What Were the Major Events or Conflicts That Occurred During the Papal Revolution?

ABSTRACT:     The Papal Revolution was the most significant historical pivot point of the last 1,000 years, second only to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the past 2,000 years.  The Papal Revolution of 1075-1122 followed hard on the heels of the Norman Invasion of 1066.  If we don’t understand what happened at Canossa just prior to the Papal Revolution of 1075, we simply cannot understand the history of Western Civilization.  If you don’t fully grasp the significance of the Papal Revolution, then you have no historical reference point.  You have no historiographical  North Star to understand what’s going on in the world today.  You have no geo-political gyroscope.  Sadly, this is where Alfred the Great was given his historical pink slip.  The Normans took over England and all the great revolutions in the West have flowed from that historical tipping point.

Collection of Church Rents 

The main point of contention was who was going to collect the rents from church land?  To know what’s really going on, follow the money.  It appears that God had a really good reason, when he denied the Levites from having a lot in the Promised land. Beyond their personal dwelling, God promised He Himself would be their Lot. But now for the better part of the First Millennium we have the unseemly spectacle of church and state squabblilng over who is going to collect the rent on church property. This is closely related to who appoints the Bishops.

Separation of Church and State

The Papal Revolution created a radical separation of church and state. Instead of a co-operative effort to lead a Christian culture into the future, we got almost 50 years of warfare (1075-1122).  In spite of the papal victory the church grew more and more irrelevant over time. Meantime, the state split off from the church to create its own systems of secular law. There was scant reference to the law of God.  Some of the key leaders in the development of these secular legal systems were John of Salisbury, Roger II of Sicily, Henry II of England, Phillip II of Francis, and Frederick II of Germany.  These were the great law-making kings, who trod in the well-worn steps of Mother Eve:  “Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3).

I. Introduction

A. The Papal Revolution

The Papal Revolution was a pivotal period in medieval history. It unfolded against the backdrop of intense conflict over who would appoint the Bishops. Related to this was who would collect the rents from church lands. This struggle, however, transcended mere economic disputes. It evolved into a far-reaching confrontation regarding the relationship between church and state. In this article we’ll explore the key events surrounding the Papal Revolution. This will include, their broader implications and the historical consequences.

The Papal Revolution emerged during a time when the church wielded substantial political and economic power. This came particularly through its vast landholdings via inheritance. The contention over the appointment of bishops and subsequent collection of rents from church lands was at issue. It defined the power struggle between rulers of church and state.

B. The Investiture Struggle in the Papal Revolution

It seems obvious that the church should appoint its bishops. Nonetheless, the Holy Roman Emperor claimed the right as the leader of all Christendom. The conflict created a radical reconfiguration of what God intends to be a productive alliance between church and state. Think Moses and Aaron working together in harmony within their respective spheres – well most of the time. We have examples in the Old Testament of each correcting or exhorting the other when it was called for.

The most tragic result of the Papal Revolution was a sharp departure from Mosaic Bible law. Biblical law lay at the heart of the judicial system during the days of Alfred the Great. After the Papal Revolution, the Bible became just one source of authority among many for church and state. Extra-Biblical sources include Canon law, German folk law, Scholastic analysis of Justinian’s Roman Code, Feudal law, and Royal law, among others. Key rulers in development of Royal law were Roger II of Sicily, Henry II of England, Philip II of France, and Frederick II of Germany. These men dictated the shape of the emerging secular legal systems. This shift to a retributionary legal system marked a divergence from the restitutionary biblical law code. The Mosaic covenant itself had long controlled legal decisions under the line of Alfred the Great.

C. Church and State in the Papal Revolution

The consequences of this departure from Mosaic Bible law were profound. Rather than fostering a cooperative effort between church and state to lead a Christian culture into the future, the Papal Revolution sowed the seeds of discord. After almost 50 years of armed conflict, once-unified entities of church and state were now on divergent paths. Over centuries, the state became all-encompassing and the church gradually lost socio-political relevance. With the loss of Biblical law, the salt had lost its savor and was trodden under foot by men.

The impact of departing from biblical law was not confined to the ecclesiastical realm alone. It played a pivotal role in provoking subsequent great national revolutions. Notably, the English, American, French, and Russian Revolutions were all influenced by the establishment of new secular legal systems.  Each revolution seemed to strip the church of a bit more of its cultural power and influence. This was the dynamic that has brought us to our current state of anarchy. God is simply fulfilling the promise of Deuteronomy 28. Obey my law and be blessed, disobey and be cursed.

II. Causes of The Papal Revolution

A. Context of the Papal Revolution

1. Medieval Context of the Papal Revolution

To understand the Papal Revolution, we must understand the broader medieval context that laid the groundwork. The medieval world was characterized by a delicate balance of power between the church and secular authorities. The church wielded not only spiritual influence but also vast economic and political power through its extensive landholdings. This dynamic played a central role in the medieval socio-political landscape. Church officials functioned more as landlords than shepards of the flock.

During this era, the papacy reached the zenith of its temporal power. Popes often led secular affairs and wielded significant influence over monarchs and rulers. At the same time, secular leaders sought to assert their authority and maintain control over their territories. The intersection of ecclesiastical and secular power created an often tense relationship. It set the stage for the upheavals that would define the Papal Revolution.

The Investiture Controversy was the thing that ignited the Papal Revolution. At the heart of this conflict was the struggle for control over the appointment of bishops and other church officials. Secular rulers, particularly Holy Roman Emperors like Henry IV, desired to retain power to appoint and invest bishops with authority. They could thereby assert influence over the Church.

2. Pope vs. Emperor in the Papal Revolution

The papacy, led by Pope Gregory VII, vehemently opposed this interference. Gregory asserted the Church’s right to autonomy in clerical appointments. Thus, the Investiture Controversy highlighted the tension between the church and state. It laid the groundwork for the bloody conflicts that would characterize the Papal Revolution.

These came to a head in 1075 when Pope Gregory VII excommunicated the entire nation of Germany. This was due to the intransience of the Holy Roman Emperor in refusing to submit to the Pope’s demands.  That meant no church services, no weddings, no funerals, and subjects relieved from their oaths of allegiance.   Finally, a contrite King Henry IV stood barefoot in the snow for 3 days at the Castle of Canossa. Only then was the Pope compelled to lift the ban of excommunication.  But rather than sit down and work out a Biblical Moses-Aaron relationship, the two went to war for almost 50 years. Gregory employed King Roger II of Sicily as his mercenary.

In the Kingdom of Sicily, the struggle for dominance between the papacy and secular rulers took a unique form. Roger II of Sicily, a Norman (former Viking) king, sought to consolidate his power and establish a unified kingdom. However, tensions arose as he sought to govern independently of papal authority. The resulting negotiations and conflicts of this regional struggle created a climate that would soon erupt into the Papal Revolution.

B. Key Issues of the Papal Revolution

1. Collection of Rents in the Papal Revolution

The Papal Revolution was not merely a conflict over the mundane matter of collecting rents from church lands. It was a manifestation of deeper ideological and power struggles. At its core, the key issue revolved around the question of who held supreme authority – the church or the state. The collection of rents became the practical battleground for this larger power struggle. 

The church’s extensive landholdings granted it substantial economic influence. The attempt by secular rulers to tax or control these resources became the lever of their bid for autonomy.

The Papal Revolution marked a departure from the traditional reliance on Mosaic Bible law under Alfred the Great. Canon law was a system of ecclesiastical laws developed by the Church. It was based on a number of extra-Biblical sources in addition to the Scripture. These included Roman law, German folk law and the multitude of penitential codes that developed in the Catholic system. The shift from Alfred’s restitutionary legal system to the Norman retributionary system occurred dramatically at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 a.d.

2. Extra-Biblical Authority in the Papal Revolution

In Scripture church and state are separate in function, but united in a common purpose under one law. Each is accountable to the law of God in its respective sphere, with neither supreme. 

In addition, they were also accountable to each other.  For example, the Christian emperor Theodosius was excommunicated by Bishop Ambrose for his slaughter of Thessalonians, until he came to repentance.  And in the Old Testament King Uzziah was afflicted with leprosy and thrust out of the temple by the priests for assuming the priestly duty of offering sacrifice.

However, the Papal Revolution marked a departure from the traditional commitment to Mosaic Bible law as the guiding force in legal and political matters that had marked the dynasty of Alfred the Great in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries.

The shift towards incorporation of extra-Biblical sources reflected a fundamental change in the conceptualization of legal authority. In addition to canon law, we had German folk law, Scholastic analysis of the Justinian Roman Code, feudal law, manorial law, municipal law, and the Royal law of secular leaders, This departure laid the foundation for the multiplication and secularization of legal systems in the West. It thereby contributed to the radical separation of church and state in the second millennium.

C. Conflicting Interests in the Papal Revolution

1. Henry II vs. Thomas a Beckett

The conflicting interests during the Papal Revolution were multifaceted and nuanced. On one hand, the church sought to maintain its dominant role in both spiritual and temporal matters. The papacy, driven by a desire to preserve its wealth and authority, resisted encroachments by secular powers. On the other hand, secular rulers, increasingly aware of their own political autonomy, sought to limit the influence of the church and consolidate their authority.

This clash of interests played out in various arenas, from disputes over land and taxation to questions of political sovereignty. The church’s insistence on its divine right clashed with the secular rulers’ pursuit of autonomy and control over their realms. The contest over the collection of rents from church lands became a tangible expression of this broader struggle, symbolizing the larger ideological shift away from Mosaic Bible law.

The conflict between Henry II of England and Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury was typical. It illustrated the clash of interests between church and state. Initially close allies, the relationship soured when Becket began to prioritize church interests over the king’s authority.

2. Murder of Thomas a Becket

The struggle reached a boiling point when Becket opposed Henry’s attempts to subject clergy to secular law. The story ended in tragedy with the murder of Becket on the sanctury of church grounds by 4 of the king’s men.

These conflicts continued to simmer even after the Investiture Struggle had run its course.  In the early 14th century, Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV of France engaged in a power struggle over conflicting interests. Philip sought to tax the clergy to fund his wars, challenging the financial autonomy of the church. The Canterbury Tales are illustrative of this period.

Pope Boniface, in turn, issued the papal bull “Clericis Laicos” in 1096 asserting the church’s exemption from secular taxation. Here the church was on sound Biblical footing when we consider that King Artaxerxes decreed “that it is not allowed to impose tax, tribute or toll on any of the priests, Levites, singers, doorkeepers, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God” (Ezra 7:24). 

This interplay of personalities, regional dynamics, and shifting power structures set the stage for the Papal Revolution. Most Americans have no idea of the ramifications this event has had on every aspect of our lives today. As we shall see it redefined the relationship between church and state with dramatic legal impact on Western history.

III. The Papal Victory

A. Events Leading to Papal Triumph

The Concordat of Worms in 1122 marked the end of the fighting and a compromise between the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor. The appointment of bishops and abbots was officially separated from secular influence. Henceforth, the state would have to look elsewhere for funding as it has done with a vengeance ever since. In retrospect, the Pope should have contemplated I Samuel Chapter 8 more carefully before turning a cold shoulder on Henry IV. In that passage Samuel predicted the multiplication of taxes that would result from rejecting the authority of Biblical law.

Pope Hildebrand died unaware of the victory he had won. One pivotal moment came a century later when Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) asserted the supremacy of papal authority. His efforts culminated in the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. This was a watershed moment that solidified papal power and established crucial doctrines for the Catholic Church. For example, the word transubstantiation was sanctioned as a correct expression of the Catholic church’s magical Eucharistic doctrine.

B. Consequences of Papal Victory

In many ways it was a Pyrrhic Victory for the Papacy. The Investiture Controversy had been largely resolved, but the dynamic relation of church and state continued to evolve, or devolve

Much of the church canon law dealt with important questions of marriage, inheritance, property, and contracts. These had been systematized by the university scholastics since recovery of Justinian’s Roman law in 1080. Gradually these natural law principles were transferred from the church to the state as part of the secularized common law. This often occurred in dramatic fashion during one of the great national revolutions.

C. Church Influence after the Papal Revolution

The initial impact of the papal victory was felt in the increased influence and authority of the church. However, this elevation came at a cost as the church became more entwined in political matters. There was a departure from the restitutionary legal system of Alfred the Great. This shift was illustrated in the policies of Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241). In his efforts to centralize church authority he established the Papal Inquisition to combat heresy. The methods employed were more often characterisic of the Normon retributionary legal system.

Another example of this departure was the use of interdicts by popes to exert pressure on secular rulers. Pope Innocent III interdicted use of churches, burials, and sacraments as a tool to influence political decisions in 1208. This demonstrated a departure from biblical resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. Instead it marked a shift towards a more authoritative and retributionary approach.

IV. Growing Irrelevance of the Church

A. Factors Contributing to Decline in Church Relevance

As secular law codes gained prominence over the centuries there was a corresponding decline in church influence.  This was a gradual process influenced by various factors. One significant factor was the rise of Humanism during the Renaissance. The Renaissance brought a renewed emphasis on classical learning, arts, and secular philosophies. This cultural shift diverted attention away from the doctrines and traditions of the church. This naturally led to a diminished role for the church in shaping intellectual discourse.

Additionally, the Avignon Papacy (1309-1377) marked a period of papal residence in Avignon, France, rather than Rome. This relocation was driven by political considerations and further eroded the prestige of the papacy. The Avignon Papacy exposed accusations of corruption and moral laxity within the church. Thus, it too contributed to a broader disillusionment among the faithful.

B. Church Corruption and abuse of Political Power

The Borgia papacy (1492-1503), of Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo Borgia, was a scandal. Borgia was notorious for his political maneuvering, nepotism, and corruption in secular politics. His entanglement in worldly affairs diverted attention and resources from spiritual leadership.  The short-term political influence of the corrupt church official was enhanced for awhile. But the long-term reputation of the church was damaged.

Push-back came with the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century. It was spearheaded by figures like Martin Luther and John Calvin, who challenged the authority and corruption of the Catholic Church. This led to the emergence of Protestantism as a formidable alternative, although it was plagued by fragmentation into various denominations. Nontheless, there was a significant loss of influence for the Catholic Church in some regions.

C. State Rejecting Bible Law and Borrowing Canon Law

Even as the secular realm separated from the church, it continued to adopt elements of Canon law. The law school in Bologna became a prominent center for the development of Canon law based on the Justinian Code. The structure and principles of Canon law were transposed into secular legal systems often by the great national revolutions. By this means the state gained and the church gradually faded into cultural irrelevance. And this was renforced by theological developments in the dispensational world that denied the continuity of God’s law in the New Testament era. So the church shot itself in the foot.

Another factor was the scholastic analysis of Justinian’s Code through Aristotelian logic in the universities. This began around the year 1080 at the University of Bologna. Thus Justinian’s natural law code was elevated above the law of Moses. This rationalistic approach contributed to the development of secular legal systems apart from the church.

D. Church Rejection of Bible Law

Ironically, it was the canon law of the church that paved the way for the gradual secularization of law. This was another step away from the theocratic legal framework of Alfred the Great to one grounded in reason and human experience. This transformation played a pivotal role in the separation of church and state and the subsequent development of secular legal systems.  Ultimately, it has led to the judgment of God as a natural consequence of abandoning His perfect standard of criminal justice in the Bible.

The church’s decline in influence was a protracted process, spanning centuries and marked by diverse historical events. This gradual waning of authority has led to the contemporary status of the church. It’s no secret that the cultural relevance of the church is virtually non-existant in the 21st century. This is the sad consequence of rejecting the law of Christ the King of kings. In the words of Christ Himself, “…if the salt has lost its taste…It is good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men” (Mt. 5:13).

V. Key Leaders in Secular Legal Development

A. John of Salisbury: Father of Political Science

John of Salisbury is often hailed as the Father of Political Science. His ‘policraticus,” laid out a game plan for reshaping the philosophical foundation of the new secular order. This would inspire aggressive lawmaking of subsequent secular leaders. His work, “Policraticus,” explored a wide range of political models from which to choose, with the Bible being just one among many.

John of Salisbury started out as an advisor to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, during the conflict with Henry II of England. This prompted him to put the state under the church in his writing. His analyis was apparently an attempt to apply scholastic logic to the diverse legal opinions available to arrive at a synthesis. He avoided specificity as a matter of prudence, given the growing influence of Norman strongmen such as Roger II and Henry II.

This provided some theoretical basis for the secular legal developments soon to unfold in the wake of the Papal Revolution.  Salisbury refers to the Bible a lot, but as one authority among many in the formulation of a secular legal system.

B. Roger II of Sicily: Royal Law and Legal Synthesis

Roger II of Sicily was a Norman king whose family had migrated South prior to and during the Papal Revolution. A “Christian tyrant” and ardent churchman, Roger ended up providing the mercenary army for the Papacy during the Papal Revolution. His reign from 1130-1154 was devoted to creating an awe-inspiring civilization in Sicily and southern Italy. This was to stand as a bulwark against the advance of Islam. Roger II’s court at Palermo became a vibrant center for intellectual exchange, where scholars and jurists engaged in legal synthesis.

One of the key contributions of Roger II was the compilation of the “Constitutions of Melfi” (or Liber Augustalis). This legal code synthesized Norman feudal law with elements of Roman and Byzantine legal traditions. This legal document reflected an attempt to create a coherent and systematic legal framework. It illustrated the innovative approaches taken by secular leaders in developing their legal systems. Anything but Biblical law was grist for the legal mill.

C. Henry II of England: Common Law & Royal Justice

Henry II of England (1154-1189), made significant contributions to the emergence of secular legal systems through the development of Common Law.  He is, in fact, known as The Father of the Common Law and the primary heir of the Norman Conquest.  His goal was formation of a legal framework that applied to all of England and Norman France, based primarily on feudal and Germanic custom common to the realm. This was set against the backdrop of the newly emerging analysis of Roman law in the universities, and the canon law. The institution of royal justices and itinerant judges helped ensure the uniform application of justice throughout the nation.

The creation of the legal institution known as the “Assize of Clarendon” in 1166 marked a key moment in Henry II’s legal reforms. He was resisted by Thomas a Beckett. Rather than one legal system as required by the Bible we end up with two legal systems – church and state — with endless squabbling over who has juridiction over what. At any rate, this Assize introduced legal procedures that formed the structure of Common Law. It emphasized the importance of uniformity and royal control in the administration of justice.

Again, we note a lack of emphasis on Biblical law, including in such formative legal documents such as Magna Carta.  In effect, “every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25) in the formulation of legal doctrine.

D. Philip II of France: Royal Administration of Justice

Philip II of France (1180-1223) contributed to the emergence of secular legal systems through his efforts to establish a centralized and professionalized system of royal justice. Recognizing the need for a more efficient and impartial legal administration, Philip II expanded the role of royal officials and created a network of baillis (bailiffs) to oversee judicial matters.

One of Philip II’s notable legal reforms was to lay a foundation for the “Parlement of Paris,” a royal court that played a crucial role in both legislative and judicial functions. This institution became a model for subsequent developments in French legal administration. It marked a transition from feudal justice to a more centralized and bureaucratic system.

E. Frederick II of Germany: Legal Codification

Frederick II of Germany (1212-1250) made significant strides in legal codification and administrative reforms. His keen interest in law and governance led to the compilation of the “Constitution in the Kingdom of Sicily” in 1231. This was a comprehensive legal code relating to legal procedure, feudal relations, and administrative structures.

Frederick II’s legal reforms aimed at creating a standardized and efficient legal system. He emphasized the role of written laws over arbitrary judgments. The influence of Roman law, coupled with His efforts to consolidate legal authority, contributed to secular systems of legal codification and administrative efficiency.

Frederick II epitomized the secular ruler.  He denied salvation and the Virgin birth, claiming for himself the divinity that belongs to Christ alone.  According to R.J. Rushdoony in The One and the Many (p.207), Frederick II “saw himself as the one called to institute a new world order of peace.  At his birth, Frederick was hailed as the fulfilment of prophecy, as savior and world-ruler king of all the world.”  What Frederick failed to accomplish by power, Dante achieved shortly after by poetry.

The contributions of these key leaders in secular legal development illustrate the diversity of approaches taken to establish coherent legal systems in the post-Papal Revolution era. This ranged from synthesis of legal traditions to the codification of laws, and establishment of centralized legal institutions. These were the key players in craftng the secular legal landscape of their respective domains.  In other words, they served as field marshals in the rebellion of humanistic man against the Law-Word of the Triune God.

VI. Extra-Biblical Influence on Secular Law

A. Canon Law: Church Law in Secular Government

  1. Canon law was a system of ecclesiastical laws developed by Scholastics of the Catholic Church. Ironically, it played a significant role in shaping secular legal systems. These derived in part from Bible law, but more often from Roman natural law (Justinian Codex) and German tradition. While initially rooted in religious principles, Canon law permeated various aspects of medieval government. Another aspect of Canon law was regional, penitential guidelines developed usually from extra-Biblical traditions such as the Confessional. Secular leaders recognized the value of the church’s legal expertise and began incorporating Canon Law into their own legal frameworks.

2. In England, the royal courts under Henry II integrated elements of Canon law into their proceedings. Ecclesiastical courts, guided by Canon law principles under the Archbishop of Canterbury, often dealt with matters concerning the church and religious disputes. However, the influence of Canon law extended beyond ecclesiastical matters, impacting the development of secular jurisprudence under the Common Law.

3. Papal decretals, official letters from the pope, also served as authoritative sources of Canon law. Secular rulers, recognizing the importance of these decretals, sometimes incorporated them into their legal decisions. The decretals became legal precedents, influencing judgments in secular courts and highlighting the cross-pollination between ecclesiastical and secular legal systems.

B. German Folk Law: Indigenous Legal Traditions

German folk law was rooted in the customs and traditions of the Germanic people who had invaded the Roman Empire. They exerted a substantial influence on the development of secular legal systems. The ferocious Hun invasions of the 4th and 5th Century drove the Goths West. The Ostrogoths settled in Italy, the Visigoths in France and Iberia, the Vandals in North Africa. They carried their German folk law with them and were gradually Christianized. Later, Norman rulers who sought to consolidate their authority in the Western Empire recognized the importance of incorporating local legal customs into a standardized legal framework.

For example, The Sachsenspiegel, a German legal code written in the early 13th century, drew heavily from German folk law. It codified customary practices related to property, inheritance, and criminal offenses. The influence of these indigenous legal traditions extended even beyond the borders of the Holy Roman Empire.

Likewise, in Sicily under Roger II, Norman, Arabic, and Byzantine legal traditions were incorporated from indigenous legal sources into a cohesive legal code. The Liber Augustalis, or Constitutions of Melfi, blended these diverse influences. In this way, secular leaders sought to create legal systems that reflected the cultural and historical contexts of their realms.  More often than not, they allowed these humanistic codes to supersede the corresponding laws in God’s Word.

C. Scholasticm and Roman Law: Rational Analysis

The recovery and scholastic analysis of the Justinian Roman Code around 1080 was crucial in development of secular legal systems. Legal scholars engaged in scholasticism to apply rigorous logical analysis to Justinian’s Code to extract universal legal principles. The rationalistic approach contributed to the development of secular legal systems grounded in reasoned legal thought.

The University of Bologna emerged as a hub for legal scholarship, particularly in the study of the Justinian Roman Code. Legal scholars such as Irnerius and Gratian engaged in systematic analysis, laying the groundwork for Roman law in secular legal systems. This scholastic approach influenced legal education and the development of legal doctrines.

The papacy itself, while a religious institution, recognized the utility of Roman law in resolving complex legal issues. Popes, including Innocent IV, actively incorporated Roman legal principles into papal decrees. This reflected the trend of integrating rational legal thought into both ecclesiastical and secular legal systems.  The Justinian Code, recovered in a Bologna library around 1080 was revered almost like a long-lost copy of the Bible.  It did in fact, overshadow the Bible in legal thinking of the era, a fatal habit that has been handed down to the present day.

D. Feudal Law: Localized Legal Customs

Feudal law, rooted in the hierarchical structure of medieval society provided a framework for local, secular government. The feudal system, governing relationships between lords and vassals, contributed to the creation of secular legal norms of landownership, inheritance, and social obligations.

  1. Manorial courts, operating at the local level, applied feudal law to resolve disputes within manors. These courts were vital for justice based on customary practices. They emphasized the importance of local autonomy in legal matters. Feudal law’s influence extended beyond the manor, impacting broader legal norms within feudal societies.  But local autonomy is just as destructive as central autonomy if it ignores or supersedes the autonomy of the higher law of God.

2. The Magna Carta, signed in 1215 during the reign of King John of England, also reflected the influence of feudal concepts in legal and political thought. Though primarily a curb on the king’s arbitrary power, it also touched upon feudal principles related to the rights of barons and protection of individual liberties. This landmark agreement became foundational in the development of constitutional law, which supposedly guaranttees inalienable rights by writing them down.

E. Summary: Royal Law of Key Leaders

As mentioned in the previous section, the royal law of key secular leaders like Roger II, Henry II, Philip II, and Frederick II contributed significantly to the development of secular legal systems. Their local legal codes, administrative reforms, and efforts to centralize legal authority combined to secularize the Western legal system.

These burdensome statutes and legal systems constitute the bitter fruit of a culture that has turned its back on the “one law” that God requires of Jew and Gentile alike. This was the legacy of the Battle of Hastings.

VII. Political Philosophers Post-Papal Revolution

A. Thomas: Synthesis of Theology, Natural Law

Thomas Aquinas, a towering figure in medieval philosophy, compromised Biblical authority in his abortive attempt to synthesize theology and natural law. He argued for the existence of a natural moral order accessible through reason. His attempts to validate revelation with reason in “Summa Theologica” served to elevate the authority of reason above revelation. He finally realized this and repudiated his work late in life, but by then the cat was out of the bag.

Aquinas’s articulation of natural law in “Summa Theologica” provided a theoretical framework for secular legal systems to develop apart from Biblical law. Natural law, according to Aquinas, represented a set of principles derived from nature and reason. This concept encouraged legal theorists in the now autonomous state to develop laws based on rationality and universal morality, apart from the Bible.

Aquinas’s ideas experienced a revival during the Renaissance, as scholars revisited his works. Legal humanists, including figures like Alberico Gentili and Francisco Suárez, drew upon Aquinas’s synthesis to advocate for legal principles based on reason. Aquinas’s influence thus transcended his own era, shaping legal thought in subsequent centuries.

B. Dante Alighieri: Political Vision in “De Monarchia”

Dante Alighieri, best known for his epic poem “Divine Comedy,” also engaged in political philosophy in his treatise “De Monarchia.” He called for a universal monarchy to maintain peace and justice. Dante’s benevolent dictator would rule independent of direct papal control.

He envisioned a centralized monarch like Augustus Caesar who would act as a stabilizing force. This ruler would possess absolute power to promote justice and prevent conflicts among subordinate rulers. Dante’s ideas contributed to the conceptual separation of secular and ecclesiastical authority, echoing themes that would influence later political thought.

Dante’s political vision resonated with later Renaissance theorists, including Marsiglio of Padua. His emphasis on the autonomy of secular authority reinforced the radical separation of church and state that flowed from the Papal Revolution.

C. Marsiglio of Padua: Defending State Authority

Marsiglio of Padua was a 14th-century Italian scholar who challenged prevailing notions of papal supremacy in his work “Defensor Pacis” (Defender of Peace). He argued for the primacy of secular authority in government and subordination of the church. The church should confine itself to spiritual matters. This contributed to the marginalization of the church in society.

Marsiglio asserted the authority of the state as derived from the people in a democratic relationship, apart from Biblical counsel of the church. Marsiglio’s ideas contributed to later discussions on constitutionalism and the separation of powers which reinforced secular autonomy.

However, in passages such as Deuteronomy 17, priests and Levites are seen consulting with civil judges regarding the application of the law of God. The same was true in the days of King Jehoshaphat of Judah (II Chr. 19). The prophet Daniel reveals Christ ruling through His people after His ascension to heaven (Dan. 7:27). Jesus assigned the sword of judgment to his disciples (Lk. 22:30,36,38) at the Last Supper, per Romans 13:1.

D. Niccolò Machiavelli: Realism in “The Prince”

Niccolò Machiavelli, a Renaissance political philosopher, brought a pragmatic and realistic approach to the study of political power in his seminal work “The Prince.” Machiavelli’s analysis of leadership, diplomacy, and government, were obvious deviations from the the model of the ideal prince in Deuteronomy 17:19.

“The Prince” offered pragmatic advice to rulers on acquiring and maintaining power. Machiavelli’s focus on the realities of political maneuvering in the Renaissance shocked Europe. It marked an obvious departure from traditional moral and religious considerations.

Such abuse of power was the inevitable result of the radical separation of God and state in the Papal Revolution. Pope Gregory was delinquent in not establishing His Biblical working relationship with the emperor during their interaction at Canossa.

VIII. The Papal Revolution & National Revolutions

A. Papal Revolution: Ecclesiastical Authority

The Papal Revolution, with its roots in the Investiture Controversy marked a transformative moment in the relationship between church and state. The resolution of the Investiture Controversy through the Concordat of Worms finally came in 1122. It was a compromise resulting in a radical separation of church and state. At the same time the church was granted authority to appoint its own bishops, but it was a pyrrhic victory.

In 1122, Pope Calixtus II and Holy Roman Emperor Henry V negotiated the Concordat of Worms. It formally ended the Investiture Controversy. The agreement granted the church the right to freely elect and invest bishops and abbots without imperial interference. This compromise also set a precedent for development of independent state legal systems. These competing codes led to conflict and ultimately the great national legal revolutions.

B. English Revolution: Constitution and Magna Carta

The English Revolution was marked by struggles between the Stuart monarchy and the Puritan nobility led by William and Mary. It hearkened back to a pivotal moment with the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 during the reign of King John. The Magna Carta was a foundational document that influenced the development of constitutional limitations of monarchical power.  The defining moment occurred in 1688 when William & Mary were invited to invade England from Holland. Their mission was to oust the tyrant James Stuart II from the English throne in the Bloodless Revolution.

The two-phase English Revolution of the 17th Century witnessed a rejection of the Stuart monarchy’s assertion of the “divine right of kings.” Leaders such as Oliver Cromwell and, notably William and Mary in 1688, played pivotal roles in challenging monarchical authority. The latter did this by advocating for constitutional limits on power. A cornerstone of this struggle for self-government and individual rights was the historic Magna Carta. It’s principles resonated across centuries. It provided a template for secular constitutional development in England, but divorced from the law of God.

In the process of suppressling the Stuart tyranny, the Puritans unfortunately turned to the broken reed of secular constitutionalism instead of an oath-bound covenant to govern by God’s law. The social contract became the touchstone for subsequent constitutional developments. These included the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the American Constitution.  The latter, is a humanistic social contract at odds with the Biblical covenant established by the Puritans in the 1600s.

C. American Revolution: Democracy and Constitution

The American Revolution was fueled by Enlightenment ideals and a desire for self-determination. It led to the establishment of the United States as an independent nation. The drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 is a secular social contract based on consent of the the majority. It explicitly ignores the higher-law authority of God’s law, a religious test for public office, and the exclusive establishment of the Christian religion.

The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia brought together leading figures like James Madison, who is called the Father of the Constitution. The document was influenced by Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke and Montesquieu. It established a federal system with alleged checks and balances that embodied a departure from monarchical rule. This innovative approach to government is said to have been a model for subsequent democratic movements around the world.

D. French Revolution: Radical Transformation

The French Revolution was marked by violent political and social changes and had a profound impact on the legal landscape. The revolutionary government sought to create a more egalitarian legal system. This led to the development of the Napoleonic Code (Civil Code) in 1804. This legal code aimed to unify and modernize laws across France, emphasizing principles of equality, individual rights, and meritocracy.

The Napoleonic Code was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte. It represented a departure from the complex and irregular legal traditions of the Ancien Régime. It introduced a comprehensive and systematic legal framework not only in France, but also other regions under Napoleonic rule. The Code’s impact endured well beyond the French Revolution. It shaped legal systems in continental Europe and inspired future codification efforts.  The church lost more legal ground in the French Revolution than in any other period. This was thanks to the Enlightenment attacks of Rousseau and Voltaire, among others.

E. Russian Revolution: Bolshevik Seizure of Power

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and Bolshevik seizure of power was by far the most radical of the national revolutions. Led by Vladimir Lenin it established a socialist state that repudiated traditional legal norms. The Decree on Land, issued in 1917, exemplified the revolutionary approach to property rights with the theft and redistribution of land. Lenin looked back on the French Revolution as a model with the observaton that they just weren’t violent enough.

This was part of a series of decrees issued by the Bolshevik government. It abolished private ownership of land and redistributed it among the peasants. This radical legal measure reflected the revolutionary spirit of the time by challenging established property rights. The revolutionary model was taken from ancient Greece to completely destroy the existing capitalist order and start over from scratch.

These examples illustrate how each revolution, from the Papal Revolution to the Russian Revolution, contributed to the devolution of existing legal frameworks. Each successive revolution resulted in compromises, change in organic documents, constitutional conventions, legal codes, or revolutionary decrees. These moments in history shaped the trajectory of secular legal development toward a world in rebellion from God. 

IX. Conclusion

A. Recapitulation of the Central Argument

The Papal Revolution was a transformative force that reshaped the medieval world and all subsequent history in the West. That’s because it radically redefined the relationship between church and state. When the fighting ended in 1122, it appeared that the church had won. However, it was a pyrrhic victory. The resolution of the Investiture Controversy increased papal authority in its limited realm. At the same time it released the state from obligation to the law of God and unleashed a plague of secular law codes.

This central argument explains the current radical separation of church and state. This separation has left us with an increasingly irrelevant church. At the same time an increasingly tyrannical state enforces multiple secular legal systems. This is the judgment that God has promised for a culture that self-consciously rejected His Mosaic law code as the rule for both church and state.

Ironically, these two covenant-breaking actions occurred at the same time (summer, 1787) and the same city (Philadelphia). They involved a fatal Amendment to the Westminster Confession of Faith and adoption of the U.S. Constitution. They initiated a gradual shift away from the traditional influence of the Christian Church and Mosaic Bible law. This led ultimately to the Civil War.

B. Key Events and Consequences

The Papal Revolution, anchored in the Investiture Controversy, led to a reconfiguration of power dynamics. The Concordat of Worms in 1122 marked a compromise that allowed for the autonomy of the church. This autonomy, however, meant less and less church influence beyond its increasingly isolated religous ghetto. The subsequent great national revolutions, were set in motion by the legal anarchy of the secular state. This was the inevitable result of its divorce from the foundation of God’s perfect law of liberty. This left profound imprints on a culture committed to a secular, social contract model for civil government. 

  1. England: The Magna Carta was born out of the new Norman Retributionary legal system. In effect, it replaced Bible law as the foundational document in the West. It substituted allegedly secular principles of due process and limited monarchical power — for a time.

2. America: The U.S. Constitution is a product of John Locke’s European Enlightenment. It was and is a deliberate effort to create a religiously neutral central government. It established a social contract framework for James Madison’s dream of a secuar republic. Its vaunted separation of powers and limited, delegated power have proved to be illusory, as predicted by Patrick Henry.

3. France: The Napoleonic Code, arose from the radical upheaval of the French Revolution. This likewise embodied secular principles of equality and human rights, shaping legal systems beyond its borders.

4. Russia: The Bolshevik seizure of power led to dramatic legal transformations following the Russian Revolution. This challenged established norms, paving the way for the Soviet tyranny.

C. Enduring Influence of Secular Legal Systems

The destructive influence of secular legal systems across the centuries is more and more evident in the 21st Century. The post-Papal Revolution era paved the way for constitutional limitations on power and the extreme separation of God and state.

Adherence to Mosaic Bible law enscribed in the Massachusetts Body of Liberties was short-lived for a variety of reasons. It’s influence lingered and was not officially removed until the summer of 1787. At that point America officially adopted a supposedly neutral, secular constitution. Then the secular shift began it’s corrosive assault on the fabric of American society. In reality the assault had begun much earlier. It happened when the Norman retributionary legal system replaced the restitutionary legal system of Alfred the Great in 1066.

Gradually, the interplay of Canon law, German folk traditions, scholastic analysis of Roman codes, and the rational legal thought of the philosophes took their toll. All these laid the groundwork for the modern, secular legal structures that define our contemporary world. The Papal Revolution, with its complex legacy, stands as a critical juncture in this legal devolution. Standing on the precipice of Divine judgment, the only hope for America and indeed the world is a Great Bible Reset to the principles of perfect justice in the Mosaic Covenant of Exodus 20-24. This alone defines true Christian nationalism.


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