Pope Gregory VII

Gregory VII, actually Hildebrand (of Soana ) (* 1025-1030 possibly in Sovana, † May 25, 1085 in Salerno) was Pope on April 22, 1073 to 1085 because of its importance for the reform of the Church, he is considered one of the most important. Popes. Nevertheless, he was and is controversial. Peter Damian, although a fellow, called him quite approvingly "Holy Satan ," " scourge of God" and "hell fire ", comparing him with the tiger, lion and the raging wolf and kept resisting him pointless.

Clerical career

Born between 1025 and 1030 probably in Tuscany, Hildebrand was probably first monk. Later, as archdeacon of the Roman Church, he was a key figure in the church policy. The Cluniac reform movement, and particularly the fight against simony and clerical marriage, given his aspirations.

In 1046, he accompanied the revered Pope Gregory VI. , Who had been deposed by the Synod of Sutri, in exile in Cologne. Two years later ( 1048) was the emperor Henry III. Bruno of Eguisheim - Dabo as the new Pope Leo IX. appoint. This, however, insisted, though, not to let on the advice of Hildebrand himself elected by the people and clergy to the Pope. Even after his death in 1054 Hildebrand should be charged to the Pope, but the Emperor appointed Gebhard, bishop of Eichstätt, Pope Victor II


1073 Pope Alexander II died At his funeral, the people of Rome cried, " Hildebrand shall be pope " This could be enthroned under the name of Gregory VII as pope. With this inspiration election had been clearly violated the papal election decree of 1059, which had been determined that the pope was to be elected by a three-quarters majority of the Cardinals and also confirmed the voice of the Holy Roman king.

Secular Politics

In the first year after his enthronement forged Gregor plans, with an army in Byzantium, which was in danger of being overrun by Seljuks to intervene. This is interpreted by some historians as the first call for a crusade at all. However, local conflicts in southern Italy, a confrontation with the French King Philip I, and the negative attitude of the Oriental Church towards a predominance of the Holy See in Rome made ​​a realization of these plans impossible.

Church policy

Investiture Controversy

The term of office of this pope led to the so-called investiture dispute, which was settled for the kingdom until the Concordat of Worms of 1122. 1075 was Gregory VII 27 principles, the " Dictatus Papae " record, in which he emphasized, among other things, the primacy of the spiritual authority over secular rulers. On the Roman Lenten synod in the same year Gregory VII suspended individual is not published German bishops and invited the five Councillors of Henry IV, who had already been excommunicated in 1073 because of the actions of the king in the occupation of the Archdiocese of Milan, to account before. When Henry occupied again, contrary to his assertions Milan Erzstuhl, Gregory sent him a serious protest and warning letter, which was recorded at the beginning of 1076 at the Royal Court with indignation.

In response to repeated remonstrances and intervention of the Pope in the diocese of operations north and south of the Alps Heinrich wrote on a Diet of Worms on January 24, 1076 a rejection letter to Gregory, in which he him with the words " Come down, come down! " To abdicate asked. He argued the fact that the Pope will not, in contrast to the King of God by his birth in his office, but elected by people. Many German and northern Italian bishops supported the demand. Gregory VII took then Henry IV and his followers immediately with a curse what the political order in the realm massively shook.

To save his kingdom, the Salian then moved against the Pope, who wanted to pull himself over the Alps to participate in deliberations of the German opponents of Henry. In the castle of Canossa Henry met Gregory, who succeeded him after three days of penance on January 28, 1077 from the spell. However, the newfound peace did not last long - in the spring of 1077 the German princes elected Rudolf of Rheinfelden anti-king. Henry IV demanded that the pope instant spell Rudolph, otherwise he threatened with the appointment of an anti-pope. In March 1080 Gregor told the king again deposed, the then Archbishop Guibert of Ravenna, under the name of Clement III. aufstellte as antipope. Thus began a schism, which lasted until 1111, when the last anti-pope of Wibertisten, New Year IV, formally made ​​the renunciation of the papacy.

Henry besieged Rome and could take it 1084. While he was crowned by Clement in St. Peter to the Emperor ( 31 March), Gregor entrenched in the Castel Sant'Angelo. Liberated by the Normans, this eventually left Rome with a small retinue, and retired to Salerno.


The Government Gregory did not exhaust itself in the discharge of the investiture controversy, the Italian policy and the defense of Byzantine and Arab attacks. Rather, they had great significance for the Scandinavian Church. His policy was aimed to strengthen national churches and to emancipate gradually under -standing of the Archdiocese of Hamburg -Bremen mission status. In his letters to the kings there, he asked for posting of bishops or clerics learned that could inform it of the actual conditions on the ground immediately. Here he was concerned with the strengthening of the Curia as central power. You should be the jurisdictional center of the universal Church and formative center of the nations. He envisioned as a long-term goal before an independent church organization in all three Nordic kingdoms, which should be independent bonded directly to the Pope by the German Reich and the Reich Church. But they are also overlooked from today's perspective makes politically motivated to take that claim the primacy of spiritual authority over secular rulers sensitive penetrated with his chosen methods in areas that already equal to had tried to emancipate at eye level from the parent Roman authority with its own claims. The Government of Gregory led the longer term, looking further to the historical development during the Renaissance and Enlightenment and the dialectical juxtaposition of confession and state in the mainly Christian area.

His death

On May 25, 1085 Gregory VII died in Salerno, without having given up his beliefs. His grave inscription reads: ". I loved righteousness, and hated injustice, I die in exile " ( ". Dilexi iustitiam et odivi iniquitatem; propterea, morior in exilio " ) The downside of the bitter echo of these words, these were also as an expression its own specific healing confidence to understand. Analogously, it is said in Psalm 45.8: "You love the right and hate the wrong, / therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of joy / how any of your companions. "

In the following period

1606 Gregory VII was canonized by Pope Paul V. His death is a (not all due ) Memorial Day (May 25 ) of the Catholic Church.