Power in Perspective – Popes and Emperors

What were the reasons behind the conflicts between the emperors and the popes during this period?

Throughout western civilization, a conflict which has always been current news is the disagreement of “who has the authority”. It doesn’t matter how long the authority has existed, questions continue to arise, and rebellion is always a possibility. One of the most interesting conflicts to study, is the tension that exists between religious and political authorities.

Political authorities claim ultimate power because they have taken on the role of protecting the public. Their power extends as far as the public is willing to give them conrtol – in some cases, it has descended into the depths of communim and marxism. Power-hungry individuals can never be satisfied.

Although religous authorities do not object to the protection that political authorities offer, they do have an issue with government powers encroaching upon religous freedoms, such as the freedom to celebrate their religon however they see fit. Religous authorities in general, operate under a system of rules, traditions handed down by their mentors, and tend to lean toward the side of hypocritical thinking.

The problem with the battle of these two entities, is that the struggle will never be over, because there is no resolution. The key thing to remember, is that religous and political authorities operate under totally different mindsets. Political authorities operate under the power which they think has been given to them by the people, but religous authorities operate under the power they believe has been given to them by God.

In the case of the conflict between the Pope and the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the issue centered mainly on control. Barbarossa was interested in capturing Italy. Althought the Pope was in control over the Papal states which had been seperated from Italy, The Pope wasn’t stupid. He knew that men like Barbarossa would not be content to leave the small papal states alone, if they were just sitting there tempting him. The Pope tried to arrange a deal with Frederick in order to try to keep him away from Rome, but it backfired on him and turned into a “big mess”.

The Pope didn’t want to be ruled by the emperor, and he knew that it would be a real possibility if Frederick came to power in Italy. Beforehand, if an emperor had jurisdiction in the same area as the Pope, he would get involved with church affairs which were not rightfully his, like electing bishops and cardinals to church offices.

Although the Pope and the emperor both had the same goal – control – they were different in the way they wanted to act out that control. The Pope wanted control of the Catholic Church and of the people who had submitted to his authority. The emperor wanted control over everything, but only for the purpose of the expansion of His personal power and authority, not necessarily for the good of the believers in Rome.

Thanks for reading!