I recently described the Catholic Church as a superpower during the Middle Ages and was surprised a respected member of the board (LangLangC) objected to that characterization and thought the Catholic authority during the Middle Ages was overstated.
Now selecting the period After Charlemagne's coronation by Pope Leo on December 25, 800 AD as one of the most important occurrences of the Middle Ages and an important date for the church as a secular power.
The Significance of the Coronation of Charlemagne
According to James Bryce, the coronation warrants the classification of the most important occurrence of the Middle Ages. Bryce also views the event as exceptional in that if the ceremony had not taken place, “the history of the world would have been different.
And the date of 1450 primarily because it is before the Reformation which would diminish the authority of the Catholic Church in parts of Europe beginning in 1517.
The temporal authority during this time emanated from its wealth. Fueled by it's ability to levy crops and wealth from across Europe from peasants nobles and even kings. From its ability to call upon monarchs and powerful nobles to wage war on its behalf, such as the Crusades. And from its ability to take away a kings divine right to rule as was done many times during the period in question.
Examples of the Pope's secular authority/power.
- The Pope excommunicated English King Harold for supposedly going back on a holy pledge to support William of Normandy’s claim to the throne.
- Philip I of France, king of France, for repudiating his marriage and remarrying, by Hugh, Archbishop of Lyon and later reaffirmed by Pope Urban II.
- William I of Sicily, by Pope Adrian IV, while the king was waging war against the papal states and raiding pilgrims on their way to the tombs of the apostles.
- King John of England, excommunicated in 1208 by Pope Innocent III after refusing to accept Cardinal Stephen Langdon as the pope's choice for Archbishop of Canterbury. John relented in 1213 and was restored to communion.
- King Afonso II of Portugal, excommunicated in 1212 by Pope Honorius III for weakening the clergy and investing part of the large sums destined to the Catholic Church in the unification of the country. Afonso II promised to reconcile with the Church, however, he died in 1223 without making any serious attempt to do so.
- King Andrew II of Hungary, was excommunicated in 1231 after not following the points of Golden Bull of 1222, a seminal bill of rights, which contained new dispositions related to the tithe and hostile practices against the Jews and Muslims of the realm.
- Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, was excommunicated three times. The first time by Pope Gregory IX in 1227 for delaying his promise to begin the 5th Crusade; the excommunication was lifted in 1229. The same pope excommunicated him again in 1239 for making war against the Papal States, a censure rescinded by the new pope, Celestine IV, who died soon after. Frederick was again excommunicated by Pope Innocent IV at the First Council of Lyons in 1245. Frederick repented just before his death and was absolved of the censure in 1250.
- King Ladislaus IV of Hungary in 1279, by the pope's envoy Philip, for acting against the Catholic Church and living in a pagan way with the Cumans.
- James II of Aragon, in 1286 by Pope Boniface VIII for being crowned King of Sicily and thereby usurping a papal fief. His younger brother Frederick III of Sicily was excommunicated for the same reason in 1296.
- King Philip the Fair of France in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, for failing to respond adequately to a papal letter regarding Philip's effective rejection of the pope's temporal authority.
- Robert the Bruce, King of Scots 1306-1329, was excommunicated following his killing of the Red Comyn before the altar of the Greyfriars Church at Dumfries in 1306.
What I'm looking for are examples of pre-reformation checks on papal power, or demonstrations of Papal "supreme" authority, which support or refute the Catholic church as a European super power of this age.
What authority did the Catholic Church have over European Monarchs 900–1450?