CRITICISMS OF THE CHURCH
Church Political Power Grows The Church accumulated vast amounts of wealth and even controlled its own armies.
Simony Simony involved the selling of Church land, spiritual offices, holy relics, or sacred property. The practice gave spiritual authority to people interested in monetary or political gain.
Selling of Indulgences A complex system was developed to calculate earthly penance for sins and the required time a person must spend in purgatory, a physical place in which the soul was punished for sins on Earth, after death. Priests would reduce a person's penance or time in purgatory in exchange for contributions to the Church.
Growth of Church Wealth Everyone was required to pay a tithe, or one-tenth, of his or her income to the Church. Peasants lacking money were required to provide goods, food, or livestock and regularly work on the Church's land without pay.

Analyze Charts

Which criticism do you think common people felt most strongly? Why?

The Legacy of Judeo-Christian Teachings

By the late Middle Ages, traditions that had grown out of Christianity and Judaism had helped shape many aspects of life in Western Europe. The blending of Jewish and Christian teachings much later were called Judeo-Christian ideas. The teachings of these religions, along with ancient Greek and Roman ideas about law and government, would lead to new ways of thought. In time, these ideas became the basis for republican forms of government in the modern world that emphasized democracy and human rights and rejected the power of hereditary rulers.

Judeo-Christian teachings emphasized the value of the individual and the importance of social responsibility, or the idea of people helping one another, especially those in need. These teachings also included the idea of free will, or the freedom of humans to make choices for themselves. Christianity emerged in the Greco-Roman world, where it absorbed ideas of equality before the law, consent of the governed, and individual liberty.

The Church Faces Calls to Reform

The very success of the medieval Church brought problems. As its wealth and power grew, discipline weakened. Powerful clergy grew more worldly, and many lived in luxury. Monks and nuns often ignored their vows. Priests, who were allowed to marry during this time, sometimes devoted more time to the interests of their families than to Church duties. The growing corruption and decay led to calls for reform.

Reform Movements

In the early 900s, Abbot Berno set out to reform his monastery of Cluny in eastern France. First, he revived the Benedictine Rule, which required vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. He then encouraged monks to follow solely religious pursuits and refused to allow nobles or bishops to interfere in monastery affairs. Instead, Cluny was placed under the direct protection of the pope. Over the next 200 years, many monasteries and convents copied these reforms.

In 1073, Gregory VII, a former monk, became pope and extended the Cluniac reforms throughout the entire Church. He prohibited simony (SY muh nee), or the selling of Church offices, and outlawed marriage for priests. Gregory then called on Christians to renew their faith. To end outside influence, he insisted that the Church, and not kings and nobles, choose Church officials. That policy would lead to a bitter battle of wills with the German emperor.


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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments