Problems of the Church during the 10th through 11th century

Problems of the Church during the 10th through 11th century


In the 10th-11th century, the Christian Churches were being suppressed by Kings, Aristocratic families and Emperors because of the influence that the Church possessed in Europe. Christianity was the dominate religion during this period and anyone that held a position in the Church had considerable influence over the realm. The secular rulers wanted the powers of the Church, and they obtained those powers by controlling some of the Churches abilities. One of the abilities that the secular rulers took was the Church’s ability to control who was appointed to a position in the Church.

Secular rulers were appointing people to the positions of Bishop, Abbot and Priest because they wanted the Churches influence. The original Christian tradition was that the Pope would appoint people to these positions, not secular rulers. However, the Aristocratic families were ruining the papacy by appointing their sons to be the Pope, which was against Christian tradition. If one had the papacy, that person would have had extraordinary influence in Europe, as Bishops, Abbots and Priests would have to obey the will of the Pope. Unfortunately for the secular rulers, one of the Popes that they elected started to exercise some of papacy’s long forgotten powers, which led to “moderate reform” in the Church.

Bruno of Egisheim-Dagsburg became Pope in 1048 AD and took the name Leo IX. He realized that the Pope had powers that were no longer in use because of the papacy’s abuse. Leo was determined to restore some of the forgotten powers, so he wrote a book called “74 Tiles” which explained the authority of the Pope. He also wanted the Kings and Emperors to choose better candidates for positions in the Church because the people that were chosen were not adequate. While Leo was improving the Church, his improvements are considered to be “moderate reform” because he was not attempting to obtain all the authority of the Pope. He was also letting the secular rulers appoint people to positions in the Church, which is the right of the Pope. Even though Leo did not bring the Church out of the grasps of the rulers, he did initiate the “radical reforms” that would come from Pope Gregory VII.

Pope Gregory VII, who ruled from 1073-1085 AD, took immediate action against the secular rulers once he obtained the papacy. He held multiple councils to announce that the Church would be in control of itself and no one else could interfere in Church matters. King Henry IV, King of the Germans, would not listen to Gregory’s decrees, so Gregory excommunicated Henry. Henry eventually convinced Gregory to lift the excommunication, but Henry was still furious at Gregory, so he exiled him from Rome. Gregory died in exile, but his decrees managed to get the Church from the grasps of the secular rulers. The Church could finally regain its strength without interference and become a powerful force in Europe.

The Church was in a dilemma during the 10th-11th century because of the abuse it was receiving from people that wanted to obtain the Church’s power. When Pope Leo IX took office, he started to reform the Church in a better direction. Even though Leo did not accomplish much, he inspired other Popes to take charge and rise up against its oppressors. The problems that the Church experienced were eventually fixed through the “radical reforms” by Pope Gregory VII. The Church would eventually regain all of its influences in Europe thanks to the reforms of Pope Leo IX and Gregory VII.


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