§ 9. Alexander II. and the Schism of Cadalus. 1061–1073.
Pope Nicolas II. died July 27, 1061. The cardinals elected, in some unknown place outside of Rome, Anselm, bishop of Lucca, Sept. 30, 1061. He was conducted to Rome in the following night by Norman soldiers, and consecrated, Oct. 1, as Alexander II. His first act was to administer the oath of fealty to Richard, the Norman leader.
The anti-Hildebrandian party of the Roman nobles, headed by Count Girard of Galeria (an excommunicated robber), with the aid of the disaffected Lombard clergy, and the young emperor Henry IV., elected Cadalus (or Cadalous), bishop of Parma, anti-pope. He was consecrated Oct. 28, 1061, as Honorius II., and maintained a schism of ten years. He had been repeatedly charged with simony, and had the sympathy and support of the married or concubinary clergy and the simoniacal laity, who hoped that his success would lead to a modification of discipline and legalization of clerical marriage. The opposition thus became an organized party, and liable to the charge of heresy, which was considered worse than carnal sin. Damiani and Humbert defended the principle that a priest who is guilty of simony or concubinage, and believes himself innocent, is more criminal than he who knows himself to be guilty. Damiani hurled the fiercest denunciation of a Hebrew prophet against the anti-pope. Cadalus entered Rome with an armed force, and maintained himself in the castle of St. Angelo for two years; but at length he sought safety in flight without a single follower, and moved to Parma. He died in 1072. His party was broken up.
Alexander held a council at Mantua, May 31, 1064, and was universally recognized as the legitimate pope; while Cadalus was anathematized and disappeared from history.
During the pontificate of Alexander, the war against simony and Nicolaitism went on under the lead of Hildebrand and Damiani with varying success. The troubles in Lombardy were renewed. Archbishop Wido of Milan sided with Cadalus and was excommunicated; he apologized, did penance, and resumed office. After his death in 1071 the strife broke out again with disgraceful scenes of violence. The Patarine party, supported with gold by the pope, gained the ascendancy after the death of Cadalus. The Normans repelled the Mohammedan aggression and won Southern Italy and Sicily for the Church of Rome.
This good service had some weight on the determination of Hildebrand to support the claim of William of Normandy to the crown of England, which was a master-stroke of his policy; for it brought that island into closer contact with Rome, and strengthened the papal pretension to dispose of temporal thrones. William fought under a banner blessed by the pope, and founded the Norman dynasty in England, 1066. The conquest was concluded at Winchester by a solemn coronation through three papal delegates, Easter, 1070.
But in Germany there arose a powerful opposition, not indeed to the papacy, which was the common ground of all parties, but to the Hildebrandian policy. This led to the conflict between Gregory VII. and Henry IV. Alexander threatened Henry with excommunication in case he persisted in his purpose to divorce his queen Bertha.
Chapter 2. Gregory VII, 1073–1085.
§ 10. Hildebrand elected Pope. His Views on the Situation.
Alexander II. died April 21, 1073, and was buried in the basilica of St. John in Lateran on the following day. The city, usually so turbulent after the death of a pope, was tranquil. Hildebrand ordered a three days’ fast with litanies and prayers for the dead, after which the cardinals were to proceed to an election. Before the funeral service was closed, the people shouted, "Hildebrand shall be pope!" He attempted to ascend the pulpit and to quiet the crowd, but Cardinal Hugo Candidus anticipated him, and declared:, "Men and brethren, ye know how since the days of Leo IX. Hildebrand has exalted the holy Roman Church, and defended the freedom of our city. And as we cannot find for the papacy a better man, or even one that is his equal, let us elect him, a clergyman of our Church, well known and thoroughly approved amongst us." The cardinals and clergy exclaimed in the usual formula, "St. Peter elects Gregory (Hildebrand) pope."21
This tumultuary election was at once legalized by the cardinals. He was carried by the people as in triumph to the church of S. Petrus ad Vincula, clothed with the purple robe and tiara, and declared elected, as "a man eminent in piety and learning, a lover of equity and justice, firm in adversity, temperate in prosperity, according to the apostolic precept (1 Tim. 3:2), ’without reproach ... temperate, soberminded, chaste, given to hospitality, ruling his house well’ ... already well brought up and educated in the bosom of this mother Church, for his merits advanced to the office of archdeacon, whom now and henceforth we will to be called Gregory, Pope, and Apostolic Primate."22
It was eminently proper that the man who for nearly a quarter of a century had been the power behind the throne, should at last be pope in name as well as in fact. He might have attained the dignity long before, if he had desired it. He was then about sixty years old, when busy men begin to long for rest. He chose the name Gregory in memory of his departed friend whom he had accompanied as chaplain into exile, and as a protest against the interference of the empire in the affairs of the Church.23 He did not ask the previous confirmation of the emperor, but he informed him of his election, and delayed his consecration long enough to receive the consent of Henry IV., who in the meantime had become emperor. This was the last case of an imperial confirmation of a papal election.24
Hildebrand was ordained priest, May 22, and consecrated pope, June 29, without any opposition. Bishop Gregory of Vercelli, the German chancellor of Italy, attended the consecration. The pope informed his friends, distinguished abbots, bishops, and princes of his election; gave expression to his feelings and views on his responsible position, and begged for their sympathy and prayers.25
He was overwhelmed, as he wrote to Duke Godfrey of Lorraine (May 6, 1073), by the prospect of the task before him; he would rather have died than live in the midst of such perils; nothing but trust in God and the prayers of good men could save him from despair; for the whole world was lying in wickedness; even the high officers of the Church, in their thirst for gain and glory, were the enemies rather than the friends of religion and justice. In the second year of his pontificate, he assured his friend Hugo of Cluny (Jan. 22, 1075) that he often prayed God either to release him from the present life, or to use him for the good of mother Church, and thus describes the lamentable condition of the times: —
"The Eastern Church fallen from the faith, and attacked by the infidels from without. In the West, South, or North, scarcely any bishops who have obtained their office regularly, or whose life and conduct correspond to their calling, and who are actuated by the love of Christ instead of worldly ambition. Nowhere princes who prefer God’s honor to their own, and justice to gain. The Romans, Longobards, and Normans among whom I live, as I often told them, are worse than Jews and heathens. And when I look to myself, I feel oppressed by such a burden of sin that no other hope of salvation is left me but in the mercy of Christ alone."26
This picture is true, and we need not wonder that he often longed to retire to the quiet retreat of a convent. He adds in the same letter that, if it were not for his desire to serve the holy Church, he would not remain in Rome, where he had spent twenty years against his wish. He was thus suspended between sorrow and hope, seized by a thousand storms, living as a dying man. He compared himself to a sailor on the high seas surrounded by darkness. And he wrote to William the Conqueror, that unwillingly he had ascended into the ship which was tossed on a billowy sea, with the violence of the winds and the fury of storms with hidden rocks beneath and other dangers rising high in air in the distance.27
The two features which distinguished Gregory’s administration were the advocacy of papal absolutism and the promotion of moral reforms. In both these respects Gregory left an abiding impression upon the thought and practice of Latin Christendom. Even where we do not share his views we cannot help but admire his moral force and invincible courage.