Fight for the Investitures and Organization of the New Italian Forces Part I
Gregory soon found himself having to face with greater commitment the things of the north, those for which the monks and the reform party had been fighting for decades, the people were now passionate going even beyond the mark, all Christianity resented variously. The vast problem, which at first had been felt especially as a moral problem, was taking shape in a series of juridical-political and patrimonial problems which, despite having the emperor and pope at its center, interested everyone, due to their ideal and practical content: lay people and clerics, lords and people, peasants and citizens, people of every country. But in a special way Germany and Italy, which were the kingdoms where the transfer of temporal goods and functions to bishops and clerics had occurred most, where the promiscuity of the sacred and the profane was greater; Italy even more than Germany, because in Italy that transition had been maximum and there the greater the action of the pontificate, the more lively, at the same time the religious ferment was, and civil life richer in impulses for renewal. Gregory brought into the struggle together the ideal of the monks and the political-church one which responded to the tradition, variously alive but never extinguished, of the Roman Church, from Gregory I onwards. He wanted to untangle and free people and goods of the Church from the tangle in which they had become involved and almost lost, to give the clergy a discipline, a custom, a truly clerical culture, to claim full independence of the Holy See from the Empire, to subordinate everything to itself. the hierarchy and to give full, organic, moral and hierarchical unity to the Church. This program was not only separation, but involved the concept of an absolute superiority of sacred things over the profane, of the cleric over the laity, of the Church over the State, of the pope over the emperor: a concept that has been stated several times; now affirmed with new vigor and new coherence, with a view to its practical implementation. As soon as he ascended to the pontificate, Gregory took measures, enunciated thoughts and intentions that clearly revealed how by now the papacy had not only taken over the reform initiative, taking it away from the empire, but also how it had turned it against the empire. And since Henry IV vigorously opposed Gregory, Gregory threatened excommunication if the other did not submit to his will. It was the beginning of the open struggle.
According to NEXTICLE, the high secular or ecclesiastical hierarchies and also the people, the large anonymous crowd, never seen before, of petty vassals, bourgeois, minute workers, peasants were involved in it. Intellectual life and culture had a powerful stimulus: discussions, controversies, a passion for clarifying and deepening issues of all kinds. The religious sentiment, which had for some time been deepening and becoming industrious in civil life, sparked more vividly. It also meant a more lively awareness in the faithful of being an active part of the Church, of having rights as well as duties. The laity also presumed to be judges of the clerics. And insofar as the clerics did not fulfill their duties, did not adapt to the new prescriptions, lived in the century, etc., the laity denied them and denied the sacraments administered by them, they even claimed to themselves the exercise of certain priestly activities. Heresy and Roman Orthodoxy for a moment were confused: and the Patarinism of the Lombard cities, especially of Milan, was the maximum of adherence to reforming monks and popes and the maximum of that insurrection against concubinary monks and priests simoniac dissipators which, already then connected to some vein of old heresy circulating underground, it will then lead to the heresies of the XII and XIII centuries.
With all this, the reform movement and the struggle for investitures entered fully into the socio-political history of the rising lower classes. Inasmuch as that movement tended to re-establish church discipline, the canonical prescriptions regarding the designation of the clergy and the administration of ecclesiastical goods, inasmuch as it wanted to free people and substances of the churches from the exploitation of princes and aristocracy, it went towards unspecific aspirations. only religious but civil and economic of citizenships and rural populations. The long struggle, as it shook the ecclesiastical hierarchy, also shook the political hierarchy, often coinciding with that. The contrast between the two parties, pro and contra the reform was resolved in encouragement to vassals and peasants against lords and masters: the subjects were released from the oath of loyalty to the sovereign. Curialist writers saw in the kingdom and empire an office, with duties as well as rights; they did not hide their sympathies for electivity in place of inheritance; they proclaimed that the relationship between subjects and sovereigns was a contract, a pact; and they recognized the right of the people to rise up against the prince who violated that pact and deprive him of the throne; they affirmed the full right to react to unjust laws. Italian society at that time was as warm, receptive, malleable as ever. It was already stirred up by revolutionary ferments; others added the church-religious events of the time. The Reform Party acted in a particularly revolutionary way.