward I “Longshanks” of England over clerical taxation and papal supremacy:
1296 Papal bull Clericis laicos forbids kings to tax clergy
1302 Papal bull Unam sanctam claims that papal supremacy is necessary for every human’s salvation
1303 Philip IV’s Estates-General convicts Boniface VIII of numerous crimes, and French force briefly captures pope at Anagni; he is rescued but dies soon after
1305 French-affiliate pope elected, and papacy moves headquarters from Rome to Avignon

Online readings:

Innocent III (r. 1198-1216): On papal power

Frederick Barbarossa: On keeping the peace, 1152-7

Innocent III: Canons of the 4th Lateran Council, 1215

Salimbene, Chronicle: Description of Frederick II