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in feudalismfeudalism
, form of political and social organization typical of Western Europe from the dissolution of Charlemagne's empire to the rise of the absolute monarchies. The term feudalism is derived from the Latin feodum,
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, ceremony by which an overlord transferred a fief to a vassal or by which, in ecclesiastical law, an elected cleric received the pastoral ring and staff (the symbols of spiritual office) signifying the transfer of the office. After the oath of fealty, the lord "invested" the vassal with the fief, usually by giving him some symbol of the land or office transferred.

The dispute over clerical investiture was one of the great struggles between church and statechurch and state,
the relationship between the religion or religions of a nation and the civil government of that nation, especially the relationship between the Christian church and various civil governments.
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 in the Middle Ages. The problem stemmed from the dual position of the important bishops and abbots, who were temporal as well as spiritual lords. Thus from early times both king and pope were concerned with clerical election and installation.

History of the Investiture Dispute

When the struggle concerning investiture broke out (late 11th cent.), there was no general agreement as to the powers of the pope and the Holy Roman emperor in installing German bishops; it was only generally recognized that both had rights in the matter. Although investiture meant the ecclesiastical ceremony itself, it also more widely applied to the whole matter of election and installation. Lay investiture was the term used for investiture of clerics by the king or emperor, a layman. The right of a temporal prince to give spiritual power was claimed only by the extremists of the imperial party, but there was wide debate over canonical election, royal assent, and papal assent.

Pope Gregory VIIGregory VII, Saint,
d. 1085, pope (1073–85), an Italian (b. near Rome) named Hildebrand (Ital. Ildebrando); successor of Alexander II. He was one of the greatest popes. Feast: May 25.
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 and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IVHenry IV,
1050–1106, Holy Roman emperor (1084–1105) and German king (1056–1105), son and successor of Henry III. He was the central figure in the opening stages of the long struggle between the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy.
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 began the open struggle. The clerical reform movement generated the crisis; it was essential that the church have the power of selecting bishops if church reforms—abolition of simonysimony
, in canon law, buying or selling of any spiritual benefit or office. The name is derived from Simon Magus, who tried to buy the gifts of the Holy Spirit from St. Peter (Acts 8). Simony is a very grave sin, and ecclesiastics who commit it may be excommunicated.
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, clerical marriage, and political and economic abuse—were to be carried out. Holy Roman Emperor Henry IIIHenry III,
1017–56, Holy Roman emperor (1046–56) and German king (1039–56), son and successor of Conrad II. He was crowned joint king with his father in 1028, and acceded on Conrad's death in 1039.
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 (d. 1056) had cooperated with the reform party, but in the minority of Henry IV, abuses were rife.

The reform party came to feel that complete abolition of lay investiture was the necessary prerequisite for its goals. In 1075, Gregory forbade lay investiture, and the bitter struggle began in earnest. The encouragement of rebellious nobles in Germany and the excommunication of Henry IV were followed by steady warfare. Although only one phase of the contest, investiture was a crucial issue. Especially in such difficult times, the emperor needed power over the bishop-princes. The papacy also maintained its ground.

After the death (1085) of Gregory VII, the argument took a new turn, and after the death (1106) of Henry IV the strain was lessened. However, Pope Paschal IIPaschal II
[Lat.,=of Easter], d. 1118, pope (1099–1118), an Italian (b. near Ravenna) named Ranieri; successor of Urban II. He was a monk and, as a reformer, was made a cardinal by Pope Gregory VII. He was a loyal supporter of Urban II as well. His reign began auspiciously.
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, continuing the policy of his predecessors Gregory VII and Urban IIUrban II,
c.1042–1099, pope (1088–99), a Frenchman named Odo (or Eudes) of Lagery; successor of Victor III. He studied at Reims and became a monk at Cluny. He went to Rome, as prior of Cluny, early in the reign of St. Gregory VII.
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, condemned lay investiture, although he entered negotiations for settlement. Holy Roman Emperor Henry VHenry V,
1081–1125, Holy Roman emperor (1111–25) and German king (1105–25), son of Henry IV. Crowned joint king with his father in 1099, he put himself at the head of the party desiring reconciliation with the pope and, with the approval of Pope Paschal II,
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 maintained the claims of his father and extended them ruthlessly. He made a vague settlement before his coronation, but at the last moment refused to surrender lay investiture; he seized the pope and forced him to surrender the church claims. Paschal later disavowed this forced agreement. The emperor and the antipopes he had set up effectively staved off settlement.

Under Pope Gelasius II some progress was made, but it was not until 1122 that churchmen succeeded in bringing about an agreement in the Concordat of Worms (see Worms, Concordat ofWorms, Concordat of,
1122, agreement reached by Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V to put an end to the struggle over investiture. By its terms the emperor guaranteed free election of bishops and abbots and renounced the right to invest them with ring and staff, the
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) between Henry V and Pope Calixtus IICalixtus II,
 Callixtus II,
or Callistus II,
d. 1124, pope (1119–24), named Guy of Burgundy, successor of Gelasius II. The son of count William I of Burgundy, he was archbishop of Vienne during the investiture controversy with Holy Roman Emperor
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. The compromise was a victory, although far from complete, for the church. The same problem recurred in struggles between the pope and other rulers. In France trouble between church and state centered in general on other issues (see Innocent IIIInnocent III,
b. 1160 or 1161, d. 1216, pope (1198–1216), an Italian, b. Anagni, named Lotario di Segni; successor of Celestine III. Innocent III was succeeded by Honorius III.
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; Philip IVPhilip IV
(Philip the Fair), 1268–1314, king of France (1285–1314), son and successor of Philip III. The policies of his reign greatly strengthened the French monarchy and increased the royal revenues.
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; GallicanismGallicanism
, in French Roman Catholicism, tradition of resistance to papal authority. It was in opposition to ultramontanism, the view that accorded the papacy complete authority over the universal church.
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In England, William I (William the Conqueror) came into conflict with the church, and William II embarked on a struggle over investiture. His abuse of power, particularly in keeping sees vacant, intensified the struggle that reached a climax in the long battle between King Henry IHenry I,
1068–1135, king of England (1100–1135), youngest son of William I. He was called Henry Beauclerc because he could write. He quarreled with his elder brothers, William II of England and Robert II, duke of Normandy, and attempted with little success to
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 and AnselmAnselm, Saint
, 1033?–1109, prelate in Normandy and England, archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church (1720), b. Aosta, Piedmont. After a carefree youth of travel and schooling in Burgundy he became a disciple and companion of Lanfranc, the famed theologian and prior
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. In 1107 a compromise provided that bishops and abbots should be invested by the church but should render homage to the king. Later trouble between church and state in England arose from other issues.


See R. W. Carlyle and A. J. Carlyle, A History of Medieval Political Theory in the West (6 vol., 1903–36, repr. 1962); G. Tellenbach, Church, State, and Christian Society at the Time of the Investiture Contest (tr. 1940, repr. 1970); K. F. Morrison, The Investiture Controversy (1971). See also bibliography under Holy Roman EmpireHoly Roman Empire,
designation for the political entity that originated at the coronation as emperor (962) of the German king Otto I and endured until the renunciation (1806) of the imperial title by Francis II.
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; Middle AgesMiddle Ages,
period in Western European history that followed the disintegration of the West Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th cent. and lasted into the 15th cent., i.e., into the period of the Renaissance.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in the Middle Ages in Western Europe the juridical act of conferring a land fief or a secular or religious position. The act of investiture confirmed a vassal dependency and was accompanied by a symbolic ritual in which the lord handed down to his vassal some symbol of authority, such as a handful of turf, a glove, a sword, a spear, a banner, or a scepter.

A special kind of investiture was the ecclesiastical investiture, consisting in the appointment of someone to a position in the church or induction into a holy order. It was accompanied by two acts: the conferring of a crozier (pastoral staff) and ring, symbols of spiritual authority, and the transfer of land holdings and of a scepter, the symbol of secular authority. Until the end of the 11th century the right of ecclesiastical investiture in fact belonged to the secular authority (in England to the king, and in the Holy Roman Empire to the emperor).

At the end of the 11th century the papacy advanced its claims to the exclusive right of ecclesiastical investiture. In 1075, Pope Gregory VII, who regarded the subordination of the West European clergy to his own authority as the first step in the Roman Curia’s assumption of political leadership over the countries of Western Europe, forbade the emperor to invest prelates. The so-called investiture controversy then arose between the empire and the papacy (1076), interwoven with the efforts of the secular and ecclesiastical aristocracy to block Henry IV’s attempt to strengthen the royal power in Germany. The German bishops resisted the attempts by both the emperor and the pope to limit their own independence. In the fierce and lengthy struggle, a critical episode of which was Canossa (1077), neither side succeeded in gaining a victory. It was only in 1122 that a compromise solution was reached in the Concordat of Worms. Prelates elected by chapters received their spiritual investiture from the pope and the secular clergy theirs from the emperor. In Germany the emperor was assured of participation in the selection of prelates, who were granted secular investiture immediately after selection; in Italy and Burgundy the emperor was denied a part in the selection of prelates and could grant them secular investiture only six months later. The Concordat of Worms was in general more advantageous to the pope than to the emperor: it confirmed the de facto collapse of the episcopal system, which had been a weapon of royal power since the time of Otto I (936–973). The prolonged struggle over investiture facilitated the strengthening of the independence of the ecclesiastical and secular princes in Germany.

The dispute over investiture was also extended to other countries in Western Europe, although nowhere did it take on such an acute form as in the empire. The conflict between the royal power and the papacy in England and France ended (in France in 1104 and in England in 1107) in a compromise: the kings abandoned investiture with ring and crozier, but they retained the right of conferring holdings on bishops and continued to exert a de facto influence on their selection.


Bernheim, E. Quellen zur Geschichte des Investiturstreites, parts 1–2. Leipzig-Berlin, 1913–14.
Brooke, Z. N. Lay Investitute and Its Relation to the Conflict of Empire and Papacy. Oxford, 1939.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(in feudal society) the formal bestowal of the possessory right to a fief or other benefice
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Yesterday, Buckingham Palace spokeswoman Penny Russell-Smith confirmed that the 007 star had been asked if he would allow the cameras in to the investiture.
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Lord Elis-Thomas has been involved in discussions with the offices of the First Minister and Clarence House about how to mark the 40th anniversary of the prince's investiture.
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THE Duke of Cambridge will host his first investiture ceremony tomorrow as the scope of his royal duties widens.