Cluniac monk as a young man. Member of the court of Pope Saint Gregory VII at age 20. Created cardinal-priest by Gregory VII c.1076. Extremely reluctant pope during a period of struggle between the Chuch and emperor, protesting that monastic training had not prepared him for the temporal and administrative duties of the papacy.
Paschal was deeply involved in the struggle over lay investiture; Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV supported three successive anti-popes in hopes of placing his own man on the papal throne. He convinced prince Henry V to rebel against his father, but the son continued lay investiture, too. The Diet of Mainz invited Paschal to come to Germany to settle the matter in 1106; instead, during the Council of Guastalla Paschal simply prohibited lay investiture and considered the matter closed. Years of discussion ensured, and in 1111 Paschal came to a settlement with Henry V by which he gave the emperor all the land given to the Church since the reign of Charlemagne, and Henry agreed to give up lay investiture. The citizens of Rome, Italy revolted against this, and Henry left the city on 12 February 1111, taking Paschal and the college of cardinals as prisoners. After 61 days of abuse, Paschal agreed to lay investiture in return for a promise of no revenge against Rome, and on 13 April 1111 he crowned Henry V as Holy Roman Emperor. A council in March 1112 found that the agreements has been extorted, and declared them all void; another council in October excommunicated the emperor, and the matter was simply not resolved.
In 1115, during disputes with Henry I of England over his involvement in Church affairs there, his daughter, countess Matilda, the wife of emperor Henry V, died, leaving her lands to the Church. Henry claimed them for the crown, took military action to secure them, and Paschal was forced to leave Rome for nearly three years, returning just a few days before his death.
It is unfortunate that this dispute occupied so much of Paschal’s time and forms the bulk of the history of his papacy. Even with these disputes he still managed to support missionaries, build churches, enforce clerical discipline, regularly travel and bring the faith to people, and was respected for his personal holiness and defense of the faith. Saint Anselm of Canterbury was a great admirer.