Concordat of Worms Signed to Separate Secular & Religious Authority Hot

Concordat of Worms Signed to Separate Secular & Religious Authority

Pope Callistus II

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Concordat of Worms: Pope Calistus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V sign the Concordat of Worms, effectively ending the long-running Investiture Conflict between the papacy and the German imperial court.

According to the Concordat of Worms, the pope retains the right to invest bishops with religious authority ("by ring and staff"), but the German king preserves the right to invest a bishop with secular authority ("by the lance").

Although not described at this time as separating church from state, that's a big portion of what the Concordat of Worms accomplishes: religious and secular power are separated from each other, each remaining with a different person.

Even more fundamental is the fact that this decisively eliminates the long-held belief in the Divine Right of Kings — that kings are specifically chosen by God to lead and therefore have a divinely appointed right to pick religious leaders like abbots, bishops, and even popes.

On a purely practical level the Concordat of Worms doesn't accomplish as much as it might seem to. The German emperor will still be able to sit in on the election of abbots and bishops if he wants, to propose candidates, and to decide disputed elections. This gives him nearly as much power as he ever had.

On an ideological level, though, the separation of secular and religious authority will produce momentous consequences down the road.

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