chapter  VI
10 Pages


Between the death of Gregory I and the accession of Gregory VII the papacy underwent many vicissitudes, calamities as well as triumphs. Yet the general advance in papal power can be seen by comparing the position and claims of the first Gregory with those of his later namesake. Gregory I claimed the spiritual primacy which descended to the vicar of Christ, the successor of S.Peter, but he wrote to the emperor at Constantinople in humility as a subject. Gregory VII was to claim not merely supreme spiritual but supreme temporal power, to declare an emperor deposed, and to plunge Germany and Italy into war to enforce his will. With him the medieval conception of the papacy became fully shaped: later popes exceeded him in effective power, but they had no need to extend his statement of the papal claims. The period intermediate between these two popes was preeminently for the church that of the growth of the medieval papacy. The old conception of great autocephalous churches, united in the faith and in church order, has been explained in previous chapters: it was in this period to be completely lost in the west, where indeed, in view of the inclusion of the whole west in a single patriarchate, it had never been of great vitality. The relationship of metropolitan sees to the patriarchate of Rome had never included the Greek conception of autocephalia.