The religious, political, and economic changes of the Middle Ages were connected with the event known as the Investiture Controversy and the growth of the movements known as the Crusades. Though many rules tried to prevent the masses organizing collective actions without the approval of the state (Crone71), these two movements became exceptions. In the first lecture about the Investiture Controversy, Caraher said that people were divided into those who had to fight, work, and pray. The Investiture Controversy and the Crusades were engaged in by the representatives of the third group, and its roles remained crucial throughout the history and development of international relations. Those two “case studies” in medieval politics had a number of similarities, including the promotion of the struggle for power that took place between the rising authority of the Pope and the representatives of the ruling political system; however, there were also differences, including the establishment of the goals and the role of pilgrimage as the possibility to ask for forgiveness.
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For example, in the speech of St Bernard of Clairvaux, Eugenius III’s Summons to a Crusade, 1146, it was said that “we exhort therefore all of you in God, we ask and command, and for the remission of sins enjoin… freed from their tyranny” (The Crusades). People were ready to use all their political powers just to be sure that their sins could be forgiven. The scope of such prayer was impressive indeed. The facts stated in the first lecture on the Investiture Controversy by Caraher made clear the Church’s intentions to expand its powers and the kings’ manipulations designed to win as many political and military allies in the greater European region as possible. In other words, the similarities of both “case studies” include the use of religion as a powerful instrument to cover the majority of political needs.
At the same time, it is necessary to note the differences that existed between the Investiture Controversy and the Crusades. The causes of the Investiture Controversy included the struggle between Gregory VII, who said that the Pope was the only person to “depose or reinstate bishops” in his Dictates of the Pope, 1075, and Henry IV, who believed that no one could dispose him “for any crime unless, which God forbid” as stated in his Letter to Gregory VII, Jan 24 1076. The Crusaders sought to improve the economic situation of the region and focused on the development of the commercial contacts with the East (Caraher, The Crusades).
Those two approaches were different. However, both of them were appropriate due to the materialist view of religion when economic, social, and political relations had to be taken into consideration (Crone 138). The Crusaders believed that their intentions to ask for forgiveness and use their power in order to stabilize economic relationships could be approved by God. Focusing attention on pilgrims and their relation to holy sites is another significant goal that the Crusaders wanted to achieve – a complex phenomenon that touched upon the economic and religious aspects of the religious wars. Still, I would add that all these discussions may be considerably improved if the relative powers of the Pope and the king were compared thoroughly.
Caraher, William. Western Civilization: The Crusades. (Lecture).
Caraher, William. Western Civilization: The Investiture Controversy. (Lecture).
Crone, Patricia. Pre-Industrial Societies: Anatomy of the Pre-Modern World. Oneworld Publications, 2003.
The Crusades (primary source).
The Investiture Controversy (primary source).