The Reign Of The Holy Roman Empire

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On Christmas day of 800 A.D., Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne the Holy Roman Emperor. This pivotal, but not necessarily wanted, moment in the history of the Catholic Church set up a precedent for very strong relations between the Holy Roman Emperor and the papacy. During the eleventh century, with the Holy Roman Emperor ruled by Henry IV, relations with the papacy came to a front over several disagreement between Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII. Their arguments mainly focused on the power that each institution should hold. Gregory felt that the papacy should play a larger political role in the western church and that lay investiture was against the will of God. Henry was conservative and did not want Rome intruding any more on his rule of the Holy Roman Emperor and accused Gregory of being a usurper and a fraud. In the midst of this argument, Gregory released various decrees, known as the Dictatus Papae, which greatly increased the power of the Papacy while reducing that of the Holy Roman Empire. The mere fact that Gregory felt the need to issue these decrees, in combination with the harsh reaction of Henry IV and the Bishops of Germany, prove that the papacy did not have “effective authority” over the Western church and institution.
The imposition of the Gregorian reforms alone and the Pope’s defense of them show how the papacy was not an institution of great authority in the Western church and lacked command among its constituents. The Gregorian reforms were not, as the
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