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To What Extent Was the Pontificate of Gregory Vii a Turning Point in the History of the Papacy Between C. 950 and 1200

To what extent was the pontificate of Gregory VII a turning point in the history of the papacy between c. 950 and 1200
The period 950-1200 was one of great papal reform, dominated by great reforming Popes. events: In order to evaluate whether the pontificate of Gregory VII was a turning point I shall weigh his pontificate against the pontificates of three other Popes from this period. Namely the pontificates of Leo IX, Urban II and Calixtus II.Pope Gregory VII is often declared by scholars as one of the great reforming popes and his pontificate hailed as a turning point in the history of the medieval papacy (Barraclough, 80). Until Gregory’s pontificate it could be argued that popes were mere ‘puppets’ with the Holy Roman Emperor holding all the strings. Pope Gregory by contrast excised his papal power far more than his predecessors and challenged this relationship. The Investiture Contest was one of the first moves in the deteriorating relationship between Pope and Emperor. The contest originated over a dispute about who had the right to appoint and depose Bishops (traditionally the role of the Emperor within his own lands) but which Gregory claimed for the papacy in his Dictatus Papae of 1075 1. In the same year Gregory called a council in the Lateran palace which decreed that the pope alone could appoint, depose and move Bishops. However Henry continued to appoint his own bishops and so ensued a struggle between the two leaders, culminating in Pope Gregory excommunicating Henry in 1076. This was later lifted but did little to reform the relationship, and things went back to how they were, with further problems continuing well after Gregory’s death. Gregory was a highly controversial figure in his own time, making the fact that he stirred things up during his pontificate less surprising (Cowdrey, 683). It is harder to decide whether his pontificate was in fact a turning point in papal history though. On the one hand papal relations with the Emperor…


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