Upcoming events

  • No upcoming events

Follow Us

Log in

Church and State on the Road to Canossa, 1075-77
by Matthew E. Parker, Andrew Larsen, and Kyle C. Lincoln

Portions of this page are still under construction, pending more details from the Game Authors. Reacting Consortium Members can download game materials below.

Pope versus Emperor versus the Whole of Christendom

Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-1085), riding high on reformist spirit, has progressively sought to expand the temporal power of the papacy and to bring the Western Church into stricter obedience to Rome. In the spring of 1075, Gregory issued the papal bull Dictatus papae, boldly claiming that the pope, and only the pope, had the power to depose both bishops and secular rulers—even emperors. When Emperor Henry IV (r.1056-1105) invested his chaplain Theobald with the episcopacy of Milan later that year, Gregory responded by excommunicating five of Henry’s advisors despite imperial investiture being a time-honored tradition. Tempers flared and a series of strongly worded public letters flew between the two men, bringing Western Christendom to a crisis point where it had to decide who held ultimate authority, St. Peter’s representative on Earth or God’s divinely anointed secular ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

This is a Level 3 game that is still under development but has been approved by the Reacting Editorial Board (REB) for general use. A detailed explanation of the editorial process and game levels can be found on our REB Page.




Conflict and War Studies, Cultural & Social History, Medieval History, Political Science & Government, Religion, Western Civ/History, World History


11th Century


Europe, Northern Italy, The Holy Roman Empire

Published Level 3 game (what's that mean?

Themes and Issues 

Gregorian Reform, Rebellion, Church and State Relations, Clerical Sexuality

Player Interactions 

Factional, Competitive, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Titles

"Barbarians, Crusaders and Plague: Medieval Europe, c. 500-1500," "Introductions to Historical Christianities," "Early Humanities Survey"

In a Few Words...

Church. State. Conflict.


Rolling Dice, Differentiated Voting, Physical Props

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 

Moderately Demanding.

Moderately Structured.

There are several gambits that students might make more complicated than they first appear.

Primary Source Highlights 

The New Testament,

Gregory VII's Manifesto on Reform

Sermons and Letters from Medieval Potentates

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is recommended for classes with 14-38 players, but can be played with 9-13 players with modifications.

Class Time  
This game will take around 1-4 set-up sessions and 3-7 game sessions to complete.

There is advice in the Instructor's Manual for cutting the game down.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings

This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Investiture may pair well with:

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class.

This game can include Traditional Paper/ Research/ Thesis-Driven Writing, Creative Writing, Criticism, Letter Writing, Mural Production, and Manuscript Production.

Each role is expected to complete two writing assignments.

Not all players are required to give a speech, there are non-speaking roles, but they are required to work on church art to portray the situation.


Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  Basic game materials (Gamebook, Role Sheets, Instructor's Guide, and Handouts) are available to any instructor through the publisher. 

Please Fill out the Permissions Request Form Before Using The Investiture Controversy in Your Class!


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. Investiture is available to download.

Updated September 2022
.docx file

Role Sheets 

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives. 

 .zip file of .doc files.

Instructor's Manual & Additional Materials

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.   

.doc file.


Kyle C. Lincoln

Kyle C. Lincoln is Assistant Professor of Pre-Modern European History and Interdisciplinary Humanities at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. His 2021 Reacting textbook, co-authored with John Giebfried, Remaking the Medieval World: The Fourth Crusade, 1204, won several prizes, including the Reacting Consortium's Brilliancy Prize.

Reacting and Related Titles

  • A Queen's Ransom: The Crisis of the Fourth Crusade
  • The Conquest of Granada, 1492
  • Sing Goddess of the Rage of Achilles

Matthew E. Parker

Matthew E. Parker is a historian of the medieval Mediterranean, with research expertise in cross-cultural interactions during the High Middle Ages. He has published multiple articles focusing on both the Italian commune of Pisa and the Crusades. He holds a Ph.D. in Medieval History from St. Louis University. When not writing educational games or conducting research, he spends his time as a Senior Data Scientist at a major market research firm.

Reacting and Related Titles

  • Never in Spain Was There Such a War

Andrew Larsen

Andrew Larsen is a professional historian, with a masters and doctorate in medieval history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has taught at several universities in Wisconsin, including UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and Marquette University. His primary research interests are medieval religion, the history of the University of Oxford, and student violence. He also blogs about the intersection of history with movies and television as An Historian Goes to the Movies (aelarsen.wordpress.com).


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


Wrestling with the Reformation: Augsburg, 1530

Council of Nicaea
Constantine and the Council of Nicaea: Defining Orthodoxy and Heresy in Christianity, 325 CE

The Fourth Crusade
Remaking of the Medieval World, 1204: The Fourth Crusade


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software