Gregory VII: Second Banning and Dethronement of Henry IV (March 7, 1080)


.... Among them, especially, Henry whom they call king, son of Henry the emperor, did raise his heel against your church and strive, by casting me down, to subjugate it, having made a conspiracy with many ultramontane bishops. But your authority resisted and your power destroyed their pride. He, confounded and humbled, came to me in Lombardy and sought absolution from the bann. I seeing him humiliated, having received many promises from him concerning the bettering of his way of living, restored to him the communion. But only that; I did not reinstate him in his kingdom from which I had deposed him in a Roman synod, nor did I order that the fealty from which, in that synod, I have absolved all those who had sworn it to him, or were about to swear it, should be observed towards him. And my reason for not doing so was that I might do justice in the matter or arrange peace-as Henry himself, by an oath before two bishops, had promised me should be done-between him and the ultramontane bishops or princes who, being commanded to do so y your church, had resisted him. But the said ultramontane bishops and princes, hearing that he had not kept his promise to me, and, as it were, despairing of him, elected for themselves without my advice-ye are my witnesses-duke Rudolf as king. This king Rudolf hastily sent an envoy to intimate to me that he had been compelled to accept the helm of state but that he was ready to obey me in every way. And to make this the more credible, he has continued from that time to send me words to the same effect, adding also that he was ready to confirm what he had promised by giving his own son and the son of his faithful follower duke Bertald as hostages. Meanwhile Henry commenced to implore my aid against the said Rudolf. I answered that I would willingly grant it if I could hear the arguments on both sides so as to know whom justice most favoured. But he, thinking to conquer by his own strength, scorned my reply. But when he found that he could not do as he had hoped he sent to Rome two of his partisans, the bishops, namely, of Verdun and of Osnabruck, who asked me in a synod to do justice to him. This also the envoys of Rudolf pressed me to do. At length, by God's inspiration as I believe, I decreed in that synod that an assembly should take place beyond the mountains, where either peace should be established or it should be made known which side justice the most favoured. For I-as ye, my fathers and masters, can testify-have taken care up to this time to aid no party save the one on whose side justice should be found to be. And, thinking that the weaker side would wish the assembly not to take place, whereas justice would hold its own, I excommunicated and bound with the anathema the person of one-whether king, duke, bishop or ordinary man-who should by any means contrive to prevent the assembly from taking place. But the said Henry with his partisans, not fearing the danger from disobedience, which is the crime of idolatry, incurred the excommunication by impeding the assembly. And he bound himself with the chain of the anathema, causing a great multitude of Christians to be given over to death and of churches to be ruined, and rendering desolate almost the whole realm of the Germans. Therefore, trusting in the judgment and mercy of God and of his most holy mother the ever-virgin Mary, armed with your authority, I lay under excommunication and bind with the chains of the anathema the oft-mentioned Henry-the so-called king-and all his followers. And again, on the part of God Almighty and of yourselves, I deny to him the kingdom of the Germans and of Italy and I take away from him all royal power and dignity. And I forbid any Christian to obey him as king, and absolve from their oath all who have sworn or shall swear to him as ruler of the land. May this same Henry, moreover, as well as his partisans,-be powerless in any war-like encounter and obtain no victory during his life. Whereas I grant and concede in your name that Rudolf, whom, as a mark of fidelity to ye, the Germans have chosen to be their king, may rule and defend the land of the Germans. To all of those who faithfully adhere to him 1, trusting in your support, grant absolution of all their sins and your benediction in this life and the life to come. For as Henry, on account of his pride, disobedience and falseness, is justly cast down from his royal dignity, so to Rudolf, for his humility, obedience and truthfulness, the power and dignity of kingship are granted.