Key Points

When the holy Roman Empire occurred as a force throughout the 10th century, it to be the an initial real non-barbarian an obstacle to the authority of the church.A dispute in between the secular and also ecclesiastical powers well-known as the Investiture controversy emerged start in the mid-11th century.The Investiture debate was resolved with the Concordat that Worms in 1122, which offered the church power over investiture, along with other reforms.By undercutting the royal power established by previous emperors, the debate led to almost fifty year of civil war in Germany, and the triumph of the good dukes and abbots.The papacy grew stronger in that is power and also authority indigenous the controversy.

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The sale of church workplaces to a successor.


The authority to appoint neighborhood church officials such as bishops the cities and abbots the monasteries.

Concordat of Worms

An agreement between Pope Calixtus II and also Holy roman Emperor Henry V top top September 23, 1122, that uncovered a resolution to the Investiture Controversy.


The Investiture controversy was the most far-ranging conflict in between church and also state in middle ages Europe, especially the divine Roman Empire.

In the 11th and also 12th centuries, a series of popes challenged the authority of european monarchies. At problem was who, the pope or monarchs, had actually the authority to choose (invest) local church officials such as bishops of cities and also abbots that monasteries. The dispute ended in 1122, once Emperor Henry V and also Pope Calixtus II i agreeed on the Concordat that Worms. That differentiated in between the royal and also spiritual powers and gave the monarchs a minimal role in choosing bishops. The outcome seemed mostly a success for the pope and his claim that he was God’s chef representative in the world. However, the emperor did retain substantial power end the church.

The Investiture Controversy began as a strength struggle in between Pope Gregory VII (1072–1085) and also Holy roman Emperor Henry V (1056–1106). A short but far-reaching struggle over investiture additionally occurred in between Henry i of England and also Pope Paschal II in the year 1103–1107, and also the issue additionally played a minor duty in the struggles between church and state in France.

By undercutting the royal power established by vault emperors, the dispute led to virtually fifty years of civil war in Germany, and also the triumph that the an excellent dukes and also abbots. Royal power was finally re-established under the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Chronicler Norman Cantor to write of that is significance:

The age of the investiture dispute may correct be regarded as the turning-point in medieval civilization. It to be the fulfillment that the early Middle Ages because in that the accept of the Christian faith by the Germanic individuals reached that is final and also decisive stage…The greater part of the spiritual and political system of the high middle Ages arised out of the events and ideas that the investiture controversy.

Investiture. A woodcut by Philip van Ness (1905), A middle ages king investing a bishop with the symbols of office.


After the decline of the roman inn Empire and also prior to the Investiture Controversy, investiture, while theoretically a job of the church, to be in practice performed by members that the religious nobility. Numerous bishops and also abbots were themselves component of the ruling nobility. Due to the fact that an eldest child would inherit the title of the father, siblings often uncovered careers in the church. This was an especially true where the family members may have created a proprietary church or abbey on their estate. Because Otto ns (936-972) the bishops had been princes the the empire, had secured countless privileges, and also had end up being to a great extent feudal lords over good districts the the royal territory. The manage of these good units of economic and military power was for the king a concern of major importance, together it influenced the imperial authority. That was vital for a ruler or nobleman to choose (or sell the office to) someone who would stay loyal.

Since a considerable amount that wealth and land was usually connected with the office of a bishop or abbot, the revenue of church workplaces (a practice well-known as simony) was critical source of revenue for leaders among the nobility, that themselves own the land and by charity allowed the structure of churches.

The crisis started when a group within the church, members of the Gregorian Reform, decided to rebel versus the ascendancy of simony through forcefully taking the power of investiture native the ruling secular power, i.e., the holy Roman Emperor, and placing that power wholly within manage of the church. The Gregorian reformers knew this would certainly not be feasible so long as the emperor maintained the capacity to choose the pope, for this reason their an initial step to be to forcibly gain the papacy native the control of the emperor. An possibility came in 1056 once six-year-old Henry IV came to be the German king; the reformers took benefit of his young age and also inability to react by seizing the papacy through force. In 1059 a church council in Rome declared, with In Nomine Domini, that leaders the the nobility would have no component in the an option of popes, and also created the college of Cardinals together a body of electors consisted of entirely the church officials. Once Rome regained regulate of the choice of the pope, it was ready to assault the practice of investiture and also simony top top a broad front.

In 1075, Pope Gregory VII composed the Dictatus Papae. One i asserted that the deposal of one emperor was under the single power that the pope. It declared that the roman inn church was started by God alone—that the papal power was the single universal power. By this time, Henry IV was no longer a child, and he ongoing to appoint his own bishops. He reacted to this explanation by sending out Gregory VII a letter in i m sorry he withdrew his royal support of Gregory together pope in no uncertain terms.

The case was make even more dire once Henry IV set up his chaplain, Tedald, a Milanese priest, together Bishop of Milan when another priest that Milan, Atto, had already been liked by the pope for candidacy. In 1076 the pope responded by excommunicating Henry and also deposing him as German king, releasing every Christians from your oath of allegiance to him.

Enforcing these declarations was a various matter, but the benefit gradually involved the side of the pope. German princes and also the aristocracy to be happy to hear of the king’s deposition. They used religious reasons to continue the rebellion started at the very first Battle that Langensalza in 1075, and also to seize royal holdings. Aristocrats asserted local lordships over peasants and also property, developed forts, which had actually previously to be outlawed, and collected localized fiefdoms come secure your autonomy native the empire.

The Investiture Controversy ongoing for several decades as each doing well pope tried to diminish imperial power by stirring up rebellion in Germany. This revolts were slowly successful. Henry IV was succeeded upon his fatality in 1106 by his boy Henry V, who had rebelled versus his dad in favor of the papacy, and also who had actually made his father renounce the legality of his antipopes before he died. Nevertheless, Henry V decided one much more antipope, Gregory VIII. Later, he renounced few of the civil liberties of investiture with the Concordat the Worms, exit Gregory, and also was received earlier into communion and also recognized together legitimate emperor together a result.


Henry IV. This illustration mirrors Henry IV requesting mediation native Matilda of Tuscany and also abbot Hugh that Cluny.

The Concordat the Worms and Its Significance

After fifty years of fighting, the Concordat that Worms noted a lasting compromise when it was signed ~ above September 23, 1122. It removed lay investiture if leaving secular leaders part room because that unofficial but significant influence in the appointment process. The emperor renounced the ideal to invest ecclesiastics v ring and crosier, the signs of their spiritual power, and also guaranteed choice by the canons the cathedral or abbey and free consecration.

The Concordat the Worms brought an finish to the an initial phase that the power struggle between the papacy and the holy Roman emperors, and has been understood as containing in ~ itself the germ of nation-based sovereignty that would sooner or later be evidenced in the contract of Westphalia (1648). In component this was an unforeseen result of strategic maneuvering in between the church and also the europe sovereigns over political manage within their domains.

While the monarchy to be embroiled in the problem with the church, it declined in power and broke apart. Localized rights of lordship end peasants grew. This caused multiple effects:

Increased serfdom that diminished human legal rights for the majority;Increased taxes and levies that royal coffers declined;Localized rights of justice wherein courts go not have to answer to royal authority.

In the long term, the decrease of imperial power would certainly divide Germany till the 19th century. Similarly, in Italy, the Investiture dispute weakened the emperor’s authority and also strengthened regional separatist forces. However, the papacy flourished stronger from the controversy. Assembling for public opinion involved lay human being in religious affairs that boosted lay piety, setup the phase for the Crusades and also the an excellent religious vitality the the 12th century.

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The dispute did not end with the Concordat of Worms. Future disputes between popes and also Holy roman inn emperors continued until northern Italy was lost to the empire entirely. The church would certainly crusade against the holy Roman empire under Frederick II.