PODCAST: The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2 (The History of Christianity #220)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #220, titled, “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Romans 12:4-5 which reads: “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Henry Ward Beecher. He said: “The Church is not a gallery for the exhibition of eminent Christians, but a school for the education of imperfect ones.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

As soon as the ice thawed in the passes through the Alps in the spring of 1081, Henry marched on Rome. Gregory’s only possible support were the Normans who ruled in southern Italy, and who had been his allies before. But he had also excommunicated them. He then appealed to Byzantium [BUH-ZAN-TEE-UHM], but to no avail. The Romans defended their city valiantly. But when it became clear that the pope would not negotiate with the invader, they opened the gates of the city, and Gregory had to flee to the castle of Sant’Angelo. Henry entered in triumph, and Clement III took possession of the city. Then the Normans intervened, and Henry abandoned the city. The Normans acted as masters of the city, and many citizens were killed, buildings burned, and thousands taken away to be sold as slaves.

After several days of violence and depredation, the people of Rome rebelled, and a long period of violence and chaos ensued in which Clement III and his supporters were able to reclaim a part of the city. Gregory, who had fled to Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW] and then to Salerno [SUH-LEHR-NOW], continued thundering against Henry and Clement III. But his words were to no avail. It is said that when he died in 1085 his last words were: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity. Therefore I die in exile.”

Before his death, Hildebrand [HIL-DUH-BRAND] had declared that his successor should be the aged abbot of Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW]. These wishes were followed, and the old man, who had no desire to be pope, was forced to accept. He took the name of Victor III, and was restored to Rome by his allies. But he became ill, and withdrew to Monte Cassino [MAAN-TEE KUH-SEE-NOW] to die in peace.

The reforming party then elected Urban II, who was able to regain the city of Rome and expel Clement III. He is mostly known for having proclaimed the First Crusade—with which we shall deal in the next chapter. But he also continued the policies of Gregory VII. This led him into further conflicts with Philip I of France, whom he excommunicated for having set aside his wife in favor of another. In Germany, he encouraged the rebellion of Henry’s son Conrad, who promised that if he were made emperor he would give up any claim to the right to the appointment and investiture of bishops. But Henry reacted vigorously, defeated his son, and had him disinherited by a diet of the empire.

Urban’s successor, Paschal II (1099–1118), hoped that the schism would end when Clement III died. But the emperor made certain that another was appointed to take Clement’s place, and therefore the schism continued.

Henry IV died in 1106, when he was preparing to wage war against his son Henry, who had also rebelled against him. Pope Paschal was ready to make peace, and declared that all consecrations that had taken place during the previous reign, even under lay appointment and investiture, were valid. But he also made it clear that any future lay investiture was unacceptable, and that any who disobeyed him on this point would be excommunicated. Thus, while clearing the slate, he also threw down the gauntlet before the new emperor.

Next time, we will continue looking at “The Papacy and the Empire in Direct Confrontation.”

Let’s pray.


Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.