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Discuss The Major Changes Implemented By The Papacy And Wider Church In The Eleventh And Twelfth Centuries. Why Were Such Changes Felt To Be Necessary?

2340 words - 9 pages

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Western church went through a period of significant upheaval as it sought to create distinct boundaries between the ecclesiastical and secular worlds. The church sought reforms that would inspire a return to the 'golden age' led by the holiness of the papacy "to train churchmen to think of themselves as a distinct 'order' with a life-style totally different to that of laymen" . At the root of this internal reform that was focussed on the accusations of simony and nicholaitism, was the viewed need to abolish lay investiture thus purging the church of lay influences in an effort to "renew and restore whatever has long been long neglected in the Church through sin ... [and] through evil custom" as declared by Pope Gregory VII. By looking at the essence of the reforms, focussing on the evils of simony and nicholaity, then moving onto the investiture controversy that was in essence a political power struggle between the papacy and monarchy, we can deduce whether the reforms introduced were power- driven or an honest exercise in moral cleansing that were a reflection of the need for change. Consequentially we can evaluate the successes and failures of the reforms with reference to examples throughout.Calls for reform from the papacy began before the accession of the series of German popes under Emperor Henry III, initiating what became known as the Gregorian reform movement. As early as 1014 under Pope Benedict VIII, a synodal decree had called for an end to the practice of purchasing church offices -Simony- and in 1022 the council of Pavia attended by both the Emperor and the Pope, demanded the enforcement of clergy celibacy- nicholaitism. However as these popes up until 1046 had been appointed by Roman aristocrats from the Tusculani family, passed on with hereditary rights, they were viewed as "mercenaries rather than pastors" as Leo IX stated. The next generation of reform papacy were all appointed under the patronage and supervision of Emperor Henry III who would hold complete authority over the apostolic see until his death 10 years later. Historians questioned his open claims of support for reform to "root out the vice of simony and the practice of clerical marriage and concubinage" as historians say he had no desire to change the existing traditional arrangements between secular and spiritual authorities, so long as he could stay in power. To him the necessity for change it was argued was not based solely on his pious vision of Christendom, but on the need to maintain the papacy in the hands of an acquiescent German Imperial church, while weakening the grip of long-seen heritable ecclesiastical positions amongst Roman and other Italian families. This was dignified with Henry III's crowning as emperor by the first of these reformist popes, Clement II, implicitly giving the emperor religious standing, thus legitimising his Christian rulership. As a Pope, Leo IX was the first of the ardent reform advocates,...

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