(Began: 1075- Ended: 1122) In the 10th and 11th centuries, the “Lay” or ruling class had the ultimate authority over the Catholic Church for selecting bishops, abbots, priests, and the pope. In 1073 Gregory VII was elected Pope and decided to forcefully take the investiture privileges for the church believing that the true power lay in the hands of God and not the ruling class. Gregory VII wrote a letter explaining his wishes for investiture to King Henry IV of Germany. Henry IV responded with a denial for the request, and in effect Pope Gregory VII excommunicated him. For about 50 years, the secular powers of the Holy Roman Empire and religious powers of the Roman Catholic Church fought over investiture privileges. It wasn’t until the Concordat of Worms in 1122, that Henry V (Henry IV’s son) decided to give up lay investiture.

King Henry IV also known as the Holy Roman Emperor was born is Goslar (Saxony region), Germany in 1050. His father died when he was very young and as a result, Henry IV had much responsibility at a very young age and sought guidance where he could. People often took advantage of the young king. In 1062, Anno (The Archbishop of Cologne), as a means of bargaining for the Catholic Church at the time to abolish lay investiture, abducted him. Once he was returned home, at only 15 years old, he assumed the seat on the throne as the Holy Roman Emperor. He married Bertha of Savoy in 1066 and later tried to divorce her, but to no avail. The king had a difficult time managing the country without much experience and under such strenuous circumstances between the church and the state. The most notable of the king’s causes was the Investiture Controversy, during which he fought for the ruling class to continue the selection of popes and abbots. Pope Gregory VII was his greatest enemy during this time, and excommunicated him 3 times throughout their long dispute. King Henry IV died in 1085, survived by his sons Conrad (who betrayed him by crowning himself king of Milan) and Henry V.

Matilda of Canossa or also known as Matilda of Tuscany was born in 1046 in Lucca, Tuscany, in Italy. Her father and two siblings were killed in 1052, leaving her large land holdings in many provinces of Italy. She is considered one of the most powerful women leaders of all time due to her tenacity, spirituality, and commanding demeanor. Matilda was a large supporter of the papacy and also close ally of Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. It was at her castle in Canossa that Gregory VII granted absolution to Henry IV after he had waited outside for three days in the snow (otherwise known at the Walk to Canossa). Up until her death in 1115, she donated much of her assets (money, military, and land) to support the papacy and its cause.