1.1 Even before he attempted to gain the throne of England in 1066, Duke William of Normandy had a
successful relationship with the papacy. William was a supporter of the programme of moral reform
advocated by the papacy
1.1.1 William was a model of Christian morality – a
pious prince who held reforming councils in his
126.96.36.199 His key advisor, Lanfranc, the Prior of Bec, was a leading
European theologian and favourite son of the Church. Indeed,
Pope Alexander II was a pupil of Lanfranc’s.
2 The impact of Harold's oath
2.1 The key theme in the Bayeux Tapestry is
Harold's oath to William; Norman propaganda
that Harold was an oath-breaker - a perjured
usurper whose coronation was invalid
3 The condition of the English Church
3.1 The English church was known on the continent for being
highly corrupt, for example, Archbishop Stigand was a
schismatic and guilty of pluralism , also clerical marriage and
nepotism were rife within the clergy.
3.1.1 William’s ambassador stressed this to the pope and promised to reform
the church in line with those reforms coming in on the continent, to
reduce lay influence over the church, stamp out corruption and reinforce
the power of the papacy in Rome.
4 William's diplomacy/promises
4.1 William's ambassador to the Papacy, Gilbert, archdeacon of Lisieux, made a
case for the Duke by pointing out his relationship to Edward, the designation of
the throne in 1051-2, and Harold's oath in 1064-5; and he created
prejudice against Harold by repeating the current story, true or false, that
Harold had been consecrated by the excommunicate Stigand. It was easy in
fact to represent Harold as a perjured usurper fraudulently crowned.
4.1.1 William also made attractive promises; he would reform
the English church and to resume payment of Peter's
Pence ( a traditional annual payment to support the
Papacy), which appears to have stopped. It seems that
Gilbert also held out hopes that the duke, if successful,
would hold England as a papal fief.
5 Papal ambition
5.1.1 it would be an opportunity for the reformed papacy to spread
its influence and gain important international support -
Gilbert may have suggested England would become a Papal
5.2.1 it was an opportunity to spread ideals of Church reform, and rectify clerical abuses in England
5.3.1 the papacy would demand the payment of Peter’s Pence, the traditional payment made by national
churches to the pope.