The period from the eighth to the fourteenth century was one of vast reforms,
some for the better and some for the worse. During this period in Europe, commonly
known as The Middle Ages, economic reforms took place as well as social, political, and
religious changes. One common theme throughout The Middle Ages consisted of the
relationship between the Church and the State. The Catholic church during this era held a
prominent role in society, and it had an abundant amount of power and authority during
this time. The Catholic Church exercised its authority in many different stages, in which a
response from the people occurred because of the way the Church showed its power.

The nature of the Catholic Church began its reform around the time Charlemagne,
from 768 to 814, took control. He became a Christian emperor and the first great political
leader in Western Europe. His main goal was to promote the Roman Catholic religion
throughout all of the world known to man, and to do this Charlemagne coordinated with
the pope, which in turn the pope crowned him the holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne
strived to reestablish central authority and revive the culture of the Early Middle Ages,
and he succeeded by gaining authority over a large area, including almost all of Western
and Central Europe (Charlemagne p.130-131). Charlemagne also made many reforms,
mostly Church and educational ones. He first reformed the monasteries by making them

Benedictine; he also made sure that the churches were abiding by the rules and not doing
anything wrong. Charlemagne designed a system in which four archbishops were set up in
four different regions with their headquarters in cities in that particular region. The
archbishops appoint bishops authority in their territories. As the Catholic Church's
authority increases during this time, it also comes with consequences. This system of
archbishops and bishops are great for the Church, but Charlemagne uses them as royal
agents, which is part of royal policy. Furthermore, Charlemagne makes reforms in
education in order to further improve the Church; he sets up a system which strengthens
the priesthood by setting up bishop schools. These reforms indicate "a lack of division
between religious and secular affairs" (Charlemagne p.131). Who really has authority, is it
the pope or the king? King Charlemagne did make all of the reforms, but the pope also
crowned him holy Roman Emperor. This will create problems in the near future between
the Church and the State.

The nature of the Catholic Church's authority again changed during the High

Middle Ages in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Basically, the papacy became more
confident by claiming greater powers and actually challenging the monarchs themselves for
total authority (Sherman p.166). Pope Gregory VII is a great example of the increased
confidence and authority during these times. The papacy under this pope asserted its
powers under the proposition derived from Pope Gregory VII. It indicates many of the
powers that the Church claims to hold. Some of them include: "The pope is the only
person whose feet are kissed by all princes. He may depose emperors. He may be
judged by no one " (Pope Gregory VII p.168). The pope is obviously claiming higher
authority over the State, especially over the emperor. The Church also had the power to
excommunicate members of the Catholic Church, which holds a sever punishment
especially during the Middle Ages. Because an excommunicated person was forbidden
from all social intercourse, this punishment would thus be terrible politically, socially, as
well as economically (Noble p.204). In the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent III
continued to claim powers for the Church and even had some of his claims hold up. He
claimed that the royal power derived the brilliance of dignity from the pontifical authority,
which includes the pope (Pope Innocent III p.197). Central governments in the European
nations began to evolve and try to change the ways of the papacy, which, in turn, brought
up problems for the Church (Noble p.205). This is especially true with the case of Pope

Boniface VIII. He issued a letter which forbade the taxation of the clergy without explicit
papal permission, and King Philip IV responded by campaigning against the pope. This,
in turn, rallied support for the monarchy in France (Noble p.222). This attack on Pope

Boniface VIII unveils the extreme splits in the Christian community; it seemed apparent
after these events that European governments had no intention of recognizing absolute
papal authority (Noble p. 226).

The nature of the Catholic Church was basically transformed during the Late

Middle Ages in the fourteenth century, due mainly to the aftermath