Before the mid-eleventh century the pope was far from being the active leader of the Roman Catholic Church that he is today: he restricted himself to the local concerns of the diocese of Rome and was virtually ignored by the outside world. This book is a study of the transformation of the role of the pope in the twelfth century, from which he emerged as monarch of the universal Church, dedicated to reform and to making the Church independent of secular control. The most important role in the new model government was given to the cardinals, who hence forward were the principal advisers, agents and electors of the popes. These developments were accelerated by schism and political conflict: on three occasions the lawful pope was driven into exile by an antipope supported by a powerful secular ruler. Professor Robinson's text emphasizes the growing importance of the College of Cardinals and the practical aspects of papal government. It offers the most detailed analytical study yet available of this key period in the history of the western Church.
"Historians of the medieval church have long recognized the crucial character of the late eleventh and twelfth centuries for the history of the papacy. In this volume we have a superb treatment of the development and transformation of this institution. It effectively summarizes the state of current scholarship and, at the same time, provides independent interpretations which are cogent and reliable." Paul W. Knoll, Church History "The work is unquestionably immensely valuable to students, and particularly teachers, of the mid-Middles Ages. Robinson's exhaustive treatment of all the matters he includes and his careful and complete notes to the original sources and to an immense body of secondary writing over the past century make it an unparalleled resource tool." Anne Gilmour-Bryson, Speculum