Church and state in medieval Europe
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The relationship between the Church and the feudal states during the medieval period went through a number of developments, roughly from the end of the Roman Empire through to the beginning of the Reformation. The events of the struggles for power between kings and popes shaped the western world.
For centuries, monarchs ruled by the idea of divine right, which said the king ruled both Crown and Church, a theory known as caesaropapism. On the Catholic Church side was the belief that the Pope, as representative of Christ on earth, should have the ultimate authority over the state and its crown.
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, there emerged no single powerful secular government in the West, but there was a central ecclesiastical power in Rome, the Catholic Church. In this power vacuum, the Church rose to become the dominant power in the West. As the Church expanded beginning in the 10th century, and as secular kingdoms gained power at the same time, there naturally arose the conditions for a power struggle between Church and Kingdom over ultimate authority.
The conflict between Church and state was in many ways a uniquely Western phenomenon originating in Late Antiquity (see Saint Augustine's masterpiece City of God (417)). Contrary to Augustinian theology, the Papal States in Italy, today downsized to the State of Vatican, were ruled directly by the Holy See. Moreover, throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the right to depose the Catholic kings of Western Europe, and tried to exercise it, sometimes successfully (see the investiture controversy, below), sometimes not, as with Henry VIII of England and Henry III of Navarre. However, in the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire, Church and state were closely linked and collaborated in a "symphony", with some exceptions (see Iconoclasm). This was unlike the Islamic world, where the two were one and the same. The concept of Church and state at odds would have been very foreign in Islamic society.
Historical events 
Investiture controversy 
When the Holy Roman Empire developed as a force from the tenth century, it was the first real non-barbarian challenge to the authority of the Church. A dispute between the secular and ecclesiastical powers emerged known as the Investiture Controversy, beginning in the mid-eleventh century and was resolved with the Concordat of Worms in 1122. While on the surface it was over a matter of official procedures regarding the appointments of offices, underneath was a powerful struggle for control over who held ultimate authority, the King or the Pope.
Magna Carta 
In England, the principle of separation of church and state can be found in the Magna Carta. The first clause declared that the Church in England would be free from interference by the Crown. This reflected an ongoing dispute King John was having with the Pope over Stephen Langton's election as archbishop of Canterbury, the result of which England had been under interdict for 7 years. The barons, who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta, wanted to create a separation between church and state powers to keep the Crown from using the Church as a political weapon and from arbitrarily seizing its lands and property. However, the Pope annulled the "shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the king by violence and fear" one month after it was signed. The Magna Carta was reissued, albeit with alterations, in 1216 and 1225 but continued to be a subject of contention for several centuries as it was either seen as providing legal precedence or by later monarchs as restricting their authority.
Philip the Fair 
Pope Boniface VIII put forward some of the strongest claims to temporal as well as spiritual supremacy of any Pope and intervened incessantly in foreign affairs. He proclaimed that it "is necessary for salvation that every living creature be under submission to the Roman pontiff", pushing Papal Supremacy to its historical extreme. Boniface's quarrel with Philip the Fair became so resentful that he excommunicated him in 1303. However, before the Pope could lay France under an interdict, Boniface was seized by Philip. Although he was released from captivity after three days, he died of shock 6 months later. No subsequent popes were to repeat Boniface VIII's claims.
Thomas Becket 
Although initially close to King Henry II, as Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket became an independent figure. King Henry devoted his reign to the restoration of the royal customs of his grandfather King Henry I, as part of this he wanted to extend his authority over the Church and limited its freedoms. The Becket dispute revolved around the Constitutions of Clarendon, a document which Becket and the Pope largely condemned. Becket eventually fled England and went into exile in France; during these six years there were a number of attempts at restoring peace. The fourth meeting at Fréteval ended in an agreement and Becket decided to return the Canterbury. However the King reneged on his promises made at Fréteval and in response Becket produced a number of censures on royal officials and clergymen. Four barons of the King sought to gain the King's favour and therefore proceeded to Canterbury Cathedral to confront Becket; it is much more likely that they intended to scare and possible arrest Becket than to kill him. Nonetheless after a heated argument the four barons murdered Becket on the steps of the altar in Canterbury Cathedral. The King certainly did not mean for the barons to kill Becket and expressed remorse for this killing. He attended Canterbury in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of penance. Later in 1174 he submitted himself before the tomb of Thomas Becket, thus recognizing St. Thomas's sanctity.
Guelphs and Ghibellines 
The conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines began as part of the secular-papal struggle.
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First Crusade 
There was some uncertainty about what would happen to Jerusalem after it was conquered in 1099. Godfrey of Bouillon refused to take the title "king", and was instead called "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre". Dagobert of Pisa was named Patriarch in 1100, and attempted to turn the new state into a theocracy, with a secular state to be created elsewhere, perhaps in Cairo. Godfrey soon died however, and was succeeded by his brother Baldwin, who did not hesitate to call himself king and actively opposed Dagobert's plans. By Dagobert's death in 1107, Jerusalem was a secular kingdom.
See also 
- Christian anarchism
- Defensor pacis
- Dominium mundi
- Separation of church and state
- Concordat of Worms
- The Norman Anonymous