May 25th 1085: Pope Gregory VII dies

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Pope Gregory VII (1020 – 1085)

 

On this day in 1085 Pope Gregory VII died in Salerno. He became Pope in 1073 and was known for his advocacy of Church reform such as ending the practice of simony (selling Church offices) and ensuring clerical celibacy. Gregory VII was crucial in the Investiture Controversy which was a dispute between the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV over who had the power to invest bishops with the symbols of their office. Gregory VII excommunicated Henry IV twice, leading the Emperor to wait outside Canossa Castle for the Pope for three days in the snow, begging for his excommunication to be rescinded, which Gregory granted. Gregory’s excommunication of Henry was considered by some as an over-extension of papal power over secular matters.

 

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Emperor Henry IV (1050 – 1106)