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Medieval Sourcebook:
Paschal's Privilege (February 12, 1111)


The Investiture dispute continued after Gregory VII died. One solution was suggested by thehe canonist Ivo of Chartres in 1097 - that it was fine for kings to invest bishops provided that they did not intend to give spiritual power but only secular estate. [see From "Epistola and Hugoncm," in Libelli de Lite (Hanover: Monuments Germaniae Historica, 1892), II, pp. 644-645, copyrighted translation by Brian Tierney available] Pope Paschal II (1099-1118) suggested a more radical solution for the dispute in 1111, but it was not to liking of the imperial bishops.

Paschal's Privilege (February 12, 1111)

Bishop Paschal, servant of the servants of God. To his beloved son Henry and his successors, forever.

It is both decreed against by the institutions of the divine law, and interdicted by the sacred canons, that priests should busy themselves with secular cases, or should go to the public court except to rescue the condemned, or for the sake of others who suffer injury. Wherefore also the apostle Paul says: "If ye have secular judgments constitute as judges those who are of low degree in the church." Moreover in portions of your kingdom bishops and abbots are so occupied by secular cares that they are compelled assiduously to frequent the court, and to perform military service. Which things, indeed, are scarcely if at all carried on without plunder, sacrilege, arson. For ministers of the altar are made ministers of the king's court: inasmuch as they receive cities, duchies, margravates, monies and other things which belong to the service of the king. N"ence also the custom has grown up-intolerably for the church-that elected bishops should by no means receive consecration unless they had first been invested through the hand of the king. From which cause both the wickedness of simoniacal heresy and, at times, so great an ambition has prevailed that the episcopal sees were invaded without any previous election. At times, even, they have been invested while the bishops were alive. Aroused by these and very many other evils which had happened for the most part through investitures, our predecessors the pontiffs Gregory VII. and Urban 11. of blessed memory, frequently calling together episcopal councils did condemn those investitures of the lay hand, and did decree that those who should have obtained churches through them should be deposed, and the donors also be deprived of communion-according to that chapter of the apostolic canons which runs thus: "If any bishop, employing the powers of the world, do through them obtain a church: he shall be deposed and isolated, as well as all who communicate with him." Following in the traces of which (canons), we also in an episcopal council, have confirmed their sentence. And so, most beloved son, king Henry,-now through our office, by the grace of God, emperor of the Romans,-we decree that those royal appurtenances are to be given back to thee and to thy kingdom which manifestly belonged to that kingdom in the time of Charles, Louis, and of thy other predecessors. We forbid, and under sentence of anathema prohibit, that any bishop or abbot, present or future, invade these same royal appurtenances. In which are included the cities, duchies, margravates, counties, monies, toll, market, advowsons of the kingdom, rights of the judges of the hundred courts, and the courts which manifestly belonged to the king together with what pertained to them, the military posts and camps of the kingdom. Nor shall they, henceforth, unless by favour of the king, concern themselves with those royal appurtenances. But neither shall it be allowed our successors, who shall follow us in the apostolic chair, to disturb thee or thy kingdom in this matter. Furthermore, we decree that the churches, with the offerings and hereditary possessions which manifestly did not belong to the kingdom, shall remain free; as, on the day of thy coronation, in the sight of the whole church, thou didst promise that they should be. For it is fitting that the bishops, freed from secular cares, should take care of their people, and not any longer be absent from their churches. For, according to the apostle Paul, let them watch, being about to render account, as it were, for the souls of these (their people).

from MG LL, folio II, pp. 68 ff, translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 405-407


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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(c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996
halsall@murray.fordham.edu