What was the issue in the conflict regarding lay investiture between the Holy Roman Emperors and the church?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Investiture Controversy was basically an eleventh and twelfth century power struggle over the question of what are sometimes called "church temporalities". Although the primary function of the Church is spiritual and sacramental, the Roman Catholic Church is also (and has been for over 1500 years) one of the richest organizations in the world, owning enormous amounts of prime real estate. The bishops, abbots, and abbesses are thus appointed not only to spiritual leadership of monastic houses or dioceses, but also are given control of large amounts of land. Under the theory of feudalism, though, all land in a nation is held in fiefdom to the king, and thus the lords who control the land in practice act in law as vassals to the king holding land in exchange for service and loyalty. Thus the kings really objected to the Pope, who as well as a spiritual leader was the temporal head of the Papal States in what was to become Italy, appointing people as bishops and abbots in England, France, etc. The Investiture Controversies were quarrels over whether the Popes or the Kings should appoint bishops and abbots and control the lands, money, and power..

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team