The reform movement spreads in various countries

As we have again and again said or hinted, it was not only through the Papacy that efforts were made to bring the rank and file of Western Christendom to a closer approximation to the standards set forth by the Christ and the apostles. We have seen how in the early years of the reform movement, before it had captured the Papacy, it was being carried forward by bishops, usually bishops who were monks or who had been profoundly influenced by monastic revivals. Similarly, as the reform gathered momentum, it found expression on the national level, partly through Papal legates, partly through outstanding bishops, and partly through monasteries and local or regional synods. We must here take a moment to hint at some of the reforms in particular regions and nations.

Early in the twelfth century, substantial advance was made in France in curbing simony, the violation of clerical celibacy, and the control of the Church by lay lords. At times the king, in his struggle to increase the royal power at the expense of the nobility, while himself insisting on a voice in the naming of bisliops, endeavoured to restrain the domination of the Church by his great vassals. Many of the feudal gentry, moreover, surrendered, apparently voluntarily, the authority which they had possessed to name the priests for the parishes in their domains. Here and there better bishops appeared, more devoted than their immediate predecessors to the spiritual and moral care of their clergy and their laity.

In Germany and North Italy the prolonged struggle between Popes and Emperors militated against reforms. In Germany, however, we read of bishops who were diligent in preaching and who encouraged the parish priests to visit the sick among their nocks, faithfully administer the sacraments, and give religious instruction to their flocks. In Germany diocesan synods seem to have been frequent. We also hear of religious literature in German for the masses — hymns, long poems setting forth Biblical stories and the drama of salvation, and translations of Latin works of theology. In Germany, as elsewhere, painting and sculpture were employed to depict themes from the Bible and the lives of the saints, thus making them vivid to the illiterate who could not have access to them through the written page.

Hungary, only recently the scene of the conversion of the Magyars and the emergence of a Christian monarchy, saw several reforming councils in the early years of the eleventh century.

The measures associated with the name of Hildebrand also penetrated to England. Here the Norman kings had insisted upon controlling the Church. William the Conqueror had endeavoured to use his authority to improve the quality of the Church and had seen to it that the ranking archbishopric of England, that of Canterbury, was filled by Lanfranc, who had become outstanding as a teacher in the monastery of Bec and who was a cham pion of the Cluniac reforms. Lanfranc pushed those reforms in England. Wulfstan or Wulstan (c.1007 or c.1012-1095), who as Bishop of Worcester was the one pre-Conquest prelate who was permitted to retain his see under the Normans, was a spiritual child of the Dunstan movement and was canonized by Pope Innocent III. Anselm, also of Bec, who on the insistence of King William II succeeded Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury and held the post from 1093 to 1109, had a prolonged struggle with William II and Henry I in an effort, mixed in its outcome, to achieve the independence of the Church from royal domination and to insist upon its close subordination to the Pope. Under the civil strife which marked the reign of the weak Stephen the Church wrested concessions from the king. Henry II attempted to restore the royal authority over the Church and in doing so came inio conflict with Thomas Becket whom he himself had placed in the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The contest reached its climax in 1170, in the murder of Becket. That tragedy made of the latter England's most popular saint of the period and enabled the Pope to obtain recognition of the claims of the Church for which Becket had died.

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