The Struggles Between Church and State
After the Great Schism, the power of the Roman Catholic Church continued to grow in the West. As Europe was moving from a feudal system to unite into states and kingdoms that were ruled by monarchy, the popes increased their involvement in the politics of surrounding territories, often exerting a lot of influence through their religious authority.
Pope Gregory VII, also known as Hildebrand, played an important role in centralizing the power of the Church. In 1073, Gregory decided to introduce reforms in how bishops and abbots were to be appointed to their clerical positions. In the past, such appointments were made by high-ranking laypeople. That meant the Church was subject to local rulers — a distinctly compromising position.
To introduce the reform, Gregory declared a ruling against “lay investiture,” or clerical appointments by Church outsiders. Understandably, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV of Germany, who virtually controlled the Western world, did not agree with this ruling. Unfazed, Gregory excommunicated Henry from the Church.
To be reinstated, Henry humbled himself before the pope, but the tensions between them did not end there. When civil war broke out in Germany, Gregory called for peace in the empire. When Henry refused to cease fighting, Gregory proclaimed Henry to be deposed. Henry responded by setting up an antipope, Clement III, and managed to win the war. He then turned around and attacked Italy — unsuccessfully, at first, in 1081, and again in 1083. Upon the second foray, he also wooed the Romans with his generosity, and they betrayed Gregory. The pope escaped to Salerno and died a year later.
The conflict continued until Henry V and Pope Calixtus II reached an agreement, known as the Concordat of Worms (1112), that all bishops would be consecrated by the Church. The emperor had the right to be present at the ordination and to invest secular powers upon the clergy.
This reform, as well as many others introduced by subsequent popes, was complemented by reform in the lower clergy and in Catholic customs and practices. The Church decreed that priests had to attend a Catholic college before they could be ordained and introduced the practice of priestly celibacy.
Finally, the Church formally established the seven sacraments, as we know them today:
Anointing of the Sick
The power and influence of the papacy and the Catholic Church was further enhanced and solidified by the monumental architecture that the wealthy Church championed.
At the same time, the Church led the way in education. The first universities grew from small schools that had been set up in conjunction with Catholic cathedrals into large organizations offering students great learning and scholarship. Universities in Italy, France, England, and Germany attracted good teachers and ambitious students and taught subjects such as medicine, philosophy, mathematics, and logic.