Church History:  The 1000s (the century)


What happened in this century?

  • Christianity split into the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) Churches in 1054. 

  • The Investiture Controversy caused a pope to excommunicate an emperor in 1076.

  • The Crusades began in 1095. 

Contact Mark Nickens, Ph.D. in Church History, at  Questions, comments, and observations are welcome!


2011 Mark Nickens


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1009        Hakem, the Caliph (Muslim leader) of Egypt, decided to have the Holy Sepulchre (birth place/cave of Jesus) decimated and Christian pilgrims persecuted. 

1030s        Pilgrimages to Jerusalem increase.  This could have been prompted by the belief that Jesus would come back in the year 1033.

1054        The Great Schism:  Pope Leo IX (or his emissaries in Constantinople) and the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated each other.  In effect this means that each leader excommunicated the followers of the other; so the Pope excommunicated the Eastern Orthodox Christians and the Patriarch excommunicated the Catholic Christians.  To learn more about the split, go here.

The Big Picture:  Mutual Excommunications of Catholics and Orthodox

This was not a sudden decision by either man or either faith.  For centuries eastern and western Christians had disagreed with each other over theological matters.  This disruption will last until 1965 when Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras will meet at the Second Vatican Council.  The excommunications were withdrawn at that point.  Some of the issues which divided the two sides included the addition of the "filioque" clause to the Nicene Creed, the extent of the pope's authority, and the importance of the Patriarch within Christianity.

1065        Over 12,000 Christian pilgrims travel to the Holy Land.

1070        The Seljuk Turks (who were Muslims) conquered Jerusalem.  The Arabic Muslims had controlled Jerusalem.  The Seljuk Turks were less tolerant of the European Christians who came as pilgrims than the Arab Muslims had been.

1071        The Byzantine Emperor appealed to the pope for help in defeating the Seljuk Turks and retaking Palestine (which would have included Jerusalem).  It is interesting that the emperor appealed to the pope.  This shows the authority and influence the papacy had accrued by this time. 

1074        Pope Gregory VII attempted to enlist the aid of European rulers in defeating the Seljuk Turks and capturing the Holy Land.  He did not receive the required help. 

1074        Pope Gregory VII, in an attempt to purify the Catholic Church, decree that ecclesiastical offices (bishop, etc.) would no longer be purchased or sold and that clergy should remain celibate.  This caused a backlash from many noble men.

Investiture and the Feudal System

Within the feudal system, a large parcel of land would have, for example, one castle and one large church/cathedral.  It was vital for the secular and church leaders to get along in order for the system to function well, and so over time the secular leaders increasingly picked the church leaders.  This was known as "investiture," the giving or selling of a church office.  This is the system that Pope Gregory VII tried to change.


1075        Pope Gregory VII demoted several ecclesiastical offices made by the emperor, Henry IV (German), and demanded that the emperor appear before him in Rome. 


1076        Henry IV held his own meeting with his supporters and denounced Gregory VIIGregory subsequently excommunicated Henry IV.  Some German rulers sought to elect a different emperor.  Upon hearing that Gregory wanted Henry to change his mind and be reconciled, the rulers told Henry IV not to make decisions until he had received a blessing from the pope.  Henry met the pope (who was traveling) at a castle in Canossa.  Gregory made Henry wait three days in the snow before agreeing to meet with him.  Henry asked to be reconciled.  Gregory agreed on the grounds that Henry attend an upcoming council.  Henry did not attend and Gregory excommunicated him again.  Henry marched on Rome and entered it in 1084.  Gregory fled and died in 1085 in exile. 


1080        By this year, the Seljuk Turks (who were Muslims) had conquered Anatolia, which lies in present-day western Turkey.  This was very close to Constantinople, and at the doorstep of Europe.

1085        Pope Gregory VII died.  Victor II became pope but only for a little more than a year.

1088        Urban II, the man who initiated the First Crusade, became pope. 

1095, November 27        Pope Urban II delivered a speech during the Council of Clermont calling on a Crusade to win back the Holy Land.  The speech was so powerful that the people shouted "Deus volt!" or "God wills it!"  To see one version of the speech, click here.  The Council included 13 archbishops, 225 bishops, 90 abbots and many noblemen and knights.  Urban II then traveled throughout France preaching this Crusade.


The Big Picture:  Pilgrimages to the Holy Land

The first recorded pilgrimage to the Holy Lands was by Constantine's mother in the 320s.  She directed the building of two churches, in Bethlehem over the supposed birthplace of Jesus (which was believed to be in a cave and the church is known as the Church of the Nativity) and the other near Jerusalem.  (Other churches already existed in the area.) (The Church of the Nativity was damaged in 529 and rebuilt in 530.)  Pilgrimages were so popular by the 500s that Pope Gregory I had a special hospice built especially for pilgrims to the Holy Land.  As part of Charlemagne's European expansion, he ensured the safe passage of pilgrims to the Holy Land (called a "protectorate).  He had churches and monasteries built there.  The frequency of pilgrimages increased until the year 1009, when Hakem, the Muslim religious leader (caliph) of Egypt ordered the destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Jesus was buried) and other Christian buildings.  In 1027 the Frankish protectorate ended with the rise of the Byzantine (Christian Orthodox) emperors (which meant that they now protected the Holy Land).  Pilgrims continued to come to the Holy Land.


The Big Picture:  The Special Indulgence & The First Crusade (1095 - app. 1099)

A special Indulgence was pronounced by the pope:  "Whoever, out of pure devotion and not for the purpose of gaining honor or money, shall go to Jerusalem to liberate the Church of God, let that journey be counted in lieu of all penance."  So basically enduring the hardship of the journey of the Crusades equaled all penance for all sins; this was known as a plenary indulgence.  This First Crusade consisted of two parts, the first wave and the second wave.  In the first wave, Peter the Hermit left with thousands of untrained men and women almost immediately but most of them died along the way or in battles.  The second wave consisted of trained knights and fighting men in four armies.  While they experienced many defeats, they were able to capture Jerusalem and so much territory that they divided it up into four Crusader states. 


1098        A monastery is begun at Citeaux, France.  The monks desire to follow the Rule of Benedict more closely.  This movement will grow quickly over the next 150 years.  By 1200 more than 500 monasteries will be tied in to Citeaux.  This movement will be known as the Cistercian Order.  Its most famous monk will be Bernard of Clairvaux.


1099, July 15        Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders.  The Crusaders killed everyone in Jerusalem, regardless of age or sex.  [Author's note:  this is an important event to remember because this event has been used by some Muslims to show how Christians act toward others.]


1099, July 29        Pope Urban II died (before hearing that Jerusalem had been captured by the Crusaders.)

Primary Source


"But if you are hindered by love of children, parents and wives, remember what the Lord says in the Gospel, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." "Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life." Let none of your possessions detain you, no solicitude for your family affairs, since this land which you inhabit, shut in on all sides by the seas and surrounded by the mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; nor does it abound in wealth; and it furnishes scarcely food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder one another, that you wage war, and that frequently you perish by mutual wounds. Let therefore hatred depart from among you, let your quarrels end, let wars cease, and let all dissensions and controversies slumber. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulchre; wrest that land from the wicked race, and subject it to yourselves. That land which as the Scripture says "floweth with milk and honey," was given by God into the possession of the children of Israel Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified by residence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the centre of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor, because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.

"When Pope Urban had said these and very many similar things in his urbane discourse, he so influenced to one purpose the desires of all who were present, that they cried out, "It is the will of God! It is the will of God!" When the venerable Roman pontiff heard that, with eyes uplifted to heaven he gave thanks to God and, with his hand commanding silence, said:

"'Most beloved brethren, today is manifest in you what the Lord says in the Gospel, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." Unless the Lord God had been present in your spirits, all of you would not have uttered the same cry. For, although the cry issued from numerous mouths, yet the origin of the cry was one. Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let this then be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God!'"  go back to timeline here. (accessed 26 Dec 11)

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Secondary Sources

Riley-Smith, Jonathan.  The Crusades:  A History.  Second Edition.  1987, 2005.  ISBN:  0300101287.  Source for different versions of the sermon by Pope Urban II calling for the Crusades.