In various periods of time, Christianity has prospered most while being supported by strong a ruler. Over time, Christian rulers have played important roles in the Church by providing protection, giving gifts, financial support and setting disputes concerning offices.
Examples where the Church has benefit from the support of a strong ruler include the rule of Constantine, Clovis, Henry III and more. Under the rule of Constantine, the Roman Empire legalized the practice of Christianity as a religion and would lead it to become the official state religion of Rome. Under the support of King Clovis, the Franks transitioned from various conflicting beliefs including paganism to uniting and adopting Christianity as their main religion. Without the support of strong rulers, the Christian church would face problems of persecution, decentralization, disputes over offices and more.
Another example of a strong supporting Christian ruler is Charlemagne. In Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne it is written that “the reason that he [Charlemagne] zealously strove to make friends with the kings beyond the seas was that he might get help and relief to the Christians living under their rule”(Einhard). This passage reveals that due to Charlemagne’s devotion to Christianity and his strength as the Frankish King, Christians received protection and relief in other lands they would otherwise not receive. With this support, Christianity was able to expand and existing Christians were allowed to worship freely. Einhard also writes that
“he sent great and countless gifts to the popes, and throughout his whole reign the wish that he had nearest at heart was to re-establish the ancient authority of the city of Rome under his care and by his influence, and to defend and protect the Church of St. Peter, and to beautify and enrich it out of his own store above all other churches” (Einhard).
Charlemagne’s generosity towards the Christians granted the Church an abundance of wealth and treasure as well as prestige. In addition being as successful ruler, Charlemagne sets an example for future kings to rule. Clearly, Charlemagne demonstrates how the Christian Church prospers with the support of a successful ruler.
In the High Middle Ages we see the continuing benefit of active supporting rulers. Privilege of Philip Augustus in Favor of the Students at Paris states that, “if it shall happen that anyone strikes a student, expect in self-defense, especially if he strikes the student with a club or a stone, all laymen who see [the act] shall in good faith seize the malefactor or malefactors and deliver them to our judge” (Cultural Expansions, 33). This statement demonstrates how supporting rulers provide protection for Christian institutions even centuries after Charlemagne’s rule. University Charters write that “both kings and popes granted the universities additional privileges. Kings supported universities because they increased the prosperity of the cities they were located in, enhanced royal prestige, and improved the supply of clerics with legal and administrative skills need in government”(Cultural Expansions, 33). While rulers were able to provide protection and financial relief, they also benefit from supporting Christianity. This mutual prosperity gives evidence to suggest that there is a need for powerful rulers to play active supporting role in Christianity.