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ing churches. When, therefore, on the death of Edward, he accepted he crown, proffered to him by the free voice of the Anglo-Saxons, he was regarded, not as a patriot resolved to maintain his country's independence, but as a perjured wretch who had trampled on the most solemn obligations. Hildebrand eagerly seized this opportunity of establishing the papal supremacy over a national church, whose claims to independence had long given offence at Rome. At his instigation, the claims of the Norman duke to the English crown were solemnly recognised by the papal council: a bull containing this decision was sent to William, together with a consecrated standard, and a ring, said to contain a hair from the head of St. Peter, enclosed in a diamond of considerable value. But we learn from a letter, subsequently addressed by Hildebrand to the conqueror, that there were some in the conclave who opposed this iniquitous interference with the rights of nations, and severely reproached the cardinal-monk for advocating the cause of a 'vrannical usurper.
But Hildebrand did not extend to the Normans in Italy the same favor that he showed to their brethren in England. Aided by the forces of the countess Matilda, a devoted adherent of the church, and heiress to a considerable territory, he forced them to resign the districts they had wrested from the holy see. Anxious to retain this sovereignty, Hildebrand violently opposed a marriage between the countess and Godfrey Gobbo, a son whom her step-father had by a former wife, before his marriage with her mother. Such a union, indeed, was warranted by the strict letter of the canonical degrees, but still it was, in some degree, revolting to the feelings. Gobbo was excommunicated, but Hildebrand secretly hinted that he might be reconciled to the church, on making proper submissions.
But all these political struggles were cast into the shade, by the dariny citation of the emperor Henry: every one regarded it as a declaration of war between the spiritual and temporal authorities, and ir must have been obvious to all, that the death of Alexander II. only delayed the contest. More had been done during the reign of this pope to extend the authority of the papacy, than in any former pontificate, but this must not be attributed either to the faults or to the merits of Alexander, who was a mere instrument in the hands of his ambitious minister. The monks, to raise Hildebrand's fame, published tales of the numerous miracles he wrought, which were greedily received by the superstitious populace, and tended greatly to extend his influence. we have taken no notice of these legends ; a greater miracle than any they record, is, that rational beings should be found sufficiently credulous to believe and repeat such monstrous absurdities.
SECTION V.-Pontificate of Gregory VII.
FROM A. D. 1073 TO A. D. 1086.
THERE were few statesmen in any part of Christendom, who did not dread the accession of Hildebrand to the papacy, but there were none prepared to provoke his resentment by interfering to prevent his election. The irregular and precipitate manner in which he was chosen, seems to prove that some opposition was dreaded by his partisans ; and Hildebrand himself found it necessary to disarm hostility, by an affectation of submission to the emperor. He wrote to Henry, that he had been chosen against his will, that he had no wish for the office, and that he would not be consecrated without the imperial sanction. Deceived ły this hypocrisy, Henry ratified the irregular election, and Hildebrand was enthroned with the title of Gregory VII.
No sooner was he secured on the throne, than he began to put in execution his favorite plan for securing the independence of the church, by preventing lay interference in the collation of benefices. Before he had been a month elected, he sent a legate into Spain, to reform the ecclesiastical abuses of that kingdom; but principally to claim for the apostolic see all the conquests that had recently been made from the Moors, under the pretence that the Spanish peninsula, before the Saracenic invasion, had been tributary to the successors of St. Peter. Henry was so much daunted by this and similar displays of vigor, that he sent a submissive letter to the pontiff, acknowledging his former errors in his dispute with Alexander, which he attributed to his youth and the influence of evil counsellors, desiring him to arrange the troubles in the church of Milan at his discretion, and promising to assist him in everything with the imperial authority.
The two great objects of the pope were, to enforce the celibacy of the clergy, and the papal right to the investiture of bishops. The former of these projects was a matter of discipline, defended on plausible grounds of expediency. Its advocates pleaded that a clergyman unencumbered with the cares of a family could devote his whole attention to the flock intrusted to his charge ; and that a bishop without children would be free to exercise his patronage without being warped by domestic affection. On the other hand, men were thus forced to sacrifice the noblest and best of human feelings; they were denaturalized, cut off from the influences of social life : the church became the country and the home of every person who embraced the ecclesiastical profession. After ordination, the priest and the bishop were no longer Germans, Spaniards, or Englishmen; they were Romans—ministers and peers of a mighty empire, that claimed the dominion of the whole globe. Like the envoy or minister of any foreign government, a member of the Romish hierarchy observes the laws of the state in which his master may have placed him, and respects for a time the authority of the local magistrate : but his order is his country, the pontiff is his natural sovereign, and their welfare and their honor are the appropriate objects of his public care. The constant sight of such a sacrifice of the natural feelings of mankind, was obviously calculated to win the respect of the laity, and gain credence for the superior sanctity that was supposed to invest the character of a priest.
The pope's determination to destroy the practice of lay investitures, was defended on more plausible grounds. The administration of ecclesiastical patronage by the emperor and other temporal princes, was liable to great abuses, and had actually led to many : they supplied vacancies with the ignorant, the depraved, and the violent; they sought for the qualifications of a soldier or a politician, when they had to elect a bishop. In a dark age, when monarchs and nobles were rarely able to write their own names; when the knowledge of the alphabet, even in
aristocratic families, was so rare: as to be deemed a spell against witch
and when the fierce qualities of a warrior were valued more highly than the Christian virtues, it seemed almost necessary to render appointments in the church independent of the state. But to this obvious expediency, Gregory VII. added a blasphemous claim of right, as Christ's vicar on earth, and inheritor of his visible throne. While, however, we condemn such impious assumptions, we should not refuse to Hildebrand the credit of higher and purer motives than those of personal aggrandizement, mingling in his schemes for extending his own power and that of his successors. It is undeniable that the corporate authority he procured for the church became, in many European countries, a source of much benefit during the middle ages, overawing the violent, protecting the forlorn, mitigating the prevailing ferocity of manners, and supplying in various ways the defects of civil institutions.
Gregory having assembled a general council at Rome, ordained, by consent of the bishops present, that if any one should accept investiture from a layman, both the giver and the receiver should be excommunicated; that the prelates and nobles who advised the emperor to claim the collation of benefices should be excommunicated; and that all married priests should dismiss their wives, or be deposed. These decrees were communicated to the sovereigns of Europe by Gregory himself, in letters that must ever remain a monument of his consummate abilities. His monstrous claims for the universal supremacy of the church and of the Romish see, are proposed in a tone of humility and candor, well calculated to win the unthinking and unwary; his dictations assume the form of affectionate suggestions, and his remonstrances resemble those of a tender and affectionate father.
But the pope did not confine his exertions to mere words; he obliged the Normans to quit their conquests in Campania, proposed a crusade against the Saracens, who were menacing Constantinople, and offered a province in Italy to Sweno, king of Denmark, under the pretence that the inhabitants were heretics. The emperor Henry was not deceived by Gregory's professions; he hated the pontiff in his heart, and had good reason to believe that the enmity was reciprocal. It was therefore with mingled jealousy and indignation that he saw a new power established which more than rivalled his own, and he entered into a secret alliance with the Normans against their common enemy. In the meantime, a conspiracy was formed against the pope in Rome itself by some of the aristocracy, whose privileges he had invaded, · Cincius, the prefect of the city, arrested the pontiff while he was celebrating mass on Christmas day, and threw him into prison; but the populace soon rescued their favorite, Cincius would have been torn to pieces but for Gregory's interference, and aK who had shared in this act of violence were banished from the city. Soon afterward, Gregory cited the emperor to appear before the council at Rome, to answer to the charge of protecting excommunicated bishops, and granting investitures withou* the sanction of the holy see. Henry, enraged by the insult, and relieved from his anxieties in Germany by a recent victory over the Saxons, resolved to temporize no longer. He assembled a synod at Worms, of the princes and prelates devoted to his cause, and procured sentence of deposition against Gregory, on a charge of simony, murder, and atheism.
Gregory was far from being disheartened by the emperor's violence; he assembled a council at Rome, solemnly excommunicated Henry, absolved his subjects in Germany and Italy from their oath of allegiance, deposed several prelates in Germany, France, and Lombardy, and published a series of papal constitutions, in which the claims of the Roman pontiffs to supremacy over all the sovereigns of the earth were asserted in the plainest terms.
The most important of these resolutions, which form the basis of the political system of popery, were
That the Roman pontiff alone can be called universal.
That his legates have a right to preside over all bishops assembled in
That no synod or council summoned without his commission can be called general.
That no book can be called canonical without his authority.
That his sentence can be annulled by none, but that he may annul the decrees of all.
That the Roman church has been, is, and will continue, infallible.
That whoever dissents from the Romish church ceases to be a catholic Christian.
And, that subjects may be absolved from their allegiance to wicked princes.
Some cautious prelates advised Gregory not to be too hasty in excommunicating his sovereign ; to their remonstrances he made the following memorable reply : “When Christ trusted his flock to St. Peter, saying, 'Feed my sheep,' did he except kings? Or when he gave him the power to bind and loose, did he withdraw any one from his visitation? He, therefore, who says that he can not be bound by the bonds of the church, must confess that he can not be absolved by it; and he who denies that doctrine, separates himself from Christ and his church.”
Both parties now prepared for war, but all the advantages were on the side of Gregory At the very commencement of the struggle, Gobbo, the most vigorous supporter of the emperor, died, and his widow, the countess Matilda, placeu all her resources at the disposal of the pontiff. So completely, indeed, did this princess devote herself to support the interests of Gregory, that their mutual attachment was suspected of having transgressed the limits of innocence. The duke of Dalmatia, gratified by the title of king, and the Norman monarch of Sicily, proffered aid to the pontiff; even the Mohammedan emperor of Morocco courted his favor, and presented him with the liberty of the Christian slaves in his dominions.
Henry, on the contrary, knew not where to look for support ; in every quarter of his dominions monks and friars preached against their sovereign, and the prelates by whom he had been supported the Saxen nobles eagerly embraced a religious pretext to renew their insurrection; the dukes of Suabia and Carinthia demanded a change of dynasty ; even the prelates who had been most zealous in urging Henry forward, terrified by threats of excommunication, abandoned his cause. A diet was assembled at Tribur, attended by two papal legates, in which it was resolved that Henry should be deposed, unless within a limited period he presented himself before the pope and obtained absolution.
The prelates and nobles of Lombardy alone maintained their courage, and boldly retorted the excommunications of Gregory. Animated by the hope of obtaining their efficient aid, Henry resolved to cross the Alps instead of waiting for Gregory's arrival in Germany. The hardships which the unfortunate monarch underwent during this journey, in the depth of a severe winter—the dangers to which he was exposed from the active malice of his enemies--the sight of the sufferings of his queen and child, who could only travel by being enclosed in the hides of oxen, and thus dragged through the Alpine passes-would have broken a sterner spirit than Henry's. He entered Lombardy completely disheartened, and, though joined by considerable forces, he thought only of conciliating his powerful enemy by submission. Having obtained a conference with the countess Matilda, Henry prevailed upon her to intercede for him with the pope; and her intercession, supported by the principal nobles of Italy, induced Gregory to grant an interview to his sovereign.
On the 21st of January, 1077, Henry proceeded to Canosa, where the pope resided, and was forced to submit to the greatest indignities that were ever heaped upon imperial majesty. At the first barrier, he was compelled to dismiss his attendants; when he reached the second, he was obliged to lay aside his imperial robes, and assume the habit of a penitent. For three entire days he was forced to stand barefooted and fasting, from morning till night, in the outer court of the castle, during one of the severest winters that had ever been known in northern Italy, imploring pardon of his transgressions from God and the pope. He was at length admitted into the presence of the haughty pontiff, and, after all his submissions, obtained, not the removal, but the suspension of the excommunication.
Such harsh treatment sank deep into Henry's mind; and his hostility to Gregory was exasperated by the pontiff accepting a grant of the countess Matilda's possessions for the use of the church, which would legally revert to the empire after her decease. The reproaches of the Lombards also induced him to repent of his degradation, and he renewed the war by a dishonorable and ineffectual attempt to arrest Gregory and Matilda. In the meantime the discontented nobles of Germany had assembled a diet at Fercheim, deposed their sovereign, and elected Ro. dolph, duke of Suabia, to the empire. This proceeding greatly embarrassed the pope ; he dared not declare against Henry, who was powerful in Italy, and if he abandoned Rodolph, he would ruin his own party in Germany. He resolved to preserve a neutrality in the contest, and in the meantime heqirected his attention to the internal state of the church, which had for some time been distracted by the controversy respecting the eucharist.