The Politics of the Church in the Relations of Italy Part I

According to, settlement of a German dynasty in southern Italy, the same one that for three generations had, besides the kingdom of Germany, also the kingdom of Italy and the empire, with a lot of good will to get its hands on the lands of the Church; vast violation of ecclesiastical liberties in the cities, as well as, by now, in the kingdoms of Europe, with the Henry and Philip Augustus, all more or less aimed at rebuilding the state in its fullness; heresies that spread over vast areas of Catholicism, especially in the countries closest to Rome, and, even more, various manifestations of religiosity that do not entirely conform to the new spirit of Roman Catholicism; here are as many problems he faces, between the century. XII and XIII, the papacy. And here is Innocent III, produced, in the Church, from the same awareness of pressing dangers. Since the more royalty is reconstituted in Europe, the more the Italian bourgeoisies swell, promoted by the same political action of the papacy in its struggle with the empire; more royalty and bourgeoisie must make themselves independent of the Church, indeed penetrate the very broad sphere that the Church considers her own and distinguish the various elements that constitute it and appropriate the profane ones; and the more the Church reacts, she perfects her right, tries to place herself higher than the state to control it, considers the whole storm a great annex of the spiritual. Hence the apparent contradiction of a theocratic doctrine, which comes to maturity when the modern state and the modern laity are already on the horizon.

Elected in 1198, as an exponent of a party of more energetic action and resistance, which had been formed in the curia after the pontificate of the weak and old Celestine III, Innocent III was all caught up in the whirlwind of the thousand cares imposed on him by such a serious situation , from such a lofty concept of his authority, as the papacy, and he in particular, had: it arbiter of governments, distributor of justice, depositary of every earthly podestà, to be exercised sometimes directly, sometimes through others, as well as than a defender and propagator of the faith. He is “engulfed all in the abyss of occupations that the government of the world brings to him,” he writes of himself. And we know what he did to fight the hearths of heresy, to defend ecclesiastical prerogatives from podestà and princes, to make his authority effective in the lands of the Church. A religious and church problem is at the top of his thoughts: the defense of the faith and ecclesiastical freedoms. But “nowhere is ecclesiastical freedom so well provided, as where the Roman Church has both temporal and spiritual full podestà”, he wrote from the first days of his pontificate to the archbishop of Ravenna. In short, domination of the world, at the service of the spirit: domination above all of Rome. The pope claimed for himself the appointment of the senator of Rome, while recognizing the city a certain autonomy. In the lands of patrimony and donation, a lot of effort was made to recover them and to have them in effective dominion. A state of the church was beginning to take shape: certainly hastened by the new situation in the South and by the threatened union of the two kingdoms of the peninsula. The same institution that Innocenzo made of an ecclesiastical principality on the southern borders, for his brother Riccardo dei Conti, was to serve to secure the possessions of the Holy See on the southern side. But the kingdom of Sicily also depended on the pontiff. Tuscany, Sardinia and Corsica, Innocent III repeatedly stated, also belonged ad ius et proprietatem beati Petri . In short, almost all of Italy!

Meanwhile he maneuvered to prevent too much crowning and the union of kingdoms around him. In Germany, after Henry VI died, there was disagreement over the succession: this was great luck for the pontiff’s political-territorial activity. Ottone di Brunswick, the son of that Henry the Lion who had contributed to the failure of Barbarossa’s Italian policy, and Philip of Swabia, brother of Henry and former lieutenant in Tuscany, contended for the reign. The pope favored Otto, excommunicating his opponent. And Otto assured the pope the recognition of the state of the Church, including the Matildina inheritance, respect for his rights over Sicily, the preservation of the city leagues, which for the pope became, as we can see, almost a constitutional element of Italian life. But since Otto, who remained definitively master of the field after the death of Philip in 1208 and received the imperial crown at the gates of Rome (he could not set foot in Rome), he showed that he took the commitments contracted with the pope to the light and undertook his campaign in the South, Innocent he excommunicated him and aroused the young Frederick against him in Germany. And the young Frederick went to Rome where the pope proclaimed him king of the Romans, swore loyalty to the Holy See, gave a guarantee against any possible union of the crown of Sicily and the German crown, went to Germany with the means provided to him by the pope and there he was elected king, he confirmed to Innocenzo all the concessions and acknowledgments made to him by Otto. The latter’s defeat at Bouvines completely cleared the way for the young prince and seconded the plans of Innocent and his successor Honorius III.

The Politics of the Church in the Relations of Italy 1

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