III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > F. Europe, 461–1500 > 3. Western Europe and the Age of the Cathedrals, 1000–1300 > f. The Papacy and Italy
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 892–98)
f. The Papacy and Italy
For a complete list of the Roman popes, see Appendix IV.  1
The papacy, frequently in immoral hands and the political football of Roman families until c. 1048, initially exercised no broad religious influence; the Italian Peninsula was without effective political leadership.  2
Berengar I, last of the phantom “emperors” (vacancy in the empire, 924–62), was the grandson of Louis the Pious. Raids of Saracens (c. 889) and Magyars (c. 898) into Lombardy; a Saracen stronghold at Freinet controlled the Alpine passes; Saracen settlements in southern Italy, and the Muslim conquest (827) of Sicily; Italian urban life had become almost extinct; the invasions were checked not by the shadowy monarchs, but by the rise of feudal defenders.  3
The nadir of the papacy (the “pornocracy”): the landed aristocracy of Rome, under the leadership of the senator Theophylact, his wife, Theodora, and his daughter Marozia (mistress of Pope Sergius III and mother of Sergius's son John, later Pope John XI), dominated the curia.  4
Marozia, having imprisoned Pope John XI, took control of Rome.  5
Alberic II, Marozia's son, assumed power. The Patrimonium Petri was a plaything of the Crescentii (Marozia's family), who maintained an intermittent supremacy in Rome during the 10th century. The papacy was without political power or spiritual prestige, and the western Church for all practical purposes became a loose organism under its bishops, who gave “national churches” such coherence as they had, and acknowledged a vague kind of allegiance to Rome.  6
Berengar II. He imprisoned his widow, Adelheid, who appealed (according to tradition) to Otto the Great.  7
Otto the Great's first expedition to Italy.  8
Otto's second expedition to Italy, in answer to the appeal of the profligate pope, John XII, for protection against Berengar.  9
Otto's coronation at Pavia as king of Italy and his coronation by the pope as Roman emperor, marked the revival of the Roman Empire. Otto confirmed his predecessors' grants in the Patrimonium Petri (probably with additions), but carefully reserved the imperial right to sanction papal elections and treated the pope like a German bishop (i.e., subject to the state). Otto also exacted a promise from the Romans not to elect a pope without imperial consent. He established a precedent by calling a synod at Rome that deposed (963) Pope John XII for various crimes, and selected a (lay) successor, Leo VIII (963–64). This synod opened a period of about a hundred years when the papacy was dominated by the German emperors and by the counts of Tusculum, vassals of the emperors, who had the title of patricius in Rome. In the same period, the bishops in the west lost the position they had won in the 9th century and became increasingly dependent on the kings and feudal nobility, and increasingly secular in outlook. The homage of Pandolf I for Capua and Benevento (967) and his investiture with the duchy of Spoleto mark the beginning of the long imperial effort to include southern Italy in the empire.  10
Pope Leo VIII was expelled by the Romans shortly after his election, and Benedict V was elected (964) by the Romans without imperial consent.  11
Otto's third expedition to Italy. Otto held a synod that deposed Benedict. Pope John XIII (elected with imperial cooperation) was soon expelled by the Romans, and Otto, after a terrible vengeance on Rome, restored him. Imperial coronation of the future Otto II (967) by John XIII.  12
Otto II's expedition to Italy. Otto crushed Crescentius I, duke of the Romans, restored Pope Benedict VII (981), and was utterly defeated in his effort to expel the Saracens from southern Italy by a Greco-Muslim alliance (982). Otto dominated Pope John XIV (983–84).  13
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.