Balderich’s Deeds of Albero offers important
insight into the conflicts between church and state during the
twelfth century. The Gesta Alberonis records the exploits
of Albero von Montreuil (Archbishop of Trier, 1131–1152),
portrayed as a daring hero doing battle on behalf of the 'Liberty
of the Church'. During the late eleventh and early twelfth
centuries, political and ecclesiastical rulers alike sought to
clarify the responsibilities, rights, and obligations they had in
common and those that were unique to their different but related
kinds of rule. Balderich opens the Deeds with explicit
reference to these struggles for power, which later came to be
known as the Investiture Controversy.
This conflict between the church and the German emperor centred
on the question of control over the appointment of bishops: clergy
and princes alternately allied with and fought against one another,
seeking to consolidate their respective powers through different
structures of governance.
As a young cleric in Metz, Albero resisted an imperially
appointed bishop. His audacious use of disguise while travelling on
secret missions for his church show him to be very much a
folk-hero. And once Albero had been appointed archbishop, Balderich
characterizes him as the lynchpin in the actions of popes and
kings. Albero ensured the election of King Conrad III, and led
troops on campaigns in Italy and northern Germany.
But it was Albero’s rule as prince-bishop that proved
paramount. Albero directed the spiritual affairs of the church in
Trier while exercising political rule over the principality, and it
is this aspect that is Balderich’s principal focus, and which
makes the Deeds the remarkable document that it is.