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 Papal Banner - Part 3

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Papal Banner - Part 3   Tue Nov 04, 2008 3:11 pm

William I & the Question of the Papal Banner


Continued on from Papal Banner - Part 2

Some additional points to consider:
The Church in England was rather semi-autonomous - and strangely, even after William's accession, it continued to remain so.

"Gregory had no power to compel the English king to an alteration in his ecclesiastical policy, so he chose to ignore what he could not approve, and even considered it advisable to assure him of his particular affection."

This was after William's accession - so since there was no dramatic change in "policy" - we might assume that this was so prior to William's accession.

Peters Pence - was withheld prior to William's accession and after by William - as it was in other Christian countries.

The Papacy was attempting to bring under their benevolent umbrella, a number of "loyal" Christian rulers who were willing to submit themselves before the papal throne and become vassals of a "papal kingdom" - which is something we can liken (with hindsight) to the formation of the latter Papal States. The Normans, at this point, seem to have been the only one aggressive enough to seize lands and willing to put themselves under the suzereingty of the papacy to adopt some legitimacy to their claims (and conquests) - and Southern Italy and Sicily is a very good example.

But with regards to the papal banner - did William place himself under the suzereignty of Rome, or more to the point, did he promise that he would himself become a vassal of the papacy should he gain England. I think he did. William was no fool - he was a wily politician. England was just that little bit out of the "European" orbit and so could maintain a semi-autonomous position. Did William hope that once he took the throne, that distance would assure that he might be "forgotten" and thus any oaths or promises falsely made might also be "forgotten".


I am actually going to go out on a limb here and say that the influence of the Normans of Southern Italy / Sicily over the Papacy and events in Normandy / England was rather negligable.

Consider the following:
When defining the word "influence" we would need to evaluate just how much pressure the Normans exerted upon the Papacy - did they change Papal policy; did they affect the way in which the Papacy behaved; did they dominate Papal foreign policy. And I think that the answer is no. Especially when looking at the dominating influences of the 10th Century - The Houses of Theophylact, Crescenti and Tusculum; and not forgetting the Ottonians. These people did have "influence" - they influenced Papal elections, they dominated Papal politics, their ambitions and power lay behind the Papal throne.

The Normans were no match for the German Empire or Roman aristocracy. The Normans were "allied" to the Papacy - when it suited them - for they often abandoned the Papal cause just as quickly as they championed it.

The sphere of "influence" of the Normans is in Southern Italy / Sicily were their domains were - any "influence" that they might have held over the Papacy would be directed towards these lands first and foremost. I cannot for one minute imagine Guiscard or any other the other Norman leaders putting the interests of Normandy above their own immediate interests in Southern Italy and Sicily. Many of those who clambered around Guiscard were, in effect, political refugees from Normandy. So why would these men (and women) give support to the very place they left under acrimonious terms??

The main interests, and this specifically applies to Guiscard, lay in the East not the West. Byzantium and Constantinople were his goals - he wanted to become Emperor. So why would he use any political influence that he might have had with the Papacy to gain a throne for some-one else above an imperial crown for himself. Guiscard was not that unselfish!!!

Yes, I have no doubt many Normans from Southern Italy did return to Normandy and put their support behind William. But I do not consider that there was any "influence" exerted upon the Papacy by the Normans in Southern Italy to champion the cause of William in his English adventures.

The Papacy granted the Papal Banner to the Normans in their conquests against Muslims - to brings these areas under Christian rule. England was already a Christian country - was the Papacy ready to commit itself into championing a "crusade" against another Christian country. In the mid-11th Century - I do not think that is what it had in mind.

Yes, we know Gregory and Hildebrand were "sympathetic" to the Normans - but ostensibly I think this applies to the immediate contact point - Southern Italy. Rome found itself in the uncomfortable position of being beset on all side - Germany Imperial interests in the North; Norman interests in the South; Greek interests in the East; and lets not forget the Muslim interests in Sicily and North Africa. So the Papacy was in dire need of allies - and so it was that the Normans were able to provide an advantageous "buffer" and protect the Papal rear. And as we know, the papacy was quite happy to play off the Germans and the Normans went it suited their policies.

And as was previously mentioned - England was some distance away - if the Church maintained a semi-autonomous position free from Papal influence, then why would the politics of a region just as far away have any "influence" over the politics of said country, England.

Simply put: if the Papacy exerted little influence over Church politics in England, then it most likely had as much influence of political/governmental politics.



Continue onto Papal Banner - Part 4

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