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successfully hold power without having the Church on his side.

By the same token, the Church needed to support itself economically, and so priests and monks became landholders; and the more authority a cleric or abbot held in the Church, the more land he possessed, so that bishops and abbots came to hold as much land as the most powerful laymen. This meant that they had vassals who held land in fief from them, and that they themselves could be vassals who held land from laymen. It also meant that they had to administer their territories, serve in the courts of their lords, and furnish knights for their own defense as well as for their lord's army. Finally, they needed a strong secular ruler to protect their property--this was especially true since priests and monks were supposed to be prohibited from shedding blood.

And so two interrelated paradoxes existed: On the one hand, clerics and monks, whose lives were supposed to be devoted to God, needed lay rulers to help them with their temporal concerns and responsibilities. On the other hand, lay rulers, whose primary interest rested in secular matters, needed prelates to supply them with an aura of sacredness and divine authority. These paradoxes were basic facts of Medieval Europe. They governed the relations between all laymen and clerics, including the relations between the Normans, the priests and monks who lived within their dominions, and even the Papacy.3

The Normans who wanted to rule in Southern Europe faced certain difficulties in trying to establish themselves as lords, and they used the Church in a strategic manner in order to solve these problems effectively. The Normans who became the lords of Sicily and Southern Italy were faced with the problem that they were seen as foreign invaders in


3. See the introduction to Pope Gregory VII, The Correspondence of Pope Gregory VII: Selected Letters from the Registrum, trans. Ephraim Emerton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), ix-xv.

 

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