Monarchs, Nobles, and the Church

Three different
factions had power
during the early
Middle Ages:
They clashed
repeatedly, trying
to increase their
The Church
Monarchs, Nobles, and the Church
• Monarchs, Nobles, and the Church
Feudal monarchs had limited power.
They ruled by relying on vassal military support.
Nobles / Church were as powerful as the king.
The nobles / Church had own courts, own taxes, and own
• Kings were crafty, ambitious, and determined to centralize
– Expanded domain, set up a royal justice system, undermined
feudal / Church courts.
– Organized bureaucracy, developed tax system / built a standing
– Strengthened ties with the middle class.
– Imposed peace / unity needed for trade.
Strong Monarchs in England
• Angles, Saxons, and Vikings invaded and settled.
Feudalism developed but rulers kept kingdoms
• Norman Conquest.
– In 1066, The Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor died
without an heir- led to a power struggle.
– Nobles chose Edward's brother-in-law, Harold of Wessex
to rule.
– Duke William of Normandy also claimed the English
William The Conqueror
William raised army / won backing of the Pope.
Battle of Hastings, Norman knights beat Harold.
Christmas Day 1066, took the crown of England.
William The Conqueror
– exerted control like other feudal monarchs
– granted fiefs to the Church / Norman lords
– monitored and built castles where required.
• To learn about his kingdom, "William complete census taken in
Domesday Book which listed every castle, field, and pigpen in England.
Domesday Book became efficient system of tax collecting.
French-speaking nobles dominated but Anglo-Saxon population survived.
blending occurred of customs, languages, and traditions.
Increasing royal authority.
• Successors strengthened finances and law. Created the royal
treasury to collect taxes. Exchequer received fees, fines, and
other dues.
– Henry II inherited the throne.
– He broadened the system of royal justice.
– He wrote new laws, follow customs.
– He found ways to expand old ideas into law.
– Sent out traveling justices to enforce royal laws. The
decisions became basis for English common Law, / law that
was common-the same-for all people.
– People chose royal courts over Nobles / Church.
– Royal courts charged fees so king benefited from the growth
of royal justice.
Clash with Church and State
• Under Henry II, England also developed a jury system. Justices
visited an area, local officials collected a jury; or group of men
sworn to speak the truth. (Jury in French means sworn on
oath.) Juries determined cases to be brought to trial and are
the ancestors of today’s grand jury.
• A tragic clash.
– Extending royal power led to Church dispute. Henry claimed the right
to try clergy in royal courts. Thomas Becket, the archbishop of
Canterbury opposed it. The conflict simmered. Henry’s knights,
believing they were doing Henry’s bidding, murdered the archbishop
in his own cathedral. Henry denied any part in it.
– He eased off attempts to regulate the clergy. Becket, was a martyr and
declared a saint.
A dispute arose between Henry and the Church
Henry claimed
the right to try
clergy in royal
Thomas Becket,
the archbishop
of Canterbury,
opposed him.
Becket was killed
by Henry’s knights
Evolving Traditions of Government
• The Magna Carta.
– John angered his nobles with heavy-handed taxes
and other abuses of power In 1215, barons cornered
John and forced him to sign the Magna Carta. King
affirmed a long list of feudal rights. Protected
themselves, recognized rights of townspeople and
the Church.
– The Magna Carta contained two basic ideas that
shaped government traditions. First, nobles had
certain rights. Over time, these rights were extended
to all English citizens. Second, the Magna Carta made
the monarch obey the law. Became the “Rights of
the people”.
Provisions in the
Magna Carta
formed the basis
for both due
process of law
and the right of
habeus corpus.
The Great Council
of lords and clergy
evolved into
Parliament in the
Development of Parliament. English rulers
often called on the Great Council for
Eventually, this became Parliament.
Parliament gained the crucial "power of
the purse." It won the right to approve any
new taxes. It checked or limited the power
of the monarch.
Royal Successes in France
• France was not a unified kingdom
– French monarchs had little power over a
patchwork of territories ruled by feudal
– The Capetians.
– 1087 nobles elected Hugh Capet, the count
of Paris, to the vacant throne.
Hugh / heirs slowly increased royal power.
–First, they made the throne hereditary, passing it
from father to son.
–Added lands by playing rival nobles against each
–They won the support of the Church.
–They built an effective bureaucracy. Government
officials collected taxes and imposed royal law over
the king's domain. Established order, added to their
prestige and gained the backing of the new middle
class of townspeople.
• Philip Augustus.
– A shrewd and able ruler. He strengthened royal
– During the Albigensian heresy, he suppressed it, added
land to his domain.
• Louis IX, grandson of Philip Augustus, pursued
religious goals.
– He persecuted heretics and Jews and led thousands of
French knights in two wars against Muslims.
– Louis improved royal government. By his death in 1270,
France was an efficient centralized monarchy.
Clash with the pope.
• Philip IV extended royal power. He tried to collect new taxes
from the French clergy. These efforts led to a clash with Pope
Boniface VIII.
• After, a Frenchman was elected pope. He moved the papal
court to the town of Avignon, ensuring that future French
rulers would control religion within their own kingdoms.
• The Estates General. Philip rallied French support by setting
up the Estates General in 1302. This body had representatives
from all three estates, or classes: clergy, nobles, and
• The Estates General, it did not develop the same role that the
English Parliament did. It never gained the power of the purse
or otherwise served as a balance to royal power.
• In 936, Duke Otto I of Saxony took the title king of
• Otto I worked closely with the Church. He took an army
south into Italy to help the pope put down a rebellion
by Roman nobles. In 962, a grateful pope crowned Otto
emperor. Otto's successors took the title Holy Roman
emperor "holy" because they were crowned by the
pope, "Roman" because they saw themselves as heirs
to the emperors of ancient Rome.
• For German emperors, the challenge was to control
nobles. They failed.
• Conflict with the Church.
Holy Roman emperors saw themselves as
protectors of Italy and the pope. They
repeatedly intervened in Italian affairs.
A key conflict between emperors and
popes rose over who would control
appointments to high Church offices. As
the Cluny reforms strengthened the
Church, popes attempted to end such
outside interference.
Two Determined Rulers
• Pope Gregory VII, the conflict between emperors
and the Church burst into flames. Gregory was
one of the greatest medieval popes. He was also
among the most controversial. Gregory was
determined to make the Church independent of
secular rulers.
• He banned the practice of lay investiture. Only
the pope, said Gregory, had the right to appoint
and install bishops in office.
• In 1076, Gregory excommunicated Henry, freeing
his subjects from their allegiance to the emperor.
Henry was forced to make peace with the pope.
Barefoot in the snow. Henry crossed the icy Alps. He
presented himself as a repentant sinner. Henry then
quickly returned to Germany and subdued his
rebellious nobles. Later, he led an army to Rome and
forced the pope into exile.
Concordat of Worms. -- The struggle over investiture
dragged on for almost 50 years. Finally, (the Concordat
of Worms). The Church had the sole power to elect
and invest bishops with spiritual authority. The
emperor, however, had the right to invest them with
fiefs. This compromise ended the investiture struggle.
Frederick II.
• As Holy Roman emperor, Frederick spent little time in
Germany. Like his grandfather, Frederick II also tried but
failed to subdue the cities of northern Italy.
• Consequences: While in Italy, he gave in to many
demands of his German nobles. As a result, they grew
increasingly independent. Although the Holy Roman
Empire survived, it remained fragmented into many
feudal states. The emperors thus lost control of Germany
at a time when French and English rulers were building
the foundations for stable, unified governments. The
German people paid a high price for their emperors
ambitions: They would not achieve unity for another 600

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