By the tenth century C.E., the process of medieval empire building had reached its height. The German and Frankish kings held great power and prestige. The Germanic king Otto I provides the best example of emergent monarchy. However, the eleventh century soon witnessed a reversal in church-state relations. Spurred by the reform movement of Cluny, the church underwent a considerable revival. The clearest sign of the church's renewed power came in the controversy between the German Emperor Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII. By 1077, a European monarch had humbled himself before the Roman Pontiff. An even more visible sign of the churchs resurgence can be found in the Crusades. The First Crusade, which started in 1096 and resulted in the capture of Jerusalem three years later, was also an important sign of the European Wests power. That crusade demonstrated to the Byzantine and Muslim worlds an energetic and at times fanatical new mood in the West. The pontificate of Innocent III placed the church on a firm footing and crafted the papacy into a secular power to be reckoned with. The long contest for European supremacy between France and England began in this era with the Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England. The unique political system that developed in England was based upon a division of political power between the king and the people. Through the Magna Carta, that arrangement has had a lasting effect upon Western peoples. For France, the High Middle Ages also provided a foundation for the future. Unlike other rulers, French kings were quite successful in forming the basis of a future absolute monarchy. In contrast, Germany became fragmented and disunited, creating a problem that lasted for centuries.
After reading this chapter you should understand:
- The early unification of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire under Otto the Great, and its effects on the Church.
- The Cluny reform movement and the Investiture crisis between the Church and the Holy Roman Emperor.
- The Norman conquest of Anglo-Saxon England, and the beginning of the great French-English rivalry.
- The Crusades and their effects in the Middle East and across Europe.