Pope Gregory VII: Dictatus Papae 1090
The Dictatus Papae was included in Pope's register in the year 1075. Some
argue that it was written by Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-1085) himself, others
argues that it had a much later different origin. In 1087 Cardinal Deusdedit
published a collection of the laws of the Church which he drew from any sources.
The Dictatus agrees so clearly and closely with this collection that some have
argued the Dictatus must have been based on it; and so must be of a later date
of compilation than 1087. There is little doubt that the principals below do
express the pope's principals.
The Dictates of the Pope
- That the Roman church was founded by God alone.
- That the Roman pontiff alone can with right be called universal.
- That he alone can depose or reinstate bishops.
- That, in a council his legate, even if a lower grade, is above all
bishops, and can pass sentence of deposition against them.
- That the pope may depose the absent.
- That, among other things, we ought not to remain in the same house with
those excommunicated by him.
- That for him alone is it lawful, according to the needs of the time, to
make new laws, to assemble together new congregations, to make an abbey of a
canonry; and, on the other hand, to divide a rich bishopric and unite the poor
- That he alone may use the imperial insignia.
- That of the pope alone all princes shall kiss the feet.
- That his name alone shall be spoken in the churches.
- That this is the only name in the world.
- That it may be permitted to him to depose emperors.
- That he may be permitted to transfer bishops if need be.
- That he has power to ordain a clerk of any church he may wish.
- That he who is ordained by him may preside over another church, but may
not hold a subordinate position; and that such a one may not receive a higher
grade from any bishop.
- That no synod shall be called a general one without his order.
- That no chapter and no book shall be considered canonical without his
- That a sentence passed by him may be retracted by no one; and that he
himself, alone of all, may retract it.
- That he himself may be judged by no one.
- That no one shall dare to condemn one who appeals to the apostolic chair.
- That to the latter should be referred the more important cases of every
- That the Roman church has never erred; nor will it err to all eternity,
the Scripture bearing witness.
- That the Roman pontiff, if he have been canonically ordained, is
undoubtedly made a saint by the merits of St. Peter; St. Ennodius, bishop of
Pavia, bearing witness, and many holy fathers agreeing with him. As is
contained in the decrees of St. Symmachus the pope.
- That, by his command and consent, it may be lawful for subordinates to
- That he may depose and reinstate bishops without assembling a synod.
- That he who is not at peace with the Roman church shall not be considered
- That he may absolve subjects from their fealty to wicked men.
translated in Ernest F. Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the
Middle Ages, (London: George Bell and Sons, 1910), pp. 366-367
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