chapter  I
8 Pages


It must be repeated that the motive which for two and a half centuries had determined the hostility of the Emperors to the Papacy was by no means their eagerness to defend the temporal power against the encroachments of the Church. To envisage the question thus is to transport into the heart of the Middle Ages ideas and problems which belong only to our modern times. Neither the humiliation of Henry IV at Canossa, nor that of Frederick Barbarossa at Venice, nor that of Otto IV at Bouvines, was the humiliation of the civil power before priestly arrogance. In reality, the conflict was not a conflict between State and Church: it was an intestine struggle within the Church itself. What the Emperors wanted was to compel the Popes to recognize them as governing the universal Church, a right which they claimed was theirs from the time of the Carolingian Empire, as the Ottos and Henrys had done, or from the time of the Roman Empire, as the Hohenstaufens had done. Their pretensions thus imperilled, in every country, that temporal independence of which, by the strangest of confusions, they had been regarded as the defenders. The cause of the Pope was the cause of the nation, and with the liberty of the Church was bound up the liberty of the European States; to such an extent that the victory of Philip Augustus at Bouvines was the triumph of both causes.