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Paschal II

Pope Paschal II was elected in 1099 which is where is recorded on the Bible Timeline Poster with World History. He reigned as Roman pontiff until his death in 1118. He inherited the Investiture dispute from his predecessors Gregory VII and Urban II. The struggle also continued against the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV and his son Henry V. This long-drawn-out Investiture Controversy was solved not only in Italy itself or Germany but also in France and England during his reign.

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Early Life

Paschal II was born around 1050/1055 from a family of modest means in the Bieda de Galeata in the Romagna region. The son of a couple named Crescentius and Alfatia was christened Rainerius. As a boy, he was offered as a monk either in the Cluny Abbey or the scenic Vallombrosa Abbey in Florence. The young monk was appointed as an abbot of San Lorenzo fuori la Mura by Pope Gregory VII. In 1078, he rose once again to the clerical ranks with his appointment as cardinal priest of San Clemente. An additional appointment to a special mission in Spain was added by Urban II before his death in 1099.

Election as Pope and Investiture Controversy

Rainerius was elected in 1099 soon after Urban II’s death and adopted the name Paschal II. He was described as a capable administrator, but his reign was marred with the Investiture Controversy that Gregory VII and Urban II passed on to him when they died. Although the antipope Clement III had died in 1099, the surprisingly resilient Henry IV was still insistent on his right to appoint his own clerics. Three separate antipopes (Theodoric, Adalbert, and Silvester IV) were also elected by different factions to replace Clement. However, all three were subsequently deposed during the reign of Paschal II.

“This illustration is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by Chevalier Artaud de Montor”

Paschal II asserted the Church’s right to appoint clergy and reinforced the ban on investiture on Henry and his supporters. Henry IV died in 1106, but before his death, his son Henry V rebelled against him and insisted on being crowned as king in his father’s stead in Rome. Paschal seized the chance to weaken the father further by building an alliance with the son. This backfired when Henry V also insisted on his right to investiture. The exasperated Pope issued repeated bans on Henry V’s for this defiance until the German prince marched to Rome escorted by his troops to insist on what he thought was his right.

Paschal knew he could not match Henry V’s troops and he was unwilling to resort to violence. The pope was then forced to concede to him and propose a compromise: waive his rights to appoint clergy and hold free elections instead. In exchange, the Church would give up all properties and other rights the Empire had given to it (the tithes would still be retained by the Church). Henry accepted these concessions, but these caused an uproar among the people when the terms were read aloud during his coronation. The people expressed their disapproval and halted the coronation; Henry then had the pope imprisoned for two months until Paschal was forced to grant him investiture rights to buy his freedom.

Henry’s coronation pushed through on April 13, 1111. He returned to Germany soon after, but Paschal was left to bear the brunt of the people’s anger over his concession. He offered to abdicate to pacify the people and to nullify the concessions, but for some reason, his abdication did not push through. He renewed the ban on investiture in 1116, but by then, it had already been solved by the kings of England and France. They agreed to refrain from investiture and be content with a vow of loyalty from the appointed cleric. Paschal approved this compromise when the news reached him.

Last Years and Death

Paschal’s last year as a pope was marred with riots which forced him to flee Rome around 1116. By 1117, he was forced to escape to Benevento when Henry V took advantage of the chaos in the city and returned from Germany who had him replaced with antipope Gregory VIII. Henry V was crowned by the antipope in 1117. Paschal attempted to come back to power but died in 1118 in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

Picture By Artaud de Montor (1772–1849) –, Public Domain, Link
Kelly, J. N. D., and Michael J. Walsh. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. New York, NY.: Oxford UP, 2010.
Mann, Horace K. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages. Vol. VIII. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1925.
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