The Roman Catholic Church of the High Middle Ages

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The Roman Catholic Church Of the High Middle Ages
The middle ages are dated to be around the 5th to 15th century. This time was characterized by hierarchies, chivalry, church rule, trade, manorialism and feudalism. This society was highly ordered with a sense of duty. One of the major components of the High Middle Ages was the rise of the church as a secular power which is dated to be around 11th -14th century (Perry 227). The church became a power that dominated the lives every person whether they were a serf or a king. The Roman Catholic Church controlled religion, politics, education, art, morals and wars. There were many instances which displayed the good holy powers of the church and others which captured its deceitful corruption. It is often debated whether the church was corrupt when analyzing its beliefs, actions and impacts on the lives of people.

Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I (Perry 161-62). The Christian Church became more powerful during the 5th century when the Roman Empire began to crumble, Germanic tribes started to conquer and eventually capture the city of Rome. This period is referred to as the Dark Ages. During this time the church took on the responsibility to protect, lead, establish laws and hold the people together. The church gained power and took control like a political system would have. The infallibility of the Pope began to be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as it started to developed its own laws, control many lands, and taxes. This allowed the church to become very wealthy, maintain power and function like a king. The position of Pope became a position associated with power. Gregory the great (6th century) declared himself “the servant of servants.” Later, Gregory VII (11th century) believed that he was a Vicar of Christ and everyone was to recognize him as Christ’s representative on earth (Perry 240). Innocent III also took the same position as Gregory VII in the belief that he was a true Vicar of Christ. The position of the pope became a position of ultimate authority, holy rule and power. Pope’s gained even more power from the beginning of the Middle Ages to the High Middle Ages and Gregory VII is a classic example. Pope Gregory VII reigned from 1073-1085. He is a classic example of a Pope who had a considerable amount of power. He was the first Pope to depose a crowned ruler, Emperor Henry IV (Perry 240). This was bought about when Gregory and Henry disagreed on the terms concerning who should appoint church officials. Gregory believed the church should be independent of secular authority (Perry 240). He thought it would be in the best interest of the church if the church appointed its own godly officials and he justified this by “Canon 22 of the eight ecumenical council, which ‘prohibited in general and absolute terms the intervention of any lay prince or magnate in any way whatsoever in the election or promotion of bishops’” (Blumenthal 2). The final result was the triumph of papal/church power over the king (Perry 240). Gregory VII (1073-1085) may have been powerful but he was far from corrupt and is an example of a righteous pope. He was a man who protested against concubines, clerical marriage, simony and fought to reform clerical morality (Perry 239). He was a pope who was truly worried about how the church impacted the lives of people. He believed he needed a godly clergy in order to teach believers accurately and correctly. He also thought that the selling of offices was an incorrect act and that it would lead to the downfall of morality among the clergy. Gregory VII may have been a powerful and decent pope, but the High Middle Ages are also full of corrupt popes such as Boniface VIII. Boniface VIII and King Philip had a famous disagreement which ended Boniface’s career as Pope. Boniface tried to excommunicate King Philip. However, Philip responded by calling an assembly of bishops and...
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