The investiture controversy. The latter part of the eleventh century brought a resumption of intellectual labor upon the body of political and social ideas preserved from antiquity in the Christian Fathers tradition. It began a development that was produced in the centuries following an astonishingly brilliant and virile culture.
Order emerged from chaos and, especially in the Norman states, promised administrative efficiency and political stability, such as Europe had not known since Roman times. Feudalism began to settle itself into a more definite system from which were to arise constitutional principles that carried over from the Middle Ages into modern Europe.
In Italy and a little later in the north, the cities began to build up trade and industry, which were to supply the basis for an original and humane art and literature. Philosophy and scholarship made a beginning soon to be fructified by the recovery of important masses of ancient learning.
The study of jurisprudence in southern France and Ravenna and Bologna’s Italian cities began to restore Roman law knowledge and apply it to contemporary legal and political problems. In this general rise of the intellectual level, affecting every branch of thought, it was natural that political philosophy should share
In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, political writing was in the main controversy, centering on the contest between the popes and the emperors over the secular and ecclesiastical authorities’ boundaries. Its extent, however, is astonishing.
The whole extant body of political philosophy written between the death of Aristotle and the eleventh century would occupy fewer pages than the great collection of political tracts that grew out of the struggle over the lay investiture of bishops.
As a systematic scholarly investigation subject, a political theory emerged more slowly than other philosophical interest branches. In the thirteenth century, it was still overshadowed by the great systems of theology and metaphysics, which were the typical creations of the scholastic philosophers. In the fourteenth century, treatises on political philosophy became more common as they continued to be from that time to the present.
Yet, the preservation of great tracts from the earlier centuries speaks for a continuous interest in the subject. And even in the eleventh century, certain main issues began to be drawn, and certain fundamental problems began to evolve continuously in the centuries following.
The Medieval Church-Sate:-
Regarding the relations of the secular and spiritual authorities, the starting point for the eleventh-century conversationalists was the Gelasian theory of the two swords already described. The teaching of the Christian Fathers had been summed up. The distinction between spirituals and secular, between the interests of sou! and body, was part of the warp and woof of Christianity itself.
According to the view universally accepted in the eleventh century-and indeed not overtly denied for centuries thereafter-human society is divinely ordained to be governed by two authorities, the spiritual and the temporal, the one wielded by priests and the other by secular rulers, both following divine and natural law.
No man, under the Christian dispensation, can possess both sacerdotium and imperium. Neither authority was conceived to exercise arbitrary power, for both were believed to be subject to the law and fill a necessary office in nature and man’s divine government.
Accordingly, there could be principle no conflict between the two. However, sinful pride or greed of power might lead human agents to overstep the boundaries allotted by the law. As parts of a divinely unified plan, each authority owed aid and support to the other.
Within this circle of ideas, there was, properly speaking, neither church nor state in the modern meaning of those terms. There was not one body of men who formed the state and formed the church, for all men were included in both. As St. Augustine had taught in his City of Cod, there was only a single Christian society, and it included, at least for the eleventh century, the whole world.
Under God, this society had two heads, the pope and the emperor, two principles of authority, the spiritual rule of priests and the temporal rule of kings, and two governing officials’ hierarchies. Still, there was no division between two bodies or societies.
A controversy between these two hierarchies was, in a legal sense, jurisdictional, such as might arise between two officials of the same state. The question was one of the proper boundaries of authority and what the other might lawfully do within the limits, express or implied, of his office. In this sense, this sense only was their controversy between church and state at the beginning of the dispute.
As time went on, this original conception was gradually set aside, especially as the dispute’s legal aspects became more clearly defined. But in the beginning, the issue was between two groups of officials, each invested with an original authority and claiming to act within the limits of that authority.
The theory of the separation of the two authorities had never been very literally carried out; it had not been understood to deny that they were in contact in their earthly exercise or that each body of officials owed and to the other in their proper functions. Thus, when the controversy broke out, it was possible to point on either side to historical acts that were admitted to be justifiable and which yet might be interpreted as a control of the one hierarchy by the other.
In the declining days of Rome, Gregory the Great had exercised great temporal power. Both ecclesiastical synods and individual churchmen had followed Ambrose’s precedent in admonishing kings for their misdoings; bishops were regularly counted among the magnates whose consent laws were enacted. Churchmen had exercised great influence in electing and deposing rulers. Pippin had sought and obtained papal approval for setting aside the Merovingian dynasty in the Frankish kingdom.
The famous coronation of Charles the Great in 800 could readily have interpreted as a translation of the empire to the Frankish kings by an authority vested in the church on the Jewish kingship institution’s analogy by Samuel. Indeed, the administering of a coronation oath was universally felt to have some religious significance. Like all oaths, it might fall within the disciplinary power of the church in moral matters.
On the whole, however, down to the time when the controversy between the ecclesiastical and the imperial jurisdictions broke out in the eleventh century, the control of the emperor over the papacy was more conspicuous and effective than that of the pope over the emperor.
This had usually been true as a matter of course in Roman times. Anyone who reads the instructions of Charlemagne to the officers whom he sent on the circuit to conduct inquests through his empire will no doubt that he regarded both churchmen and laypeople as his subjects or that he took full responsibility for the government of the church.
In Leo III’s case, he had extended his inquisitorial authority to the alleged crimes of the pope himself. In the tenth century, when the papacy fell into exceptional degradation, Otto’s emperors to Henry If who had applied reformatory measures, extending to the deposition, under canonical forms, of Gregory VI and the infamous Benedict IX.
In fact, the emperors had exerted a major influence in abolishing the scandals that flowed from a state of affairs in which papal elections were the football of petty patrician politics in the city of Rome. There were, of course, obvious reasons for the policy, which impelled the emperors to exert their influence in the selection of popes. While preferable from a churchman’s point of view to local Roman intrigue, this influence was potentially a threat to the church’s autonomy in spiritual affairs.
The Independence of the Church:-
The eleventh century’s controversy originated in an increased self-consciousness and sense of independence on the part of churchmen and a desire to make the church an autonomous spiritual power, in consonance with its claims’ admitted validity. Augustine’s tradition presented Europe to men’s minds as essentially a Christian society, unique in the history of the world because, for the first time, it brought secular power into the service of divine truth.
According to this conception, the ancient ideal of government for the sake of justice reached its consummation in rendering-not only to every man his right, but in the more vital duty of rendering to God the worship that was his due.
Gelasius, writing against the subordination of ecclesiastical policy to the imperial court at Constantinople, had asserted that the priest’s responsibility, being directed toward eternal salvation, was weightier than the king’s. Indeed, no other conclusion was logically possible if spiritual ends had, in fact, the importance which Christianity imputed to them and if the church were truly the institution by which alone these ends were to be attained.
The rising enlightenment of the eleventh century, growing up within the church and dominated by the teaching which the Augustinian tradition made part of the Christian opinion climate, could not escape the obligation to make this teaching effective.
Earlier, the circumstances had been lacking, which made such an effort possible. Still, the first great effort of Christian civilization could hardly have been directed to anything but realizing, under papal auspices, the ideal of a Christian society in which the church should be, in fact as in the right, the directing force behind a Christian state.
In the ninth century, in the brief revival of scholarship permitted by Charles’s empire, churchmen had begun to develop the churches’ claims in a Christian society. Thus Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims had written:
Let them defend themselves, if they will, by earthly laws or by human customs, but let them know, if they are Christians, that at the day of judgment they will be judged not by Roman or Salic or Gundobadian law but by divine apostolic law. In a Christian kingdom even the laws of the state ought to be Christian, that is, in accord with and suitable to Christianity.
The revival of the ninth century was a flash in the pan. Still, in the meantime, changes were taking place in the church itself, which gave greater effectiveness to claims for the Christian state when the more permanent revival of the eleventh century occurred.
These changes affected the centralization of papal authority and ecclesiastical organization within the church and the greater seriousness and militancy of churchmen in pursuing the Christian ideal. The first change was connected with the forgeries’ fabrication known as the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals in the ninth century, and the second with the Cluniac reforms in the tenth.
The False Decretals were evidently produced with the object of strengthening the position of the bishops; in particular, to protect them from deposition and confiscation of property by secular rulers, to consolidate their control over the clergy of the diocese, and to free them from immediate supervision except by their own synods.
As means to these ends, they aimed to diminish the authority of the archbishops, who were likely to be the agents of secular supervision, and exalt the popes’ authorities correspondingly. The insured gave the bishop the right to appeal his case to Rome and be secure against deposition or property loss while it was pending. The finality of a papal court’s decision in every sort of ecclesiastical case was asserted in the strongest terms.
The False Decretals, therefore, signify a tendency in the ninth century to centralize the church in the Frankish territory about the papal see, to make the bishop the unit of church government, to enforce his direct responsibility to the pope, and to reduce the archbishop to an intermediary between the pope and the bishop.
In broad outline, this was the type of government that came to prevail in the Roman church. There was probably no immediate purpose of exalting papal authority in general and no immediate effect in that direction. In the eleventh century, however, when the False Decretals were universally accepted as genuine, they provided a mine of arguments for the church’s independence from secular control and the pope’s sovereign authority ecclesiastical government.
The controversy between the pope and the emperor resulted in no small degree from the fact that the former had become the head of the church effectively and no longer felt dependent on the emperor for his good government.
The second event which had greatly increased the church’s desire for autonomy was the wave of reform, which spread with the growth of the congregation of monasteries subject to the abbot of Cluny. Cluny itself was founded in 910. An important peculiarity in its organization was the entire independence that the body enjoyed in managing its affairs and its heads’ choice.
A second significant feature of its growth was that, as new monasteries were organized or old ones amalgamated with it, control of these branches vested in the parent body’s abbot. The Cluniac monasteries were much more than monks’ isolated bodies; they formed virtually an order centralized under the control of a single head.
They were thus well qualified to be the instrument for spreading the idea of reform in the church. Moreover, the reformers’ purposes were much the same as those that had motives for the Cluny monasteries’ growth. Simony, or the sale of ecclesiastics offices, was a serious evil that much needed reforming. It was an evil intimately connected with the employment of ecclesiastics in the work of secular government.
The evil consisted not only in the actual sale of offices but also in giving ecclesiastical preferment toward political services. Therefore, it was a foregone conclusion that a heightened conception of spiritual functions should bring with it a demand for the purification of the church, for permanently raising the papacy from the degradation into which it had too often fallen, and for autonomous control of the pope over ecclesiastical officers.
It was precisely the more conscientious churchmen who felt most keenly the menace to the spiritual office occasioned by the clergy’s entanglement in the business of secular government. The direction which the reform movement must take in respect to the Church’s government was foreshadowed at the Lateran Synod of 1059 by the attempt to secure an orderly method of papal election in the College of Cardinals.
Reform meant that the church must seek to make itself a self-governing community with ecclesiastical policy and administration in the hands of ecclesiastics. The progress of such a reform necessarily contained latent possibilities of conflict between the pope and the emperor.
The desire for the church’s autonomy was, in fact, an answer to abuse that was deeply rooted and steadily growing. Long before the ninth century, churchmen were already great landowners. Charles Martel had federalized large amounts of church land to finance his wars against the Saracens. As feudalism developed, churchmen had been more and more drawn into the system by which government had to be carried on.
As an owner of the land, he owed feudal services and had, in turn, his own vassals who owed services to him. Even though he had to perform his station’s secular duties nominally through lay agents, his interests were largely identical with those of the feudal nobility.
By their wealth and standing, the higher clergy was deeply concerned with every question of secular politics; they were magnates whose power and influence no king could overlook. Indeed, feudalism apart, their superior education, at least on average, had made them the most eligible class from which a king could draw the higher officials of his kingdom.
It is probably true, as was said in the previous article, that the church had peen, all through the centuries which had intervened since the fall of Rome, the main repository of the ancient ideals of public authority and civic order, and that churchmen were likely to be the best agents for carrying out any royal policy which required a degree of royal control.
Therefore, in the eleventh century, both for reasons that inhered in feudalism itself and for a policy that went beyond feudalism, churchmen were deeply involved in secular politics. In the higher clergy, the organizations of the church and the state met and overlapped. So completely was this true that a radical separation of the two hierarchy based on the clergy’s surrender of political functions was obviously impossible.
The great controversy is told in every medieval history; there is no need to mention more than a few of the principal moves. It began with the accession to the papal throne of Gregory VII in 1073. In its first phase, it concerned especially the lay investiture of bishops, that is, secular rulers’ part in the higher clergy’s choice.
Gregory prohibited lay investiture in 1075. The following year, Emperor Henry IV tried to secure Gregory’s deposition, who replied by excommunicating Henry and absolving his vassals from their feudal oaths.
In 1080 Henry attempted to set up an anti-pope to replace Gregory, and Gregory supported the pretensions of Rudolf of Swabia to Henry’s crown. After the two chief actors’ death, the outstanding event was the attempted settlement between Henry V and Paschal II based on surrender by churchmen of all political functions or regalia, which proved wholly impracticable.
The first phase of the controversy closed with the Concordat of Worms in 1122, a compromise by which the emperor gave up the technical right of investiture with the ring and staff, the symbols of spiritual authority, but retained the right to bestow the regalia and to have a voice in the choice of the bishops.
However, after this date, the controversy continued at intervals on much the same lines down to the end of the twelfth century, making a convenient stopping place for an exposition of the opposed views of the two contending parties.
Gregory VII and the Papalists:-
In Gregory’s position, it is important to bear in mind the conception of his own office in the church, though this was not Strictly at issue. Simultaneously, the empire’s issue could hardly have taken the form it did had he not conceived the papal office as he did. From Gregory’s perspective, the pope was nothing less than the whole church’s sovereign head.
He alone could create and depose bishops; his legate was to take precedence of bishops and all other church officers; he alone could call a general council and give effect to its decrees. On the other hand, papal decrees could be annulled by no one, and a case once called into the papal court was not subject to judgment by any other authority.
In short, Gregory’s theory of government in the church was monarchical, not in the sense of a feudal monarchy but more nearly in the sense of the imperial Roman tradition; under God and the divine law, the pope was absolute. Though it ultimately gained acceptance, this Petrine theory of the papacy was a novelty by no means universally admitted in the eleventh century. Sometimes it embroiled Gregory with his bishops as the church had kept alive the conception of public authority in the face of the decentralizing influences of feudalism. Hence, it was the first power to apply the conception in its own political reconstruction.
It is difficult to bring the two sides in the investiture controversy to a clear-cut issue if not impossible. The reason for this was that both sides professed to accept the long-established principle of the two swords, each supreme in its own province.
Yet both sides were obliged to advance arguments which, by implication, set it aside. This was true of the imperialists because what they really desired was the continuation of a state of affairs which, in fact, if not, in theory, had given the empire a preponderating voice in papal affairs.
Their case was weak theoretically but strong in respect to precedents. As they were forced into a defensive position, they were obliged to make the Gelasian theory the cornerstone of their argument for secular independence.
The claims of the church, on the other hand, were virtually unanswerable in the light of the whole scheme of accepted Christian values. But the theory could be made good only if the church could assume a position of leadership and direction which it had not had and which must carry it far away from the admission of coordinate-authority, under God, to the secular power.
Probably neither side intended to usurp the authority that properly belonged to the other. Both sides’ claims are hard to evaluate because, in the eleventh century, the legal concepts used had no such exact meaning as they came to have with Roman and canon law development.
In opposition to Henry IV, Gregory’s position was a natural, if extreme, development of the church’s admitted jurisdiction over questions of morals. In respect to the crime of Simon
Gregory proposed proceeding against the offending ecclesiastic and against the secular ruler, who was equally guilty. After forbidding the lay investiture of bishops and finding the emperor contumacious, he undertook to enforce his decree with an ex-communication.
This in itself was not a novel proceeding. Still, to it, Gregory added the corollary that an excommunicated king, being an outcast from the body of Christians, could not retain his subjects’ services and fealty. He did not claim that the church at will could dissolve oaths, but only that it was within its jurisdiction as a court of conscience when it pronounced that a bad oath was lawfully void.
The ground upon which Gregory defended his action was the right and the duty of a spiritual authority to exercise moral discipline over every member of a Christian community. He argued, like st. Ambrose, a secular ruler, is a Christian and, therefore, in moral and spiritual matters, subject to the church. In effect, however, this amounted to the claim that the right to excommunicate carried with it the right to depose, of course, for adequate cause and to absolve subjects from their allegiance.
By implication, the coordinate: the authority of a secular ruler disappeared, not in the sense that the church would itself take over the functions of secular government, but in the sense that the pope would become a court of last resort on whose judgment a ruler’s legitimacy would depend.
It is not easy to tell how far Gregory was clear in his own about the policy’s implications, which he followed, and the argument by which he defended it. There seems to be a fair presumption that he thought of the whole issue concerning the church’s claim to exercise a moral discipline without involving a claim of legal supremacy. He professed, and there is no reason to doubt his sincerity, that his object was to protect the church’s independence within the twofold system contemplated by the Gelasian theory.
Hence there is probably no reason to believe that he meant to assert in principle a power over temporal rulers in temporal matters. It would be manifestly unfair to assume that his argument cit had the same precise legal meaning that it would have had in the hands of a canonist like Innocent IV, after two centuries of advance in juristic definition precision. On the other hand, there can be no doubt what Gregory’s claims really implied.
It is also true that in the controversy, he was addicted to a bridled use of language, which sometimes put his case with starting Violence; the famous passage illustrates this, so often quotes in his letter to Hermann of Metz in 1081. Here he speaks of political rule as if it were literally highway robbery on a large scale, a passage often compared with that in which John of Salisbury named the hangman as the type of secular government.
Who does not know [said Gregory] that kings and rulers took their beginning from those who, being ignorant of God, have assumed, because of blind greed and intolerable presumption, to make themselves masters of their equals, namely men, by means of pride, violence, bad faith, murder, and nearly every kind of crime, being incited thereto by the prince of this world, the Devil?
This passage was bitterly resented when it was written and has since been quoted, times without number, as an example of clerical arrogance. Certainly, it was a violent overstatement of the common belief that government originates in sin. Yet, it is clear from other passages that Gregory had no intention of attacking the kingly office. He claimed merely the same right of discipline over an emperor as the pope he had over every Christian. But he was clear that discipline included the church’s right to be the arbiter of European morals and that a recalcitrant ruler must not stop spiritual and moral control. His conception of the role which churchmen ought to play in directing the affairs of Europe appears in his words to a council at Rome in 1080
So act, beg you, holy fathers and princes, that all the world may know that, if you have the power to bind and loose in Heaven, you have power on earth to take away or to grant empires, kingdoms, principalities, dukedoms, marches, counties, and the possessions of all men according to their merits. Let kings and all the princes of the world learn how great you are and what power you have, and let these small men fear to disobey the command of your church.
Gregory’s argument obviously assumed the superiority of spiritual to temporal power. If Peter has been given the power to bind and loose in Heaven, must he not, even more, have the power to bind and loose on earth? This premise to the argument was not really a point at issue, since in general terms, no one would have denied it. However, spiritual matters’ superior importance would not prove that secular rulers derive their authority from the church. Gelasius had never drawn such a conclusion, and neither does Gregory.
Evidently, however, it would not be difficult to amend the argument into this form, thus leaving the two swords’ traditional theory definitely behiEcclesiastical writers took this stepper in the twelfth century the argument was greatly elaborated on in the thirteenth and fourteenth.
This was probably an effect of the controversy itself in clarifying the issues and a mark of greater definiteness about constitutional and juristic relationships. Perhaps a more systematic conception of feudalism contributed to the same end and the tendency of the papacy to assume a relation of feudal suzerainty toward southern Italy and other parts of Europe.
At a later date, after the reception of Aristotle, the superior importance of spiritual power would in itself constitute an argument for the dependence of the lower authority upon it, since Aristotelian conceived it to be a general law of nature that the lower exists for, and is governed by, the higher.
The derivation of temporal from spiritual authority appears to have been first definitely maintained by Honorius of Augsburg in his Summa Gloria, written about 1123. His principal proof was drawn from an interpretation of Jewish history; namely, that there was no royal power until Saul was crowned, that Saul was anointed by Samuel who was a priest, priests have governed the Jews from the time of Moses:
Similarly, he argued that Christ instituted the church’s priestly power and no Christian king until Constantine’s conversion. It was the church, therefore, which instituted Christian kingship to protect it from its enemies. Coupled with this theory was an interpretation (or rather a misinterpretation) of Constantine’s Donation as a surrender of all political power to the pope.
According to Honorius, the emperors from Constantine held all their imperial authority by papal concession. In line with this contention, he held that emperors should be chosen by the pope, with the princes’ consent.
But having been radical in principle, Honorius was willing to be conservative in the application, for he concluded that, in strictly secular matters, kings should be honored and obeyed even by priests. Even thinkers who were logically cutting the ground from under the old doctrine of the two swords were unwilling to abolish it root an branch. Honorius also showed an uncertainty of juristic analysis.
His argument from the Donation of Constantine was in the highest degree perilous, for if the pope’s authority were delegated, it would seem that the emperor might resume what he had granted. Presumably, Honorius thought of Constantine as merely recognizing a church’s right inherent under a Christian dispensation.
A stronger position was taken John of Salisbury in his Policraticus same thirty years later, John depended upon the inherent superiority of spiritual power to prove that both swords belong of right to the church and that the church conferred the power of coercion on the prince.
For every office existing under, and concerned with the execution of, the sacred laws is really a religious office, but that is inferior which consists:in punishing crimes, and which therefore seems to be typified in the person of the hangman.
Hence John could defend the power of deposition by quoting the Digest to the effect that he who can lawfully bestow can lawfully take away. The secular ruler has an ius utendi but not strictly ownership. Of course, it was true that John did not regard this theory as derogating from the worth of political power in its proper employment or the political office’s sanctity.
Henry IV and the imperialists:-
The position taken by the imperialist parties to the investiture controversy was, on the whole, more defensive than that of the papalists. Essentially they were arguing for what had been the status quo, in which the choice of bishops and also papal elections had been largely subject to imperial influence.
They could appeal, against the practically novel claim of ecclesiastical independence, to the generally admitted theory of two independent spheres of authority. Therefore, the imperial position’s cornerstone was the accepted doctrine that all power is of God, the emperor, and the popes.
This was the note struck by Henry himself in the letter he addressed to Gregory in March 1076. Since his power was derived from God directly and not through the church, he was solely responsible for its exercise to God. Hence he was to be judged by God alone and could not be deposed unless for heresy.
You have laid hands upon me also who, though unworthy among Christians, am anointed to kingship, and who, as the tradition of the Holy Fathers teaches, am to be judged by God alone and not to be deposed for any crime, unless should wander from the faith, which God forbid.
The Holy Fathers’ tradition upon which Henry depended was undoubtedly in Gregor the Great’s strong statements upon the duty of passive obedience. This conception of the indefeasibility of royal authority had never died out.
Hincmar of Rheims had commented in the ninth century that, he says, certain scholars held that kings are subject to the laws and judgments of no one except God alone. However, he qualified the view as being full of the spirit of the Devil. From the eleventh century on, this theory was an important part of the imperialist position.
It fitted well, of course, with the Gelasian theory that the two swords can never be united in the same hands. What God has given none but God can take away. The argument was undoubtedly strong, for it turned the tables on the papal party of reform.
The head and front of Gregory’s offense, as Henry presented it, was precisely that he had attempted to wield both powers and so had conspired against the divinely appointed order of human society. To confound spirituals and temporality would defeat the very purpose that formed the chief moral defense for Gregory’s action. Under a pretense of making the church independent, he would have entangled it still further in secular affairs. Such an argument might well appeal to the more moderate of Gregory’s followers.
Moreover, Henry’s position provided the proper theological answer given in all cases where undue clerical ambition could be alleged, namely, the sanctity of secular authority itself. Therefore, in its own province, political power could claim to be what King James called a free monarchy. This fact made the divine right of the king a standard argument under all political circumstances that could be construed to threaten ecclesiastical interference.
Though repeated times without number, the emperor’s theological defense did not offer much logical development; however, this was not true of the juristic arguments. In the long run, the lawyers were the ablest and most effective defenders of secular power. In the beginning, however, this form of argumentation was not so well developed as in later controversies, such as that between Boniface VIII and Philip the Fair of France.
Nevertheless, there were interesting beginnings. The earliest of these was the Defensio Henrici IV Regis (1084) of Peter Crassus, who is said to have been a teacher of Roman law at Ravenna. Peter professed to argue the case between Henry and Gregory on legal grounds. The gist of his argument lay in his insistence upon the indefeasibility of the right of hereditary succession.
He urged that the pope or Henry’s rebellious subjects had no more right to interfere with his possession of his kingdom, which he had received as heir to his father and his grandfather than they had to take away any person’s private property. For this theory, Peter claimed the authority of Roman law as well as of divine law.
This argument ore no relation to the constitutional theory of imperial authority in Roman law, as stated by the lawyers either of antiquity. Ages, and it was definitely inappropriate to an elective monarch, Peter’s theory suggested, however, the characteristic connection of divine right with Indefeasible hereditary right. Overall, the theory was less important for its intrinsic merits than its indication of 5 a tendency to support the secular power by using legal conceptions.
A more important form of the anti-papal argument is found in the York Tracts, produced about 1100 in the controversy over investiture between Anselm and Henry of England. On the issue of investiture, the author’s argument is hard to evaluate.
He asserted sweepingly that a king’s authority is of a higher kind than that of a bishop, that the king ought to rule over bishops, and that he is competent to call a council of the church and preside over it. Yet, at the same time, he denied the king’s right to invest bishops with their spiritual authority.
More interesting, and probably more important, was this author’s attack upon the sovereign authority which Gregory had claimed to exercise in the church, since a critical examination of the nature of spiritual authority, and the pope’s share in it, was to form an important part of the later debates.
In an earlier tract, written in defense of the deposed Archbishop of Rouen, he flatly denied the right of the pope to discipline other bishops, arguing that in spiritual matters, all bishops are equal, that all enjoy the same authority from God, and are all equally exempt from judgment save by God.
The actual power wielded by the Bishop of Rome he called usurpation and explained it as a historical accident depending on the fact that Rome had been the capital of the empire in yet another of the tracts he asserted that obedience was owed not to Rome but solely to the church; only the elect and the sons of God can rightly be called the Church of God.
The York Tracts appear to contain the germ of the argument elaborated two centuries later by Marsilio of Padua in the Defensor pacis. It formed an important part of 2 tendencies to construe spiritual authority as a power and a right to teach and preach.
The more completely spiritual authority could be given an other-worldly significance exclusively, the more completely it must leave secular authority untrammeled in the fields of law and politics, however great its moral value might be held to be. The argument of the York Tracts was apparently the first somewhat uncertain step on this line of argument.
Even in the eleventh century, the controversy tended to er courage an examination of secular authority’s foundation. The problem was clearly involved in Gregory’s attempt to depose the emperor. This called out the claim of indefeasible right from the emperor’s defenders, so it produced the papal side’s argument that his authority is conditional and that, accordingly, his subject’s obligations are less than absolute.
The conditional or contractual nature of political obligation was implied not only by the practice of feudalism. Still, it was also suggested in the ancient tradition transmitted by the church’s Fathers, especially by the principle that law and government ought always to be contributory to justice.
There is, therefore, a fundamental difference between a true king and a tyrant, which implies that there are conditions under which it is justifiable to resist a tyrant. In the eleventh century, this position was most clearly stated by Manegold of Lautenbach, and in the twelfth by John of Salisbury, who developed in the eighth book of his Policraticus the revolting theory of tyrannicide.
In neither case does the argument imply a low estimate of political authority; rather, the reverse, since the evil of tyranny is greater just in proportion as true kingship is more august. But the essence of kingship is the office and not the person; hence the individual’s right to the office cannot be indefeasible.
Manegold used this principle to show that deposition could be justified when a king has destroyed those goods which the office was instituted to preserve. He thus arrived at a comparatively definite contract theory (practicum) between the king and his people.
No man can make himself emperor or king; a people sets a man over it to the end that he may rule justly, giving to every man his own, aiding good men and coercing bad, in short, that he may give justice to all men. If then he violates the agreement according to which he was chosen, disturbing and confounding the very things which, he was meant to put in order, reason dictates that he absolves the people from their obedience, especially when he has himself first broken the faith which bound him and the people together.
Therefore, a people’s allegiance to its ruler is a pledge to support him in his lawful undertakings and is ipso facto void in the case of a tyrant. So far as the pope’s power to depose a king was concerned, Manegold conceived this as the right of a court of conscience to pronounce upon the reality of a fait accompli; Gregory’s action was defended on the ground that he had publicly annulled what was inherently invalid. The theory that the king stands in a contractual relationship to his’ People in no way contradicted the view that the kingly office itself was of divine origin.
Manegold’s theory of a contract was not, therefore, an out-and-out defense of a papal right of deposition. In fact, the dependence of the royal power upon the people could, with equal propriety, be construed as implying its independence of the church. This position had the great advantage of agreeing with Roman law’s constitutional theory, a8 well as with the Imperialist emphasized the distinction of the two swords. Its development led to a more critical examination of the historical precedents, such as the deposition of the Merovingian dynasty and Pippin’s crowning, alleged in favor of the Pope’s power to depose.
The conclusion drawn was that the deposition and the choice of a new king were done “by the common suffrage of the princes, and merely with the pope’s approval. The position thus taken was historically sound and pierced a weak spot in Grepory’s argument. Moreover, it was exciting in illustrating a marshaling of secular history in defense of the emperor’s independence and in claiming the decision of secular princes as a sufficient constitutional authority for the deposition or coronation of a king.
The controversy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries served to show the instability and vagueness of the relation between the temporal and spiritual powers in the Gelasian tradition. The two sides stressed different aspects of the tradition, both of which were equally well established. The papalists emphasized the moral superiority of the spiritual power and the imperialists the independence of the two powers from one another.
Both positions continued to be an intrinsic part of the argument as the debate was continued into the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The earlier controversy also suggested the lines that would be followed as either side’s argument was developed. It needed only that more definite juristic and constitutional ideas should prevail so that the church’s claim of moral superiority should be transformed into legal suzerainty.
And this position had only to be stated to call out a counterargument designed to limit spiritual duties to non-coercive instruction and exhortation. On the side of the temporal power, two developing lines of argument were suggested, which stressed secular rulers’ responsibility directly to God with no earthly intermediary. That which stressed the right of secular society, under God, to provide for its own government.