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Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

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Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

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Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

Christianity, 650s-950s: Conversion, the Papacy, and Monasticism II

By the 900s, some in church service were appalled by practices such as clerical marriage, simony, and general subservience to secular feudal leaders. In Burgundy, earnest monastics were able to convince William the Pious of Aquitane to found the Cluny monastery around 910. It was endowed generously from the start with relatively few strings attached, so that it would not be dependent on secular rulers. Additional gifts of land or provisions would not be in return for feudal services, but would be recompensed by the monks' prayers. Furthermore, the monks received the right to elect their own abbot, putting the position beyond lay interference. As well, Cluny's founders tried to eliminate any potentially idle time by instituting heavy schedules of communal liturgical prayer services, in addition to fieldwork and manuscript reproduction. Cluniac monks attained a high level of sustainable piety and discipline throughout the tenth century and into the eleventh. What is more, Cluny-based monasteries proliferated throughout France and Western Europe. To maintain effective supervision and unity of praxis, the order only had one abbot, with other houses ruled by priors subordinate to him. By the time of the great abbot Odilo (994- 1048), the original Cluny compound had 300 monks, in addition to more than 150m dependencies. These dependencies were allowed to have lay patrons, who were often kings. Cluniac monasticism entered Germany from the early 1000s, with Conrad II (r. 1024-1039) supporting them, though he did oppress his native clergy. His son Henry III (r. 1039-1056) actually viewed himself as the order's protector and patron, lending momentum to the eleventh century 'reform party' in the Church. Ultimately, alumni of Cluny would enter the 'secular' church's hierarchy, as well as the papacy. Reforming they would articulate the idea of a papal monarchy entitled to temporal powers for the sake of spiritual betterment of Europe. Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-85) exemplified this striving.

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