Welcome to Episode 47 of Kathy's Amazing Timemachine(tm). The purpose of this Timemachine, errr, website, is to inform the reader/surfer about the events leading up to, and during the Investiture Controversy which occurred in approximately 1076-1085 CE.
How will this be accomplished? Well, as soon as you click any of the links on the left side of the page, my Amazing Timemachine(tm) will transport you to the time, to receive all the information available.
The first section, Attempted Reforms, is about the concerns leading up the Investiture Controversy. These events were proto-efforts toward reform in the Church, prior to the time of Gregory VII.
The second section, The Rise of Hildebrand, deals with Hildebrand's, (later to become Gregory VII), rise to power. Why is he significant? Hildebrand was one of the major figures in the Investiture Controversy. For that reason, he's been included in this project.
The next section, Henry III, is about the father of Henry IV. Henry III practically created the events that would eventually cause the Investiture Controversy.
The Rise of Henry IV is about how Henry IV, son of Henry III, came to power.
The Struggle for Power is the section that deals with the essence of this project: The Investiture Controversy!
The last section, Outcomes, discusses the outcomes, long-term consequences and implications of the Investiture Controversy.
For more reading on the topic, I have also included an annotated Bibliography, which also includes appendices and special notes of interest to the surfer/reader.
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What is the Investiture Controversy? And why is it significant?
Before going any further, it is necessary to realize that this project is set during the Middle Ages, in Europe. The forms of government that we are familiar with today, such as democracy, republicanism, communism, and socialism, were unheard of during this time. Indeed, the main, if not the only polity was Feudalism.
Feudalism was a polity in which a noble or royal personage owned land... but due to the size of it, was unable to administrate and defend it all. Thus, the land was "doled" out to vassals, in a ceremony known as "investiture."
The ceremony was rather symbolic; the lord "gave" or "invested" his vassal with a stone or clod. In clerical (Church-related, such as priests or bishops), the "vassal" was "invested" with a staff and pastoral ring.
Why should this cause a problem?
This caused a problem because abbots and bishops were supposed to be loyal to the Church as a whole, not just the region in which they were invested. It didn't quite work out this way... the king or lord of the region in which abbots and bishops administrated their spiritual domain "invested" bishops and abbots; thus making the inference that bishops and abbots would obey the king or lord before they would the Pope.
This did not please the Pope. Nor did the implication that abbots and bishops were both spiritual, (as a result of their position in the Church), and temporal, (meaning earthly, since they were "invested" by a lord or king), lords please the Pope or any local lords or kings... or even the Holy Roman Emperor!
But how did matters ever get this far? Blumenthal reports that investiture was originally instituted to protect abbeys, monasteries, and convents from the "... bishops and the rapacious nobility."(35) This meant that the local lord or king "invested" the heads of these institutions, both insuring their loyalty to him, and protecting from unscrupulous nobles and bishops. And, how better to keep a population under control than with the threat of the loss of salvation?
The system began in the late 800s C.E. By the early 1000s C.E., matters had come to a head. That's when The Investiture Controversy began in earnest.