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?

Essay by manuloverUniversity, Bachelor's November 2006

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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...