The Church and Monasticism
The rise of the Normans coincided with profound changes in the monastic world and the Church more generally in western Europe. The papal reform movement that began with Leo IX (1049-54) reached its highest point under Gregory VII (1073-85), whose insistence on the primacy of the papal office brought him into conflict with both kings and bishops. Although the ‘Investiture Conflict', as it is usually known, largely affected papal relations with the German Emperor, the issues at the heart of the conflict applied also to relations with the Norman kings of England. With the help of Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, (1070-89), William I resisted Gregory VII's claims to be able to determine Church affairs in England, including the appointments of bishops. This policy was continued by his sons William II (1087-1100) and Henry I (1100-35) and his grandson Stephen (1135-54). The archdiocese of Canterbury was left vacant after Lanfranc's death for four years, and his successor, Anselm (1093-1109), went into exile as the price for trying to bring the English Church into closer line with Rome.
The Norman kings may have resisted papal oversight, but the Anglo-Norman Church underwent substantial changes as a result of the Conquest of 1066. Anglo-Saxon dioceses were structurally reformed and cathedral clergy made to adopt a regular life. Many Anglo-Saxon saints unknown outside England were discarded and replaced with ‘international' cults. Most bishoprics and monasteries had Normans imposed on them in place of Anglo-Saxons. New monasteries and convents were founded, and women's monasticism in particular took off under Norman patronage. The Benedictine Rule (ca 560) reached its pre-eminence in the period ca 1070-1200, and Normandy had already before 1066 seen a wave of new Benedictine monasteries. After 1066 reforming monasteries, especially Savigniac and Cistercian were founded in England as a result of Norman, and more generally, French influence. Lay patronage of monastic houses, and thus close relations between monasteries and the secular nobility, became a common feature of the social landscape.
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