History Of The Christian Church (1892) Philip Schaff


§ 19. Victor III. and Urban II. 1086–1099

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§ 19. Victor III. and Urban II. 1086–1099.


Compare the chapter on the Crusades.

At the death of Gregory, his imperial enemy was victorious in Germany, and had recovered part of Saxony; Lombardy remained loyal to the empire; Matilda was prostrated by grief and sickness; the anti-pope Wibert (Clement III., 1080–1100) continued to occupy a part of Rome (the Lateran palace and the castle of St. Angelo); Roger, the new duke of the Normans, spent his whole force in securing for himself the sole rule over Calabria and Apulia against his brother Bohemund. There was a papal interregnum of twelve months.

At last the excellent Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, who had raised that convent to the height of its prosperity, was elected to succeed his friend Gregory, May 24, 1086. He accepted after long delay, but ruled only eighteen months as Victor III. He loved monastic solitude, and died Sept. 16, 1087.

He was followed by Otto (Odo), cardinal-bishop of Ostia, a Frenchman, formerly prior of Cluny, and one of the intimate counsellors of Hildebrand. He assumed the name Urban II., and ruled from March 12, 1088, to July 29, 1099. He followed in the steps of Gregory, but with more caution and adaptation to circumstances. He spent his pontificate mostly outside of Rome, but with increasing moral influence. He identified himself with the rising enthusiasm for the holy war of the Cross against the Crescent. This was an immense gain for the papacy, which reaped all the credit and benefit of that extraordinary movement.

He took a noble stand in favor of the sanctity of marriage against the licentious King Philip I. of France, who cast away his legitimate wife, Bertha, 1092, and held adulterous intercourse with Bertrada of Montfort, the runaway wife of the rude Count Fulco of Anjou. This public scandal led to several synods. The king was excommunicated by a synod at Autun in Burgundy, Oct. 16, 1094, and by the Synod of Clermont in 1095. He afterwards dismissed Bertrada, and was absolved by the pope.

Urban continued the war with Henry IV. without scruple as to the means. He encouraged the rebellion of his eldest son, Conrad, a weak and amiable man, who fled for protection to the Countess Matilda, was crowned king of Italy at Monza, and paid the pope the homage of holding his stirrup (the officium stratoris) at Cremona (1095). Urban, who had been consecrated pope outside of Rome, was able, 1088, with the aid of the Normans, to enter the city and possess himself of all its parts except the castle of St. Angelo, which remained in the hands of the followers of Wibert. Wibert had been in possession of St. Peter’s, which he held as a fortress against Victor III. The streets of the papal city resounded with the war-cries of the two papal armies, while pope and anti-pope anathematized one another. Urban died at Florence in 1101.

The pope arranged an unnatural matrimonial alliance between the widowed countess and the young Guelph of Bavaria, whose father was the most powerful of the emperor’s enemies in Germany. It was a purely political match, which made neither party happy, and ended in a divorce (1095). But it gave the papal party a political organization, and opened the long-continued war between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, which distracted every city in Italy, and is said to have caused seventy-two hundred revolutions and more than seven hundred atrocious murders in that country.93  Every Italian was born to an inheritance of hatred and revenge, and could not help sharing in the conflict of factions headed by petty tyrants. The Guelphs defended the pope against the emperor, and also the democracy against the aristocracy in the city government. They were strong in pulling down, but were unable to create a new State. The Ghibellines maintained the divine origin and independent authority of the State in all things temporal against the encroachments of the papacy. The party strife continued in Italy long after the German emperor had lost his power. Dante was at first a Guelph, but in mature life joined the Ghibellines and became the most formidable opponent of Pope Boniface VIII.

Urban was able to hold a synod at Piacenza in Lombardy, where Henry IV. had his chief support, during Lent, 1095. It was attended by four thousand priests and monks and over thirty thousand laymen, and the meeting had to be held in the open field. The pope permitted Praxedis (Adelheid), the second wife of Henry IV., to recite the filthy details of acts of impurity to which she had been subjected by her husband, endorsed her shameless story, absolved her from all uncleanness, and remitted every penitential observance, "because she had not blushed to make a public and voluntary confession of her involuntary transgression."94  After thus sealing the damnation of Henry, the synod renewed the laws against simony and Nicolaitism. Wibert, the anti-pope, was put under anathema, and his consecrations were declared invalid. The Catholic faith in the true and essential presence of the body and blood of Christ in the eucharist was asserted against the heresy of Berengar.

More important was the Synod of Clermont in France, Nov. 18–28, 1095, which inaugurated the first crusade. Here Urban preached the most effective sermon on record, and reached the height of his influence.

He passed in triumphal procession, surrounded by princes and prelates, through France and Italy. He exhorted the people everywhere to repent of their sins and to prove the sincerity of their conversion by killing as many enemies of the cross as they could reach with their swords. When he reached Rome the anti-pope had been driven away by the Crusaders. He was enabled to celebrate the Christmas festival of 1096 with unusual magnificence, and held two synods in the Lateran, January, 1097, and April, 1099. He died, July 29, 1099, a fortnight after the capture of Jerusalem (July 15) by the Crusaders.


§ 20. Pascal II. and Henry V. 1099–1118.


Pascal II., a monk of Cluny and disciple of Hildebrand, but less firm and consistent, was elected in July, 1099, and reigned till 1118. Clement III., the anti-pope, died in September, 1100, weary of the world, and left a reputation of integrity, gentleness, and dignity. The imperialist clergy of Rome elected another anti-pope, Sylvester IV., who soon disappeared noiselessly from the stage.

Pascal gained a complete victory over Henry IV. by supporting the wicked rebellion of his second son, Henry V., the last of the Salic or Franconian line of emperors, 1104–1126.

The unfortunate father died under the anathema in misery at Liège (Lüttich), Aug. 7, 1106. The people of the city which had remained faithful to him, lamented his death; but the papal agents commanded the bishop of Liège to remove his body from consecrated ground to an island in the Maas. Henry V. had not lost all feeling for his father, and complied with his dying request for burial in the imperial sepulchre at Spires. The clergy and the citizens accompanied the funeral procession to the cathedral of St. Mary, which the departed sovereign had himself built and richly endowed. He was buried with all honors. But when Bishop Gebhard, one of his fiercest persecutors, who was absent at the time, heard of it, he caused the body to be forthwith exhumed and removed, and interdicted all services in the church till it should be purified of all pollution. The people, however, could not be deterred from frequent visits to the unconsecrated chapel where the dishonored remains of their monarch and patron were deposited. At last the pope dissolved the ban, on the assurance of Henry V. that his father had professed sincere repentance, and his body was again deposited in the cathedral, Aug. 7, 1111. By his moral defects and his humiliation at Canossa, Henry IV. had promoted the power of the papal hierarchy, and yet, by his continued opposition after that act, he had prevented its complete triumph. Soon after his death an anonymous writer gave eloquent and touching expression to his grief over the imperial lord whom he calls his hope and comfort, the pride of Rome, the ornament of the empire, the lamp of the world, a benefactor of widows and orphans, and a father of the poor.95

Pascal had to suffer for his unscrupulous policy. When Henry V. came into full possession of his power, he demanded the right of investiture over all the churches of the empire, and coronation at Rome. The pope was imprisoned and so hard pressed by Henry, that he resolved to buy the spiritual freedom of the Church by a sacrifice of its temporal possessions (except the patrimony of Peter). A compact to this effect between him and the emperor was signed provisionally, April, 1111. Henry was crowned emperor of the Romans in St. Peter’s. But after his return to Germany, a Lateran synod rejected the compact, March, 1112. The pope represented to the synod that, while in the custody of the emperor, with many bishops and cardinals, he had conceded to him the right of investiture to avoid greater evils, and had promised him immunity from excommunication. He confessed that the concession was wrong, and left it with the synod to improve the situation. He made in the sixth session (March 23) a solemn profession of the Catholic faith in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the Canons of the Apostles, the four Oecumenical Synods of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and the decrees of Gregory VII. and Urban II. against lay-investiture and all other crimes which they had condemned. Then the synod, while the pope kept silent, resolved to annul the treaty which he had been forced to make with King Henry. All exclaimed, "Amen, Amen, fiat, fiat." Twelve archbishops, a hundred and fourteen bishops, fifteen cardinal-priests, and eight cardinal-deacons signed the decree.

The zealous Gregorians wished to go further and to declare lay-investiture a heresy (which would imply that Pope Pascal was a heretic). A French Synod of Vienne, Sept. 16, 1112, passed three decrees: 1) Investiture by a layman is a heresy; 2) the enforced compact of Pascal with Henry is null and void; 3) King Henry, who came to Rome under the pretext of peace, and betrayed the pope with a Judas-kiss, is cut off from holy Church until he gives complete satisfaction. The decisions were submitted to the pope, who approved them, October 20 of the same year, to avert a schism. Other provincial synods of France, held by papal legates, launched anathemas against the "tyrant of Germany."

But Henry defied the pope, who had pledged himself never to excommunicate him on account of investiture. After the death of Countess Matilda, July 24, 1115, he hastened for a third time to Italy, and violently seized the rich possessions which she had bequeathed to the chair of St. Peter. Pascal fled to Benevento, and called the Normans to his aid, as Gregory VII. had done. Henry celebrated the Easter festival of 1117 in Rome with great pomp, caused the empress to be crowned, showed himself to the people in his imperial purple, and amused them with shows and processions; but in the summer he returned to Germany, after fruitless negotiations with the pope. He lived to conclude the Concordat of Worms. He was an energetic, but hard, despotic, and unpopular ruler.

Pascal died, Jan. 21, 1118, in the castle of St. Angelo, and was buried in the church of St. John in Lateran. He barely escaped the charge of heresy and schism. He privately condemned, and yet officially supported, lay-investiture, and strove to satisfy both his own conscience and his official duty to the papacy. The extreme party charged him with the sin of Peter, and exhorted him to repent; milder judges, like Ivo of Chartres and Hildebert of Le Mans, while defending the Hildebrandian principle of the freedom of the Church, excused him on the ground that he had yielded for a moment in the hope of better times and from the praiseworthy desire to save the imprisoned cardinals and to avoid bloodshed; and they referred to the example of Paul, who circumcised Timothy, and complied with the wish of James in Jerusalem to please the Jewish Christians.




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