Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
340
CHURCH HISTORY

Mainz in 856) was in the range of his knowledge undoubtedly Alcuin’s superior. He was the first learned theologian produced by Germany. His disciple, Abbot Walafrid Strabo of Reichenau (d. 849), was the author of the Glossa Ordinaria, a work which formed the foundation of biblical exposition throughout the middle ages. France was still more richly provided with theologians in the 9th century: her most prominent names are Hincmar, archbishop of Reims (d. 882), Bishop Prudentius of Troyes (d. 861), the monks Servatus Lupus (d. 862), Radbert Paschasius (d. circa 860), and Ratramnus (d. after 868); and the last theologian who came into France from abroad, Johannes Scotus Erigena (d. circa 880). The theological method of all these was merely that of restatement. But the controversy about predestination, which, in the 9th century, Hincmar and Hrabanus fought out with the monk Gottschalk of Fulda, as well as the discussions that arose from the definition of the doctrine of transubstantiation of Radbert, enable us to gauge the intellectual energy with which theological problems were once more being handled.

Charlemagne followed his father’s policy in carrying out his ecclesiastical measures in close association with the bishops of Rome. He renewed the donation of Pippin, and as Patrician he took Rome under his protection. From Pope Adrian I. he received the Dionyso-Hadriana, the Roman collection of material bearing on the ancient ecclesiastical law. But the Teutonic elements maintained their place in the law of the Frankish Church; and this was not altered by the fact that, since Christmas 800, the king of the Franks and Lombards had borne the title of Roman emperor. On the contrary, Rome itself was now for the first time affected by the predominance of the new empire; for Charlemagne converted the patriciate into effective sovereignty, and the successor of St Peter became the chief metropolitan of the Frankish empire.

There were, indeed, forces tending in the contrary direction; and these were present in the Frankish empire. Evidence of this is given by the canon law forgeries of the 9th century: the capitula of Angelram, the Capitularies of Benedictus Levita (see Capitulary), and the great collection of the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals. For the moment, however, this party met with no success. Of more importance was the fact that at Rome the old conditions, the old claims, and the old law were unforgotten. Developing the ideas of Leo I., Gelasius I. and Gregory the Great, Nicholas I. (858–867) drew a picture of the divine right and unlimited power of the bishop of Rome, which anticipated all that the greatest of his successors were, centuries later, actually to effect. The time had not, however, yet come for the establishment of the papal world-dominion. For, while the power of Charlemagne’s successors was decaying, the papacy itself became involved in the confusion of the party strife of Italy and of the city of Rome, and was plunged in consequence into such an abyss of degradation (the so-called Pornocracy), that it was in danger of forfeiting every shred of its moral authority over Christendom.

(b) Central Period of the Middle Ages. Dominance of the Roman Spirit in the Church.—After the accession of the House of Saxony (919), the national ecclesiastical system, founded upon the principles of Carolingian law, developed in Germany with fresh energy. The union in 962 by Otto I. of the revived Empire with the German kingship brought the latter into uninterrupted contact with the papacy. The revelation of the antagonism between the German conception of ecclesiastical affairs and Roman views of ecclesiastical law was sooner or later inevitable. This was most obvious in the matter of appointment to bishoprics. At Rome canonical election was alone regarded as lawful; in Germany, on the other hand, developments since the time of Charlemagne had led to the actual appointment of bishops being in the hands of the king, although the form of ecclesiastical election was preserved. For the transference of a bishopric a special legal form was evolved—that of investiture, the king investing the bishop elect with the see by delivering to him the ring and pastoral staff. No one found anything objectionable in this; investiture with a bishopric was parallel with the appointment by a territorial proprietor to a patronal church.

The practice customary in Germany was finally transferred to Rome itself. The desperate position of the papacy in the 11th century obliged Henry III. to intervene. When, on the 24th of December 1046, after three rival popes had been set aside, he nominated Suidgar, bishop of Bamberg, as bishop of Rome before all the people in St Peter’s, the papacy was bestowed in the same way as a German bishopric; and what had occurred in this case was to become the rule. By procuring the transference of the patriciate from the Roman people to himself Henry assured his influence over the appointment of the popes, and accordingly also nominated the successors of Clement II.

His intervention saved the papacy. For the popes nominated by him, Leo IX. in particular, were men of high character, who exercised their office in a loftier spirit than their corrupt predecessors. They placed themselves at the head of the movement for ecclesiastical reform. But was it possible for the relation between Empire and Papacy to remain what Henry III. had made it?

The original sources of this reform movement lay far back, in the time of the Carolingians. It has been pointed out how Charlemagne pressed the monks into the service of his civilizing aims. We admire this; but it is certain that he thereby alienated monasticism from its original ideals. These, however, had far too strong a hold upon the Roman world for a reaction against the new tendency to be long avoided. This reaction began with the reform of Benedict of Aniane (d. 821), the aim of which was to bring the Benedictine order back to the principles of its original rules. In the next century the reform movement acquired a fresh centre in the Burgundian monastery of Cluny. The energy of a succession of distinguished abbots and the disciples whom they inspired succeeded in bringing about the victory of the reforming ideas in the French monasteries; once more the rule of St Benedict controlled the life of the monks. A large number of the reformed monasteries attached themselves to the congregation of Cluny, thus assuring the influence of reformed monasticism upon the Church, and securing likewise its independence of the diocesan bishops, since the abbot of Cluny was subordinate of the pope alone. (See Cluny; Benedictines and Monasticism.) At the same time that Cluny began to grow into importance, other centres of the monastic reform movement were established in Upper and Lower Lorraine; and before long the activity of the Cluniac monks made itself felt in Italy. In Germany Poppo of Stavelot (d. 1048) was a successful champion of their ideas; in England Dunstan (d. 988 as archbishop of Canterbury) worked independently, but on similar lines. Everywhere the object was the same: the supreme obligation of the Rule, the renewal of discipline, and also the economic improvement of the monasteries. The reform movement had originally no connexion with ecclesiastical politics; but that came later when the leaders turned their attention to the abuses prevalent among the clergy, to the conditions obtaining in the Church in defiance of the ecclesiastical law. “Return to the canon law!” was now the battle-cry. In the Cluniac circle was coined the principle: Canonica auctoritas Dei lex est, canon law being taken in the Pseudo-Isidorian sense. The programme of reform thus included not only the extirpation of simony and Nicolaitism, but also the freeing of the Church from the influence of the State, the recovery of her absolute control over all her possessions, the liberty of the Church and of the hierarchy.

As a result, the party of reform placed itself in opposition to those ecclesiastical conditions which had arisen since the conversion of the Teutonic peoples. It was, then, a fact pregnant with the most momentous consequences that Leo IX. attached himself to the party of reform. For, thanks to him and to the men he gathered round him (Hildebrand, Humbert and others), their principles were established in Rome, and the pope himself became the leader of ecclesiastical reform. But the carrying out of reforms led at once to dissensions with the civil power, the starting-point being the attack upon simony.

Originally, in accordance with Acts viii. 18 et seq., simony was held to be the purchase of ordination. In the 9th century the interpretation was extended to include all acquisition of