The Age of Gregory VII, 1073-85

Extracts from Two Anti-Gregorian Tracts

translated by Dr. Peter Llewellyn (University College of North Wales, Bangor)
introduction and abridgement by G.A. Loud

Peter Crassus, A Defence of King Henry


The following pages contain excerpts from two of the many propaganda pamphlets written during the Investiture Contest. These are among the earliest of such tracts written to justify Henry IV's stand against Gregory VII, and to impugn the pope's actions and fitness to hold office.

The Defensio Henrici Regis of Peter Crassus was written during Gregory VII's lifetime. Augustin Fliche suggests that it was produced in three stages between the early months of 1082, when Henry IV's army began to blockade Rome, and the summer of 1084 when Henry abandoned Rome to return to Germany, both because of the approach of Robert Guiscard's army and due to a revival of the revolt in Saxony. [Fliche, La Reforme Grégorienne, iii.106-7]. On the other hand, Ian Robinson argues that it was composed before 1080, and was largely a commentary on the first deposition of King Henry in 1076. [Authority and Resistance in the Investiture Contest, pp. 77-9]. Nothing is known about the author except his name, and that, as can be deduced from his treatise, he was both familiar with Latin classical literature and skilled in Roman Law, extracts from which he frequently cites. It has been suggested that he may also have been the author of some verses celebrating Henry's capture of Rome in 1084, which are in both style and content very similar to this treatise. Robinson suggests that he was linked with, and was perhaps a member of, Henry's chancery - the style of his tract is very similar to other polemical works emanating from members of the chancery, and in particular the letter written in Henry's name denouncing his deposition and calling on 'Hildebrand, false monk' to step down from the papal throne [Imperial Lives and Letters, pp. 150-1 no. 12].

Peter defends Henry IV as the legitimate emperor and defender of the Church, with a great deal of precedent from as far back as the late Roman period, and criticises 'Hildebrand' (he never dignifies the pope by use of his pontifical name) for his personal ambition, (alleged) contravention of the teachings of the Church Fathers, and creation of discord within Christendom. By contrast, Henry's authority was sanctioned by law and custom. and Henry had never sought conflict with the pope, but had this forced upon him by Hildebrand's deliberate and wicked provocation. The latter had no right to judge the king, and had encouraged Henry's subjects to commit perjury and rebel, thus imperilling both their earthly safety and their souls.

The Schism of Hildebrand was written soon after Pope Gregory's death, probably in the spring of 1086, at a time when the confusion surrounding the election of his successor, Desiderius of Montecassino (Victor IV), marked perhaps the lowest ebb of 'Gregorian' fortunes. The author tells us that he had written it in the entourage of the rival pope, Clement III, at Ravenna. The author, Guido, was one of the numerous former Gregorians who had abandoned Gregory in the early 1080's, and joined the imperialist party. He had previously been part of Gregory's court and knew the pope well. Soon after he wrote this tract he was elected, or appointed, Bishop of Ferrara (in the Emilia Romagna in NE Italy): he can be attested there as bishop for the first time in December 1086. He remained loyal to Pope Clement, and in 1099 was the latter's bibliothecarius (literally 'librarian' or 'archivist', but probably the head of his chancery). When he died is unknown, though Ferrara was captured by the troops of Countess Matilda of Tuscany, a supporter of the 'Gregorian' popes, in 1101.

Guido's work is a subtle one. It is divided into two parts. Book One examines the views put forward by the pope and his supporters in justification of their actions, and rehearses them at some length - Guido was of course an ex-Gregorian whom one might expect to be well-informed about these. Nonetheless, even in this section much of his exposition is ironic, sometimes shading off into heavy sarcasm. Clearly one is not expected to take these papalist views as in any way valid. The section concludes by mentioning Gregory's death and claimed, probably wrongly, that on his deathbed he designated Desiderius as his successor..

Book Two then examines the anti-Gregorian case in the form of a question-and-answer dialogue between a 'Propounder' and a 'Respondent'. It claimed that Gregory's election to the papal throne was invalid, both because it was (so Guido alleged) the product of simony and because he had failed to secure the emperor's permission to validate his election. Here Guido was relying on the forged 'imperialist' version of the papal election decree of Nicholas II of 1059. Furthermore Guido claimed that Hildebrand had anyway shown himself unfit to be pope, by stirring up violence within Christendom, and encouraging rebellion among the emperor's subjects. Here he hit the 'Gregorians' in one of their most vulnerable areas, for even some convinced reformers were unhappy with the idea of a pope preaching a war against other Christians. Other imperialist propagandists such as Wenrich of Trier also used this accusation as a key point in their case against Gregory, and papalist writers, notably Bonizo of Sutri, were at some pains to defend him from direct responsibility for the violence to which the conflict gave rise. [See here especially I.S. Robinson, 'Gregory VII and the soldiers of Christ', History lviii (1973), 161-92]. Guido went on to criticise the pope's attitude to the sacraments, and his excommunication of Henry without proper judgement or allowing him to defend himself. He justified the election of Pope Clement on the grounds that since Hildebrand was not properly pope the papal see was therefore legally vacant when Clement was chosen, and he was thus the only rightful and lawful pope. He went on to justify Henry's exercise of authority over the Church by a number of precedents, including once again the forged version of the 1059 decree. He concluded by re-iterating Hildebrand's guilt in encouraging Rudolf of Swabia to rebel and thus stirring up conflict in Germany.


A contemporary depiction of Henry IV, from the Chronicle of Ekkehard of Aura

A Defence of King Henry [Abridged version]

To King Henry

(1) Among all the tribulations of human life, our present age has produced one type of man so far removed from the customs and integrity of life of former times as to be virtually unknown to nature, so that one wonders whether there has not been some form of miscegenation, or that it does not derive from the previous generation. For, O King, this type shows itself so repugnant in respect of loyalty, justice, truth and all the other virtues - the agents of the soul's salvation - so as either to be wholly ignorant of them, or , if knowing them, to hold them in hatred. I have, O King, decided to write this work so that none of these should ever be able to sustain the case that your High Magnanimity did not acquire your Majesty's crown lawfully, but only by force of arms; and to set out plainly your Beatitude's equity and justice. Further, since that monk from Satan's synagogue [Gregory VII] would repudiate as a possible judicial forum the Roman laws which as I shall show in my work he so vehemently rejects, I am sending your Magnificence, in case of need, the work wherein the Blessed Gregory [the Great] lays out the respective uses in Holy Church of the civil and ecclesiastical laws.

(2) The blessed Augustine, that most acute commentator on Holy Scripture, after recording in his book On the Lord's Words how the Lord's saint maintains that men holding the episcopal dignity are divided into three categories, adds: 'if we define these three categories of person, your holiness will detect those to hold in affection, those to tolerate, and those of whom to beware'. But the Roman people, lax in their own law, rejoice to have as their own pastor in the Holy Roman Church, just that third type, the one against whom he warned us. And this pastor, spurning the laws in reportedly gaining that venerable see by fraud, brazenly works to retain it by force.

Since none can be found among the clergy who knows in his heart that this is so, or grieves at that fatal violence, or brings aid to his Holy Mother [the Church] or [uses] the Laws against him who challenges the Law, I have taken the work upon myself, moved by indignation, to find out what Reason, that guide of the human race, judges in this matter. I find that none of this Pastor's supporters have ever done this, which was not a tedious task.

....Justice and truth are correctly seen to be overthrown by the teachings and judgements of the Roman pastor, who has publically violated each of these principles; that of preaching in that he has turned peace into war, and harmony into sedition; and that of judgement in that he contravenes the Apostle's judgement - 'Do not judge prematurely' [I Corinthians 4.5] - in respect of that upright, valorous, austere, magnificent, generous, beneficent, good, lawfully-minded king, Henry [IV] . It should have first occurred to him [to ask] by what right he could pass a lawful judgement. Gregory [the Great] says in his letter to King Reccared: 'He who does not judge himself first does not rightly know how to judge others'....

In thus unjustly striking at King Henry, he is also expressly guilty of striking at all the Catholic emperors, whose Holy works equalled the preaching of the Faith in building and establishing the Holy Church on the foundations laid by the Apostles; indeed these by their government brought more numerous companies of men to the Lord's threshing-ground than did the preachers by their preaching. ...

At one time the Christian emperors were in harmony with the popes, and with the other bishops in the east in fighting heretics and in purifying the Holy Church from the evil errors of heresy. On this Leo [I] , that man of Apostolic holiness, wrote to the Emperor Theodosius: 'Insofar as Divine Providence has taken thought for human affairs, manifestly it is the spirit of God that has aroused your clemency's concern that there shall be no turmoil in the Catholic Church, and to wish for no conflict, since the faith, which is nothing if not one, can in no way differ within itself'. ...

... Christ Our Lord preached to his disciples as being the mother and nourisher of all good men, when He said, 'My peace I give you, my peace I leave with you' [John 14.27].

(3) What then, you Patarenes? See, you hold Christ the Lord, to be the giver of peace, you have often heard or understood his Apostles preaching of peace. You know how the Christian emperors, with the popes and other most holy fathers, have striven with great energy to amplify and maintain it. It is for this that King Henry, by God's concession entered into kingship, to be the custodian of this peace and to govern without conflict with your pastor.

That this is the origin of kingship is clearly witnessed by the Prophet Daniel: 'the kingdom belongs to God, to give to who he wishes' [Daniel 4.14]. Note well, I pray you, that the prophet does not say that the kingdom belongs to your pope, but to God, by whom unambiguously it has been given to Henry. In offending against King Henry's peace your pope's arrogance has offended also all those who proclaimed and defended it; and their condemnation of him is unanimous.

However, you Patarenes claim that you defend your Pope Gregory in the name of God, declaring him to be a holy man ruling from the Holy See. But your declaration is not readily comprehensible, and I suspect that within it lurks a danger, since where the Divine power proclaims peace, he promotes war against peace, like those of whom Truth itself says: 'Who is not with me is against me' [Matthew 12.30]. Therefore to defend in God's name a man as guilty as he seems to me nothing else but to offend God in the name of God. ...

... So why, Patarenes, do you not realise your bondage in defence of your pope and this exaltation of him as though he were the ruler of the Church, when he is unanimously condemned as being outside the Church? For Augustine says, 'association with the Church and fellowship of the Holy Spirit is to be denied to him who with false heart engages himself in the body of Christ's flock'.

(4) And so, after laying out this kind of material, which points in one direction, reason now starts to suggest most strongly that I should put down some of the passages presenting the high prudence of King Henry's clergy in suggesting to his most blessed Highness that of his own authority he summon a synod.

Since there were many clergy who promoted this long-standing error, the king deigned to summon the religious bishops - most of them from Italy as well as from beyond [the Alps] - men worthy of respect for their manner of life, their learning and their prayerfulness, fit to sit in judgement in such an assembly. It was also appropriate and reasonable that in such a synod the treasurers of the Italian dioceses should sit, as well as many of the clergy, worthy of esteem for their conduct as churchmen and for their education.

It was considered right and proper to summon to that synod the Roman Pastor, under pain of war being canonically levied against him, for the laws of Church practice require ecclesiastical authority. For at the very outset of his aberration, even before this monk learned the use of money to fight, he should have had recourse not to physical weapons but to those of the law and legal process. With these the prevailing party would have gained glory without such sacrifice of armed followings, while on the resolution of the case the loser would have suffered the appropriate penalty ... But warfare and the recourse to arms is wholly different; there each party is exposed to the same risks, and each places its trust in either its shield or its legs to avoid death. Following this argument, I say to you: You who guide the human race, I who write as you instruct me fear greatly that these men calling themselves Patarenes have arbitrarily drawn articles out of the corpus of the Law in order to boast of muzzling my boldness. ...

... But, since the laws by which emperors and kings have the duty of restraining the wrongdoing of men are now held everywhere null and void, the kingdom is riddled with injustice while the monk Hildebrand, who spurns the canons, rejoices in wielding the royal power with his army. The king, with all lovers of justice, finds his burden increased; through the monk Hildebrand's deceits they stray into grave error. That is why the blessed Gregory [I] declares: 'Whoever has undertaken the task of preaching the Word of Christ is not fitted for the burden of secular business, lest with his shoulders bowed by this he cannot rise to the preaching of the things of Heaven'. But ever since ambition allied itself with license in the Roman Church to claim civil functions, it is his pleasure to hold the decrees of the Holy Fathers [to be] no longer of any account, the laws no longer to have any validity, and to set up controversial innovations in all matters of religion; so the Roman Empire, its laws diminished, ends in the loss of all its adornment.

To cite only one among many episodes, the monk Hildebrand began assembling a great amount of money, by which, not many years ago, he was able to exercise a perverted authority in the Church of Milan where he was serving for some years. He was guilty of causing a man's tongue, nose and ears to be cut off; this man had been assigned to assist him at God's altar when none of the senior clergy was willing to assist him. In the bishopric of Cremona some empty-headed woman named Albizia, despite the Apostle's injunction that women should stay silent in church [I Corinthians 14.34], preached from the pulpit itself, in the presence of the people, with the same authority as the Apostles. The bishopric of Nonantola, in defiance of God's law but in conformity with his own, he deprived of its leader. So this unchecked disregard of law leads him to throw both the Church and the whole kingdom into confusion. ...

...What emerges then is that the supporters of the monk Hildebrand have attained such a point of folly as to accuse of falsehood even the Holy Fathers themselves, Gregory, Augustine, Jerome and the rest, to hold them as enemies and shamelessly to denigrate them in exalting the monk Hildebrand? They preach contempt for the teachings of the Fathers, realising that these condemn their perversion and instead sustain and defend King Henry in his sacred prerogative. ....

(5) You whose lawful duty it is to pass judgement on the guilt of this monk! I beg you by the mercy of God, who has established you as judges of his flock, I beg that your excellence consider by what law and with what respect he came to the Apostolic See. In making your judgement, listen to the words of St. Benedict in his Rule: 'When by personal deliberation a monk promises faithfully to observe the Rule and to submit himself to total obedience, he shall be admitted to the community, knowing from that moment, as the same Rule lays down, he will no longer have licence to leave the monastery or cast off of his own accord the yoke of the Rule, which the long period of reflection has allowed him to accept or reject. If he owns property he is either to distribute it to the poor, or by legal deed of gift to cede it without reserve to the monastery, for from then on he is not master even of his own body'.

What does your sense of justice conclude in the face of such a statement? Has not this man, who acquired no little money through his threatening letters, discarded the yoke of the Rule he was violating? Has he not placed himself in that fourth category of monk, according to St. Benedict worse than the Sarabaite? [Rule, c. 1]. Has not he - who should no longer be the master of his own body - set himself up to judge the whole world? Sons of men, judge with uprightness so criminous a man, who not only gave nothing to his monastery, but made off with all the possessions of the Blessed Peter's Church. ...

... What should I say in defence of such a man? My opponents, those called the Patarenes, say, with as they think some security, that the blessed Gregory [I] was first a monk but then became a Cardinal deacon of the Holy Roman Church and thence at last came in all worthiness to the Apostolic pontificate. So what? The best reply, to my mind, comes from the man's own words, in the account of his ordination to be read in his Life. There the following is written: ' the venerable pontiff Benedict, observing how Gregory rose to ever higher levels of virtue, removed him by compulsion from the quiet of his monastery to give him duties in Church matters, and he ordained him as his seventh deacon to be his assistant'. So the manner in which Benedict, pontiff of the Holy Roman Church, took the blessed Gregory by compulsion from his monastery is understood to conform to the decree of the Council of Chalcedon and to his own episcopal prerogative, so there was clearly nothing against the rule of Father Benedict in this departure. ... But the monk Hildebrand put himself forward without being summoned, and it is abundantly clear that once out of his monastery he has caused trouble. It therefore clearly follows that, in the terms of the Council of Chalcedon, he is excomunicate.

What should be done with an excommunicate who, in despite of a Council celebrated by so many Fathers, has ascended the Apostolic throne? Listen to what the Council of Carthage said of such a person: 'if an excommunicate, before the hearing of his case, should presume to re-enter communion, he shall be damned for all eternity'. ... Therefore let every diocese know that this monk - assuredly excommunicated on the basis of the condemnation of the Council of Chalcedon, absolved himself, and that the Roman people, which as usual follows the canons - those of money - raised him to the pontifical throne. Who can doubt that he, along with those who ordained him, are manifestly struck by the anathema and curse of Gregory?

(6) What more is there to say? You Saxons, who in receiving the Faith in Holy Baptism extended your hand to the Truth, come and listen to me and reckon up the dangers you run. Be alert, I beg you, to the obstinacy with which one single monk labours to destroy and render void the laws which pious emperors have issued for the salvation of you, of your sons and of the whole of Christendom. ...

... Therefore Saxons, your sense of justice should well understand with what great good-will the lawgiver established for you and your children, as for other peoples, that the law be observed in the text of the laws themselves, or by custom conformable to the law. Know also that all these dispositions are sanctioned by the authority of the Divine Law. Listen to the Blessed Gregory [I] in his letter to the Emperor Phocas, where among other things he says: 'Each should have security in possession of his own property and be able to enjoy without fear what he has acquired honestly'. Why do we say all this, Saxons? For is it not on the basis of these laws that King Henry holds his kingship? Can there be, among all mortal men on this earth, any so ignorant, stupid or improvident, so lacking in reason and sense, as to think or believe that an action forbidden by legal sanction against a private individual is lawful against so great a king; or that the prudent intelligence of the lawgiver was so lacking in reason as to wish to exclude the king, his heirs and successors from the benefits of the law? ...

... Who does not stand appalled at the folly of one who, without the law and contrary to law, declares that emperors and kings cannot have their sons as heirs to their kingship? In ancient times the consuls could not do so, but kings and emperors have always had this right. ... See therefore, Saxons, is it not clearly affirmed that it is neither within your power, nor that of the monk Hildebrand, to make decisions on the kingship which Heaven has granted to Henry? For no one can doubt that kingships are in the gift of the Will of God.

But to continue. Who does not know that the Emperor Constantine in his will divided the kingship among his sons? And Gratian, who made Theodosius his colleague in the kingship, would he not have been able to make a son his heir, if he had had one? But, passing over the ancients, let us come to our own people. We read that Charlemagne was given the government of the kingdom for the defence of the Roman Church and of all Italy, whose enemies he expelled, and at his death left the kingship peaceably to his son. The latter, before his death, divided the kingship among his three sons, and since this division led to some unbrotherly strife among them, the Pope sought through his legates to re-establish peace. This shows how the Apostolic See should always be the promoter of peace, not of war. Some years later, again to defend Italy, the imperial power was assigned to Otto. In the Histories of him is found; 'at the time when the most pious king Otto [I] was anointed as emperor in Rome, as the Lord Pope John , the Universal Pope, sat in synod', etc. To him, by Divine concession, there succeeded his son, and then his grandson. When fatal destiny brought the latter to death, we know that the same imperial dignity, always by Divine dispensation, passed to the ancestors of King Henry, and then to [Henry] himself. None of the emperors has gained such honour, such glory, such praise in the defence of Italy as has King Henry and his ancestors; nobody in Italy, I may say, has ever dared openly to oppose their power or line, unless it was this monk Hildebrand, the enemy of the law, the enemy of peace, the enemy of all Christendom, with those whom he has deceitfully reared up against the majesty of the empire.

So you have heard, Saxons, that King Henry is the lawful holder of the kingship, on the basis both of the laws and of customs conformable to them.

But we know that your own prudence is not to be held wholly guilty in this respect, since you thought that it was the Apostle Peter speaking through this monk's mouth. But to appreciate and benefit from the truth, I beg you, use your intelligence. You all know clearly that this monk Hildebrand in his great arrogance summoned King Henry on several occasions to judgement before him, but I believe that your sense of justice is ignorant of the deceits and faithless cunning with which he tried to procure proofs of the charges against him; and so the monk Hildebrand, against every norm and the Divine teaching, was the author of an unprecedented falsehood, such as no bishop has ever issued in his own Church. ... Who can endure a pastor who is always searching for ways of inflicting harm on Christ's flock, to which instead he should be giving every help?

Now King Henry, with extraordinary and unprecedented humility, presents himself before him, acknowledging him as his spiritual father. In public, rumour ran, the monk Hildebrand spoke of the salvation of the king's soul, but in private, using the utmost malice and faithless cunning, he looked for ways of removing him from the kingship and bringing him and his sons to death. But, in the name of the Faith of God and St. Peter, which may you always be seen to keep intact and pure among you, consider how this monk's actions contradict the teaching of the Blessed Peter. ...

(7) What more? Does not the monk Hildebrand's hypocrisy show in every word of his dealings with the king? Who can deny that so sorrowful an affair, so disruptive of the kingdom, was the work of the intrigues of the monk Hildebrand, against whom, in Job's words, the earth howls and its furrows weep? ...

Even more. The monk Hildebrand chose himself a commander and arrayed an army - a thing forbidden by St. Peter - to invade the kingdom. He then returned to Rome, called a council and once again summoned to judgement the king whose enemy, through Hildebrand's obstinacy, was already assailing him. ... The monk Hildebrand could have Duke Rudolf and his army and all the Saxons fighting the king, but could find nobody proper to uphold the charges. ... Does it not follow then, judges, that the monk Hildebrand sentenced Henry to the loss of his kingship in defiance of all the teachings of the Holy Fathers? It is clearly shown that in the judgement against Henry he was accuser, witness and judge; something that the most holy pontiff Fabian prohibited in these words: 'Nobody should presume to be at once accuser, judge and witness'. ...

... Who, therefore, can doubt that Henry is the king whom the Apostle St. Peter commends in the words: 'For love of the Lord, be subject to all human institutions, both to the king as sovereign, and to the governors as his representatives to punish malefactors and reward the good', and again, 'Hold all in respect, love your brethren, fear God and honour the king'. [I Peter 2.13-14, 17] So judges, examine strictly this monk. Against the Apostle Peter he has condemned the man whom the Apostle himself commended. From motives of glory for himself, he has brought the whole kingdom to ruin. ... How then have the Romans sinned in respect of this monk, whom he leads not to life but to the shadows of the Styx? He has bought them and calls them true martyrs, but the ministers of Hell will not take ransom for them. ...

...Am I to keep silent on how this monk brought spiritual and physical death to duke Rudolf and his followers, by openly spurring him on to perjury and the killing of his own lord. Listen to the words of the Blessed Gregory on this question, in the letter sent to King Reccareth of the Goths, where he speaks of Zedekiah, the King of the Children of Israel, whom God threatened through the Prophet for breaking his oath taken to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon [Ezekiel 17.16] ... The punishment imposed by this pagan king should make you judges reflect on the severity of the sentence to be imposed on the breaker of an oath to a Christian king, on whom he deceitfully wages war. You should consider in your holy judgement the sentence to impose on one who through his own perverted preaching has induced men ignorant of the laws to pass from loyalty, peace and harmony to anger, hate, perjury and attempts to kill their own lord, seducing them with money from their fealty. ...

... The Apostle conforms to the Prophet in declaring that if a pastor stains himself with killing, he ought to suffer as a murderer. It is indeed written: 'If anyone who preaches the word of Christ has committed any fault within the Church, he ought not to retain his office but be expelled from the Church and spurned by all'. Who believes that this sentence can apply to anyone but the monk Hildebrand and his followers, marked by the Holy fathers as heretics to be removed from the Church? The darkness of his error cannot obscure the virtues of holy bishops or the holiness of the life of abbots and monks, whose teachings and merits are the support and stability of Holy Church.

What further charges await, judges? Was not this monk's ascent to the pontificate the cause of all this disturbance? The Christian Religion has been in confusion and grief ever since he became its guardian. Indeed, he is even more to be held in abomination by all, in that from the very outset of his wicked work he did not begin with little things but passed straight to the theft and plundering of the Church's wealth; [and] bad as was his means of acquisition, still worse was the manner of his spending. ... Does not the monk Hildebrand also show himself brutish, who holds that the edification of souls - what the Holy Fathers did by preaching the Word - is effected by killing with the sword?

(8) It is the laws themselves, you Saxons, which call you, along with your master, into court to render account to King Henry for the invasion of his kingdom. Listen to what is written in the eighth book of the Codex:

'Whoever, before the outcome of a judicial case, shall dare to take forceful possession of property entrusted either to the public treasury or to private persons in anticipation of judgement, shall restore all that he has taken to the person he has dispossessed, and he shall lose all his rights in them. Whoever has taken possession of these aforementioned goods shall not only restore them, but shall [also] be constrained to reimburse their value'.

What then, Saxons? Have you understood the obligation to restore the kingship which you have seized and to reimburse Henry with the value? It is [furthermore] stated in the Institutes that, 'the Lex Julia Majestatis, which has force over those who in any way act against the emperor or the state, lays down the death penalty and the damnation of the guilty man's memory after his death. ...

....Therefore, Saxons, since such severe laws bring such severe reprisals, it is best to refer all to the judge's mercy, so that King Henry, in his benevolence and pity, may mitigate the law's rigours, and of his mercy grant pardon to as many as seek it. It should not arouse wonder if men ignorant of the laws can be turned from their loyalty at the instigation of him who occupies the See from which we all received the faith. But we must be watchful and vigilant at all times and in all places - [for] we cannot indeed sleep securely alongside a snake.

The enthronement of Henry IV and Clement III, and the flight and death of Gregory VII, from a MS. of the mid twelfth-century Chronicle of Bishop Otto of Freising


On Hildebrand's Schism: For and Against Him By Bishop Guido of Ferrara [Abridged version]


In the middle of the Lent recently ended, while the Lord Pope Clement was in residence at Ravenna, I was most heavily engaged in Curial business, but when time and circumstances allowed, I engaged in some literary studies. For some unknown reason, an argument arose among the brethren over the schism which has recently broken out, associated with Hildebrand. Some condemned, but others defended it. It was debated for a long time and the argument became drawn out, until I was approached with the request that I should write a short treatise on this schism, in which I should lay out first the arguments in favour and then those against. This was seen to be essential, for the serpent was wandering abroad, gathering its strength little by little, and surreptitiously taking over many provinces. I resisted for a long time both their request and their appeal to charity in the Lord, but after quite lengthy discussion I agreed and promised to do what they asked, provided they aided me in my work with their prayers, for I knew that this task could not be done on its own and without the Lord responding to their prayers. So great a subject, and one of such difficulty, was not to be attempted lightly, for it involved a whole ocean of texts from the Sacred Scriptures, and to produce in evidence a great many theologians and to distil the excellence of their genius.

And so, not trusting in any particular merit or literary skill, but solely in the help of the Lord, I embarked on the deep arguments put forward by the two parties to this great dispute, to provide a succinct understanding of it so that those who wish either to justify or to oppose it may be ready and prepared with the arguments on either side.

At the outset my reader can find the list of chapters for his careful attention, and will see that while in the first part of this work the theme is one of proof, in the second, under the same headings, comes rebuttal. But having laid out and expounded all the necessary material as ably as I can, I shall then put forward my own thoughts, which do not conform to those of either of the two sides.

The Chapters

1. That Hildebrand was canonically elected to the papacy.

2. That he lived a moral life and was orthodox in his teaching.

3. On the excommunication that he imposed on King Henry.

4. On the causes of the excommunication.

5. That this excommunication was not frivolously done, but properly.

6. That emperors had been similarly excommunicated by other popes, and that excommunication is possible in one's absence.

7. On the question of Rudolf as king.

8. That his allowing the Germans to go to war against King Henry was not reprehensible since he wished to force him to good by applying pressure.

9. On his absolving the Germans of the fealty that they owed to King Henry.

10. Of the persecution he promoted against unchaste, simoniacal and perjured priests, deacons and bishops.

11. That plunder was lawfully taken from laymen.

12. That his prosecution of schismatics was legal.

13. Why he had a duty to insult them.

14. That it was not proper for him to remain silent over guilty clerics and laymen.

15. That he was not to be held to account for the bloodshed, the wars, the disasters and all the other things of this kind which befell the Germans.

16. That it was justifiable for him to resist his opponents.

17. The reasons for his order that sacraments were not to be received from excommunicates and schismatics.

18. Why he was unwilling to be in communion with them, and why he removed others from communion with them.

19. That no prince has the power to appoint or invest with any church.

20. The same.

Book One

(1) There are those who discredit and lay charges against Hildebrand's succession. But when the matter is carefully examined, everything they allege is seen to be false, being asserted imprudently rather than prudently. For, as I have learned from most religious men and have heard from report brought to me, when Alexander of blessed memory had died but was not yet buried, the clergy, people and entire Senate gathered together, and unanimously and with one accord took hold of Hildebrand by force, as being their pre-eminent desire, and from a thousand directions acclaimed him. He was chosen by the clergy, sought out by the people, and approved by the votes of all the bishops and priests. So we could say of him what Cyprian said of Cornelius, that when Alexander's place, the See of Peter, was vacant, he was made bishop by God, by the judgement of Christ and by the witness of nearly all, or indeed more truthfully virtually all of the clergy by the people there present, by the assembly of good and senior priests, and nobody else was made before him. This is the rule laid down by the Canons for the appointment of a bishop - this the Fathers decreed, this the Ancients confirmed. How can one say that he was not lawfully elevated, being appointed by so correct a manner of selection? I see nothing harmful in this, for he was called to govern the Roman Church by the Lord, like Aaron. It was by Christ's grace and not by bribery as some declare.

(2) The quality of his life and the soundness of his doctrine may be easily seen. As soon as he was consecrated bishop, he showed himself to be a faithful administrator of the ecclesiastical patrimony, provident in his arrangements for the safe-keeping of towns, villages and castles, giving instructions for the preservation of present holdings, and working for the recovery of what had been forcibly taken. He raised a militia force, not as some maintain out of vainglory, but for the extension of the Roman Church, which had suffered from the Normans' force and on other fronts had been reduced almost to nothing. By this means all those who had harmed her, or taken her property, were filled with fear. The neighbouring peoples and communities observed the Lord Hildebrand's militia with awe; it drove away enemies by daily operations, fighting and marching, in a matter not of a few years, I may say, but of a few months; it recovered castles and towns; it put down rebels, and nobody could be found so bold or so rash as not to fear to touch St. Peter's property.

He was a defender of widows and dependants, a support of orphans, a champion of the poor. All the available wealth he had he lavished on the needy, the feeble and the unhappy. He was constant in fasts and spent his time in prayer. He gave himself to his studies, and made of his person a Temple of Christ. He overcame sleep when he wanted it, cheerfully endured hunger even when there was plenty of excellent food. He preferred to go thirsty and endure the discomfort, even when others were drinking at his table. Others may shun the company of men, avoid contact with women, keep away from the city crowds, go out into the unfrequented places, seek out the trackless and wild parts, live in the rocky caves of the mountains, feed on herbs and drink from springs, [and] live among the wild beasts. But he of necessity adopted a regime of greater merit, being held even by the people of this world, the children of darkness, to be most noble for his singular merits and manner of life. When all were occupied with secular business and the desires and ambitions of the world, he transcended in his mind all virtue, holding this life to be a pilgrimage not a homeland. ....

(3) Then King Henry, who was at that time an adolescent, chose counsellors from those of his own age and, contrary to royal custom, rejected the counsel of the nobles and magnates. Gravity of manner always wins greater praise in a king; a king should be consistent, strong, strict and magnanimous - he should do good and be liberal. But he ignored older and serious-minded persons and gave his favour to the flippant and the young - both in years and feelings. So he began to neglect religion, to enjoy material things and everything transitory, to cultivate luxury and, instead of holding to his marriage, took as many ladies as he could get. He very much enjoyed the company of young men, especially handsome ones, but whether this reflected vice, as some have pretended, there is insufficient evidence to say. What however was clear was that he neglected his wife and strayed into various lecherous desires, as the number of his illegitimate children shows.

These affairs were reported to Hildebrand, backed up by many letters and proofs, and that Christian soul was for long uncertain what to do. To pretend to know nothing was dangerous; it was impossible to reprove the king privately, while to do so openly was unprecedented. He foresaw grave dangers to the Christian Faith if money were to be considered more important than grace, and gold than merit. He realised that to reprove the king would bring disaster to all. [But] how could the king be the punisher of crime, the avenger of wrong-doing, if he himself was a follower of the same errors? By what arrangement could he preserve the laws for others, who in himself was destroying the rule of equity? How could he be the minister of justice who was making himself the author and master of wickedness? ... But since 'there is no fear in love, and perfect love casts out all fear' [I John 4.18], he first summoned the king with kindly and gentle warnings, gave him instances and instructed him with arguments from the Scriptures; he also put fear into the king's accessories by his exhortations that they should not encourage their lord in such acts. He sent frequent legations, he issued letters and orders for him to change his life for the better and to remember that he was king and governor of his people for the purpose of strengthening them, not of pulling them down, and that it was far better to be known as a king who subdued the passions of the soul than as one who dominated his people. He should wipe out the heresy of simony within his empire. It was not for this that he had been consecrated to royal power by Almighty God. The pope also suspended from their episcopal office those bishops of Lombardy who were engaged in simony, ordering them to appear before the Apostolic See, that they should either accept his judgement or be sentenced and condemned. But this king was not only unwilling to accept these counsels of salvation, but indeed added to his wickedness with even more iniquities. When he realised that he had been summoned by papal letters, he became uneasy that his empire and wealth would be diminished; and so he put his mind to overthrowing Hildebrand, and investigated how this could be achieved. In order to avoid any possibility that he might be excommunicated [himself], he summoned all the bishops of Gaul and Lombardy to an assembly, with orders to excommunicate the pope. ...

(6) ... 'Where', they say is it to be read or heard of, in what books, recorded in what histories, that any bishop or pope condemned any emperor? Let them accept this reply to their objections and stand amazed, if they will, at these instances of former times. Sixtus, Bishop of the Roman See, struck Valentinian and Honorius with the sword of excommunication and removed them from the imperial dignity. What then? Is it therefore no longer lawful for the Roman Church, in these modern times when the glory of Christianity has been spread so wide, to do what was valid in earlier and tempestuous days? Or is the power of binding and loosing sometimes to be accepted and sometimes rejected? May this never cross Christian minds! ... And it can be shown that this was done not only by Sixtus, for it is read that in more recent times Pope Stephen II did the same. For he excommunicated King Desiderius of the Lombards, who for a long time had violently oppressed the Roman Church, and had received and rejected many warnings. He first excommunicated him, and then went openly to Gaul, to Charles, with his complaints at his wrong-doings. He led Charles and the army that the latter had gathered to Rome, deposed Desiderius from the royal office and appointed Charles as Emperor. ... If the Roman pontiffs whom we mentioned above could do this, and not only they but others, bishops of lesser function, were assured of the power to depose so many emperors and kings from the royal dignity and imperial glory, for various temporal causes, then let them say who wish to, why Hildebrand could not with that same papal authority excommunicate King Henry and suspend him from the imperial office.

(7) We think that the above arguments and examples should satisfy those who were outraged at the king's excommunication, and so we shall now continue to the other points made against Hildebrand. It is said: 'Who can accept calmly that unprecedented deed, Duke Rudolf's seizure of the kingdom from his lord, and his breaking of so many oaths in his ambition for the empire? If Hildebrand had done nothing else, he should be reprehensible for this alone, for giving to posterity so fatal and wicked a presumption of authority; for this alone he ought by law to be condemned. Until now warriors have been held to their sworn loyalty; they have reacted to and avenged offences against their lords; they have defended their power and their honours; they have stood watch for their safe-keeping, and they have held it as the equivalent of sacrilege for anyone to assail their status. Now things are turned round and warriors are arming against their lords, sons are rebelling against parents, subjects are rising against kings, right and wrong are confused, the sacred binding power of oaths is outraged, the laws of mankind are revoked, the language of dutiful conduct has disappeared, and all consider themselves entitled to defraud and deceive, to betray and to perjure. Who will not think this an example to follow when they see the Apostolic See bestow its approval?' ...

But let them listen with patience to the arguments that he himself puts forward for his case, not false arguments but sound ones which he expounded to many in his presence, myself included. It was during the holding of a synod that mention of Rudolf's election was made. Hildebrand then explained to some there the deposition of the king and how reasonable it had been. Then, as though to justify himself, as if he knew the sort of things with which they would charge him, he brought Heaven and earth to witness that he had never indicated any assent to this election, and had not been aware of it. But let us suppose that he erred, either in lying or in being deceived. If this were so, could he not be excused, for if once Henry had been lawfully condemned and deposed by the authority of Peter, I do not see what obligation Rudolf had towards him, nor how he could be accused of stealing his kingship. ...

(8) Let us continue, as the Lord gives us help, to examine the rest of their objections. In order to silence us on other matters, they say: 'But who would excuse him for stirring up the Germans to war, or for giving them permission to fight Henry and (something forbidden to churchmen) let loose so great a harassment of that king. It is the duty of churchmen not to make war, to endure equably the hostility of others, and not to engage in vendettas. Nowhere do we read of Jesus or any of the saints doing any of these things. If we cannot give a satisfactory answer, let our lords the Fathers make answer to them. ...

[A long discussion follows, drawn largely from St. Augustine's Against the Donatists]

(10) ... Those who debate such matters usually put forward this. What need was there for him to set laymen against clerics who were simoniacs or were guilty of other crimes? Why did he have them arrested? Why did he deprive them of their faculties? Why did he have them killed? Why did he have so many other things done to them, things alien not just to Christians but to pagans, heathens and barbarians? It would have been enough if he had challenged sinners in the manner of his predecessors, following the norms established by the Apostles and the holy Gospels; if he had summoned them privately; if he had brought cases to open court, [and then] if they did not stand corrected treat them like pagans and publicans. But alas, to such ignominy has the priestly state fallen that (and we ourselves were present) a certain priest of Cremona, caught in the act of adultery, was dragged away from the woman with whom he was found, and made to go round the circuit of the city, like a horse with his harlot on his shoulders, with everyone following and pouring out of the city by every gate like a mass migration, whipping the priest as he carried her and all cheering. With things like this, who needs more to amaze him? Who would not grieve at so great a shame to the clerical state, the like of which is beyond record? These things are shocking, truly unheard of in previous generations. But, as I have learned from trustworthy men, who have had long discussions with him on such matters, he would say that he had never ordered such heavy cruelties to be inflicted on priests. It greatly grieved him to hear of them, that the ignorant mob should be stirred to such new infamies, and he was most unhappy that such insults, and [indeed] murder, chaining, impaling and imprisonment should be inflicted on the priesthood by laymen. ...

(15) There remains now that matter, which is seen to be the greatest and most important, which all are accustomed to respond to with the words: 'Whoever among the Christians stirred up such wars and sent so many men to their deaths?' Twice, three times, indeed many times, war has broken out between the Saxons and the king, in which at least four or eight thousand men have been killed. Every district abounds with heaps of corpses and with blood. The river is choked with the multitude of the slain and overflows its course into the fields, its flood seeming ever greater because of the slain. The earth stands stunned and shocked at this unprecedented state of affairs, and grieves that so many of its natives lie there, by no natural end but killed by the sword. What will be said in judgement when the blood of the slain cries out against him, 'avenge, O Lord, our blood'. ...

(20)We must continue what we have begun. As we have said, having passed sentence on Hildebrand, and so far as is possible deposed him from the papacy, the king and all the bishops of his party, with far less certainty, replaced him. They were afraid of his shrewdness, wary of his counsels, amazed at his great mental activity, and what is normally a matter of greatest concern to mortal men, they noticed that he had a considerable quantity of money. ...

But before we complete our promise to the brethren, we may add something concerning his death, which was not part of our original intention and may seem removed from our brief. But of his death every praise is sung, and a beginning without an end displeases everyone, being [like] a body without feet.

[Guido describes the rescue of Gregory by Robert Guiscard's Norman army in 1084]

... But then fighting broke out with the Romans, and he [Robert] burned a great part of the City and killed many of the citizens. Churches were torn down, and the women, both married and single, were violently abused before being taken, hands bound behind their backs, off to the tents. These shameful events so offended the Romans that they were filled with a great hatred towards Hildebrand, and all their sympathy turned towards King Henry ...

.... Robert ordered a return to Salerno, taking Hildebrand with him. When they had been at Salerno for some time, and while the duke was occupied with other matters, Hildebrand made an effort to return to Rome, wishing with the aid of Robert and his great army to subdue the Romans. But, amid all the paraphernalia of war, he was struck down by illness and brought to the point of death. In his last moments he proposed the Abbot of Montecassino as his successor to the papacy, and then he died. When the great duke heard of his death, he summoned the archbishop of the city, the clergy and the people, who held the vigils and the offices duly appointed, and then the body was buried in the newly-constructed basilica of St. Matthew the Apostle, with requiems properly celebrated for him. ...

Preface to Part Two

In the first part of this work, as the Lord inspired us, the arguments were laid out as we promised, and many texts cited, which support Hildebrand's case. I recall my promise in the preface that in the first part I would defend him and put forward what is stated as the sure arguments on his behalf. If I have not done this as well as I would have wished, I have at least done it to the best of my ability. ... But now it is time for us, beyond any chance of rebuttal, and with texts from the most authoritative writers, to condemn the error which has spread far and wide through many provinces. Readers who pick this up should know that we are setting it forth in the form of a dialogue between two individuals, one making a statement and the other replying to it - this will make it more useful to the audience, as by this method of presentation the truth will be more readily weighed out. So whenever the letter P. comes it stands for Propounder, and the letter R. for Replier.

The Chapter Headings

[1-6 mutilated]

7. That the election or establishment of Rudolf as king was done against God and Man.

8. That he should not have set the Germans against their king to fight and harass him.

9. That he should not have absolved the Germans from the bond of their oath, and that he should not have allowed the betrayal of their lord by his vassals by reason of perjury.

10. That one should correct and persuade schismatics and adulterers, and not persecute them.

11. That the Lord Pope Clement and his election are to be upheld.

12. That the whole German war, its slaughter and bloodshed [was Hildebrand's fault?]

[In fact, this part of the work is not divided into chapters - G.A.L.]

The Beginning of Book Two

P. For me nothing is or will be more certain than that Hildebrand legally succeeded Alexander, and that this can be shown by such clear evidence as will leave no one with the slightest scruple. If there is anything that can be said against his election, to show it somehow disreputable, it should not be difficult to demonstrate it.

R. There are two factors in his election which come together, and both of these are argued by some with a certain amount of justification. For they say that, 'Nicholas [II] , Bishop of the Roman See, prompted by great urgency, held a synod of many bishops, 123 of them, and in their company decreed and ordained as a sound measure, that whoever should aspire to the papal dignity, or consented freely, or gave aid to such a one, without the consent of the Christian prince, that is the Emperor Henry and his sucessors, should be excommunicated.

This was decreed because all the Roman nobles, on the death of every Bishop of Rome, would each put forward their own individual pope, for such is the traditional greed of the Romans and also the levity of their minds, so that at times the Roman Church might have four of five bishops. From this there arose many disputes, murders, fights, disturbances and squabbles - each [noble], supported by a horde of knights and with the help of his relatives, was able to despoil the Roman Church. The patrimony of the Roman Church was split up into countless sections, and in the final result the one who paid out the largest sum of money to the Romans was held to be the best and most worthy pope. He would be acclaimed within the walls while the rest were banished. So the Throne of Peter was made the playground of Simon, and what was formerly an act of grace became a cash transaction.

At last, by the will of God, Bishop Gerard of Florence, a Burgundian by birth, was promoted to the papacy by universal desire and consent, and he was confirmed by all the clergy and the cardinals under the style of Nicholas. He was greatly upset by the wretched state of the Roman Church, and he feared the danger arising from this heresy of simony; and he wished with the strength of God to eradicate this perverted custom. So he summoned a synod, at which he confirmed everything as above under penalty of excommunication. We have in Rome read a copy of this decree, with the names of all the bishops who were present for that business and all subscribed to it. But the rules laid down by this decree were neglected and concern for excommunication put to one side, for the the king's approval was not sought when Hildebrand conceived the idea of taking the papacy; and so he incurred for himself and his accomplices the bond of excommunication. That is why they disallow, challenge and condemn his election, and call it less an election than a rejection. Either that synodical constitution of Pope Nicholas is to be held invalid, which it would be wrong to believe since the Roman See has never decreed anything invalid, nor (as God is its guide) has it ever made an unworthy ruling. Or - if it is valid, and it is and always will be lawful (saving only the Faith) for the Roman See to establish new procedures - if it is valid, then it must be accepted that Hildebrand was improperly chosen and so has incurred the risk of being cursed. ...

... Finally, if you maintain that the consent of the king is an impediment to the election of a pontiff, what obstacle did the approval of [the Emperor] Maurice impose on the election of Gregory [I] ? We can read in that pope's own writings that when he heard of Gregory's election by the clergy and people, he rejoiced greatly since Gregory was godfather to his son, and issued a decree ordering his consecration. O, if only the election of Hildebrand had received the approval of King Henry! None of these violent wars would have arisen and the Christian religion would have preserved its peace.

P. I accept that one of the two aspects of the criticism of his election is proven. Expound now the second!

R. We said that there were two aspects, one assured, the other less so. Those who were present bear witness that, on the night following Alexander's death, he took out of the treasury all his money, which he poured out on the Romans in great quantity. He made them his servants so that, before Alexander was even buried, he could be elected as though by an upsurge of the whole people. And this was done. In the morning, with Alexander's body still warm and unburied, the people gathered together as had been pre-arranged and planned during the night. Hildebrand was seized, was grabbed, was constrained, and was chosen. If this was by his contriving, then it was faulty. If it was against his will, then there are no grounds for condemnation. But I hold the matter to be so uncertain that I can make no judgement at all.

P. Let us put his election aside, for you have said enough about that. What I want to know is whether he has been deprived of the papacy, as many think? For there is a dictum, 'a judge cannot be judged by anyone, nor will he be judged by anyone. If he is the pope he must pass sentence on himself'.

R. The answer to this is easy. If any faith is to be placed in Scripture, which is to be reverenced, it can be shown by clear evidence that he has been deprived of the papacy. Let us suppose that he was [rightly] pope, and then was not. For as Pope Simplicius wrote, 'whoever abuses the power granted to him deserves to lose his prerogative', as the Holy Gregory [also] declares, 'whoever exercises it, not for the benefit of his subordinates, but for his own gratification' [deserves to lose it]. This man has abused the power granted to him, has exercised it for his own gratification and not for the benefit of his subordinates.

P. I would like you to prove to me what you put forward. In what did the abuse of the power given to him lie? When this is established, then it is also established that he was not pope or has been deposed.

R. If he lived and promoted a way of life contrary to the rule of the Holy Fathers; if he did not exercise the papacy with the proper moderation; if he used the power of binding and lossing without justice, but only followed his own will; then he abused the power given to him. All these things took place.

P. Take your points slowly one by one.

R. First then, it is proven that his manner of life was contrary to the rule of the Holy Fathers. That he also promoted this, we shall show in the proper place. From a boy he followed secular business and paid attention to military affairs. He involved himself in many killings. He polluted himself with sacrilege. He tied himself up with perjuries. In addition, he set sons in arms against their parents, set vassals against kings, aroused servants against their masters, and throughout the world destroyed the peace of the Church. ...

... That he followed secular business and paid attention to military affairs is proved by the testimony of all the Romans who were his contemporaries. Now when he was called young, he was called a monk. Yet he amassed for himself a great quantity of money, and under the pretence of guarding and freeing the Roman Church, he acquired clients and (in the manner of the Romans of Antiquity) he paid out donatives to individual soldiers.

P. Which of the sacred writers would think it reprehensible for him to have followed such business for the sake of liberating the Roman Church?

R. [Cites St. Jerome] ... As the Church is diminished in earthly things, so in proportion it gains in spiritual ones. Again, Pope John [VIII] wrote to the Empress Engelberga, excusing a Bishop of Rieti from military service: 'Nobody may be compelled or intimidated beyond the sphere of his profession to perform secular service. The defence of the land and military matters belong to the lay power'. Again Jerome: 'If the corrupting use of iron weapons is never permitted on behalf of the Faith by which the Church lives, how much more is it forbidden to make use of armoured battle lines on behalf of fleeting earthly things. In this respect even Peter, who personifies the Church, was forbidden to strike and told to put his sword back in its sheath, after he had cut off a man's ear. [John 18.10-11]. ...

P. I see that, and am perfectly satisfied that he should not have concerned himself in military matters, or engaged in warlike operations, even for the liberation or defence of the Church's property. But continue with the other things which you put forward, that he involved himself in many killings, that he polluted himself by sacrilege, and that he involved himself in perjury.

R. First of all, answer me this. Is it right to call a man a murderer or perjurer, who through his actions induces others to commit murder or perjury, or even orders the committing of these crimes?

P. This is what the sacred Scriptures would seem to imply, and the evidence of all the eloquent theologians seems to concur. ... It is agreed then that he can be called a murderer or a perjuror who is responsible for others committing murder or perjury. But we wish to know instances of his responsibility in this, and the opinions of the writers of sacred matters over this. It should not be too difficult to explain.

R. He was guilty on all these counts. [He was guilty] in that he gave orders for Rudolf to be set up as king against his own lord, despite the many oaths of loyalty that bound him. He absolved all the other German magnates from their oaths of loyalty owed to King Henry, and roused them, by letters and by frequent legations, to go to war with him. In this he truly polluted himself with sacrilege, since he sent them the money which [St.] Peter's devotees had given to the Church, to stir them up to even greater hatred....

P. The sacrilege charge is clear, in that to use the Church's property, which is meant for the poor, on other things is to be called sacrilege. For this reason we can rightly call him sacrilegious, in that he sent the Church's money, provided by devotees, to the German magnates. But I would like you to tell whether the establishment of Rudolf as king, which you say was done at his orders, was a matter of blame, and whether he is to be held responsible for the Germans' war, which again he ordered.

R. [Cites St. Ambrose here]

P. There is no remaining doubt, if we examine this text of the Blessed Ambrose, that we can declare the creation of Rudolf as king is to be condemned, and that we would even judge that the despatch of warriors to war with their own lord, Henry, was blameworthy. A man should not attack his lord in armed conflict, but should support him. But if, as Hildebrand declares, he neither ordered nor desired this war, but only wished to remove from power a king who was misusing it and transfer it to another, is it not like Pilate, who did not order Christ's death, although the latter was killed before his eyes? What can be said against that?

R. I do not think that I need to reply to such inept justificiations, but simply give this response from Father Augustine [Tractate on St. John's Gospel, c. 114]:

'Why have you been so hard of heart, you false Israelites? Have you lost all sense of evil, to hold that His blood will not be upon you, you who handed him over to others for His death? Was Pilate, to whom he was handed for killing, going to kill Him with his own hands? If you did not wish Him to be killed, if you did not trap Him. if you did not buy His betrayal for money, if you did not arrest Him, bind Him, lead Him forth, if you did not Hold him for killing and demand this with your cries, [then] you can boast that he was not killed by you'.

Who can fairly say to Hildebrand and his accomplices: 'If you did not send a crown to Rudolf, if you did not by letters and legates promote war, if you did not plot against him, if you did not arm vassals against their lord, if you did not send Roman money there, if you took no counsel with the unrighteous, if you did none of these, then you may boast that these deaths were not due to you. ...

P. ... Hildebrand has rightly incurred the guilt of these perjurors, and of the killings as well as the perjuries. Therefore, as the arguments which you brought out above show that he lived contrary to the rules of the Fathers, do not delay the proof of the other two charges that you brought with the first; namely that he did not exercise the papacy with proper moderation and that his teaching was contrary to the rule of the holy Fathers, and (the third) that in his exercise of the power of binding and loosing he did not follow justice but his own will.

R. ... He did not exercise the papacy which he held with proper moderation, for he was exceedingly rough and ferocious towards his opponents, employing the savagery of some wild beast. In correcting faults he was immoderate, while at the same time showing some vicious people a favour beyond measure. I could call to mind many who were chained and shut in prison, locked there in irons, so that, however they turned, the irons dug into their sides. But report says that he went even further. That man Gregory of Vercelli, one of the most infamous on the whole earth, was treated as though he was someone sent from Heaven. He also held Udalric of Padua, a very sewer of viciousness, in great esteem.

P. You have shown well enough that he did not exercise the papacy he held with moderation. But I would now like proof of what next follows in our debate, that his teaching was contrary to the rule of the Holy Fathers.

R. He taught contrary to the Fathers of the the New Testament when he gave orders that the sacraments of schismatics and unworthy ministers were not to be received, but rather spat out; and that the consecrations of excommunicates, whether of oil or of the Eucharist, or in the ordinations that they made by the laying on of hands, were invalid and ought not to be termed consecrations. ..[A lengthy discussion of the views of St. Augustine on this topic follows].

Both separation from the Church by sacrilege of schism and celebrating when banned from the Church's communion are unlawful and not well done. But to each and to both, the sacrament, which is to be reverenced, has its saving effects for the unity and community of the Church.

[The argument then goes on to consider whether Henry IV's excommunication can be considered valid]

R. The procedure for issuing an excommunication is as follows. Whoever, as it is alleged, shall have done this or that shall be summoned, once, twice, three times; having been summoned there shall be a debate, and before sentence of excommunication shall be issued against them, they shall be convicted of their offence, either by the evidence or by their own confession. We have seen and heard that none of these procedures were observed in the case of King Henry. ... Father Augustine says ... 'The Apostle did not wish for man to be judged by man on the basis of suspicion [Romans 2.1], and even by some extraordinary and assumed right, but rather by the Law of God in accordance with the procedure of the Church'. ...

P. It follows from this that in so binding King Henry he was following not the path of justice but his own self-will. ... These sound arguments have removed any remaining doubts in my mind. But I greatly and earnestly desire to know whether it is possible to counter them when they say; 'It is no outrage of the Lord's precepts if we are compelled to fall back on force when we cannot call a man back from his wickedness and are unable to correct him'. It was by this argument that he used force and any other means available to restrain the king. Since his warnings were insufficient to check the king, he mobilised the Germans in war against him. But I would like you to show with sure arguments whether this reasoning is just.

R. It is not my own arguments that I adduce, but those of the Fathers who rebut all such fatuities. ... Gregory of Nazianzen says: 'It is not proper to use force or compulsion in constraining people - one should persuade them by argument and the example of your living. Everyone who puts pressure on the unwilling is seen as acting with tyranny'. ...

P. If we wish to consider the foregoing arguments carefully, and turn over everything above [in our minds] with the most diligent of scrutinies, we must in the end come to the conclusion that Hildebrand did pollute himself with murder, that he is guilty of sacrilege, and that he has incurred responsibility for many perjurors. It therefore seems to be time to consider the election of Guibert, on which there is much doubt. You must discuss this and defend it with whatever arguments you can. For his opponents reproach him as follows: 'If Hildebrand held the papacy, and the Apostolic See was not therefore vacant, how could this man be imposed over Hildebrand's head? He is nobody's successor, but has made a wholly new start.

R. I know that they put forward such things and use whatever arguments they can to disparage the papacy of Clement. But we are used to refuting their feeble point and to supporting Clement's election. Let us be silent on everything proved above, that he deposed himself from the papacy, in that he polluted himself with murder, he stained himself with sacrilege, and he incurred responsibility for many perjurors. [He cites precedents for the replacement of one pope by another]. ...

But we do not quote this to imply that the Lord Clement had an unlawful beginning; for Hildebrand did not at that time hold the office and place of pope. ... [God] has given us in the Lord Clement a most worthy man, even if there might perhaps have been something irregular in his assumption of office. His virtue and merit has in the outcome shone out, even if at the outset there might have seemed something blameworthy. How often is it to be read in the history of the Roman Pontiffs that there were two popes at the same time, in contention, and that great numbers of the clergy and people adhered to each, and that he alone prevailed whom the Roman emperors decided to confirm. ...

... [Furthermore] It has been seen to be necessary that when imperial and royal rights have once been handed over to the Church, that they should frequently be confirmed through investiture by kings or emperors, since it is not possible for a perpetual tenture to be based on a grant by a single, individual, king or emperor. ...

P. Suppose someone says, that we moderns may not change what was sanctioned in Antiquity, and that the decrees of our ancestors should prevail over those of the present day?

R. Father Augustine rejects this false allegation in his book Against the Donatists, declaring that the later councils have greater weight than the earlier. Councils, he says, which have been held in individual regions or provinces, do by general agreement and without argument yield to the plenary councils which represent the whole Christian world; and of these, the older may be emended by the later. ... The argument of Gelasius and others of our predecessors, that appointments to churches were not to be made by emperors or kings, as well as the argument of Ambrose, are therefore deservedly open to change for the better by those who come later, so that what our predecessors have been seen to forbid my be allowed by later generations when the need and advantage of the Church demands. So indeed a council held in Rome by Pope Nicholas [II] , and attended by one hundred and eight bishops, unanimously laid down that henceforth no Bishop of Rome should be enthroned without the consent of the Christian prince holding the government of the kingdom at the time. For what remained concealed in earlier times, God Himself has willed to be revealed, so that what was formerly enclosed is now in the open, so that all may know of it. ...

[Royal powers over the Church are now discussed]

... Those who say that appointments to bishoprics belong to the clergy should deign to consider that Moses was not a priest, yet the Lord placed him over the people of Israel and conferred such grace on him that it was through him that He gave the Law, through him that he gave orders for priests to be appointed, through him that He ordered tabernacles to be set up ... If all these things were granted to him who exercised no sacred function, how can it seem unfitting for emperors and kings to make appointments to bishoprics, when they themselves have received an anointing greater and in some respects more worthy even than that of bishops? For this reason they should not be counted among the laity, but rather, by reason of their anointing, be considered the deputies of the Lord.

With the help of God, I have gone through everything that I put forward. It only remains for me to fulfil the promise that I made at the outset, that after explaining the two sides as understood by myself, I would set out how I see the matter between the two parties. There are two issues which prove the condemnation of Hildebrand to be correct. [First] he established Rudolf as king and failed to prevent war among the Germans, in which the blood of eight thousand men was shed. In this he incurred the guilt of perjury, in that he made the Germans violate the oaths - religious sacraments - by which they were bound. [Secondly] he is a schismatic in that he taught that the sacraments of unworthy ministers and excommunicates were polluting, and ordered that they should not be received, or indeed that they should not be called sacraments at all. In this he entirely contradicted the rules of the Holy Fathers.

I have composed this for your, venerable father, as you instructed me, in which, in the first book I put the case for Hildebrand, and in the second I extensively discussed the case against him. I did not presume to deny your instructions in anything, but at the same time I am sure that my work will prove valuable to anyone who wishes to read it.

Text encoded by The Leeds Electronic Text Centre   January 2001