No period in the history of the Papacy, and, therefore, of that mediæval Rome, which it represents, is more important than the eleventh century, that same century which witnessed the Norman conquest of England. Under Benedict IX., the Roman Church reached a level of degradation, almost as low as that to which it descended under the Borgias. The Vicar of Christ sold his high office to Gregory VI., in return for an assignment to his private uses of the Peter's Pence that were paid by the English. The loss of the temporal power had accompanied this abandonment of spiritual aims. The pilgrim to the Holy City was lucky if he escaped the bands of robbers which infested the approaches to it. Within the walls, the churches were allowed to fall into ruin, and the priests to run riot in every kind of debauchery. Murder and outrage were of nightly occurrence in the streets, and the Roman nobles did not spare even the altar of St. Peter in their quest for plunder. They were, indeed, the arbiters of the Papacy, and made Popes at their will, just as in former days the prætorians had proclaimed emperors according as it suited their purpose. In short, about the middle of the eleventh century, Rome and its Church were in the lowest depths of humiliation, when suddenly there arose a man who raised the Papacy to a pinnacle which it had never occupied before, and made the name of Rome once more feared and respected by the great ones of the earth.