The charge, though, was customarily the same: the unworthy priests were disqualified from practising the rites and rituals of the Church; that they were polluted, tarnished, corrupted; that they were not truly Christians.
Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, by Tom Holland
The year was 1076. Gerard, bishop of Cambrai, had concerns about where such charges could lead. He summoned one Ramihrd, accused of “preaching many things outside the faith.” But when questioned, his answers were quite orthodox.
Ramihrd then, in return, accused the bishop of being filthy with sin. This was too much for the bishop’s supporters, who then bundled Ramihrd in a wooden hut and burned him alive. Only fifty years earlier was the first heretic executed in the Latin West.
The bishop felt no cause to punish Ramihrd’s executioners. However, early the next year a letter would arrive in Paris to the city’s archbishop. It was a letter from the pope, reporting in shocked tones regarding the situation. “We view it as something monstrous.”
Hildebrand, now Pope Gregory VII, had the ambition to cleanse the Church of every spot of filth. The preceding years had seen pope after pope serving as a model of scandal.
Gregory…felt himself called to a mighty labour of cleaning. The clergy were leprous. Only he, the heir of Saint Peter, could bring them to purity.
How to clean up the clergy unless the pope had sole authority to make appointments? The pope struggled with the king in this regard; thus began the Investiture Controversy. In fact, when Ramihrd refused to acknowledge Gerard as priest, he had done so in direct obedience to a decree from Rome and this pope – the decree prohibiting the king’s right to confer bishoprics.
To whore after baubles, and estates, and offices, was to betray the King of Heaven. …Bishops were servants of God alone, or they were nothing.
The beginnings of a meaningful separation of Church and emperor. This led to a showdown. Henry IV summoned a conference of bishops in Worms. They determined that the election of Hildebrand was invalid. When Gregory was brought the news and commanded to abdicate, he refused and also responded by raising the stakes: Henry was ‘bound with the chains of anathema,’ and he was excommunicated from the Church.
His subjects were absolved of all their oaths of loyalty to him. Henry himself, as a tyrant and enemy of God, was deposed. …Henry’s authority went into meltdown.
Many of his princely vassals set out to dismember his kingdom. Henry was cornered. He then set off, in the dead of winter, to cross the Alps and head for Canossa. When he arrived, he stood shivering at the gates for three days before being allowed by Gregory to enter. With a kiss, all was forgiven.
But not forgotten. Henry would soon renege, capturing Rome in 1084 and causing the pope to flee. The pope’s supporters would level violent propaganda against Henry: he was a pervert, an arsonist, even a violator of nuns!
Meanwhile, new requirements in the Church: priests were not to have wives or concubines; the Pope was to be judged by no one; all Christian people were subject to his rulings. Armies of lawyers and clerks were the papacy’s shock-troops.
Universities in Bologna and Paris. These were followed with universities across Europe. The university in Paris was granted independent status by the pope in 1215. A similar measure was adopted regarding Oxford.
Theology was the queen of sciences, but she was not alone. The sun, moon, and stars were studied; the distribution of matter; animals – human and non-human. There was no thought of a conflict of science and faith:
To identify the laws that governed the universe was to honour the Lord God who had formulated them.
The truest miracle was not the miraculous; it was the ordered running of heaven and earth!
One monk, Gratian, is said to have compiled centuries of councils and canons; no one had thought to collate these before. Papal rulings, decrees by other bishops, compilations of penances. Suffice it to say, the contradictions were many. How would these be reconciled?
Unlike the Muslims, who had a comprehensive body of written law, Christians had the foundation of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul: the law is written on man’s heart. Gratian would open his Decretum by citing the command of Jesus: Love your neighbor as yourself. Further:
“Enactments, whether ecclesiastical or secular, if they are proved to be contrary to natural law, must be totally excluded.”
And on this basis, one would reconcile the contradictions. Gratian provided both a criterion and a sanction to remove objectionable customs.
This more than a century before Thomas Aquinas, and the only means by which we can reconcile the countless contradictions of today.
In the meantime, Pope Urban II would call the first Crusade. By the summer of 1099, the crusaders would reach the walls of Jerusalem. On July 15, they stormed its walls. After centuries of Saracen rule, Jerusalem was, once again, in the hands of Christians.