Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John R. Sommerfeldt

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Included in the Gregorian Reform of the eleventh century was the clerical discipline of celibacy. Even though celibacy was not a new discipline at that time, Pope Gregory VII vigorously enforced the canons on celibacy. In a matter of such intimacy there was bound to be opposition to the enforcement of these canons. Tradition offered ample support to both parties of the conflict. The long standing tradition of married clergy served as a strong support to those who opposed the Gregorian enforcement. However, the traditional canons in favor of celibacy gave impetus to the reformers of the eleventh century.

Pope Gregory VII did not have to legislate a new discipline but rather carry out the existing canons. The long standing neglect of the canons provided a custom that caused strong opposition to the Gregorian reform movement. The main thrust of the eleventh century reform was of course freedom of the church from the dominance of the state. In seeking a way out of the investitute conflict, the pope vigorously pursued a course of clerical reform that included mandatory clerical celibacy.