The Investure Controversy

  • Medieval Era
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

The ''Investiture Controversy'' was a period in early Medieval History (11th Century AD), which pitted the ''temporal'' power and authority of European Monarchies against that of The Roman Catholic Church. The affair helped to create a rift in both politics and religion which would last for 50 years and hasten the rise of Protestantism. Investiture was the process by which a Monarch would bestow both religious and temporal authority upon a specially selected Official. This person could occupy either an Administrative or Religious position within The Monarchs Government. While the installation of Religious hierarchy was then task of The Church, this activity was greatly curved after the 9th Century (allowing Kings and Queens to bestow limited authority by themselves).


It was very common for The Monarchy of a Kingdom to consolidate power within it's Family. Much of a Royal Court was made up of Family members. As such, some were selected to ''serve The Church'' and represent Family temporal needs. This lead to many Cardinals, Bishops and later even Popes being ''connected'' to many of the well known Royal Houses of Europe. And in this came the problem.


The practice of ''Simony'' was a rampant problem within The Middle Ages Church. By definition, this was the act of selling religious indulgences or activities related to The Sacraments of The Church for a monetary fee. The name come from biblical figure Simon Magus, who propositioned Jesus Christ money to learn his ''secrets'' of healing and resurrection. Religious Leaders would routinely sell indulgences (or prayers) to release deceased relatives who souls were in Purgatory or Hell. This was unethical and an abuse of power, but as a result, a massive sum of monies were raised. Such funds were used for the construction of more Churches and related. However, some funds also ended up in Royal Treasuries, especially if a particular Cardinal was a relation of a King. This cut a large portion from The Church proper – and they retaliated.


Pope Gregory VII began to regulate investiture in 1076 AD. He forbade any Monarchy (including The Holy Roman Emperor), from investing. Only those chosen by The Church would be invested – without Royal approval. This infuriated Emperor Henry IV, who began to seize lands and property belonging to The Church. Not to be undone, Pope Gregory excommunicated Henry. Henry would not yield in his actions and although pardoned, would be excommunicated 4 more time by 2 other Popes.


The Controversy would last for 50 years. At the end, The Concordat of Worms (1122 AD), would spell out that while a Ruler could have a say in investiture, The Church still held maximum control. While following Emperors and related Royalty would be able to influence some investments, by and large The Controversy caused a rift between most Royalty and The Church, especially in Germanic Countries. The rift became apparent by many Kings refusing to fund Church sponsored Military Crusades into The Middle East.