What Were the Problems Besetting the Church in the 10th and 11th Centuries? What was “Moderate Reform”?

During the 10th/11th centuries there was a fair bit of corruption in the church. This corruption brought about numerous problems for the church itself; but what were these problems that were affecting the church? Around this time because of all the corruption reforms were made to put the church back into correct order. One of these reforms is known as “Moderate Reform,” but what was “Moderate Reform”?

The Problems

The first main list of problems that was besetting the church were due to the fact that the church at the time was entangled in the Feudal system(the relationship between Lords and Vassals). The reason why this was an issue was because Bishops and Abbots held their offices as fiefs from the Lords; basically meaning that these Bishops and Abbots only held these positions because they were technically put in those positions by Lords. Also Priests were chosen this way too. These Lords or noblemen who put people into those positions were known as laymen, and technically were not allowed to have the position of choosing religious figures. Also the condition of the Papacy was not a great one, with wealthy and powerful families fighting over who gets to choose individuals for Papal office, the emperors were also involved with this. Which really showed the lack of Papal authority at the time. With all of these issues reforms were very much needed.

“Moderate Reform”

“Moderate reform” was created by Pope Leo IX, who was Pope from 1049-1054. This reform was moderate, not too radical, but not too soft. The reform itself was to restore Papal authority(Pope Leo IX had collected seventy-four titles that emphasized this). But it didn’t fully change the system of nobles or emperors choosing church officials, entirely, but it did emphasize that those laymen should choose suitable and good individuals for these positions.  


The problems that were besetting the church during the 10th and 11th centuries were mainly due to the fact that noblemen were the ones who were choosing the Bishops, Abbots, Priests, etc. These nobles who were choosing these people were known as laymen. “Moderate Reform,” was a reform that emphasized the restoring of Papal authority, in the choosing of Bishops, Abbots, Priests, etc. But because this reform was moderate it did not fully restore this authority to the church. With all of that happening during that time, it really comes to show that the separation of church and state is a very important concept.

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