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Internet Medieval Sourcebook

Selected Sources: Empire and Papacy


Contents

Introductory Essay

The "Empire and Papacy" has been a theme of medieval history teaching for so long that students might be forgiven for being bored out of their minds. What, they might ask,  is the possible use of studying conflicts between long dead popes and emperors. In fact this seemingly arcane dispute had major consequences for the history of Western culture:

  • Nation-States: The papal-imperial conflict lead to the weakening of the Western (Holy Roman) Empire, the first strong state with staying power after the 5th-century collapse of Roman Empire in the West. Instead a series of proto-"nation" states [France, England, Spain, Portugal] achieved great power and eventually set the "nation-state" rather than the "imperial" standard for all European states.
  • Separation of Church and State: The conflict between church and state firmly established that church and state were distinct entities. This is in dramatic contrast to Islam, which never made a distinction between "religion" and "politics"; and in contrast equally to the "Byzantine model" of "symphony" between church and state.
  • Effect on Law and Education: Because both "Papal" and "Imperial" sides in the dispute had a real basis for their power, the conflict was long-lasting. Each side, then, tried to prove its case by consulting earlier "authoritative" documents. In the short term this lead to a revival in the study of Roman Law, a legal approach which has since come to predominate in much of the world. In the longer term, the fighting lawyers had to collect information, organize it, and then work out the principles of interpretation [e.g. was a later or earlier law most authoritative]. They had to do all this while making arguments against each other. In time these procedures affected western higher education, which eschewed memory methods, and insisted that students Plearn to collect, organize and interpret material, and then defend their conclusions in argument.

Phase I: The Invesituture Controversy
Phase II: Barbarossa: The Empire at its Height
  • General
  • The Besançon Episode 1157-
    • Otto of Freising: Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa: Incident at Besançon, 1157 [See next item]
    • The Besançon Episode 1157, - in the original documents [A: Letter of Adrian IV. to Frederick Barbarossa, Sept. 20th, 1157; B: Manifesto of the Emperor, Oct. 1157; C: Letter of Adrian IV. to the German Bishops; D: Letter of the German Bishops to Adrian IV - including Frederick's defence of his position; E: Letter of Adrian IV. to Frederick Barbarossa, Feb, 1158].
  • Barbarossa and Alexander III
  • Barbarossa in Italy
    • Barbarossa and the Lombards. Excerpts from the Diet of Ronçaglia, 1158, and The Peace of Constance, January 25, 1183.
    • Otto of Friesing: Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa
  • Canonical Response

Innocent III: The Papacy at its Height
The Holy Roman Empire: Frederick II and After
The Papacy Overreaches

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.   Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 8 February 2023