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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 105, Essay 1 – The Moderate Reform

In my last two essays, I talked about the 9th and 10th century invasions and its effects on how people lived.  These invasions caused a lot of changes in Europe.  One of them was how the church system worked.  In this essay, I am going to talk about the Moderate Reform, which was a result of the invasions.

During the 9th and 10th century invasions, many people felt that they needed someone to protect them if any invaders came to pillage the town.  Since the government did nothing for the people, the practices of feudalism and manorialism started.  Manorialism was the practice of labor for protection.  People moved themselves and their family to a local strong man’s estate and work for him.  In return, he would grant them protection.

This mindset led to the practice of lay investiture, which is when laymen (men who were not members of the Church) appointed and installed Church officials.  Many believed that if there was a Church on their land, they owned it and that gave them the right to name Church officials.

This practice caused a lot of problems.  The priests and popes who were supposed to be pious and holy people were actually greedy men who only wanted power.  They allowed simony (the practice of selling a Church position), and clerical marriage (allowing priests to engage in sexual relations).

When Pope Leo IX (r. 1049-1054) was instated as pope, he decided to lead a campaign against putting corrupt men in high Church positions.  He condemned the men in the Church who abused their powers.  He emphasized how Church officials should be men who follow God and His rules.

However, Leo did not get rid of laymen investiture, but simply said that the laymen should choose better men to serve these positions.  This is why this period is called the Moderate Reform.

As you can see, laymen investiture was a huge problem, and while Pope Leo had good intentions, his reform did not do much.  Laymen investiture only truly ended with the Concordat of Worms in 1122, which stated that the king cannot be the only person instating Church officials.

Thanks for reading!


Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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