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 > 1159–81
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
ALEXANDER III (imperialist antipopes: Victor IV, Paschal III, Calixtus III). Frederick, citing precedents from Constantine, Charlemagne, and Otto the Great, held a synod at Pavia to adjudicate the claims of Alexander III and Victor IV. Alexander ignored the synod; Victor was recognized. Alexander, after an exile in France, returned and excommunicated Frederick (1165). Renewal of the town leagues (1164); Milan rebuilt; expulsion of imperial podestàs.  1
Marriage defined. In the popular mind (and in spite of centuries of Church preaching) the traditional idea persisted, especially among the masses of country people, that marriage was a private matter, with no special formula or public official involved and no public registration required. What constituted valid marriage? After hesitating between Gratian's view (that marriage was initiated by the consent of the parties and rendered indissoluble by sexual intercourse) and Peter Lombard's definition (that present consent alone established the bond), Alexander III adopted Lombard's position: the contract of indissoluble marriage was established by the words of consent. Couples urged to have parental approval, to have a public announcement made (the banns), and to have their union blessed by the parish priest at the Church, but a marriage was still valid without these. The result was frequent appeals to ecclesiastical courts to enforce a promise, not to dissolve.  2
Frederick's fourth expedition to Italy: Alexander's flight to the Normans; Frederick's capture of Rome. Renewal of the Lombard League (1168): promises of mutual aid; organization for federal administration; erection of Alessandria, a great fortress city (named for the pope), to guard the passes (1168); Italy virtually independent.  3
Frederick's fifth expedition to Italy: vain siege of Alessandria, complete defeat at Legnano (1176); preliminary peace of Venice (1177, the centenary of Canossa).  4
The Third Lateran Council decreed a two-thirds vote of the conclave to be necessary for a valid papal election.  5
Peace of Constance: imperial suzerainty in Italy recognized, resumption by the Lombard towns of all regalia they had ever enjoyed, including the right to maintain an army, to fortify, to keep the league or expand it, full judicial jurisdiction, control of their own coinage, abolition of the imperial podestàs. The only relic of imperial control was the reservation of the emperor's right to confirm elected consuls, the right of appeal to the imperial court, and the retention of the fodrum as a contribution to military needs. The Lombard towns were autonomous for all practical purposes, under a very loose system of imperial legates and vicars.  6
Frederick's sixth expedition to Italy: utilizing the split in the Lombard League (after 1181) and local feuds in Tuscany and Bologna, Frederick created a strong imperial party in middle Italy and by a liberal charter (1185) even won over Milan.  7
INNOCENT III. A tough-minded Italian patrician chosen by the cardinals to restore the political power of the papacy. Animated by a historical mysticism, he looked on Christendom as a single community in which he aimed to combine moral unity with a world-state under papal guidance. He deduced the papal powers from the Petrine Theory, the Old Testament, the Donation of Constantine, and from the duty of the pope to ensure justice, maintain peace, prevent and punish sin, and aid the unfortunate. With a clear grasp of essentials, he never lost sight of this concept, but his frequent opportunism injured his moral grandeur. Insistence, not on moral or theological but on historical grounds (i.e., the Translation of the Empire), on the right (claimed by Gregory VII) to pass on imperial elections. A brilliant administrator, he first brought the papal chancery into systematic organization (division into four sections under experts; careful, systematized treatment of documents) and made a great collection of canons and decretals. This pontificate was the zenith of the medieval papacy.  8
Restoration of the Papal States (Spoleto, Ancona, Romagna regained); many towns succeeded in escaping and keeping their local autonomy. Tuscany: an anti-imperial league under papal auspices; towns like Florence, Lucca, and Siena retained their appropriations of the Matildine lands (a partial foundation of their later power); the rest of the Matildine lands were regained by the Church. Innocent used his position first as protector, then as guardian of Frederick II, in an attempt to alienate Sicily from the Hohenstaufens.  9
The Albigensian Crusade (See 1208–13), directed against the spreading heresy of southern France, drenched that region with blood and exterminated one of the most advanced local cultures in Europe, under revolting circumstances of feudal cynicism. Simon de Montfort nullified Innocent's efforts to divert the crusaders' ardor to Spain against the Muslims.  10
Vindication of the political claims of the papacy. (1) Asserting his right to pass on imperial elections, Innocent rejected the Hohenstaufen claimant (Philip of Swabia) to the imperial crown, ignored the undoubted rights of Frederick, crowned and supported Otto (in return for promises of obedience to papal authority), and then procured (in alliance with King Philip II) the election of Frederick II. (2) By excommunicating Philip II (1198), Innocent forced him to a formal recognition of his wife, Ingeborg, but was coldly rebuffed when he intervened in Philip's struggle with the Angevins. (3) Maintaining the rights of his nominee to the See of Canterbury (Langton), Innocent forced King John of England (interdict, 1208) to cede England to the Holy See and receive it back as a fief (1213). (4) Innocent received the homage of the following states as papal vassals: Aragon, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Serbia; he brought the Roman Church to its closest approximation to an ideal Christian universal commonwealth.  11
The struggle against urban heresy. The Church, long organized to deal with a predominantly rural society, was increasingly out of touch with the rising bourgeoisie and urban proletariat as town life revived and expanded; the anticlericalism of the cities had become a major problem. The Italian Francis of Assisi and the Spaniard Dominic organized the spontaneous response within the Church to this crisis: Francis (d. 1226), a converted gilded youth, as the joyous “troubadour of religion,” began preaching the beauties of humility, poverty, simplicity, and devotion; of the brotherhood of man, of man and the animals, of man and nature. His cheerful vernacular hymns won tremendous success in the towns of Italy. Founded as a brotherhood, whence the name Friars Minor (Minorities, Gray Friars, also Cordeliers), the Franciscans won cautious support from Innocent but did not win formal ratification as a corporation until 1223. The second of the mendicant orders (or begging orders, from their initial refusal to own property, hence their dependence on the people for sustenance), the Dominican, born of Dominic's campaign against the Albigensian heresy, was sanctioned by Innocent (1215). Organized as a preaching order, the Dominicans (Friars Preachers, Black Friars, or Jacobins in Paris) patterned their constitution on the Franciscan. Members of these two mendicant orders were not monastic, rural monks, but town-dwellers devoted to preaching and charity. Franciscan and Dominicans recruited friars from the burgher class, small property owners, shopkeepers. The Franciscans accepted the uneducated; Dominicans (in Germany) preferred university graduates. The conduct of the Inquisition (an ecclesiastical court for the investigation of heresy) was entrusted to them (1233), and their direct influence on education (especially that of the Dominicans) was enormous.  12
The Fourth Lateran Council was the climax of Innocent's pontificate (attended by 400 bishops, 800 abbots and priors, and the representatives of the monarchs of Christendom) and its decrees were of tremendous significance: (1) the Church was pronounced one and universal; (2) the sacraments were decreed a channel of grace, and the chief sacrament, the Eucharist; (3) the dogma of transubstantiation was proclaimed; (4) annual confession, penance, and communion were enjoined; (5) careful rules were made as to episcopal elections and the qualifications of the clergy; (6) injunctions for the maintenance of education in each cathedral and for theological instruction were formulated; (7) the Albigensian and Catharist heresies were condemned; (8) trial by ordeal and by battle were forbidden; (9) the veneration of relics was regulated; and (10) rules of monastic life were made more rigorous. Finally, another crusade was proclaimed.  13
GREGORY IX, a relative of Innocent III, aged and fiery, he never relaxed his relentless pressure on Frederick. Canonization of Francis of Assisi (1228) and Dominic (1234).  14
Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci) (c. 1170–1240), the mathematician, who wrote the first rigorous, systematic demonstration of Hindu mathematics. He also wrote treatises on geometry and algebra, including quadratic and cubic equations.  15
INNOCENT IV, a canon lawyer. Supposedly friendly to Frederick, he continued the uncompromising attack on the emperor, and encompassed the final ruin of the Hohenstaufen.  16
GREGORY X (Visconti), a high-minded pope with three aims: to pacify Italy, to check Charles of Anjou and the rising power of France, and to pacify Germany. At the Synod of Lyons (1274), he provided for the seclusion of papal conclaves to avoid corruption. His successors were occupied with Italian affairs (the war of Naples and Sicily, baronial anarchy in Rome, etc.), and the advancement of their own houses. The rivalries of the great houses were so close that two years were required to elect Nicholas's successor Celestine V (1294), an ascetic hermit dragged unwilling to the Holy See, a puppet of Charles of Anjou who never saw Rome. Induced by the cardinals, he resigned (“the great refusal,” Dante, Inf. III, 60) and was kept a prisoner by his successor, Boniface VIII (Gaetani).  17
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.