The Age of Gregory VII, 1073-85

The 'Dictatus Papae'

trans. G.A.Loud (unpublished)

This set of 27 propositions is included in Gregory VII’s Register, and appears to have been promulgated at the Lenten synod at the beginning of March 1075. Their significance has been much debated. It has been suggested that they were intended from the first as the headings for a ‘Gregorian’ canon law collection, and while such a collection was never compiled in this exact form, Cardinal Deusdedit drew heavily on them for his important canonical collection, completed in 1086. Alternatively, they may have been simply a statement in principle of papal rights and powers, as envisaged by Gregory. Most of them seem to have been drawn up in response to contemporary debates and problems.

[Translated from Das Register Gregors. VII, ed. E. Caspar (M.G.H. Epistolae Selectae ii, Berlin 1920-3), pp. 202-8].

The Dictates of the Pope.

  1. That the Roman Church was founded by God alone.
  2. That only the Roman pontiff can by right be called universal.
  3. That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
  4. That in a council his legate takes precedence over all bishops, even if he is of a lower grade to them, and he can pass a sentence of deposition against them.
  5. That the pope may depose the absent.
  6. That among other things we ought not to remain in the same house as those excommunicated by him.
  7. That for him alone is it permitted to make new laws, according to the needs of the time, to gather together new congregations, to make an abbey of a canonry, and on the other hand to split up a rich bishopric and to unite poor ones.
  8. That he alone may use imperial insignia.
  9. That all princes shall kiss the feet of the pope alone.
  10. That his name alone shall be spoken in churches.
  11. That this is the only name in the world.
  12. That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
  13. That it may be permitted to him to translate bishops from one see to another, when need dictates.
  14. That he has the power to ordain a cleric from any church, should he so wish.
  15. That someone who is ordained by him can rule over another church, but not serve therein; and that person should not accept a higher grade from another bishop.
  16. That no synod should be called a general one without his order.
  17. That no chapter and no book shall be held as canonical without his authority.
  18. That his sentence ought not to be rescinded by anyone else and he alone of all can retract it.
  19. That he ought to be judged by no one.
  20. That nobody may dare to condemn one who has appealed to the Apostolic See.
  21. That the more important cases of every church ought to be referred to it.
  22. That the Roman Church has never erred, nor, as Scripture bears witness, will it ever err.
  23. That the Roman pontiff, if he shall be canonically ordained, is undoubtedly made a saint through the merits of the Blessed Peter, as St. Enodius, Bishop of Pavia, bears witness with many holy fathers agreeing with him, as is contained in the decrees of the Blessed Pope Symachus.
  24. That by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to bring accusations.
  25. That he may oppose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
  26. That he who is not at peace with the Roman Church shall not be considered catholic.
  27. That he can absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.

text encoded by The Leeds Electronic Text Centre   January 2001