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According to Johann Georg Estor his birthname was Hildebrand Bonizi and he was the son of a blacksmith. He was said to be of humble origins. Pope Zachary had brought significant challenges to rulers of his era a full 200 years earlier in a move Thomas Hobbes would famously call "one of the greatest abuses of the papacy in the history of the Church".
One of the great reforming popes he is perhaps best known for the part he played in the Investiture Controversy his dispute with Henry IV Holy Roman Emperor that affirmed the primacy of papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by the College of Cardinals. and cautious and steady-minded ones. Gregory VII (c.