Latin: investire, to clothe
The act by which a sovereign granted a fief to his vassal, and the ceremonies which accompanied that grant. From the middle of the 11th century, and perhaps during the first half of that century, the term was used to designate the act and the ceremonies by which princes granted to bishops and abbots, besides their spiritual powers the temporal possessions which constituted their benefices, and the political rights which they had to exercise. The form of investiture consisted in the delivery of the spiritual emblems, ring and crosier, and sometimes also the keys of the church. This privilege of the secular princes dates from the time of Charlemagne. As long as the princes had the welfare of the Church at heart, the right of investiture was tolerated, but when ecclesiastical offices began to be bought and sold, and the free elections of bishops were hindered, the Church vigorously opposed lay investiture. As early as the Synod of Rheims (1049) anti-investiture legislation had been enacted, but had never been enforced. The most energetic figure in the reform movement in the Church in this regard was Pope Saint Gregory VII. As soon as he became pope, he enacted most stringent measures for the repression of simony and proceeded to condemn under excommunication the practise of lay investiture; in order to secure the necessary influence in the appointment of bishops, to set aside lay pretentions to the administration of Church property, and thus to break down the opposition of some of the clergy in Germany, Gregory at the Lenten Synod (Roman) of 1075 withdrew from the king the right of disposing of bishoprics in the future, and relieved all lay persons of the investiture of churches. But Henry IV of Germany ignored the prohibition of Gregory and continued to appoint bishops in Germany and Italy until finally Gregory excommunicated him; Henry repented and was freed from the excommunication; but he firmly held to the right of investiture, until his death. His son, Henry V, followed the policy of his father. The strife finally ended in the celebrated Concordat of Worms, 1122, by the terms of which the emperor agreed to give up the form of investiture with the ring and staff, to grant to the clergy the right of free elections and restore all possessions of the Church of Rome which had been seized; while the pope on his part, consented that the elections should be held in the presence of the emperor or his representative; the elected candidate shall receive from him the temporalities (regalia) with the scepter, and shall discharge all obligations entailed by such reception. The Concordat of Worms was a compromise in which each party made concessions, but it ended the investiture quarrel. In England and France the investiture quarrel never reached such great proportions as in Germany and hence was more easily settled.