Reasons for the conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes
In the Medieval period, the conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes started when the Church was electing a new Pope. After the election, Alexander III became the Pope, but some of the Cardinals claimed that Victor IV was the rightful Pope, even though he lost the election. To settle the matter, German Emperor Fredrik Barbarossa (r. 1155-1190 AD) called upon the two candidates to settle the matter in his royal court. Victor IV was present at Fredrik’s court, but Alexander refused to attend because the Papal document, the Gregorian Reform, stated that earthly rulers were not allowed to choose the rightful Pope. As a result, Fredrik declared that Victor IV was the rightful Pope, essentially making Victor IV an anti-Pope. While this created some conflict between Fredrik and Alexander, the conflict became exceedingly worse during Fredrik’s campaign in Italy.
Fredrik wanted to control Northern Italy for its wealth. However, the Northern Italian cities and Alexander did not want the Holy Roman Empire to control Northern Italy. In response to Fredrik’s impending invasion, Alexander and the Italian cities formed the Lombard League. The Lombard League managed to stop Fredrik’s conquest of Northern Italy. As punishment for defying the Pope, Alexander forced Fredrik to do penance for his crimes. Fredrik caused many conflicts with Alexander during his reign, but Fredrik’s son would initiate more conflicts against the Popes.
Fredrik II (r. 1220-1250AD) succeeded in becoming the German Emperor because he had promised Pope Innocent III many things for his support in the election. Once Fredrik became Emperor he forsook all of his promises to Innocent, so he excommunicated Fredrik. Fredrik ignored Innocent’s excommunication, so the next Pope, Gregory IX, excommunicated him again. Fredrik ignored Gregory’s excommunication, so Gregory was going to depose him as Emperor, but he died before he could depose him. The successor of Gregory was Pope Innocent IV, who managed to depose Fredrik as Emperor. In response, Fredrik was going to wage war against the Church, but he died in 1250 AD before he could obtain his revenge. These are the chronological events that led to the strenuous conflicts between the German Emperors and the Popes during the Medieval period.