CHAPTER IX.
THE GOTHIC PERIOD.

IN the thirteenth century a long-standing contention between the popes and the Germanic emperors ended in the complete downfall, for many centuries, of imperial territorial power, and the consequence was that even as German kings the emperors also lost their power. The contention between the emperors and popes was one regarding episcopal appointments, which the emperors wished to control on account of the enormous dimensions of the spiritual territories which they themselves had created in order indirectly to keep the territorial power in their own hands. This was constantly tending to slip from their grasp, owing to the hereditary power of the feudal sovereignties.* The popes naturally preferred to have the appointment of bishops made for ecclesiastical and not for territorial and political reasons, and to retain the privilege of confirming or rejecting the appointment, which practically gave them a share in making it.

As one result of the success of the popes in this contest, aside from the great increase in their own political significance, we may mention the complete independence of the Italian civic states from the Germanic emperor. Another result was the reduction of the titular king of Germany and

____________________
*
The enlargement of the bishoprics was part of their effort to break down the opposition to the monarchy of the hereditary feudal sovereignties. The right of filling vacancies in, spiritual appointment was thus used by the emperors to antagonize the feudal system. When large territories were given away at each new episcopal appointment something could be exacted in return and the influence remained with the king. Where large states were hereditary this influence was lost.

-208-

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