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Innocent III became the Pope in 1196 and he believed that the Popes were servants of God, sent to bring the man on the right path. He stated, “The Apostle Peter was given not only the universal Church, but the whole world to govern”. This means that the role of the Pope was to bring the whole world on the right path which was the path of God. He believed that the Popes had the God-given right to govern the world and this meant that the emperors were not above the law. In his letter to the Tuscan nobility in 1198, he reiterated his position by stating that God had made the sun and the moon to rule the day and the night respectively. Similarly, on earth He had made two lights; the greater one to rule the sun which he considered the souls, and the lesser one to rule the moon which was the bodies. He further wrote that the papal authority was the greater light and the royalty was the lesser power. He said that the royalty should look towards the papal authority for guidance to rule the people (Thatcher and McNeal).

This made Innocent III a strong Pope as he was ready to bring the word of God to everyone even the royalty. He made it his mission to strengthen the faith of the followers and stop the royalty from abusing their power. His greatest accomplishment was the Magna Carta in which he wrote all the rules and guidelines that the royalty, especially John I needed to adhere to stay in power. This helped in preventing John I from abusing his power and exploiting people for money. The Magna Carta was written in a way that made the readers think that King John had written it, however; it was written by the papacy for him so that is the reason his name is written in the beginning. Innocent III made it very clear that if John I did not sign the Magna Carta then his rule will be over, so John had no choice but to sign it. This agreement prevented King John from needlessly taxing people, forcefully taking their lands, and punishing people that did not or could not pay the taxes (Goldman).

King John thought that as a king he was entitled to the world but he was wrong as Pope Innocent III made it very clear that the Popes were the only ones that were allowed to govern the world. John was a tyrant as he made the lives of his subjects miserable but Pope Innocent III stated that King John was not above the law and he could be made answerable for his actions if he did not stop (Dickinson). The way Pope Innocent III handled the royalty and stopped them from exploiting the power given to them by God, made him the best choice for being a Pope as his strong character allowed the church to flourish. His methods of doing things may have seemed harsh but he was doing all that was necessary to spread the word of God. He was not power-hungry, instead; he prevented power-hungry people from harming others. He stopped Phillippe Augustus from adultery and made him return to Ingeborg of Denmark who was his wife. He ensured that in 1250, Frederick II’s succession and resolved the conflict with King John I through the Magna Carta. Pope Innocent III was incredibly adept at controlling the royalty from making the lives of their subjects miserable. It was fortunate that he was the Pope at that time otherwise the lives of the common people would have been awful.

Works Cited

Dickinson, John, translator. “Medieval Sourcebook: John of Salisbury: Policraticus, Book Four (Selections).” The Statesman’s Book of John of Salisbury, Alfred A. Knopf, 1927,

Goldman, Lillian. The Avalon Project : Magna Carta. 1217,

Thatcher, and McNeal. “Medieval Sourcebook: Innocent III (r.1198-1216): Letters on Papal Polices, ‘Papal Authority: Letter to the Prefect Acerbius and the Nobles of Tuscany, 1198.’” A Source Book for Medieval History, 1905,



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