INNOCENT III AND THE STATES OF EUROPE
INNOCENT aimed to be supreme, not only over the clergy, but over the kings and feudal lords of Europe. "We are established by God above peoples and realms" was one of his favorite utterances. The policy of making the monarchs of Europe vassals of the Papacy reached the height of its success under him. During his first year in office he demanded prompt settlement of all arrears of tribute owed to the pope from these fiefs. As his pontificate proceeded, he brought yet other rulers into vassalage to the Holy See, or humbled them in one way or another. "The Duke of Bohemia was rebuked, the King of Denmark comforted, the nobles of Iceland warned, the King of Hungary admonished. Serbia, Bulgaria, even remote Armenia, received papal supervision and paternal care." Innocent interfered to settle disputed successions to thrones or quarrels in royal families, to stop wars and to induce rulers to join the crusade.
What Innocent intended the feudal relationships of these kings to himself to be may be inferred from two oaths of fealty taken by Peter II of Aragon, who came to Rome to receive his crown at the Pope's own hand. At the coronation ceremony the king took the following oath: "I, Peter, King of Aragon, confess and swear that I will ever be the obedient vassal of my Lord, Pope Innocent, and his Catholic successors, and of the Roman Church. I will faithfully keep my realm in his obedience, will defend the Catholic Faith, and will persecute heresy. I will respect the liberties and immunities of the Church, and will make others observe its rights. I will strive to establish peace and justice in all the territory subject to my control. I swear it by God's name and on these holy Gospels." Pope and king then visited the basilica of
Oaths of fealty taken by Peter II Of Aragon