Church And State Battles


     During the Middle Ages, church and state leaders had many battles. Some who were
involved were Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich IV and Pope Gregory VIII; King II and

Archbishop Thomas Becket; King Philip IV and Pope Boniface VIII. Their
situations were all related by the fact that they were all controversies between
an emperor or king and the Catholic church. The Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich
(Henry) IV and Pope Gregory VIII’s struggle was centered on by investiture.

Henry invested many bishops at his own will even though Gregory had banned
investiture by laity. Henry felt his investiture of bishops was necessary to the
control of his kingdom, so he kept on doing it. Gregory responded to this by
excommunicating Henry. Henry later apologized and received the Pope’s
forgiveness. Out of humiliation, he chased Gregory out of Rome and elected a new
pope. King Henry II made his close and dear friend Thomas Becket Archbishop of

Canterbury in hopes that since he and his friend were so close, Becket would
give some power over the Church to Henry. Instead, Becket refused to do

Henry’s bidding and became a fierce champion of the independence and rights of
the church. In 1170, Becket was killed during a church mass by four of Henry’s
knights. Henry surrendered to the Pope, who threatened him with excommunication.

Thomas Becket was later named a saint and is a symbol of the struggle between
church and state. Pope Boniface VIII believed that the Pope, whomever he may be,
was always in higher power than the reigning king or emperor. Boniface issued a
bull saying kings could not tax clergy, yet King Philip IV kept on taxing the

Church. Boniface issued yet another bull titled the Unam Sanctum which stated
that there were two powers in the universe: earthly (kings, emperors, etc.) and
spiritual (God) and that spiritual is always higher than earthly. Since he
represented God, Boniface said he had more power than Philip, but Philip just
ignored Boniface’s bull yet once more. Before Boniface could excommunicate

Philip, Philip’s soldiers kidnapped Boniface from his palace in Anagni in

1803. The people of Anagni eventually saved Boniface, but the Pope was so
shocked, he soon died. As one can see, all these situations are closely tied
together. They may have involved different people, but they all revolved around
one thing. A controversy between church and state.