Page 1264


prelates of the Christian world. From

the sixth to the eleventh century the Pope

had claimed to be, and was, the nominal

head of Christendom; but the office was

still regarded as subordinate in all secular matters to the kings and emperors of

Europe. It remained for Gregory VII to

conceive the stupendous scheme of raising

the papal scepter above all powers and dominions of the earth. The project was no

less in its design than the establishment

of a colossal religious empire, to which all

kingdoms, peoples, and tribes should do a

willing obeisance. In carrying out this

prodigious design. Gregory conceived that

the first steps necessary were certain reforms in the Church itself. He began by

espousing the doctrine of a celibate clergy.

He resolved that every priest of Christendom should belong wholly to the Church,

and should know no tie of earthly kinship

or affection. The struggle which had been

begun in the times of Charlemagne for the

obliteration of a married priesthood was renewed in all Western Europe. In the

mean time the spread of the monastic orders, all of which were celibate, had greatly

strengthened the cause of an unmarried

priesthood. In 1074 the law of celibacy was

proclaimed as a fundamental principle of the

Roman hierarchy, and from that day forth

the power and influence of the opposing party

in the Church began to wane until it was

finally extinguished in the fourteenth century.

In the next place, Gregory

turned his attention to the crime

of simony. The proclamation

of the celibacy of the priesthood

was quickly followed by another

denouncing the sale of the offices of the Church. It was declared that henceforth the bishops, instead of being invested

with the insignia of office by

the secular princes, whom they

paid for the preferment, should

receive the ring and crosier only

from the hands of the Pope.

Without a moment's hesitation

Gregory sent orders to Henry IV to enforce the reform throughout the Empire. Henry was

at this time wearing the Imperial crown. He was Emperor

of the West-successor of Caesar and Charlemagne. To be thus

addressed by a Pope-a creature

until now made and unmade by

an Imperial edict-seemed not

only a reversal of the whole

order of human authority, but

also a flagrant insult done to

the greatest potentate in the


In the height of his indignation the Emperor called a synod at Worms, and, with

the aid of the bishops, at once proceeded

to depose the Pope from office. Word was

sent to the malcontent elements in Rome,

advising that the arrogant monk of Savona

be driven from the city; but before the

message was received Gregory, though encircled by foes and threatened with an

insurrection of the Normans in the South,

had suppressed the rising tumult, enforced

order throughout the states of the Church,

and now stood ready to measure swords

with the Emperor. Against that