This is the essay for the 11th week of the 7th Grade Ron Paul Curriculum. It’s about the Investiture Controversy.

The Investiture Controversy

In this blog post, I shall be looking at what the Investiture controversy is and what it changed.

The Investiture Controversy is when two sides are fighting over who has authority in a certain thing.

In this case, it was the church fighting against the state. To be more specific Pope Gregory VII was fighting against King Henry IV. The disagreement the two had was who had authority to appoint bishops. This controversy took place in 1076 in Europe.

Henry thought he should be able to appoint his own bishops. Pope Gregory VII disagreed and thought he should appoint the bishops because he was the head of the church. This angered Henry IV so he denounced Pope Gregory VII and said he was no longer fit to be pope. In response to this Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV. This meant that Henry was no longer held the title of king.

After quite a few years Henry apologized to Gregory and was let back into the church, but he didn’t regain his position of king. In 1081 Henry invaded Rome to become king again, get rid of Gregory and replace him with a pope that better suits him. Pope Gregory called the Normans to help him against Henry IV. But then the Normans looted Rome instead of helping the pope. The citizens of Rome were angry about this and revolted against Pope Gregory VII. He fled the city but died shortly after.

Even though Gregory died the controversy still continued. Eventually, the controversy came to an end. The controversy ended in an agreement between the state and the church. The agreement was that the king was no longer allowed to appoint his own bishops, but he could still influence them. The bishops were still subjects to the king, like everyone else.

A very similar controversy happened in England about a hundred years later in 1162.  At that time Henry II was the king of England. When the current Archbishop of Canterbury died Henry II appointed his friend Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury. The thing Henry didn’t expect was that Thomas would take his job seriously. So when Henry wanted to have authority over the church, Thomas disagreed and defended the church. This greatly angered Henry. He threatened Thomas with his life and Thomas had to flee.

Henry told his knights that some of them should kill Thomas. A few of his knights walked into a church and threatened Thomas with his life. Then Thomas drew a line on the floor and said that if they cross that line they shall go to hell. The knights realized Thomas had authority over the church and left. When Thomas returned and he and Henry made peace with each other. Even though Henry made peace with Thomas he again suggested to his knights that they should kill Thomas. Four of his knights followed this suggestion. This time Thomas didn’t resist and the knight killed him during an evening prayer in a cathedral. After his death, Thomas became a saint and Henry II was excommunicated until he confessed his repentance to the church.

In England, the investiture controversy didn’t change very much and the church was still under the authority of the king. In Europe, however, the investiture controversy made the church and state become a bit more separated.