This paper examines some of the provisions concerning servi ecclesiarum, unfree persons in the dominium of the church, that are found in various Germanic legal collections, both secular and ecclesiastical, of the Late Antique and the Early Medieval periods. There was considerable variation in the treatment of church servi from one group to another. In some places, like Bavaria, such people were accorded especially good treatment and demanded a high wergild. In other places, like Visigothic Iberia, there seemed to be concern that servile status was accompanied by an element of ritual pollution that endangered the purity of the church. However, throughout, these codes seem to recognize a greater difference between servi ecclesiarum and servi in the dominium of lay persons than do similar legal texts of both earlier and later periods.
Hildebrand/Gregory VII sparked a reform movement in the mid-11th century leading to the pope’s supplanting of the emperor as the head of Christian society. The movement is seen as incremental and inexorable as the Church instituted reforms, and divorced itself from secular control. In 1061 the reformers elected Alexander II, and a council called by the regency for Henry IV elected Cadalus as Honorius II. But Cadalus was an acknowledged reformer, and Petrus Damiani, one of the most saintly of the reformers, requested that the king summon a council to decide which candidate should be recognized by the church. This paper analyzes the geopolitical situation, the procedures for papal elections, and the motives and actions of the main personae to see which candidate had the legal and moral right to be pope.
Probably the most important law book of the Middle Ages, and one that retained its authority until the publication of the old code of canon law in 1917, was the Liber Extra, the compendium of legal texts authorized by Pope Gregory IX in 1234, popularly known as the Decretals of Gregory IX. A quick inspection of that book conveys the impression of centralized law-making through the medium of the papal letter. This paper challenges that impression. After examining the processes of impetration, selection, and compilation which created the collections of decretal law, it argues that what came to be decretal law was produced not by a papal drive to legislate but by transformations in the legal culture of the 12th century, which caused bishops to seek clarifications of the legal questions which arose in the day-to-day management of their dioceses and litigants to have their cases referred to the papal Curia for moderation or decision.