What Were the Reasons Behind the Conflicts Between Emperors and Popes During the Middle Ages

Throughout the middle ages there were a lot of conflicts between different individuals or groups. The middle ages after all was a rather unstable and changing time of history. Two types of people who had a lot of back and forth conflicts were the emperors and popes. These conflicts between these two types of people were due to a number of reasons; but in my opinion why these conflicts occurred was because of “power.” But why was “power,” the main reason for these conflicts between emperor and pope?

Usually these conflicts between emperor and pope went something like this: first the emperor does something against the church, say they start choosing church officials, this reduces the power of the church, but gains the power of the emperor. Of course this does not please the pope so he warns the emperor. The emperor does not listen to the pope and continues what he is doing. This leads to the Pope excommunicating the emperor, which the emperor ignores usually. Eventually this finally leads to some form of serious conflict or an agreement, which hence leads to the end of this conflict.

By looking at this example, it shows that these conflicts were rather like a power struggle. Even though you may say that it is wrong  to have a political leader choose religious officials, and that the pope’s response is right; you still have to note that if a political figure chooses religious officials that reduces the power of the church and the pope. Technically even though it is a good thing to have a separation between church and state, that does not mean that these conflicts were not about power.

Also to note the pope had a lot of power over the emperor. For example the pope was capable of excommunicating or deposing the emperor, if the emperor does something wrong or goes against the church in some way. The pope having this much power led to conflict because some emperors wanted to have power over the pope. Hence why a lot of these conflicts were all about power.

The struggle between church and state has been a common struggle throughout history; so has the struggle between the catholic church and other christian sects. Really this whole thing comes down to each group or individual wanting to be dominant or wanting more power over the other group or individual. Hence why power was the main reason for these conflicts.


  1. Perth Girl says:

    Between the emperors and the popes during the middle ages, it was definitely a matter of power and who had the ultimate authority. It is sad when we think about the contention between the catholic church and other denominations. We after all worship one God and that difference I think tends to put people off rather than bring more people to Christ which should be the focus of the church.

    Liked by 1 person

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