The Empire and the Papacy c. 1150


Map Code: Ax01117

The ‘Walk to Canossa’ (1077) epitomized a reassertion of papal authority over the Holy Roman Empire. Emperor Henry IV trekked through the Alps in midwinter to seek absolution for his excommunication from Pope Gregory VII. In the previous century, the emperors had been very much in the ascendant, frequently deposing popes who displeased them. The pendulum soon swung again (Gregory would later be exiled by Henry), but the kernel of the papal/imperial feud, the rights of investiture to bishoprics was not resolved until the Concordat of Worms (1122). Rival Welf and Hohenstaufen dynastic claims to the imperial succession soon sapped the empire. Then at Chlumec in northern Bohemia (1126) imperial forces were defeated in battle by the kingdom of Bohemia (although retaining their suzerainty). Emperors continued to intervene in papal affairs, but Frederick I Barbarossa, despite repeated Italian campaigns, was forced to accept Adrian IV’s papacy (1177).

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