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Henry III

Holy Roman Emperor from 1039. He was responsible for “the cleansing of the papacy.” The tenth and eleventh centuries were for the papacy a period of degeneracy; it had become the tool of violent Roman nobles. In 1046 there were three popes. A deeply religious man, Henry was grieved at the situation and responded to an appeal by marching on Rome, summoning the Synod of Sutri which deposed all three popes and installed a German, Clement II, and forcibly subdued the nobles. He was opposed by “high sacerdotalists,” but many supported him, especially those desiring reform such as Peter Damian* and Cardinal Humbert. As a result, the papacy began the task of reforming itself and the church generally. Henry appointed the next three popes, all German, and all zealous reformers. During his life, emperor and pope worked in amicable partnership, but subsequently the papacy began to assert its independence.