During the 11th century, the church was troubled by problems and corruption. Monarchs and nobles were appointing the Church officials. The pope at the time Pope Gregory VII, was highly against all of this. In 1075 Gregory held a council that concluded in deposing any church official who was appointed by monarchs or nobles, also the nobles or monarchs who were appointing church officials were to be excommunicated. This was the start of a series of events that took place due to a conflict between Gregory and the Holy Roman emperor at the time, Henry IV. But what was at stake during this conflict?
Henry the IV, needed bishops to offset the power of his nobles. But things became worse when a disagreement occurred over the election of the Bishop of Milan. Henry chose and appointed his choices for the bishops of Milan and other regions. Gregory demanded Henry to stop this, but Henry persisted, which in turn forced Gregory to excommunicate him. This went badly for Henry, his nobles under him began to rebel, which in turn forced him to submit to Gregory. Henry’s excommunication was lifted after this by Gregory.
Even though it seemed that Henry had stopped his ways, Henry then defeated the rebelling nobles, and continued resisting Gregory. Henry resisted so much that it forced Gregory to go into exile; Gregory actually died in exile in 1085. In 1122 this conflict between the Church and the laymen was resolved in the Concordat of Worms.
What was at Stake?
There were two things at stake during this conflict. The first of which was the authority of the church, during the whole situation the church had little control over who was chosen for church office. The second thing at stake was the divide between church and state, this was because the nobles and monarchs at the time were the ones who were choosing the church officials, not the actual church itself.
All of these issues between the church and the state during the 10th and 11th centuries is known as the Investiture Controversy. Even though the events that occurred especially during the conflict between Gregory the VII and Henry the IV, were rather unpleasant, those events were important in the putting in place of the divide between church and state in the west.