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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And finally adjourned to meet in Augsburg early in 1077


relied mainly upon two measures to accomplish this change,--the suppression of simony and the celibacy of the priesthood. He determined that the priests should belong wholly to the Church; that the human ties of wife and children should be denied to them. This measure had been proposed before, but never carried into effect, on account of the opposition of the married Bishops and priests; but the increase of the monastic orders and their greater influence at this time favored Gregory's design. Even after celibacy was proclaimed as a law of the Church, in 1074, it encountered the most violent opposition, and the law was not universally obeyed by the priests until two or three centuries later.

[Sidenote: 1075.]

In 1075, Gregory promulgated a law against simony, in which he not only prohibited the sale of all offices of the Church, but claimed that the Bishops could only receive the ring and crozier, the symbols of their authority, from the hands of the Pope. The same year, he sent messengers to Henry IV. calling upon him to enforce this law in Germany, under penalty of excommunication. The surprise and anger of the King may easily be imagined: it was a language which no Pope had ever before dared to use toward the Imperial power. Indeed, when we consider that Gregory at this time was quarrelling with the Normans, the Lombard cities and the king of France, and that a party in Rome was becoming hostile to his rule,

the act seems almost that of a madman.

Henry IV. called a Synod, which met at Worms. The Bishops, at his request, unanimously declared that Gregory VII. was deposed from the Papacy, and a message was sent to the people at Rome, ordering them to drive him from the city. But, just at that time, Gregory had put down a conspiracy of the nobles to assassinate him, by calling the people to his aid, and he was temporarily popular with the latter. He answered Henry IV. with the ban of excommunication,--which would have been harmless enough, but for the deep-seated discontent of the Germans with the king's rule. The Saxons, whom he had treated with the greatest harshness and indignity since their subjection, immediately found a pretext to throw off their allegiance: the other German States showed a cold and mistrustful temper, and their princes failed to come together when Henry called a National Diet. In the meantime the ambassadors of Gregory were busy, and the petty courts were filled with secret intrigues for dethroning the king and electing a new one.


In October, 1076, finally, a Convention of princes was held on the Rhine, near Mayence. Henry was not allowed to be present, but he sent messengers, offering to yield to their demands if they would only guard the dignity of the crown. The princes rejected all his offers, and finally adjourned to meet in Augsburg early in 1077, when the Pope was asked to be present. As soon as Henry IV. learned that Gregory had accepted the invitation, he was seized with a panic as unkingly as his former violence. Accompanied only by a small retinue, he hastened to Burgundy, crossed Mont Cenis in the dead of winter, encountering many sufferings and dangers on the way, and entered Italy with the single intention of meeting Pope Gregory and persuading him to remove the ban of the Church.

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