Horace k. Mann










A.D. 795-891




LEO III (795-816)

STEPHEN (IV) V (816-817)

PASCHAL I (817-824)

EUGENIUS II (824-827)


GREGORY IV (827-844)

ST. LEO IV (847-855)

BENEDICT III (855-858)


HADRIAN II (867-872)

JOHN VIII (872-882)

MARINUS I (882-884)

HADRIAN III (884-885)

STEPHEN (V) VI (885-891)




A.D. 795-816.


EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                           EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Constantine VI (Porphyrogenitus), 780-797   Charlemagne (King of the Franks) 771-800.

Irene, 797-802. (Emperor), 800-814.

Nicephorus, 802-811.                                        Louis, the Pious or Debonnaire, 814-840.

Michael I, 811-813.

Leo V, 813-820.



THE period of the history of the papacy, co-extensive with the duration of the Carolingian Empire (795-891), opens under very different external conditions to those which its preceding period (590-795) commenced. During the latter epoch the popes were the nominal subjects at least of the emperors at Constantinople, whose representatives were installed in the crumbling palace on the Palatine. Their election had to be confirmed by them, and their lives and liberties were dependent on their whims. Italy, the center of the papal power, was divided between the rude Lombard and the grasping Byzantine.

But now all this was changed; no longer did the presence among them of a Byzantine duke remind the Romans that their lord and master was a Greek Basileus on the shores of the Bosphorus; no longer were the effigies of the descendants of Constantine received in Rome with the respectful submission due to their prototypes, and placed with honor in the chapel of S. Cesario in Palatio; and no longer did the coins of Rome, by their image and inscription, proclaim that it owed tribute to Caesar. The Byzantine power had vanished from the Eternal City, and, with the exception of Calabria and of a few isolated places (e,g. Naples, Hydruntum, etc.) in S. Italy, from the whole of the peninsula. Rome and Italy had now new masters. Leaving out of account the parts just mentioned and Venice, which was a practically independent state under the protection of Constantinople, the provinces of Italy were in the hands of the Pope and of the Frank. The former, now free in every sense of the word, was lord of Rome and its duchy (along with the southern portion of Tuscany to Populonium), of the old Exarchate of Ravenna, including the Pentapolis, and of the duchy of Perusia (Perugia), which connected these two nearly equal strips of territory. The donations of Pippin and Charlemagne gave him claims over various other portions of Italy; but the rest of the peninsula was, in fact, ruled by the Frankish, either in person or by the intermediary of subject Lombard dukes. In place, then, of being a subject insulted and oppressed by the domineering Greek and terrified by the savage Lombards he was an independent ruler honored and protected by the grateful Frank.

Rome, which already in the days of the first Gregory was falling to pieces, was now, phoenix-like, springing from its ashes into new life and splendor. During the prosperous reign of Leo, its “ever-increasing decay”, which St. Gregory had mourned and which had received a great check in the time of Hadrian, was still further arrested. The city was, in fact, furnished with a new lease of life.

What was true of Rome was true of the world at large both in the East and West. It seemed to Gregory I that “the world was fast sinking into the grave by its ever-multiplying maladies”. But now its demise seems far distant. In the West the genius and strong right arm of Charlemagne, combined with the industry and intelligence of his ministers, were evolving order out of chaos; and in the history of the long decay and successive dismemberment of the Eastern Empire, it would appear that at this epoch the effects of the revival in the eighth century are still being felt. At any rate, before the close of this century, which Pope Leo III was to inaugurate in so striking a manner, there will have been begun under the Macedonian dynasty a splendid period of expansion for the Byzantine Empire—the last, however, which its annals will have to record.

But though all this is true, and though, in the main, the epoch which is now to engage our attention was a glorious one for the papacy, it must not be supposed that it was entering a millennium. As in the life of man every age has its peculiar diseases, so in the existences of dynasties and states every period has its difficulties and dangers. The troubles of the papacy were henceforth, for a long period, to arise rather from within than from without. The great increase of temporal power and wealth which had just come into its hands had fired fresh ambitions. Powerful families arose in Rome whose members would fain, by fair means or foul, keep the papacy or, at least, its power and possessions in their own grasp. As long as the Frankish protectors of the See of Peter were strong, these evils were kept to some extent in check. But when they in their turn grew feeble, when the Carolingian empire went finally to pieces towards the close of the ninth century, the papacy fell upon evil times indeed. The savage attack upon Leo III by the relations of his predecessor, which we shall soon have to narrate, and the terrible death said to have been inflicted on John VIII, are indications of what will befall the popes when, if not the halcyon days, at any rate the comparatively bright times, of the ninth century shall have passed away.

On the very day that Hadrian was buried (December 26, of 795), Leo, the cardinal priest of S. Susanna and vestiarius (or vestararius), or chief of the pontifical treasury, one of the principal officials of the papal court, was elected to succeed him. That he was, moreover, unanimously elected was asserted by him in a letter to Charlemagne, and is also definitely affirmed by his biographer. As there was now no necessity for waiting for any imperial confirmation of the election, he was duly consecrated on the following day.

He who was thus by the suffrage of all raised to the See of Peter was a Roman and the son of Atyuppius and Elisabeth. At a very early age he had been attached to the treasury department of the Lateran, and had therein been brought up and trained. The barbaric name of his father, coupled with the fact that nothing is said in the Liber Pontificalis about his having any aristocratic connections, gives some color to the conjecture that he was of a more or less plebeian origin. An incidental notice of his biographer informs us that he was ordained priest in the Church of S. Susanna on the Quirinal, a church which, as Pope, he took care to enlarge and enrich, and of which it will have been noticed he was the titular priest at the time of his election to the papacy.

According to the Book of the Popes, he was chaste, eloquent, and of a persevering disposition; well versed, as a priest should be, in the Sacred Scriptures and in psalmody, and very fond of the society of the pious. A great almsgiver himself, he was wont, when visiting the sick, which he was in the habit of doing most regularly, to exhort them to redeem their souls by alms. Whatever was entrusted to him in this way, he used to distribute to the poor in secret, as well by night as by day. It was by conduct such as this that, whilst he was occupied with the care of the vestments, money, and plate in the papal vestiarium or treasury, he became the beloved of all. These were the arts which secured him a unanimous election to the chair of Peter.

After he became Pope, he showed himself a defender of the property of the Church and ever ready to face difficulties. Over merciful, slow to anger, quick to forgive, never returning evil for evil, nor even exacting full punishment when punishment was justly due, but on the contrary, gentle and tender-hearted, he strove to render their due to all—aye, and even more than their due. For we read that he greatly increased the pecuniary presents (presbiteria) which the popes were in the habit of making to the Roman clergy at Easter and other times.

Such is what one who knew him, who perchance worked by his side in the vestiarium, says of Leo III. It will be important to bear some of these traits of his character in mind, as it is most likely that they were the cause of much of the suffering which fell to his unfortunate lot. One of the weak points of government by ecclesiastics will generally be that, in the always difficult task of nicely adjusting mercy and justice, such rulers will be naturally too prone to mercy. And if, moreover, justice has to be meted out by an ecclesiastic who is by his own particular character already predisposed to be too forgiving, the result will not be conducive to strong government. So, in the absence of any ascertained cause for the violent behavior towards him of Paschal and his fellow-conspirators, it is far from unlikely that a certain amiable weakness in Leo’s character was to some extent, if not the cause, at least the occasion of it.

There is, however, no doubt that the fact, that some of the very phrases used by his biographer to put such a pleasing personality before us were copied from previous papal lives, causes a suspicion to arise that we are only gazing on an official portrait. The feeling is natural, but in the present case apparently not well-grounded. Other standards have come down to us by which we can judge him; and we find that he was not only honored and loved by his successors, and praised by subsequent papal biographers, but extolled by others outside the limits of the local Roman Church. Our own countryman, Alcuin, never wearied of sounding his praises. He knows that the heart of the Pope is all aglow with the fire of God’s love, and he would have him scatter from it broadcast blazing sparks “to enkindle the torches of the Churches of Christ”; and he does not think it right that the burning light of divine grace which Leo possesses should be hidden beneath his prudent breast as beneath a bushel. It must be set “on the candelabrum of the Apostolic See, that with glorious effulgence it may shine on all”. Prose does not suffice this “angel from Deira” to sound forth the virtues “of Christ’s most clear-toned trumpet”. In elegiac verse he proclaims him “ a pursuer of justice, a lover of true piety, bountiful to the poor”, and illustrious throughout the whole world for his merits. Should this seem to some undeniably glowing, but after all somewhat misty and vague, it must be noted that, if it is bright-colored indeed, it is so because it is the outpouring of one “whoever loved as far as in him lay the most blessed princes and pastors of the holy Roman See”. But the fact is that it is not really hazy, because it is founded on exact reports sent to him from his friends on the spot, of the religious and just life of his most clearly beloved Pope Leo. Alcuin’s testimony is all the more valuable because, realizing that it was for the Pope to illumine “the length and breadth of the Christian empire”, he did not hesitate to exhort him not to allow “the hardest of toils to terrify him nor any honied words of flattery to draw him off the path of truth”. Knowing, too, the dangers attending the holding of considerable temporal power, he begged him, with holy freedom, not to let “any greed of worldly ambition silence the trumpet of his most sacred throat”. And no doubt, in Charlemagne’s direct and indirect exhortations to Leo on his accession, of which we shall speak presently, we are listening to the voice of his chief counselor raised not in suspicion of the new Pope’s moral character, but in support of it.

Leo lost no time after his election in notifying it to Charlemagne. Along with the official notice of his election, he sent him letters, presents, the keys of the confession of St. Peter, and the standard of the city. He also begged him to send some authoritative person to receive the oaths of fidelity due to him, as Patricius, from the Roman people. All this was, of course, to induce him to continue his role as defender of the Roman Church. For it was not an uncommon practice for religious houses to present “banners to their defenders as symbols of armed advocacy”, and not as typifying that the recipients of them were the lords and masters of those who sent them. That Charlemagne inferred nothing more from the Pope’s presents is plain from his letter of instructions to Angilbert, who had to take to Rome the king’s acknowledgment of them. For it bears the superscription : “Charles, by the grace of God, king and defender of his Holy Church”.

Its contents, however, while they set the zeal of the Frankish monarch for the honor of God’s Church in a very favorable light, show that he knew how to exercise that pious freedom towards its earthly head which enabled St. Paul “to withstand St. Peter to the face”, and St. Bernard to send food for reflection to Eugenius III. The youthful Homer, as Angilbert was called in the literary circle of the court of Charlemagne, was instructed, whenever he had a suitable opportunity and the Pope was in a mood to listen to him, to urge upon the Apostolic lord, our father, the importance of his life being in every way spotless, the strict observance of the holy canons, and the obligation that lay upon him of governing the Holy Church of God well. The worthy abbot was to impress upon Leo how short would be the time he could hold the honor which now was his, but how endless would be the reward which would be his if he labored well whilst he held it. He was also to exhort the Pope to do all he could to suppress simony, which in many parts was doing so much harm in the Church. Finally, the missus was not to forget to speak to the Pope about the monastery which Charlemagne was anxious to build at St. Paul’s, and concerning which he had already treated with Pope Hadrian. The minutes conclude with a prayer that God will guide the heart of Leo, so that he may labor for the advantage of the Church, may be a good father to the king, and may obtain for him strength to do the will of God and to secure perpetual peace.

Angilbert was supplied not only with instructions as to the matters he was to lay before the Pope, but with a letter for him which was an answer to the one, now lost, which the king of the Franks had received from him. In its superscription “Defender of the Church of God” is replaced by “Patricius of the Romans”. Charlemagne begins by expressing his joy at learning from the Pope’s letter and from the decree of election (decretali chartula) that Leo has been unanimously elected, and has expressed his intention of being loyal to the king. After a touching allusion to Pope Hadrian, whom he mourns not as one dead, but whom he calls to mind as now living a better life with Christ, he rejoices that in Leo there will be one who will daily pray to St. Peter both for the whole Church and for the king and his people, and will adopt him as his son. The presents which he had prepared to send to Hadrian he is now sending to him. “We have instructed Angilbert as to everything which we would like for ourselves or is necessary for you, that you may by mutual conference, decide what will tend to the exaltation of the Holy Church of God, and to the strengthening of your honor and of our patriciate. For as I concluded a treaty with the most blessed predecessor of your holy paternity, so with your blessedness I wish to make an inviolable treaty of the same faith and love, so that I may obtain the apostolic benediction and the most holy See of the Roman Church may be ever defended by our devotion”. He then goes on himself to define his relations with the Church more exactly. “For it is our task to defend by arms from without the Holy Church of Christ from the ravages of the pagan and the infidel, and from within by the profession of the Catholic faith. It is yours, lifting your hands to God with Moses, to help our warlike endeavors with your prayers”. In conclusion, he entreats the Pope to let his light shine before men.

The presents of which Angilbert was the bearer were “a great part of the treasure which Eric, Duke of Friuli, had this same year (796) offered to Charlemagne, and which he had taken from the camp of the Avars, who were lords of Pannonia”. This great central camp, defended by a triple wall, and situated near the river Theiss, was the place to which the Avars, or Huns, had brought the fruit of their long series of successful raids, and was known as “the Ring”. The loss of it broke their power and put enormous wealth into the hands of Charlemagne, and thence into the hands of the Pope. This gift of the Frank king undoubtedly helped Leo to be as generous as he was to the churches of Rome.

Among the many letters of congratulation which Leo would have received on his accession, it is very interesting to find that one from our countryman Alcuin has survived the ravages of time. Begging Leo to accept his letter, he continues : “I have loved, as much as in me lay, the most blessed princes and pastors of the Holy Roman Church, desiring by their most holy intercession to be numbered among the sheep of Christ, which after His resurrection He entrusted to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, to be fed ... Thou art, most holy father, the Pontiff elected by God, the Vicar of the Apostles, the heir of the fathers, the ruler (princeps) of the Church, the nourisher of the one immaculate dove ... The position in which you are, makes you honored by all, the nobility of your character praised by all, the devotion of your piety loved by all”.

Whether with the treasures of the Avars’ Ring or not, Leo executed a work some time before the year 800, which aptly expresses the relations between Charlemagne and himself which their first letters to each other put before us. The King is the armed defender or protector of the Pope, and as such receives from him a promise to adhere to the Frankish cause, as his predecessors had done. The religious and political relationship between them is admirably typified by the designs of the artists in mosaic employed by the Pontiff. For the iconoclastic persecution had driven many Greek artists into Italy, and rendered possible the renaissance of art, such as it was, which the popes of this period fostered.

To the east of the great pile of buildings, of which the Lateran Palace was even then composed, Leo erected a great hall, called from its superior size the Triclinium majus. This he decorated with mosaics. Although in a ruinous condition, it was still standing as late as the pontificate of Clement XII (1730-40). Its mosaics had already been restored by Cardinal Barberini in 1625, but, of course, perished with the ruined Triclinium itself under Clement. Benedict XI V., his successor, however, caused a copy of them to be made and placed under a tribune against the side of the oratory Sancta Sanctorum, to the north-east of the Lateran, where it may be seen to this day, with three inscriptions in which these facts are set forth at length. This he accomplished in 1743, from designs of it which had been drawn before its destruction. Looking at the apsidal construction of Benedict XIV, there are to be seen two groups of figures. The one on the left shows Our Lord giving the keys to Pope St. Silvester and a standard to the Emperor Constantine. A precisely similar group is depicted on the right. A seated figure with a round nimbus, which the inscription, Scs. Petrus, sufficiently indicates as that of the Prince of the Apostles, is presenting a pallium to Pope Leo, who is kneeling at his right, and is distinguished by the inscription, Sanctissimus Dominus Leo Papa. Another kneeling figure on the left of the saint is receiving from him into its right hand a standard. The letters Dn. Carolo Regi around its square nimbus show that the figure is that of the famous King of the Franks. Beneath the picture is a large tablet, on which, in the vulgar Latin of the period, is a prayer to St. Peter calling upon him to grant life to the Pope and victory to the King.

A year or two has to elapse before we hear of any further communication between the Pope and Charlemagne. But about the beginning of the year 798 the king gave his approval to the wishes of the Bavarian bishops for an archbishop. To attach Bavaria still more closely to his kingdom, he resolved to strengthen its ecclesiastical organization. For this purpose he decided to establish an archbishopric; and selecting Arno of Salzburg, the friend of Alcuin, to be its first occupant, sent him to Rome along with other missi to receive the pallium from the Pope. The Bavarian bishops, too, sent to make the same request at the same time. Finding that Arno was all that could be desired both in character and learning, he presented him with the pallium, and notified the bishops and the kings that he had done as desired by them. In the opening sentence of his letter to Charlemagne he unfolds the reason of his complying with his request. “Inasmuch as through your laborious and royal efforts the holy catholic and apostolic Roman Church, enriched with all good things, is this day in glory, it is only proper that we should in every way comply with your reasonable wishes”. It would appear that it was not long before the bishops regretted that they had applied for a master, and that they endeavored, as far as possible, to withdraw themselves from subjection to him. Accordingly, when Arno again had occasion to go to Rome, he induced the Pope to write them a letter exhorting them to obey their new metropolitan, and not to try to weaken the bonds which united them to him by flying in their canonical differences to the secular courts. He begged them to receive with joy, as their predecessors had done, the decisions of the Apostolic See. “For as the Roman Church has received authority from the decrees of the Holy Fathers, that, where Christianity has spread, the vicar of Blessed Peter should have the power of constituting an archbishop, so have we acted in your case. This holy See has had the doing of this in view for a considerable period, but up till our time it has been prevented by various causes from putting its wishes into effect”. Now that a metropolitan has been given them, he exhorts them to accept the position and to act in harmony with their new archbishop.

Both the Pope and Charlemagne were the more anxious for the upholding of Arno’s authority because to him had been entrusted the conversion of the Avars. Their power had been broken by the Franks in various campaigns from the year 791 to 795. As well to civilize them as to incorporate them the more readily with his kingdom, Charlemagne, in accordance with his usual policy, endeavored to make Christians of them as quickly as possible. Therefore no sooner had Arno been made archbishop, and had rendered to him an account of his embassy, than he sent him into the country of the conquered Avars—a country embracing the ancient Noricum and Pannonia, and, as it included the territory between the Danube, the Drave, and the Carpathian Mountains, most of the present Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In his successful work among the Avars, Arno was much encouraged by Alcuin, ever anxious to hear of its conversion. It is through the correspondence of these two great friends that we first hear the mutterings of the storm that was to break over the head of the devoted Pope in the early part of the following year. In one letter after another, Alcuin seeks for information about the designs of the Romans, or about the schemes of the Roman nobility. At length, writing to his friend towards the close of 798, he lets us see more plainly to what exactly he is referring: “You wrote to me about the religious life and virtue of our Apostolic Lord, and what troubles he has to endure at the hands of certain sons of discord. For my own part I confess I am rejoiced that, with a pious and faithful mind, without guile, the father of the churches strives to serve God. Nor is it wonderful that justice should suffer persecution in him at the hands of the wicked, when in Christ, Our Lord, Our Head, the Fount of all goodness and justice, it was persecuted unto death”.

And it was nearly persecuted unto death in the person of Pope Leo. The tragic incident we are about to relate Leo, had its origin purely in the personal ambition of a section of the nobility, and was not in the least degree prompted by any abstract objections on the part of the Romans to the Pope’s having temporal dominion. This is obvious from the fact that its chief agents sprang from the very bosom of the Roman Church itself, and were relations of the late Pope Hadrian.

The principal conspirator, Paschal, was also the principal official of the papal administration. He was a nephew of Hadrian, and under Pope Leo at least was primicerius of the Holy See. His lieutenant was Campulus, who from a notary had seemingly been made saccellarius (paymaster) by Leo. Allied with them were probably other members of the military aristocracy which the increased temporal power of the Holy See had augmented both in numbers and influence, if it had not actually brought into being. All that is known for certain regarding the motives which brought about the conspiracy against the Pope is contained in the statement of some of the chronicles, to the effect that, “The Romans (i.e. Paschal and his party) condemned or attacked the Pope through envy”. But whether the jealousy arose from the fact that Leo was not a member of the aristocracy, and consequently bestowed his favors elsewhere, or because he favored a section of the nobility to which the relations of the late Pope did not belong, cannot be stated with certainty. Moreover, in this and similar cases it is always well to bear in mind the well-founded satirical remark of that gossiping “stammering and toothless” old biographer of Charlemagne, the monk of St. Gall. “It is”, he says, “a matter of solemn custom with the Romans to be uniformly inimical to every distinguished Pontiff”.

In accordance with ancient traditions, a notary of the Roman Church had proclaimed, on the feast of St. George (April 23) and in his Church “in Velabro”, that the procession of the Greater Litany (the Litany of the Saints) would take place, as it does today, on the feast of St. Mark (April 25). This Christian custom took the place of the old pagan festival of the Robigalia or of the goddess Rubigo, and was instituted for the same purpose, viz., to ask for the divine protection on the fruits of the earth then springing into being. There was a procession connected with both the pagan and the Christian rites, and in both cases it left the city by the Flaminian Gate (Porta del Popolo). But the Christian one, which started from the old Church of S. Lorenzo in Lucina, after making stations at the Church of St. Valentine, outside the walls, and at the Ponte Molle, turned to the left to St. Peter’s, the Church of the station where Mass was celebrated.

When on the morning of the twenty-fifth, the Pope left the Lateran palace to join the people who were awaiting him at the Church of S. Lorenzo, he was met, of course, by the arch-conspirators Paschal and Campulus. Neither of them was wearing the prescribed dark planeta, an ecclesiastical vestment from which our chasuble is the very much curtailed descendant, and which, from its cumbersomeness, was not a suitable garment for men about to engage in deeds of violence. Paschal hypocritically excused himself for not having his planeta by pleading ill-health; Campulus tendered a similar plea. And, “with sweet words in their mouths which they had not in their hearts”, they took their places by the Pontiff’s side.

The procession, which had been duly formed in the Church of S. Lorenzo, and which, headed by the poor from the hospitals carrying a painted wooden cross, and by those who bore the seven stationary crosses, was to move up the Corso, had scarcely started, when there rushed forth from their place of concealment by the monastery of SS. Stephen and Silvester, a band of armed ruffians. They at once made a dash for the Pope. His attendants, unarmed and helpless, fled in all directions. Leo himself, however, was seized, dashed to the ground and stripped; and whilst Paschal stood at his head and Campulus at his feet, a hasty attempt was made to deprive their victim of his eyes and tongue.

Thinking their deed of blood was accomplished, the assassins withdrew, leaving the unfortunate Pontiff lying bleeding in the street. But finding no immediate attempt was being made to rescue him, they returned, dragged him into the Church of St. Silvester, again gashed his face (eyes and tongue), covered him with blows, and left him half dead, bedewed with his own blood, before the very altar. They confined him at first in the adjoining monastery; but fearing that, if left there, his whereabouts would soon be discovered, as it would be naturally suspected that he had been taken there, they forced the abbot (eguminus) of the Greek monastery of St. Erasmus on the Coelian to receive him. Thither they took him by night, and kept him under the strictest surveillance.

“But God Almighty Himself ... wonderfully brought to naught their wicked attempt”. Whilst still in the monastery on the Coelian, “by the Will of God and the intercession of Blessed Peter, the Key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, he recovered his sight and received back the use of his tongue”. Moreover, by the connivance of friends within the monastery, he was let down at night by a rope into the arms of the chamberlain Albinus and other god-fearing men. Escorted to St. Peter’s, he was received by the people with every demonstration of joy, whilst his enemies, quarrelling with each other, or else in despair, were only saved from killing each other by being led to sack the house of Albinus. Leo had been taken to St. Peter’s, and not back to the Lateran, because it happened that, at that time, there were in residence there two missi of Charlemagne, viz., Wirund, abbot of Stablo, and Winichis, Duke of Spoleto, and conqueror of the Greeks (788). As the latter had no great force with him, he did not think it wise to remain in the city, but at once escorted his illustrious but unfortunate charge to his ducal city (Spoleto).

Thither from all the cities “of the Romans” flocked the chief clergy and laity to offer their sympathy to the Pope. With some of these in his train, Leo set out for the north to seek the protection of Charlemagne. The author of the Carmen de Carolo Magna, whether Angilbert (d. 814), or whoever else was its composer, poetically represents the Pope as begging the legates, “by Charles’ dear health”, to defend him, driven from his own territories, and to bring him before the face of their king; and the legates as answering, “Apostolic Pastor, priest, revered throughout the world, it is for you to order whatever you desire; for us, 0 best of fathers, to obey your behests”. The same writer tells us of the crowds that came to look upon the Pope as he went north, eager to offer him presents, to kiss his feet, and, as the poet quaintly puts it, to gaze in astonishment at new eyes in an old head, and to hear a tongue that had been torn out speak.

News of the attack on the Pope was, of course, soon conveyed to Charlemagne, and by him to his adviser, Alcuin. He at once wrote to the king (May 799), and pointed out: “On you alone the whole safety of the churches of Christ rests ... They (the Romans), blinded in their own hearts, have blinded their own head”. In conclusion he begged him to make peace with the Saxons, against whom he was then leading his army, as the more weighty affairs at Rome needed his full attention. “For it is better that the feet (of the Church) should suffer rather than the head”. Another letter (about July loth) exhorts the king to take suitable steps to receive the Pope.

In this matter Charlemagne was not wanting. He first sent forward to meet him Hildebald, archbishop of Cologne, and Count Aschericus; and then his son, King Pippin, and more of his nobles. He was at this time staying at Paderborn. Thither went the Pope, and there, “as the Vicar of St. Peter”, the king received him with the greatest honor and affection. With Charlemagne the Pope stayed some weeks. During that interval his enemies were not idle. Their “public spirit” they displayed by plundering and destroying the papal property, and their enmity to the Pope by maliciously accusing him to Charlemagne of all kinds of crimes. But neither were Leo’s friends inactive. Alcuin, though detained at Tours by ill-health, earnestly exerted himself in the interests of the Pope, and wrote (August 799) both to Charlemagne and to his friend Arno of Salzburg. The king was advised to consider carefully how to treat the Romans and how to take measures that Leo, “freed by divine providence from the hands of his enemies, might be able in security to serve Christ, Our Lord, in his See”. To Arno he wrote : “I understand that there are many rivals of our lord the Pope, who are seeking to depose him by subtle suggestions, and to lay to his charge crimes of adultery or perjury, and who maintain that he should clear himself of these charges on oath. They are thus working in secret that he may lay down the pontificate without taking the oath and pass his life in some monastery. This must not be done at all; nor must he consent to bind himself by an oath, nor lose his See ... What bishop throughout the Church of Christ would be secure, if he, who is the head of Christ’s churches, be cast down by the wicked?”. Arno must do his best for the Pope’s safety and authority, and remember that it is laid down in the canons that the Apostolic See was to judge and not be judged. To Alcuin’s regret, however, the Pope seems even at this time to have made some solemn denial of the misdeeds alleged against him.

Whilst Leo was with Charlemagne at Paderborn, he consecrated the altar of the church there, placing therein relics of St. Stephen, the protomartyr, which he had brought from Rome, and received the clergy of all ranks, who flocked to him from every side. With the approval of his nobles, cleric as well as lay, the Frankish monarch caused him to return to Rome with a great company of his bishops and counts. Received in each city through which he passed “like the apostle himself”, he was welcomed at the Ponte Molle (November 29) by the Romans of every rank, by the clergy and by the nobility, by the senate and by the military, by the nuns and by the deaconesses—in a word, by all the Romans, carrying, as usual, the ensigns and banners of their various quarters. Equally demonstrative in their reception of the Pope, who had, as all believed, received back from Heaven his sight and speech, were the four great Schola (colonies or guilds) of foreigners, whose quarters were around St. Peter’s, viz., the Franks, Frisians, English and Lombards, and no doubt too the Greeks, from their quarter on the Aventine and the slopes of the Palatine. With canticles of triumph Leo was escorted to St. Peter’s, where he said Mass and gave to all present “the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Next day he once again took up his residence at the Lateran. At the same palace were also lodged Arno of Salzburg and the other envoys of Charlemagne; and there, in Leo’s new Triclinium, they examined the Pope’s enemies for more than a week. Fierce and bitter they proved to be. They tried both violence and calumny. Plots were hatched against the king’s envoys and the wildest charges made against the Pope’s character. But to no purpose. The Frankish power was too strong, their sense of justice too keen. Accordingly, finding that his accusers had no case, the envoys caused them to be seized, powerful though they were, and sent to France.

Next year Charlemagne held, in August, a placitum or one of his great assemblies of his nobles, at Mayence, and, “finding that there was peace throughout his dominions, he bethought him of the injury which the Romans had inflicted upon Pope Leo”, and set out for Rome. He availed himself of this first opportunity, for Alcuin had impressed upon him that “Rome, which has been touched by the discord of brethren, still keeps the poison which has been instilled into her veins, and thus compels your venerable Dignity to hasten from your sweet abodes in Germany in order to repress the fury of this pestilence”.

At Nomentum (Mentana), some fifteen miles from Rome, on the Nomentan Way, he was met by the Pope, who, after supping with him, returned to the city. The next day, after the usual solemn reception, Leo introduced him into St. Peter’s. Seven days later the king convened an assembly in St. Peter’s of the chief clergy and nobility both of the Franks and Romans. After Charlemagne and the Pope had taken their seats together the principal clergy also sat down, whilst all the rest of the clergy and the nobility remained standing. The king then explained that the principal reason which had brought him to Rome was that the charges brought against the Pope might be looked into, and that the present assembly had been summoned that it might examine the accusations. If the examination of the charges meant examination of the Pope, the assembled prelates made it very plain that they were not going to be partners in anything of that kind. “We dare not judge the Apostolic See, which is the head of all God’s churches. For by it and by His Vicar are we all judged. But as ancient custom dictates, the Apostolic See is not judged by any one. And in accordance with the canons, what the chief bishop decrees we obey”. The Pope, however, declared that, following the example of his predecessors, he was ready to clear himself of the charges leveled against him. The examination of his accusers was proceeded with. But not one of them was able to prove a point against him, or perhaps, it should be said, was even willing to make an attempt so to do. For the words of the Frankish chroniclers on this point are somewhat ambiguous. However, it was generally agreed that they had accused the Pope not for the sake of justice but through envy. Thus ended all that there was of a trial strictly so-called. “Then”, say the annals of Lorsch, “it seemed good to the most pious prince Charles himself, to all the bishops and the assembled fathers, that if he himself (Leo) chose, and himself asked, but not by their judgment, but quite of his own free will, he might purge himself. Accordingly on another day (December 23), in the same place, viz., St Peter’s, the Pope, with the book of the Gospels in his hand, ascended the pulpit, and before the assembled Franks and Romans declared “on oath in a loud tone”, that of his own free will, and not judged by any man, and without any intention of forming a precedent, but more certainly to free men’s minds from any unjust suspicion, he wished to clear himself on oath. Hence he solemnly averred that he had never done, nor commanded to be done, the wicked deeds of which he had been charged. Thereupon, all present burst forth into the Te Deum, and thanked God that they had the happiness of having the Pope preserved for them “sound both in body and soul”.

After Christmas, Paschal and the other conspirators, bitterly upbraiding one another in their hour of need, were condemned to death in accordance with the Roman law as guilty of high treason. However, despite the treatment he had received at their hands, Leo, in keeping with the character assigned to him by his biographer, actuated by his merciful disposition, begged that life and limb might be spared them. His request was granted, and the prisoners were sent into exile in France.

From some of the quotations adduced in the above narrative, it will perhaps have been observed that there was current at the time a belief in the minds of many, that Pope Leo had been actually deprived of his eyes, or at least of his sight, and of his tongue, and that they had been miraculously restored to him. A careful examination of the best authorities, however, seems to show that if the Pope’s sight was miraculously restored, his eyes at any rate had not been actually put out. Turning to the contemporary author in the Book of the Popes, we find that after saying that an attempt was made to put out the eyes of the Pope, he says a little further on that they were plucked out a second time. As it has been already noted this must mean, that a second attempt was made to put out his eyes. That his enemies got no further than making the attempt is the statement of the best contemporary chroniclers. Hence Theophanes’s version of this matter may be the correct one. Though he lived at such a distance from Rome, and is in general not well acquainted with the affairs of the West, still he was in the strictest sense a contemporary, and, by the time that the story had reached him, it may have had time, so to speak, to cool down to its original dimensions. He says that after the first attempt on the Pope’s eyes, the men who had been commissioned to completely deprive him of the use of them were touched with pity, and did not quite destroy his sight. In any case there cannot be a doubt that the unfortunate Pontiff was dreadfully mangled about the face, and it is only natural to suppose that, under the circumstances, the report would be bruited about that he had actually been blinded. And, if the account of Theophanes is true, it would be the very report that the men who had spared him would have spread abroad to screen themselves from the vengeance of Paschal. And so the first news that reached Charlemagne, and which he communicated to Alcuin, would seem to have been that the Pope had lost his eyes. For in his reply to Charlemagne’s communication, Alcuin speaks of the Romans who, blinded in their hearts, “had blinded their own head”. But writing a few months later (August), he seems to thank God that the Pope’s eyes were miraculously prevented from being torn out —which is probably the true view to take of the case—and that his wounds had healed so quickly. Speaking of what Charlemagne had told him of the “wonderful recovery” of the Pope (and that the recovery was, at least, marvelously quick cannot be doubted), he thinks that every Christian should thank God for restraining the hands of the wicked men from carrying into effect their design of blinding their head. Finally, according to a passage quoted above, it would appear that even Leo himself stated publicly that his enemies did not get further than trying to mutilate him. However one may view the evidence here adduced, most apt is the reflection of another contemporary of the Pope, Theodulfus, Bishop of Orleans : “If the Pope’s eyes and tongue were restored to him, it is a miracle. It is equally a miracle that his enemies were unable to deprive him of them. I know not whether I must marvel more at the former or the latter”.

Two days after the Pope had taken in St. Peter’s the oath by which he proclaimed his innocence of the charges made against his character, there took place, in the same basilica, an event noticed by all the historians of the time, an event which, apart from the great facts of divine revelation, has exercised more influence on the history of Europe than perhaps any other—especially if the comparatively unostentatious character of its performance be taken into consideration. The event in question, the crowning of Charlemagne by Leo as Emperor of the West, was the occasion of much fierce controversy in the later Middle Ages, when the harmonious working of the Empire and the Church came to an end; and it has been the occasion of modern historians unfolding endless theories. These controversies and theories can scarcely be said to have greatly enlightened the subject. For it was a question sufficiently understood and explained by the contemporary authors who relate it. To them we will turn in the first instance.

On the Christmas Day of the year 800, Charlemagne, clad proceeds to not in his ordinary Frankish dress, viz., in his short tunic with its silver border, his vest of sable, his blue cloak and sword, and his hose bound round with thongs, but in the long tunic, chlamys or green mantle, sandals and gold circlet of the Roman Patricius, went with his nobles to hear the Pope’s Mass in St. Peter’s. He would have made his way to this venerable basilica, then already nearly five hundred years old, by the magnificent colonnade which led up to it from the bridge of S. Angelo. A fine flight of thirty-five steps brought him to the atrium or paradise, a sort of courtyard with arcades running all round it and with two fountains in its midst. Gazing on the tombs of the popes on his left, he entered the Church by the great central doors the Porta Argentea. The building he entered was, of course, not the present glorious structure of Bramante, but the basilica which had been erected by Pope Sylvester (c. 323) on the site of the oratory built by Pope Anacletus (first century) in the gardens of Nero, at the foot of the Vatican hill, where the first Christians had been martyred in Rome, and where the body of the Prince of the Apostles had been finally laid to rest. Though not to be compared in size with the present church, which in turn stands on the site of Sylvester’s, the old basilica was a large edifice, over three hundred feet long and some two hundred broad, with its nave and aisles separated by four rows of twenty-four marble or granite columns of varying lengths, taken from old Pagan temples. When the spacious atrium which is now being erected in front of St. Paul’s Without-the-Walls is completed, the traveller will gaze on a veritable counterpart of old St. Peter’s.

As Charlemagne and his suite passed up the broad nave in stately procession, and as they crossed the great disc of red porphyry, on which his successors were to be crowned, there must have been some who, gazing on inscriptions bearing the names of the emperors Trajan and Galienus, were reflecting on the unexpected successor they were soon to have.

Approached on each side by two flights of seven porphyry steps, stood the high altar in the center of the chord of the apse. In front of it was a sort of vestibule flanked by twelve twisted columns of white marble, on which rested Gregory III’s beams covered with embossed plates of silver supporting silver candelabra, and paved by Hadrian I with pure silver. Through the silver gates affording admittance to the choir, which was enclosed by walls of marble and decorated with images of silver, and which was lit by the enormous candelabrum of Hadrian I with its 1365 candles, walked the stalwart king of the Franks. Crossing its vestibule, he found himself in front of the confession of the Prince of the Apostles and below the high altar. There by the golden railings before the confession he knelt in prayer, and the Mass began.

After the singing of the Gospel, Leo arose from his seat in the center of the apse, and placed “a most precious crown” upon the head of the Frankish monarch. At once from bishop and noble, from Frank and Roman, burst forth the acclamation, “To Charles, the most pious Augustus, crowned by God, to our great and pacific emperor, life and victory!”. Thrice did the great basilica’s lofty roof ring with the glad shout, and thrice did its mighty beams vibrate to it. Then did the schola cantorum intone the litanies. God and His Saints were implored to give all prosperity to the Pope, the emperor and all the Franks. After the chanting of these laudes, Charlemagne was duly “adored” as emperor “after the manner of the ancient princes” by the Pope and all the nobility. On the completion of the ceremony of adoration “the most holy Pontiff anointed with holy oil his most excellent son Charles as king”.

After the Mass was over “the most serene lord emperor”, and his “most excellent royal sons and daughters”, offered a number of magnificent presents, silver tables, golden crowns and chalices to the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, and of the Lateran and St. Mary Major. To the last-named the emperor presented a cross adorned with gems, which, at his particular request, the Pope ordained should be used in the processions of the greater litanies.

Thus, quietly, was accomplished an event which was to give a special color to the history of Europe for centuries and was to be fraught with the greatest consequences both for good and for evil.

Concerning this most momentous act many questions have been asked, and to each question many and widely differing solutions have been offered. It will here be utterly impossible to propound all these queries, and still more impossible to notice all the answers which have been suggested to them. Of the former we shall note only the more pertinent, and of the latter only bring forward such as seem most in harmony with the plain meaning and spirit of the best contemporary authorities.

As, of course, a great historical event cannot be thought of as a deus ex machina, but must be considered as the natural outcome of preceding causes, as fast welded with other links of the great chain of human events, the first inquiry regarding the revival of empire in the West which would seem to suggest itself is one into the reasons which induced men to contemplate that revival. Why did they think of bringing back the seat of empire to Rome?

In the year 476, the imperial insignia had been sent from the West to the emperor Zeno, with an intimation that one emperor would suffice for both the East and the West. Now, in the year 800, we find the same West demanding that an emperor should once again hold sway in its midst. Those who had with ill-disguised contempt sent to the emperor at Constantinople the crown and purple robe of Augustulus were the conquering Teutons. But the descendants of those who had lived under the Empire of Trajan, of Constantine, and of Theodosius the Great, of those who had known the Pax Romana, looked on with shame and apprehension. And they hoped that the day would not be long in coming when the Teuton hordes which oppressed them with their cruel swords, and with their barbarous laws, would once again be made to respect the might of the imperial arms and obey the right of the imperial laws. This was especially true of the Churchmen, who never lost sight of the sublime idea of One Church and One State, such as it had been developed by Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea under the first Christian emperor. “Formerly”, he wrote, “the world with its diverse peoples and localities was divided into a countless number of different kinds of governments. Hence endless wars and dire plunderings and ravages which are their consequences. This division was intensified by the different gods which each section adored. But today that the cross, the instrument of salvation and the trophy of victory, has been shown to the world, and has been opposed to the demons, straightway their work, i.e. that of the false gods, is dissipated like a breath; dominations, principalities, tyrannies, republics have had their day. One God is preached to all men, and a single empire is ready to receive and contain them all, to wit, the Roman Empire. Thus at the same time, by God’s holy will, two seeds have sprouted and have shot forth from the earth mighty trees which have covered the world with their shade—the Empire of Rome and the faith of Christ; and these are destined to unite the whole human race in the bonds of an eternal concord”.

These glorious yearnings never faded from the hearts of the vanquished, even after they had realized that Constantinople could not fulfill them. Moreover, by the year 800, the case had altered even for the conquering Teutons themselves. By that date, at length comparatively civilized, they were themselves in turn in dread of the surrounding barbarians. Those in the North had already heard disquieting stories of the long-ships of the terrible Danes and Norsemen which were soon to work such dread havoc. Those in the South had already felt the keen edge of the Moslem scimitar; the fame of the power of the great Caliph Haroun-el-Raschid was in the mouths of all. The world, then, must have an emperor “to make head against the nations which were surging up all round it”, or, as a contemporary author expresses it, “lest the pagans should revile the Christians if the name of emperor should die out among them”.

Now, too, that the Teutons had become Catholics like those whom they had conquered, they felt with them that the true faith and its head stood in need of an emperor who would really be its defender. They had seen that the emperors at Constantinople affected to be as autocratic in matters of faith as of civil government, and they had seen the head of the Church treated by his servile officials as an outcast. The simmering religious disunion between the real rulers of the West and the emperor at Constantinople, rendered acute by the iconoclastic controversy, deepened their political disunion, and gave strength to the idea that the seat of empire should once again be in the West, or that it, at any rate, should impose the emperor on the world.

An attempt had already been made under Gregory II to transfer this idea into the domain of fact. “Understanding the impiety of the emperor, the whole of Italy resolved to elect an emperor itself and to conduct him to Constantinople”. It was only the address of the Pope that stopped the execution of this decision. But, in the year 800, it was argued that, as the emperors by the Bosphorus had not become more satisfactory, the time had now come to choose one from the West. The empire on the one hand was practically vacant, for it was out of the question that a woman could be allowed to rule it; and, on the other, the proper person to govern it was ready in the person of the ruler of the West. Charlemagne was the undoubted lord of most of the old seats of empire. It was right that he who had the power of the emperor should have the name. Whatever may have been the Pope’s personal views on these contentions before the outbreak of Paschal, the awful peril through which he had then passed made him quite ready after it to subscribe to a scheme which would mean for him more protection even if less liberty.

Hence, if he was not himself the source whence first sprang the idea of the imperial consecration of Charlemagne, he soon heartily embraced it. To state precisely whence it originated may be impossible; but it would seem that the attempts which have been made to trace it beyond the Pope himself are not very successful. Because, impressed by the power of Charlemagne, the poets of the court have employed the loftiest language when singing his praises, and because Alcuin often before the Christmas Day of 800 calls his kingdom a “Christian empire”, it has been surmised that projects to have him proclaimed emperor were matters of common discussion among his entourage. But, when all legitimate deductions have been drawn from high-flown epithets of poets and from obscure remarks in the generally one-sided correspondence of Alcuin, it can only be said that it is possible that the elevation of Charlemagne was planned by his own advisers. The probability remains that even in such preliminary negotiations as must have taken place—and it would seem that they were of very limited extent—the greatest share was taken by him whose name is directly connected with the imperial coronation by our authorities in every variety of phrase. The unanimity of the proceedings in St. Peter’s is enough to show that Leo must have previously conferred with the chief men of the Franks and Romans, and must have secured their adhesion to what he was about to do. But it would seem that the great act under discussion was rather the result of the enthusiastic adoption of a suddenly conceived idea, at once both opportune and splendid, than the consummation of an elaborately prepared plan. “The act is conceived of as directly ordered by the Divine Providence, which has brought about a state of things that admits of but one issue, an issue which king, priest, and people have only to obey”.

If it can scarcely be doubted that Charlemagne had at least a vague knowledge that there was a movement of some sort on foot to choose him as the successor of the deposed Constantine VI, it is quite certain that he did not contemplate its coming to a head, nor himself entertain the idea of ever assuming the title of emperor. For this there is the irrefragable testimony of Eginhard. “At this time”, writes the secretary, “he received the name of Emperor and Augustus. To this he was at first so averse that he declared that, if he could have foreseen the Pope’s intention, he would never have entered the church on that day, though it was one of the chiefest festivals of the year”. The principal reason for this reluctance on the part of Charlemagne to accept the imperial crown is unfolded for us by the same authority which tells us of this unwillingness. For Eginhard goes on to say : “When he had received the imperial title, he bore with great patience the ill-will displayed towards him by the Roman emperors, who were indignant at what had been done. However, he overcame their irritation by his magnanimity, by which beyond all doubt he was immeasurably their superior, sending them frequent embassies, and, in his letters, calling them brothers”. The first attempt he made to allay the vexation which his imperial coronation caused at Constantinople was to apply for the hand, blood-stained though it was, of the Empress Irene. To Constantinople there came “apocrisiarii from Charles and Leo with a request that she might be joined to Charles in wedlock, and that the East and West might be made one”. The intrigues of the eunuch Aetius and the subsequent illness and deposition of Irene prevented the accomplishment of a scheme which might have been followed by the happiest of results in the domains both of politics and religion. Charlemagne, however, continued his negotiations with her successors, Nicephorus and Michael II, and was at length, after a display of force, recognized by the latter as emperor and basileus (812). The empire, in theory one and indivisible, was divided between two independent emperors.

Arguing from the fact that Charlemagne caused his son, Louis the Pious, to crown himself emperor, or perhaps rather crowned him himself, not a few historians conclude that his aversion arose, to a large extent at least, because the imperial crown was bestowed on him by the Church. Dr. Hodgkin, to quote one who represents the thoughts of many, believes that he “was averse to the title of emperor”, perhaps chiefly on account of the “intervention of the Pope ... He would have wished it (the imperial crowning) done in some other way by the invitation of his Frankish nobles, by a vote of the shadowy body which called itself the Roman Senate (if such a shadow still haunted the north-west corner of the Forum), by the acclamations of the Roman people, or by all those instrumentalities combined, but not by a touch of the Pontiff’ s fingers. He foresaw, probably with statesman­like instinct, the mischief which would accrue to future generations from the precedent thus furnished of a Pope appearing by virtue of his ecclesiastical office to bestow the imperial crown”. Were this a true presentment of Charlemagne’s view of his imperial coronation, it would suppose that he had failed to grasp the most salient feature of life in Europe in the early Middle Ages. It is well-nigh impossible to overstate the influence of the Church—of the bishops, and particularly of the Pope—during that epoch on the political affairs of the West. In that age of violence no right could be acquired or held, except by the sword or by the anathema of a bishop. If Charlemagne’s father Pippin was only too glad to have his kingly title recognized by Pope Zachary, he himself, it cannot be doubted, was pleased, if he had to receive the imperial title, to have it bestowed by the Pope. Besides, not to mention the intervention of the Roman Senate, which at that time was too dead even to have a shadow, it can scarcely be believed that Charlemagne, whose only idea of the “Roman people” can but have been of men cowering before the Lombards, and trusting to the Pope even for their temporal safety, would have esteemed a request from them to become emperor. As to his “Frankish nobles”, no ground can be imagined which would give them a colorable title to offer their ruler the imperial dignity. But it was very natural that an invitation should be valued from the Pope who was the acknowledged head of the whole Catholic Church, the recognized lord and saviour of Rome (the first seat of the Roman Empire), and the successor of the one whose sanction had given stability to the Carolingian dynasty. A letter of Charlemagne’s great grandson, the emperor Louis II, addressed to the Eastern emperor Basil I, proves indeed how highly the Pope’s action was valued. Besides; the whole political career of Charlemagne was colored by papal intervention, and that, too, of his own seeking. He would have the Pope crown and anoint his sons, subscribe his treaties, and even confirm his will. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that Leo would risk performing an act which, if chiefly because done by him, would irritate his benefactor and protector. One of Charlemagne’s most trusted advisers was his cousin Adalhard, abbot of Corbey. He was with him at Rome in 800, and must have known his mind on the papacy. Now of all the Franks he was the most beloved by Leo also. It is surely, then, more than likely that he consulted with him before he took the momentous step of giving an imperial crown, and must have been convinced that, on whatever other grounds Charlemagne might not wish for it, he would have no objection to receiving it because it came from his hands. And though, in the light of Greek politics, Charlemagne might have preferred that he had never been saluted as emperor, it seems certain that he was far from bearing any ill-will to Leo personally for his share in that transaction. For Alcuin, writing only a few months after it, viz., in April 801, tells us that word had been brought to him from Rome that “the Apostolicus was in high favor with the lord emperor”.

In placing the imperial crown on the head of the Frankish monarch, Leo was animated by motives both personal and political. The cruel attack which had been made upon him rendered him more desirous of increased protection, and he felt that an emperor of the Romans would have more title to interfere on his behalf than would a king of the Franks, though styled Patricius and defender of the Church. A wish for civil as well as religious unity also urged him on. He could not fail to realize the danger to Christian Europe from the Norseman and the Saracen. He knew that before the rise of the power of Charlemagne it was split up into numerous kingdoms, without any bond of unity between them but submission in spiritual matters to the See of Rome. And he understood that if Christendom was to resist the pressure from without, and the tendency to disintegration from within, there must be more than spiritual unity amongst its kingdoms. There was need of some material unity. There must be some temporal authority to which all would look up and rally. To a Roman what was more natural than the idea of a revival of the Roman empire, held then to be theoretically vacant by the deposition of Constantine VI, and known to have been practically dead even in Italy, much less in the rest of Europe, since the descent of the Lombards (568).

Those authors, then, who would have us regard renovation of the Roman empire as an act of rebellion against the emperors of Constantinople, ask far too much of our common-sense. The authority of Byzantium in Europe at this time was simply derelict. What is derelict belongs to the first hand that can hold it. But if it be asked what special right the Pope had to revive the empire, it may be answered that he had at least as much right as the men who made the imperial power in the first instance Julius Caesar and Augustus. And in times of difficulty and danger, when there is need of ability and willingness to ward off impending disaster, any man has the natural right, if he has the power, to seize the helm and save himself and others. Besides, what more natural than that the acknowledged Head of the Church should seek to provide even for the temporal welfare of his flock? Was he not, too, lord of Rome and, as the heir of its preservers, the natural guardian of its rights?

It is sufficiently obvious that Leo could not have reestablished the authority of the Eastern emperors in Europe, had he wished to do so. And certainly he had no reason to entertain any such wish. They had proved themselves unable to save the West from the barbarians, and anything but the defenders of the Church. The Pope, then, with sense chose as emperor one who had the power to save Europe from the heathen and the will to defend the Church. The power of Charlemagne is acknowledged by friend and foe alike; his goodwill to defend the Church is proclaimed by himself. In the preface to his “Admonitio generalis”, among his Capitularies, or legal pronouncements, he styles himself: “By the grace and mercy of God, king and ruler of the kingdom of the Franks, and of Holy Church the devout defender and humble helper”. And in the heading of the first capitulary, he declares, according to one reading at least, that he is “in all things the adjutant of the Apostolic See”. As he called himself, so was he addressed by others. The bishops assembled at the Council of Mayence (813) addressed him as “the most Christian emperor, the rector of the true religion and the defender of the Holy Church of God”. Even at the risk of being tedious, we will add to the evidence already cited of Charlemagne’s position in regard to the Church an extract from an introduction to a MS. of the laws of the Lombard king Rotharis, preserved in the library of the dukes of Gotha. “As he (Charlemagne) was worthy of the empire’s honor, he obtained the imperial crown; he received all the dignities of the Roman power; he was made the most dutiful son of Lord Peter, the Apostle, and he defended Peter’s property from his foes”.

If it be imagined that too much has been assumed in supposing that it was chiefly the Pope’s act which revived the empire in the West, we have not only the word of the Pope himself that such was in fact the case, but the authoritative declaration of an emperor. The emperor of Constantinople, Basil I, wrote to the emperor Louis II (d. S75) to complain of his taking the title of emperor, which belonged to him alone. In his reply, Louis points out that, with the exception of Basil, he is recognized as emperor by all Christian kings; for they look “to the anointing and consecration by which, by means of the imposition of the hands of the supreme Pontiff and by prayer, we have been, by the will of heaven, advanced to this high position, and to the empire of the Roman principate, which we hold by God’s will ... Your beloved fraternity further writes that you are astonished that we are called emperor of the Romans, and not emperor of the Franks. But you must understand that if we are not emperor of the Romans, we cannot be emperor of the Franks. For as among the Romans this sublime appellation first arose, we have assumed it from those whose city we have received from heaven to govern, as we have received in like manner the mother of all the churches of God to defend and advance. From this mother our race received in the first instance the authority of kings (he refers to the action of Pope Zachary), and then that of emperors. For the princes of the Franks were first called kings; and then those were called emperors who were for this end (ad hoc) anointed by the Roman Pontiff with the holy oil. Charles the Great, my great-great-grandfather, anointed by the supreme Pontiff, was the first of our race to be called emperor, and to be made the anointed of the Lord. And if”, continues Louis, “you rail against the Pope for his action, you have as much reason to rail against Samuel for passing over Saul, whom he had himself anointed, and for anointing David king”. The Western then reminds the Eastern emperor of the way in which the popes had been left defenseless against their enemies by the rulers of Constantinople, and, what was worse, had been through them assailed by heresies. Hence, naturally, the popes turned their backs on the apostates, and embraced the Franks.

The outcome of Leo's act (and the letter of the emperor Louis shows how truly it was the Pope’s act), while it did not in any way interfere with the power, or real rights, of the Eastern emperors, increased that of Charlemagne at least indirectly. Though it did not add to his dominions by one rood of land, it gave him a solid increase of authority by the way in which it caused him to be looked up to as well by his own subjects as by other Christian peoples and kings. For there was such a charm about the name of emperor, that even the very barbarian rulers who had destroyed in the West the power of the emperors, kept a sort of covert respect for them, and sometimes even accepted from the emperors of Constantinople the title of patricius. But the result of Leo’s work on the Christmas Day of 800 was not confined to the reign of Charlemagne. It endured in appearance till the August of 1806, when the emperor Francis II renounced the imperial crown, and thereby brought “the oldest political institution in the world ... to an end”. It existed practically till the days of the emperor Charles V, who was the last of the emperors crowned by the Pope.

As a last word on this subject we will point out that the union of Church and State, brought about by the renovation of the empire, was in the main productive of good. It is true that, with the advance of time, great struggles arose between the papacy and the empire. From the nature of things it was inevitable that difficulties should arise. If the Church is not infallible in its temporal policy, no more, perhaps still less, is the State. And as it is impossible in some cases to fix the exact boundaries of the proper spheres of action of the Church on the one hand and the State on the other, it is only to be expected that, when both are full of life, friction must arise. In a man of energy, especially when plunged in the midst of the affairs of life, there is an endless struggle going on between the powers of his body and those of his soul. It does not, however, follow that the union of body and soul is not in itself good. Similarly the struggles, sometimes fierce enough, between the popes and the emperors do not prove that the institution of the empire was not to the great advantage of Europe generally.

There can indeed be no doubt that the grand idea of one Church and one State acting in harmony, with which the act of Leo inspired the minds of the men of the West, was productive of great good. Wild and rough as were but too many of the leaders of men in Western Europe in the early Middle Ages, they conceived the thought, so important for the development of European civilization, that they were all members of one great Christian family. It was this idea that made united action possible in Europe, that hurled the warriors of the West against the Moslem, who, like the locust, can but devour all that is good as he moves along. It was this thought, this habit of looking up with respect to a common head, not merely at Rome, but also, though to a much less degree, at Aachen, or wherever else the seat of empire might be, which so frequently averted the horrors of war at a time when men seemed to think they were born to fight. It was this feeling of the brotherhood of peoples which promoted an intercourse among the men of the West, greatly, of course, to their mutual benefit, to which nothing in our times can compare. Where there was much to be learned, or where there was much to do, thither, heedless whether to London, to Paris, or to Rome, went the workers or the seekers after truth. And gladly were they welcomed. For they were received without that miserable jealousy and suspicion which modern ideas of nationality have engendered—ideas which make many men act at least as though they believed that the be-all and end-all of everything was nationality. One Church, one empire was a clear, noble, and grand central idea to which others, at once beautiful and practical, could aggregate. Out of reflection of this kind arose the remark of Gregorovius : “All the life of nations became henceforward bound together in a great concentric system of Church and empire, and out of this system sprang the common civilization of the West”.

Among the results of Leo’s crowning Charlemagne was not that he gave up all his sovereign rights in Rome. He no more ceased to be its ruler than did the king of Bavaria lose all his regal power over Bavaria on the proclamation of William, King of Prussia, as Emperor of Germany, in 1871. No doubt, as emperor, Charlemagne would have more rights than those of a simple patricius; he would stand to the Pope in much the same position as our sovereign does to the independent princes of our Indian empire. Hence in his letters to the emperor, Leo does not fail to make it clear that Charlemagne is his defender, but not in all things his master. Writing on one occasion to complain of the doings of some of the emperor’s missi, he asks that “the oblation which your ancestors and you yourself have offered to Blessed Peter may remain acceptable in his sight, so that you may deserve to receive a suitable reward from the key bearer of the kingdom of heaven, who has constituted you his defenders in his interests”. Further, whilst consenting to work along with the emperor in taking defensive measures on the coasts against the Saracens and Northmen, whose sea power was now making itself felt, Leo’s very words show that there were coasts that belonged to him as well as to the emperor. And if the emperor’s missi, who came to assist in the administration of justice, interfered with the Pope’s arrangements, Leo did not hesitate to ask the emperor indignantly if it was by his orders that his missi hampered, to the great detriment of the papal exchequer, the administrative rights of the duces whom he had appointed over the different cities. It may be noted here that these missi were in the nature of itinerant judges, whose business it was to see that the local authorities in the different towns did their duty. Cenni, in his notes to this letter, quotes the famous constitution of the emperor Lothaire, drawn up in the time of Eugenius II (824-827), to the effect that it was the emperor’s will that missi should be appointed by the Pope and himself, who should each year report how the different dukes and judges administered justice. Complaints were in the first instance to be referred to the Pope, as to the ordinary and immediate authority, who should himself cause them to be satisfied; or, if he preferred it, they were to be referred to the emperor to be dealt with. The idea of Leo was that the emperors were to administer justice within the dominions of the Pope when invited by him so to do, though not whenever they chose to do so on their own initiative; but that in grave temporal difficulties they should constitute the ultimate court of appeal. Living at a distance and interfering only occasionally in the papal government, they were nevertheless to be always in the background, as it were, and to serve as a continual warning and menace to the turbulent nobility. While the emperor had no little ecclesiastical authority, and the Pope still more temporal power, each was to be independent in his own sphere. The scheme was, certainly, an admirable one for securing the independence of the papacy.

We may now return to the history of the course of events. Charlemagne passed the winter in Rome, occupied not only with the trial and punishment of the Pope’s enemies, but with the affairs, public and private, ecclesiastical and civil, of Rome and the whole of Italy. After dispatching an army under his son Pippin, the king of Italy, against the Duke of Beneventum, who was too independent to suit the new emperor, that prince left Rome after Easter (April 25) and set out for the North.

Whilst Einhard in his annals relates that in the following year negotiations were entered into between the Eastern court and Charlemagne, Theophanes adds that to the emperor’s ambassadors were added those of the Pope, and that, besides confirming peace between the two sovereigns, the ambassadors had in view the bringing about a marriage between the empress Irene and their master. If their mission had been successful, it would have put an easy end to the soreness felt by the East at the creation of a Western emperor. The plan, whether originating from the Pope or from Charlemagne himself, was a good one. But it miscarried, and that through the interested advice of one of Irene’s ministers. Well would it have been for Irene if she had accepted the proffered hand of the mighty Frank. For, on October 31 of this very year, she lost her throne, and found herself banished to the Isle of Lesbos by the usurper Nicephorus, who had formerly been the Treasurer (Logothete). Thus passed from the stage of the world’s history a princess whose beauty, abilities, and even virtues, were brought into more striking prominence by her later crimes. Charlemagne’s ambassadors were graciously heard by Nicephorus, who sent back legates of his own with them both to the emperor and the Pope, and concluded at least a preliminary treaty of peace.

In the following year the North of Italy was agitated by the story that there had been found in Mantua a sponge that had been dipped in the blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and carried thither by Longinus. In the summer (803), news of this so-called discovery was brought to Charlemagne, who at once begged the Pope to inquire into the truth of the affair. Leo took advantage of this request of the emperor to go still further north and pay Charlemagne a second visit, as well for his love of the emperor as for the needs of the Church. Charlemagne was at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) when word was brought to him, about the middle of November, that the Pope wished to keep the feast of Christmas with him. At once the young prince Charles was sent forward to meet the Pope at St. Maurice in Valais. He himself received the Pope in the old basilica of St. Remy at Rheims, and then went with him to Quiercy—a place already so famous in the history of the relations between the popes and the Carolingians—where they kept the feast of Christmas. Here, and at Aachen, they were together for eight days. Unfortunately we are left utterly in the dark as to what matters were discussed between them. Gregorovius, however, who is here cited merely as a type of a certain class of historians, is not without sources of private information. Leo had come for more land. But he did not obtain “all his desires, for the dispute concerning the frontiers of his property, or those between imperial supremacy and the papal territorial power, remained to be the subject of lasting dissensions, while the exorbitant demands of St. Peter awoke the indignation of the youthful Pippin”, etc. With such pure imaginings certain modern authors are literally crammed. What lover of truth would not almost prefer the bare list of dry facts, given by many of the early chroniclers of the Middle Ages, to this? On his return journey the emperor caused the Pope to be escorted to Ravenna through Bavaria, a country which he wished to see. He reached Rome loaded with presents.

The great emperor, feeling that the allotted span of human life, the threescore years and ten, was drawing on apace for him (he was now sixty-four), and thinking that the best way to avoid disputes arising between his three sons after his death was to let them know during his life what portion of his great empire would fall to each one of them, and to have this division previously well ratified, assembled the great ones of his realm at Thionville (806). Before this gathering he announced his intention of dividing his empire between his three sons, Louis, Charles, and Pippin. This policy of endless subdivision of territory was to prove fatal not only to the Carolingian empire itself, but to the prosperity of Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. There is no call here to give the terms of the will which Charlemagne read up before his nobles, especially as it never took effect, for both Charles and Pippin died before their father. But in assigning his dominions to Pippin, Italy was declared his “up to the boundaries of St. Peter”—a fact which shows plainly enough that Charlemagne did not consider the dominions of the Pope to be at the disposal of the emperor. And the three brothers were exhorted to be in earnest about the defence of the Church of St. Peter in the first place, and then of the other churches. They had to defend the former from its enemies, and, as far as they could and as was reasonable, to strive that it obtained its rights. After the nobles had sworn to adhere to the clauses of the will, Einhard himself, who gives us this information, took it to Rome to receive the signature of the Pope. If there is one thing that the conduct of Charlemagne towards the popes teaches, it is that he placed in everything the utmost reliance on the moral support to be derived from the concurrence of the Church. The assent of Leo to the will was given in due course.

Among the honors which his deserved reputation had won for Charlemagne was the concession to him of a sort of honorary suzerainty over the city of Jerusalem, especially over the Holy Places, by the great Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid. This suzerainty involved him as well as the Pope in discussions on the “Procession of the Holy Ghost”. On this most abstruse question the doctrine of the Catholic Church is that the Holy Ghost proceeds, or has His origin, from the Father and the Son as from one principle, and that as the Son comes from the Father by generation and is His Word, the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by spiration, and is, as it were, the outcome of their mutual love. To express this doctrine more clearly, there sprang up, it seems, in Spain, a custom of singing the Creed of Nice with the addition of the words, “Filioque”. The Holy Ghost was thereby definitely stated to have proceeded from the Father and the Son. For it was in Spain that the orthodox doctrine was first proclaimed in a profession of faith. This was at a Council held probably at Toledo, in 447, against the Priscillianists. When the Arian Visigoths were converted under King Reccared, it was again declared at the Third Council of Toledo, in 589, that the Holy Ghost proceeds “from the Father and from the Son”. This custom, then, begun in Spain sometime between 447 and the time of Felix of Urgel, passed into France, then into Germany, and last of all into Italy. On this doctrine, the teaching of the early Greek Fathers was at one with that of the Latin Fathers. But as they often simply said that He proceeded from the Father, and sometimes that He “was sent through the Son”, some of the Greeks began to imagine that the addition of the “Filioque” implied some false doctrine. Hence the question of the “procession” of the Holy Ghost was discussed at the Council of Gentilly (767) and in the Caroline Books. And when certain Latin monks in Palestine began to use the Filioque, they were accused by their neighbors of heresy. The letter in which they make known their difficulties to the Pope is still extant, and is very interesting. It is addressed : “To the most holy and reverend Lord in Christ, Father Leo, the first Bishop and universal Pope of the Holy Apostolic City of Rome, the congregation of the Mount of Olives”. It then begins as follows : “Our Lord has deigned to exalt you, Father, over all bishops, and your holy See over all Christian Sees. For with His own lips did Christ condescend to say, ‘Thou art Peter’, etc. (Matt. XVI. 18). Most kind father, we who are strangers in this holy city of Jerusalem, love no man on earth more than you, and day and night pray for you. Hence to you do we make known the troubles we are here enduring”. They go on to state that John, a monk of the laura of S. Sabas, near Jerusalem, called them and all the Franks heretics. In defence, the Franks replied that if they were called heretics, it would be necessary to charge the apostolic See with heresy. John then had recourse to deeds; and on Christmas Day (808) sent some laymen “to pitch them out” (as the letter phrases it) of the Church built over the cave at Bethlehem where Our Lord was born. But the sturdy Franks were not easy to eject. And they proudly inform the Pope : “They could not put us forth. We all said”, they continue, “here we wish to die; and you shall not cast us out”. They piously attribute their power of resistance to extra strength which the Pope’s prayers and faith had obtained for them. They then, they say, appealed to the clergy of the city. A public meeting was held in the neighborhood of Mount Calvary. Interrogated as to their faith, they declared that it was the same as that of the Roman Church, but pointed out that they were in the habit of using certain expressions in their prayers that the Greeks were not. “In the Glory be to the Father”, urged the Frank monks, “you do not say as it was in the beginning; in the Gloria in excelsis you do not say to solus altissimus; you say the ‘Our Father ‘differently to us; and in the Creed we say more than you, we add, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” They (the Franks) then begged the people not to listen to the monk John; and reminded them that if they called the Frankish monks heretics, it would be to accuse of heresy the throne of Peter. “If you do that you will sin”. “And now, our most kind Father, deign to think of us your servants, who though so far away, are your sheep. To you, as your holiness knows, the whole world has been entrusted; inasmuch as the Lord said to Peter: If you love me, feed my sheep (S. John, XXI. 17). They then go on to inform the Pope that they had heard the words, proceeds from the Father and the Son, sung in the chapel of the emperor (Charlemagne) your son; and that in the homily of St. Gregory and the Rule of St. Benedict, which the same emperor had given them, the same words also occurred. But the monk John had caused them much trouble by asserting that the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Father and the Son. In conclusion they earnestly beg the Pope to look into the matter of the procession of the Holy Ghost, to call to the mind of the emperor that they had heard the words, who proceeds, etc.,' in his chapel, and to let them know the result“.

Of this matter Leo at once informed Charlemagne (809), sending him the letter he had just received. He at the same time sent to the monks of Mount Olivet a creed of the orthodox faith, that all might preserve it true and intact, in accordance with this our Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

In consequence of this letter of the Pope, Charlemagne convened an assembly of bishops in November 809, at Aachen. The Council proclaimed the orthodox doctrine in regard to the procession of the Holy Ghost, and seems to have sanctioned the continued use of the Filioque in the Creed. For the sake of having the matter settled, Charlemagne sent to the Pope an embassy composed of a bishop and an abbot.

Early in the year 810, the Pope held a conference with the legates of the emperor in the sacristy (secretarium) of St. Peter’s. When various testimonies had been read, he declared that his belief was in accordance with the authors quoted, and with the passages of the sacred Scriptures adduced, and that he forbade anyone to teach or hold any doctrine opposed to that of the Council at Aachen. The testimonies here spoken of were doubtless extracts from the works of Theodulphus, bishop of Orleans, and Smaragdus, abbot of St. Michel (now St. Mihiel), near Verdun. It is from one of his letters to Charlemagne—to which such acts as we have of the Roman synod were appended—that we know what went on in Rome between the Pope and the emperor’s legates. In his work Smaragdus had made it his chief object to collect the passages of Scripture that bear directly or indirectly on this subject of the procession of the Holy Ghost; while Theodulphus aimed at collecting texts from the Greek, and especially from the Popes and the Latin Fathers. After the declaration of the Pope above rehearsed, an informal discussion took place, which the abbot Smaragdus, who was himself present, says he could not undertake to write down (clearly). By degrees the discussion took a more formal character, of which the worthy abbot has left us a most interesting summary. Of course, it was at once quite plain to the envoys that there was no difference in point of faith between the Pope and themselves. But they naturally wished to get their custom of singing the Creed, with the Filioque addition, recognized by the Pope. Hence they argued that since it was true that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and the Son, that truth ought to be taught. To this Leo agreed. Why not then teach the truth by singing? Teaching by singing, replied the Pope, is a good method, but it is not good to insert words where one has no right. The envoys admitted that they were aware that the Fathers of the different ecumenical councils had forbidden additions to be made to the Creed, but they asked whether it would not be lawful to sing the Filioque, if they (the Councils) had inserted it. It would, assented the Pope. Would not the Fathers of the General Councils have done well if they had inserted such an important addition, persisted the envoys? No doubt, was the answer; but as they did not insert it, they had very good reasons for their omission of the addition. Before night put an end to the discussion, the Pope pointed out that it was impossible to put all the articles of faith into the Creed.

When the conference was reopened next day, the envoys urged that the Filioque had been added solely with the laudable object of instructing the people on a most important point of doctrine. Whereupon Leo reminded them that after the Fathers of the different Councils had forbidden people to tamper with the Creed on their own authority, it made no matter with what intention they acted when they violated the decrees of the Fathers. But have you not yourself given leave for the singing of the Creed, put in the envoys? The Pope allowed that he had permitted the singing of the Creed, but not with the addition, told them they had better follow the custom of the Roman Church, and asked what it was to him (Quid ad nos) that the Franks could urge that they had not originated the custom. The irrepressible Franks now adduced their final argument, and acutely insisted that to drop the Filioque would be to cause the people to think that it was not true that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and from the Son. Could the Pope tell them what was best to be done, therefore, under the circumstances? “Had I been asked”, retorted the Pope, “before the custom of singing the Creed in your manner began, I should have told you not to make the insertion”. As it was, he advised, not commanded, that, on the ground that it was not sung in the Church of Rome, their custom of singing the Creed should be gradually abandoned. Then what had been established rather from love of novelty than by authority would be gradually abandoned by all. An unlawful custom would thus come to an end and nobody’s faith would be injured.

Whether or not the Pope’s wise advice was followed in the Royal chapel we do not know; but the custom of the West was not abandoned. Had his prudent counsels, however, been followed, much difficulty would have been avoided. When in the days to come the Greeks sought an occasion to quarrel with the Western Church, their only tangible argument (the Filioque) would not have been forthcoming. Meanwhile, to show “his love for the orthodox faith”, says his biographer, “Leo caused two shields of silver, weighing 94 lbs. 6 ozs., to be cast. On one of them, in Greek, and on the other, in Latin, he caused the Creed to be inscribed without the Filioque. This he did to afford a standing proof that the Roman Church preserved the Creed as it had come down to her. These shields Leo hung up, one on the right and the other on the left of the confession of St. Peter, and as late as the eleventh century they were seen by St. Peter Damian. He put up a corresponding one in the confession of St. Paul”.

Of the joint efforts of Charlemagne and Pope Leo III for the refutation of Adoptionism, and of the Council held at Rome against its able advocate, Felix of Urgel, in 799, mention has already been made under Pope Hadrian I. Their mutual relations with Fortunatus of Grado may well engage our attention now.

On the authority of the Annals of Venice, Muratori informs us that to the bishopric of Olivola Castello, an island that now forms part of Venice, there was elected a Greek of the name of Christophorus, at the instance of the Greek emperor Nicephorus and by the influence of John, the Doge of Venice. But the tribunes of Venice, who did not approve of this Greek interference, begged the patriarch of Grado, also named John, not to consecrate Christophorus. John yielded to their wishes, and even excommunicated the bishop-elect. Furious at this, the Doge sailed over to Grado and had the refractory prelate hurled from the top of a high tower. The tribunes, however, contrived to bring about the election of Fortunatus of Triest, a relation of the murdered patriarch, to the vacant See of Grado. The Pope approved the choice, and sent Fortunatus the pallium (March 21, 803). The treatment that had been meted out to his predecessor and relative led Fortunatus to conspire with some of the chief men in the State against the Doge. The plot was discovered, and Fortunatus fled for his life to Charlemagne. He found the emperor at Saltz (Koenigshofen), presented him with some beautiful gifts and implored his assistance. This Charlemagne granted, and even took him into favor and wrote to the Pope to ask him to allow the exiled patriarch to have the then vacant See of Pola, as “he did not wish to appoint him anywhere without consulting with the Pope”. The Pope consented (806), on condition that, if his See of Grado were restored to Fortunatus, he was to leave the See of Pola in every way intact just as he found it. But in a postscript to the letter he wrote to Charlemagne on this matter, the Pope asked him to use his influence with Fortunatus for the good of the latter’s soul, as he had not heard good reports of him, either whilst he was in Italy or France.

The joint action of Charlemagne and Leo in a case much nearer home serves to give us an insight as to the blessings that would have accrued to Europe, not from an ideal Roman emperor, but even from a succession of rulers like Charlemagne. With such emperors and such a union of Church and State as existed in the days of Charlemagne and Leo, the great standing armies, which sap the strength of modern Europe, and are a perpetual menace to its peace and to the priceless blessings that flow therefrom, would not be needed.

At this time, when from years of wild anarchy the once powerful kingdom of Northumbria was fast going to pieces, its king, Eardulf, who when only a noble had been wounded it was thought to death, had been seized by his enemies and cast into prison (806). During the time of his power he would seem to have acknowledged some kind of superior authority in the emperor, and to have cultivated the friendship of the Pope in a particular manner. Hence, both took an active interest in his misfortunes. Both sent special messengers to Northumbria. Whilst the emperor’s messenger succeeded in obtaining the king’s release (808), the Pope’s envoy heard what both parties had to say on the merits of the case; for appeal to the Pope had been made in the first instance. Leo expresses his delight to the emperor that his action saved the life of the king, and assures Charlemagne that this “imperial defence” of his is praised on all hands. After visiting Charlemagne at Nimeguen, about Easter 808, Eardulf went on to Rome. He would seem to have satisfied the Pope as to his right to the throne; for in the beginning of the year 809, he left Rome and was escorted back to his kingdom by the envoys of the emperor and the Pope. On this incident Gregorovius remarks : “Rome, it is true, had already beheld kings, more especially from the British Isles, come to take the cowl. Eardulf was, however, the first to sue in the Lateran for the restoration of the crown of which he had been deprived. The instance shows the views which were arising in the West concerning papal authority. And since, after Pippin’s days, it was kings themselves who, for the sake of temporal advantage, exalted the conception of the Roman episcopate in the eyes of peoples and princes, we cannot be surprised that these bishops, renouncing the idea of spiritual intercession, soon arrogated to themselves the divine power of giving and removing crowns”. The concluding statement in the foregoing quotation is simply a groundless assertion of Gregorovius himself, for which he does not venture to advance the smallest semblance of proof. And it should be observed that men do not arrogate to themselves power freely placed in their hands; so that if, in the Middle Ages, we find popes from time to time adjudicating on the rights of kings to their thrones—not arrogating to themselves the divine power of giving and removing crowns at pleasure—we might say, with Gregorovius himself, that this exercise of authority was the result of the free appeal to Rome of kings themselves. It was certainly, however, the legitimate outcome of the feudal ideas of the Middle Ages. In the eyes of men in those times, not only was every man in each kingdom subject to an over­lord, but in the union which then existed between Christian states and the Church, kings themselves were taken to be responsible for the proper exercise of their power to the ultimate tribunal of the See of Rome.

There was being discussed at Rome at the same time as that of Eardulf, the case of the Archbishop of York, Eanbald, the second of that name, a man of great influence, and seemingly somewhat worldly. Whether this was in connection with the affair of king Eardulf (whose enemies he was said to have harbored), or with some other business, is not clear. It has been conjectured that it concerned the endless dispute between the archbishops of York and Canterbury on the subject of the primacy. For his pallium this prelate was indebted to the exertions of Alcuin, who had been his master. Sometime before August 797, Alcuin wrote to Pope Leo : “In behalf of the envoys—who have come from my country and my city, according to canonical and apostolic custom and the command of Blessed Gregory our apostle, to beg the dignity of the sacred pall—I humbly beg you to graciously listen to the prayers of a necessitous church. For in those parts the dignity of the sacred pallium is necessary to overcome the wicked and preserve the authority of the holy church”. Eanbald received his pallium on the 8th 3 September 797.

Whatever the case of Archbishop Eanbald was, it greatly saddened the Pope, and he daily prayed at the Confession of St. Peter that the dispute between Eanbald and Wulfred of Canterbury might come to an end. Charlemagne had interested himself in this matter as in that of Eardulf, and Leo begged him to continue his good offices. In answer to a request from Charlemagne that the Pope would send by a suitable envoy “a hortatory letter of his apostolic authority” to Eanbald, to summon him to Rome or to state his case in the emperor’s presence, Leo replied that he had already composed such a letter and sent it on to Charlemagne to be forwarded at once by one of the emperor’s envoys, as his own was not yet ready. As no more of this affair is known, it may perchance be concluded that this combined papal and imperial action was as successful in dealing with Eanbald as in restoring Eardulf.

The other relations of Leo with this country may be now suitably treated of in chronological order. With the approach of the ninth century and its Danish inroads, the glory of the Anglo-Saxon, which was at its height during the seventh and eighth centuries, began to set. With the general confusion in the civil order, disorders were increasing in the ecclesiastical. One of these was the abuse of nominating laymen to be superiors of monasteries. This breach of the canons Ethelheard, the Archbishop of Canterbury, condemned by the commands of Pope Leo in a synod at Beccanceld (or really at Clovesho in 803), declaring that whoever did not observe “this decree of God, and of our Pope, and of us”, would be accountable to the judgment seat of God, and concluding: “I, Ethelheard, Archbishop, with twelve bishops and twenty-three abbots, do confirm and ratify the same with Christ’s rood token”.

About the same time the Archbishop had another breach of discipline to contend against, which also called for the intervention of the Pope. On the death of the last descendant of Hengist, the throne of Kent became vacant. It was seized by Eadbert Praen, a cleric, in 796. Unable to pass over this violation of the canons, Ethelheard turned to the Pope, who excommunicated Eadbert, and threatened to call on the inhabitants of Britain to punish his disobedience. But this same year, Cenulf, who had succeeded the powerful Offa in the kingdom of the Mercians (796), made Eadbert’s action an excuse for invading Kent. The unfortunate man was soon deprived of his kingdom and of his eyes (797 or 798). It should be noted that the dates of the ecclesiastical affairs of England at this time are by no means easy to fix with any degree of certainty. Those here given are in accordance with the best authorities.

On another very important matter Ethelheard and Cenulf were acting in harmony at this same period. William of Malmesbury describes Ethelheard as a man of considerable energy and of great influence with the powerful ones of his time. This influence he used to win back the jurisdiction that belonged to the See of Canterbury till the time when, by the efforts of King Offa and the authority of Pope Hadrian, the extent of its sway was curtailed. Ethelheard first secured the co-operation of Eanbald II of York. These two metropolitans pointed out to King Cenulf the injustice that had been done the old See of Canterbury by the erection of Lichfield into an Archiepiscopal See. Cenulf, who “was inferior to no preceding king in power or in faith”, when he heard what was the ancient ecclesiastical discipline of the country, at once consented to use his influence with the Pope for the restoration of the ancient order of things. He accordingly wrote (797) to the Pope a letter, which began : “To the most holy and truly loving Lord Leo, Pontiff of the sacred and Apostolical See, Cenulf, by the grace of God, king of the Mercians, with the bishops, princes, and every degree under our authority, sends the greeting of the purest love in Christ”. Cenulf thanks God for giving the Church such a worthy ruler, in succession to Hadrian, as the present Pope. For “we who live on the farthest confines of the world, justly boast, beyond all other things, that the Church’s exaltation is our safety, and its prosperity our constant ground of joy, since your apostolical dignity and our true faith originate from the same source”. After begging the Pope’s blessing, recalling to his mind the ecclesiastical constitution of the country laid down by Pope Gregory, and the action of Offa, who “through enmity against the venerable Jaenberht (Lambert) and the Kentish people”, obtained from Pope Hadrian the pallium for the bishop of the Mercians, Cenulf asked Leo to take the matter into his consideration, and let him know what had to be observed in the matter for the future. The king concludes by offering the Pope a “small gift, for friendship's sake”, of 120 mancuses.

The same year there came back an answer from the Pope to the effect that he was glad to find that, like his predecessors, Cenulf came for truth to the Church of St. Peter; that Pope Hadrian would not have lessened the jurisdiction of the See of Canterbury against the custom, had not King Offa given the Pope to understand that it was the general wish, both on account of the extent of the territory ruled by the king of the Mercians and other weighty reasons; that he confirmed the primacy of Canterbury, and that he would like to remind the king that his predecessor had promised no less a yearly sum than 365 mancuses for the poor and for “the lights” of St. Peter.

It would appear that Lichfield made a stand for his newly acquired privileges. Ethelheard found it necessary to go to Rome in person to plead his cause. He was completely successful. The Pope issued (January 18, 802) a formal decree—perhaps the only fully dated document of this affair—in which, “by virtue of the authority of St. Peter”, he granted the restoration of its ancient rights to the See of Canterbury. He also wrote at the same time to King Cenulf, assuring him of the gratification he felt at learning from the king’s two letters, brought by Ethelheard, that the king was prepared “to humbly submit in all things to the apostolic decree ; ... to have given his life for that of the Pope, if he had been nigh, out of respect for his office (doubtless an allusion to the attack on the Pope’s life), ... and to receive the Pope’s letters of kindest admonition with all humility”. Leo accepts the 120 mancuses, and continues: “As you take notice in your royal letters that no Christian dares to contravene our apostolic decrees, we accordingly endeavor to decide what is of advantage to your kingdom; so that what our brother Ethelheard, or the whole body of evangelical and apostolic doctrine of the holy fathers and our holy predecessors has ordained, under canonical censure, for you, and your princes and people, you ought not, by any means, to resist at all their orthodox doctrine. For Our Lord has said, ‘He that receiveth you, receiveth me ‘(Matt. X. 40)”. After praising the archbishop, Leo goes on to say that, “by the authority of Blessed Peter ... whose place, though unworthy, we hold”, he gives him such power that, if any of his subjects, “as well kings and princes as people, shall transgress the Lord’s commandments”," he will excommunicate him till he repent. In conclusion, “having discovered the truth of the matter”, the Pope says he has restored his rights and privileges to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

On his return to England, Ethelheard held a synod at Clovesho. Here, in accordance with the authoritative precept of his prerogative, the honor of St. Augustine’s See was restored in its completeness, “just as St. Gregory, the Apostle and Master of our nation, arranged it”. And if anyone, king or bishop, dared in the future to lessen the honor due to the metropolitan See, he was to understand that he would be damned “unless before his death he made reparation for the injury he had inflicted on the Church, contrary to the canons”. After this no more was ever heard of the Archbishop of Lichfield. This same year the sturdy champion of the rights of Canterbury died. He was succeeded by Wulfred, of whom the first chronicle of our nation records that he received the pallium in 806, went to Rome, along with the bishop of Sherburn, in 832 (really in 834), and “with the blessing of Pope Leo”, returned to his own bishopric in 813, i.e. in 815.

If all is not clear with regard to that portion of our history which has been just narrated, there is a still thicker haze over the part now to be explored. Beginning our investigations with the commencement of Wulfred’s pontificate (805-32), we find that while it is certain that he received his pallium from Rome, it is not certain whether he went for it himself or not. There is extant a fragment of a letter written “to a venerable Pope Leo” by “all the bishops and priests of the whole of the island of Britain”. It is possible that this epistle may have been indicted during a vacancy in the See of Canterbury; and, if so, the necessity of synchronizing such a vacancy with the reign of a Pope Leo, would point to Leo III as its recipient. On the other hand, as there is nothing to force the conclusion that it was written during the vacancy of the See, whereas, on the contrary, though only recently deceased, Alcuin (t804) is quoted as an historical authority like Bede, it would seem that it was addressed to a later Leo, probably to a tenth-century Leo. For at that time the general disorder in Italy, and the fact that many of the passes of the Alps were in the hands of the Saracens, rendered the journey to Rome highly dangerous. At any rate the writers of the letter, quoting Bede, point out that at first the pallium was sent to the archbishops, and that they had not, as they have now, to encounter the difficulties and dangers of a journey to Rome. They also note, and here the fragment abruptly ends, that in the beginning no money was exacted when the pallium was granted. Evidently, then, the burden of the document was to obtain for the archbishops of Canterbury—evidently personally acting in their own interests—permission not to have to go to Rome for the pallium, and not to have to pay a sum of money when they received it. If Leo III ever received this request, it is certain that he did not accede to it. A full century had to elapse before Canute the Great succeeded in obtaining from Rome the abolition of the gratuity paid on the reception of the pallium.

Most of Wulfred’s pontificate was spent in quarrelling with Cenulf, King of Mercia, although, as we have seen, it was that prince who restored “its faltering dignity to Canterbury”. As early as the year 808, the two were on bad terms. The king was at that moment in opposition to both the archbishops of England. These initial troubles, whatever was their exact nature, seem to have been soon smoothed over. Whether the archbishop’s journey to Rome in 814, “on the business of the English Church”, had any connection with further difficulties between Cenulf and himself is not certain. But, at any rate, in a year or two after this, what our authorities set down as the “violence and avarice” of the king caused a serious breach between them; for he seized two of his monasteries and accused him to the Pope. The result of the appeal to Rome seems to have been that the archbishop was deprived of the right of exercising his powers, and a species of interdict was laid upon the whole country. “For nearly six years the whole of the English people was deprived of its primatial authority and of the ministry of holy baptism”.

Whether king or archbishop was more to blame in this matter, the interdict must have stirred up a great deal of unpopularity against the former. He became anxious to bring about at least a seeming reconciliation with Wulfred. He accordingly summoned a Witan to meet in London, and invited the archbishop to attend it under a safe conduct. When he had thus secured his presence, he calmly proposed that, on condition of his giving up more of his property to him, he would either clear him before the Pope, or, if that proved to be impossible, he would restore to him the money he had received from him. On the other hand, if he did not comply with his new demand, he would deprive him of everything he possessed, send him into exile, and never permit him to return, whatever might be said “by the lord Pope, the emperor, or anybody else”.

Terrified by these threats, the archbishop, after a long opposition, at length agreed on condition that the rest of his rights were respected. But no sooner had the faithless king got what he wanted, than (822) he not only kept his ill-gotten goods till the hour of his death, but continued his course of plundering the helpless primate. Even after the king’s demise the archbishop could not at once recover his property. Matters were not satisfactorily arranged between him and Cenulfs heirs till the council of Clovesho in 825.

The avarice of Cenulf is also shown in a narrative which has been preserved for us by the Historia Monasterii de Abingdon. The Mercian king had two sisters as remarkable for their virtue as for their beauty and grace. Resolved to consecrate their lives to God, they steadfastly refused the offers of marriage made to them by the noblest in the land, and begged their brother to give them a piece of land, “free from all secular dues”, in which they might be buried, and which, after their death, might go to the monks of Our Lady of Abingdon. With the consent of the lords spiritual and temporal of his kingdom, Cenulf granted them “the villa (estate) which is called Culeham”. By the decision of the secular authority it was to be free from all temporal jurisdiction save that of the abbot of Abingdon, and by a bull of Pope Leo, procured by the king, from the spiritual authority of the bishop. The Pope also confirmed the monastery in its possession of the villa, and begged the king to do likewise. Before the king’s charter was forth­coming, however, he had quarreled with the abbot of Abingdon. His “hunters and hawkers, after the fashion of men of their class”, harried the property of the abbey. In vain did the abbot Rethun appeal to the king. As he could not get justice from him, he went to Rome and appealed to the Pope. With Leo he was more successful in his quest for justice. But it was one thing to return to England with letters of protection and privilege from Rome, and another to induce the king to pay heed to them. Now by smooth speeches and now by threats, Cenulf procrastinated, and Pope Leo died in the interim. Rethun, therefore, tried what gold would effect in the way “of obtaining the king’s love and a final remedy”. The king’s heart was straightway unlocked, and a royal decree proclaimed the inviolability of the monastery and its possessions, at the request, as it declared, “of the lord apostolic and most glorious Pope Leo”, but really, as we know, in consideration of the abbot’s gold. “Lest the trouble should arise again”, Rethun committed the whole case to writing; and it is no doubt from this account that the thirteenth century compiler of the history of Abingdon drew his materials.


Affairs of the East


During all this time, affairs in the capital of the Eastern Empire had not been moving very smoothly, either politically or ecclesiastically. By the action of his mother, Irene, Constantine VI lost his throne and his eyes (August 797). She was in turn deposed by her avaricious treasurer Nicephorus, who lost his life (July 811) in a campaign against the Bulgarians. His son Stavrakios was forced by his brother-in-law, Michael Rhangabe, to retire to a monastery after a reign of two months. By the return of the wheel of fortune, Michael, who “was a weak, well-meaning man”, was himself obliged to embrace the same monastic state (July 813) by Leo V (the Armenian). Clearly the political conditions of the Eastern Empire cannot have been very sound during the life of Pope Leo III. And if there were troubles in the State, there were also troubles in the Church. These latter were the more unfortunate that they had their origin, at least, in the misunderstandings of good men. They arose between Tarasius, the patriarch of Constantinople, and certain monks. The monks regarded the patriarch as over-indulgent to sinners, and somewhat too plastic in the hands of the emperor. If Tarasius was prudent to a degree verging on cowardice, the monks were zealous to a similar point of rashness. Their chiefs were the abbot Plato and his nephew, Theodore the Studite (so called from being abbot of the famous of Studion at Constantinople), who was a relative of Constantine VI’s second wife, Theodota. “Most of the abbots round Constantinople (at this time) were men of family and wealth, as well as of learning and piety”. And as Plato and Theodore were the men looked up to by the others, their power and influence may be the more readily understood.

From two letters appended to the acts of the second ecumenical council of Nicaea and other sources, the mistrust of Tarasius by the monks must be referred to the days of Pope Hadrian. After the seventh ecumenical council was over, some of the monks averred that many of the Greek bishops had obtained their sacred office by simony, and accused the patriarch of restoring to their positions those who had been condemned on account of this vice. Tarasius was not slow to reply. He sent one of the above-mentioned letters to Pope Hadrian, whom he speaks of as “adorned with the chief priesthood”, and “by right and the will of God ruling the sacred hierarchy”. In it he denounces simony, declares his freedom from it, and begs the Pope, “the words of whose mouth we obey”, to pronounce against simony. The other letter Tarasius addressed to the abbot John. He declared that, as he detested the severity of Novatian, he of course received those who did penance for their simony. But of simony he was not guilty himself, nor had he restored to their office those who had been guilty of it. The impression, however, that the patriarch was too compliant remained, and was soon deepened by a circumstance which, both before and since, has brought much evil on many a good man.

The young emperor Constantine VI got tired of his wife Maria, and fell in love with a maid of honor, Theodota. He then tried to induce the patriarch to approve of his design of repudiating Maria. For final answer he heard from the patriarch, “I would rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design”. Constantine, however, resolved to have his own way. Maria was divorced, and Theodota was married to the emperor (795) by the priest Joseph, “economus” or treasurer of the Church of Constantinople, as Tarasius had of course refused to perform the ceremony. When it was over, however, Tarasius, thinking that no good would come of excommunicating the emperor, but rather harm, as Constantine talked of renewing the iconoclast persecution, took no further action. The monks, however, justly indignant at this flagrant breach of the laws both of God and man on the part of the emperor, boldly declared against emperor and patriarch together. “They considered that they had indeed found a Herod, but no St. John the Baptist”. Constantine, finding that he could not gain over the monks, inflicted upon them scourging, imprisonment, and exile. Plato and Theodore were among those who were so treated. From Thessalonica, his place of exile, Theodore wrote (797) to ask the help of Pope Leo. In his reply the Pope bestowed great praise on the abbot’s wisdom and firmness, but was, under the circumstances, not able to render any material aid. The deposition, however, of Constantine VI.in this year by his mother gave freedom to the monks; and the degradation of the priest Joseph by the patriarch reconciled them to Tarasius.

The intrepid monks were soon in trouble again for opposing the arbitrary conduct of the new emperor Nicephorus in nominating a layman, the secretary and historian Nicephorus, as the successor of Tarasius, who died at the beginning of 806. But the persecution which Theodore and his friends brought upon themselves for this opposition was small compared to what they had to suffer when they cut themselves off from communion with the new patriarch Nicephorus, on the occasion of his restoring the treasurer Joseph to his office at the bidding of the emperor. This act of the tyrannical Nicephorus was part of his policy “to renders the civil power supreme over the clergy and the Church”. Determined to make the monks submit, the emperor caused a council to be held (January 809), in which various disgraceful decrees—to be specified presently—were passed. The Greek emperors could always find a number of bishops to put their names to anything. The monks, banished to different islands, appealed to the Holy See. Among other letters to Leo, Theodore sent the following : “Since Our Lord Jesus Christ gave to St. Peter the dignity of chief pastor, it is to him or to his successor that, as we have learnt from our fathers, we must give notice of any new errors that arise in the Church”. He then went on to tell the Pope of the re-establishment of the priest Joseph and of the synod which was held to condemn the monks, a synod which established a heresy. It had declared that the adulterous marriage of the emperor (Constantine VI) had been contracted in virtue of a dispensation; that the laws of God are not for emperors; that those who fight even to death for truth and justice are not the imitators of St. John the Baptist and St. Chrysostom, and that each bishop is so far master of the canons that he can re-establish deposed priests at his pleasure. If our opponents have not hesitated to hold, on their own authority, an heretical council, whereas, according to ancient custom, they ought not to have held even an orthodox one, without your (Leo’s) knowledge, how much more necessary is it for you to assemble one to condemn their error?

Leo’s reply to this letter is lost; but from a second letter of Theodore we know the Pope sent him some rich presents, perhaps for the support of the exiled monks. The emperor’s persecution of them only ceased with his death (July 811). His successor Michael strove successfully to bring about peace and reconciliation between the patriarch and the monks. The priest Joseph was a second time degraded, and for a time, till the renewed outbreak of the iconoclast heresy under Leo the Armenian, the Church of Constantinople enjoyed a little peace. The great founder of the Studites did not fail to impress both upon the emperor and upon his own monks from what quarter this greatest of blessings was to come. In all their religious troubles recourse must be had to Rome. Writing towards the close of his life to the former (Michael Rhangabe), in the name of all the abbots of Constantinople, he said: “Should a question arise of which your divine magnanimity hesitates to ask or fears to receive the solution of the patriarch, let your powerful arm, strengthened of heaven, seek the decision of Old Rome, in accordance with the custom established from the beginning by the tradition of the Fathers. For it, it is, 0 emperor, imitator of Christ, which is the first among all the Churches of God, viz., that of Peter the proto-throne, to whom the Lord has said, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, etc.” Upon his spiritual children he inculcated the absolute necessity of harmony with the See of Rome, and not with that of Byzantium, which was an heretical fragment on account of its frequent habit of separating itself from the other Sees.

There are some historians who will only see in the action of the aged Plato, and of Theodore and his friends at this period, fanatical opposition of turbulent monks to constituted authority. For ourselves we confess that, when we consider the usual subservience of the Greeks, whether ecclesiastics or laymen, to the whims, however base, of the emperors, we find in this opposition of the monks something very refreshing. Even if they occasionally over­stepped the bounds of prudence on the side of rashness, they are worthy of lasting honor, as they contended for principles which lie at the very foundation of the well­being of human society

The patriarch Nicephorus took advantage of the accession of Michael to send his synodical letter to the Pope, for Michael’s predecessor had refused to allow him to do so. In the course of a very long profession of faith, he proclaimed his belief in the seven General Councils, and begged the Pope to supply anything that might be lacking in his profession. In conclusion he excused himself for not sending to the Pope his synodical letter before, on the ground of the difficulties of resisting the powerful, and not from contempt or ignorance of what was the correct method of procedure. He begged the Pope to pray to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, for him.

To bring about external as well as internal tranquility, Michael concluded a treaty of peace with Charlemagne—a treaty which that sovereign caused to be ratified by the Pope before it was finally delivered (812) into the hands of the Greek ambassadors.


The Pope and the Saracen corsairs


Of the many other transactions which must have passed between Leo and Charlemagne after his accession to the empire, or of the relations between the former and Pippin and Bernard, who along with him bore, in succession, the title of “King of the Lombards”, our authorities note but few. However, except for that negligible kind of friction which accompanies the contact of the smoothest of bodies, the intercourse between the representatives of the highest spiritual and temporal authorities in the West was pre­eminently amicable. By his numerous letters the Pope kept the emperor in touch with the political variations of the peninsula. Presents were constantly passing between them, and in matters of general policy Leo endeavored to conform with the wishes of his protector. It is true he has not unfrequently to complain of the imperial missi. They are either interfering or incompetent. It is equally true that, nettled at these complaints which he had good reason to fear were just, but which, from the material at his disposal, he could not well help, the emperor testily declared he could not find missi to please him. But the disagreements between them were merely surface troubles. The main currents of their respective policies flowed steadily and harmoniously together. Nor, indeed, was there any reason why they should not, as Charlemagne did not, speaking broadly, abuse his position as guardian (custos) and defender of the Church, “despite the efforts made by many to blacken the Pope in his eyes”.

Their political union is well seen in their joint action against the Saracen corsairs of Africa and Spain, who had begun their destructive raids in the early years of the century. Charlemagne advised the Pope to take certain precautionary measures, such as maintaining a fleet. Leo acted on the advice he had received; and, while he had to report the plundering by the Moors of the islands of Ponza (off Gaeta) and Ischia (off Naples), and the sad want of union of the maritime powers of South Italy, he was proud to be able to write that “our territories” were safe. This happy state of affairs he ascribes to the warnings and advice he had received from the emperor and to his keeping his coasts well watched in consequence. Not feeling himself competent, however, to see to the safety of Corsica, he had handed it over to the care of Charlemagne.

Though, moreover, he had no more faith in the competency of Pippin than had his father he undertook, when he should come to Rome, to receive him “as became the son of so great a defender of the Church of God”, and he consulted with him about the defence of the coasts and about the churches, “that they might get their dues (justitias)”. Not in vain did he take counsel with him or with Charlemagne about the rights of the churches. He recovered various patrimonies belonging to the Roman Church situated between Gaeta and the mouth of the Garigliano (Liris). Near the latter place rose a new town, called after his name Civitas or Castrum Leopoli, and there dwelt the papal rector of the patrimony dignified with the title of consul. Ordinarily speaking these rectors were deacons of the Roman Church, but Gay maintains that those to whom we are now referring “were members of the local aristocracy, inhabitants of the Byzantine territory of Gaeta, and that it was probably only on this condition that the popes were enabled to recover their domains”. He points out that the same names are to be found in documents which concern the territory of Gaeta and in those which have reference to the patrimony; and that, while the former are dated with the name of the emperor, the latter bear that of the Pope.

The year before his death, Charlemagne associated with himself in the empire his son Louis of Aquitaine (September 813), as his other two sons, Charles and Pippin, had died. The young Bernard, a natural son of Pippin, was allowed to hold Italy, as its king, in subjection to Louis.

Early in the following year, as the inscription on his tomb sets forth, died Charles the Great, in the seventy-third year of his age and the forty-seventh of his reign, on January 28, 814, the seventh indiction. “No one can tell”, sighs Einhard, “what grief was felt for him all over the earth. The very pagans mourned for him, as the lord of the world”. Christendom, at least, had reason to lament. For death had deprived it of the only arm strong enough to ward off the foes, from within and without, which were again to reduce European civilization to almost as low an ebb as the in­roads of the barbarians in the fifth and sixth centuries had done. It was this strength that was especially admired in him by Nithard, the bastard son of his daughter Bertha, and the historian of the troubles under Louis the Pious. “What I take to be the most admirable trait in him”, he says, “is this. He alone was able, by the terror of the law (moderato terrore), to restrain the fierce barbarity as well of the Franks themselves as of the barbarians,—a thing which even the might of Rome had not been able to accomplish. So that they dared not publicly take in hand anything which was not for the general good”. And if his death was very evil for Frankland, it was still more so for Rome, Italy, and the popes.

We shall soon see the great empire of Charlemagne going to pieces. Its great nobles will soon everywhere make themselves independent, and will soon be causing dire confusion by waging war indiscriminately with their supposed sovereigns and with one another, and by oppressing with impunity all that was physically weaker than themselves, whether in the Church or State. The barbarians too had begun their assaults from without. In England and in Ireland the Northmen had already begun the work of demoralization by their savage inroads. Before the middle of this century they had harried the coasts of Spain and inflicted on the Moslem the cruelties they were themselves then engaged in practicing in other parts. In 836 they had sailed up the Rhine, burning and destroying as far as Nimeguen (Nijmegen). Even before the death of Charlemagne they were constantly making descents on the coasts. But that great monarch “constructed a fleet for the war against the Northmen. For this purpose ships were built on the rivers of Gaul and Germany, which flow into the North Sea. As the Northmen were making a practice of ravaging the coasts of Germany with constant harryings, he posted towers and outlooks in all the harbors and at the mouths of those rivers which ships could navigate... He did the same thing in the South, on the coast of the provinces of Narbonne and Septimania, and all along the coasts of Italy as far as Rome, for in those parts the Moors had lately taken to piracy. Thus Italy suffered no great damage from the Moors, nor Gaul nor Germany from the Northmen, during the reign of Charlemagne; except that Centumcellae (the modern Cività Vecchia), a city of Etruria, was betrayed to the Moors, who took and destroyed it; and in Frisia some islands off the German coast were plundered by the Northmen”. From the passage just cited it will be seen that what the Norsemen were to the Northern Seas, the Saracens were to the Southern Seas of Europe. In 831, the latter had secured a hold of Sicily, and before the middle of the century they had appeared before the walls of Rome. When the strong arm and the clear head of Charlemagne were taken away, the causes that were to produce in Europe the anarchy of the close of the ninth and most of the tenth century were free to run their course unchecked.

Among the first to feel the evil effects of the death of the great emperor was his friend the Pope, who was wont to declare how necessary his life was to all good men. During the life of Charlemagne the two had been of mutual advantage to each other. In return for the wise advice, often acknowledged in the capitularies of the emperor, and for the books and learned men supplied to him by the Pope, the latter received the protection which he required against the aggressive ambition of his more powerful subjects. Some of these latter entered for a second time into a conspiracy to compass his death. In some way, however, he became cognizant of the plot, and this time, having had experience enough of the tender mercy he was like to receive at the hands of Roman conspirators, he had them seized and executed. When news of this affair reached the new emperor Louis, he was considerably annoyed at it. Whether he had received a biassed account of the transaction, or whether he conceived that his rights as imperial protector of Rome had been infringed, is not known. At any rate, he ordered Bernard, the king of Italy, to proceed to Rome to investigate the matter. Taken ill himself on his arrival in Rome, Bernard sent to the emperor the result of the inquiries which he had caused to be made through Count Gerold who had accompanied him. The Pope sent to Louis his own ambassadors, as well ecclesiastic as lay. On all the points that were urged against him, Einhard assures us that they completely satisfied the emperor. Soon after this, when the Pope fell ill, insubordination again became rife. This time the disorders arose outside the city. As an earnest of what they would soon be doing on a more extensive scale, not only in the States of the Church but in other countries of Europe, the disaffected nobles collected bands of armed men and proceeded to ravage the country. The “domuscultae”, or “farm colonies”, which Leo had either rebuilt or newly founded in connection with the various cities of the Campagna, they plundered and burnt. They then determined to march on Rome to take by force property which they maintained had been rent from them. Very likely they claimed, as relatives, the estates of the conspirators which would have been confiscated when the original owners of the property had met their death. To what lengths these lawless nobles would have gone, had not their violence been met by force, it is hard to say.

Bernard, however, sent word to the Duke of Spoleto to quell the sedition; and, when his commands had been executed, he rendered an account of the whole affair to the emperor.

Like many of his predecessors, Leo had to enter the lists against the archbishop of Ravenna. The city itself had already felt the touch of his fostering hand. He had sent his chamberlain with a band of workmen to repair the noble sixth-century basilica of St. Apollinaris in Classe, then described as near Ravenna, but now that city and sea have shrunk away from it, it stands, with the green mould upon its columns, like a tainted thing “alone in its rice fields” some three miles distant from the city. The Roman workmen not only thoroughly repaired its roof and quadriportico, of which no trace now remains, but heated it by means of a hypocaust. To the church thus efficiently restored the Pope made many beautiful presents—embroidered silks showing the Nativity and other incidents of Our Lord’s life, and a canistrum (or plate to hang beneath a lamp) of the purest silver and fifteen pounds in weight.

From Agnellus, who was a little boy at the time of which we are writing, it appears that a certain Martin was consecrated archbishop of Ravenna by Pope Leo himself in Rome, sometime before the year 810, perhaps as early as 808. To curry favor with the powerful, Martin, on his return to Ravenna, sent word of his accession to Charlemagne. For some cause which Agnellus did not see fit to record, but which seems to have been immorality and simony, Leo found it necessary to take proceedings against the archbishop. Knowing that he had made it a point to stand well with the rulers of the Franks, the Pope took the precaution of sending a legate to Louis to secure his co-operation. The emperor entered heartily into his wishes, and sent John, archbishop of Arles, into Italy with instructions to take Martin to plead his cause at Rome. When John reached Ravenna he insisted that, on pain of the loss of 2000 golden solidi, its principal citizens should see to it that their archbishop betook himself to Rome. But to Rome Martin had no wish to go. However, he acted as though it was his intention to proceed thither, but feigned illness when he reached the ruined city known as Ad Novas, some fifteen miles from Ravenna. He at once dispatched a messenger to Rome to tell the Pope that he was really anxious to come to him, but that he was too ill and too stout to ride on horseback. Annoyed though he was, as he was very wishful to take him to task, Leo had no choice but to allow him to return to his See. Unfortunately the narrative of Agnellus breaks off abruptly and confusedly in the midst of a description of the efforts made by Martin to gain the goodwill of the imperial missus by giving extraordinary entertainments in his honor, or by making him some magnificent presents. However the episode ended at the moment, it taught Martin a lesson, and when Leo’s successor visited Ravenna, he manifested a very respectful demeanor.

It only now remains to tell something of Leo's work in the domains of liturgy and art. In the Book of the Popes we are told that he decreed that the Litanies of the Saints should be recited and that processions should be made on each of the three days preceding the feast of the Ascension, a decree observed to this day throughout the Catholic Church. In contradistinction to the litanies said on the 25th of Apri1, which are known as the Greater Litanies, these are known as the Lesser Litanies. They were instituted for the same purpose as the former, viz., to beg the blessing of God on the fruits of the earth. The custom of reciting them had originated in Vienne as early as the year 470, under Bishop Mamertus, and had spread thence through Gaul to Rome.

Another ninth century author, Walafrid Strabo (f849), a contemporary of Leo’s biographer, says he had heard that that Pope very often said Mass as many as seven or nine times a day. Strange as such a custom may seem now, it must be noted that, even for centuries after his time, it was left to the devotion or judgment of each priest to settle what number of Masses he would say each day. This freedom of choice seems to have been first limited by the Council of Seligenstadt (1022), which forbade priests to say more than three Masses a day. Alexander II (d. 1073) still further limited the number. By his ruling a priest could say only two Masses a day—one for the living and one for the dead. The present law of one Mass only a day was introduced by Honorius III.

If during the pontificates of Hadrian and Leo the papal treasury was unusually full, those large-minded and large-hearted pontiffs emptied it in a royal and useful manner. The enormous presents which the latter received from Charlemagne, both during that prince’s lifetime and after his death by virtue of his will, helped him to become, if not the most, certainly one of “the most munificent and splendid of the Roman pontiffs”. By far the greater part of his biography in the Liber Pontificalis is taken up with an enumeration of the costly offerings in silks and in the precious metals which he made, for “love of our Lord and to atone for his sins”, to different churches, and of the various restorations of buildings which he effected.

St. Benedict had foretold that Rome would not be destroyed by the barbarians, but would crumble to pieces by storm and earthquake. These potent forces, aided by neglect consequent on the fearsome shrinkage of its population and on its poverty, had already begun their work of destruction when the Saint’s biographer ascended the chair of Peter in 590. “The very buildings do we behold crumbling around us”, is the cry of his broken heart. Incessant fighting with the Lombards during most of the seventh and eighth centuries effectually prevented any serious attempt being made to stem the torrent of decay. Rome continued to go to destruction. But with peace and wealth, the ruin of the city, at least on its ecclesiastical side, was arrested by Hadrian and Leo. By the one it was the exterior of the fabrics, which, speaking broadly, was restored, by the other the interior. Over one hundred and sixty institutions are recorded by name to have benefited by the generosity of Leo. Nor was it only churches, monasteries, and oratories which experienced his devoted care. He gave of his abundance for the dispensing of that charity, which “was a virtue altogether unknown in ancient times”, to both the deaconries and the hospitals. Nor did his charity begin and end at home. His revivifying hand reached not only to places in the more immediate neighborhood of Rome, but to Albano and Palaestrina, to Porto and Ostia, to Velletri and Orvieto, and to distant Ravenna. The abodes of the dead, the silent catacombs, were no less remembered by him. Not one of the seven ecclesiastical regions but saw some of its churches at least transformed by him. From the figures actually recorded in the Liber Pontificalis, it appears that the ornaments in silver which he presented to the various churches weighed more than 22,000 pounds, while those in very ruddy gold weighed some 1764 pounds. Many of the articles, chalices, covers of the books of the Gospels, etc., are said to have been studded with rare gems. The vestments and the various ornaments of silk which he distributed with a lavish hand, and often “out of his own private means”, were embroidered most elaborately, and often represented portions of the “story of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of His holy mother, and of the twelve apostles”. It is more than probable that the execution of all this splendid work would have been quite impossible had it not been for the immigration of Greek artists resulting from the iconoclast persecution. But whoever were the master-workmen, the orders given by Leo must have been followed by a veritable revival of high-class trades in Rome. Lapidaries and silversmiths, silk manufacturers, and workers in stained glass and in the pre-eminently Christian art of glass mosaic must have had a very busy time.

All the churches did not, of course, receive equal attention at the hands of Leo. Most of the ornaments in gold went to St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, and St. Mary Major's, which last basilica he was anxious to adorn “on account of his very great love of Our Lady”. If we tell what he accomplished for one or two only of the churches, monotony will be avoided, and the reader, in possession of certain details, will no doubt be able to form for himself a mental picture of the general church restoration effected by him.

Leo, only naturally, did much for the great basilica on the Vatican hill, “on account of his great love for St. Peter, his foster-father”. Not only did he re-roof almost the whole of it, but he restored the porticos which surrounded its atrium or paradise, the steps which led up to it, the fountains which played before its silver gates, and the tower which overlooked it. Its baptistery, which stood beyond the place where the north transept was afterwards erected, and had already done duty for over four hundred years, he enlarged and rebuilt. “Seeing”, says his biographer, “that the baptistery, from its great age, was threatened with ruin, and that the place was too small for the people who came for baptism, he rebuilt it from the foundations, making it of circular form and of larger size, and placed the sacred font in the midst of this enlarged space, and adorned it all round with porphyry columns, and placed in the midst a column with a lamb upon it of pure silver, pouring water ... He also adorned the baptistery all round with pictures. At the same time he rebuilt from its foundations the Oratory of the Holy Cross (which served as a sort of vestibule to the baptistery), which was going to ruin from age, and adorned its apse with mosaics”.

One of the many inscriptions on the wall of the baptistery contained the verse : “Una Petri sedes unum verumque lavacrum”. This line, as Lanciani notes, contains “an allusion both to the baptismal font and to the chair of S. Peter upon which the popes sat after baptizing the neophytes. The cathedra is mentioned by Optatus Milevitanus, Ennodius of Pavia, and by more recent authors, as having changed places many times, until Alexander VII placed it in a case of gilt bronze at the end of the apse (of the present St. Peter’s).... I saw it in 1867. The framework and a few panels of the relic may possibly date from apostolic times, but it was evidently largely restored after the peace of the Church”.

For the sake of the poorer pilgrims, Leo looked to the outbuildings of the great basilica. He rebuilt the place which had for ages served to lodge them, built, moreover, a new abode for them, and erected baths for their convenience.

But it was on the confession of St. Peter that he lavished his care and treasure, “so that in his time the shrine attained the summit of its splendor... In the confession he made gates of pure gold with various gems ... He put many candelabra of silver round the altar and in the presbytery. He made a new presbytery of beautifully sculptured marble; a fresh proof that presbytery in dealing with St. Peter’s must be taken to denote the enclosed choir. He covered the front of the altar from top to bottom with plates of silver, and within the confession he placed images of the Saviour standing, and of St. Peter and St. Paul on the right and left; and the floor of the confession he covered with gold. These images were apparently of mosaic, and it is quite possible that the figure of Our Lord, which may be seen today at the back of the recess of the confession, may be the very one that St. Leo placed there. The figures of St. Peter and St. Paul are also still there, but they have been entirely renewed. He put twisted columns of silver both at the entrance of the body on the right hand and on the left, and also at the top of the presbytery right and left, or on the side of the men and of the women, eight pairs, weighing altogether 190 pounds. Also eight arches of silver weighing 143 pounds ... He placed a golden image of the Saviour on the beam over the entrance of the vestibule ... and angels of silver gilt right and left in front of the confession, and also the two other angels which stand on the larger beam above the entrance of the vestibule, right and left of the golden image of the Saviour”.

Very numerous and valuable are the recorded presents which he made to the great basilica. Mention is made in the Liber Pontificalis of incense stands and thuribles of gold, of crowns of silver, of precious hangings and of vestments of silk adorned with gems and embroidered with representations of Our Lord giving St. Peter the power of binding and loosing, of the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul, etc. He presented it also with candelabra of all sizes in gold or silver, with golden basins set with jewels, with tables of gold, with crucifixes of pure silver, and with chalices and other vessels for the altar in gold and silver. The books of the Gospels which he gave it were bound with plates of gold inlaid with gems, and the ciboriums were covered with the rich veils known as tetravila.

When Leo became Pope, he did not forget his titular Church of S. Susanna on the Quirinal. Hadrian, indeed, is said to have restored the Church; but he cannot have done more than commence the work of renovation. Built in the third century, it was, we are expressly told, on the point of falling to pieces when Leo took it in hand After his work upon it, it was really a new and larger building, resplendent with its sanctuary, its floor, and its numerous columns all of marble. Up to the time when it was again rebuilt, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, its apse displayed the figure of the Pope in mosaic. Fortunately the design of the mosaic was copied before the ruthless demolition of the apse in 1595. It exhibited Our Lord with Charlemagne and Leo, both adorned with the square nimbus. The Pope was represented as wearing the tonsure, as beardless, and as holding in his hand a model of his church. So numerous and costly were the presents of church vessels and vestments which he made to his favorite basilica, that the splendor of its appointments must have well matched the marble glory of its buildings.

Without entering into further details regarding Leo’s ceaseless work for the external glory of God’s House—to restore, for the solemn worship of the Almighty, places which had become refuges for cattle—it may suffice summarily to state that the result of his work and that of his predecessor was to impart a most refreshing luster to the churches of Rome. Their rich presents to them of plate and vestments will have given a beauty and magnificence to the divine service which must have powerfully impressed the pilgrims who flocked to the Eternal City, and hence must have given a considerable impetus to the introduction and expansion of the arts of civilization among the rising nationalities of Europe.

It has, however, been stated that one unfortunate result of the innumerable buildings undertaken by Hadrian and Leo was that the “execution of great designs became impossible, and a certain littleness is therefore everywhere perceptible in the buildings of the period”. The remark is perhaps misleading. Those two popes did certainly undertake innumerable building operations, but they were practically all in the way of restoration. Where they did not merely renew, they enlarged. So that littleness can scarcely be called a result of the work of Hadrian or of Leo. Any littleness they left behind them they had found; but they left a new city where they had found but a mass of crumbling ruins.

Leo died in the month of June, and was buried in St. Peter’s on June 12th (816), the day on which he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology. “His”, in the words of Gregorovius, “was a powerful nature capable of shrewd reasonings and bold views. The brief moment in which he crowned the new emperor of the West in St. Peter’s made him the instrument of the history of the world, and assured him an undying renown”, as, we may add, the second founder with St. Gregory I of the medieval papacy. The tomb of Pope Leo III no longer exists. In the twelfth century his remains, along with those of popes Leo II and Leo IV, were translated by Paschal II to the oratory where, from the end of the seventh century, had reposed the body of St. Leo I, the Great. Today, these same remains are to be found in an old sarcophagus, on which are reliefs of Christ and the Apostles, the sacrifice of Isaac, etc., beneath the altar of the chapel of the Madonna della Colonna in the right transept of the present St. Peter’s.

The silver grossos (denarii) of Leo, which are still extant, and which are modeled on those of the Franks, are significant of the union of Church and State which he made so close. They bear at once the names of Leo himself, of St. Peter, and either of Charlemagne (Carlus) or of Louis (Ludovvicus) Ipa (Imperator), as the case may be. All the examples of his coinage which have reached us are of this type, with one exception. The unique specimen gives, in place of the name Carlus, a figure of Charlemagne carrying the sword and standard, as protector of the Church. The coins of Leo’s predecessor, evincing an altogether different political situation, are without the name of any other ruler but of Hadrian himself.





A.D. 816-817


Emperors of the East.                                        Emperors of the West.

Constantine VI. (Porphyrogenitus), 780-797.   Charlemagne (King of the Franks), 771-800.

Irene, 797-802. (Emperor), 800-814.

Nicephorus, 802-811.                                           Louis, the Pious or Debonnaire, 814-840.

Michael I, 811-813.

Leo V, 813-820.



Stephen, a Roman and the son of Marinus, was a member Early of that noble family which, in the course of the ninth Stephen century, gave no fewer than three popes to the Church, viz., Stephen himself, Sergius II, and Hadrian II. From his earliest youth he had been brought up in the Lateran palace under Pope Hadrian. To all the care lavished upon him the youthful Stephen faithfully corresponded, and, as a reward for his virtue and learning, Leo III ordained him sub-deacon. As his advance in the way of virtue continued, the same Pope ordained him deacon. From that time forth Stephen devoted all his energies to promote the practice of the precepts of the Gospel both by word and work. His holiness was the common talk of the people. Hence they scarcely waited for the death of Leo to elect their beloved Stephen as his successor. Amidst general rejoicings he was escorted to St. Peter’s, and consecrated (June 22) ten days after the date of Leo’s burial.

Though there is not evidence enough to compel such an inference, it is conceivable that, in their prompt election and consecration of Stephen, the Roman clergy had in view the anticipating of any imperial interference with their rights. At any rate, his election was as absolutely free as that of his predecessors from the time of Pope Zachary.

Still, of course, the emperor had his rights, and these the new Pope was anxious to acknowledge, and so his first act was to cause the Romans to take an oath of fidelity to Louis. This he no doubt did, not only as an act of recognition on his own part of the position of Louis in Rome as emperor and protector of the Roman Church, but also to remind the turbulent party among the Romans that there was a powerful suzerain over them who wielded a sharper sword than did the Pope. But it is certain that he did not make the people take this oath, because he wished to proclaim that he was not himself their ruler. For we shall see later that the Roman people swore to be faithful to the emperor, “saving the obedience they owed to the Pope”.

Stephen’s next step was to send envoys to inform Louis of his consecration. Though his election had been perfectly free, it was only just that the emperor, as his temporal overlord, should be duly informed of his canonical installation. Besides, his views could be more easily stated by word of mouth if Louis were to express any dissatisfaction at not having been allowed any voice in the matter. The envoys were also commissioned to notify the emperor that an interview with him, wherever might be convenient to him, would be acceptable to their master. It is difficult to tell with certainty whether the wish for the meeting proceeded in the first instance from the emperor, anxious to be crowned by the Pope, or from the latter, desirous of obtaining certain privileges from his powerful protector. According to Stephen’s biographer, he undertook the journey “for the sake of confirming the peace and unity of the Church”.

However all this may be, certain it is that the Pope set out for France in the month of August, in company with Bernard, the king of Italy, who was acting under the emperor’s orders. It is to be supposed that, like his namesake who had made the journey before him, he would cross the Alps by the pass of the great St. Bernard, and would rest his weary limbs after the long and dangerous climb at the abbey of St. Maurice on the Rhone. The reception he met with from the emperor was so honorable that “the tongue is scarce able to recount it”. Louis, who had been filled with joy when he heard of the Pope’s intention to come to him, sent forward his archchaplain, Hildebald, Theodulf, bishop of Orleans, and John, bishop of Arles, to meet him; whilst he himself, says Ermoldus, drew up in order to meet the Pope, the clergy, “people, and Senate”.

It was about a mile from the city of Rheims that Louis and the Pope met. Both at once dismounted from their horses. “In honour of God and St. Peter”, the emperor thrice prostrated himself before the successor of the Prince of the Apostles, and saluted him with the words, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! the Lord our God has shone down upon us!”. “Blessed be the Lord our God”, replied the Pope, “ who has given me to see with my eyes a second King David!”.

When they had embraced each other, the emperor led the Pope to the Church of St. Remy, which was outside the city, where the Te Deum was chanted in thanksgiving. On the following Sunday, after a day or two had been Crowns spent in feastings, “before Mass, in presence of the clergy and all the people, Stephen consecrated and anointed Louis emperor and placed upon his head a golden crown of wondrous beauty and adorned with most precious stones, which he had brought with him, and which Nigellus says had belonged to Constantine the Great! He also placed a golden crown on the head of Queen Irmengard and saluted her as Augusta”.

There are today not wanting authors who, regarding the popes with other eyes than those with which they were regarded by Charlemagne, Louis, and their contemporaries, contend that this act of Stephen was simply a gratuitous interference. Louis, it is urged, had been crowned emperor by his father; but Stephen, fearing that, if he were not to have a share in his imperial coronation, crowning by the Pope would not in future be thought necessary to constitute an emperor, took upon himself to tell Louis that he would come and crown him, and actually did so, regardless of his likes or dislikes. Plastic as Louis was, it is too much to suppose that he was such a puppet as to allow himself to be treated in so high-handed a fashion. What Stephen did, he must have accomplished with the full and hearty concurrence of the emperor and the Frankish nobility.

No contemporary evidence is available to show that at this time there was any received opinion anywhere as to what was or was not necessary to constitute the chief of the “revived empire” of the West. It may, however, be regarded as certain that the Franks looked to Rome as the natural source of empire, and that to them Rome meant the Pope. From the view taken by them of the position of the sovereign pontiff at this period, there can be no doubt that just as they considered him competent to decide who should be their king, so they regarded it as equally within his power to make an emperor. While Louis and the Franks would be satisfied with such coronation as he had received as long as the Pope-crowned Charlemagne lived, they would not be content that the Roman, i.e. the papal, sanction should be wanting when Charlemagne was no more. And so, whether or not Stephen used the words, or anything like them, which Ermoldus puts into his mouth when crowning Louis, the poet voices in them the general feeling as to the source of empire : “Rome, O Caesar, presents you with the gift of Peter!”. Though most of the sources imply at least that Stephen set out for France on his own initiative, and though even Ermoldus once seems to imply the same thing, it is more than likely that what the poet states twice elsewhere is the fact; viz., that Stephen left Rome to comply with the expressed wishes of Louis. And, no doubt, while he sent for the Pope with a view of confirming the privileges of his See, he wanted him in turn to be his powerful support by confirming him in the empire. So that it may be said that Louis was simply emperor, “elect or designate”, till he had been formally crowned by the Pope. “The right to this crowning was indeed hereditary, and the heir to the throne could assume the title of emperor; but the crowning was necessary to invest him legally with this high dignity. Thus was it understood throughout the middle ages. So necessary was the crowning thought to be, that, even after the sixteenth century, the emperors of Germany, when they no longer caused themselves to be crowned, simply took the title of Roman emperor elect, which marked them off from the emperors by divine right”.

As a return for the favor of his coronation, Louis, to use the phrase of a contemporary annalist, “remunerated” the Pope with many presents. Chief among them was an estate (curtis) which the emperor bestowed on the Roman Church from his own private property. This curtis was most lively identical with the “villa Vendopera”, or Vandeuvre (between Troyes and Bar-sur-Aube). Hincmar (Ann., 865) assures us that it had been given by the emperor Louis to St Peter, and Charles the Bald, helped Nicholas I to wrest it from a certain Count Wigo who had for some years been reaping on the Pope’s land what he certainly had not sown.

Before Louis and Stephen parted, they had long conferences together, and the treaty of friendship which had already been struck more than once between the popes and the rulers of the Franks was again renewed. And such favor did Stephen find in the emperor’s eyes that he gave him whatever he asked. More definitely, we are informed by the poet Nigellus that Louis confirmed the privileges of the Roman Church, and caused the chancellor Helisachar to draw up documentary evidence of the fact, as he was anxious for the property of St. Peter ever to remain intact.

It is supposed that, whilst Stephen was at Rheims, he gave the pallium to Theodulf, bishop of Orleans. The pallium was indeed sometimes given to bishops, who were thereby authorized to take the title of archbishop, a title that is found given to Theodulf in some of the diplomas of the emperor Louis. On the strength of this gift, Theodulf maintained that he had the same right as a metropolitan of not being judged without an order from the Pope.

Loaded with presents many times greater than those he Stephen had himself given to the emperor, and accompanied envoys of Louis, the Pope set out for Rome (October 816). He was also attended by a number of liberated political prisoners. “In imitation of Our Saviour, who redeemed us from the captivity of the devil, the Pope brought back with him, as a sign of the goodness of the Church (propietate Ecclesiae), all the exiles who, for their crimes against the Roman Church and Pope Leo, were there detained in captivity”.

On his way home the Pope visited Ravenna. The archbishop Martin, who had shown himself somewhat restive under Pope Leo, was all submission. Stephen said Mass in the Basilica Ursiana, or cathedral founded by St. Ursus, archbishop of Ravenna in the fourth century, and exhibited for the veneration of the people “the sandals of Our Saviour”, a relic of which mention is again made in the life of Pope Nicholas by Anastasius.

Stephen reached Rome before the close of the month of November. After holding the usual ordinations of bishops and priests in the month of December, and confirming the famous monastery of St. Mary of Farfa its possessions, on condition of the daily recitation by the monks of “one hundred Kyrie Eleisons for our sins”, and of a yearly payment to the Roman Church of ten golden solidi, he died on January 24, 817. He was buried, according to the usual custom, in St. Peter’s.

Among the decrees of Gratian there is one of Pope Stephen, which by different authors is either pronounced spurious, or is variously attributed to Stephen V, Eugenius II, Stephen (VI) VII, or John IX. One thing seems certain, and that is, that the decree was not the work of Stephen V. The decree ascribes the tumults that take place on the death of a Pope to the absence of the imperial legates at the Pope’s consecration; sets forth that the presence of the legates was in accordance with canon law and custom, and decrees that the one who has been elected by the clergy, “in presence of the senate and people”, should be consecrated “in the presence of the imperial legates”. Now it is certain that Stephen’s successor was consecrated without the presence of the imperial envoys; that no appeal to “custom” could have been put forth by Stephen V (as Charlemagne had never had an opportunity as emperor of sending envoys to the consecration of a Pope), and that, from 741-817, there was no waiting for the arrival of imperial legates before the consecration was performed. Moreover, we have the express declaration of Florus, the deacon of Lyons, who, about the year 829, wrote a leaflet on the election of bishops, to the effect that “in the Roman Church we see that the pontiffs are lawfully consecrated without any (previous) consulting with the royal authority, but solely in accordance with the disposition of Divine Providence and the votes of the faithful”.

No doubt, then, the decree in question is the work not of Stephen V, but of John IX; for it is the same as the one issued by the Council of Rome (can 10), held in 898 under his presidency. It was evidently assigned to a Pope of the name of Stephen, through a mistake which originated in the fact that acts of the council of John IX, where it is found, begin with the words, “Synodum tempore .... sexti Stephani”.

It seems very doubtful whether any specimens of the Coins (?) of coinage of Stephen V have survived to modern times. Cinagli, indeed, assigns two silver denarii to this Pope on MS. authority. Promis, however, while pointing out that they are not, as supposed, in the Chigi collection, believes that they really are the production of Pope Valentine.





A.D. 817-824.



EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                                     EMPEROR OF THE WEST.

Leo V (the Armenian), 813-82o.                               Louis I, the Pious, 814-840.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.



No careful observer, who in a visit to Rome goes to see the principal churches, can fail to have the name of at least one of the popes of the early Middle Ages impressed upon him. He will soon realize that the monogram of Paschal I is familiar to him, and that he has seen his portrait in a contemporary mosaic more than once. Should interest in the Greek rite have led him to mount the Celian to visit the Titular Church of S. Maria-in-Domnica, one of the very oldest churches in Rome, he will have seen a great ninth century mosaic covering the vaulted roof of the apse, and representing Our Lady seated on a throne with the Divine Child on her knees and surrounded by angels. Kneeling on a step of the throne is a small figure, holding in his hands the right foot of the Virgin. It is that of Pope Paschal, whose monogram appears in a medallion above the figure of Our Lady. Beneath it an inscription proclaims that the church, which was falling to ruins, now shines resplendent, adorned with golden mosaic work. Its glory is as that of the sun in the heavens when it has driven away the dark veil of night. Mary, Virgin, it is for you that the venerable Pontiff Paschal has built in gladness of heart this house to endure through the ages.

Should his piety have drawn him to the Church of S. Prassede (or Praxedes), which dates back to the age of the great persecutions, and of which Paschal had been the titular, to pray before the column at which tradition tells Our Lord was scourged, he will have found many reminders of that “shrewd and energetic” Pope. Again will he have observed the ceiling of the apse aglow with golden mosaic work. On the right of Our Saviour, who occupies the center, is the figure of a man clad in a loose garment of cloth of gold. Holding out his hands beneath this vestment, he is supporting the model of a church. Again, both a monogram and an inscription let us know that we are gazing on the features of Paschal. In the chapel of S. Zeno, wherein is the sacred column, there is not only an inscription to tell us that it owes its decorations to the pious vows of Pope Paschal, but also a half-length figure in mosaic, with a square nimbus bearing the name and curious title of Theodora, Episcopa. In this medallion we have a portrait of the Pope’s mother.

Finally, if his love of music should have carried our observer across the Tiber on a pilgrimage to the church of its patron, S. Cecily, in Trastevere, he would have once more been confronted with a great apsidal mosaic. With her right hand on Paschal’s right shoulder, S. Cecily is seen presenting him to Our Lord, who is giving his blessing in the Greek fashion. Again is the Pope distinguished by the square nimbus of life, and represented as holding a model of the church. Monogram and inscription proclaim the handiwork of Paschal. In language closely akin to the others we have quoted, the latter tells how the Pope repaired and beautified the church, brightened its apse with mosaics, and brought hither from the catacombs the bodies of S. Cecily and her companions. In the same church there is a fresco representing the apparition of S. Cecily to Pope Paschal, of which mention will be made in the sequel. This, however, will not help us to form an idea of Paschal’s personal appearance, inasmuch as it was not painted till about the twelfth century.

All the contemporary mosaics represent him as tall, with large eyes, long face, beardless and tonsured. He is in each case also depicted as clad in a tunic reaching to his feet and ornamented with two long stripes, and wearing a white pallium, with little crosses in red.

The Pontiff, whose figure is today so prominent on the walls of the churches in Rome, was in his time no less distinguished in the world, both by his character and his works. In language borrowed from the biographies of Leo III and Gregory II, and hence, perhaps to some extent at least, made to fit Paschal, a very flattering character is given to him in the Liber Pontificalis. There we are told that the young Roman, the child of Bonosus and Theodora, devoted himself to sacred studies in the school of the Lateran palace, and became not only an adept in church music, but especially learned both in the Old and New Testament. His virtues procured for him his ordination to the priesthood. Among these virtues his piety, modesty, cheerfulness, eloquence, hospitality, love of the poor, and his ready but discriminating charity towards them are especially noted. He was also devoted to prayer and fasting, was a most careful observer of the canons, merciful but just, and a great lover of the churches and of his people. We are also told that he largely increased the donative the popes were wont to give to the clergy, and that he spent large sums of money in redeeming captives in Spain and other far distant lands—captives made by the Saracen pirates—and, “like a good and true shepherd”, bringing them back to their homes. At least before he became Pope, and had more leisure, he was very fond of holding converse with holy monks or others on pious subjects. His well-deserved reputation led Leo III to make him superior of the monastery of S. Stephen the protomartyr, near St. Peter’s. In this position his hospitality found abundant scope in looking after the poor pilgrims, who, “for love of Blessed Peter, the apostle, came from distant climes to his shrine”.

So beloved by all was he for his distinguished merits that, by divine inspiration, he was unanimously elected Pope by the concurrent voice of clergy and people, and consecrated (January 25, 817) the very day after the death of Stephen. He at once forwarded to the emperor notice of his accession. The anonymous author of the life of Louis says that Paschal “sent envoys to the emperor with presents and an apologetic letter (epistola apologetica), in which he pointed out that he had accepted the dignity of the papacy, rather moved thereto by the election and acclamation of the people than urged by any personal ambition.” This apologetic letter is called by Einhard a letter of excuse. It must be noted, however, that it is not an apology or excuse for his consecration without the emperor’s consent, but a humble explanation of his accepting the great honor at all. For Einhard himself sums up the contents of the letter by sayings that the Pope averred that “the honor had been, as it were, thrust upon him, though he did not want it, and often refused it”. Hence even Muratori concludes that it is perfectly plain that up to this period none of the agreements entered into between the popes and the Frank sovereigns included any condition that the popes should not be consecrated without the consent of the Western emperors.

Soon after the dispatch of the first, Paschal sent a second embassy to Louis, of which the nomenclator Theodore was the chief. The embassy requested that “the agreement or treaty (pactum), which had been made with his predecessors, might be renewed with him”. The request was granted. These same ambassadors are credited with bringing back a “donation” from Louis on the lines of those of Pippin and Charlemagne. The authenticity of this diploma, which begins Ego Ludovicus, is altogether denied by some, as by Pagi and Muratori, and affirmed by others. Some take a middle course, and hold that the diploma, as we now have it, contains falsifications. This is the modern line of those who do not accept it unreservedly. The document may be read among those collected by Cardinal Deusdedit towards the end of the eleventh century, and in many other authors. Our quotations will be from the copy in Theiner, who has used the text of Cencius Camerarius (thirteenth century).

The constitution begins: “I, Louis, Emperor Augustus, decree and grant by this deed of our confirmation to you, Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and through you to your Vicar the Lord Paschal, supreme Pontiff and universal Pope, and to your successors forever, the city of Rome and its duchy and dependencies (which are then named), as up to this time they have been held by you and your predecessors under your authority and jurisdiction”. Next, the Pope is confirmed in the possession of the exarchate, Aemilia, and the Pentapolis, which Pippin and Charlemagne had “by deed of gift restored to his predecessors”, and he is granted the Sabine territory and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily, with various cities of Lombard Tuscany, and “Campania, and the patrimonies that belong to your authority and jurisdiction, as that of Beneventum and Salerno, that of upper and lower Calabria, and that of Naples, and wherever, throughout the kingdom and empire committed by God to us, your patrimonies are known to be”.

In like manner Louis confirms the donations which Pippin and Charles “spontaneously” offered (spontanea voluntate), and the revenues which were wont annually to be paid into the palace of the Lombard kings, both from Lombard Tuscany and from the Duchy of Spoleto, “as is set forth in the above-mentioned donations and was agreed upon between Pope Hadrian and Charlemagne, when that Pontiff came to an understanding with him concerning the two duchies of Tuscany and Spoleto, to the effect that every year the above-mentioned revenues should be paid to the Church of Blessed Peter, but that the emperor’s supreme dominion over those duchies was to be preserved”.

All the above territories, etc., were to remain under the jurisdiction of the Pope and his successors, and were not in any way to be interfered with by Louis or his descendants, but rather defended; nor were they to assume any rights in the said territories, etc., except when requested by the Pope of the time.

On the death of a Pope, no Frank nor Lombard is to cause any trouble; but the Romans, with all veneration and without any tumult (most seasonable words for the childishly turbulent Romans), were to duly elect and consecrate a successor to him. After the consecration, envoys were to be sent to the Frankish rulers, to renew “the friendship and peace” that had existed between them and the popes during the reigns of Charles (Martel), Pippin, and Charlemagne.

The diploma signed by Louis himself, his three sons, ten bishops, eight abbots, fifteen counts, a bibliothecarius (librarian), a mansionarius (a sort of sacristan), and a hostiarius (an apparitor), was sent to Pope Paschal by the nomenclator Theodore.

It is urged against the authenticity of this diploma it gives to the popes Sicily, which was at the time in the hands of the Greek emperors, and never came into the possession of the Carolingian emperors, and that, despite the clause on freedom of pontifical elections, Gregory IV (827-844) and other popes were not consecrated until the arrival of the imperial envoys. Other points of minor importance are also brought forward.

Against this it is pointed out that perhaps the largest of the papal “patrimonies”, used to be in Sicily ; that they (along with those in Calabria) had been unjustly confiscated by the Greek iconoclast emperors, and hence that there is no reason for calling in question that the emperor Louis might, as an act of compensation, offer to give the popes the whole island, “if ever it should come into his power” —words actually used in the diplomas of the emperors Otho I and Henry I. Or it may be supposed, in accordance with the text of the two “privileges” just mentioned, that there was in this instance only reference to the patrimony in Sicily.

The clause on the freedom of elections was modified in 824 by the constitution of Lothaire (the son of Louis, and co-emperor with him), which was drawn up with the full consent of Eugenius II. Hence the clause really tells in favor of the authenticity of the diploma, as up to that time the elections had “de facto” been free, and the diploma was legislating on existing lines.

That some document was sent by Louis to the Pope bearing on the donation question is clear enough from the words of Einhard cited above, and still clearer from the words of John V III. to the Roman synod in 875, where he speaks of the great emperor Louis, who not only equaled his ancestors in their liberality towards the Head of the Church and confirmed what they had done, but even increased their donations by most munificent gifts. And if the deed of Louis is not mentioned in that of Otho I, it is in that of Henry I. We conclude, then, in harmony with the general consensus of modern opinion, that it is substantially authentic, as it is in substantial agreement with the deeds of Otho and Henry, and throws light on the donation of Charlemagne. For it shows that, by some later agreement between Hadrian and Charlemagne, the supreme dominion over Lombard Tuscany, and the duchy of Spoleto, which we never find exercised by the popes, was given back to Charlemagne. The popes, however, kept the revenues arising therefrom.

In the same year (July 817) an event, big with fate for the empire, was brought about in Frankland, at Aix-la.-Chapelle, by Louis and his advisers. Of these, the principal ones, the great ecclesiastics of the empire, were primarily anxious to preserve its unity; while others, less foreseeing, were interested in forwarding the German idea of division between sons. The outcome of these conflicting views was a compromise which took the form of an ordinatio imperii. While setting forth that it was not right that “the unity of the empire given to us by God should, for the love of children, be sundered by any human division”, the document declared that the emperor’s eldest son Lothaire should be crowned “in a solemn manner with the imperial diadem, and constituted our consort and successor”. But Pippin and Louis were to be called kings, and to have territories assigned them, “in which, after our death, they may, under their eldest brother, possess regal power”. As Agobard expressed it in 833: “You assigned to your other sons (Pippin and Louis) parts of your empire (regni), but, that it (regnum) might be one and not three, you set over them the one whom you had made the partner of your name”. Pippin was to have Aquitaine, with south-eastern France, etc.; Louis, Bavaria; while Bernard, the emperor’s illegitimate nephew, was left, in an inferior position, in charge of Italy. Various provisions, all, of course, to no purpose, were enacted to preserve the unity of the empire. The kings were not to marry, make war or peace, without the consent of the emperor, and to prevent further subdivision, the kings were not to divide their kingdoms among their children. Their people were to elect successors to Pippin and Louis out of their legitimate children.

Lothaire was accordingly at once duly crowned by his father, and was meanwhile declared heir of the kingdom of Italy. And that the ordinatio might have the highest sanction, it was sent to Rome, and received the confirmation of the Pope. Unworkable as was the new scheme of empire, the first, as we shall see, to break through it was the emperor Louis himself. In the preamble to his ordinatio he had laid it down that the unity of the empire was not to be rent for love of children. He himself was to be the cause of its being torn to pieces owing to that very predilection which he had himself condemned.

Meanwhile the new arrangement did not please Bernard. He appealed to arms; but, terrified by the approach of the emperor with a large army, he gave himself up into his hands. Though his life was nominally spared him, he perished under the punishment—the loss of his eyes—which was awarded him (Easter, 818).

It was some little time before his successor was appointed, and even after Lothaire had received his nomination as king of Italy (820) he was not immediately sent there. Whether an embassy which Paschal sent to the emperor in the May of this year had any connection with Lothaire’s appointment cannot be stated. But a later one, of which the nomenclator Theodore, now primicerius, was the chief, was closely connected with Lothaire. In the following year (828) that prince married Ermengard, the daughter of Count Hugo of Tours, one of the principal men of the empire, and received from the papal envoy the presents from the Pope of which he was the bearer.

Lothaire came to Italy under the tutelage of Wala, abbot of Corbey, in the year after his marriage (822). Under Charlemagne, one of whose most trusted ministers he was, Wala had already ruled Italy, in the name of Bernard. But, finding himself an object of suspicion to Louis, of whose abilities he had a very poor opinion, he had left the world, and retired to Corbey when he became sole emperor. His abilities, however, made him indispensable, and Louis took him from his monastery to guide Lothaire in the government of his kingdom.

Before the young emperor returned to Frankland, at the request of the Pope, and at the express will of Louis himself, the Pope, he went to Rome, “that he might be associated with his father in the empire, not merely in power and name, but also in consecration”, according to the words which Paschasius Radbert (d. 865), makes Lothaire himself use when addressing his father. Received with all honor by the Pope, Lothaire was crowned by him as king of Lombardy and emperor, on Easter Day in St. Peter’s, and, as he is made to say by Paschasius, was girt with the sword for the defence of the empire and the Church, which no one was more willing or more in duty bound to defend than himself. Some historians suppose that Paschal next proceeded to invest Lothaire with supreme power within the city of Rome. The ground for this supposition is a statement by an anonymous continuator of the Lombard history of Paul the Deacon, to the effect that the Pope “granted to the emperor Lothaire the power which the ancient emperors had over the city of Rome”. To say the least of it, this chronicler must have been here anticipating events. Under Eugenius II, the successor of Paschal, large concessions of power in the city of Rome were made to the emperor, as we shall see. But up to the present the Carolingian emperors had not put forth any pretensions to supreme power in Rome. The arrangement or treaty of 817 was still in force. And, if what is said by the anonymous continuator about Paschal’s concession be true, what was done in that direction by Eugenius II would have been meaningless.

During Lothaire’s sojourn in Rome, and whilst with the Pope and the nobility of Rome and the empire he was engaged in administering justice, Sergius, “the librarian of the Holy Roman See”, came forward and maintained that the famous Sabine monastery of Farfa was subject to the dominion of the Roman Church. The abbot Ingoald, however, was able to produce diplomas which showed that it had been under the protection (sub tuitione et defensione), first of the Lombard kings and then of Charlemagne. The latter had declared it free from all tribute, like the great Frankish monasteries of Luxeuil, Lerins, and Agaune (or St. Maurice). As the papal advocate was unable to produce any counter documents, the Pope not only decided that, with the exception of consecration, he had no temporal dominion over the monastery, but ordered the restoration to it of all that his predecessors had unjustly taken away from it.

For the favors shown them by the emperors the monks were always grateful, and in the long struggle between the empire and the papacy the monastery of St. Mary always stood for the former.

After the departure of Lothaire from Rome, the factious elements in the city again began to cause trouble. Under the pretense of loyalty and devotion to the interests of the emperor, a certain section of the higher clergy, and apparently of the nobility also, pursued their schemes of independence or personal aggrandizement with too little regard for secrecy. Two of their number, Theodore, the primicerius, a man whom we have seen deep in the councils of the Pope, and his son-in-law, Leo, were seized in the Lateran palace, blinded, and then beheaded. Their partisans at once sent word of the affair to the emperor Louis, accused the Pope of ordering or conniving at the execution, and asserted that the victims had been treated as they had because they were devoted to the young emperor Lothaire. Paschal also sent legates to the emperor. Louis dispatched to Rome, in order to look into the matter, Adalung, abbot of St. Vedases, and Humphrey, count of Coire. By “compurgation” (that is, by taking an oath along with a great many bishops) the Pope proved his complete innocence “of the blood” of Theodore and Leo. But, at the same time, he took upon himself to defend those who had put them to death, inasmuch as they were his dependents, and had justly inflicted the sentence of death on men who were guilty of high treason. Further envoys were sent by the Pope, with the result that, when Louis heard of the oath of the Pope, and his defence of the authors of the death of the traitors, he concluded that there was nothing further for him to do in the matter. Paschal’s death soon after the return of his envoys put an end, as far at least as he was concerned, to all further relations between Rome and the empire. But the terrible incident set the lovers of law and order both in the Church and the State earnestly thinking. That factions should have become so powerful as to dare, without the knowledge and consent of the Pope, to put even to a deserved death his chief minister, viz., the primicerius, revealed a state of things which imperatively demanded a remedy. The palliative invented by the statesmen of the empire and the Church was, as we shall see, the constitution of 824. If it lessened the liberty of the Holy See, it tended to strengthen its hands against the fearsome factions of the Roman nobility. Of what these were capable, indications have already been given in the cases of the attack on Leo III and of the murder of Paschal’s ministers. When, in the tenth century, the arm of the Empire, which the pact of Lothaire (824) was to place more at the disposal of the popes, became impotent, their awful power for evil will be clearly revealed against a lurid background of sacrilege and murder.

As to his predecessor Leo III, the persecuted monks in the East turned to Paschal. For a short time the upstart emperor Leo V the Armenian, had had the good sense to leave the direction of religious matters to those whom it concerned. But after completing various secret preparations, he began his more open attack on image-worship by forcing the patriarch Nicephorus, who now displayed a noble firmness, to abdicate. He was then sent into exile (March 815). An imperial officer, a layman, an ignorant and married man, one Theodotus, “who was called Cassiteras and Flavianus”, was consecrated patriarch in his stead (April I, 815). Being the brother-in-law of Constantine Copronymus, he had thoroughly imbibed his iconoclastic spirit. His immediate successors were Theodore the Studite. And again did he turn to Rome for comfort and strength in the midst of his trials (817). In his own name and in that of four other abbots he wrote to Paschal, the pastor established by God over the flock of Christ, the stone on which is built the Catholic Church. “For you are Peter”, he said, “since you fill his See”. Theodore then proceeds to tell the Pope of the persecution that had fallen on images and men alike, and begs him to come to their assistance, as Jesus Christ had given him command to confirm his brethren. He entreats the Pope, “as the first of all”, to let all the world know that he anathematizes those who had dared to anathematize the patriarch and the image-worshippers in the East, and assures him that, by so doing, he would be performing a work which would please God, sustain the weak, confirm the strong, and raise up those who had fallen. The patriarch Theodotus also wrote to the Pope, and sent him envoys. But these the Pope would not see, an action which elicited (818) a second letter from Theodore. The Pope was from the very beginning the pure source of the orthodox faith, wrote the unconquerable monk; he has proved that the visible successor of the Prince of the Apostles, recognizable by all, truly governs the Roman Church, and that God has not abandoned the Church of Constantinople.

Besides sending letters full of words of consolation to the clergy and religious of the Eastern Empire, Paschal also sent (about the year 818) legates to the emperor with a refutation of his iconoclastic arguments. In the fragment of this which has come down to us the Pope urges: “When in the Holy Spirit (I Cor. XII. 3) the name of Jesus is pronounced, the heart is filled with pious affections. To paint a picture of Jesus is to do more, as it is a more difficult thing than to pronounce His name, and surely if done in the Holy Spirit will not be of less aid to devotion. Will it be maintained that there is no need of signs to unite ourselves to God? That would be to forget that the sacraments are also signs. Would baptism be necessary if there were no need of signs? If faith does not admit of signs, why make the sign of the cross? If God detests images, why do we consider it our highest prerogative to be made after the image of God?”. The Pope also shows that the arguments drawn from the Old Testament have no weight, and points out the difference between adoration and veneration, between the substance of an image and the sublime original which it represents. These common­sense arguments had no more effect on Leo V than they have today on many non-Catholics. To both, image-worshippers are idolaters. But they had a most beneficial effect on the suffering Catholics. They gave them courage in their hour of need. Hence, while Theodore laments that the iconoclasts have cut themselves off from “the See of the supreme pastor, where Jesus Christ has deposited the keys of the faith, against which the gates of hell—the tongues of heretics—have never prevailed and never shall prevail”, he cries out, “Let, then, the apostolic Paschal rejoice, for he has accomplished the work of Peter, and let the multitude of the faithful thrill with gladness because they have seen true bishops, formed on the model of the ancient Fathers!”." Like so many other persecutors of the Church, Leo V perished by a violent death (December 25, 82o); and, as we shall see under the life of Eugenius II, the Church of Constantinople had a few years of comparative peace.

In the correspondence of the Studite, as may be seen even in the extracts cited above, there is frequent allusion to St. Peter’s keys. It is not at all unlikely that they were especially impressed upon his mind by their use in a curious religious ceremony observed in Rome in connection with them, of which we have certain knowledge only through his letters. These reveal to us the fact that he was in constant communication not only with Greek monks resident in Rome, especially with Basil, abbot of SS. Andrew and Sabas in cella nova on the Coelian, but also with others who were in the habit of going backwards and forwards between Old and New Rome. Hence there is no cause for hesitating to accept what he tells us about Roman customs on the ground that he was a stranger to the Eternal City.

In a letter of the saint treating of image-worship, comparatively recently discovered, and printed in a volume (IX) of the Nova Patrum Bibliotheca, which was presented to Leo XIII on the occasion of his sacerdotal jubilee in 1887, there occurs the following interesting passage : “I am informed that in Rome they carry in solemn procession the keys of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. Christ, of course, did not give him these material keys, but he gave them to him mystically when he gave him the power of binding and loosing. But the Romans have made silver ones, and present them for the veneration of the people. Great is their faith! Among them, according to the word of the Lord, is set the immovable rock of the faith, whilst here (at Constantinople), as it seems, infidelity and wickedness are in the ascendant”. This unique passage not only makes known to us a pretty religious observance of the Roman Church, but throws light on earlier writings which enable us, seemingly, to trace back this veneration of the keys at least to the close of the fifth century, and gives further meaning to the custom of sending golden or other keys to important personages practiced by the popes, at least, as early as the sixth century.

One result of Leo’s persecution was to cause a still further immigration of Greek monks into Rome and other parts of Italy, and a consequent deepening of Hellenic influence, especially in its more southerly portions. It was no doubt some of these exiles whom Paschal placed in the monastery which he built and endowed in connection with the Church of St. Praxedes, in order that, “by day and night”, they might in their own tongue praise God and the saints whose relics there reposed.

One of the Greek monks, who at this time came to Rome, “inasmuch as it was outside the tyrant’s sway”, was a biographer of the historian Theophanes, the holy monk Methodius. On the death of Leo V he returned to Constantinople with letters from the Pope for the new emperor, Michael II. Paschal exhorted him to return to the orthodox faith, and to re-establish Nicephorus on the patriarchal throne. But though, with courageous freedom, Methodius in person supported the Pope’s arguments, the emperor was not moved. He upbraided the good monk with being a source of trouble and bad example, and caused him to be scourged and imprisoned. In the beginning of his reign, he had shown himself comparatively tolerant towards the worshippers of images, but after he subdued the rebel Thomas (823), they felt his hand, though not so rough as Leo’s, still heavy upon them.

The efforts made by Charlemagne to subjugate and civilize the Saxons, and to secure the north-eastern frontiers of the empire by force of arms and by the preaching of Christian doctrine, had often been retarded by fierce inroads of the cruel heathen Danes, “who dwell upon the sea”. It was clearly, therefore, a work even of the first political importance to bring about their acceptance of the precepts and truths of Christianity. Some attempts had already been made to convert them.

The great St. Wilibrord had labored amongst them. We find another of our countrymen eagerly inquiring, in the year 789, “if there is any hope of the conversion of the Danes”. But from the opposition of princes, and from one cause and another, especially from the fear entertained by the Danes that their independence would disappear with their religion, no conspicuous success had attended these early endeavors. Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims, was now unfortunately to add to the number of failures. His design of working for the conversion of the Danes was at once approved by the emperor Louis, and by the great ones of the empire. To proceed with due regard to ecclesiastical order, Ebbo went to Rome with intent to procure the sanction of the Holy See. This he duly received. Paschal addressed a letter (c. 822) “to all his most holy brethren and fellow bishops and priests, and to the most glorious princes, dukes, and magnificent counts, and to all Christians”. In his solicitude for the Lord’s flock, it becomes the Pope, he writes, to have a care for those who sit in the shadow of death, and so “to the parts of the North”, by the authority of the holy apostles, he sends Ebbo to enlighten them. In any difficulties that may arise he must ever have recourse to the Holy Roman Church. One Halitgar is named by the Pope as a colleague for Ebbo. All are exhorted to help the undertaking.

In Denmark no opposition was placed in the way of Ebbo. In a short time after he had crossed the Eider, which was fixed by treaty between Charlemagne and the Danish King Hemming as the boundary of Denmark, he had baptized a great many idolaters. But, for some reason, he unfortunately gave up the great work he had taken in hand, and returned to France. Though he did not cease to interest himself in the conversion of the Danes, the glorious title of Apostle of the North was to be given not to him but to St Ansgar, who, however, in his modesty, afterwards attributed to Ebbo and to the emperor Louis all the success of his own unceasing apostolic toil. To Ebbo, on the contrary, was reserved deposition (835)—undeserved perhaps—for taking part against the emperor Louis. But though a real beginning of the Christianizing of Denmark was made by Ansgar, if not by Ebbo,” a hundred and fifty years were to roll by before the faith of Christ was anything like generally adopted by its people, and two hundred before it could be regarded as the religion of the nation”.

Concerning Paschal’s other dealings with men or things outside Rome, but little further can be gleaned from his letters or from our other sources. As that little is of no special interest, we shall only notice one more of these extra-urban relations. It is partially revealed to us by a fragment of a letter of Rhabanus (properly Hrabanus) Maurus to Hatto, abbot of Fulda. From this document, which has been preserved for us in a most confused manner by the centuriators of Magdeburg, it appears that there had been a dispute between Bernulf, bishop of Wurzburg, and the abbot of Fulda, which was in his diocese, as to the extent of the privilege which St. Boniface had secured for that famous abbey from Pope Zachary. The bishop, who lost his case before a local synod, and was condemned for holding what was decided to be an illegal ordination in the monastery, seems to have appealed to Rome, and to have secured some decision in his favor. Whatever was the nature of the verdict, it seems to have proved very distasteful to the monks. Rhabanus, who became their abbot in 822, wrote a very strong letter to the Pope on the subject of the privileges of the monastery. So annoyed was he at its contents, that he threw into prison the monks who brought it, denounced its author to the bishops of France, and threatened to excommunicate him. How this affair terminated is not known. We cannot, however, leave this, the greatest scholar of his age, the primus praeceptor Germaniae, without noting what was his idea of the position held by Pope Paschal. He calls him the first bishop of the world, the successor of Peter, and entreats him to lead men to the pastures of life. He describes himself as the follower of Paschal, and prays “Christ our God to open wide the gates of heaven that Paschal and his flock may enter it together”.

The life of Paschal must not be brought to a close without some notice of the restorations that exclusively absorb the attention of his contemporary biographer. To us the most interesting work of the Pope in this department is that in connection with the Anglo-Saxon quarter of the city of Rome, viz., that part of the Trastevere about the church of S. Spirito in Sassia. The Book of the Popes tells how, through the carelessness of some of the English, a fire destroyed not only the whole of their quarter, “which in their own language they call burgh”, and which the modern borgos that lead to St. Peter’s from the bridge of St. Angelo still mark out, but almost all the splendid colonnade that led up to St. Peter’s. Full of anxiety for the Church of St. Peter, and “for the distress of the English pilgrims”, the Pope rushed barefoot to the scene of the fire. And so much, continues the biographer, was the hand of God with the Pope, that the flames did not spread beyond the place where he first arrived. The fire had broken out in the very early morning, but Paschal remained on the spot till daylight, when at length, by his prayers and the exertions of all the people, the flames were subdued. The distress caused by the fire was relieved by the Pope by large gifts not only of money and clothes, but also of building materials, so that the English were enabled to rebuild their houses. The damaged colonnade was also completely restored by the energetic Pontiff.

Paschal’s love of the Church of St. Peter caused him to expend money upon its adornment. He built within it a large and very beautiful oratory dedicated to SS. Processus and Martinianus, erected an altar in honor of S. Sixtus II near the confession of St. Peter, and presented it with many elaborately embroidered vestments and with valuable plate.

Love of his predecessor “of pious memory, the lord Pope Leo III”, led him to put again into thorough working order the hospital for pilgrims which Leo had built near St. Peter’s, “in the spot called Naumachia”, but which the neglect of its governors had already caused to be overwhelmed with poverty.

A diligent inquiry into the condition of all the neighboring monasteries revealed to Paschal the fact that the nuns of the convent of SS. Sergius and Bacchus, situated on the other side of the aqueduct of Claudius and near his Lateran palace, were so poor that the time they had to devote to procuring for themselves the means of livelihood left them none in which to sing “the praises of God and His saints”. The Pope so endowed them that “they could live well and religiously”.

One most interesting feature of Rome, however, he did not attempt to restore, viz., the catacombs, the cemeteries of the early Christians. After the triumph of Christianity, in the fourth century, the catacombs became places of pilgrimage; for there rested the bodies of those who had given their lives for Christ, the Lord. But the damage they sustained in the following centuries at the hands of Goth and Lombard, the rapidly increasing unhealthiness of the country round Rome, and the consequent translation of the relics of the martyrs into the City, caused them to be gradually abandoned. It was about the middle of the seventh century, under Pope Theodore I, that the practice of translating the bodies of the saints from the catacombs to churches in the City was inaugurated. In the following century it was in active operation. The wholesale denuding of the catacombs by Paschal of the sacred treasures, which had so long attracted the pilgrim, was the death­blow to the custom of pious pilgrimage to them.

It was to the Church of St. Praxedes, which he had quite rebuilt, that Paschal translated most of the relics which he took from the ruined cemeteries; for he did not wish that the bodies of the saints there buried should fall into the same unhonored decay as their sepulchers. The translation was conducted with the greatest pomp. A long list of the sacred remains which were removed on July 20, 817, has come down to us engraved on marble. Altogether some two thousand three hundred bodies were brought to St. Praxedes’s. Most of them were buried beneath the high altar by the Pope’s own hand, but a few were interred in the chapel of St. Zeno, which the Pope had built in memory of his mother Theodora, and in other oratories of the basilica.

Of all the relics, however, which were touched by him, those of St. Cecily are the most famous and interesting. In fact the history of St. Cecily and her relics is not merely interesting, it is of the first importance as proving what a really large amount of credibility may be due even to those acts of the martyrs which are not considered authentic.

At one time the acts of the martyrdom of St. Cecily were regarded as almost entirely fabulous. But, nowadays, the discoveries of De Rossi in the Catacomb of S. Callixtus, following on the records of the biographer of Paschal, and on the investigation of Cardinal Sfondrati in the sixteenth century, have made it plain that if the acts of St. Cecily, as they have come down to us, do not date beyond the fifth century, and have been corrupted, they are nevertheless true, “not only in their chief features, but also in many minute details which only a contemporary witness could have collected, and which no later copyist has altered”. Finding that the Church of St. Cecily, in Trastevere, was falling into ruins through old age, Paschal rebuilt it on a more magnificent scale. And considering that the Church of St. Cecily ought to have her relics, he tried to find them. At first no success attended his efforts, and when he was told that the Lombards had carried off the body of the saint in one of their riflings of the cemeteries, he abandoned the search altogether. Early one Sunday morning, however, when he was saying matins in St. Peter’s, he fell asleep. In his slumber a maiden in angelic raiment seemed to stand at his side and upbraid him for listening to idle tales, and giving up his search for her when he had been so near her that they might have conversed together. In reply to the Pope’s questions, the maid told him that her name was Cecily, and that the Lombards, though desirous of doing so, had failed to find her body, and that he must continue his quest for it. Thus incited, Paschal recommenced his search, and at length found it clad in cloth of gold, and with linen cloths soaked in the martyr’s blood at the foot of the body. With great honor were the relics of the saint brought into the city; and, together with the body of her spouse Valerian and with those of other saints, were placed under the high altar of the new church.

Though not directly bearing on the life of Paschal, the following facts in connection with the relics of the saint are too interesting to be passed over. In the year 1599 Cardinal Sfondrati, when making certain alterations in the Church of St. Cecily, came across a marble sarcophagus. Within it he found a coffin of cypress wood, and, within that again, the body of St. Cecily, clad in its garments of cloth of gold, and in the position in which the acts of her martyrdom describe her as buried, and as it was afterwards represented in the beautiful statue of Maderno. The body was still incorrupt, and was exposed for some weeks for the veneration of the faithful. The excitement caused by this discovery can be well imagined. The sculptor Maderno often went to see the body; and, as the inscription on his marble statue of the saint sets forth, he depicted it as he saw it. The great historian Baronius and the archeologist Bosio, who were eye-witnesses of these events, have left full accounts of them.

Finally, when in the nineteenth century the great archeologist De Rossi discovered the chapel of the popes in the cemetery of St. Callixtus, mindful of the fact that, not only from the biography of Pope Paschal, but also from earlier documents, St. Cecily had been buried near the popes, made a diligent search for her original burial place. To his intense joy he discovered a chamber, then full of earth, leading from the chapel of the popes. When the earth was removed, frescos on the wall proved that the sepulcher of this illustrious virgin martyr had been discovered, and gave a most wonderful confirmation, not only to the biography of Paschal, but even to the acts of her martyrdom.

Among the many changes effected by the Pope in the churches, we read of his raising the pontifical chair in St. Mary Major’s in order that he might be able to pray and carry out the ceremonies of the Church with less distraction. Before he made the change, the women who came to Mass were close behind the Pope’s chair, so that he could not speak to the servers without their knowledge. To understand the significance of this passage of the Liber Pontificalis, it is necessary to bear in mind that in this church, while the Pope’s chair was in the center of the apse as usual, the matroneum, or place for the women, was not in its ordinary position, nor was the apse itself of the customary type. The matroneum was not in the upper galleries above the porticos of the men, but at the back of the apse, in a space formed by its peculiar arrangement. For the apse was supported not by a blank wall, but by pillars; while at some distance behind them, thus leaving a space for the matroneum, there was a blank wall which served as a sort of buttress to the basilica.

On their return from their embassy to the emperor Louis, the Pope’s envoys had found him, as we have already noticed, very ill. It is more than likely that his spirit was broken by the ingratitude and treason of his primicerius. He died soon after their return, apparently on February 11, 824; or, according to Jaffe, in the month of May or in the very beginning of June. The Liber Pontificalis says he was buried in St. Peter’s. But Theganus has it that “the Roman people would not allow his body to be buried in St. Peter’s before Eugenius succeeded him, and that he ordered the body to be buried in the place which he had built in his lifetime”, i.e. in the Church of St. Praxedes, as an ancient inscription there, now no longer in existence, once proclaimed.

When we find it stated that Paschal died “hated by a great part of the Romans”, it is necessary to note how very ambiguous is the passage just quoted, on the strength of which the statement is made. It is quite capable of meaning that they would not have the prompt election of a new Pope interfered with by funeral functions. In any case we must be on our guard against receiving a false impression. Those whom we should nowadays understand by the Romans, or the Roman people, were then of no account; they had no more influence on events than had the people of any other country at the time. If Paschal was hated, it was only by that party among the nobles which was opposed to him, and which became so powerful on his death as to carry the election of their candidate, Eugenius, in despite of opposition.

In the Roman martyrology he is honored among the saints 1 on May 14.




A.D. 824-827.



Leo VI (the Armenian), 813-820.                Louis I, the Pious, 814-840.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.



OWING to the uncertainty which attends the date of Paschal’s death, the exact date of the consecration of Eugenius cannot be determined. It took place seemingly sometime between February and the second half of the month of May (824), certainly before June 6. For the Council of Mantua (827) is described as being held on June 6, in the fourth year of Pope Eugenius. It is also further certain that he was not elected without trouble.

In Rome, as elsewhere in this age, the nobility were striving to make themselves independent. But in Rome the strife of parties was accentuated by the fact that, whereas elsewhere there was a three-sided contest going on to decide respective rights—a contest between king, nobles, and people—in Rome there was, normally, a four-sided struggle constantly in progress. For there the views and aims of the ecclesiastical nobility were an additional factor. These parties were, of course, often increased in number by subdivision, as one section of the same party would suppose that its interests could be best promoted in one way, and another by some other method. For instance, one faction of the nobility would conclude that independence might best be won for the nobles by adhesion to the Pope, another by submission to a foreign and distant ruler.

At any rate, in the present case, the nobles, whether that faction which had been quashed by Pope Paschal or not, carried the day, and elected one, who, from his father’s name (Boemund), might perhaps have been of foreign descent. Evidently at this juncture the nobles argued that their interests would be best secured by limiting the power of the Pope and by giving greater influence to a foreign prince who would be strong enough to serve as a drag on the authority of the Pope over them, but not enough to prove any practical hindrance to their own designs. In the year 824, therefore, that party prevailed which then first appeared by name in history, and which, by completely gaining the upper hand, was to work so much harm to the papacy in the tenth century, viz., the party of the nobles. “Vincente nobilium parte”,—words worth committing to memory as presaging the history of the papacy in the following age,—the popular candidate was defeated and that of the nobles placed on the chair of Peter. Sometimes, indeed, the Roman nobles over­reached themselves; and from time to time the emperors, by severe practical lessons, taught them that they had a master who was harder to reckon with than a Pope, who was generally one of their own citizens, and always more disposed to an easy and more merciful rule.

Here we cannot do better than translate a few remarks of the Jesuit, Father Lapôtre, on the growth of the influence of the nobility on papal elections, remarks eminently calculated to throw light on many episodes in the history of the popes.

“From being external (i.e. from the Byzantine emperors and from the Lombards), the danger to the papacy had become internal. From the time when the Pope came to hold within his hand all the great dignities of the State as well as those of the Church, when he had become, in a sense, the sole distributor of fortune and power, the lay aristocracy felt the need of taking a more active part in the election of the popes, and of organizing round the Holy See a more energetic defence of its interests. Under the somewhat ambitious title of Roman Senate, all those whom riches, or the exercise of civil offices or military commands, had raised above the common level, formed themselves into a kind of privileged caste, by the side of the clerical order, and often in opposition to it. Masters of the army, the high positions of which they held, and consequently all-powerful with the middle class, the only division of the citizens which was enrolled in the Roman army, they scarcely left to the clergy influence over the proletariate. Thus, by degrees, they succeeded in deciding papal elections (e.g. in the case of Eugenius II and Sergius II); whereas formerly the laity, whether high or low, had in that matter no other right than that of recognizing by their homage the candidate selected by the general assembly of the Roman clergy.

“Woe to the Pope who dared to look outside this aristocratic ring for the chief members of his government; woe especially, if born in a lower sphere, he entered the papal palace accompanied by poor relations, anxious to advance themselves. Placed between the very natural desire of securing the prosperity of his own friends and the fear of discontenting the powerful families, it was hard for him to escape one or other of these dangers, viz., either of putting himself into unsafe hands, of confiding in strangers of doubtful fidelity, or of entrusting the direction of affairs to relations attached to him indeed, but ill fitted for the task.

“The political power of the Holy See was scarcely founded when there already began the melancholy role of certain papal families, of that nepotism from which the papacy has sometimes suffered so much”.

The possession of temporal power by the popes unquestionably brought them difficulties, but it would be utterly erroneous to suppose that the want of it would have freed them from all perils. The absence of it would have left them exposed to more substantial dangers.

To return to the election of Eugenius, whom, after what has been said, we may well suppose to have been one who was at least expected to sympathize with the nobility. Still, it must not be imagined that he was not a man of character. This may be the more readily believed when it is known that the abbot Wala worked hard to bring about the election of this same Eugenius, in the hope that certain needed reforms would be effected by him. The abbot himself, if an imperialist, was one of the most distinguished men of his age, not only by his birth and talents, but also by his virtue and zeal for reform—the Jeremiah of his time, as he was called. The new Pope was at least a man of a most conciliatory disposition. From the Liber Pontificalis we learn that before he became Pope he had, while in possession of the Church of St. Sabina on the Aventine, long ably fulfilled the duties of archpriest, that he was as learned as he was eloquent and handsome, and that he was generous to the widow and the orphan, and a despiser of the world. Day and night, his only wish was to do what was pleasing to Christ. When he became Pope he was apparently advanced in years, and was then especially distinguished for his humility and his love of peace.

News of the election of Eugenius was sent to Louis by the subdeacon Quirinus. Then, to quote the exact words of Eginhard, our best authority for this period, as he (Louis) was himself “intent on an expedition against Brittany, he determined to send to Rome his son and partner in the empire, Lothaire, that in his stead he might, along with the new Pope and the Roman people, legislate on what the state of the case seemed to require. (Lothaire) accordingly set out for Italy after the middle of August ... and was honorably received by the Pope. When the young emperor had made known his instructions to him, with the benevolent assent of the aforesaid Pontiff, he so reformed the condition of the Roman people, which by the perversity of some of the judges (or nobility) had for some time been in an unsatisfactory state, that all who, owing to the unjust deprivation of their property were in great distress, were greatly consoled by its recovery which, through the grace of God, was brought about by his coming”. That the gist of all this is that the party of the nobility which had been put down by Paschal now regained its property and position, is still clearer from the words of the Astronomer. He tells us that Lothaire complained that of those who were true to the emperor and the Franks, some had been put to death and the others held up to ridicule, and that through the apathy and negligence of some of the popes, and the blind cupidity of the judges, many had been unjustly deprived of their property.

It would seem that some of these judges, i.e. noble functionaries of the opposition party of the late primicerius (Theodore), had been sent into exile in France, no doubt about the time of his murder. The only political notice in the short biography in the Liber Pontificalis is to the effect that “Roman judges, who had been detained as prisoners in France, returned to Rome during the reign of Eugenius, and that he not only allowed them to take possession of their ancestral property, but also helped them himself, as they were almost entirely without resources”.

But it was no part of Lothaire’s idea to leave the nobles supreme in Rome. If he was anxious to have a share in ruling the states of the Church, and so to interfere with the power of the Pope, he was just as determined that no one but the Pope and the emperor should have a voice in the government of Rome. He supported the power of the nobility to the extent above described, that they might act as a check on that of the Pope; but to keep them within bounds he published, with the Pope’s consent, as Eginhard took care to add, a ‘constitution’ in nine articles. If it hampered the Pope somewhat, he readily accepted it; because it would, had it been properly enforced, have effectually stopped the growing encroachments of the nobles. It was a veritable concordat agreed to between the Church and the State for their joint advantage.

It was to the following effect: “We decree, (1) that all who have been received under the protection of the Pope, or under ours, have the full benefit of this protection. And if anyone shall presume to violate it, let him know that his life is in question. For we make this decree that due obedience be paid in all things to the Pope, or to his dukes and judges appointed to administer justice”. (2) The pillage of church property, which had up to this often been practiced on the death of a Pope and sometimes even during his lifetime, was forbidden. (3) Any interference with papal elections on the part of those who had no right to take part in them was prohibited. (4) Every year, commissioners were to be named by the Pope and the emperor, who were to inform the latter how the dukes (the governors of the cities) and judges performed their duties. Failure in this respect was to be corrected by the Pope, or, if he did not do so, by missi sent by the emperor. (5) The whole Roman people were to be asked under which law (the Roman, the Gothic, or the Lombard) each one elected to live, and then to be told that they must live up to or be judged by the law they had selected. (6) The imperial commissioners were to see to the restoration to the Roman Church of that portion of its property which had been usurped by the powerful. (7) Border pillaging was to be put down. (8) When the emperor was in Rome there had to appear before him the dukes, judges, and other officials, that he might know their number and names, and admonish them as to their duty. (9) Finally, “everyone who desires to obtain the favor of God and of us, must yield in all things obedience to the Roman Pontiff”. To ensure the carrying out of this ‘constitution’, we have the authority of the anonymous continuator of Paul the Deacon for stating that Lothaire and the Pope caused the Romans to take oath as follows : “I promise, in the name of God Almighty, by the four Gospels, by this cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the body of Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, that from this day forward I will be faithful to our lords the emperors, Louis and Lothaire, all the days of my life, to the utmost of my strength and ability, without guile, saving the fidelity which I have promised to the sovereign Pontiff; that I will not consent that the election of a Pontiff for this See be made otherwise than in accordance with the canons and justice, and that the ‘elect’ shall not be consecrated without taking, in the presence of the emperor’s envoys and of the people, an oath like to the one which Pope Eugenius of his own accord took for the preservation of all”.

Admitting the authenticity of this formula, it is clear that the fidelity which the Romans promised to the emperors was subordinate to that which they had to preserve to the Pope as their supreme lord. The oath to be taken by the Pope was the ordinary oath to rule justly which is taken by sovereigns at their coronation; or, as Dollinger thinks, it was to express “his desire to show to the emperor the honor which was due to him as protector of the Church”. When he had thus established for himself a position in the government of Rome, Lothaire took his departure.

Before he left, however, he witnessed the presentation by the Pope of a pallium to Adalramm, archbishop of Salzburg. As the full signification of the giving of the pallium is brought out by the letter of the emperor Louis asking Eugenius to bestow it, that letter is worth quoting. “Our faithful servant, Adalramm, the archbishop of the Church of Salzburg”, writes the emperor, “has earnestly asked us to grant him permission to visit the shrine of the blessed apostles, and to commend him to your Holiness. To his just request we have assented; and we beg you to give him a gracious reception and to bestow upon him the pallium of your sacred authority. For his predecessors have been wont to receive from yours the pallium of apostolic authority. And so, strengthened by your Holiness’s blessing and authority, he may be able to raise his people to a higher spiritual level”.

Probably whilst Lothaire was still in Rome, there arrived envoys as well from the emperor Louis as from the Greeks on the interminable image question. In the beginning of his reign the emperor Michael II, known as the Stammerer and the Armorian, though always an iconoclast, showed himself tolerant. The Studite returned to Constantinople. Under the pretense of bringing about a settlement of the difficulties respecting images, Michael endeavored to bring about a joint synod of the iconoclasts and the orthodox (821). But the latter knew the character of the man with whom they were dealing, and declared that they could not sit in synod on equal terms with heretics already condemned; and that, if there was a point which the emperor did not consider had been properly cleared up by the patriarchs, he should submit it to the decision of old Rome, for such was the most ancient custom. “That Church was the head of all the churches of God. It had had Peter for its first bishop, to whom the Lord had said, 'Thou art Peter”, etc. (S. Matt. xvi. 18).

The Studite, in a letter to the treasurer Leo, pointed out the proper conditions under which any such assembly could be held. “If there is a wish to put an end to the division, the patriarch Nicephorus must be re-established in the See of Constantinople. He must then assemble those who have along with him fought for the truth; and there must come together, if possible, deputies from the other patriarchs, or at least from the patriarch of the West (i.e. of course the bishop of Rome), who gives authority to an ecumenical council; and if that is impossible, everything could be settled by synodical letters which our patriarch could send to the first See (Rome). If the emperor does not agree to this, it is necessary to send to Rome, and thence receive the certain decision of the faith”.

Failing in his attempt to win over the Catholics, Michael showed himself directly hostile to them; and when his overthrow of the pretender Thomas (823) left him freer to turn his attention to matters of dogma, he pursued them with severity. Many fled to Rome. To prevent them from finding a home there, he endeavored to induce the emperor Louis to act along with him. He accordingly dispatched an embassy to Louis with a long letter, addressed, to flatter him, “to our dear brother”: “Michael and Theophilus, emperors of the Romans, to our dear and honored brother Louis, king of the Franks and Lombards, and called their emperor”. After giving a false account of his accession to the throne, and stating his desire for peace with Louis, Michael asserts his wish to promote religious unity among his subjects, some of whom have gone astray from the traditions of the apostles. He says that they have replaced the Holy Cross by images, and that they burn incense before them, and practice all manner of superstitious rites in connection with them. Later on in his letter, utterly blind to his inconsistency in venerating the cross and relics, and not holy images, he declares that he venerates relics—and this whilst professing his orthodoxy to the Frank. He wants Louis to drive out of Rome those of his (Michael’s) image-worshipping subjects who have fled thither. Finally, seeking the honor of the Church of Christ, he assures Louis that, by the hands of the same ambassadors whom he has sent to him, he has forwarded a letter to the Pope, and as an offering to the Church of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, a copy of the Gospels and a chalice and paten of pure gold, enriched with precious stones. In conclusion, the emperor is asked to give the Greek ambassadors an honorable safe-conduct to Rome.

These envoys came before Louis at Rouen at the close of the year, said they had been sent for the sake of confirming the peace between the two empires, and put forth “certain points concerning the veneration of images, in connection with which they declared that they had to go to Rome to consult the bishop of the apostolic See”. Thither, in accordance with their wishes, Louis caused the Greeks to be escorted. But, before acceding to their desires in the affair of the images, he wished to have the consent of the Pope. Hence with the Greeks he dispatched two of his own bishops to ask Eugenius to allow the Frank bishops to search out, in the writings of the Fathers, passages to meet the case which the Greek envoys had come to have settled. The leave was granted, and Louis ordered an assembly of divines to meet at Paris, 825.

Influenced by the Greeks, but still more by recollections of the Council of Frankfort (794) and the Caroline Books, the committee of bishops, for it was not a synod, came together in Paris (November 1, 825). They not only made a collection of extracts from the ‘Fathers’, which they believed tended to show that images should be neither destroyed on the one hand, nor honored on the other, but they also drew up drafts of two letters which were to be sent, one in the name of the emperor Louis to the Pope, and the other in the Pope’s name to the Greek emperor. The Paris assembly showed itself as ignorant of the real teaching of the seventh General Council as had the Council of Frankfort. ‘Your advocates’, as the committee style themselves in their introductory address to the emperors Louis and Lothaire, proceeded to approve the letter of Pope Hadrian to Constantine and Irene on the image question, in so far as it condemned the breaking of images, and to reject it in so far as it countenanced their “superstitious adoration”. They next treated the seventh General Council in the same way, condemning it for teaching that images were not only to be reverenced and adored, but called holy and acknowledged as a source of sanctification. And with that supreme self-confidence, of which ignorance is the sole progenitor, they assured Louis that Hadrian, in his reply to certain strictures on the seventh General Council sent him by Charlemagne “to be corrected by his judgment and authority”, had said, “what he chose, and not what he ought”. This remark, they were good enough to say, they made without the slightest intention of asserting anything derogatory to the Pope’s authority. For, by professing his intention of standing by the doctrine of Pope Gregory the Great, Hadrian had made it clear that he erred only through ignorance. From the report of the envoys of Louis, who had conducted the Greek ambassadors to Rome, they had learnt how deeply rooted the ‘image superstition’ had there become. They acknowledge the difficulty of correcting that church (viz., the Church of Rome) whose right it is to keep others in the true path, from which up to this it has never itself wandered. But they think that the emperor’s plan of getting leave from that authority itself to make a selection of suitable passages from scripture and the Fathers, would, when completed, compel it, nolens volens, to yield to the truth—viz., as taught by the most blessed Pope Gregory. The collection of texts which they have made, they present to the emperor to select such as he should consider pertinent. They add, with perfect truth, that the collection might have been better; but point out that they have only had a short time to prepare it, and that one of their number was prevented by ill-health from joining them.

The collection which they give is divided into two parts, one, much the smaller, is directed against the image-breakers; the longer part is directed against what were supposed by the committee to be the tenets of the image-worshippers. Such an assemblage of texts as is contained in the second part of the collection could indeed only have been drawn up by men who were in a blind hurry, or who had either wholly forgotten, or had never understood, what they were trying to prove. Many of the texts are not in the least ad rem, and some even clearly prove the opposite of that for which the committee were contending, e.g. the passages from St. Basil (p. 1326). To throw light on the seventh General Council, they lay down what that council had already done, i.e. that the worship of ‘atria’ (absolute worship) was to be given to God alone. And with curious inconsistency they grant an honor to the “cross of Christ” which they deny to His image.

In that portion of the scheme of the letter to be sent by Louis to the Pope which has come down to us—for many portions of the committee’s report are wanting—the position of the Pope as Head of the Church is set forth, and he is reminded of the permission he had given in the matter of the collection.

In the longer letter which the committee proposed that the Pope should send to the Greek emperors, he was to establish what it proclaimed to be, the true doctrine, viz., that images were neither to be adored nor honored, but at each one’s pleasure to be kept as souvenirs or means of instruction.

As a matter of fact, however, Louis did not fully carry out the recommendations of the Paris assembly. He instructed Jeremiah, archbishop of Sens, and Jonas, bishop of Orleans, who were to convey to the Pope the results of the deliberations at Paris, to make suitable extracts from the Parisian document, and with modesty to try to win the Pope over to their views. Further, in a letter of his own composing he assured Eugenius that he had no intention, in sending him what his bishops had put together, of teaching him, but only of helping him, as in duty bound.

Here, as far as the records of history go, the affair ends. Probably convinced that, in the matter of image-worship, things were really on the right lines in France, Eugenius, in imitation of the conduct of Pope Hadrian on a similar occasion, did not pursue the question. Equally probably, too, the more accurate translation of the Acts of the seventh General Council, published by the librarian Anastasius under John VIII (872-882), prevented an­thing more being heard of the subject in that country.

With the ambassadors of Michael to Louis, in 824, there came Fortunatus, the patriarch of Grado, part of whose chequered career has been already noticed. The events of this the last year of his life are interesting as showing the good understanding between Louis and the Pope. Elected patriarch in 803 as successor to the murdered John who was his relation, Fortunatus had to flee from the vengeance of the Doge of Venice, also called John, against whom he was accused of plotting to avenge his relative. He fled to Charlemagne, through whose influence he returned to Italy (806), and to his church a year later. As he had been restored through the interest of the Franks, he thought it better to take refuge amongst them when a powerful Greek fleet under Nicetas came into the Venetian waters. When that danger was passed, he again returned, only to have to flee again. This time he was accused of treachery to the Franks and with favoring the Duke of Lower Pannonia, Liudevitus, who had rebelled against the emperor. Unable, or unwilling, to stand his trial, he fled to the court of the Eastern emperor. Thence he came to Louis with the ambassadors of Michael in 824. He had no doubt obtained some kind of a promise of the good offices of the Greeks. However, we are expressly told by Einhard that the ambassadors “did not say a word for Fortunatus”. After Louis had examined him as to his conduct and flight to Constantinople, he refrained from passing sentence on him one way or another, but sent him to Rome to be tried by the Pope. This would seem to imply that though Fortunatus was guilty, Louis respected his episcopal character, and consequently would not condemn him himself. How the intriguing patriarch would have fared at the hands of Eugenius is known to God alone. For it pleased Him to call Fortunatus to His own judgment seat before he had quitted France.

Next year (826) we read of a serious illness of the Pope, and of embassies passing to and fro between him and Louis. It may be that the backward state of education in Italy was one of the subjects dealt with by these envoys. However that may be, the secular and ecclesiastical authorities in Italy, about this time, made serious efforts to improve the standard of education throughout the country. The barbarous ignorance of the Lombards had swamped learning in their own dominions, and their constant wars had prevented its pursuit in the adjoining countries. Hence, about this year, the emperor Lothaire, from Cortelona, some twelve miles from Pavia, issued a decree, in which the masters he has constituted in the different cities, which he enumerates, are urged to do their best for learning, which, “in every direction, is wholly extinct”. The emperor also provided suitable places where instruction could be imparted. With the action of the emperor we have no further concern here than to point out that in the list of cities there are, of course, none mentioned that belonged to the jurisdiction of the Pope, or, indeed, to that of the Duke of Beneventum.

But, towards the close of this year, Eugenius presided over a council of some sixty bishops, his immediate suffragans, in Rome, November 15, 826. Whether or not he was too ill to compose and read an opening address, the introductory harangue of this council was the same as the one given at the Roman Council of 721, and was read by a deacon in the Pope’s name. Among the thirty-eight canons there passed, which dealt for the most part with the reformation of ecclesiastical discipline, the fourth ordains that ignorant bishops or priests be suspended till they have acquired sufficient knowledge to be able to perform their sacred functions; and the thirty-fourth canon states that in some places there are neither masters nor zeal for learning, and that consequently, where there is need, masters are to be attached to the episcopal palaces, cathedral churches, and other places, to give instruction in sacred and polite literature. From the Pope’s decree it would certainly seem that if, as in the kingdom of Lombardy, learning was not in great demand, it was nothing like so backward in the papal dominions as in the kingdom of Italy. If what is stated by Cardinal Deusdedit be the fact, viz., that this council occupied itself with papal elections “a sacerdotibus seu primatibus, nobilibus seu cuncto concilio Roman Ecclesiae”, then we may be sure that it was summoned to deliberate, among other matters, on the Constitution of 824. How it viewed it we have unfortunately no means of ascertaining.

Throughout the period of the Carolingian Empire, Christianity continued to be propagated among the Slays and Scandinavians, eastwards and northwards, where these peoples came in contact with it. Among the various Slavic tribes the faith of Christ was introduced along with the conquering armies of Charlemagne and his successors, and at this time had made some little progress among the Moravians. This Slavic people took their name from the Morava (March), a tributary of the Danube, the valley of which they had occupied since the year 534. During the reign of Eugenius, and for some time after, they were subject to the empire, and had not acquired that extent of territory which was afterwards theirs. In ancient times, before Christianity in those regions had been swept away by the ravages of the Huns or Avars, Noricum and the adjoining parts were ecclesiastically subject to the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Laureacum, or Lorch, on the Danube, according to the arrangement of Pope Symmachus. Word of the spread of Christianity in Moravia was brought to Rome (about 825) by Urolf, bishop of Passau; and it is sometimes said that Eugenius, by a bull which is still extant, and which is addressed to the four bishops who were to be his suffragans, to two dukes, and to the nobles, army, and people of “Hunnia and Moravia”, restored the archiepiscopal See of Lorch; named Urolf, its first arch­bishop and his vicar; and gave him the pallium. Nobles and commoners were alike exhorted by the Pope to obey their new archbishop, “not as a man, but as in the place of God”. But even supposing that the document is genuine, either because the state of Christianity among the Moravians was not sufficiently satisfactory to allow of the decree of Eugenius coming into operation, or because no successor of Urolf’s zeal was immediately forthcoming, it is certain that after his death (c. 837), we hear no more of the archdiocese of Lorch. It was reserved for SS. Cyril and Methodius really to convert the Moravian nation, and for another Pope, a century later (Leo VII, c. 937), to re-erect the metropolitan See of Lorch. At any rate, although the bull of Eugenius is apocryphal, there is no reason to doubt that the conversion of the Slavs, which was the work of the ninth century, was making headway whilst he occupied the See of Peter.

The noble mission of imparting the truths of Christianity to the Scandinavians, a people allied in blood, language, and religion to the Germans, and who at this period held Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, we have seen taken up personally by Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims, and then abandoned by him. The work thus laid down by him was resumed by Ansgar, a monk first of old Corbie, in Picardy, and then of the new Corbie, in Saxony, near Hoexter on the Weser. He was soon deservedly known as the Apostle of the North. The baptism of Heriold, or Harald, king of Denmark, or rather of part of it, at Ingelheim, near Mayence, in 826, once more directed attention to the advancement of Christianity in that country. Harald, who had been driven from his kingdom in this year, resolved, when restored to his power by the aid of Louis, to whom he did homage, to establish Christianity throughout the land. It was with him that Ansgar, who had been recommended to the emperor by Wala, went into Denmark, and it was “Ansgar and his companions” whom Pope Eugenius “commended to all the sons of the Catholic Church”. This must have been at the close of 826 or the beginning of 827, as it was in the latter year that Ansgar started for Denmark.

Some interesting details of the work of Harald and Ansgar are to be found in Saxo Grammaticus, who, though he lived long after these events (c. 1150, d. after 1208), is always deserving of attention. “Trusting in these (viz., his Saxon auxiliaries), Harald built a temple in the land of Sleswik with much care and cost, to be hallowed to God. Thus he borrowed a pattern of the most holy way from the worship of Rome. He unhallowed the error of misbelievers, pulled down the shrines, outlawed the sacrificers, abolished the (heathen) priesthood, and was the first to introduce the religion of Christianity to his uncouth country ... But he began with more piety than success. For Ragnar (Lodbrog, or Shaggy-Breech) came up and outraged the holy rites he had brought in ... As for Harald, he deserted and cast in his lot with sacrilege”. Though drawn from one of the mythical books of Saxo’s work, the account is no doubt substantially accurate. And if the apostasy of Harald is called in question, it seems established that another expulsion of Harald (828) put a stop to the good work that Ansgar had commenced in Schleswig. He had to earn his title of Apostle of the North from work that he was destined to accomplish in the northern Scandinavian peninsula.

In a very old document belonging to the Church of Rheims, and thought by Mabillon, who discovered it, to date from the ninth century, there was found a rite for conducting the ordeal by cold water, as prescribed by Eugenius. So strongly were many ancient peoples, and especially the Germans, attached to “trial by ordeal”, or to submitting the decision of legal cases to what they were pleased to call the judgments of God, that, to begin with, neither Pope, emperor, nor king could suppress this objectionable practice. Liutprand, the Lombard law­making king, whilst pointing out the futility of trial by battle, had to acknowledge that the custom of his nation prevented him from doing away with the impious habit. And so even Louis the Pious, who, in his capitularies, first approves and then condemns the ordeal by cold water, continued to allow difficulties which could not be settled by the testimony of witnesses to be settled by shields and clubs.

But the Church endeavored to minimize the evils which resulted from trial by ordeal. She strove to abolish such as were very dangerous to life; to substitute “compurgation”; and, by taking the conduct of the ordeals into her hands, to see at least that they were accompanied with solemnity and fairness. Trial by battle, indeed, the Church never tolerated. And in this ninth century we find it denounced by bishop, council, and Pope alike. Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, in a letter (c. 817) to the emperor Louis urges that, “as combats of this kind are quite contrary to Christian simplicity and piety, and utterly opposed to the teaching of the Gospel, no Christian ought to seek to avoid the difficulties, or seek to obtain the joys of this world by trial by battle”. The Council of Valence (can. 12, an. 855) not only decrees that those who die in such judicial combats be deprived of prayers and Christian burial, but calls upon the emperor to confirm its decree, and himself by public law to abolish this great evil. And among the decrees attributed to Nicholas I is one which declares that single combat is illegal; and that those who pin their faith to such judgments of God “are simply tempting Him”. However, as the Church could not do away with them all at once, it was found necessary for a time, as we have seen, to tolerate some kinds of them.

A very early form of ordeal was that by cold water. The person whose innocence was to be tested was fast bound, and then immersed in water. If he did not sink he was guilty. It is in connection with this particular ordeal that we have a regulation of Eugenius II prescribing the form to be observed when it was put in practice—the Mass to be sung; the solemn adjuration to be addressed to the accused at the Communion; the giving to him of the body of Our Lord, with the words, “May the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ be to you as a trial this day” ; and the oath to be taken by the accused.

The MS. concluded by stating that the form just given by it was ordered by Eugenius. That this form was really his work is denied by some authors, as the authority of this anonymous MS. is not thought by them sufficiently weighty.

A year after the death of Eugenius, the emperor Louis made (829) a vain attempt to abolish trial by cold water. It was finally condemned by Innocent III at the fourth Lateran Council (1215).

We cannot bring to a close the life of Eugenius without saying a word or two in connection with his relations with the abbot Hilduin, one of the most important Franks of his day. It is the more interesting to say something about him, because we have quoted his Areopagitica, or life of St. Denis, or really the apocryphal letter of the emperor Louis to him prefixed to that work, as an authority for the vision of Pope Stephen (II) III in the Church of St. Denis (754). The abbot, besides being archchaplain of the emperor Louis, and abbot of St. Denis in Paris, had been also named abbot of St. Germain-des-Pres in the same city, and abbot of St. Medard in Soissons. He accompanied the young Lothaire to Rome in 824, and seems to have won the affection and esteem of the Pope. For, at his request, Eugenius not merely confirmed in its possessions the Church of St. Peter’s at Rouen, but even gave him the body of the great martyr, St. Sebastian, which Hilduin placed in his abbey of St. Medard. And we are assured by Einhard, that whilst the relics of the saint were there exposed, so many and such extraordinary miracles were worked as would exceed our power of belief, did we not know that Our Lord, for whom the saint died, can do all things, as all things are subject to Him.

Eugenius died in the month of August (827), as we are informed by Einhard. It is supposed that, in accordance with the custom of this period, his body was buried in St. Peter’s, for no mention of his burial-place occurs in the Liber Pontificalis, nor is any tomb in the old basilica marked as his in the elaborate plan of it published by Alfarano in 1589.




A.D. 827.



EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                           EMPEROR OF THE WEST.

Leo VI (the Armenian), 813-820.                     Louis I the Pious, 814-840.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.



As the period of the vacancy of the Holy See on the death of Eugenius is nowhere stated by our authorities, it can only be laid down as probable that Valentine was elected soon after the death of his predecessor.

He was of that city which, his biographer proudly notes, “holds the dignity of the chief priesthood and of the royal power”, and came of noble and pious parents. His father’s name is given as Leontius, and the place of his birth as the region of the Via Lata, at this time the aristocratic quarter of Rome. From his earliest years he gave every sign of a good heart, and of an extraordinary ability. The vain and wicked pleasures of the young nobles were shunned by him. But, under skilled masters, he devoted himself to the acquisition of sacred and profane learning. The beautifying effect of this training on his mind showed itself in his words and works.

Pope Paschal, moved by the fame of the youth’s excellent character, brought him from the school attached to the Lateran palace, ordained him subdeacon, and kept him near him. On account of his conspicuous qualities of mind, heart, and person, he entertained a more than ordinary regard for him, and finally made him archdeacon of the Roman Church. Valentine found the same favor in the eyes of Eugenius, who treated him as his own son.

On the death of the last-named Pontiff, there gathered together in the Lateran “the venerables bishops, the glorious nobles, and all the people of the city”. With one accord they cried out, “Valentine, the most holy archdeacon, is worthy of the Apostolic See; Valentine must be made Pope!” All then hurried off to the Church of St. Mary Major, where they found the object of their search in prayer. No notice was taken of his long and earnest declarations that he was utterly unworthy of so great a dignity. He was declared duly elected.

Then, in reversion of the usual order, as had also happened in the case of Benedict III, he was enthroned before he was consecrated. For we are told that, with every manifestation of joy and honor, Valentine was escorted to the Lateran palace and seated on the pontifical throne. His feet were duly kissed “by the whole Roman senate”, and early on the first suitable day he was consecrated in St. Peter’s. As no mention is made of the presence of the imperial missi, it may be presumed that they were not there. After the consecration was over, the Pope gave a splendid banquet and presents to the whole electoral body.

The election of Valentine was another triumph for the nobility. Not only did they secure the nomination of one pontifical of their own body, but it is again recorded that they themselves took part in the election. By the decree of the Roman Council of 769, under Stephen (III) IV, it had been definitely laid down that the choice of the Pope was to be in the hands of the clergy alone, that anyone who opposed their rights in this matter was to be anathematized, and that only after he had been chosen and enthroned were the nobility and the rest of the laity to come to salute him “as the lord of all”. But now we see “the party of the nobles gaining the upper hand” and once more claiming a voice in the election of the popes. Even if they did not secure their point in the time of Eugenius II, they certainly did in the days of Nicholas I. The share they secured in the ninth century became the preponderating one in the tenth. And the way in which they then exercised their sway was the best justification for their being finally deprived, in the eleventh century, of all the position they had secured.

Unfortunately the prosperous reign that might have been looked for after such a promising beginning was destined never to be realized. By a precious death, Valentine went to meet his Lord after a reign of from thirty to forty days.




A.D. 827-844.



EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                              EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.               Louis the Pious, 814-840.

Theophilus, 829-842. Lothaire I, 823-855.

Theodora and Michael III, 842-856.



EVIL were the days in which fell the pontificate of Gregory IV, not so much for any particular ill that overtook the Pope himself as for the troubles which overtook the empire, and for the further development of the causes which, before the end of this ninth century, were to bring so much misery on Europe and degradation on the papacy. A monastic (Xanten) chronicler, who wrote brief jottings of the events of this period, interrupts them with the sorrowful remark : “At this time the kingdom of the Franks was terribly troubled within itself, and the wretchedness of men was daily greatly increased”. “All fear of kings or laws has faded from the hearts of many” is the assertion of Agobard of Lyons. The quarrels between Louis and his sons not merely destroyed the peace of the empire, which loss of peace was naturally accompanied by the spread of lawlessness and ignorance both among the clergy and laity, but gave the more powerful among them opportunities for still further lessening their dependence on any authority, and left the Saracens and Northmen freer to extend their ravages. It was whilst Gregory IV was Pope that Sicily was lost to the Eastern Empire and fell into the hands of the Saracens. The emperors of Constantinople were persecuting the image-worshippers and losing territory; the emperors of the West were interfering with the freedom of the Pope in his own city, and at the same time losing all authority at home.

Before Gregory died, a mortal blow had been struck at the authority of the emperor. On the field of Fontenay the domination of the Franks, through the slaughter on that terrible day of the flower of their race, had come to an end, and, by the treaty of Verdun (843), their empire had been finally broken up.

The successor of Pope Valentine was Gregory, a Roman, and the son of John. At the time of his election he was cardinal priest of the basilica of St. Mark, (336-137), a church which after he became Pope he completely rebuilt (833) and adorned with mosaics, much more splendid with their gold than artistic in their expression, for they were executed in the stiffest Byzantine style. Despite the renovations of Paul II (1468), the mosaics of Gregory still show him with a model of the church in his hand on the right of Our Lord. He is being presented to Him by St. Mark, the evangelist.

According to his biographer, Gregory was at once energetic and benign, adorned with piety and learning, modest but cheerful, and powerful in discourse, one who worked for the poor but sought himself in nothing. Illustrious by his birth, he was more so by his sanctity; handsome too in figure, but more beautiful from his faith. For these virtues he was distinguished from his early years, and he was raised to the priesthood by Pope Paschal.

The papal biographer proceeds to tell us of the distress of the Romans at the loss of popes Paschal, Eugenius, and Valentine in so short a time, and of their anxiety to find one “under whose rule”, he adds significantly, “the whole nobility of the senate might be able to live prosperously”. “Enlightened by God”, all the nobility turned their thoughts to Gregory; and, under their influence, all the electors, with one voice, chose the cardinal priest of St. Mark’s, whom they found in the basilica of SS. Cosmas and Damian. Unheeding his repeated declarations that he was unfit for so exalted an office, they carried him off in triumph to the Lateran palace, where he was declared duly elected (827). From this period till his death, his biographer practically gives us no further information about him except in connection with his building operations, or with his countless gifts to different churches, on the ground that he could not readily sum up all that the Pope had done.

But the Roman nobles were not destined to get their own way quite as easily as they had hoped. Though we do i not know for certain either the exact day on which Gregory was elected, or that on which he was consecrated, we do know that he was not consecrated, till his election had been approved by the emperor Louis. It was not that the Romans sent word to him of the election of Gregory, and craved his approval of it, as they used to do under the Byzantine sovereigns. The initiative in the matter was taken by the imperial envoys, who were bent on asserting their master’s authority. They appealed to the constitution of 824, and forbade the consecration of the Pope-elect until Louis had satisfied himself of the validity of the election. And there is reason to believe that some six months elapsed before the arrival of the imperial assent allowed the consecration to take place.

In Einhard, whose annals close with the year 829, we read of embassies from Rome to Louis in both the years 828 and 829. But of their purpose nothing is known for certain, nor do we know of any other important relations between the Pope and Louis till the fatal quarrels between him and his sons had begun in earnest.

The embassy of the year 829 may, however, have been in connection with a dispute between the monastery of Farfa and the Roman See as to their respective rights in connection with certain properties. It would appear that the decision of Pope Paschal in 823 had not been put into effect, or, at least, that there was a difference of opinion as to what the popes had taken and what they had not. A document preserved in the Chronicle of Farfa, and dated January, the sixteenth year of the emperor Louis, the seventh Indiction, i.e. 829, tells us that bishop Joseph and count Leo, missi of the emperor, for the purpose of hearing causes, opened their court in the Lateran palace in the presence of Pope Gregory. Before them came Ingoald, abbot of the monastery of Farfa, in the duchy of Spoleto. Trusting to his charters of exemption obtained from the emperors, he asserted that popes Hadrian and Leo had by force possessed themselves of certain properties that belonged to the monastery, and that under the succeeding popes the monks had in vain tried to get justice. In support of his claims, Ingoald produced various deeds. These were allowed by the imperial missi, who decided that the lands in question should be restored to the monastery. The Pope, however, refused to accept the decision. Whether he regarded this whole trial as a violation of his sovereign rights, we know not. We are in equal ignorance of the result of his carrying the matter before the emperor. But from a fact, with the issue of which we are unacquainted, it is scarcely scientific with Muratori to draw conclusions against the supreme power of the Pope in the city of Rome.

In the history of Louis the Pious we have a striking example of the truth, that weakness, even when more or less innocent in character, is often as injurious in its effects as malicious wickedness. Louis was naturally a weak man. All he desired was to be allowed plenty of time for hunting and for the performance of exercises of piety.” Quietissimus” is the description of him given by the anonymous monk of St. Gall. After the death of his first wife, Ermengarde (818), the weakness of his character became more apparent; and when, in 819, he was induced to marry Judith, the young, beautiful, insinuating, and fascinating daughter of the Bavarian count Welf, he fell completely under her influence. This count Welf (whose name appears in Italian as Guelf) is worth a second thought, as he was the founder of the Guelf family, which was hereafter to give its name to one of the great parties into which Italy was to be for so long miserably divided—the Guelfs and Ghibellins.

The new empress at once became supreme in the State, and, of course, lost no time in scheming to promote the interests of the son (known in history as Charles the Bald), to whom she gave birth in the year 823. Under the influence of her winning ways the young emperor Lothaire agreed to become his half-brother’s guardian, and to allow a kingdom to be carved out of his domains for him. Accordingly, with the most reckless disregard of consequences, the arrangement of 817 was broken, and an imperial edict proclaimed him king of Alamannia. He was crowned on June 6, 829. To strengthen his hands, Louis summoned to court, Bernard, the dashing duke of Septimania (or the Spanish March), entrusted his favorite child to his care, and made him “the second man in the empire”.

The infatuated monarch had now done everything to ruin his empire and his home. Judith preferred the society and love of the young and brilliant duke to her duty towards her devoted husband, who was neither young nor bright. Her illicit amours seem to have been known to everybody but to Louis, and justly scandalized the good, especially, of course, the clergy, the natural guardians of morality. Such as were possessed of any degree of state­craft, and these again were for the most part at this period in the ranks of the clergy, foresaw that the breaking of the constitution of 817 would prove fatal to the unity of the empire. From the Pope downwards did the clergy denounce its alteration as the cause of the troubles which came upon the empire. Of the nobles some were only too ready to foment any cause of disturbance in order that they might fish for themselves in troubled waters; others were disgusted at the imperiousness of Judith, and the ambition of Bernard. Lothaire was easily induced to repent of the concessions he had made. And as Louis and Pippin had been indignant at the elevation of Lothaire, they were now even more indignant at the intrusion of their half-brother. Under the plea of restoring the empire, Pippin of Aquitaine applied the spark to this inflammable material, and, in the spring of 830, raised the standard of rebellion. The emperor was seized, Judith was forced into a monastery, and Bernard saved his life by flight. Those of the empress’s relatives, of whose undue advancement the sons of Louis also complained, who were unable to escape the vigilance of their enemies, were maltreated in various ways. At a diet held with the concurrence of Lothaire, at Compiegne, the emperor Louis had to declare that it was his will that the constitution of 817 should hold good. He was then himself placed by Lothaire under the surveillance of monks.

But many of the party in opposition were quite satisfied with the removal of Bernard and Judith, and with the undertaking that the arrangement of 817 should be left undisturbed. Towards Louis himself they had no ill-will; and they saw that under the weak but dictatorial Lothaire the affairs of the empire were daily going from bad to worse. From personal affection also, the Germans were attached to Louis. First their own ruler Louis, king of Bavaria, known as Louis the German, and then Pippin, fell away from their eldest brother. A reaction set in. In a diet at Nimeguen (October 830), Louis found himself restored to his position by the resolution of that assembly, and to his wife by the sentence of the Pope, who of necessity decided that Judith was not bound to remain in the convent, as she had been forced to take the veil.

Comparatively little punishment was inflicted on the rebels. Many of their leaders were, however, deprived of their property and exiled, and at a diet in the early part of the following year (February 831) Lothaire was deprived of his title of emperor. He was allowed, indeed, to retain the title of king of Italy, but was not to do anything of any importance without consulting his father.

Next year there were fresh disturbances, inasmuch as the younger sons did not receive for their desertion of Lothaire all they had expected. As a consequence, the emperor, in September (832), removed Pippin from his kingdom, and most unadvisedly gave it to his young favorite son Charles. It was plain that everything was to be sacrificed for Judith and her son. And it was to no purpose that Agobard, foreseeing what was coming, addressed his Flebilis epistola to Louis, entreating him to abide loyally by the constitution of 817. Practice had now made rebellion and the flouting of imperial authority quite easy and natural. Lothaire and Louis espoused the cause of Pippin, and once again the whole empire was ringing with the clamor of internal strife. And, just as in the rebellion of 830, perhaps most of the really virtuous and enlightened ecclesiastics and statesmen espoused the cause of the rebellious sons. Men of energy and character were disgusted at the uxorious weakness of the emperor Louis. They attributed, not indeed without reason, all the internal troubles which were breaking up the empire to the weak folly of Louis in destroying the arrangement of the kingdoms of the empire sanctioned by Rome and by general agreement in 817. They deplored the influence of Judith over him, and the careless way in which he managed the affairs of the empire in Church as well as in State, tolerating grave abuses in both. Such we know was the eminently plausible position taken up by Agobard, archbishop of Lyons, and by Wala.

Towards Easter 833, the emperor drew together his forces at Worms. His sons assembled theirs at Colmar. In the camp of Lothaire was Pope Gregory IV, who was to learn by his own experience how difficult it is to mediate, in a family quarrel especially, without incurring the suspicion of both parties. That Gregory acted throughout this miserable affair with the purest motives is abundantly evident, even from the writings of the friends of the emperor Louis. He was really anxious to bring about a lasting peace. And if he was desirous of working to preserve the unity of the empire, for what nobler cause, for what interest then more vital for the safety of Europe, could he strive? For the same end were struggling the most lofty-minded statesmen in Frankland, such as the abbot Wala and archbishop Agobard. Who, moreover, had more right to interfere in behalf of the unity of the empire than Gregory, seeing that it was from the hands of a Pope that the two emperors had received their crowns, and that it was the signature of a Pope which had confirmed the deed of 817? And so we find the biographer of Wala asserting that Gregory did come to work not only for peace, but also for unity, “that the empire might be saved”. Gregory’s motive in starting from Rome is given by the Astronomer. He was naturally, from his position, easily persuaded by Lothaire that he ought to make every effort to reconcile father and son. He was next assured that he alone could bring about this most desirable result. At last, after urgent entreaties, and perhaps partly deceived, he was induced to accompany Lothaire, and left Italy by the Pennine Alps. He sent word to Agobard that he wished fasts and prayers to be offered up that God might give success to his efforts to restore peace to the emperor’s household and kingdom. And when summoning the abbot Wala to him, he sent letters to that energetic partisan of the inviolability of the empire, on the subject of peace and the reconciliation of Louis and his sons.

The true partisans of unity conceived the highest hopes from the coming of the Pope, “the Prince of the Apostolic See, the light of golden Rome, the honor, teacher, and tender lover of the people”. But if the Pope was really in earnest in his efforts for peace, the whole conduct of Lothaire proves that he was not so. He was only working for his own ends. His first object was to gain time, which was all-important to a rebel host that had to come together from so many different quarters. A war of words was meanwhile carried on vigorously. The presence of Gregory in the camp of Lothaire not unnaturally gave the impression that he was committed to support the cause of the emperor’s sons. Whereas from Lothaire’s recorded action with regard to the Pope, there cannot be much doubt that he was kept in his camp by a judicious combination of persuasion, fraud, and quiet pressure.

The bishops of the emperor’s party, when summoned to come and meet the Pope, suspicious of his impartiality, refused to obey. They even talked of excommunicating him if he should have in mind to excommunicate them, language which even the Astronomer, who reports it, and is a friend of the emperor, does not fail to stigmatize as a piece of audacious presumption quite opposed to the language of the ancient canons. But in the excited and suspicious state in which the minds of men then were, we find that the bishops, inspired, no doubt, by the daring empress, went further. As Gregory’s reply to them shows, they threatened to depose him. Of all this we have knowledge from a letter of the Pope which, in a more or less complete form, is cited by Agobard in his short tract on “The Comparison between Ecclesiastical and Civil Government”, but which is printed separately in the collection of Agobard’s letters in the Monumenta Germania..

In the early part of this pamphlet Agobard does not fail to point out to the bishops of the emperor’s party that there might be some ground for their hostility towards the Pope, if he had come in a hostile spirit; but that as he had come on an errand of peace, he must be obeyed.

Gregory was naturally annoyed by the blind opposition which the ecclesiastics who remained faithful to the emperor had evinced towards him; and he began to think that perhaps he had better retire without making any further efforts at a reconciliation, as feeling was evidently running too high to give much room for reason. But the abbot Wala and his friend and biographer the monk Paschasius Radbert comforted the Pope by reminding him, by means of quotations from the Fathers and his predecessors which they handed him in writing, that his was the power and authority, derived from God and St. Peter, to go to all the nations to proclaim the true faith, or to make peace. “In you”, they said, “is all the authority of Blessed Peter, that great and living power, by which all must be judged, while you yourself cannot be judged by anyone”.

Encouraged by this reminder of the charge that had been laid upon him, Gregory proceeded to address a sharp rejoinder to the letter he had received from the bishops of Louis. To cite the excellent summary of Jaffe: “He chastised their insolence, repelled their charges, and derided their threats”. You professed, urged the Pope, to have felt delighted when you heard of my arrival, thinking that it would have been of great advantage for the emperor and the people; you added that you would have obeyed my summons had not a previous intimation of the emperor prevented you. But, continued Gregory, you ought to have regarded an order from the Apostolic See as not less weighty than one from the emperor. Besides, it is false that the emperor’s prohibition preceded your receiving mine. He then lays down the principle which every God-fearing man must regard as fundamental : “ government of souls, which belongs to bishops, is more important than the imperial, which is only concerned with the temporal”. Gregory brands as shameless their assertion that he has only come blindly to excommunicate, and naturally holds up to contempt their offer to give him an honorable reception if he should come exactly in the way the emperor wants him. Their appeal to the oath of fidelity which he has taken to the emperor, Gregory twice distinctly declines to admit. He, however, allows it to pass, and says he will avoid perjury by pointing out to the emperor what he has done against the unity and peace of the Church and his kingdom. As the cause of all the subsequent troubles, the alteration of the partition of 817 is strongly denounced by the Pope. He upbraids the bishops for opposing his efforts in behalf of peace. “What they threaten has not been done from the beginning of the Church”.

If only Louis had acted vigorously, he would certainly have crushed his enemies; but, even when he began to move his forces forward, he continued to negotiate. Messengers were sent on the one hand to ask the Pope why he so long delayed to come to him, and on the other to remind his sons of their duty, and to ask them why they prevented the Pope from visiting him.

By the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24, 833), the two armies stood facing each other at a place called Rothfield (Red field), afterwards, from the treachery manifested thereon, known as the Field of Lies, and thought to be what is now called Rothleucht (Red light), near Colmar. Then, at length, to gain time for his schemes, Lothaire allowed the Pope to go to the emperor. But Louis, despite the previous exhortation given him by Agobard, did not receive Gregory “with becoming honour”, to quote the expression of the Astronomer. However, it did not take the Pope long before he convinced the emperor of his good faith, and of his impartiality. He assured Louis that it was only to make peace that he had undertaken so long a journey. The Pope remained some days with the emperor arranging matters, and giving and receiving presents. At length he was sent back to Lothaire “to arrange a mutual peace”.

But the few days had been adroitly spent by the crafty Lothaire in buying the fidelity of the emperor’s troops. They deserted him in crowds, till he was left practically helpless, and the scheming Lothaire took heed that he had not even the moral support of the Pope'’ presence. For he refused to allow Gregory to return to the emperor, in accordance with the latter’s wishes. Clearly, in all this unfortunate affair, Gregory had very little of his own way.

Abandoned by his followers, Louis once again fell into the hands of his sons. The empress Judith was sent off into exile to Fortona (the ancient Dertona), one of the oldest cities of the North of Italy; Louis was shut up in the monastery of St. Medard at Soissons; and, to his intense grief, his young son Charles was taken from him and imprisoned in the monastery of Prum. Lothaire “seized the imperial power and allowed the Pope to return to Rome (July 833), Pippin to Aquitaine, and Louis to Bavaria”.

If Lothaire thus arrogated the supreme power to himself alone, it was because he was emboldened so to do by the action of the Pope and his own party in previously deciding that the empire had fallen from the hands of Louis, and should be taken by Lothaire. As for the Pope, he returned to Rome in the most profound discouragement.

Knowing that the aged emperor would be more affected by the condemnation of the Church than by that of the State, Lothaire caused a diet to be held (October 833) at Compiègne. Through the agency of the bishops of his party, i.e. of those interested in the cause of the unity of the empire, under the presidency of Ebbo of Rheims, the unhappy Louis again declared himself ready to submit to public penance. The condemnation passed upon him by the synod was based mainly on his breaking the ordinatio imperii of 817. A little later he laid aside the insignia of his office, and put on the garb of a penitent.

But the millennium had not yet come for the empire of the Franks. On the contrary, there rather came a time when it might almost be said that all were for a party and none were for the State. Lothaire’s chief supporters quarreled among themselves as to who was to be the second in the empire; and the empress Judith went on steadily plotting to increase the portion to be held by her son. The real imperialists were disgusted, and it was the thought of many that Lothaire had gone too far in his humiliation and ill-treatment of his father. His brothers took up arms against him, and he had to fly hastily towards Italy (834) to avoid falling into their hands. In the Church of St. Denis, at Paris, Louis was reinvested by the bishops with the symbols of empire (March). Too fortunate in having such a father, the base Lothaire once more received pardon, and was allowed to keep the kingdom of Italy.

But he had the soul of a tyrant, and when he found himself unable to oppress his tender-hearted father, he turned his attention to harassing the possessions of the Roman Church (836). When word of this was brought to Louis he was very much annoyed, and sent (836) envoys to Lothaire to remind him that, when he gave him the kingdom of Italy, he had recommended him to have a care of the Holy Roman Church, to be its defender and not its despoiler. Lothaire was also ordered to have everything ready for his father, who intimated his intention of going to Rome as well to protect the Roman Church as for prayer. One, however, of the numerous irruptions of the Northmen, which occurred about this time, prevented the emperor himself from going to Rome, but in his stead, as the Astronomer informs us, he sent Adrebald, abbot of Flaix.

The imperial envoy found the Pope very ill, suffering from a continual bleeding at the nose. But, as Gregory himself said, the consolation he received from the emperor’s kindly words made him almost forget his illness. After bestowing all manner of favors on the abbot, the Pope sent along with him, on his return, two bishops, Peter of Centumcellae (Cività Vecchia) and George, who was also regionary of the city of Rome. When they reached Bologna the party found that they were not to be allowed to proceed further. Lothaire evidently did not wish his conduct to be too well known by the emperor. However, the letter which they were bearing from Gregory to Louis, Adrebald managed to smuggle to its destination. One of his followers, under the disguise of a beggar, contrived to evade the vigilance of Lothaire’s soldiers, and conveyed the document in safety to Louis across the Alps. Although our knowledge of this affair terminates here, the incident is noteworthy. It shows the cordial feeling of Louis for the Pope—a feeling he could not have entertained had he not been convinced that Gregory had not been unfriendly towards him—and the despotic, because weak, character of Lothaire.

Whilst the Northmen and Saracens were making fierce descents upon the empire (the Saracens plundered Marseilles in 838), the endless succession of ungrateful rebellions on the one hand and weak acts of folly and forgiveness on the other went on. Pippin of Aquitaine died in December 838. A fresh division of his empire by Louis to the benefit of Charles and Lothaire drove Louis the German to arms. Subdued and pardoned one year (839), he again appealed to force the next. Marching to subdue him, the unhappy father died (June 20, 840), at the age of sixty-four.

On his deathbed Louis had ordered the imperial regalia to be sent to Lothaire, who resolved to be emperor in fact as well as in name. He thought to crush Charles and Louis the German, separately. Again the whole empire was seething inwardly with the violent passions of war which were consuming its vital force, as fatally as, when unbridled, corresponding ones destroy the human frame.

Undeterred by previous failure, Gregory made an effort to bring about peace between the brothers, as we learn from Prudentius, bishop of Troyes, who wrote the fourth part of the annals that go by the name of St. Bertin, and was an eye-witness of many of the events about which he treated. This time the Pope did not go himself to the scene of action, but sent George, archbishop of Ravenna. But, as on a previous occasion, Lothaire had detained the Pope himself when on a similar errand of mercy, so now he would not suffer George to go and visit the kings, his brothers. Prudentius goes on to inform us that in the battle of Fontenay, of which we shall have to speak presently, George fell into the hands of the forces of Louis the German and Charles, but was sent back with honor to his own country. Such is the account, probably the correct one, of Prudentius in connection with the mission of George. The historian’s episcopal city of Troyes was not far from the field of Fontenay. He was, in the strictest sense, a contemporary (as he was already a bishop in 847) and a man of known uprightness of character. There is, however, an account of this embassy of George which is quite different to the one already given. It is furnished us, in his life of Archbishop George, by Agnellus of Ravenna, a writer of this same century, and acknowledged to be hostile to the popes. The following is the substance of Agnellus’s story. After his consecration at Rome by Gregory, and after he had taken the usual oath of obedience to him, George at once became his opponent. Hearing that Gregory was sending envoys to try to bring about peace between Lothaire and his brothers, he asked Lothaire to obtain the Pope’s permission that he himself might be attached to the embassy. Leave was granted, and he went with the apostolic curse. He took with him all the money and plate that belonged to his Church, and “all the privileges which Maurus and all the other bishops of Ravenna had obtained from the emperors” (Greek). With the money, he hoped to induce Lothaire to make him independent of the Roman Pontiff. After the overthrow of Lothaire’s army at Fontenay, George fell into the hands of the enemies’ troops. His treasure was plundered, his precious documents tossed into the mud and pierced through and through with the soldiers’ lances, and he himself ill-treated. Brought before Charles and Louis, he would have been sent into perpetual exile, “as they had heard of his malignity”, had it not been for the compassionate intercession of the empress-mother Judith. At her request he was allowed to return to Ravenna, which he did, probably a sadder and wiser, certainly a poorer, man. As is very often the case with the narratives of Agnellus, much of the above has no better foundation than that worthy’s imagination.

Lothaire, who had, it would seem, lost more than one opportunity of crushing his brothers singly, at length made up his mind to fight them when their forces were combined. The hostile armies, made up of troops from every part of the empire, met at Fontenay (now Fontenoy-en-Puisaye), near Auxerre, on Saturday, June 25, 841. The battle ended in the defeat of Lothaire, though both the great armies were almost cut to pieces. In verses of no little feeling has the terrible slaughter of Fontenay been described by one Angilbert, “the sole survivor of those who fought in the front rank”. Never, he says, were more killed on one field of battle. Cursed be the day that saw it. May it be blotted out from memory, and may the light of the sun never fall upon it!

This engagement is generally regarded as of the first importance in the history of the modern kingdoms of France, Germany, and Italy. Their existence as separate and distinct realms is traced to the field of Fontenay. All hope of these countries being welded into one empire was destroyed by the defeat of Lothaire. For some half century longer the line of the Carolingian emperors will continue to exist. But they will be emperors more in name than in fact. The growth of the German, French, and Italian languages, seen in embryo in the texts which have come down to us of the oaths taken at the treaty of Verdun, will render permanent the division begun in June 841. Unfortunately, at the time, the subdivision of the empire into three great parts did not end the breach. Following out the thought of an author (Florus) of this very year (841), we may write : “for an emperor, there were kings; for kings, kinglets. And for kingdoms there were soon to be but mere fragments of kingdoms”. Even Agnellus of Ravenna, a writer by no means gifted with any extraordinary intelligence, had the wit to write, in a prophecy which—to fill up his life of Gratiosus—he puts into the mouth of that prelate : “What is now the Roman empire shall be desolated, and kings shall sit on the emperor’s throne ... And to the sea coasts shall come unknown nations, who will plunder those regions and render tributary those of the Christians they do not slay .. And Christian shall rise up against Christian ... And from the East shall rise up the race of Agar (the Saracens), who shall plunder the cities by the sea; and no man shall escape them. For in every part there shall be but powerless kings, who will oppress their subjects. All things shall grow smaller. Servants will be above their masters, and every man shall trust in his own sword. And over the new generations there shall arise judges and dukes, who will overturn the earth”. This semi-scriptural language very aptly expresses the breakup of the Carolingian empire into kingdoms; and of the kingdoms themselves into more or less independent dukedoms, countships, and the like, when fathers went on subdividing their kingdoms between their sons; and when, in the course of the intestine wars that arose in consequence of these partitions, the kings had to give such privileges and grants of land and money to procure help from their nobles as to make them practically small sovereigns. In this descending sub­division we have the groundwork of feudalism.

After the decisive battle of Fontenay, some time elapsed before a modus vivendi could be agreed upon between the three brothers. At length, after more fighting and much negotiation, the famous treaty of Verdun was agreed to (August 843). With the imperial title Lothaire was to have Italy, and, roughly speaking, the belt of land stretching therefrom to the North Sea, that lay between the Rhine on the east, and the Rhone, Saone, and the Meuse on the west; Charles, the Bald, was to have France, and Louis, the German, the country between the Rhine and the Oder, and all the territory drained by the Danube, the Drave, and the Save to the point where the two latter rivers merge into the Danube. After this division there was for a short while the semblance of peace in what once had been the empire of the Franks.

But their imperial power had passed away forever. “Woe to the race of the Franks!” cries out Florus the deacon, the head of Agobard’s school of Lyons, and the heir of his elevated political views. “Once there was one empire and one people. But now this great power is trampled underfoot, like a garland of lovely flowers cast from the brow it adorned. This empire, lately one, is now divided into three; and no one can be looked up to as its emperor”.


The end of iconoclasm, 842


About the time that in the West this temporary lull in the quarrels between Louis’s sons occurred, the close of the iconoclastic heresy was celebrated in the East. As Gregory had no particular share, as far as we know, in bringing about this most joyful and important event, it will here be merely touched upon. Michael II (the Stammerer) had shown himself a persecuting foe of the image-worshippers. His son Theophilus (829–January 20, 842) proved himself even a more cruel enemy of holy images. He even went to the length of branding two brothers on the forehead with some offensive verses of his own composing. Methodius, who was afterwards patriarch, was kept in prison for seven years. But the efforts of one emperor after another for one hundred and twenty years could not prevail against truth. Theophilus had not been dead a month when iconoclasm in the East was also dead. His wife Theodora was an image-worshipper. As his son Michael III (the Drunkard) was only three years old at the time of his father’s death, Theodora was named regent. With the advice of her councilors, the iconoclastic patriarch John was deposed, Methodius appointed in his stead, and a synods summoned which decreed the restoration of the images and the celebration of a “feast of orthodoxy” in commemoration of that event. The first feast was kept immediately after the holding of the synod, viz., on the first Sunday of Lent, which that year (842) fell on February 19. Nowadays, both in the Greek and Russian Church, this feast (still kept on the first Sunday of Lent) has a wider signification, for on it is now celebrated the victory over all heresies which are then anathematized. Iconoclasm was dead, but its effects, in the direction of separating the East from the West in the domain both of politics and religion, remained.

To say “iconoclasm was dead” in the East is perhaps to make too strong an assertion. For with curious inconsistency it would seem that the so-called orthodox Greeks are today both image-breakers and image-worshippers. The writer of these pages will never forget his astonishment when, in speaking to a well-informed Russian on the possibility of union between the Greek churches and the See of Rome, he interjected : “But there is the question of the icons!” It appears that the orthodox Greeks are not only passionately attached to their venerable icons, made in the same form now for many centuries, but regard the Latin Church as idolatrous. Those who worship icons of two dimensions are orthodox, but those who worship statues of three dimensions are heterodox, are idolaters.

Ignoring, then, both the principles laid down by the second council of Nicaea and by that of 842, and their previous practice, the use of statues (even of the crucifix, if with a solid and not merely a painted figure on it) apparently gradually died out among the disunited Greeks. And insensibly there came into vogue with them that traditional style in sacred art, anything but beautiful and artistic, with which all are so familiar in the Greek or Russian icon. “This”, writes the Rev. H. F. Tozer, “was stereotyped by a remarkable book, which was compiled at an unknown but early period—the Guide to Painting of Dionysius of Agrapha, which contains rules, very often of a minute description, for the treatment of (sacred) subjects ... This manual is in use at the present day, and explains the singular uniformity of design in the paintings, both ancient and modern, of the Greek Church”.


The Saracens in Sicily and Italy


Whilst the Christians of the empire were slaughtering one another, the Pagan Northmen and the Mohammedan Saracens were taking possession of various parts of their country. In 827, brought in by a traitor, the Saracens of Africa, the subjects of the Aglabite dynasty of Kairouan, effected a landing in Sicily. Messina and Palermo were captured in the course of a few years. They had indeed made inroads into the island during the two preceding centuries, but this time they came to stay. They soon got possession of a large portion of the island, and in little more than a century the Greeks were completely driven out of it. The Greek officials, in withdrawing to the mainland, that is, to the cities of Southern Italy which still acknowledged the suzerainty of the Greeks, carried with them the name of Sicily. Hence the origin of the name the “Two Sicilies”. Even before they had established themselves in Sicily, the Moslems of Africa had made descents upon Italy. Despite the exertions we have seen made by Leo III to put his coast in a good state of defence, Centumcellae (Cività Vecchia) was sacked by the Moors in 813, even during the lifetime of Charlemagne. The ravaging of the west coast of Italy naturally increased after the Moors obtained a firm foothold in Sicily; and of course their devastations spread further after they had been basely called in as allies (840) both by Radelchis and by Siconulf, who were fighting for the dukedom of Beneventum. But the infidels simply turned to their own advantage the furious civil dissensions which they found raging in Beneventum. They seized Bari by treachery, and kept it. Up to the year 851 they ravaged Southern Italy with more or less impunity. In danger such as this, well might the popes bestir themselves.

While the different sovereigns of the Franks and the princes of Southern Italy, utterly careless of everything except their own personal gains, were calling to their aid the foes not merely of civilization but of Christianity, the pagan Northmen and the Mahomedan Saracens, Gregory was doing what lay in his power to protect that part of Christendom over which he held sway. That he was equally solicitous for the spiritual and temporal welfare of his people is the verdict of his biographer, when about to speak of his defensive works. The Book of the Popes goes on to explain how the depredations of the “wicked race of the Agareni (Saracens), which are still going on”, caused Gregory to reflect seriously as to the most efficacious measures to be taken to secure the safety of his people.

He concluded that the best thing to be done was to guard the Tiber by rebuilding the city of Ostia which was then in ruins. Gregory accordingly betook himself to the spot (probably after 841) with a number of Romans, and built himself a villa hard by. By dint of great exertions a new city, or, perhaps, rather a new citadel or fortress, designed by the Pope to be known as Gregoriopolis, arose, as it would appear, close to the ancient Ostia. The new city was made “very strong”, and its high walls were further defended by a deep moat, crossed by drawbridges, and by a supply of military engines (called petrarix) for casting huge stones. Nowadays, however, Gregoriopolis is supposed by some to have been within the circuit of the walls of the ancient Ostia “towards the Porta Romana, instead of occupying the site of medieval Ostia, which still remains”. According to Lanciani, the account in the Liber Pontificalis “is greatly exaggerated, to judge from the remains of Gregoriopolis which the late C. L. Visconti and I laid bare in the winter of 1867-8 ... He simply selected two or three blocks of old houses on the left side of the main street, and filled up the doors, windows, and shop fronts with mud walls. He also barricaded the openings of the streets, which ran between the blocks. It is possible, though we found no evidence, that the houses surrounding this rudimentary fort on the opposite sides of the boundary streets were leveled to the ground”. However, as it does not appear that the Pope’s biographer was writing a romance, it would seem more rational, pending further excavations, to accept his statements more literally. It is far more likely that the discoveries of Lanciani relate to the hasty work accomplished by the people of Ostia themselves when, in the following pontificate, the Saracens made their famous raid up the Tiber in 846. For we are expressly told, in the Farnesian addition to the Liter Pontificalis, that the inhabitants had made an attempt to block up the city before they abandoned it.

This, whether or not the most important, was by no means the only restoration effected by Gregory. In addition to the various churches which in different parts of the city he restored, or rebuilt, Gregory also once more put into working order the great Aqua Trajana or Sabbatine aqueduct, which had been damaged, very likely in the commotions during the reign of Leo III. “Reflecting”, says his biographer, “on the privations of the Romans, inasmuch as they had no means of grinding their corn, Gregory set to work and repaired the Sabbatine aqueduct which, for many years, had remained broken”." The baths and fountains belonging to the basilica of St. Peter and the corn-mills on the Janiculum were once again filled with refreshing and copious streams of water. To this day it supplies the fountains in front of St. Peter’s and a large area of the Trastevere.

Other damage certainly done in Leo III’s reign was also repaired by this successor. The domusculta or farm colony of Galeria which Hadrian had founded on the Via Portuensis by Ponte di Galera, was restored by Gregory, who himself founded a new colony of Draco, on the left bank of the Tiber, some eleven miles from Rome on the Via Ostiensis, and hence not far from his new city. The “tenuta di dragoncello” still preserves the memory of Gregory’s colony. In connection with this colony he also built what is supposed to have been the first papal villa. This would have doubtless been built by the Pope for himself and his court whilst he was superintending the building of Gregoriopolis.

According to his biographer, it was immediately after his consecration that Gregory “began to entertain a very great zeal for the saints and their churches”. St. Peter’s, of course, profited by the Pope’s zeal. Not only did he present it with elaborately worked hangings on which were represented “the passion of SS. Peter and Paul”, but he largely rebuilt and redecorated its atrium. To a newly decorated chapel within the basilica itself, he transferred the body of St. Gregory, “through whom the Holy Ghost had enlightened the world”, and then, from the catacombs, the bodies of SS. Sebastian, Tiburtius, and Gorgonius. “With a pure heart” he both offered splendid gifts to the Church of S. Maria Trastevere, and made considerable changes therein, by raising the altar and putting a presbyteriurn or chancel in front of it, in order to prevent the clergy from being mixed with the laity during divine service. And that the worship of God might be carried on in this famous basilica with greater regularity and devotion, he founded a monastery close to it, and placed therein—to serve it—‘canonical monks’ or canons, probably of the order instituted in the preceding century by St. Chrodegang of Metz.

In order that at least after prayers or Mass he might have a little rest and quiet, he erected, by St. Peter’s, a small but suitable chamber adorned with frescos, and in the Lateran palace “where there was the greatest amount of quiet” a hall wherein, surrounded by his clergy, he could offer up his prayers of thanksgiving to God.


St. Ansgar and Sweden.


Whilst the continent of Europe was, for the most part, settling down into anarchy, owing to the ravages of Northman, Slav, and Saracen, but still more owing to the intestine strife of selfish monarchs, the self-denial of one man was taking into the far North, the peace and order which Christianity proclaims, and which are the first fruits of its proper cultivation. We have already seen how the work of Ansgar among the Danes was interrupted in 828. But, in 829, word was brought to Louis that there was a suitable opening for some fervent missionaries in Sweden. With many valuable presents for the Swedish king, Bern, or Biorn, “of the Hill”, who, even when a heathen, used to say, “he would never lean more to treachery than to good faith”, Ansgar set out for Sweden. Success attended his efforts. On his return (831) to report to Louis the state in which the Church in Sweden then was, the emperor, to carry out Charlemagne’s ideas, founded the archbishopric of Hamburg, and caused Ansgar to be consecrated its first incumbent (832). This he did by the authority of Pope Gregory IV, and with the object of making that city the center for the missions of the North. Ansgar was then sent to Rome. Gregory not only gave our saint the pallium, and, “before the body and confession of Blessed Peter, full authority to preach the Gospel”, but named him apostolic legate “among the nations of the Swedes, Danes, Slavs, and other northern peoples”, in conjunction with Ebbo, archbishop of Rheims, who had held that office before (c. 834). Although the city of Hamburg was burnt by the Normans in 845, and its See had to be joined (847) to that of Bremen, still the work of Ansgar went steadily on. He did not, indeed, though he longed for it no less ardently than St. Boniface had done, receive, like the apostle of Germany, the crown of martyrdom. But by the time he ceased from this mortal conflict (February 3, 865), God had begun, through the labours of this His servant, to listen to the sad cry for help against the Northmen which was ascending to Him all over the empire. It was not, however, till the very close of the following century that Christianity took anything like a firm hold of the Northmen. Still the good seed had been sown by Ansgar; and no doubt even during its gradual propagation must have exercised at least some mitigating influence on the “fury of the Northmen”.

The records of history enable us to consider Gregory, not only founding new metropolitan Sees, but having various relations with existing metropolitans and their suffragans. He sends the pallium to the archbishop of Salzburg (May 31, 837), and to Venerius, the patriarch of Grado (c. 828), to show his sympathy for that See in its struggle for its rights. In June 827 a synod assembled at Mantua, at which had assisted representatives of the Pope (Eugenius II) and the emperors (Louis and Lothaire), had allowed itself to be imposed upon by an erroneous narrative of the history of the Sees of Aquileia and Grado, presented to it by Maxentius, the patriarch of the former See, and had decided against Venerius that Maxentius and his successors were to have control over toe bishops of Istria.

Against the Mantuan decision Venerius had appealed to Rome—his last hope of obtaining justice, as it has been for many other injured men and woman both before and since the days of Gregory IV. Like a child, wrote the patriarch (838), who hopes all things from its parents, he turned to the Pope against the ceaseless attacks of his rival, because “after God, our insignificance has no refuge except in the majesty of the dignity of the Apostle, whose place, by the authority of God, you hold”.

“By the emperor’s orders”, continued Venerius, “I ought with Maxentius to have gone to Rome before this to get the affair between us settled. But Maxentius was unwilling to be judged by you, and preferred a verdict at Mantua. Thither I repaired. Not finding my opponent there, I would not wait; but, showing the emperor his letter, in which he decided that the matter should be concluded at Rome, I declared that I would only enter into the case before the vicar of Blessed Peter, whose place, with the power of binding and loosing bestowed upon him by Christ our God, you hold; and if his suffragans have decided the affair in his favor, there is fulfilled in them the saying of the Apostle (Phil. ii. 21): “All seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s”. For it is only right that he who is the head of all, should judge all. During many years our Lord has given to His Church no more honorable, upright, and just prelate than you, 0 most blessed father, whom no one can cause to swerve from the right path. You are not moved by the favor of princes nor by the persuasions of those below you. Occupying the throne of Peter, you display his firmness. Up to this, the princes of this world have not presumed to interfere in this matter, but have left it to you, though gifts have blinded the eyes of some of their subjects to justice. But now, as I understand, Maxentius openly boasts that, by a decree of the emperor, he is to have the diocese of Istria. I, however, fully trust that you will be my defender”.

Better informed than his predecessor of the truth with regard to the respective rights of the two Sees, Gregory favored Venerius. Like many another ambitious prelate, unable to establish his rights in the legitimate way, Maxentius appealed to the secular arm. Backed by Lothaire, whom this history has shown ever ready to interfere in the concerns of others, whether Pope or emperor, Maxentius compelled the bishops of Istria to yield him obedience. It was altogether to no purpose that Gregory warned him to desist. The quarrels between Aquileia and Grado were to continue to disturb both their own peace and that of Rome.


John of Naples.


Very interesting and edifying is the history of bishop John of Naples, as we find it in the pages of John, the Deacon, who in the latter half of this ninth century wrote down all he could discover relative to the lives of the bishops of the Church to which he was attached. The last bishop he wrote of was Athanasius I, who died in 872. A certain Bonus, duke of Naples, turned his mind to oppressing its Church. In vain did the saintly bishop Tiberius threaten the duke with the judgments of God. Bonus cast him into prison, and ordered the election of another bishop. This arbitrary proceeding was stoutly resisted by a learned and holy deacon of the same name as our author. At once, by a whim not unusual with tyrants, Bonus declared that the young deacon should himself be the new bishop. “Never”, cried the youth, “will I be an intruder into the See”. The enraged duke thereupon threatened to decapitate Tiberius and his household if he were not obeyed. To avoid greater evils, John consented to be elected on condition that he was to be allowed to visit Tiberius, and that the latter was not to be harmed nor removed from the palace, conditions to which the tyrant, who must have conceived an admiration for John, agreed. The day before the outraged bishop Tiberius died, so kindly had he been treated by John, that he publicly declared that his quondam deacon had taken the bishopric during his lifetime, out of compassion for him, and not from any ambition. He accordingly hoped that no condemnation, either of the Roman See or of others, would fall upon him. On the death of Tiberius, the duke Sergius, for Bonus had died meanwhile (834), moved by this declaration of the dying Tiberius, sent envoys to Rome to ask that John might be enthroned. But before Gregory would consent, he convinced himself by his legates that all that had been said in the candidate’s favor was really true. To the immense profit of the people of Naples, John was summoned to Rome and duly recognized. After all we have had to write of the ambition and cruel faithlessness displayed by men in high places during the years that Gregory was Pope, it is pleasing to read of the devotedness and gratitude which Tiberius and John of Naples displayed towards each other.

Before passing on to speak of Gregory’s dealings with certain bishops in Frankland, it will be worthwhile to quote a letter to him from a certain cleric there. This cleric is, with good reason, believed to be the abbot Gozbald, who was made bishop of Wuzburg in 842. The document is important, because it shows that the Carolingian monarchs did not always act so arbitrarily in the matter of appointing bishops as has been sometimes asserted. The certain cleric writes : “From the time when Holy Church was founded on the solidity of the firmest of rocks, it has ever been considered necessary by all who wish to live piously in Christ to seek all spiritual favors from the Apostolic See. Those who in their quest pass over it commit the greatest mistake. You know, my lord Gregory, the most excellent of all distinguished men, and prelate most beloved by me, that in seeking that to which the ardor of my mind impels me, I consider it must not be sought nor obtained from any other, or elsewhere, than from the holy Apostle Peter, and from you his successor and from your holy See ... For though some things which are not right are pleasant, still every wrong rather drags down to hell than raises to heaven. This, my most beloved lord, I say on account of the letter of your son Louis (the German) and his request in my behalf, that you may know that I desire to receive from the Apostolic See, if such be the will of Christ, the sacred gift (of episcopal consecration), not stealthily, nor from a desire of filthy lucre, like some, but with a pure and single mind”. Needless to say, much trouble and scandal would have been spared the Church if every candidate for the honors of the episcopate had been animated by the zealous, yet humble, sentiments that inflamed the heart of Gozbald.

Of the bishops of France (Francia, Frankland), the one in whom Gregory took most interest, during the time of the troubles between Louis and his rebellious sons, was S. Aldric. His eminent virtues had caused him to be elected bishop of Le Mans (832), and had induced the Pope to send him, along with a pastoral staff, the vestment which he had himself worn during the Easter solemnities. With these presents he sent (833) him a letter in which, knowing him to be a devoted partisan of the emperor, he asked him to come to him if possible, and promised to grant him whatever favor he chose to ask of the Apostolic See. When Gregory made his memorable journey into France in 833, he is said to have written a letter to Aldric, in which, if it be not a forgery, he decided that any accusations alleged against S. Aldric must be brought before him. It is supposed that owing to his unshaken fidelity to the unfortunate emperor Louis, proceedings were instituted against Aldric with a view to getting him removed from his See, and that the saint appealed to the Pope. The fact that the above-mentioned reply of the Pope was in some of its copies undated, and hence had been printed without a date in some works, has caused certain writers to transfer all persecution of Aldric, along with this letter itself, to the year 840, after the death of his supporter, the emperor Louis. But in the copy printed by Mabillon, Gregory’s letter is dated from Cohlambur (Columbaria, Colmar), July 8, 833. It was therefore, if genuine, written before he returned to Rome, and not unlikely whilst full of indignation at the baseness exhibited on the Field of Lies, and at the way he had himself been treated by Lothaire. He accordingly took advantage of this appeal to address a strong letter to the bishops of “Gaul, Europe and Germany”. He lays down that Aldric may, if he think fit, “appeal to us” from the decision of the primates of the province, “in accordance with decrees of the fathers, and that, till that appeal has been heard, no one is to presume to pass any sentence upon him”. All are exhorted to obey the Pope’s mandate if they wish to remain in communion with the apostolic church, “which is their head”. He concludes by reminding his correspondents that, “by his present decision, he is not ordering anything new, but is only reaffirming what has been of old decreed. For no one is ignorant that not only episcopal causes, but all that relates to our holy religion, must be referred to the Apostolic See, as to the head, and must thence take their rule”. This energetic letter, and the rapid restoration of Louis the Pious to power seem to have prevented any harm from coming to Aldric at this time. But his enemies were able to get the upper hand of him for a short time after the death of Louis, till he was re­instated by Charles the Bald.

In connection with this case, Jager well remarks that it was time for the popes to intervene in the matter of the condemnation of bishops. The metropolitans were becoming mere tools in the hands of the princes. Hence, in restricting the powers of the metropolitans and summoning bishops before them, the popes prevented both the metropolitans from being seduced from the path of duty and the bishops from being oppressed.

In concluding our notice of Gregor’s relations with bishops and metropolitans, it may be observed that they are enough of themselves to show that the False Decretals, which are soon to make their appearance on the scene, added absolutely nothing to the rights of the Pope, well understood and recognized before they were ever thought of. The False Decretals have been made to appear as a sort of magic wand, which, skillfully handled by the popes and other interested individuals, were powerful enough to blot out from men’s minds the knowledge of the position and rights previously occupied by the Pope in the Church, and to at once create a new order of things. Credat Judaeus! What is of historical certainty, is that neither the popes, nor any other Christian writers who subscribed to the papal power, based it on any other ground than the words of Our Lord, Thou art Peter, etc., and the other kindred texts.

If his alleged excessive attention to works of piety had some effect in bringing difficulties on the emperor Louis, it was certainly not altogether unproductive of good. It resulted in the further cultivation of at least one of the arts. For, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Louis turned his attention to church music. Under cantors whom he had induced Pope Hadrian to send to him, Charlemagne had established two schools of singing, one at Soissons and the other at Metz. By these authorities the antiphonaries of France had to be regulated.

Metz had been prepared to become a center of this kind by the action of its bishop, S. Chrodegang. Probably about 754, he had adopted the Roman liturgy and its chant (Romance cantilena). Other local and individual efforts in the same direction were followed by a decree of king Pippin abolishing the Gallican liturgy, which had fallen into the same state of disorder as the Church itself in Gaul under the latter Merovingians. The action of Pippin was endorsed by Charlemagne. Not unnaturally, then, was a deacon of the Church of Metz picked out by Louis to be sent to Rome (831) to obtain information on certain matters connected with the choral and other parts of the ritual. Amalarius, for such was the deacon’s name, was most kindly received by the Pope, who put him for instruction under one Theodore, who was then archdeacon of the Roman Church. When he had obtained the information he was in quest of, he asked the Pope to send an antiphonary to the emperor Louis. But Gregory had to acknowledge that he had not a suitable one to send. All those, doubtless the ones of sufficient value and accuracy, which he had to spare, he had allowed, he said, the abbot Wala to take with him to France. This journey of the deacon of Metz, and the few recorded facts in connection with it, are worth noting, at least so far as they show us the interest that was then taken in church music in France; and the rarity, owing to the expense of their production, of works of such a kind and size as antiphonaries.

Whilst on the subject of the mutual action of Gregory and Louis in the matter of the ritual of the Church, it may be noted that we have it on the authority of Ado of Vienne that, in accordance with directions received from Gregory, Louis decreed that the feast of “All Saints”, which the Romans observed from the institution of Pope Boniface IV, should be celebrated throughout all Gaul and Germany on the 1st of November.

Gregory, the quiet and unassuming man, the peace-loving priest, died in January 844, and was buried in St. Peter’s.





A.D. 844-847.



EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                              EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.               Louis, the Pious, 814-840.

Theophilus, 829-842. Lothaire I, 823-855.

Theodora and Michael III, 842-856.



SERGIUS, whom the influence of the nobility, this time, however, not without vigorous opposition, was to carry to the See of Peter, received his father’s name, and, as might have been expected, was of noble birth. His family had already given one Pope (Stephen V) to the Church, and was soon to give another (Hadrian II). He was born in the fourth quarter of the city, but whether in the fourth ecclesiastical or fourth civil region, in the Alta Semita or Via Sacra, is not clear. His father, Sergius, died whilst his son was very young, so that the task of his early education fell entirely upon his mother. To her ‘daily joy’ the little Sergius fully responded to the efforts made by her to bring him up in the fear of God. So that, as we are told, he even shunned the sports of his companions that no one might witness anything unbecoming in him. The virtues of his noble ancestry seemed to be summed up in him. And, although his pious mother died when he was only twelve years of age, the good seed had been sown, and he grew up to be a delight to his fellow-men, humble before God, distinguished in mind and body, the support and comfort of the poor, a despiser of the empty things of this world, but an eager seeker after divine wisdom.

The talents and misfortunes of the little Sergius attracted the attention of Pope Leo III, who sent him to the school of cantors that he might learn not only music, but also the ordinary subjects of general knowledge. To the great pleasure of the Pope, Sergius was soon at the top of his class. He was ordained acolyte by him. The favor he had found in the eyes of Leo, Sergius found in the eyes of Leo’s successors. Stephen made him a sub-deacon, and Paschal created him cardinal priest of the Church of SS. Martin and Sylvester (S. Martino ai Monti). This church was afterwards restored by Sergius when he became Pope. In a confession, which still exists beneath the high altar, he placed the remains of Sylvester, of five other popes, and of other saints from the catacomb of S. Priscilla. Unfortunately the mosaics with which he then adorned the apse have perished, doubtless in the great restoration of 1650. Rude though the mosaics of this age were, they have preserved for us, in the figures of the popes they present to us, not only their dress, but at least some distorted shadow of their personal appearance. Their loss, therefore, is always to be deplored. Under Gregory IV the upward career of Sergius still went on, and he was made archpriest.

On the death of Gregory, the principal clergy (proceres) and the laity, both high and low, assembled to deliberate on the choice of a candidate. By divine Providence, after various names had been suggested, the minds of all were turned to Sergius. It was unanimously resolved to select the archpriest.

When this assembly had broken up, a certain deacon, John by name, collected a band of the rabble of the city, and, to the terror of its residents, broke into the Lateran palace by force. But the Roman mob, easily roused, were just as easily frightened. They had not held the Lateran an hour, when the news of the gathering of the princes of the Quirites (Quiritum principes) caused them to disperse and abandon John to his fate. The princes, with a large body of horse, betook themselves to the basilica of SS. Martin and Sylvester, and with great joy and pomp escorted Sergius to the Lateran. A shower of snow which fell that same day seemed to the people a sure sign that their candidate was certainly the one chosen of heaven. John was ignominiously thrust into a monastery; and, but for the prohibition of Sergius, “who was unwilling to render evil for evil”, the unhappy deacon would have been cut to pieces.

To the great joy of all, Sergius was consecrated in St. Peter’s, January, 844. If full trust is to be placed in the Farnesian edition of the Liber Pontificalis, Sergius, the Pope, was far from resembling Sergius, the bright young acolyte, Sergius, the favorite of Pope after Pope. He had now lost all his graces of body and mind. Owing to the gout, he was deprived of the use of his feet and almost of his hands, and was, not unnaturally, irritable, and not too careful in his choice of words. If he was troubled with the gout, it was no doubt because he was addicted to the pleasures of the table. As a gourmand, he had, of course, no appetite for business, but entrusted that to one of his brothers named Benedict. No wonder, then, that it is further stated—if all this be not spiteful exaggeration—that the princes of the Quirites, whose privileges he increased, set such a man at naught.

Benedict is described as worse than his brother. Heavy and brutal, he took advantage of his brother’s helplessness and usurped all ecclesiastical and civil power. Besides being blamed for wasting the funds of the Church and State over buildings, on which, with the worst of taste, he labored day and night, he is denounced for obtaining from the emperor, by the aid of bribery, “all power and dominion over Rome”.

It may be remembered that, by the Constitution of 824, it was arranged that two missi should be appointed, one by the Pope and one by the emperor, to see that the various local officials performed their duty properly. It is quite possible that, appointed by his brother as his missus, he succeeded in inducing Lothaire to name him missus on his behalf also. At any rate, when he returned to Rome, he acted as its monarch, and anticipated the Alberics of the following century.

Though a slave to immorality, he did not hesitate even to usurp the bishopric of Albano, “that he might the better fight for the devil”. Once possessed of authority over civilians and ecclesiastics, he proceeded to wring money out of both alike by every expedient. He made the restoration of his brother’s Church of S. Martino a pretext to extort money from the monasteries and from the people. Bishoprics and every other ecclesiastical office were sold publicly to the highest bidder. Sometimes even more than two thousand mancuses (even a silver mancus was worth two shillings and sixpence) was extorted for a single bishopric.

This terrible indictment its author concluded by declaring that it was his belief that God had sent the Saracens against Rome, because no ecclesiastic could be found bold enough to check these excesses or to die in the attempt. “For it is better to die gloriously than live in ignominy”.

Leaving the reader to extract what truth there is in this tirade, we must retrace our steps to the period of Sergius’s elevation to the See of Peter.

When news of the consecration of Sergius without imperial intervention reached the ears of the emperor Lothaire, he was indignant, and at once dispatched his son Louis, Drogo, bishop of Metz, a number of clergy and nobles, and a large force, “to see to it that for the future on the death of a Pope no one was consecrated except with his permission and in presence of his envoys”.

On the mode of action of this army of Lothaire’s Franks, the armies of the Germans in the later Middle Ages seem to have modelled theirs. At any rate, both Louis and the later German emperors had one and the same sanguinary manner of announcing their coming to Rome. As soon as his army, advancing from Pavia, reached Papal territory “in the neighbourhood of Bologna”, they began to slay and to ravage. And this they continued to do till they reached “the fountain or bridge of Capella”. Here a sudden and most terrible storm of thunder and lightning, which killed some of Drogo’s principal associates, terrified the Franks, but did not stop their fierce advance.

Sergius, however, by quiet firmness succeeded in pacifying Louis. Nine miles from Rome, he was flatteringly received by all the judges of the city, and, when he had come within a mile of the city, he was met by the various companies of the Roman militia and of the scholae of the foreigners, and by those who bore the signs or crosses. All joined in chanting the customary hymns of welcome. Louis was greatly pleased at this reception, and, accompanied by the Romans, drew near to St. Peter’s. On the Sunday after Pentecost (June 8) he was met by the Pope at the top of the steps of the basilica. After embracing each other, holding the Pope by the right hand, Louis approached the silver gates of the church. They were shut; and the astonished monarch heard Sergius say that “if he came with a good will and for the benefit of the Republic, the city and the church, he might pass through the gates opened by the Pope’s order; but that, otherwise, they would never be opened for him by the Pope or by his orders”.

On Louis’s express declaration that he had not come with any ill-disposed or evil intent, the doors were opened, and all entered, singing the canticle, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

As the Pope would not have the Frankish army within the city, the troops, not content with taking what they required, destroyed what they did not want, so that the suburbs presented the appearance of having been laid waste by a terrible storm. On the Sunday (June 15) following his first arrival, Louis was solemnly anointed by the Pope, presented with the sword of state, and crowned king of the Lombards.

After the coronation, according to the papal biographer, there was for some days a violent altercation between Drogo of Metz, supported by the archbishops of Ravenna and Milan, by over twenty-three Italian bishops from the North, from Tuscany, and from Spoleto, and by a number of counts, and the Pope, with other bishops and the Roman nobles. What exactly the contention was about the Liber Pontificalis does not state. But from what it does say of the proceedings of the assembly, it would seemingly have us conclude that the wordy strife was in connection with rights of supremacy over the city which were put forward by Drogo in behalf of Louis. The prudent words of the Pope so far gained the day that they caused his opponents to lay aside the fierceness of manner with which they had conducted the discussion in the first instance. In a quieter style they asked the Pope to allow the Romans to take an oath of fidelity to King Louis. To this Sergius firmly refused to give his consent. “To this neither I nor the Roman nobility will consent; but, if you wish it, I will permit them to take an oath of fidelity to the emperor”. With this the Franks had to content themselves; and the Pope, King Louis, and the archbishops and bishops duly promised fidelity to Lothaire.

With this narrative of the papal biographer the accounts of the Frankish chroniclers appear not to agree. In the annals of Prudentius, and in the life of Sergius by the Pseudo-Liutprand, the crowning of Louis is placed after the holding of the council. “Peracto negotio”, says Prudentius, “Hlodowicum pontifex Romanus unctione in regem consecratum cingulo decoravit”. And the Pseudo­Liutprand also puts the coronation after the oath-taking, and after the council in which Sergius “was at length confirmed in his See”—prodictum Sergium post multas contentiones in sede demum confirmaverunt (Louis and Drogo). Many think, therefore, that the papal biographer has altered the order of events.

In accordance, presumably, with the convention of 824, it seems, indeed, clear that Louis came to investigate the legality of the election of Sergius; that a council was held to decide that point; that, of course, Louis was crowned after the holding of that council; and that the question of the oath arose in connection with the coronation of the young king. However, with all this the narrative in the Liber Pontificalis can be easily reconciled by supposing that there were two assemblies, one before and one after the coronation; and that of the two the latter was at least the more impressive, and hence more calculated to strike the attention of the papal biographer. For the very great majority of these biographers were very simple, though I believe truthful, men. The presence of an officially recognized Pope and a newly crowned king would naturally make the second assembly clearly convened to settle the question of the oath—more solemn, if less important, than the first gathering. The first council will have settled the question of the legality of the election of Sergius, the second will have discussed the consequences which some wished to draw from the coronation of Louis.

Before the Franks left Rome, Ebbo of Rheims, and Bartholomew, archbishop of Narbonne, who had lost their rank (at the council of Thionville, 835) on account of the part they had taken against Louis the Pious, and in favor of the ungrateful Lothaire, begged the Pope to restore to them their palliums. Though their request was doubtless in harmony with Lothaire’s wishes, Sergius firmly refused to grant it. Their Sees were in the kingdom of Charles the Bald, and he was anxious not to irritate him. Accordingly he would only admit them to lay communion. Ebbo will come to our notice again before we have finished with the life of Sergius.

During the reign of Pope Gregory IV, Siconulf and Radelchis were fighting for the principality of Beneventum, and both of them were playing into the hands of the Saracens to get their help. Siconulf, Prince of the Beneventans, as the Book of the Popes calls him, now came to Louis with a great army to try and obtain his assistance. The papal biographer bewails the still further devastation of the country caused by the arrival of this additional army, and says that Rome seemed to be surrounded by a besieging host. Siconulf made Louis a present of a large sum of money, and promised to acknowledge his suzerainty if he would assist him. Louis received both the oath and the money of Siconulf, and gave him words in return. But before he left the neighborhood of Rome, Siconulf was most anxious to see the Pope, to get his blessing, and, no doubt, to win from him a promise of assistance. Admitted to the presence of Sergius, we are told that with the greatest humility he prostrated himself on the ground, and kissed his feet. When he had received the Pope’s blessing, he departed southwards with his army, and Louis returned to Pavia with his. We may be sure that this visit of Siconulf to Sergius was in connection with his struggle against his rival. But our records do not tell us whether he wished to secure the Pope’s influence in his behalf with the emperor or Louis, or whether it was simply the support of Sergius himself that he was seeking.

On the departure of Louis, the whole Roman people, nobles and commons, “freed from a great plague, and delivered from a cruel and tyrannical yoke, venerated Sergius as the author of their safety and the restorer of peace”. But he himself gave the glory of what had been done to the divine assistance.

Despite the difference between them at the synod, Sergius must evidently have conceived a high idea of Drogo’s character; for before his departure from Rome, he named the archbishop his legate for France and Germany. Were it not for the ready way in which Drogo afterwards resigned his newly acquired dignity, and for the known animus with which Hincmar of Rheims defended his rights as a metropolitan, one might be tempted to believe that writer when he pointedly insinuates that Drogo had made use of his birth and influential position to bring pressure to bear on Sergius to induce him to bestow such a high office on him.

In the letter in which the Pope announced this appointment to the Transalpine bishops, he says that, as “solicitude for all the churches” prevents him from laboring among them in person, he sends, in accordance with the custom of his predecessors, a vicar in his stead, viz., “Drogo, archbishop of Metz, the son of the glorious emperor Charles, who made one the empire of the Romans and Franks”. And he considers that, “furnished with the authority of the prince of the apostles, conspicuous for his learning and sanctity, and, moreover, the uncle of the emperor Lothaire and of his brothers, Louis (the German) and Charles (the Bald)”, he is a very fit person to act in the Pope’s stead. And, as Drogo has to be responsible for them all, all must give him their obedience. He is empowered by the Pope to assemble “general synods of the empire”; and, if any one from those parts wants to appeal to the Holy See, he must first appeal to Drogo, and only come to Rome if the bishops of the province cannot agree on his case. Drogo is also licensed to examine into the election and qualifications of bishops and abbots, “save in all things the primacy of this universal Roman See, and the honor of our authority, as well as the rights and honor of our most dear and spiritual son Lothaire”. Sergius then goes on to speak of the necessity of the three royal brothers keeping the peace between them, and adds that if any one of them prefers the prince of discord to catholic peace, “him, with the help of God, will we endeavor to the best of our ability to chastise with the authority of the canons ... Those who love war are children of the devil”.

But to no purpose did the Pope in conclusion exhort the bishops to avoid dissensions and to act together. The same jealousy, which, working between the princes and nobles of the different kingdoms of the Franks, prevented political union in the empire, operated among the bishops to render impossible a united ecclesiastical government in the empire. The green-eyed monster devoured the good work that might have been done by an emperor over a united empire, and by Drogo over the united episcopate of the empire. And so at a council held at Verneuil-sur­-Oise by Charles the Bald (December 844), for the reformation of the Church in his kingdom, his bishops, not wishing to be subject to a legate whose See was in the kingdom of the emperor Lothaire, and yet at the same time unwilling to offend so great a man as Drogo, declared in their eleventh “capitulum” that they did not wish to express their sentiments on his appointment till a great council of the bishops of Gaul and Germany had spoken on the subject. Seeing the feeling against him which inspired this decree, Drogo abandoned his struggle to keep unity in the empire, and resigned his dignity. It would seem that as in nature fresh substances are only called into existence by heat, so a great deal of heat, in the shape of quarrelling and fighting, was absolutely necessary to bring into being the kingdoms of modern Europe, the birth-throes of which we are now witnessing.

What Ebbo had been unable to accomplish at Rome, viz., his restoration to the See of Rheims, he made another effort to accomplish elsewhere by very different means. To punish him for the part he had taken against the emperor Louis I, he had been solemnly deposed by the Council of Thionville (835). But on the death of Louis and the accession of his supporter Lothaire, Ebbo was re-established (December 840) in his See by the help of his patron, the new emperor. But the next year he had had to leave his See once again, on account of the enmity of Charles the Bald, who of course was naturally hostile to him on account of the part he had formerly taken against his father and himself, and because he now sided with Lothaire. In 845, a council held at Beauvais insisted on the filling up of the See of Rheims, which had been practically vacant for ten years. In succession to Ebbo, first Fulk, and, after his death, Notho, had been elected to the vacant See. From one cause or another, among other reasons for fear lest Ebbo should contrive to get himself reinstated, they had neither of them been consecrated. But in consequence of the action of the Council of Beauvais, Hincmar was elected to the See and consecrated (May 3, 845). It was not, however, till 847 that he received the pallium from Pope Leo IV. Of all the prelates of the ninth century, Hincmar was second to none. He was as illustrious by his piety as by his birth, as remarkable for his energy as for his learning. The trusted counsellor of Charles the Bald, he was ever true to him and to the Carolingian line. And if his strong will, and a very exalted idea of his own position, authority, and rights—for always he was Hincmar—brought him, sometimes even through his own fault, into rather violent contact with bishops, kings, or popes, he was none the less a noble character, and one of the glories of the Church in France.

Taking advantage of another outbreak of ill-feeling between Lothaire and Charles (846), Ebbo induced the emperor to work for his restoration. On the ground that there was a division in the Church of Rheims on the subject of the ordination of Hincmar, Lothaire obtained leave from the Pope to reopen the question of the deposition of Ebbo. Sergius himself wrote to Charles the Bald, to direct him to send Guntbold, archbishop of Rouen, and the other bishops whom Guntbold might himself select, to Treves, there to meet the Pope’s envoys and to look into the state of the case between Hincmar and Ebbo. He also asked him to cause Hincmar to present himself at Treves, an order that he repeated to Hincmar. To Guntbold the Pope wrote to the same effect, adding that he would send his envoys to Treves after Easter (846) to carry out the emperor’s wishes.

But for some cause the papal envoys never arrived. Perhaps the inroad of the Saracens, of which we shall speak immediately, and then the death of Sergius, hindered their departure. Guntbold, however, held a synod at Paris at the close of the same year. The case was, of course, given against Ebbo, who finally retired to the kingdom of Louis the German. That sovereign gave him the bishopric of Hildesheim, in the province of Mayence. Ebbo closed his turbulent life in 851, but his case did not die till long after that date.


Saracens at Rome, 846.


During this same year (846) the attention of Sergius must have often been directed towards the Saracens, who had, in the course of it, seized the island of Ponza, even before their turbans had for the first time been descried from the walls of Rome. At any rate Adelbert, the energetic marquis of Tuscany and Frankish protector of the papal territory of Corsica, sent, on the 10th of August, an urgent letter to the Pope, informing him that a fleet of seventy-three ships, having on board an army of eleven thousand Saracens with five hundred horses, was in full sail from Africa to Rome. He advised him to remove within the fortifications of the city the bodies of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the treasures from their basilicas, both of which were then outside the walls. According, however, to the Farnesian biographer, the incompetent brothers made light of the information. “All regarded it as incredible”. But “the more prudent Romans”, after taking counsel together, sent Adelbert’s letter and messages of their own “to the subject cities and to their neighbors”, directing all to hasten under arms to the sea­coast. The only result of this was that a few sent for further information. Considering the frequent raiding descents which the Saracens had already made on various parts of the coasts of Italy, there can be no doubt that rumors of a plundering expedition to the Tiber must often have reached Rome. Unfulfilled they had come to be discredited. This time, however, the cry of ‘wolf’ had not been raised without reason.

On the twenty-third, the piratical fleet anchored off the mouth of the Tiber. The people of Ostia, on its left bank, made a feeble attempt at resistance, and then abandoned their city to the infidel. Portus, on the opposite shore, was also soon in their hands. Terrified on hearing all this, the Romans kept watch on their walls night and day. But a company of the foreigners in Rome, consisting of English, Frisians, and Franks, marched boldly down to Portus, and inflicted some slight damage on a foraging party of the enemy. Joined by a number of Romans, another trifling success was scored by the foreign scholae; but, discovering the great numbers of the enemy, they fell back towards Rome. Unfortunately, however, they were surprised and cut to pieces. Then, occupying the low hills that skirt the Tiber, the Saracens pushed up the river, accompanied by their fleet, destroying everything by fire and sword as they went along. Some of the dukes (duces) of King Louis who had hastened towards Rome with what forces they could hurriedly gather together were driven in confusion into the city. St. Peter’s fell into the hands of the infidels, and was plundered of all its treasures, which, with those of St. Paul’s, which shared the same fate as St. Peter’s, Lanciani estimates as amounting to three tons of gold and thirty of silver. Discomfited, however, in the neighborhood of St. Paul’s, the marauders marched South, while their fleet sailed along the coast. At Gaeta the fortune of war again favored them, and they were there enabled to embark in peace with their booty. But their ill-gotten gains never reached home. Their fleet was destroyed off Sicily by a terrible tempest, in which all perished, and which even cast up some of their plunder on the Roman coasts.

The narrow escape which Rome, the center of Christendom, had had from falling into the hands of the infidel, the sacking of the basilicas of the apostles, beloved by every Christian, made the most profound impression on the imagination of Western Europe. Soon, if not at once, enshrined in verse, the incident was conveyed to the knowledge of all by itinerant reciters. Under the title of “Destruction de Rome”, a chanson de geste, certainly in existence in the twelfth century, and preserved for us in a MS. of the fourteenth, is full of details, many of them clearly accurate, of this sensational event. In the thirteenth century it used to be recited “every year at the fair of Lendit, in the plain of St. Denis”. In accordance with facts, it bewails pathetically the ravages of the Saracens, who are ready


Pur gaitier le païs et de lonc e de ;

N'i remeigne chastels dungeons ne fermete,

Monstiers ne abbeye qe ne soit enbrase,” etc.

While it laments the riches taken from St. Peter’s, there is no mention of the loss of his body.

“A Dex! corn grans richesces i firent emporter,

De coupes, de hanaps (et) d'argent et d'or cler

Riches samis et pailes et cendals d'outre-mer”.

But, when help arrives, the poet dramatically depicts Rome in flames.

      “Kant it vindrent a Rome, si virent luy port(e) overee,

     Et le fu el cite moult granment alume.”


By this disastrous raid we are brought face to face with a very interesting question. Were the bodies of SS. Peter and Paul brought into the city before the arrival of the Saracens, or were they left in their respective basilicas and destroyed by the Saracens? It may be replied that there is no direct historical evidence that their sacred bodies were either removed or profaned. Arguing, however, from the condition of the two tombs in the year 846, Lanciani gives it as his opinion “that the fate of the two holy places was not in all respects the same; that the sarcophagus of St. Peter, placed in a subterranean crypt, and protected by a case of solid metal embedded in masonry, escaped rifling, while that of St. Paul, a plain marble coffin level with the floor of the basilica, was certainly injured or destroyed. We find the evidence of the fact last mentioned in the life of Benedict III: “Sepulchrum (Pauli Ap.) quod a Sarracenis destructum fuerat, perornavit”. The word destructum, however, cannot be taken in a literal sense; the lid of the sarcophagus—with the epitaph, Paulo Apostolo Mart(yri) engraved in the style of the age of Constantine—is still in existence. I saw it on December 1, 1891, having lowered myself from the fenestrella under the high altar.

Father Barnes also holds that “the sacred body of St. Peter does not seem to have been interfered with”; and, judging from the existing condition of the apostle’s tomb, believes that it was rendered still more inaccessible by the Romans having filled up the chamber above it with “loose stones and rubbish”. “At St. Paul’s”, he says, “there was nothing to be done but to close the hole (by which the tomb of the apostle could be seen) with cement, and this seems to have been the course that was adopted”.

As a last word on the subject, it may be added that if either of the sacred bodies had really been destroyed, the fact could scarcely have failed to have been categorically stated.

Despite the unfortunate final issue of this inroad to the Saracens, it had taught them that an attack on Rome was feasible. In the following reign we shall see them putting this lesson into practice. Considering the sensation it made, it might be thought that this attempt on the center of Christendom, on the source of Western civilization, would have sufficed, in view of their common danger, to have at once united in arms all the various peoples of Europe. But no! The rulers of the nations went on as before, selfishly seeking their own personal ends; and the people under them continued as hitherto to be oppressed not only by them, but by the Normans, the Slavs, and the Saracens. On the Romans, however, this event, which, as we learn from the biographer of Leo IV, struck them with the most profound sorrow and at the same time with a well-founded alarm and consternation, had a very useful effect. For a time, at least, it made them thoroughly loyal subjects of the Pope, to whom both nobles and people looked not in vain for comfort and support during the reign of the active and courageous Leo IV.

To this day memorials of this or some other ninth century Saracen raid in the Roman territory are still dug up in the shape of “daggers and poniards with curved blades of Oriental make”; and as further evidence of the same fact, high up among the clouds, on a mountain over 2600 feet above the sea level, is perched a village, with the distinctive name of Saracinesco, and with inhabitants whose names proclaim their Eastern origin.

Death, hastened no doubt by the untoward event we have been discussing, prevented Sergius from carrying into execution an attempt he was making to bring to an end the perennial dispute between the bishops of Aquileia and Grado. He had summoned to Rome, by the feast of St. Martin (November 1), both Andrew of Aquileia, the successor of Maxentius, and Venerius of Grado. But afterwards changing his mind, he wrote to order them not to proceed with their dispute, till he had succeeded in arranging with the emperor Lothaire for the holding of a general synod, at which they would have to appear before their sovereign. He evidently saw that it would require the physical force of the secular arm to enforce the carrying out of any ecclesiastical decision relative to the respective rights of such important individuals as the patriarchs of Grado and Aquileia. With his death, the negotiations he had opened with the emperor on this matter fell through.

Short as was the reign of Sergius II.—for he died suddenly on January 27, 8474—he or his brother managed to execute many important works for the further utility or ornamentation of the city or its neighborhood. Like many of his predecessors, he turned his attention to the aqueducts and to the Lateran. Built about B.C. 150, the Martian aqueduct brought to Rome the waters “cold and pure” from springs in the neighborhood of Subiaco, over thirty-five miles away. For most of its course it ran underground, but when within six or seven miles from the city it was supported on peperino arches, the most massive of any which supported the aqueducts of Rome. Many of them are to this day in a good state of preservation. A branch from it, under the name of Aqua Jovia, was constructed by Diocletian to supply his baths. It entered Rome near the Porta Appia (S. Sebastiano), and struck the Tiber near the Schola Graeca (S. Maria in Cosmedin). This aqueduct, repaired by Hadrian, but now for several years almost in ruins, was again put into good working order by Sergius, and made to supply “nearly the whole city”.

In the very beginning of his pontificate he began to improve the Lateran basilica. He enlarged its sanctuary after plans of his own, decorating it with beautiful columns of carved marble, made beneath its altar a confession decorated with plates of silver-gilt, in which with his own hands he placed relics of saints, and converted the closed narthex in front of the doors of the basilica into an open portico.

Close to the Lateran, in the Via Merulana, there was situated the Schola Cantorum, which, at one time called the Orphanage (Orphanotrophium), was ever a subject of great care to the popes. Founded by Gregory the Great, and ruled seemingly by a primicerius, it was at this period an institution for the training of young clerics. But when Sergius became Pope it was in a very ruinous condition. He completely restored it, and gave useful presents to its chapel, dedicated to St. Stephen, the protomartyr. Still standing in the twelfth century, it is catalogued as destroyed in the fourteenth.

Those who desire to know about the work accomplished by Sergius for churches outside the city, and about the numerous and valuable gifts which he presented to various basilicas, must consult the Book of the Popes. But the reader should note how little all this record of good and useful work tallies with the unrestrained outburst of the Farnesian biographer.








EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                                 EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Michael II (the Stammerer), 820-829.                  Louis the Pious, 814-840.

Theophilus, 829-842. Lothaire I, 823-855.

Theodora and Michael III, 842-856.



THE new Pope whose name, through the Leonine city, was to be forever indelibly connected with the Eternal City, was a Roman, and the son of one Radoald, or Radwald, a name which suggests, if it does not prove, a Lombard extraction. Following in the footsteps of his biographer, we have to write of him that he was distinguished for his patience and humility, that he was generous, holy, and kind; a lover of justice, and a benign ruler; a man in whose breast was “the wisdom of the serpent and the simplicity of the dove”. He was a lover of good men, the comfort of the poor, and a despiser of himself. The deeds which Leo performed dispose us to believe that in his case, at any rate, these words of his biographer were neither merely idle nor contrary to fact. They prove him, at least, a man of exceptional energy and courage, and as possessed of remarkable powers of organization and magnificent ideas.

For his education his parents sent him to the monastery of Blessed Martin, near St. Peters’s, a monastery which, after he became Pope, Leo rebuilt on a grander scale than before. There not only did he advance in learning, but his pious behaviour, “not like that of a boy, but of a perfect monk”, disposed even his elders to a more devout service of God. Moved by all he heard of the youth’s virtues, Gregory IV brought him to the Lateran, and made him a subdeacon. This advance in life only made him more anxious to move forward in the service of God. By Sergius he was made cardinal priest of the Church of the “Quatuor Coronatorum”, on a spur of the Coelian Hill.

When, from the charge of this basilica, Leo was called to govern the whole Church of God, he did not forget it. He not only rebuilt it on a larger scale and in a more beautiful style, but was never tired of making presents to it. Leo IV was one of the popes whose work, while it preserved many of the relics of the saints, hastened the abandonment and utter forgetfulness of the catacombs which took place in this century. He brought into the city many bodies of the Saints, and among others those of the four martyred soldiers, the Quatuor Coronati, which he discovered after diligent search. These and many others he deposited beneath the altar of his new basilica. In the present church there are two inscriptions dealing with this translation of relics. One is of the year IV, and belongs to the pontificate of Paschal II. The other merely reproduces the list of relics given in the Liber Pontificalis, and is also posterior to it. Though the work of Leo was almost entirely destroyed by Robert Guiscard (1084), his confession was left untouched by him and by the restoration of Paschal. In it are still to be found in urns, which date only from the days of the latter Pontiff, the relics of the martyrs. In the course of the centuries they were again lost and again found, as is set forth by yet another inscription of the time of Urban VIII (1624), and now to be read at the base of the sanctuary arch on the right.

The details of Leo’s election, which we have from his biographer, show us the panic into which the appearance of the Saracens had thrown the inhabitants of Rome. He says that the catastrophe had completely broken the spirit of the people; and that, what with the sudden death of Sergius, and what with the devastation caused by the infidels not only in the churches of the apostles, but “in all the territories of the Romans”, they thought that they could not themselves avoid the danger of death. Their danger made “all the Roman nobility”, cleric and lay, really anxious to find one “who could rule so holy and inviolable a place with the fear of God”. Hence, even before Sergius had been buried, the minds of all were directed towards Leo.

With one accord all betook themselves to his titular church, and, though much against his will, carried him in triumph to the Lateran palace, and, “in accordance with ancient custom”, kissed his feet. But no sooner was the first exciting joy of the election over than the Romans felt they were between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand the barbarous ‘protest’ made by the young king Louis, in his father’s name, in the reign of Sergius, showed them that it would not be safe “to consecrate the future pontiff without the imperial assent”, and on the other hand they feared for the safety of the city. However, after waiting for some time, Leo was consecrated (April to, 847), “without the consent of the Prince”. Even after thus waiting for over two months for an approval from Lothaire, which for some cause did not come, the Romans, in order to avoid complications, took care to state that in this their conduct they meant to “preserve the fidelity and honor which, after God, they owed to the emperor”. It is most likely that to negotiations in connection with this consecration, we must refer a fragment of a letter of Leo to the emperors Lothaire and Louis II (this latter was crowned emperor in 850), preserved by Ivo. In this fragment Leo declares that it has been solemnly agreed between them and himself that “the election and consecration of one who is to be Pope must only be performed with due regard to justice and the canon law”. By this he no doubt intended to express his adhesion to the ‘constitutio’, of Eugenius II.

As the one object of Leo’s life was to oppose the depredations of the Saracens, our account of the work of his pontificate may well begin with a narrative of what he accomplished in this direction. Towards the close of the year, 848, Leo began the work of putting the walls of the city into a thorough state of repair. Constantly going around on horseback or on foot, he urged on the work. Walls, towers, and gates were strengthened or renewed. No less than fifteen of the great towers were entirely rebuilt. To still further add to the defenses of the city, the Pope built two strong towers, one on each bank of the Tiber, where it leaves the city near the Gate of Portus, and provided them with chains for throwing across the river. So that whereas before by this approach “not only ships but even men could effect an entrance into the city, now very little boats will scarcely be able to enter”, notes the biographer. The conclusion of this important work meant salvation for the city.

The same year that the general repairing of the city was begun, Leo resolved on and started a work of even greater magnitude. The sacking of St. Peter’s by the “wicked and malevolent” Saracens had filled all Rome with the greatest grief, and a second and worse visitation of the pirates was feared. The Pope therefore determined to surround St. Peter’s and the Vatican hill with a wall. But, as this was a great undertaking, he first wrote for advice and help to the emperor, with whom he seems always to have lived on good terms. Lothaire not only gladly urged the Pope to undertake the work with all possible dispatch, but, along with his brothers, sent him no small sum of money. This he did the more readily for the reason that the idea of surrounding the Vatican hill with a wall appears to have originated with him. Before the death of Sergius, he had issued a Capitulary (November or December) bewailing the fact that the Roman Church itself, which is the head of Christianity, should have been delivered into the hands of the infidels, and in particular regretting the destruction wrought that year (hoc anno) in St. Peter’s by the pagans, and expressing his great desire of having the Church restored and placed out of harm’s way for the future. He directs the Pope to enclose St. Peter’s with a wall, and proclaims his wish that money should be sent to Rome for the purpose from every part of his kingdom, “that so great a work, which was for the glory of all, should be completed with the help of all”. The need of money had to be made known by the bishops in the churches throughout the empire, “for it is only right that sons should honor their mother, and, as far as they can, protect and defend her”. At the same time he ordered troops from the various parts of the empire to march in an orderly manner to the assistance of Louis and his Italians against the Saracens. The Pope and the duke of the Venetians are also instructed to help.

Next, with “the advice of all his counselors”, Leo decided that all the towns of his dominions (at least of the duchy of Rome), all the public domains (massae publicae, the domus cultae of the Roman Church) and all the monasteries, should bear their share of the burden of the work. And extant inscriptions prove that, just as the Roman wall from the Tyne to the Solway was built in sections by different companies of the Roman forces, so a certain length of wall and a certain number of towers were built by the different agricultural colonies (domus cultae) of the Roman Church.

During the four years the building was in progress, neither cold, wind, nor rain could keep the Pope away from unceasingly urging on and superintending the work in all directions. Leo III had made a commencement of enclosing the Vatican, but the very foundations which he had made had disappeared. The work, then, of including the Vatican within fortifications was wholly that of Leo IV, and it was from him that the new enclosure, “a masterpiece of medieval military engineering”, was called the Leonine city. According to Gregorovius and Lanciani, the walls of the new city were formed of layers of tufa and tiles, were twelve feet thick and nearly forty feet in height, and were defended by forty-four towers. Two of these round towers, which protected “the most exposed angles, are still in existence, and form a conspicuous landmark in the Vatican landscape”. One of them, “which stands at a height of 187 feet above the sea … is now used as an observatory”.

“Where the wall runs along the level, it has two galleries, one above the other. The lower gallery is supported by open arcades facing within. They were walled up in the fifteenth century by Pope Borgia, and the gallery itself was transformed into a secret passage—the famous Corridojo di Castello—connecting the palace of the Vatican with the fortress of S. Angelo. To this corridor many popes and cardinals have been indebted for escape from death or servitude”.

Of the three gates which led into the new city, the most important, the one through which the emperors entered, was the gate of St. Peregrinus, so called because near the church of that name. But the most interesting, at least to us, is the one which, from the name given to it by our countrymen, was called the Postern gate of the Saxons, as it stood in the school or quarter of the Anglo-Saxons. Various inscriptions set forth the builder and the date of the building of the new city. Over the principal gate was inscribed :


“Qui venis ac vadis decus hoc adtende viator,

Quod Quartus struxit nunc Leo Papa libens.

Caesaris invicti quod cernis iste Holothari

Praesul tantum [ovans] tempore gessit opus.

Roma, caput orbis, splendor, spes, aurea Roma,

Praesulis ut monstrat en labor alma tui”.


When the work was at length concluded, the walls were with great ceremony blessed by the Pope. Round the walls in solemn procession, chanting litanies, psalms, and hymns, went all the different orders of the clergy, bare­foot and with ashes on their heads. At each of the three gates the procession halted, and the Pope prayed that Our Lord, through the intercession of the saints and angels, would preserve the city safe for ever from the attacks of its enemies. The Book of the Popes gives the three prayers. The one which was offered up at the “Postern of the Saxons” ran as follows: “Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty and merciful God, that crying to Thee with all our hearts, we may, through the intercession of Blessed Peter, Apostle, obtain Thy merciful forgiveness; and we unceasingly implore Thy great clemency to grant that this city, which I, Thy servant, Leo IV, bishop, have by Thy help newly dedicated, may be ever preserved intact. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ”

After the circuit of the walls had been performed, the clergy and the nobles went to St. Peter’s to assist at a Mass sung by the Pope for the safety of the people and the city. After the Mass was over, Leo not only made presents to the nobles of gold, silver, and silk stuffs; but, in fulfillment of a vow, gave great largesses to all the inhabitants of the Leonine city, whether native or foreign.

The Pope had not been left to carry out all these great works in peace. In fact, they had not been long begun another when the Saracens gathered together at Totarum, near Sardinia—probably one of the small islands off its east coast. Fortunately this assembling of a powerful fleet by the infidels caused others, as well as the Romans, to fear for themselves. The great maritime cities of Naples, Amalfi, and Gaeta, still nominally recognizing the emperor at Constantinople, but for a long time practically independent, joined their fleets, and sent word to the Pope that they were coming to his help against the common foe. The arrival of this unexpected fleet at the mouth of the Tiber caused quite a flutter at Rome. In those days, when almost every man’s hand was against his neighbour’s, the first thought which came into the minds of the Romans was one of anxiety to know whether the Greeks had really come to help them, or to take advantage of their troubles and oppress them. Leo sent to ask some of their commanders to come and explain their intentions. Among others there went to Rome Caesarius, the admiral of the combined fleet, who had inflicted some loss on the Saracens after their first attempt on Rome. Abundantly satisfied with his assurances, Leo resolved to co-operate with him. With a large force of Romans he marched to Ostia, where he received the Neapolitans with every sign of welcome. They, on their part, overjoyed to see the Pope, humbly kissed his feet, and gave thanks to God for giving them such a Pontiff. “That they might become the better victors over the sons of Belial, they earnestly begged that from his sacred hands they might receive the Body of the Lord”. Accordingly, in the Church of Blessed Aurea, Leo sang Mass, at which all communicated, and at which he poured forth ardent prayers to God to give victory to His people.

On the following day the Pope returned to Rome and the fleet of the Saracens appeared in sight. The allied fleets attacked the enemy with vigor. But a great wind, “which God produced from his treasury”, and which arose in the midst of the engagement, separated the fleets, and completely destroyed that of the Saracens. Their ships were dashed to pieces on the shore, and their crews were either drowned, put to the sword, or taken prisoners. Of these latter a considerable number were hanged by the Romans at Ostia as pirates. The rest were brought to Rome and made to help at the work of building the fortifications which was then going on.

Gibbon concurs with Voltaire in singing the praises of Leo IV for saving Rome from the Saracens, and both say of him that “he stood erect, like one of the firm and lofty columns that rear their heads above the fragments of the Roman Forum”. And if this victory of the Pope at Ostia inspired the pen of the writer, it furnished Raphael with a subject for one of the frescos, illustrative of the triumphs of the Church, which he designed for what are now known as his Stanze in the Vatican. With, however, the possible exception of the faces of the Pope and his attendants, faces which are portraits of Leo X and of members of his court, the fresco of the victory of Leo IV in the so-called Stanza dell' Incendio is the work of Giovanni da Udine.

No sooner had Leo finished fortifying the Vatican hill than he began to consider what was the next thing to do to guard against the attacks of the Saracens. Then, reflecting that his predecessor Gregory IV had done something to defend the mouth of the Tiber by rebuilding Ostia on its southern bank, he resolved to rebuild Portus on its northern shores. Its walls were accordingly once again rendered serviceable; new gates were made, and, where necessary, new buildings erected.

No sooner were these new structures completed than, to the great joy of the Pope, a sturdy body of men offered themselves to his hands to take possession of his new city. A band of Corsicans, whom the ravages of the Saracens had driven into exile from their native land, presented themselves to Leo, and, in return for protection, offered to serve him and his successors for ever. He received them with the greatest kindness, and told them that, if they would take up their abode in his new city, he would give them vineyards, plough-lands and meadow-lands, so that they would want for nothing. Further, till by their labor they were able to provide for their wants, he promised them horses and cattle and stock of all kinds, if they would do as they had agreed. The grateful Corsicans professed their readiness “to live and die” in the place appointed for them. Accordingly a formal charter was drawn up, setting forth that, in virtue of the concession made them by the emperors Lothaire and Louis (the latter had been crowned emperor 850) and by the Pope, what had been granted them should be theirs “as long as they remained in all things obedient and faithful to the prelates of the Holy See and the Roman people”.

In the interior of the states of the Church, long peace had caused some of the cities to be very careless about looking to their fortifications. Among these the Tuscan cities of Horta and Ameria seem to have been the most apathetic. Fearing lest the Saracens might be more successful another time, and penetrate further into the interior, as they were doing in Southern Italy, Leo stirred up the inhabitants of these cities to put their defensive works in thorough repair.

There was yet another city, the state of which very much distressed the good Pope, and that was Centumcellae, which Trajan had made of importance by the harbor which he built there. As we have already seen, it was sacked (813) by the Moors even during the lifetime of Charlemagne himself. For forty years its walls had remained dismantled, and the miserable remnant of its inhabitants led a wretched life among the mountains, always in fear of the Saracens. Leo, who carried out to perfection the sage recommendation of praying as though all depended on God, and working as though all depended on oneself, earnestly prayed to God to show him where it would be best for him to rebuild the city, so as to afford the greatest security for the people. At the same time he went down to the neighborhood, and made a most careful examination of the country. At first the want of water made it difficult for him to fix on a suitable site. But later on he found a most desirable spot, strong by nature, and abundantly supplied with water, twelve miles from the old Centumcellae. His biographer goes on to inform us that by the divine mercy the Pope planned out the new city in a dream. One night he seemed to be at the place he had fixed upon for the new city, and there to a certain Peter, the master of the soldiers, he pointed out where he must place the churches, and, from the nature of the ground, no more than two gates. Next morning the magister militum was called before the Pope, and a large sum of silver mancuses given him to aid the people to build the new city. Under the hand of the energetic Pontiff a fresh town sprang into being, and, after his name, was known as Leopolis. It was solemnly blessed, with similar ceremonies to those used in blessing the Leonine city “in the eighth year of Leo’s pontificate, the second indiction (854)”. Among the presents he made to the churches of his new city are noted “seven Catholic codices”, among which were an antiphonary, a book of the Gospels, a psalter, etc.

All the time that this building of cities was going on, Leo was rebuilding, redecorating, and making presents to churches not only in Rome, but in other parts of his dominions, and especially to those which had been damaged by the Saracens. Incredible were the sums of money he expended on these works, particularly in refurnishing St. Peter’s, to which of course he devoted the most concern. Though the body of the Apostle himself had not been interfered with, his basilica had been completely stripped of its priceless ornaments, the very altar over his confession had been broken, and the silver doors of the church stripped of their plates. To repair the damage done was one of the constant (aims of Leo IV. Inasmuch as he had the care of all the churches, it grieved him to the heart to see the mischief wrought by the Saracens, and the distress which the ruin caused to the faithful who came from all parts to pray at the Apostle’s tomb. Consistently with making as little change as possible in the arrangements of the confession, and as far as his means would allow, he worked wonders in the matter of effecting a thorough renovation. The altar, indeed, is said to have been made more magnificent than before. Once again the shrine became resplendent with the precious metals. Once more was the basilica the possessor of splendid candelabra, hangings, and church furniture generally. Its silver gates were made even more beautiful than they were before they had been robbed “by the Saracen breed”. The little basilica of St. Andrew which adjoined the sacristy of St. Peter’s was provided with a campanile and bells. But to make good all that had been devastated was “a task far beyond the powers of a single man to accomplish, and the shrine of St. Peter never again attained to anything like its former glory”.

Besides, Leo had other places to repair as well as St. Peter’s. “For it was his eager desire to rebuild all the places of the saints which had been destroyed”. Among other buildings repaired and beautified by him was the Lateran palace. He completed the erection of the marble seats which adorned its entrance, and renewed some of the additions which Leo III had made to it. During the pontificate of Paschal I, there had been stolen the gold cross set with jewels which Charlemagne, “Emperor of the Franks and Romans”, had presented to the Lateran basilica in the time of Leo. It was the one carried before the popes during the procession of the litanies. Leo caused another similar one to be made and used for the old purpose. For we are assured that he was always anxious about preserving old habits and customs; and as a further example of this tendency of his, we are given the fact that after he restored the triclinium of Leo III, he renewed the custom of the popes dining therein on Christmas Day.

Educated in a monastery, he did not forget the interests of monks when he became Pope. Very numerous were the valuable presents he made to different monasteries, some of which he restored and endowed even out of his own private property. Among those which benefited by his generosity was the famous one on the site of the cave of St. Benedict at Subiaco. To this abode of peace, destined to be the foster-mother of art, situated on the side of a glorious gorge of the rushing, roaring Aniane, he is even said to have paid a visit to consecrate an altar. At any rate the traveller who is fortunate enough to behold the frescos of the monastery of the Sacra Speco will see that its tradition counts him as one of its great patrons. He is one of the four popes whose frescos meet the eye in the entrance corridor; and among those in the upper chapel, painted perhaps by Pietro Cavallini, the master of Giotto, there is one occupying the space above the rood-screen, which shows him enthroned, and having presented to him two members of the family of the Anicii.

Another great fire in the Anglo-Saxon quarter in the very beginning of his pontificate, a fire the advance of which he stopped by making the sign of the cross, also helped to increase the building operations of Leo. But those who would know more of his work in stone must read the Liber Pontificalis. We will return to his dealings with men.

One of the most important events in his reign was the crowning of Lothaire’s son Louis as emperor. That this happened in 850 we know from the annals of Prudentius of Troyes. Some authors write that it took place on April 6th, but the month and day are not certain. As an account of the ceremony observed on the occasion of the coronation of an emperor at Rome in Carolingian times has come down to us, it may not be out of place to give some notice of it here. For even if the ordo itself belongs to a somewhat later date, it will be clear from the extracts from contemporary authorities which we shall quote in the notes, that it represents, to all intents and purposes, exactly what took place in the year 850 at the coronation of Louis II.

The function began with the Consecration, or anointing, and was continued by the first prayer : “Hear, O Lord, our prayers, and fit Thy servant to rule the empire, that through Thee he may begin to rule, and through Thee faithfully continue to rule”. Then followed a longer prayer, wherein God is asked to bless “this Thy glorious servant”, as He blessed the patriarchs of old, to grant that in his reign there might be health, peace, and dignity; to make him a most valiant protector of his empire, the comforter of the Church, a well-doer to high and low, and feared and loved by all; and to give him sons to succeed him, and eternal life hereafter.

Then the Pope placed on the head of the emperor a crown of gold, with the words: “Receive the crown that God has destined for you; may you have, hold, and possess it; and, by the help of God, leave it to your sons after you for their honor”. Then a prayer was offered up begging God to bless the emperor, and to give him prosperity in this life and the next. During the Mass that was afterwards said for the emperor, special prayers were intoned that he might reign by the power of God, and might over­come his enemies. The “end” of the empire in the mind of the Church is plainly expressed in the prayer at the Post-communion: “O God, who hast prepared the Roman empire for the preaching of the Gospel of Thy eternal kingdom, give to Thy servant our emperor, the might of heaven, that the peace of the Church may not be troubled by any tempest of war”. When the sword was presented to and girt on the emperor, the Pope said : “From the bishop’s hands, which though unworthy have been consecrated in the stead and by the authority of the Holy Apostles, receive the sword, royally given to thee, and, by our blessing, divinely ordained for the defence of Holy Church. Be mindful of the words of the Psalmist : ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, 0 thou most mighty!’ (Ps. XLIV. 4) —that by it you may exercise the might of justice”. Then begin the laudes; or, to use the words of the rubric, when the Pope has finished the prayer, before the reader ascends the ambo or pulpit, two deacons or cantors give out certain versicles, to which the college of secretaries (schola scriniarum) makes answer as follows : “Graciously hear us, O Christ!” The college replies : “Life to our illustrious Lord, by God decreed our chief Bishop and Universal Pope!” This was to be thrice repeated. Then the cantors intoned : “O Saviour of the world!” and the chorus : “Do Thou help him!” The cantors : “Hear us, O Christ!” The chorus : “Life to our illustrious Lord, Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific emperor!” To shorten this account, it may be added that Holy Mary, St. Peter, and St. Theodore are next invoked to bestow their aid on the emperor’s children, and on the army of the “Franks, Romans, and Germans” (Theutonici). The laudes concluded with various ejaculations in praise of Our Lord, such as : “Christ conquers!” “To Him alone be honor and glory!”

By some such ceremony as this was Louis II proclaimed emperor of the Franks and of the Romans. Differing in this respect from the other Carolingian emperors who had gone before him, he was to reside in Italy for the twenty-five years of his reign, and was thus to be more in a position to show himself practically Emperor of the Romans.

Before, however, temporarily dismissing him for the present from our thoughts, as he departs from Rome after thus receiving the imperial crown from the Pope, it may be well to observe here that, whatever disagreements may have arisen between Louis and the popes from time to time during his rule of a quarter of a century, he never lost his respect for Rome and the successors of the Apostles —a respect entertained, despite occasional outbreaks of temper, by all the Carolingian monarchs. And so in this very year (850) we find him legislating for the safety of those journeying to Rome “for the sake of prayer”, and for the proper honor, support, and means of transport to be given to the missi, not only of his father and himself, but also of the Apostolicus (Leo IV.).

Three years after the coronation of Louis, Leo anointed another prince, and that no less a person than our own great king Alfred, the only one of our sovereigns who “received sacred unction in Rome at the hands of the Pope”. The ravages of time have played such havoc with the sources of history, that, with the exception of the notice that Archbishop Ceolnoth received his pallium from Gregory IV, we have not found any fact of history connecting England with the popes in the records of many years. But in 853, with “an honorable escort of nobles and commoners”, Ethelwulf, the king of the West Saxons, following the example so frequently set by the Carolingian monarchs, sent to Rome his favorite son Alfred, then a mere child, to receive the regal unction. Leo not only anointed him as king, but adopted him as his spiritual son by standing godfather to him at confirmation. Writing to Ethelwulf to tell him of what he had done, the Pope, in a fragment of one of his letters which we possess, speaks of having invested Alfred, as his spiritual son, with the customary “consular girdle (probably the lorus), honour and raiment, inasmuch as he had offered himself into his hands”.

Passing over the theory that nothing more was meant by all this than that Alfred became the Pope’s godson in confirmation, the object of Ethelwulf’s action may be stated in the words of one of Alfred’s modern biographers. “It is difficult to say”, remarks Dr Pauli, “what may have been his father’s motive for this proceeding; we can only suppose that his veneration for the capital city of Christendom, and for the representative of Christ upon earth, made him hope to receive the same gifts from the Holy Father which the earlier popes had bestowed upon the sons of Pippin and Charlemagne—viz., their holy unction and benediction. He wished his favorite child, whom he secretly desired might succeed him on the throne, to receive, in the blessing of the bishop of Rome, a kind of prophetic authorization of the succession”. Whether these reflections of the learned German be just or not, and they are in complete harmony with the views of Freeman, the visit of Alfred to Rome must have made a lasting impression for good on his youthful mind—an impression doubtless deepened by a second visit two years later, of which we shall speak under the reign of Benedict III.

At the close of this same year Leo held a synod at Rome (December 8, 853) of sixty-seven bishops. Of these, four were sent by the emperors Lothaire and Louis, with whose concurrence the assembly was held. Forty-two canons were passed by this council. Thirty-eight of them renewed those of the Roman council of 826 under Eugenius II, and were for the most part concerned with the improvement of discipline and learning among the clergy. The council renewed for the fourth time a sentence of excommunication against Anastasius, cardinal of St. Marcellus, and declared him definitively suspended.

This severe action brings prominently before our notice one of the most remarkable figures that appeared on the stage of the Western world during the ninth century, a figure that looms the larger from being seen through the historical haze which hangs over the period. At one time we catch a glimpse of him hurrying along the path of the world's ambitions, now scheming for the papacy and now actually an antipope. again and again deposed and restored ; and anon he was to be seen like a scholar, buried deep in books, writing histories and biographies and translating from the Greek. Then once more is he a man of action, librarian of the Roman Church and secretary of the Holy See. He was the Photius of the Latin Church.

The son of the haughty and covetous Arsenius, sometime (855-868) bishop of Horta (Orta), often legate of the Holy See, and brother of the ambitious Eleutherius, the murderer of his would-be wife and mother-in-law, his career shows that he was not untainted with some of the vices of his family. His erudition, or perhaps his family influence, attracted the attention of Leo IV, and he made him cardinal-priest of S. Marcellus in 848. But he soon saw cause to repent of his action, and Anastasius became to him an object of suspicion. He was thought, perhaps, to be either unduly attached to the imperial party or to be intriguing to secure the papacy. He was probably one of those “strenuous men, well acquainted with the powers exercised by the emperors of old” whom Louis, “anxious to subject all Italy to his sway”, supported at Rome. Had it not been “for his reverence for the Blessed Apostles”, he would, at their suggestion, have taken all authority in the Eternal City into his own hands. Finding himself under a cloud, the cardinal fled from Rome to Aquileia, whence nothing could induce him to return to his duty at S. Marcellus.

Already, in 850, a council at Rome of seventy-five bishops had excommunicated him for being absent for two years from his titular church without cause, and for neglecting to take any notice of repeated summonses to come and give an account of his conduct. Then at Ravenna, where he had had an interview with the emperor Louis II, Leo had renewed (May 29, 853) the sentence, and once again at Rome (June 19, 853), with fifty-six bishops. His subsequent life proved still further that Anastasius was a turbulent, disobedient spirit, and fully justified the strong measures which we find Leo taking against him so frequently excommunicating him, and “all who might wish to afford him any help to obtain episcopal”, or perhaps, rather, “papal election”. Two years after this and we shall see Anastasius an antipope.

Several of the fragments of Leo’s letters, if they do no more, reveal at least the fact that Anastasius was not the only rebellious spirit with whom he had to contend. It is quite possible, however, that several of the others belonged to the party of which he was the tool or the prime mover. Whether or not with the connivance of the imperial government, a considerable amount of oppression was being exercised in the papal territories in the north. One of the offenders, traditional it might almost be added, was John (IX. or X., 850-878), archbishop of Ravenna, a partisan of the emperor Louis II. “Without legal sanction”, he seized the property of the Pope’s subjects. In the pursuit of his ambition or his avarice he was ably seconded by his brother George or Gregory, the duke of Emilia, who, with the assistance of two other nobles, Peter and Hadrian, went to the length of murdering a papal legate while on his way to the emperor Lothaire. The assassins no doubt supposed he was going to lodge a complaint against them. With their excesses we must join those of a certain Gratian, perhaps the magister militum of that name, with whom Leo had lately had trouble. This ruffian not only did not scruple to put men to death by the sword, by the scourge, or by drowning, but affected to play the part of an independent sovereign even in theory, and forced several people to take an oath of fidelity to him. With robbers such as these at large, the roads became unsafe for pilgrims and merchants alike. But not in vain was appeal made to Leo. He betook himself to Ravenna after intimating to John and his brother that he would not tolerate their oppression of his people.

This journey was undertaken seemingly just before Easter, and the Pope appears to have remained at Ravenna till after his interview with the emperor Louis, and his condemnation of Anastasius.

George, Hadrian, and Peter were tried and condemned to death “by Roman law”. The fact that the trial took place at Easter (853) saved the lives of the culprits. The law forbade executions at that sacred season, and they had time to appeal to Louis. Ashamed to take their part openly, and yet anxious to support them as his partisans, he proposed that Peter and Hadrian should be sent to Rome, and that a fresh trial should be held. The Pope absolutely refused to agree to the first proposal. His life, he said, would be in danger if they came to Rome. With regard to the second, he expressed his astonishment that it should be made, considering that the accused had had a fair trial in presence of the emperor’s missi. However, he had no objection to another trial if it were only conducted by imperial missi, possessed of the fear of God, and who would act as they would in presence of the emperor himself. How all this affair ended is not known. But John and his brother George or Gregory were still in undisturbed possession of their positions and property in the days of Nicholas I.

Before the Pope left Rome for Ravenna, expecting to be absent for some time, and anxious that good order should be observed in his absence, he issued a special injunction ordering all the officials, clerical and lay, connected with the administration of justice to attend at the Lateran palace at the appointed times, just as if he himself were present.

Hincmar of Rheims also, to whom Leo had sent the pallium in the first year of his reign, had dealings with the Pope this same year (853)

It was the emperor Lothaire himself who had asked for the pallium for Hincmar, in a letter which began, “Divine Providence wished that the Apostolic See (which, through the most Blessed Prince of the Apostles, is the head and foundation of sanctity wherever in the world the Christian religion is spread) should obtain the primacy of the churches, that in all religious difficulties recourse should be had to it by all as to the standard (norma) of religion and the fount of justice”.


The case of Wulfad.


It has been already stated that Ebbo of Rheims, after his canonical deposition, was restored to the archdiocese by the power of the emperor Lothaire in 840. On his restoration, Ebbo had ordained certain priests and deacons. These ordinations Hincmar, on the advice of his brethren, as he afterwards maintained, refused to recognize, and they were subsequently declared invalid by a council at Soissons (853). For this council Hincmar endeavored to procure the confirmation of Leo IV. This, however, he refused on various grounds. The acts of the council had not been sent to him, his legates had not been present at it, no explanatory imperial letter had been sent him, and finally the degraded clerics, chief of whom was one Wulfad, had appealed to the Holy See. He therefore wrote (c. July 853) to order Hincmar to hold a fresh synod in presence of the papal vicar, Peter, bishop of Spoleto, and to go into the case again. If the deposed clerics, not satisfied with the verdict of this new synod, persisted in appealing to Rome, then, “that the privilege of the Apostolic See might not be rendered nugatory”, not only was leave to go to Rome not to be denied them, but Hincmar or his envoy must accompany them. But before he could succeed in effecting the repeal of the archbishop’s unnecessary severity against the clerics, Leo died, and Hincmar managed to obtain a qualified approval of the doings of the Council of Soissons from Leo’s successor Benedict. This latter gave his approval “on condition that everything was as stated to him” in the letters of Hincmar. Nicholas I, too, gave 4 (863) a similarly guarded confirmation of the acts of the council of 853. Later on, however, Nicholas listened to the repeated protests of the deposed clerics against the harshness of the sentence decreed against them, and at once took up the affair with his characteristic energy. He wrote (866, April 3) to Herard of Tours, Remigius of Lyons, and other metropolitans, bidding them convoke a synod at Soissons (August 18, 866) and restore the deposed clerics to their respective ranks if Hincmar would not do so of his own accord. He at the same time wrote to Hincmar himself, and begged him to be merciful to the unfortunate clerics. He added, however, that if Hincmar could not see his way in conscience to restore the clerics, he had ordered the archbishops and bishops of Gaul and Neustria (Galliarum et Neustrix) to meet at Soissons, and restore them; or, if they could not agree on that course, to insist at least on envoys from Hincmar and the clerics coming to Rome. He concluded by telling him that he had ordered Remigius to approach him, and to summon the council himself, “if he (Hincmar) feared to restore the clerics on his own authority”. The acts of the council must be sent to the Pope, and Hincmar must take good care not to neglect anything which has been ordered.

This was one of those cases always difficult to manage, where one in authority has inflicted punishment on grounds which are, at least, prima facie just, and then will not yield to those reasons of mercy, if not of the strictest justice, which strongly commend themselves to the common superior of the one who has inflicted and the one who has to endure the punishment. Hincmar in degrading the clerics had not done wrong. But he would not extend that mercy to them which, under the circumstances, was really their due. The synod was accordingly summoned.

It met at the time and place appointed by Nicholas. “To Remigius (of Lyons), to Wenilo (of Rouen), and to the other archbishops and bishops, by the authority of the Lord Pope Nicholas, assembled in the synod at which he has ordered me and my suffragans to appear”, Hincmar addressed four letters or memoirs. He unfolded the whole history of the affair from his point of view; and while declaring his readiness to obey the decrees of Nicholas, endeavored to make capital out of his previous confirmation and out of that of Benedict III; and urged that, as he had not himself condemned the clerics, he could not by himself restore them, and that what had once been decreed in councils ought not to be altered without necessity.

The council, however, decided in favor of the deposed clerics. It is true it followed a course suggested by Hincmar. It did not annul the previous decisions against the clerics in question, but it resolved to reinstate them as an act of grace. In its synodal letter to the Pope (August 25) the council showed how much it was influenced by the character of Hincmar, a character which certainly wanted more Christian humility to put it on the road to perfection. While professing to think as the Pope thought, and to put into execution what he decreed, the council endeavored to make the Pope unsay what he had said, rather than themselves, as a body, undo mercifully what the former Council of Soissons had done with severity. They would be only too glad to restore the clerics—but then there were the former decrees ratified by popes. The corroboration of those decisions naturally rested with the Apostolic See, and, therefore, to that magisterial authority they would leave the restoration of the clerics. Hence, if the Pope thought it advisable, these clerics might be reinstated on the same lines as the Council of Nice had restored the reconciled Donatists. In conclusion, they begged the Pope to see to it that no advantage of this indulgence was taken by any in future to exercise clerical duties without proper authority.

Egilo, archbishop of Sens, who was commissioned to take the synodal decrees to Rome, was also the bearer of letters from Charles the Bald, and Hincmar himself to the Pope—both for different reasons anxious for the confirmation of the council. Hincmar’s letters (dated September 3, 866), is addressed “to the Lord most holy and reverend Father of Fathers, Nicholas, the Pope of the first and greatest Apostolic See and of the universal Church, Hincmar, bishop of Rheims, the most devoted servant of your most holy paternity”. It was quite in the same strain as that of the synod : “If you will stretch out a hand to the clerics, we will also do so with you”. However, he begs the Pope’s confirmation of the synod, and asserts his readiness to stand by the papal decision.

But Nicholas I was not the Pope to be first hoodwinked and then played with. Four letters of December 6, 866, to the bishops of the synod, to Hincmar, to Charles the Bald, and to the oft-mentioned clerics made the Pope’s mind tolerably plain. In his letter to the bishops, Nicholas goes back to the doings of the previous Council of Soissons, and shows that many things were there done or said which were not correct. It was said, for instance, that the clerics had of their own accord appeared before the synod, whereas the fact was that they had been forced to appear. Their metropolitan (Hincmar), acting at this synod now as the accused, now as the accuser, and now again as judge, showed himself like the chameleon. In the acts of the council important documents, such as the appeal of the clerics, had been omitted, and others of much less importance inserted. With regard to the confirmations of that synod by the Holy See, safeguarding clauses had been introduced as well by Benedict III as by himself. And though at the synod assembled by his orders (866) its members had decided that the clerics ought to be restored, they had not restored them, nor had they sent to him a full account of what had been accomplished. He therefore ordered (1) that the bishops should come together to discuss the matter again; (2) that meanwhile the clerics should be restored; and (3) that within a year Hincmar must present to him his accusations against the clerics, and his proofs that they had been canonically deposed. Besides this letter, Nicholas sent a very severe one to Hincmar, which he concluded by threatening to take away his pallium from him, if he used it at unwonted seasons for the purpose of raising himself above the other archbishops. A letter to the clerics, whilst announcing their restoration to them, exhorted them to respectful obedience to their archbishop (Hincmar).

These letters of Nicholas were followed in the first instance by the immediate dispatch to him (July 867) of a very submissive letter from Hincmar. He assured Nicholas that he had at once restored the clerics, that in this matter his one desire was to please the Pope, and that despite all that had been said against him, he had always, wherever opportunity offered, showed himself “faithful and devoted, humble also, and ever and in all things subject as regards the Holy See and its rulers”. In proceeding to defend himself against the Pope’s charges, he most earnestly assures him that in so doing he wishes not to resist the Pope’s authority in any way, “because he desires to follow that authority as a servant obeys his master, a son his father”. With this letter of Hincmar Nicholas expressed himself (867) completely satisfied.

To carry out the instructions of the Pope, Charles the Bald, by virtue of the authority of the same (auctoritate Nicolai), summoned a synod to meet at Troyes (October 25, 867). The bishops sent a full account of their proceedings to the Pope. In their synodal letter they inform Nicholas that they are forwarding him, at his request, all the documents that relate to the case of Ebbo, Hincmar, and the deposed clerics, and conclude by asking him to decree that in future, to avoid similar troubles, no bishop be deposed without the consent of the Holy See.

Actard, bishop of Nantes, was deputed to carry this letter to Rome. And here Hincmar was to learn how foolish it is to put faith in princes. The archbishop tells us, in the Annals which he wrote, “that Charles the Bald, now interested in advancing Wulfad, one of the deposed clerics, unmindful of the fidelity and toil of Hincmar in his service, forced Actard to give up the Acts of the Synod, broke their seal and read them. And, finding that Hincmar had not been condemned by the synod, forwarded, with the Acts, a letter directed against him”.

This tedious affair did not end even under Pope Nicholas. When Actard reached Rome, Hadrian II was Pope. But Rome was tired of this business. Hadrian at once (February–March 868) issued various letters on the matter to Charles, Hincmar, etc. The last-named is praised, Charles is told to let this useless question “die for ever”, the synod of Troyes is confirmed, and Wulfad recognized as archbishop of Bourges. This case of Ebbo, which we have thought advisable to follow out here to its close, is interesting, not as giving us any further insight into the ecclesiastical polity of the day—for that it does not do—but as supplying us with a study of character. It shows us also to what extent a proud and headstrong man in the grasp of authority will turn and twist in his efforts to get his own way, and only succeed in the end in securing for himself greater humiliation.

It may also be noted in connection with this case that in every instance in which they find the Pope intervening, some historians always see him striving to rob someone of his rights in order to increase his own power. It should not, then, surprise anyone to find certain historians trying to calculate how much fresh power accrued to the popes by this case of Ebbo. It would, however, be more than difficult to point out what the popes did in settling this “useless question”, which we have not seen them doing often enough before.

Still there is no doubt that the increased frequency of papal intervention in the affairs of the Church among the Franks, furnished some ground for the idea entertained by some of their bishops that their privileges were being interfered with. We know how much local authorities at home resent any unwonted, even if perfectly legal, intrusion of the central government into their affairs. Such an attitude on their part is perfectly natural. Are they not on the spot? Are they not in a better position to be acquainted with the circumstances of their own neighborhood? There is much in this thought calculated to explain the persistent opposition sometimes offered to the action of the popes in different countries.

But for all that, it is the right of the chief authority to judge how far its direct action in any locality is necessary either for the preservation of its own power, or for the advantage of the community; and, despite all opposition, to see that such action is respected and that its decisions are acknowledged.

Hincmar, for instance, was often able, in his differences with the popes, to make out a good case of having precedent on his side. But if that fact gave him some title for endeavoring to maintain the status quo, it certainly did not debar the central authority of Rome from putting an end to a state of things which it conceived to be, from any cause, undesirable.

Several other fragments of Leo’s letters enable us to get glimpses of many further transactions between him and the Franks or their rulers—glimpses which serve to bring out the uncompromising yet conciliatory character of the Pope. While assuring Lothaire that he will ever observe his decrees and those of his predecessors, he does not see his way to granting his request for the pallium for Alteus of Autun.

He reminds Charles the Bald, that if,” a thing which we do not believe, we are thought by you to be of no account, the Church, at least, over which we preside is rightly regarded by everyone as the head and source of all”. Another fragment to the emperors Lothaire and Louis is useful as showing how the freedom of election of bishops in the empire, proclaimed in theory by Charlemagne and Louis the Pious, was practically non-existent. The Pope had to write to ask the permission of the emperors before he could consecrate the deacon Colonus to be bishop of Reate, a town in the duchy of Spoleto, and hence under the emperor’s jurisdiction.

One of the forces at work in disintegrating the empire of the Franks was Nomenoius, duke of Brittany. It was in the course of his efforts in that direction that he entered into correspondence with Pope Leo. Originally one of the counts missi of Louis the Pious he was given (826) jurisdiction over Brittany with the title of duke. It was not long, however, before he aimed at making himself independent of the empire, and securing the title of king. Understanding right well what was best at least for his own interests, he made up his mind to create a national Church, or, at least, to have in Brittany an ecclesiastical organization, over which he could have complete control. As he found matters, the bishops of Brittany were spiritually subject to the archbishopric of Tours, a See in the realm of Charles the Bald. An opportunity of forwarding his views was not long in presenting itself. St. Convoyon, abbot of Redon, accused the Breton bishops of simony. Nomenoius took cognizance of the matter; and, as the bishops did not succeed in justifying themselves, it was agreed that the Pope should be consulted as to whether a simoniacal bishop could be received into penance without being deposed. Solutions of other questions were to be likewise sought from Rome, “which”, as the anonymous disciple of the saint informs us, the accused bishops called “the head of all the churches under the expanse of heaven”; and where, “before the vicar of S. Peter, i.e., the Roman pontiff”, they declared their intention of stating their case and of receiving judgment. St. Convoyon and two of the accused bishops therefore set out to lay the matter before Leo. Though the Pope decided that bishops found guilty of simony must be deposed, he did not himself order the deposition of the Breton bishops. He would only have them condemned before twelve bishops, or on the evidence given on oath of seventy-two witnesses. And further, as he laid down in the letter which he addressed to the bishops of Brittany (848 or later), if any bishop appealed to Rome, no one was to presume to pass sentence on him. In this same letter, in answer to various queries addressed to him, Leo decided that it belonged to bishops to regulate ecclesiastical affairs and to govern the diocese; condemned the practice of judging cases by lots, and pointed out by what canons bishops were to be tried.

The decision of Leo regarding the bishops accused of simony did not suit Nomenoius. With threats of death he made them resign their bishoprics, had their places filled by men devoted to him, and created three fresh bishoprics, making one of these, Dol, the metropolitan See for his new kingdom. It was not till the thirteenth century that the upstart claims of Dol were once for all finally put down, and those of Tours again allowed to have their way. Despite the protest of Leo, and that of a council of Paris (849), which urged the authority of the Holy See on him, Nomenoius not only persisted in his course in the matter of the Breton bishops, but even expelled Actard from Nantes, which did not properly belong to Brittany, and put one, Gislard, in his place. Nomenoius, however, did not continue long to defy the authority of the Church. He died in 851.

The trouble raised in the Church by Nomenoius was but a trifle compared to the one which was now gathering in the East, and of which Leo witnessed the first forerunners. St. Ignatius had been enthroned as patriarch of Constantinople on July 4, 846. To show his good-will to the Pope he sent him a present of a pall (pallium superhumerale). Leo, however, felt compelled politely to refuse the proffered gift—“because it is not the custom of this Church, the mistress and head of all the churches, to receive the pall from others, but throughout Europe to send it to those to whom it is appointed”."

The holy patriarch had occasion, on some grounds not known to us, to slight Gregory Asbestas, bishop of Syracuse, who, after the coming of the Saracens to Sicily, had withdrawn to Constantinople. So outrageously did Gregory behave in consequence, that Ignatius caused him to be deposed in a council at Constantinople (854). According to a letter of Stylian, the metropolitan of Neocaesarea, addressed to Pope Stephen (V) VI, Gregory, and the few clergy of no standing who adhered to him, appealed to the Pope. Leo at once wrote to Ignatius to ask him to send an envoy to Rome who might lay the case of the schismatics before him from the patriarch’s point of view. Ignatius thereupon sent one Lazarus, a monk illustrious as a confessor of the faith, who was thoroughly acquainted with the case. Lazarus, who was the bearer of letters from the patriarch, put the whole matter before the Pope, who confirmed the sentence of Ignatius, a decision which was repeated by his successor Benedict. This version of Leo’s action given by Stylian, who in this letter gives a summary of the whole affair of Photius, a name to be forever notorious in the history of the Church, does not quite agree with the notice left of it in several of his letters, by Nicholas I, nor with the Liber Pontificalis, according to which Lazarus only reached Rome in the pontificate of Benedict III. And certainly it is more likely that Nicholas would know what exactly had been done by his predecessors, than a Greek who lived at a distance. According to Nicholas, though Ignatius asked the Apostolic See to consent to the deposition of Gregory, Leo and Benedict, “guarding the moderation of the Holy See”, were unwilling so far to give ear to one side as to leave no opening for the other.

And, indeed, within comparatively recent years, the discovery made by Mr. Bishop of many fragments of papal letters in the British Museum has proved conclusively that at least for a time Leo certainly did not approve of the action of Ignatius. For an extract from a letter of his (c. 853) to the patriarch runs thus : “From the time when the only Son of God founded on Himself His holy Church, and by His apostolic institutions (apostolicis institucionibus, i.e., as I take it, by the dispositions He made among His apostles), established a head of all His priests, any difficulty or trouble which arose in your Church your predecessors hastened with all zeal and diligence to make known to the Roman pontiff, and then, strengthened by his assent and light-giving counsel, they peacefully accomplished whatever the circumstances required. But you, their successor, have assembled bishops and deposed certain prelates without our knowledge. This you certainly ought not to have done in the absence of our legates or of letters from us”.

Leo died before the evidence before him could be cleared up. Benedict, though he declared Gregory suspended, did not go to the length of deposing him, a fact which, as Nicholas acknowledges in the first of the three letters just quoted, only made Gregory more insolent against his patriarch. We have said that Leo witnessed the forerunners of the storm soon to be caused by Photius. Gregory and his party were the chief tools made use of by Bardas Caesar and Photius. It was Gregory that made Photius from a layman into a patriarch in a day or two.

Another Greek affair, much nearer home, also troubled last days of Leo. A certain Daniel, a magister militum, who, according to the description of him in the Liber Pontificalis, was partly wicked and partly foolish, went off to the emperor Louis to lay a charge against Gratian, who is therein set down not only as the most eminent magister militum, but also as “the worthy Superista of the Roman palace (the Lateran) and councilor” of the Pope. It is possible he may be the Gratian of whom mention has already been made. Daniel assured Louis that Gratian had secretly said to him that the best policy of the Romans was to form an alliance with the Greeks and get rid of the domination of the Franks. Roused to fury at once, as his relations with the East were at this period not of the best, Louis flew to Rome, without a word of warning either to the Pope or to the Senate. Leo received him, on the steps of St. Peter’s, and soon calmed the imperial anger. The two, assisted by the Roman and Frankish nobles, held a placitum to examine into the affair. Daniel was soon condemned out of his own mouth when tried by the Roman law, and only the intercession of the emperor saved the unfortunate man’s life.

Soon after the departure of Louis, died the energetic and courageous Pope Leo IV, a pontiff as ready, when duty called, to wield the spear as the crozier (July 17). He was buried in St. Peter’s, and is ranked among the saints in the Roman martyrology on July 17. It is on this day that the feast of St. Leo IV is still kept.

According to the Liber Pontificalis, Leo was illustrious, even in life for the working of miracles. As examples we find there cited his stopping the advance of the fire in the Anglo-Saxon quarter by making the sign of the cross, of which we have spoken above; and his destroying by his prayers, “in the first year of his Pontificate”, and on the day “on which the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary is celebrated”, a serpent of the “dire kind, which in Greek is known as a basilisk, and in Latin as a regulus”. According to the papal biographer this serpent infested certain dark caverns in the vicinity of the Church of S. Lucia in Orfea (so called from its proximity to a fountain with a statue of Orpheus), now S. Lucia in Selci, and caused general consternation by the number which it killed “by its breath and by its appearance”. Leo, with all the clergy, went in solemn procession to the said caverns, singing hymns and carrying a statue, or rather a representation of Our Lord. After the Pope had earnestly begged of God to drive away the serpent, the reptile was never afterwards seen. Whatever may have been the origin of this portent, it reminds one of the devastating monster Cacus represented by Livy (as living on the Aventine, who, according to Varro, used to vomit forth flames, and who was finally slain by Hercules. Leo’s basilisk is evidently related to the dragon, which, according to the legend of Pope Silvester, that Pope shut up in its cave in the Tarpeian rock. And whatever was done by Leo to give rise to this curious legend, the memory of it survived for centuries. Canon Benedict, who wrote an Ordo Rornanus, or Book of Ceremonies of the Roman church, during the reign of Innocent II (1130-43), speaking of the very procession of the image of Our Lord just described, says that, when it left the Church of St. Hadrian, the statue was carried through the arch in Lathone, because of old the devil had caused great trouble in that part. Then the procession passed by the Domus Orphei on account of the basilisk which used to lurk there in a cavern, and which by its breath and hissing used to cause people who passed thereby to sicken and die. Hence Pope Sergius (II) instituted this procession on this great festival, that by the prayers of so many people and by the intercession of the most blessed Virgin, the Roman people might be freed from these troubles. From a sixteenth century writer, it appears that the arch, in Lathone, or really in Latrone, the Robber arch, was so called from the robberies and murders which took place near it, and which the neighborhood of the ruins of the Basilica of Constantine enabled to be committed with more or less impunity. The same author assures us that it was on account of these outrages that the mid-August procession of the statue of Our Saviour carried on the shoulders of the Roman nobility passed by the Robber arch. It is not unlikely, therefore, that the original basilisk of Leo IV was a robber band.

Doubtless in connection with this event Leo ordered the octave day of the Assumption to be observed in Rome. Up to this time, only the feast itself (August 15), introduced from the East during the course of the seventh century, had been kept there. He was so pleased with the attendance of the people on the occasion of the first celebration of this new octave that he gave all present a considerable present of money.

Among the frescos discovered in the subterranean basilica of St. Clement was one of the Assumption. It represents Our Lady with outstretched arms, standing on the top of an empty tomb, and looking up towards God and His angels. On each side of the tomb are six of the apostles in various attitudes of astonishment, and beside them on one side a figure with the words (Scs. Vitus); and on the other a figure bearing a square nimbus, wearing the pallium, and with the words Sanctissimus Dom. Leo —rt PP Romanus. A letter in front of the “rt” is effaced; it was doubtless “q”—qrt, quarti (IV). Beneath the fresco are the words : “That this picture may outshine the rest in beauty, lo! the priest Leo studied to compose it”. As the titular Church of Leo when cardinal priest of the Quatuor Coronati is just opposite that of St. Clement, it is not unlikely that he either designed or painted this fresco whilst a simple priest, and that the pallium, etc., were added afterwards. Of course it may be that the work was executed by another priest of the same name.

Seeing that Leo’s preaching is especially alluded to by his biographer, it is the opinion of many, that the “Homily on the Pastoral Care”, which is still in the Pontificals, and which is also to be found in the various editions of the Councils, should be assigned to Leo IV. The homily is an instruction on sacerdotal duties which Leo wished that bishops should read to all priests who had the cure of souls. The instruction first tells the priests what they themselves must do, and then what they must impress upon the people—for instance, that on Ash Wednesday they must exhort the people to come and confess their sins. They must urge them to approach “to the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord at Christmas, Maundy Thursday, Easter, and Pentecost, and must, on the contrary, condemn’ wakes’. Farm laborers of various kinds have to be especially reminded of their duty to go to Mass on Sundays, and to teach their children, or cause them to be taught, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed”.

Besides being a preacher, Leo was also a musician, or, at least, took great interest in music. It would seem that at the monastery of St. Martin, where he had been educated, that art was especially cultivated. Its abbot John, at the time archcantor of St. Peter’s, had two centuries before this been sent to England to instruct our countrymen in the ecclesiastical chant. We have two indications of Leo’s concern for matters musical. In 847 he ordered that vespers should be publicly chanted in the basilica of St. Paul. The schola cantorum and all the clergy had to proceed thither on the saint’s feast (June 30), just as they betook themselves to the stational churches for Mass. And somewhere about the year 852 he wrote to Honoratus, possibly abbot of Farfa, the following letter, which will speak for itself, and which, especially on account of the interest now taken in the Gregorian chant, is worth inserting to the full extent in which it has come down to us.

“A quite incredible story has reached our ears, which, if it be true, must rather prejudice than do us honor.. . . It is averred that you have such an aversion to the sweet chant of St. Gregory, and the system of singing and reading which he drew up and bequeathed to the Church, that you are at variance in this matter not only with this See, which is near to you, but almost with every other church in the West, and, in fact, with all those who use the Latin tongue to pay to the King of Heaven their tribute of praise. All these churches have received with such eagerness and such devoted affection the aforesaid system (traditio) of Gregory, that although we have communicated the whole to them, they are so delighted that they leave us no peace with their inquiries about it, thinking that there must be more of the same remaining with us. It was, indeed, the holy Pope Gregory ... who both devoted his best energies to the salvation of souls, and who also with great labor and much musical skill composed this chant which we sing in the church, and even elsewhere. It was his desire to rouse and touch the hearts of men, so that by the sound of these highly elaborated strains he might draw to church not only ecclesiastics, but also those who were uneducated and hard to move.

“I beg of you not to allow yourself to remain in opposition to this Church, the supreme head of religion, from whom no one wishes to separate, or to the other churches mentioned, if you desire to live in entire peace and harmony with the universal Church of God. For if, which we cannot believe, you have such an aversion to our teaching and to the system of our holy Pontiff, that you will not conform in every point to our rite, whether in the chanting or in the lessons, know that we shall reject you from our communion”.




A.D. 855-858.



EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                                              EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Theodora and Michael III. (the Drunkard), 842-856        Lothaire I, 823-855.

Michael III., 856-867. Louis II, 850-875.



AFTER informing us that Benedict was a Roman and the son of Peter, his biographer assures us that as a youth he took in learning as a sponge absorbs moisture. The good report of him that soon spread abroad was the cause of his being brought to the Lateran palace and added to the ranks of the clergy. He soon showed himself wise in mind and speech, and a man full of sympathy for all. Gregory IV made him a subdeacon, and Leo IV priest. As priest of the title of St. Calixtus, his signature is to be found among those of the cardinal priests appended to the decrees of the Roman Council of December 8, 853.

On the death of the latter Pontiff, the clergy, nobles, senate, and people gathered together immediately to beg God to point out to them a worthy Pope. After failing to induce Hadrian, the priest of St. Mark’s, to accept the burden of the pontificate, they unanimously resolved to select Benedict, straightway went off to his Church of St. Calixtus, and declared their wishes to him. Falling on his knees, the humble Benedict begged them, with tears, not to take him from his church, as he was unable to bear the weight of the papacy. He pleaded in vain. He was carried off in triumph, and, to the great joy of the whole city, enthroned, according to ancient custom, in the Lateran palace. The decree of election was at once drawn up, signed by both clergy and nobles, and, as old custom requires, sent off to the emperors Lothaire and Louis II.

The envoys to whom this decree was entrusted, Nicholas, bishop of Anagni, and Mercury, a magister militum, were met at Eugubium on their journey to Louis II by Arsenius, bishop of Horta. With arguments, in all likelihood, more cogent than words, he persuaded the envoys to be false to the commission they had received, and to espouse the candidature of his son, the cardinal priest Anastasius, whom we have seen excommunicated by Leo IV. Although Arsenius, who had for some years been a man of considerable importance in Rome, was devoted to the emperor Louis II, his action in behalf of his son was no doubt the outcome of personal ambition rather than of any zeal to promote an imperial candidate. What story the envoys told Louis is not known. On their return to Rome they announced the coming of imperial missi. When these latter arrived at Horta, on the persuasion of Arsenius, they, or at least some of them, the counts Adalbert and Bernard, attached themselves to Anastasius. At Horta the counts were joined by Nicholas and the rest of his party, who left Rome on pretense of going to meet the imperial missi.

The first legates sent by Benedict to meet the counts were taken into custody, a mode of treatment which even barbarians, as the Book of the Popes takes notice, do not mete out to ambassadors. Benedict next sent forward Hadrian, the secundicerius of the Holy See, and the Duke Gregory.

Understanding from his missi that such was the emperor’s wish, the Romans, “not knowing the intrigues that were in progress”, went out across the Ponte Molle to meet them. All then entered the Leonine city together. Immediately a scene of violence ensued. The superista Gratian, whom we saw in the last pontificate arraigned for his real or supposed antipathy to the Frankish overlordship, and the scriniarius Theodore were seized; Anastasius entered the basilica of St. Peter, and, behaving worse than the Saracens, not only destroyed the representation of the synod in which he had been condemned, and which Leo, according to custom, had had painted and placed over the gates of the sanctuary, but also broke and burnt the images all about it. He then forced his way into the Lateran palace, ordered Romanus, bishop of Bagnorea, to drive Benedict from the pontifical chair, and himself sat on a throne “he was not worthy to touch” says Benedict’s biographer. The barbarous Romanus even went the length of tearing the pontifical robes from Benedict, and loading him with reproaches and blows. This is not the first time we have seen the Vicar of Christ treated like his Divine Master, and it will not be the last.

Anastasius then (September 21) handed Benedict over to the custody of certain priests, who for their crimes had been deposed by Pope Leo. Meanwhile the whole city was filled with grief, and clergy and laity flocked to the churches, and implored the help of God. On Sunday they met together in the Basilica Emiliana, and there, right into the apse where the clergy were assembled, the imperial missi forced their way, and with drawn swords called on the clergy to elect Anastasius. Finding they could not terrify the whole body, they seized the bishops of Ostia and Albano, for Radoald of Porto, the third bishop who had the right to consecrate the Pope, had already been gained, took them apart, and tried, first by promises and then by threats, to induce them to consecrate Anastasius. This they firmly refused to do, and pointed out to the missi that they were asking for what was opposed to the sacred scriptures. The noble courage and pointed words of the bishops had their effect on the Franks. For after a private discussion in their native language, their anger abated. Again early on Tuesday a great mass of the clergy and people assembled in the Lateran basilica and made it quite plain to the Franks that Benedict only would they have. The missi thereupon called the clergy into the Lateran palace, and at length found it necessary to yield to their arguments and firmness. They then consented to expel Anastasius from the Lateran and to agree to whatever should be decided upon after a three days’ fast. Anastasius was accordingly driven forth from the palace, while Benedict was restored to his party. From the place in the Lateran where Anastasius had confined him, he was escorted with great joy “on the horse which Pope Leo was wont to use” to St. Mary Major’s, where the next three days were spent in fasting and prayer. At the close of the fast the partisans of Anastasius came to Benedict, humbly acknowledged their guilt, and begged the forgiveness which they received. Even the imperial missi came to make soft speeches to the Pope.

He was then honorably escorted back to the Lateran palace, and on the following Sunday, October 6, or with Jaffe, September 29, was duly consecrated in the presence of the imperial envoys at St. Peter’s.

Surely this example of the methods of the interference of the secular power is enough to make any Erastian blush. For its own ends it would have put a wicked excommunicated cardinal in the chair of Peter by the sword, and by the hands of any villains whom they could have found to do their work.

Anastasius was condemned by a synod, but mercifully admitted by Benedict to lay communion, and, as a layman, made abbot of the monastery attached to S. Maria in Trastevere.

The Franks would at this period have been very much better employed in attending to their own internal affairs. But oppression was then the order of the day among them. The emperor Lothaire died (September 29) on the same day as that of the consecration of Benedict. Following the fatal example of his predecessors, he subdivided his long strip of territory. Louis II kept Italy and the imperial title, Charles received Provence, the duchy of Lyons, Dauphiné and that part of the old kingdom of Burgundy which was on the other side of the Jura mountains, and Lothaire II—of whom we shall have to say much—had, roughly speaking, the country between the Rhine and the Scheldt, between the Meuse and the Rhine, and southwards to the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone and the Jura mountains. This last kingdom came to be known as Lotharingia, or Lorraine in French. There were now five kings of the Franks. The Aquitainians were in constant revolt against Charles the Bald, the Slays were defeating Louis the German, and the Normans and Saracens were still devastating the north and south coasts respectively. The kings or nobles were constantly oppressing and robbing the Church. There is scarcely a council held among the Franks at this period which does not protest against the seizing of church property; and with much of what they did not rob, they did worse. They gave it to their utterly unworthy relations. The great nobles were daily making themselves more independent.

One of the few letters of Benedict which have been preserved, while treating of one man, gives us a vivid picture in miniature of the disorders among the Franks we have just sketched. In 856 Lothaire married Theutburga, the daughter of a certain Count Boso. The brother of Theutburga was a subdeacon, Hubert by name. Falling into bad company, the young man soon became remarkable for wickedness even in his age and country. He went about with a gang of abandoned men and women, and, though he had no lack of money from his various monasteries, he seized the famous monastery of St. Maurice (of Agaune) in Valais, and scattered its revenues on harlots, dogs, and birds. Of this monastery he kept permanent possession. He also violated the sanctity of the equally famous monastery of Luxeuil, by keeping possession of it for some days with his vile crew Nor did he hesitate to endanger the peace which the Pope had contrived to make between the emperor Louis II and his brothers; for the former had shown himself dissatisfied that his father’s will confined him to Italy. This infamous conduct of Hubert was at length brought to the notice of Benedict, who in a letter addressed to all the bishops of the kingdom of Charles, king of Provence, ordered the subdeacon to come to Rome to answer the charges brought against him, under pain of excommunication. It is not to be wondered at that a threat of excommunication did not alarm Hubert. Thinking to strengthen himself by advancing his relatives, Lothaire II in 859 granted Hubert a duchy between the Jura and the Pennine Alps. But after Lothaire began to dishonor his lawful wife Theutburga, Hubert’s sister, that worthy took up arms against his brother-in-law. And in his mountain fastnesses he defied the power of Lothaire. However, after the death (863) of Charles of Provence, that part of his kingdom which embraced Hubert’s duchy fell into the hands of the warlike emperor Louis II, and in 864 the subdeacon was slain by one of the emperor’s counts. What can have been the power of the law when a ruffian noble could so long despise with impunity the moral and physical forces of Pope, emperor, and king?

The letter just cited was not the first which Benedict had addressed to the bishops of France. He had written before to urge them to speak out against the evils which were impeding the action of the Church in France, and rather attributing the difficulties under which they were laboring to their silence. This letter, now lost, put, according to the Frankish bishops, the blame on the wrong persons. They were not conscious to themselves of having been “dumb dogs”. And so, thinking that their king (Charles the Bald) was the one at fault, they did not fail to tell him so. They addressed a memorial to him, in which they urge: “We should have felt keenly the reproofs which the Pope addresses to us in the letter which we have heard together with you, if we had really done what, with so much vehemence, he lays to our charge. But as we have never given our consent to the disorder (monastic laxity especially) concerning which he is most insistent; nay, as, on the contrary, we have often raised our voices against it, and have often warned you and your subjects by our words and writings to correct what has been done against the canons, we are less affected by his reproaches. Nevertheless once again we join our voices to that of the Pope, and exhort you to re-establish, as soon as may be, order in the monasteries of your kingdom which are in a deplorable condition, and to cause to be observed the capitularies to which you have affixed your seal at Coulaines, Beauvais”, etc. But to effect this much-needed reform Charles the Bald, if he had the wish, had not the courage. It would have been necessary for him to have put himself in active opposition to many of his great nobles, to whose relations, female as well as male (laics), many monasteries had been handed over.

However, it is a satisfaction to find that some monasteries in France, even in the midst of national disorders of every kind, were well governed, and were steadily laboring to preserve the monuments of antiquity, to be enjoyed in times of greater repose. Lupus, who, though born of noble parents (805), was, contrary to the rule at least of the ninth century, if not of the twentieth, an ornament to his rank, was in 842 appointed to the abbey of Ferrieres by Charles the Bald. The pupil of Rhabanus Maurus, and hence through him of Alcuin, he loved learning for its own sake, and his letters, which represent “the scholarly spirit of the ninth century, are not limited to the orthodox routine”. He reformed several monasteries, and kept his own up to a high standard of excellence. To simplify the work of reform by introducing unity, he sent some of his monks to Rome to learn the customs of the Church of Rome. By them he sent a letter addressed as follows : “To the most excellent and by all Christians specially venerated universal Pope Benedict, Lupus, the last of abbots, from the monastery of Gaul, which is called Bethlehem, or Ferrières, wishes present prosperity and future blessedness”. He ventures to address the Pope, because he knows that he has inherited the humility as well as the power of St. Peter, begs him to instruct those he has sent in the Roman customs so that one rule might prevail over the diversity of customs which reigned in different places. “For”, he adds, with great fullness of truth, “in all that relates to religion and morality variety begets doubt”. Hence he has recourse to the fountain-head of faith. In conclusion he begs the Pope to let him have the loan of the latter portion of the Commentaries of St. Jerome on the prophet Jeremiah, Cicero’s De Oratore, the Institutes of Quintilian, and the commentary of Donatus on Terence, promising most faithfully to have them returned when copied.

It was stated in the biography of Leo IV that Benedict refused to do more than to declare Gregory of Syracuse suspended till he had received further particulars regarding his case from St. Ignatius. But his violent expulsion from his see (November 23, 837) prevented him from holding further communication with the Pope. Whilst still on good terms with the holy patriarch, the emperor Michael III, the Drunkard, “on account of his love for the apostles”, and also on account of his interest in the case of Gregory, and his wish by this action to secure the adhesion of the Pope to the sentence passed against him, had sent to Blessed Peter, whilst Leo was still Pope, a copy of the Gospels, with covers of pure gold adorned with precious stones, a chalice, a vestment of imperial purple, etc. These presents he had dispatched by the envoy of St. Ignatius, the monk Lazarus, a Chazar by birth, an artist of no mean order, and one who had suffered grievous persecution, for the use to which he had put his skill, at the hands of Michael’s father, the iconoclast, Theophilus. It would seem to follow from this notice that the representative whom Leo IV had asked Ignatius to send to Rome did not arrive there, at least till after that Pope’s death. But, as we have seen, Benedict would not give a final decision. He did not think he had received sufficient information either from Gregory’s agent, Zachary, or from Lazarus.

Benedict also received valuable presents from Ethelwulf, who this time came to Rome himself along with his son Alfred and a very numerous following. “In the same year (855)”, says the contemporary historian Asser in his life of Alfred, “he (Ethelwulf) went to Rome in great state, and taking with him the aforesaid King Alfred, for a second journey thither, because he loved him more than his other sons, he remained there a whole year”. The Book of the Popes tells us of the gifts he offered to Blessed Peter—crowns, images, other ornaments all of gold, such as baucae (goblets, small chalices or cruets), gabathe saxisce (dish-shaped lamps for floating wicks of Saxon work, saxisce?)—and such vestments as a saraca de olovero cum chrisoclavo (a dalmatic? with stripes of gold), a camisa alba sigillata olosyrica cum chrisoclavo (possibly a silken alb ornamented with the apparel in gold work), and vela majora de fundato (large hangings of cloth of gold). Being evidently in a generous mood, he gave, at the request of the Pope, public largess in the Church of Blessed Peter, gold to all the clergy and nobles, and small silver to the people.

Not content with this, on his return to his kingdom of Wessex, he did not forget Rome when he made his will. Among other provisions “he commanded also a large sum of money, namely 300 mancuses, to be carried to Rome for the good of his soul, to be distributed in the following manner, viz., 100 mancuses in honour of St. Peter, specially to buy oil for the lights of the church of that apostle on Easter eve, and also at cock-crow; too in honor of St. Paul for the same purpose, and too for the universal apostolic pontiff”. If Rome acquired a powerful hold on this country, incidents such as this show that it sprang from the free-will of its people. Rome’s influence in England was the result of the nation’s love for the successors of St. Peter, and not, in its origin at any rate, of any grasping for power on their part.

These personal donations of Offa and Ethelwulf must not be confounded with the Rome-feoh, or Peter’s Pence, which was a national tax, levied yearly for a long period at the rate of a silver penny from every family that had land or cattle to the annual value of thirty pence. The money thus raised was sent to Rome, and was for many ages divided between the Pope and the needs of the Schola Anglorum. There can, however, be no doubt that the regular payment of Peter’s Pence, which began at the close of this century, took its origin from these donations of our kings to Rome, which were given as well for the Pope himself as for the maintenance of the Schola Anglorum. This schola, seemingly the first of its kind, was certainly in existence at the close of the eighth century. It was the Anglo-Saxon quarter of Rome. In its church, now S. Spirito in Sassia, the English found priests of their nation, in its hospitals, food and lodging, and in its schools, instruction. It was enabled to do all this by the generosity towards it of our kings and people. But there is no reason to think that Peter-pence was in existence before the reign of Alfred. Under his son Edward, the Rome-feoh is mentioned for the first time by name; and then it appears, not as a new imposition, but as one of the accustomed dues of the Church. In confirmation of this assertion of Lingard may be mentioned the discovery, in 1883, in the north angle of the house of the Vestal Virgins at the foot of the Palatine, and close to the palace built by Pope John VII, of an earthen vessel containing 830 Anglo-Saxon silver pennies ranging in date from 871­947 A.D. Of these, 3 were of Alfred the Great, 217 of Edward I, 393 of Athelstan, 195 of Edmund I, a few of Sitric and of Anlaf, kings of Northumbria, 4 of archbishop Plegmund of Canterbury, etc. A bronze fibula of Marinus II (942-6), found buried with the treasure, would seem to fix the date of the burying of it to the time of that Pope. The treasure, now in the Museo delle Terme, was probably concealed by a papal official living in the palace of John VII during the time when Alberic, prince of the Romans, was at war with Hugo, king of Italy.

Forty years before the discovery just mentioned, another very large number of Peter’s Pence had been found. This collection illustrates the subsequent history of the Rome-penny, as the former does that of its origin. When the old campanile of St. Paul’s, outside the walls, was destroyed in 1843, there was discovered a hoard of over a thousand silver denarii belonging to a period from the close of the tenth century to the middle of the eleventh. In it were sixty different kinds of coins, coming from seventy-two mints in Italy, France, England, Germany, Burgundy, Holland, Flanders, and Hungary. Some hundred of them were Anglo-Saxon thirty-three of which dated from the reign of St. Edward the Confessor, while the rest were of earlier kings.

The first people, then, to pay the Rome-feoh were the English, and they were, moreover, the only people who paid it in the ninth century, and, possibly, even in the first part of the tenth century. Then it was gradually introduced into other countries, and the following century saw it paid by all the kingdoms of Western Christendom.

The earliest extant laws treating of the Petrespenny date, as has been said, from the time of Edward the Elder (921); but their preamble shows that earlier regulations on this subject had been issued. In process of time a fixed sum was sent, which from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, when its payment was stopped, amounted to about 48,000 denarii, or, as it is expressed in the Liber Censuum, “three hundred marks less one”.

Not long before he died Benedict had to take action on a matter with which his successor had also to deal. We have spoken above of a count Boso. Another Boso, (probably his son) a Lombard noble, had married a certain Ingeltrude. She proved to be a very dissolute woman, left her husband, and led a scandalous life in various parts of France. After Boso had to no purpose endeavored to induce her to return to him, he begged Pope Benedict to help him. As we learn from a letter of Pope Nicholas to the bishops of the kingdom of Louis the German, Benedict made strenuous efforts, by writing to the emperor, to bishops and to princes, to induce them to cause the runaway to return to her lawful husband. Owing to the protection afforded the adulteress by Lothaire II, himself an adulterer, neither Benedict nor Nicholas effected anything. After the latter Pontiff had in vain directed various letters to the different parties concerned, he listened to the request of several bishops that sentence of excommunication should be pronounced against her. Accordingly, by his orders, a council was held at Milan (c. 860), and Ingeltrude was excommunicated. But despite many other letters in Boso’s behalf written by Nicholas, despite of his enlisting the support of Charles the Bald, against her protector, Lothaire, despite the confirmation of the sentence of excommunication, pronounced against her, at the councils of Rome (863) and Attigny (865), Ingeltrude continued to do as she pleased with impunity. The last event that we know of in connection with this lady took place soon after the holding of the council of Attigny. At this council Arsenius, the legate of Pope Nicholas, besides dealing with the case of the divorce of Lothaire, had renewed, as we have just said, the excommunication against her. After the council he was met by Ingeltrude at Worms. She swore before him to amend her life, and to go with him to Rome to get reconciled to the Church. But to give up her evil courses was too much for her. When near Augsburg she took to flight, and fades from our view covered with the legate’s excommunication.

This persistent effort of two popes, in the interests of Christian morality, to check a great cause of scandal in high places, though important it itself, was put into the shade by the far more serious struggle which had to be waged, in the same vital interest, in the case of King Lothaire in the days of Nicholas I, and with which this struggle was to a large extent contemporaneous. To the bold resistance, which with moral weapons alone the medieval popes made against the base passions of sovereigns, backed by all the material resources of their kingdoms, is due the position of woman in modern Europe. But for their unflinching firmness, monogamy, understood in its strictest sense, at once the glory and strength of Western civilization, would have been destroyed; and woman would have been in the West, what she is today in the East, the slave or the plaything of man.

What is recorded of Benedict’s work in connection with the various churches of Rome has reference, for the most part, to gifts to them of ecclesiastical vestments or furniture. Among these presents there is frequent mention of an evangelium of pure silver or gold, as the case may be. It is by no means clear whether these evangelia are copies of the liturgical gospels bound with ornamental plates of precious metal, or whether they are those symbols of the four Evangelists which “used formerly to be kissed by the faithful, who declared by this act . . . . that they accepted all that was written by the four Evangelists”. He also becomingly replaced the precious binding of the volume, containing the epistles of St. Paul and of the other apostles and the lessons of the Prophets, which was used by the subdeacons at the stations, and, moreover, added to it the Greek and Latin lessons which were wont to be read on Holy Saturday and on the eve of Pentecost. He became acquainted with the needs of the different churches by his pious custom of visiting them in turn, “singing heavenly hymns”, to pray for the flock entrusted to his care; for we are told that he relied “on the divine intuition of the saints”.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, his first care was to help to make good the damage done to the tombs and churches of the apostles by the Saracens. With plates of silver he redecorated the “sepulchre of St. Paul which had been destroyed by the Saracens”, and gave a “cover of pure gold to the bilicum, or upper cataract of the confession (of St. Peter); that is, of course, the little orifice in the floor, the fenestrella or little window of St. Gregory of Tours”, through which a glimpse could at one time be obtained of the actual sarcophagus of the Apostle. He presented to his basilica a large silver candelabrum, to replace the one “formerly carried off by the Saracens”. It was arranged to carry both lamps and candles, and was placed near the lectorium. He also re-roofed a large portion of the basilica, and especially that portion of it “which is over his body”.

Another interesting renovation effected by him was that of the seven stational crosses, viz., the silver crosses which were carried in front of the solemn processions to the different stations, and were very likely the same as those carried before the exarchs or emperors when they visited Rome. In the very earliest of the Ordines Romani, there is mention, in connection with the stations, of those “who carry the crosses”, and in ordines of the ninth century it is expressly stated that the processions to the stations are to be headed by the seven crosses. When in the twelfth century the number of the regions was increased to twelve, the number of the stational crosses was also brought up to the same figure. They appear to have been usually kept in the Church of S. Anastasia.

One of the one hundred and thirty-two great floods of the Tiber, which in historic times have spread their slime over the city of Rome, devastated it and the surrounding country at the beginning of Benedict’s reign. There is no need to describe this inundation, because its course was much the same as that of its predecessors, and its details in the Liber Pontificalis are consequently much the same as those already given there in describing them. But no doubt it added to the amount of restoration which the Pope was called upon to perform.

We may fittingly close our account of Benedict by recording his decree regarding the burials of his clergy. He laid down that on the death of a bishop, priest, or deacon, the Pope, with all his clergy, was to assist at his burial and in commending his soul to God,—a decree which, his biographer says, Benedict was as ready to fulfill himself as to make, and a decree which his great successor, who imitated the good deeds of his predecessor in this as in other respects, was also himself careful to execute.

Benedict was buried in front of the principal gate the basilica of St. Peter, probably on April 18, 858, the day after his death.







EMPERORS OF THE EAST.                              EMPERORS OF THE WEST.

Theodora and Michael III

(the Drunkard), 842-856.                                     Lothaire I, 823-855.

Michael III, 856-867.                                             Louis II, 850-875.



IN Nicholas I, the Saint and the Great, we have not only the greatest Pontiff of his century, but one of the greatest of the very long line of grand characters who have in every age adorned the Chair of Peter. It is a saying no less true than trite that, of those few to whom men have accorded the title of Great, still fewer, if their claims be weighed in the balance of reason and not of sentiment, have been worthy of it. But to very few indeed have any large body of men ever given the combined titles of Great and Saint. Nicholas I is one of that rare company who have been so honored, and in his case the distinction has been conferred on very solid grounds. In the troublous and stormy times in which his days were cast, he was the pharos to which men, buffeted about by the angry waves of life, looked with eager hope. It mattered not what was the grief under which they were groaning; it was all one whether they were strong men or helpless women, whether they were in authority or in subjection, whether they were bishops or simple clerics, peers or peasants, they all in their distress turned to Nicholas; they all flocked to him as to their common father. For he did not raise his voice merely in commanding tones to warn men from the ways in which they should not tread, or to point out to them the narrow road which led to life eternal, but in encouragement also to help them faint, weary, or willful, along it.

So many people crowded to Rome in his time that it became “the rendezvous of the world”. They came to pray and to obtain pardon of their sins; they came for justice and they came for privileges or for protection. Some came, too, as ambassadors of kings or emperors, others from barbarous lands to seek the light of faith. But if all the world was thus in touch with Nicholas, he was in touch with all the world. If he was the center of the gaze of all, his eyes were equally fixed on all. He knew what was going on in the different parts of the world from the words of those who came to him from every part thereof, from his legates whom he dispatched to North and South, to East and West, and from the letters he received from all quarters.

And if the gaining of victories and the framing of laws give men a title to distinction, then was Nicholas great both as a conqueror and a lawgiver. For he was really a conqueror, though not as the kings of the earth, leaving in his track blazing cities and heaps of slain. It was by peaceful measures that he won over the Bulgarians to the obedience of Christ, that he overcame the princes of the world, and opposed himself as an impassable barrier to their career of violent wickedness. But though moral only were the arms by which he hoped to secure real peace, they were wielded with a certain startling effectiveness. The whole civilized world was electrified by the flashing mandates he directed against its great ones. The emperor Michael, the Caesar Bardas, the king Lothaire, the patriarch Photius, the metropolitan Hincmar, and the archbishop John of Ravenna found there was one who could and would oppose their excesses. Emperors and kings were taught that, even in this world, they had a superior who could bring to bear upon them weapons even more powerful than sword or bow. In Nicholas, on the other hand, the weak and the down-trodden found strength and support. In him Themberga, dishonored and disgraced, and none the less, but rather the more, dishonored and disgraced that she was a queen and friendless, found strength not to break down under her cruel wrongs, and a sure haven of hope. To the Bulgarians he was a civil as well as an ecclesiastical legislator, and churchmen were soon taught that he was a canon-lawyer.

If he was ambitious, he was ambitious of showing himself what he believed himself to be, the first bishop, the most authoritative teacher of faith and morals, and the supreme ruler of man’s spiritual destinies. He was no doubt anxious for the light of the papacy to shine to the greatest number possible, and he assuredly strove to place it on a higher candlestick, that more might see it. But in that care and effort he did nothing which his predecessors had not done. He may have expanded principles, have pushed precedent along, but it was on the old lines that he acted. He was no innovator. And if he thought that in him lay the highest legislative, judicial, and executive powers in spiritual matters, he was guided in his conduct not by his own will acting arbitrarily, but by written law and custom, by scripture and tradition.

Such a commanding position did he occupy, with such authority did he speak, that his contemporaries thought of him as the emperor of the world. Now it was an archbishop (Gunther) who, condemned by Nicholas for supporting, Cranmer-like, a licentious monarch, exclaimed in impotent rage : “The Lord Nicholas makes himself emperor of the whole world!” Now it was a monk who, contemplating with feelings of triumphant righteousness the way in which he opposed wickedness in high places, acclaimed him for presiding “authoritatively over kings and tyrants as though he were the lord of the earth”.

Like Leo I and Gregory I, the other two pontiffs who share with him the titles of Saint and Great, Nicholas was a Roman. His father, Theodore, is described as a regionary, probably a regionary notary and the same man as the Theodore who with the titles of notarius and scriniarius figures in the Roman Council of 853. From his very boyhood the future Pope is said to have been of a serious and studious turn of mind; and his father, himself a great lover of learning, had him carefully instructed in sacred and profane literature. The youth made most gratifying progress, and grew in learning as he grew in stature. Those who had “the discernment of spirits”, loudly declared that the boy would mount high the ladder of fame. The great reputation which he soon gained induced Pope Sergius II to bring him from his father’s house into the Lateran palace, and make him a sub-deacon. By Leo IV, to whom he was most dear, he was made a deacon, in which capacity “he was loved by the clergy and people, and honored by the nobility”. To Benedict III, “a most amiable man and most holy Pontiff”, who was never happy without his company, he was an object of greater affection than his own relations, and was employed by him to assist him in important ecclesiastical affairs, in which the excellent judgment of the young cleric showed itself conspicuously. With other deacons, Nicholas carried his predecessor’s body to St. Peter’s, and with his own hands placed it in the tomb. And during his after career he kept his example ever before his eyes, and “in every good work made himself his most zealous heir”.

After such an illustriously well spent youth, and after the important part he had played under Benedict III, it certainly causes us no surprise when we find it recorded in the Liber Pontificalis that he was elected to succeed him after the cardinal of S. Mark’s had again refused to be Pope. On the death of the last-mentioned pontiff, the emperor Louis II, who had been in Rome just before that event and had left it, at once returned thither, while the clergy and nobility adjourned to the basilica of S. Dionysius, i.e. to the church now known as S. Silvester in Capite, to earnestly beg of God a worthy successor. “By divine inspiration”, after a consultation of some hours, they unanimously elected Nicholas. But he, saying he was unworthy of such an honor, fled to St. Peter’s. Thence, however, he was taken perforce to the Lateran palace and “placed on the apostolic throne”.

This account, as well of the early career as of the election of Nicholas, furnished us by his biographer, is decidedly calculated to make us slow to accept the assertion of Prudentius that the choice of him as Pope was due more “to the presence and support of Louis and his nobles than to the election of the clergy”. Doubtless he was a persona grata both to the emperor and to his nobility; but his virtue, his conspicuous ability, and the position of importance and trust he had held under Benedict, fully justify the assertion of the Liber Pontificalis that his election was the unanimous work of clergy and people. Louis’s influence simply swelled the tide of popular favor which was flowing steadily towards Nicholas.

But whether Nicholas owed his exalted position to Louis or not, it is certain that he was very much opposed to the interference in papal elections of any individuals not authorized by the canons. Accordingly, in the council of 862, he renewed the decree of the Lateran Council of 769, which forbade any persons not of the recognized Roman electoral body to concern themselves in the election of a Pope. The reference, however, to the decree of Pope Stephen, which was directed against the doings of the antipope Constantine, would seem to show that this canon was aimed not so much against the emperor as against the party of the antipope Anastasius.

On Sunday, April 24, in the presence of the emperor, Nicholas was consecrated in St. Peter’s, and then, after offering up the Holy Sacrifice “over the most sacred body of the apostle”, he was, as usual, escorted back with hymns and canticles to the Lateran amidst the densest throngs of both nobles and commoners, through a city bedecked with garlands, and amid the greatest rejoicings of clergy, senate, and people.

Through a false punctuation, the old editions of the Liber Pontificalis were made to state that Nicholas was crowned when he reached the Lateran. In later ages the popes were crowned in St. Peter’s, and if Nicholas was crowned at all, it was no doubt in the same place. Though it is not so stated in the Book of the Popes, there seems, however, good reason to believe that a papal coronation ceremony was introduced in the course of this century. The forged document known as the Donation of Constantine pretended that Constantine gave to Pope Sylvester “the diadem, i.e. the crown of our head and a tiara (frigium - candido nitore, as another passage has it)”; but that, as the Pope would not wear a golden crown on the clerical crown of his tonsure, “we have with our own hands placed upon his most sacred head a mitre of exceeding whiteness typical of the glorious resurrection of Our Lord”. Now whether the Donatio first saw the light in the Vatican in 774, as many authors hold, or in France along with the False Decretals, it was certainly in existence before the days of Nicholas, and affords proof positive that the wearing of a regal crown by the Pope had been mooted.

If the ceremony of crowning the popes was discussed in the first half of the ninth century at latest, it would seem that it was practiced before the close of its second half. We have seen that Mabillon’s Ordo Romanus IX, which includes the rite of consecrating the bishop of Rome, was in all likelihood a production of this same century, and contains a notice of the imposition of a crown upon the head of the Pope. Its venerable antiquity is our excuse for giving it in full.

The Pope-elect, who must, it says, be a cardinal priest or deacon, is to be escorted to the basilica of St. Peter by all the clergy and people. After the pontifical vestments have been put upon him in the sacristy, he is to go to the confession of St. Peter, and there prostrate himself in prayer, while the schola cantorum sings the Introit, Elegit te Dominus. He must then rise, go up to the altar and again prostrate himself in prayer, and all the clergy with him. Raised by the bishops, he is to be placed between the faldstool or throne (sedes) and the altar. The Book of the Gospels is to be held over his head, and after the first and second of the consecrating bishops have each said a prayer over him, the third is to consecrate him. Then the archdeacon must invest him with the pallium, and, assisted by the deacon, place him on the throne. From the steps thereof he must intone the Gloria in excelsis and wish Peace to all. Thereupon the schola and the heads (patroni) of the different regions are to acclaim him with the laudes. Then the Pontiff is to proceed with the Mass, at which all are to communicate. After Mass, as he returns in full procession to the sacristy, his blessing is to be asked by all the scholae of the foreigners, by the English, by the Franks, etc., who are to respond to its reception by a resounding Amen!

Returned to the sacristy, the Pope must then take his seat in the sella gestatoria (sella apostolica). When he reaches the lower steps of St. Peter’s, he will there find ready for him his predecessor’s horse or sedan chair. After the patroni of the regions have thrice chanted the words:

“The Lord Pope Leo, whom St. Peter has chosen to sit in his chair for many years”, the Master of the Horse is to approach and place on the Pope’s head “a crown (regnum) made of some white material and like a helmet”. The word regnum would seem to imply something more than the frigium of the Donatio. It was no doubt a real crown, a tiara with golden circlet at its base.

With the regnum upon his head, mounted upon his horse, and surrounded by the judges, he is to ride through the crowded streets, while the people sing the customary laudes.

A coronation ceremony of some sort, then, was apparently in vogue during the ninth century, and there is evidence that it affected Nicholas. But again, unfortunately, there is a weak link in the chain of evidence. In the narthex of the subterranean Church of St. Clement, discovered by Father Mullooly in 1857, there is a fresco executed at the expense of a certain Maria Macellaria, in return for favors received. The painting represents the translation of a body, evidently that of a saint and bishop, for it is depicted with a pallium and a round nimbus. The body is followed by a Pope between two ecclesiastics, dressed alike, but in a costume which is not that of Rome. Of these persons one has a round nimbus and the other holds a large cross. The Pope, whom the inscription below the fresco enables us to identify as Nicholas I, also has the round nimbus, and wears a tiara with a crown attached. The same Pope is represented on the right of the picture as saying Mass in a little chapel.

The question now arises, Who is the saint whose body is being translated, and when was the fresco painted? As the church was ruined by Robert Guiscard in 1084, the painting must have been executed before that date, and it would appear probable that it was really painted before the death of S. Methodius (d. 885), the brother of the other great Slav apostle, St. Cyril. For it seems to us that the translation is that of St. Clement, whose body the two brothers brought to Rome, that the ecclesiastic with the round nimbus on the right of Pope Nicholas is St. Cyril, whose head was so decorated because he was dead when the picture was painted, and that the other similarly dressed ecclesiastic on the left of the Pope is his brother S. Methodius, still alive when the fresco was executed. Pope Nicholas, however, was dead when the holy brothers reached Rome, and the translation of the relics took place under his successor, Hadrian II. But it was he who ordered them to come to Rome, and hence on that account might well be honored with the important place in the fresco and in its inscription. Moreover, by depicting him with the round nimbus, the artist has sufficiently indicated that he was actually dead at the time of the translation. If, then, the reader is prepared to accept the conclusion that this fresco was painted before the death of S. Methodius, then we have contemporary evidence that Nicholas I wore a crown I adorned with gems.

In the sacristy of St. Peter’s there exists yet another relic of the past which seems to prove that in the ninth century the popes wore a crown. It is a picture described in an inventory of 1455 as “of Constantine”, and showing, in its upper portion, the half figures of SS. Peter and Paul, and a similar figure of Our Lord between them giving His benediction. Over the two apostles are their names in Slavonic characters. In the center of the lower half is a male figure clad in a chasuble, wearing the pallium on his shoulders and “a tiara or papal mitre with one crown”, and in the act of blessing a man, also clad in a chasuble, who is kneeling at his feet. Two other figures, represented as Greek monks, stand one at each side. There is little doubt that the figure wearing the crown is that of Pope Hadrian II, that he is blessing S. Methodius, that the “monks” are the two brothers Cyril and Methodius, and that the picture is contemporary with the latter. It would seem likely that it was offered to the confession of St. Peter, where it used to be placed, by S. Methodius in memory of his brother Cyril, or Constantine. If, however, with all this the reader is not prepared to be bound by a chain not at all strong, he must at any rate admit that the popes were crowned at least in the eleventh century.

The Pontiff, the order of whose consecration and coronation we have been able to view through the old ordo brought to light by Mabillon, is said by his biographer to have been patient and temperate, humble and pure, “handsome of face and graceful of form, both learned and modest in his utterances, illustrious by his great deeds, devoted to fasting and to the Divine Services, the support of the widow and the orphan, and the defender of all the people”. That he was a real lover of the poor he proved by his conduct. Like his great predecessor S. Gregory I, he kept by him a list of the blind and the disabled throughout the city, and to these he had food sent daily. But to such of the poor as were strong enough to come for food, he distributed provisions in turn on the different days of the week. And that they might know on what day they had to present themselves for the Pope’s alms, they received tokens marked with his name and having attached to them a number of knots formed by nuts. The number of nuts on his token showed the poor man on what day he had to come.

Another distinguishing trait in the character of Nicholas, recorded by his biographer, was his unceasing energy in working for good. If any scandal arose in the Church “he gave neither rest to his body nor sleep to its members” till by his envoys, letters, or prayers, a reformation was effected. He was assuredly one of those who worked as if good had to be wrought by himself alone, but who prayed as if it had to be done by God alone.

The fame of his learning and of his clear-headed justice caused more cases to be brought for his decision from all parts of the world than were ever brought before “within the memory of anyone”. And those who were so fortunate as to be thus able to lay their cases before him, returned home “blessed and instructed”. And yet it must be borne in mind that as far back as the fourth century, a secretary (St. Jerome) of a Pope (St. Damasus) had already declared (Ep. 13o) that he had “to reply to many consultations which were addressed to the Apostolic See from the East and from the West”. All this work for the spiritual and temporal good, not only of Rome but of the world at large, meant a terrible strain upon the physical powers of the master laborer in the vineyard. And if this pressure of work was not the original cause of the breakdown of his health, it had at least to be borne by a frame often racked with disease. “With such pain”, he wrote, “has our Heavenly Father seen fit to afflict me, that not only am I unable to write suitable replies to your question, but I cannot, through the intensity of my sufferings, even dictate an answer to them”. Like Gregory, the Great, he found strength to work for God and man where ordinary men could scarce find strength to live for themselves.

But if Nicholas was a father to the poor, and meek and mild to those who kept the law of God, he always spoke as one having authority, and was “terrible and full of harshness to those who wandered away from the right path”, and “he ruled kings and tyrants, and, as though he were the lord of the earth, presided authoritatively over them”. Such is the language of the monk Regino, who rightly regarded him as the greatest pope after S. Gregory I. It is to be hoped that the course of this narrative will make it plain that even the eminently flattering character ascribed to Nicholas, in the almost stereotyped language of the Liber Pontificalis, was not overdrawn, and that, in the words of an old four­teenth century English monk, “scarce any occupant of the papal chair was to be compared with him”.

Two days after his consecration the Pope and the emperor met at a solemn banquet, at which the brilliant conversational powers of the former were conspicuous, and parted after a cordial embrace.

It was probably at a Mass celebrated by the Pope on one or other of these days, at which the emperor was present, that were chanted just before the Epistle the solemn laudes, in honor of Nicholas and Louis, which have been printed by Grisar. In the midst of invocations to Our Lord Jesus Christ, “the Saviour of the world”, for His mercy and help, “life” is wished “to our lord Nicholas, by God’s decree supreme pontiff and universal Pope”, and “life and victory to our lord Louis Augustus, crowned by God, the great and pacific emperor”. Then whilst the help of Our Lady, SS. Peter and Paul, and SS. Andrew and John is being besought, “life” is wished “to the emperor’s most excellent royal sons”, and “life and victory to the army of the Romans and Franks”. The laudes terminated with, “Christ conquers. He is our king and emperor”.

When Louis left the city, he rested at St. Leucius, close to where the remains of the Tor di Quinto now stand—so called from its being about five miles from the Porta Ratumena of the Servian walls. Thither, with the notables of Church and State, Nicholas went out to salute him. When Louis saw him coming, he advanced to meet him, and led his horse about “an arrow’s flight”. After talking and feasting together, the Pope set out for Rome loaded with presents. Louis, who accompanied him for some distance, again did himself the honor of leading the Pope’s horse. In these acts of mutual courtesy we see summed up the amicable relations which, for the most part, distinguish the intercourse between Louis and Nicholas, and the commanding position to be taken up by the latter in the face of the world.


The Greek schism.


Now that we have seen Nicholas fairly launched on his pontificate, we cannot do better than begin our account of its history by treating of Photius and the Greek schism, not only because Nicholas had not been Pope very long before he came into contact with the Greeks, but because the story of Photius is of the first importance, not merely in the life of Nicholas, but in the history of mankind.

To bring about the schism of the Greeks, which was virtually consummated by Photius, and which resulted in such political, intellectual, and spiritual loss both to the East and to the West, there had long been many causes at work.

For if it is obvious that it has brought great loss to the Greeks, it cannot be denied that the Latins have also suffered through it. While, for instance, the arms of both peoples ought to have been directed against the Moslem, the most aggressive foe of Christianity, they were, after frequently crossing more or less in the dark, finally destined to be openly and bitterly turned against each other. From the want of hearty co-operation, not to say through the presence of secret hostility, on the part of the Greeks, the heroic struggle of the Latins to recover the Holy Land from the infidel, failed; while, on the other hand, the power of the Greeks themselves was broken for ever by their expulsion from Constantinople (1204) by the Latins. And by thus breaking down a lock-gate which retarded the wave of the Mohammedan, they were in turn to be fearfully afflicted by its unchecked flood.

If, moreover, the schism had the effect of cutting off the Greeks from beneficial contact with the intellectual life, vigorous if youthful, which sprang up among the Western nations in the Middle Ages, the latter, in consequence of it, received a diminished infusion of the superior intellectual and material refinement possessed by the former and a smaller share of their inherited wisdom.

And finally, while, by their separation from the Latins, the East failed to be influenced by the vivifying faith of the West, which in the Middle Ages was as bright and as energetic as its intellectual endeavor, the West lost the benefit it would have derived from close union with the deep religious feelings of the East. By its divided front, too, all Christendom has been weakened in the face of both heresy and unbelief.

Of the causes which brought about this disastrous and deplorable schism, some were natural and others artificial; and of these again some were of a more or less accidental growth, and others directly predisposing to schism. Under natural causes may be grouped the great diversity of character between the practical Romans and the theoretical Greeks, and the dissimilarity of their languages. Difficulties from this latter difference became quite pronounced even in the sixth century, and the lessened intercourse between the East and West, brought about by this linguistic difficulty and by the barbarian invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries, was increased by the antipathy with which the Romans regarded a Roman empire which became less and less Roman every day, and by that with which the Greeks in turn looked on the growth of the “temporal power” of the popes and the renovation of the Western empire. And if the Eastern bishops looked down upon the Western for their want of culture, they were themselves despised by the latter for their base subservience to the emperors. Furthermore, the Italians could not forget how they had been oppressed by the Greek exarchs, and how even the popes had been maltreated, and their patrimonies in Sicily, etc., confiscated by the emperors of Constantinople. Nor could the popes themselves be unmindful of the many heretical patriarchs who had disgraced the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, and of their unjust usurpation of papal rights over the province of Illyricum during the iconoclast controversy.

Accidental causes were such political events as the separation of the empire into two parts, which sooner or later practically corresponded with the two divisions of its subject races into those which spoke Latin and those which spoke Greek. Then there followed the extinction of the Western-Roman empire and its occupation by barbarian peoples, objects at once of hatred and contempt to the more cultured inhabitants of the Eastern-Roman empire. Accidental causes also were differences of religious rites and discipline, especially in the matter of the celibacy of the clergy, and the different state of theological science in the East and West. To the once great activity in that respect among the Greeks had succeeded a languor scarcely disturbed by the iconoclast difficulty, whereas, among the Latins, the conversion of the nations and the controversies on Adoptionism, on Grace and Predestination, had given a considerable impetus to the study of theology. This development of doctrinal studies in the West was viewed with suspicion by the Greeks, and they turned their genius for controversy against the Latins.

To pass over the effect of previous schisms in preparing the way for the schism of the ninth century, its most potent cause was that which modern authors call Byzantinism, which they compare with Gallicanism and Josephism, and which may be defined as a suspicion of, and hostility towards, the supreme spiritual authority of the Holy See engendered by a false idea of national independence, and carefully cultivated by ambitious men for their own advancement. Its chief propagators in the Greek Church were the body of bishops whom the emperor kept at his beck and call, and who formed the assembly which, in time known as the Permanent Synod, has survived to this day, and which soon came to regard itself as the imperial agent in matters spiritual.

When the clergy of a country, hoping to be freer by getting rid of the jurisdiction of the Holy See, have embraced these views of national independence, they have only earned for themselves a base dependence on the civil power. They have found the local civil authority a very different controlling power to that of a spiritual power at a distance. And if, for instance, the clergy of the established Church of England and of that of Russia are today dependent on the State even in matters most sacred and most spiritual, the clergy of Constantinople were in the same condition long before the century of which we are now treating. For many of the causes already enumerated had been at work for centuries. The schism of the Greeks really began with the rise of Constantine’s new city by the Golden Horn. The transference of the seat of empire from Rome to Constantinople had for one of its results the popes’ gaining temporal power in the West and losing spiritual authority in the East. What their primacy gained, during the interval between the foundation of Constantinople and the final schism of the Greeks under Michael Cerularius, in intensity and directness, it lost in geographical extent. If Photius and Cerularius were able to sever the last bonds which connected the East and the West, it was because the process of sundering had been begun under Constantine by Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, and his supporters in the war he waged through court influence on the Council of Nice, on St. Athanasius, and on the popes who upheld him.

The Eusebians had cleared the approaches which led to the stout wall of Unity which had surrounded the East and West up till the days of Constantine. The bishops of Byzantium, now become patriarchs of Constantinople, were to make breaches in it and finally to throw it to the ground. Anxious to be the first ecclesiastics in the empire, they did not scruple, in order to purchase the support of the might of the emperors, to prostitute their spiritual prerogatives to the will of their temporal lords. The clergy of Constantinople, partly through jealousy of the power of the Bishop of Rome and partly to curry favor with their own patriarch, were ever prepared to lend their support to his ambitious aims. And finally the emperor, that he might rule the minds, wills, and consciences, as well as the bodies of his subjects, was also ever ready to push forward the spiritual pretensions of a man of whose subservience he was sure.

A short sketch of the means by which the once simple bishops of Byzantium, dependent on the metropolitan of Heraclea in Thrace, became patriarchs of Constantinople, with precedence over the patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, and then rivals of the popes of Rome, will shed, it is to be hoped, no little light on the attitude and action of Photius.

Before Constantine took in hand the old Greek half-destroyed commercial city of Byzantium, and transformed it into the glorious capital to which he gave his name, there was no ecclesiastical authority of the slightest consequence at all by the Golden Horn. But it was a different thing with some of the cities of the Roman Empire, which were already famous before the advent of the first Christian emperor. Antioch by the Orontes, and Alexandria on the Nile’s delta, were renowned throughout the civilized world. Its illustrious history had given an undying fame to Carthage. The residence of St. John, the beloved apostle, at Ephesus, and of St. Polycarp, his disciple at Smyrna, had endeared those cities to the followers of Christ. Its hoary age, the fact that it was the capital of Cappadocia, and the fame of one of its early bishops (St. Firmilian), all contributed to make Caesarea one of the most distinguished of the churches of proconsular Asia. In all these places there was from the earliest times of the Christian faith more or less of episcopal jurisdiction. But while one of these churches, or even for a time Milan in the West, is seen in the foreground of Christian life at one time, and another at another, there is one Church, that of the Eternal City by the Tiber, which is regularly in the forefront, which seems to tower above the others, and to which the others bow down as did the sheaves of his brethren to that of Joseph.

Of the different churches to which the great Apostle of the Gentiles sent his epistles, one is signaled out for especial praise. It is that of the Romans. It was their faith, he said, which was already “spoken of in the whole world”, and it was to be comforted in that which made him “long to see them”. Strong in that faith, we see the Church of Rome through its bishop “confirming the brethren”, even before the last of the apostles has gone to give an account of his glorious stewardship. There were dissensions in the Church of Corinth. Rome is at once troubled, and her bishop, Clement, who is by many thought to have been the friend of St. Pau1, whose name is linked with that of the apostles by numerous documents, apocryphal and otherwise, of the early Church, and who was certainly one of the immediate successors of St. Peter as bishop of Rome, at once intervenes. About the year 97, he addressed a long letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to concord and to submission to their ecclesiastical superiors. “For ye will afford joy and gladness to us if, being obedient unto the things written by us through the Holy Ghost, ye cut off the unrighteous passion of your jealousy, according to the exhortation which we have made for peace and oneness of mind in this our letter. And we have also sent men, faithful and prudent ... who shall also be witnesses between you and us. And this have we done, that ye may know that there hath been and is in us every longing that ye may quickly be at peace”.

Already had the bishop of Rome been recognized as the intermediary of communication between the churches. The author of that curiously mystical work, The Shepherd of Hermas, tells us that the Church of God, who appeared to him as an old woman, asked him if he had yet delivered her book to the elders of the Church, and then instructed him to send it to Clement. “For Clement shall send it to the foreign cities, because it is entrusted to him to do so”. The result of Clement’s despatch of the work of Hernias was that in some places it was placed on a level with the canonical books of the Sacred Scriptures, and his own letter was received with such respect by the Corinthians, that it became “the practice to read it in the churches”.

Another disciple of St. Peter, and not only of St. Peter but also seemingly of St. Paul, and certainly of St. John, viz., the illustrious martyr St. Ignatius, bears testimony to the exceptional position of the Church of Rome. Though letters of his to such famous early churches as those of Smyrna and Ephesus are extant, there is nothing in them to compare with the language he addresses to that of Rome. Writing to it, there is question at once of presidency. Not merely is it the Church “which presides in the place of the region of the Romans”, which might only mean “in Rome” and not “in the whole Roman empire”; but, less ambiguously, it is the Church “which presides over the universal assembly of love”, i.e. over “the whole Christian agape” or “the whole Church”.

What was said of the Roman Church by St. Paul and the immediate disciples of the apostles, in words which were striking indeed, but which, from the circumstances under which they wrote, were not very definite or explicit, was said, owing to circumstances which called for more cogent language, in a more minute and detailed way by those who had been trained by the disciples of the apostles. St. Irenatus, bishop of Lyons, whose parents had placed him under St. Polycarp, had occasion to refute certain heretics. To confound them he appeals to the tradition of the churches, and at first, not unnaturally, he appeals to that of his master, i.e. to that of Smyrna. But then he continues: “But as it would take too long to go through all the churches, it will be enough for me to point out the apostolic tradition, the teaching which has come down to us by the episcopal succession in the Church of Rome, the greatest and most ancient of all (maxime et antiquissimae), and known to all, founded at Rome by the two glorious apostles, Peter and Paul. This tradition is enough to confound all who, in one way or another, by self-conceit, love of applause, blindness, or false persuasions, are outside the truth. For with this church, by reason of its more powerful principality (or chiefer presidentship, principalitas), every church must agree—i.e. the faithful everywhere—in which (the Roman Church) the tradition of the apostles has ever been preserved by those on every side”.

Now that we have seen something of the manner in which, during apostolic and subapostolic times, the Church of Rome stands out among the other churches, we must proceed more summarily with the rest of the pre­Constantinian period, as this is not the place for elaborate details on such a wide subject. If throughout the epoch in question the Church of Rome is ever receiving marks of veneration from members of the Church universal, it is especially against “the peremptory edicts” of its “bishop of bishops” that her enemies point the finger of scorn. As St. Paul went up to Jerusalem “to see Peter”, the most distinguished men in the Church went, like Origen, to Rome simply “to see this most ancient church”. Heretics, too, fluttered round it like moths round a candle, only to share their fate. When other great churches differed from it, we find its pontiffs ordering their bishops to meet together in council, and threatening to cut them off “from the common unity”, if they continued to remain at variance with them. They called upon bishops even of the most important Sees to explain any doctrinal position which they had taken up, and which did not seem to them sound. Finally, owing to their care for all the churches, and because they were “presidents of the great Christian congregation of love”, they sent “contributions to many churches in every city”.

The pre-eminent position of the bishop of Rome was seen and acknowledged also by the civil authorities. The churches of the East were very much scandalized by the loose morals and equally loose doctrine of Paul of Samosata, then bishop of Antioch. He was at length condemned and deposed by numerous councils. Particulars of its proceedings were “by common consent addressed to Dionysius, bishop of Rome, and to Maximus of Alexandria”, and sent to all the provinces. Paul, however, would not submit, but kept forcible possession of the temporalities of his See. The case was brought before the emperor Aurelian, who, says Eusebius, gave a most fair decision, ordering the church buildings to be given to those “to whom the Christian bishops of Italy and of Rome should write, i.e. should send their communicatory letters”.

Before a word is said on the position of the popes between the reign of Constantine and the days of St. Gregory I, with whose pontificate this work commences, it must be noted that though Rome was then indeed the capital of the world, the principalitas assigned to its bishops is never based during the earliest period of the Church’s life on anything but their descent from St. Peter. If the place of Pope Fabian was vacant, it was “the place of Peter” that was empty.

If to the man whose clear sight enables him to penetrate the mists of remote antiquity ever so little, the principality of the bishops of Rome from the earliest ages is obvious, their commanding position after that date can scarcely escape the notice even of the man of dullest vision.

As before, true doctrine is considered to be that which is in accord with the Roman tradition. Communion with them is made the touchstone of orthodoxy, the avenue of approach to Our Saviour. Their power, said to be “derived from the authority of Holy Scripture”, is acknowledged as well by councils, ecumenical and particular, as by individuals. If synods recognized hat appeals could be carried to them, they themselves proclaimed, five hundred years before the False Decretals were heard of, that from them there was no appeal, and that, being judged by none, they were to judge the whole Church. Did they restore Greek bishops to the Sees from which they had been expelled, Greek historians proclaimed that it was in virtue “of the prerogatives of the Roman Church”. We find that ecumenical councils were only summoned with their concurrence, that they presided over them by their legates, and were called upon by them to confirm their decrees. Finally the pre-eminence of the Roman Pontiff is set forth most unmistakably in both the civil and in the canon law, or in that combination of both known as the Nomo­canon, of the Greeks.

Of course it was to have been expected that when freedom from persecution allowed of free and open intercourse between the churches, and when the headquarters of the bishops of Rome were transferred from the catacomb of S. Priscilla to the Lateran palace, we should have had much more abundant evidence of the general acknowledgment of the primacy of the popes. And it was also to have been anticipated that with the passing of time the intervention of the Head of the Church in its affairs would be more frequent and more striking, as in the human body the action of the mind becomes more pronounced with its growth. But if the headship of the popes is seen in clearer light in the days that followed Constantine than in those which preceded them, his authority was not so uncontested. In the earlier period he had not to contend against imperial patriarchs at once heretical and ambitious. Still, though either in matters of faith or judicial jurisdiction, their authority had been braved for a time by different patriarchs of Constantinople up to the period of which we are now treating, the Greek Church had always in the end come into agreement with them. And when S. Ignatius was dethroned by Photius there was absolute unity between the two churches. We will now proceed to examine in detail how the assaults of his predecessors against it enabled Photius to effect an irreparable breach in it.


Rise of the bishop of Constantinople. Nectarius.


At first, as we have already said, the bishops of Constantinople were subject to the jurisdiction of the exarch of Heraclea. For, though to preserve external unity the greater ecclesiastics had to be recognized by the bishops of Rome, they had jurisdiction over the bishops of their respective provinces. But the ambition of the bishops of New Rome, as their episcopal city was called, did not suffer this subjection long. In 381, Nectarius, the successor of St. Gregory Nazianzen, induced the fathers of the first general council of Constantinople to decree that “the bishop of Constantinople holds the primacy of honor after the bishop of Rome, because it is the new Rome”. The ground on which this new honor was bestowed on Nectarius was more reprehensible than the granting of the honor itself, as far as the real, if not the nominal, prejudice of the rights of others was concerned. By the canon preceding the one just cited, the rights of jurisdiction belonging to the patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, and to the three exarchs of Ephesus, Caesarea in Cappadocia, and Heraclea were confirmed in accordance with the decrees of Nice. But as a matter of fact, however, as we gather from Socrates, the bishops of Constantinople from this time forth exercised the jurisdiction that previously belonged to Heraclea; and, by judiciously stretching the third canon above mentioned, began to interfere in matters of ecclesiastical government throughout the entire East. The third canon was, however, not confirmed by the Holy See. Pope Leo I wrote to Anatolius (449-458) to the effect that this canon was null from the very beginning, as it had never been communicated to the Holy See, and that the use to which there was a wish to put it was both late in the day and to no purpose.

But the patriarchs of Constantinople pushed on their usurpations. Atticus (406-425), the second successor of St. John Chrysostom, turned to the civil power, and obtained two decrees in his favor from Theodosius, the younger. By the one, no bishop was for the future to be elected throughout the three exarchates without the consent of the synod of Constantinople. By the other, no affair in Illyricum was to be concluded without first informing the bishop of the city of Constantinople, which city boasts the privileges of old Rome. Still there is the same secular motive. But this time the usurpation of authority is in a province directly subject to Rome, through the vicariate of Thessalonica. The latter of these laws was indeed revoked, but not so the ambition of the bishops of the imperial city.

Anatolius contrived to get various canons passed in favor of his See at the general council of Chalcedon (451). Canons nine and seventeen permitted of appeals to the See of Constantinople from the exarchates; and canon twenty-eight, which was drawn up clandestinely and only received the signatures of under a third of the bishops, set forth that they confirmed the third canon of Constantinople and took the same view “of the privileges of the most holy Church of Constantinople, the new Rome”. For to the throne of old Rome, on account of its being the reigning city, the fathers naturally gave the privileges of honor; and, acting from the same motive, the 150 fathers (of the council of Constantinople) have assigned equal privileges to the most holy throne of new Rome, rightly deciding that the city, which was honored with the residence of the emperor and the senate, should enjoy equal privileges with the older imperial Rome, and in ecclesiastical affairs be exalted like her, and after her hold the second place”. Hence the metropolitans of the exarchates and bishops among the barbarians were to be consecrated by “the archbishop of Constantinople”, as he is now called. These three canons, combined with the third canon of Constantinople, or with the interpretation put upon it by the ambition of the bishops of the imperial city, would have had the effect of giving patriarchal rights to the “archbishop of Constantinople”, and of placing him above the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria, and all because of the civil position of his See. In their synodical letter to Pope Leo I, the bishops of the council make known to him what they have done with regard to the bishop of Constantinople, “not so much for the sake of granting a privilege to the See of Constantinople as to provide for the due tranquility of the metropolitan cities”; and beg the Pope to confirm what they have decided. But by letters to the bishops of the council, to Anatolius himself, and to the emperor, Leo made it perfectly plain that such a confirmation he would not give. On the contrary, he annulled what the bishops had agreed upon “contrary to the rules of the holy canons drawn up at Nicaea”, and “by the authority of the Blessed Apostle Peter, by a general definition, made it utterly void”. In his letter to Anatolius, he upbraids him for using to further his own ambition a council called to settle matters of faith; and declares that what he desires will never receive his consent. And writing to the emperor Marcian he says that Anatolius ought to be content with the bishopric of Constantinople which he has obtained by the favor of the emperor and the assent of the Pope. Although Anatolius in his reply to the Pope submitted to his decision, threw all the blame of the matter on the fathers of the council, and acknowledged that the canon had no force except from the confirmation of the Pope, his successors did not cease to strive for the prize that was so nearly in their grasp.

Pope Felix III found it necessary to depose Acacius (471-489) for his ambitious interference with the patriarchal rights of Antioch. Acacius in turn, trusting of course to the secular arm, excommunicated the Pope, and thus effected a schism. Although several of the successors of Acacius tried to induce the popes to confirm their election, as they would not efface the name of the schismatic Acacius from the sacred diptychs, they did not obtain their request, and as many as five of the successors of Acacius died out of communion with the See of Rome. The schism was healed in 519, in the reign of Pope Hormisdas, and yet the emperor Justinian (527-565) in his new code of laws reaffirmed the high place of the See of Constantinople.

Then John the Faster (582-595) essayed at least indirectly a higher flight. He arrogated to himself the title “ecumenical patriarch”, and, despite the remonstrances of Pelagius II and Gregory I, who wrote to point out to him that to take such a title was tantamount to calling himself the only bishop, he and his successors held to the title. Tending in the same direction, viz., in that of making the bishop of Constantinople no longer the second but the first in the Church, was the thirty-sixth canon which was decreed by the Greek bishops in the Council of Trullo (692), which, while professing to renew the third canon of Constantinople and the twenty-eighth of Chalcedon, declared that the See of Constantinople should enjoy the same privileges as that of old Rome, and that it should be as great in ecclesiastical affairs, holding the second rank after it.

The outline just sketched of the respective positions of Rome and Constantinople is in the main endorsed by the conclusions of the latest English non-Catholic writer on the affairs of the Eastern Roman Empire, viz., Mr. Bury. Speaking of a period much anterior to that of Nicholas I, he writes: “The bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, was the head of the Church, and the weakness of the empire in the West increased his power and confirmed his independence ... But the geographical distance from Constantinople had also another effect; it contributed to rendering the patriarch of Constantinople and the Eastern churches independent of Rome. The oriental and occidental churches had a tendency to separate along with the political systems to which they belonged, and consistent with this tendency was the desire of the patriarch of Constantinople, which in the fifth century became the most important city in the world, to free himself from the jurisdiction of Rome. In order to do so he naturally leaned upon the power of the emperor. The result was that in the West the ecclesiastical hierarchy was independent in spiritual matters, and afterwards attained secular power, but in the East the Church and the Imperium were closely allied, the Church being dependent on the emperor”.

The long series of ambitious efforts for pride of place on the part of his predecessors had well paved the way for the schism of Photius, which was the beginning of the end of the union between the Greeks and the Latins, between the East and the West. But it was reserved for his craft to give point to the growing divergence between the East and West by inventing a doctrinal basis for that divergence.




We must now, therefore, unfold the history of his relations with the Holy See, which, if we include the affair of Gregory Asbestas, with which the story of Photius is intimately bound up, embraced a period of thirty-four years, and involved nine popes, beginning with Leo IV and ending with Formosus, and five councils.

On the death of the emperor Theophilus, as his son Michael was a minor, the government of the empire was placed in the hands of a council of regency, of which the empress-mother Theodora was the head. To assist her were appointed three of the most important men in the State. Of these the first in intelligence, in enterprise, and in crime was the patrician Bardas, the emperor’s uncle and the brother of Theedora. Their secretary was Photius, himself connected with the imperial family by the marriage of one of his uncles with a sister of Theodora. The lust of Bardas was the immediate cause not only of the downfall of the council of regency, but of that of Ignatius, and of the union between the East and West. To the great scandal of all, he repudiated his lawful wife to live with his daughter-in-law, who had been left a young widow. Despite the life of sin in which he was publicly known to be living, he had the effrontery to present himself to receive Holy Communion at the hands of the patriarch on the feast of the Epiphany 857. Ignatius, who had to no purpose of warned him to give up his evil courses, openly refused to give him the Body and Blood of Our Lord. Bardas resolved on revenge; but for that he had to make himself supreme. He had already acquired a paramount influence over the young Michael, who had very early manifested a strong inclination to every form of ignoble vice. By encouraging him in his vile habits of drink, of associating with stablemen, and of buffoonery, Bardas had made the weak and wicked youth his tool. He accordingly persuaded the young libertine of nineteen that he was now old enough to rule by himself, and advised him to order the patriarch to cut off the hair of Theodora and make her enter a convent. Naturally impatient of any control, the advice was eagerly acted upon by Michael. And as Ignatius firmly refused to be a party to this iniquity, he incurred, to the profound satisfaction of Bardas, the hatred of the emperor also. What Ignatius had refused to do was done by a baser soul, and Theodora was shut up in a convent (September 857). Next a charge of high treason was trumped up by Bardas against Ignatius, and the saint was banished to the Isle of Terebinth, the most wretched of the Princes’ Isles (November 23, 857). Bardas, who was now the real ruler of the empire (he was soon to take the title of Caesar), determined to replace Ignatius by one who would at once do his will and be a support to him. He resolved that Photius, who was anything but loath, should be patriarch. Every effort was at first made to induce Ignatius to resign. This, with the same inflexibility in right which he had shown before, he firmly refused to do. That device failing, Bardas, so it is said, by craftily offering in private the patriarchal See to each of the professed chief supporters of Ignatius, should they abandon him, suborned their fidelity to the saint. The choice of Photius was then made public, and in six days he was made from monk to patriarch (Christmas Day, 857), by Gregory Asbestas, to whose party both Bardas and Photius had attached themselves. All this Bardas accomplished in less than twelve months. Of the new would-be patriarch, Jager writes as follows : “Photius united in his person the most eminent gifts which nature has ever bestowed on one man, a high intelligence, great genius, vivacity of spirit, a wonderful energy, an incredible activity, an ardent passion for glory, a will at once as supple as gold and as inflexible as iron. He had a pronounced taste for letters, and in their study passed his nights; he was a skillful orator and an accomplished writer in prose and verse, sometimes rising to the level of the ancients. He was master of all the learning of his own and preceding ages, and was in it more than a match for any disputant. Though no stranger to ecclesiastical learning, he did not excel in it. To so many qualities was joined an illustrious birth. Although (at this time) young, he was not without experience, as he had for some time been Secretary of State, after having been on various embassies to foreign states. Add to these distinctions an agreeable exterior, a grave and modest deportment, a bright expression, manners easy and elegant, perfect politeness, in a word, all the external qualifications which attract and seduce by an inexpressible charm … What was wanting to so many eminent qualities? Christian humility ... He was the slave of an indomitable pride and a gnawing ambition”.

Such was Photius, who in virtue of his consecration by Gregory, and of the power of a tyrant, called himself patriarch of Constantinople. He at once renewed his ill-treatment of Ignatius in order to force him to resign; and, knowing that a generous soul is most hurt in the sufferings of his friends, the supporters of the saint were subjected to similar outrages. One cannot help thinking of a like device practiced by Henry II to break the spirit of St. Thomas of Canterbury. But not to no purpose had Ignatius received in his veins the blood of kings from both his father and mother. What is more, he had been brought up in that school wherein especially are trained men, the school of adversity. Ignatius could not be crushed by aught that Photius could do. And although the pseudo-patriarch made every effort to put his own friends in power wherever he could, there was so much opposition to him that, if any trust can be placed in his letters to Bardas, he was really distressed at the position he was in. But pride, and, possibly, the fear of Bardas, prevented him from taking the one step—viz., that of giving up his pretensions, which could alone have brought him peace of mind. The support which he could not win by violence at home, he next decided to try and gain by craft from abroad. He endeavored to procure the confirmation of his election from Rome.

Accordingly an important embassy, consisting of the protospatharius (captain of the guards), Arsaber and four bishops, was sent to Rome with great presents and with letters for the Pope from the emperor and Photius. The letter of Photius, besides presenting his profession of faith, gave an account of his elevation to the See of Constantinople. He did not blush therein to declare that he was overwhelmed to find himself burdened with an office which he had always regarded as too much for human shoulders to bear. For “when my predecessor left his charge”, (so euphemistically does he describe the expulsion of Ignatius), the bishops, and especially the emperor, whom he basely asserts to be unsurpassed in leniency by any who have ruled before him, forced him to take up the burden of the episcopacy. With the Pope, therefore, he is resolved to contract a firm alliance of faith and love. In conclusion, he makes the usual profession of faith, declares his acceptance of the seven general councils, and begs the Pope’s prayers that he may show himself a worthy bishop. The emperor’s letter, the contents of which have to be gleaned from the letters of Nicholas, allows that certain disorders followed on the resignation of Ignatius, and begs the Pope to send legates to Constantinople to put an end to them as well as to the remains of the iconoclast trouble.

But Nicholas was neither to be bought nor befooled; and “although up to this he was ignorant of the crafty ways of Photius, he keenly surmised almost the whole truth”. He assembled a council to discuss the matter, and it was decided that two legates, Rodoald, bishop of Porto, and Zachary, bishop of Anagni, should be sent to Constantinople. Nicholas gave them the strictest injunctions with regard to the affair of Ignatius. They had merely to inform themselves of the facts of the case, to report them to the Apostolic See, and meanwhile only to communicate with Photius as a layman. The legates were the bearers of two letters.

In a short one to Photius, Nicholas rejoices that his profession of faith shows him to be a Catholic, but cannot but regret his allowing himself, a layman, to be consecrated patriarch, and hence “cannot consent to his consecration” till the return of the legates. In a longer one to Michael (the letters of Nicholas are not unfrequently decidedly long), he points out that it is by the will of Christ, Our Lord, that the Church is founded on Peter, and while thanking Michael for his wish for peace, reminds him that the Fathers have taken notice “that no decision must be given on any new matter that arises without the consent of the Roman See and the Roman Pontiff”. Hence Ignatius ought not to have been deposed “without consultation with the Roman Pontiff”, still less ought a layman to have been elected patriarch, a proceeding condemned as well by the Council of Sardica as by the decrees of the popes. Until, therefore, his envoys have informed him of all that has been done, “he cannot give the consent of his apostleship” to the consecration of Photius. On the image question, he continues, there is no need for him to write much, as it has been settled, and there are at Constantinople the letters of Pope Hadrian. He concludes by exhorting the emperor, who, he is given to understand, is anxious for the proper ordering of all ecclesiastical affairs, to restore to the Holy See its patriarchal rights over the provinces of Illyricum and Sicily, and the patrimonies that belonged to it in Calabria and Sicily.

When the Pope’s legates reached Constantinople, and the authorities there found that the deposition of Ignatius was not approved by Rome, they determined to wring approval at least from Rome’s representatives. The legates were ill-treated, threatened, and imprisoned, with the view of forcing them to betray their trust. They resisted for months. At length, when they had been tried with gold as well as iron, they consented to become the tools of Photius. To imitate the first general council of Nice, 318 bishops were got together in council (May 861). They assembled in the Church of the Holy Apostles, situated in the center of the city by the imperial cemetery, and afterwards destroyed by Mohammed II, the Conqueror, to make room for the mosque which bears his name.

Michael, who attended the synod himself, with the Roman legates and the bishops on his right, and many of the senate on his left, opened it by saying that it was merely out of respect for the Roman Church and for the most holy Pope Nicholas in the persons of his legates that the case of the deposed Ignatius could be gone into again. After the whole assembly had declared its submission to the ruling of the papal legates, a sham trial of the defenseless patriarch was instituted. Because he would not abdicate, despite all the pressure that could be brought to bear upon him, he was declared deposed on the futile charge of having accepted his office from the civil power. The saint, however, persisted in appealing to the Apostolic See. “Such judges as you I do not recognize. Take me before the Pope, to his judgment I will gladly submit”. Those who were well disposed to the saint made the same appeal. No notice was, of course, taken of it. For form’s sake a discussion was held on the image question. The Pope’s letters, altered by Photius to suit his requirements, were next read, and twenty-seven canons of discipline were passed. Stripped of his pallium, Ignatius returned into the hands of his persecutors, and the legates to Rome to gloss over their doings to Nicholas as best they could, with the aid of letters from the emperor and Photius which were entrusted to the care of Leo, a secretary of state.

Like the whole of the affair of Photius, the acts of this synod illustrate very plainly the relation of the whole Greek Church to the See of Rome. The supreme authority of the papal legates is recognized both by Ignatius and his supporters and by the adherents of Photius. All acknowledged the right of appeal to Rome, and the consequent right of the Pope to try over again any cases whatsoever which might be brought before him. And if, at last, seeing how false they were to their trust, the holy patriarch would not recognize the papal legates, it was because they had not been sent “by the great judge, the Pope of Rome” (a magno judice P. Rom.), i.e., because they were not acting as his faithful missi.

The emperor’s letter informs the Pope of the council held at Constantinople, and of the deposition of Ignatius by virtue of its decree and the consent of the papal legates. The Pope’s assent to the council is asked, and the elevation of Photius defended by an appeal to precedent in the cases of S. Ambrose, etc. The letter of Photius, necessarily long, as its object was to mislead the Pope, is a masterpiece of sophistical reasoning and special pleading, and well worthy of the study of a barrister. The writer begins by saying that he quite understands that the first letter which the Pope wrote to him was the outcome of his zeal for what he supposed to be the right. But it must not be forgotten that the writer could not help his promotion, and that he certainly did not desire it. On the one hand, his happiness in his former life, upon which he enlarges at some length, was great; and on the other, he was thoroughly alive to the difficult character of the motley population of the imperial city, and how hard it would be to teach it the lessons of virtue. Still he hopes for the Pope’s justice. He had not violated the canons by his promotion, as they had not then been received by the Church of Constantinople. He does not, however, say all this to keep the See he never wanted. But he cannot approve of its being held by one (Ignatius) who had taken possession of it improperly, nor yet endure without a word being driven from a post even more harshly than he had been driven into it! Then, to defend his own elevation to the See, he very cleverly undertakes the defence of other laymen, like Nicephorus and Tarasius, who had, with great advantage to the Church, been made patriarchs of Constantinople. However, “to show obedience in all things to your paternal charity” ... and “because children must obey their parents in what is right and holy”, he has consented to the passing of a canon (can. 17) forbidding any layman or monk to be consecrated bishop without having passed through all the lower grades of the ecclesiastical order. He would have established all the rules laid down by the Pope had it not been for the resistance of the emperor. After highly praising the Pope’s legates, he concludes by begging Nicholas, “who holds the primacy”, mindful of the canons, not to receive those who come to Rome from Constantinople without letters of recommendation. This request was, of course, made by Photius in the hope of keeping Nicholas from finding out the truth in his regard.

On the return of his legates to Rome (862), Nicholas had no difficulty in finding out, as well from their words legates as from the acts of the council held by Photius, and the letters of the emperor and the pseudo-patriarch, that his envoys had gone beyond their powers. In a council of the Roman clergy, in presence of the imperial ambassador, Nicholas blamed his legates for their conduct, and declared that he did not consent either to the deposition of Ignatius or to the promotion of Photius.

In the spring (862) the envoy Leo returned to Constantinople with a letter for the emperor and one for Photius, both to the same effect. Nicholas plainly informs Michael that, “because, without the decision of our apostleship you have retained Photius and have expelled that most prudent man, the patriarch Ignatius, we wish you plainly to understand that we do not at all accept Photius nor condemn the patriarch Ignatius”. Nor does he fail to remind the emperor that what he now says against Ignatius is very different to what he was wont to say in his praise during the course of well-nigh twelve years after his election. The emperor’s conduct in the affair “is more than we can bear with equanimity, especially as we had ordered that the dispute between the two should be investigated and reported to us, but not decided”. That decision the Pope will not give “till the truth is made clear in our presence”.

Nicholas begins his letter to Photius, whom he simply addresses as “a most prudent man”, by establishing the authority of his See over the whole Church. “In the Church, Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and janitor of the kingdom of heaven, merited to have the primacy, as is known to all the faithful, and has been briefly shown above (by the words of Our Lord : Thou art Peter,' etc.). After him, his vicars, sincere servers of God, free from the mists which are wont to cause men to wander from the right path, have received the same privilege, and have steadily persevered in the government of the Lord’s sheep which has been entrusted to them”. Over this Roman Church, from which “all the faithful seek the integrity of the faith”, he has been placed. Hence what he decides “with full authority” must be observed, and Photius has done wrong in taking the patriarchal dignity, inasmuch as he is a layman, and Ignatius still lives. Nicholas then shows that there were special circumstances connected with the uncanonical elevation of S. Ambrose and the others to whom Photius had appealed. With regard to the assertion of Photius that the Church of Constantinople had not recognized the Council of Sardica nor received the decretals, Nicholas flatly declares that “he can scarcely believe it”. “The Council of Sardica”, he says, “was held in your parts, and has been received by the whole Church. Why, then, should the Church of Constantinople reject it? Moreover, how is it that you have not received the decretals of the Roman Church “by the authority of which all councils receive their weight”—except that they contradict your ordination? If you have them not, you are careless; if you have them, and do not observe them, you are blameworthy. Until the fault of Ignatius is made evident to us, we can neither regard him as deposed, nor you as even in the sacerdotal order”.

Not content with these plain declarations of his views on the subject of the existing phase of the affair of Ignatius, he explained them to those “who govern the Catholic churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and to all the Eastern metropolitans and bishops”; and “by apostolic authority” he ordered them to take up the same attitude towards the respective rights of Ignatius and Photius as he did, and to make known his letter throughout all their dioceses.

Up to this Nicholas was quite ignorant both of the extent of the guilt of his legates and of the vile treatment which had from the first been meted out to Ignatius. He was soon to learn of both.

After his condemnation by the Council of Photius, Ignatius was exposed to even more shameful treatment than he had experienced before it, in order to make him sign his abdication. But neither chains, blows, nor tortures of any kind could wring the desired deed of renunciation from him. Having obtained a little respite, he at once drew up an appeal to the Pope, an appeal which was signed by ten metropolitans, fifteen bishops, and a large number of the clergy. It was addressed “to our most holy lord and blessed president, the patriarch of all the Sees, the successor of the apostles, the ecumenical Pope Nicholas”, and to the Roman Church. In it Ignatius sets forth his case, such as we have seen it, and in conclusion adds : “Do you, most holy lord, show pity to me, and with the great apostle say, Who is weak, and I am not weak? (2 Cor. xi. 29). Think of thy predecessors Fabian, Julius, Innocent, Leo, and all of those who nobly struggled for the faith and truth. Emulate them and avenge me, who have suffered such unworthy treatment”. This document the monk Theognostus managed in disguise to carry to the Pope. He reached Rome probably towards the close of the year 862.

Now in possession of the full truth, Nicholas was indignant indeed, and he resolved to make his indignation felt. A numerous council was promptly convoked. It met first in the Church of St. Peter, and then, on account of the weather, in that of the Lateran. The legate Zachary was at once tried for his conduct at Constantinople. When convicted he was deprived of his bishopric and excommunicated. Rodoald, who was then absent on duty as legate in the affair of the divorce of King Lothaire, and who proved as faithless in that charge as in his former, was recalled at the close of this year, and then shared the same well-deserved fate as his colleague. Photius was declared deprived of all sacerdotal rights, and threatened with perpetual excommunication if he attempted to exercise them or to interfere with the rights of Ignatius. The same sentence was decreed against Gregory of Syracuse, and those ordained by Photius were interdicted from performing any clerical duties. Ignatius, on the other hand, and his friends who had suffered with him, were reinstated in the honors of which they had been unjustly deprived. Any cleric or layman, of whatever rank (quisquis est), who may venture to interfere with the carrying out of the Pope’s decrees is threatened with deposition or excommunication.

To mitigate the effects of the previous council of the Pope, Photius had had recourse to forgery. But he gained nothing by it. The favorable letter which professed to have been written by Nicholas to him was proved to be supposititious. This discovery did not naturally improve the light in which he was regarded by those who had any concern for virtue and honor. And when word reached Constantinople of his formal condemnation by the Pope and his council of 863, and it was seen that he took no heed of the condemnation, people broke off communion with him “in crowds, being struck with horror that he would not take correction even from so great a See”. Photius, however, was not the man to sit quiet while his cause was being attacked. Resistance, he endeavored to overcome by force; support, to purchase by any means. “No profession, age, or sex was left unpunished by him, if it was not in communion with him”. To catch the good-will of the learned, he conducted a school in his palace, and spared neither his money nor his talents to gain partisans. With the same end, he scattered broadcast the most delicate attentions which his naturally most charming address enabled him to pay so attractively. No man ever understood better than Photius that “every man has his price”. He even pandered to the lower orders, and induced curriers, needle-makers, and the like, to sign various documents suitable for his purposes—documents which were collected and burnt at the eighth General Council. But especially did he strive to gain over the monks, who, headed by the Studites, had been the great allies of the popes in the iconoclast troubles, and now almost to a man opposed him resolutely. He had already affected a great zeal for their reform, and had passed various canons affecting them in his council of 861. But they were so framed that they could be made to serve his own ends. When they could not, he did not scruple to contravene his own handiwork.

Though, as we shall see, his herculean labors finally availed him nothing, they bore a lasting bad fruit. He had sowed so many seeds of distrust of Rome that a thousand years has not sufficed to uproot them.


Affairs of the West and the East


All this while Nicholas was harassed in the West as well as in the East. Hincmar of Rheims was showing himself anything but docile with regard to the appeal of Rothad of Soissons against him, and Lothaire of Lorraine was struggling to divorce his lawful wife, and was being supported in his struggle by the powerful archbishops of Trier and Cologne. The two latter, viz., Gunther and Theutgard, in their violent opposition to the Pope, endeavored to make matters unbearable for him by trying to bring about an understanding with Photius. He, however, when he received this invitation, was either not ready to act, or had not made up his mind to try all extremities. Probably the former alternative contains the true explanation of the lull in the course of his violent actions.

Convinced at length that he could not bend to his will either Nicholas or Ignatius, and that the time had come, Photius decided to break away definitely from both. By making the fullest use of his personal influence and his power at court, he had rendered the number of his creatures in places of position and trust very considerable. He made a “beginning of the end” by writing, through the emperor Michael, a letter (865) to the Pope full of abuse.

The very lengthy reply of Nicholas to this letter, now lost, will give a sufficiently clear idea of its contents. When the letter arrived, the Pope was very ill, but by a great effort he contrived to pen an answer for the imperial envoy to take back to his master, an answer which has remained an invaluable source of Canon Law, which historians of all countries have praised for its dignity and prudence, and which some regard as the grandest and most elevated document which has been written up to this day on the privileges of the Church.

As the letter purported to come from the emperor, to him Nicholas addressed his reply, though he declares more than once that he does not believe that Michael is the author of it. To the personal abuse of himself, with which the emperor’s letter began, Nicholas commences his reply by asserting that he will only oppose prayers that Our Lord will teach him what is in accordance with truth and increase his power. He reminds the emperor that as Christ Our Lord commanded the Jews to harken to the scribes because they sat in the chair of Moses, he ought still more to give heed to him as he was sitting in the chair of Peter, and ought not to consider the person of the Pope, but his doctrine.

“But as to what you have written which tends to the injury (not of me but) of the Roman Church, to the diminution of its privileges and to the lowering of its bishops, that we shall rebut with all our power, and, undeterred by any threats or calumnies, that we shall strive to our very utmost to refute as opposed to truth”.

In answer to the claim that the emperor made, that he had done great honor to the Pope in writing to him,—a thing which his predecessors had not condescended to do since the sixth General Council—Nicholas pointed out that that was the emperor’s loss. They had been in the midst of heresy, and had not come to the Apostolic See for the remedy against it. They had not written to Rome, because for the most part they had been heretics. However, as a matter of fact, those who were not heretics, such as Constantine and Irene, had sought the help of the popes. Unlike your predecessors, Honorius, Valentinian, Marcian, Justinian, Constantine, and Irene, who were content to ask and petition the Roman See, you must give it your orders, “as though you were the heir not of their clemency and respect, but merely of their imperial power”.

That the emperor should abuse the Latin language was certainly extraordinary, seeing that he called himself “emperor of the Romans”, whose language was Latin.

Nicholas again declares at length that Ignatius has been wrongly condemned, and in a way utterly opposed to the canons, and even to the civil laws of Justinian, and warns the emperor not to attack the privileges of the Holy See over all the other churches, lest they should fall upon him. “These privileges, by the words of Christ, founded on Blessed Peter, ever reverenced in the Church, cannot be lessened or changed; for human efforts cannot move the foundation which God has laid ... The privileges of this See existed before your empire, they will remain after you, and they will remain inviolate as long as Christianity shall be preached. These privileges were given to this Holy See by Christ, not by councils; by councils they have only been proclaimed and reverenced ... Neither the Council of Nice nor any other council conferred any privileges on the Roman Church, which knew that in Peter it had merited to the full the rights of complete power, had received the government of all the sheep of Christ. This is what the blessed bishop Boniface (I) attests when writing to all the bishops of Thessaly: The universal institution of the new-born church had its source in the honor accorded to Blessed Peter, who received its direction and the sovereign power”.

He could not think of yielding up to the emperor those who had fled to Rome from the East. Even barbarians would not be so false to the laws of hospitality. Besides, he has the right to summon to Rome “not only monks, but any cleric whatsoever from any diocese”, whenever there was any need for the good of the Church. Moreover, they have not told him anything which he did not know from “countless persons” who have come to Rome from Alexandria, Jerusalem, Constantinople and its neighborhood, from Mount Olympus and other parts, and, indeed, from the emperor’s own envoys and letters.

Instead of threatening Christians with the might of his arms, he should rather turn them against the Saracens for the recovery of Sicily and the other provinces they had seized.

However, to prevent things going from bad to worse, he will consent—“by an indulgence and not as furnishing a precedent for the future”—that the cause of Ignatius and Photius should be re-opened at Rome. They were to come to Rome in person or by their deputies. Those who were to represent Ignatius were specially mentioned by the Pope, that he might be sure of having his case fully and truthfully stated. He wishes the authentic acts of the proceedings against Ignatius to be sent to him. What has moved him against the party of Gregory of Syracuse is no personal enmity, but “zeal for God’s house and for the traditions of our ancestors, ecclesiastical order, ancient custom, and our solicitude for all the churches of God, as well as the privileges of our See, winch, received by Blessed Peter from God, and handed on to the Roman Church, are acknowledged and venerated by the Universal Church”. He would have Michael remember how execrated is the memory of Nero, of Diocletian, and the other persecutors of the Church, and how glorious the honor in which are held Constantine the Great, Theodosius the Great, and the others. “Remember”, he continues, “how the latter respected the Apostolic See, the privileges they bestowed upon it, and the gifts with which they enriched it. Remember how they issued decrees that its faith had to be followed. But while they assembled councils, they did not dictate to them”.

In conclusion he exhorts the emperor not to interfere in ecclesiastical concerns. For “every earthly ruler must keep himself as free from interfering in sacred matters as every soldier of Christ from temporal business ... For as Theodosius the Younger wrote to the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus ... It is not right for one who is not a bishop to meddle in ecclesiastical affairs”. It was for the emperor to learn from the Pope the way of salvation; for the Pope to receive support from the emperor. Whoever tampers in any way with the Pope’s letter is excommunicated.

Though this weighty appeal produced no effect, it might have been supposed that the death of Bardas (April 29, 866), who was slain by the orders of Michael, now suspicious of his former favorite, would have made the course of the Pope’s policy towards Photius easier. It, however, had no such effect. Michael associated with himself in the empire (May 26, 866) Basil the Macedonian, who had formerly been his groom. The new Cesar was anointed by Photius (Pentecost, 866).

Finding that the letter, the contents of which have just been cited, produced no effect, Nicholas made another effort, in the course of the same year, to put an end to the sorry state of affairs in the Church of Constantinople. Legates, whom he had received from the Bulgarians on the subject of the conversion of their people to Christianity (of which we shall treat later), were returning to their own country. To them Nicholas joined envoys of his own, whom he furnished with no less than nine letters for different personages in the East, and all dated November 13, 866. In the letter to the emperor, Nicholas repeats the history of Photius’ affair, showing in detail how his first letter to Michael had been falsified. “You say, O Emperor, that even without our consent Photius will keep his church, and will remain in communion with the Church, and that, on the other hand, Ignatius will not be in the least benefited by us ... But we believe that a member which cleaves to parts that adhere not to the head, will not long remain in sound condition”. And, full of faith, he goes on to say that he thinks nothing of delay that may take place in the fulfilling of the punishments decreed by the Apostolic See. “It is his indeed to run (Rom. ix. 16), but it rests with God when it shall please Him to bring matters to an issue ... Those who have been once struck by the prelates of the Apostolic See, are to this very day so bound by their sentence that while, in many instances, the darts of judgment launched against them have not immediately wounded such of them as have been shielded by princes, they have in others, however, penetrated to the marrow of the bone, and have rendered some hateful to all, even after death”. Instead of quoting the examples which Nicholas brings forward to exemplify the truth of his assertions, we will content ourselves with noting—what Nicholas himself did not live to see—that Ignatius died in possession of his See, and that, on the contrary, Photius died in exile, and Michael himself was murdered by Basil the Macedonian. He begs the emperor to reinstate Ignatius, and to cause the opprobrious letter he wrote to him the year before to be burnt. Otherwise it and the other similar letters will have to be burnt in presence of a synod of all the Western provinces, an extremity to which Nicholas trusts the emperor will not drive him. In conclusion he is exhorted by all that is sacred, by the terrors of the last judgment; to do what is right by taking the proper steps for restoring Ignatius to his See.

In the other letters Photius is threatened with excommunication to the hour of his death; Ignatius and Theodora are consoled; Bardas (of whose death the Pope was ignorant), Eudoxia, and the senators of Constantinople, exhorted to take the part of Ignatius, and the clergy of Constantinople and all “the patriarchs, metropolitans and other bishops, along with all the faithful throughout Asia and Libya, who with us defend the true doctrine”, are fully informed of all that has been done in the affair of Photius.

But when the papal legates, to whom these letters had been entrusted, reached the frontiers of the empire on the side of Bulgaria, they were met by an imperial official who insisted upon their signing a declaration of faith in which many so-called errors of the Latins were set forth. On their refusing to comply, they were not only not allowed to proceed towards Constantinople, but were driven away with taunts and insults, the emperor himself even going so far as to declare that, if they had not come through Bulgaria, they should never, as long as they lived, have seen either him or Rome.

Furious because the Bulgarians had turned away from him and the Greeks, and had sent to Pope Nicholas for further instruction in the truths of Christianity, Photius sent a letter to the Bulgarian king full of charges, most of them trivial, against the Latins. This letter the king gave to the papal envoys, and with it they returned to Rome. The pseudo-patriarch did not stop there. He raised the standard of rebellion against the supremacy of the Pope. He would confine the papal authority to the West, and himself be Pope in the East. He opened the campaign by an encyclical letter which he sent to the Oriental bishops, and in which he denounced the errors of the Latins and their usurpations in Bulgaria. The letter begins : “Photius, by the mercy of God, archbishop of Constantinople, the New Rome, and ecumenical patriarch”. After telling of the conversion of the Bulgarians, he says that his joy thereat is turned into tears. “Wild beasts have come from the West and ravaged the Lord’s vineyard in Bulgaria, teaching their errors therein. They have taught the Bulgarians to fast on Saturdays, and to drink milk and eat cheese, etc., during the first week of Lent, which holy season they thus abridge. They profess to look down on married priests, and have even reconfirmed those who have been anointed with the chrism by our priests, on the plea that to confirm belonged to bishops. What is worse, they have perverted the Creed, have added to it the words Filioque, and thus introduced two principles or causes into the Trinity. Instead of saying that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father alone, they make out that the Father is the cause of the Son and the Spirit, and that the cause of the Spirit is the Son”. In conclusion, he informs the Oriental bishops that a letter (that of Gunther), full of complaints against Nicholas, has reached him from the West. He sends them a copy of this letter, and calls on them to meet in synod to legislate on what he has laid before them.

Mock synod of Constantinople


In August 867 Photius held a synod in the presence of the emperor Michael, and excommunicated Nicholas. The acts of this synod, the signatures to it especially, were so falsified by Photius, that some moderns, e.g. Jager, think that no synod was held at all. However, a synod of a sort does really seem to have been held; but, according to Anastasius, out of the thousand signatures affixed to its acts, only twenty-one were genuine, as most of the assembly protested that it was not right for anyone to pass sentence on the supreme pontiff, much less for an inferior. Under Pope Hadrian II, the envoy of the emperor Basil declared at Rome that the signature of Michael had been obtained when he was drunk, and that the great mass of the subscriptions were forgeries.

To effect his further ends, Photius caused Louis II and his wife Ingelberga to be acclaimed with the imperial title—whereas but seldom was this title ever conceded in the East to the Western emperors. The acts of his synod were then sent to them; and by flattery and rich presents he endeavored to induce Ingelberga to move her husband to drive Nicholas from Rome.

But the envoys of Photius never reached Italy. For the time their master’s power for evil was over. The emperor Basil, seeing “that it is my life or yours”, caused Michael to be murdered (September 24, 867), sent Photius into exile, and recalled his envoys. Ignatius was reinstated (November 26), and word of these events at once sent to Rome. And though Nicholas, to whom much of this news must have been most welcome, had died (November 13, 867) before the emperor’s messenger reached him, he seems before his end to have become acquainted with some of it by more or less well-founded reports.

He had not, however, been inactive after the receipt of the letter which Photius had sent to the Bulgarians. He resolved that the voice of the West should make itself heard in proclaiming the true doctrine of the Church, especially on the “Procession of the Holy Ghost”. Accordingly he wrote (October 23, 867) a long letter, setting forth the conduct of Photius, to Hincmar, with whom he had had many a passage of arms, but whom he could not fail to admire for his energy, courage, and learning. He points out that in their attack against the stainless Roman Church, the Greeks are attacking the whole West, and, after enumerating the charges brought by Photius against “that part where the Latin tongue is used”, he exhorts Hincmar and the other metropolitans to call together their suffragans, to deliberate over the best answer to be made against the detractions of the Greeks, and to let him know the result of their deliberations at once. “There is nothing so much feared by our enemies, whether visible or invisible, as concord ... Let us march against our common foes like an army in battle array”. “The animus of the Greek rulers and their satellites”, he continues, “may be seen in this, that what they allege against us is either false, or has been acknowledged to be our right, not only by the West, but even by the great doctors of the Church who once flourished among them (the Greeks)”. He asks them to consider whether these attacks on the Roman Church are to be tolerated. “Never has there been any Church, let alone that of Constantinople, which was instituted long after (the other great Sees), the teaching or authority of which the Roman Church has ever followed. On the contrary, the Roman Church has rather instituted the other churches ... That we are sinners indeed we deny not, but that we have ever been stained with the slighest error, we cannot in the least allow; whereas they (the Greeks) are never free from schism or error”.

This dignified letter, which we could wish to have cited in its entirety, was written by Nicholas when he was “sick unto death”. But it produced its effect. Hincmar acted with his accustomed promptness, and works against the errors and calumnies of the Greeks came from the pens of Odo of Beauvais, Aeneas of Paris, and Ratram, a monk of Corbie.

Aeneas carried the war into the enemy’s country, and in the Preface to his work made a vigorous use of the argumentum ad hominem. After quoting numerous examples to prove his point, he urged : “It is a most lamentable truth that that very See which is now attempting to raise its head to the skies has, in place of bishops of the true faith, had heretical rulers stained with false doctrine. But by the guidance of God such a disgrace has never befallen the Roman See that an heresiarch should sit in the place which the Prince of the Apostles has adorned by his presence and consecrated by his blood, and to which with special care the Son of God has entrusted His sheep to be ruled. For to it was it said, Thou art Peter and upon this rock will I build my church, etc. (S. Matt. xvi. TS). Can He not strengthen the faith of the one to whom by His own authority He gave His kingdom?—the one whom, in saluting as a rock, He marked out as the foundation of His Church”.

In the body of his work he replies in detail to the objections raised by Photius against the Latins, which he stigmatizes justly for the most part, as trifling or altogether inane.

But the most important production on this matter was that of Ratram, who opens his treatise by expressing his disapproval of secular princes mixing themselves up in religious matters, asking them why they now object to what their predecessors have always respected, and reminding them that there are no new doctrines in the Church of Rome, but that its doctrine and discipline are those which have been handed down to it by the ancients, who had in turn received them from the apostles.

Here we may conveniently, for the present, part company with Photius, and turn our attention to that important affair in the West—the divorce of King Lothaire—out of which Photius endeavored to make capital for himself.


Lothaire’s divorce


In 856 Lothaire, king of Lorraine, married Theutberga, the daughter of Boso, count of Burgundy, and sister of that disorderly cleric Hubert, of whom we have already written. But the young licentious monarch soon wearied of her, and wished to marry Waldrada, with whom he had long had illicit intercourse. To cover his design with some show of love of justice, he called together, in 858 or 859, the bishops and nobles of his kingdom, and accused his wife of incest with her brother before her marriage. The queen indignantly denied the crime. Her champion went through the ordeal of boiling water with success, and she was declared innocent. Lothaire, however, now began to ill-treat the unfortunate woman. When her spirit had been sufficiently broken, and he had gained over to his views Gunther, archbishop of Cologne, Theutgard, archbishop of Trier, and others, two synods were held one after the other at Aix-la-Chapelle in the early months of 860, in which Theutberga was made to declare that her brother had violated her. She was condemned to a convent, and Lothaire told no longer to regard her as his wife. Theutberga, however, managed to escape to her brother, secured the interest of Charles the Bald, and appealed to the Pope.

Of the two archbishops here mentioned for the first time, Regino, who is followed by the so-called Annalista Saxe (ad. an. 864), asserts that Lothaire gained over Gunther, whom this author describes as wanting in stability of character, by promising to marry his niece, and that Gunther in turn won over Theutgard, who is set down as a simple and unlearned man, by perverting for him Scripture and Canon Law. We learn, however, still on the authority of Regino and the Annalista, that Gunther was deservedly punished. No sooner had Lothaire got his divorce sanctioned by him, that, as report went, he sent for the niece, but soon, after having dishonored her, drove her home with insult. But our Annalista did not write till the twelfth century, and Regino was not strictly a contemporary. Hence, considering the way that Gunther stood to the cause of Lothaire, he can scarcely have been so wantonly disgraced by his sovereign.

Meanwhile both Lothaire himself and his bishops wrote (an. 860–1) to Nicholas, saying that they were only waiting for a favorable opportunity to go to him, as they knew that when any important affair arose in the Church, recourse must be had to the Pope, and begging him not to give heed to any calumnious reports till their envoys should arrive in Rome.

To complete his schemes Lothaire assembled a third council at Aix-la-Chapelle in April 862. He declared before the bishops that in accordance with their decrees he had given up all intercourse with the incestuous Theutberga, but plainly told them that from long habit of indulgence he could not keep continent, but preferred legitimate to illegitimate gratifications. The upshot of the deliberations of the bishops on this appeal, as hypo­critical in some parts as bluntly frank in others, was that the majority of them, after perverting Scripture and tradition, decided that Lothaire might marry again. He accordingly espoused Waldrada, December 25, 862.

He also had in the meantime sent to Rome to ask that legates might be sent to examine into the rights of his case, and to assure the Pope that his father, the emperor Lothaire, had originally given him Waldrada as his wife, but that he had afterwards been compelled to take Theutberga. For some little time Nicholas was unable to attend to the requests of Theutberga and Lothaire. But at length, in November (862), he dispatched two legates, Rodoald of Porto (the full extent of whose defection at Constantinople the Pope did not then know), and John of Ficolo, now Cervia, near Ravenna. To them he entrusted various letters to Lothaire, Charles the Bald, and others, ordering a synod to assemble at Metz, and that bishops from the kingdoms of Charles the Bald, Louis the German, and Charles of Provence should assist at it. In his letter to the bishops who were to take part in the council, Nicholas ordered them to send its acts to him, that he might approve or order them to be reconsidered, as the case might be.

Charles the Bald had already begun to exert himself to give effect to such letters of Nicholas as had before this been dispatched to Lothaire on the subject of the divorce. In the document presented (November 3, 862) to his brother Louis the German, at the assembly at Savonnière, Charles, whilst declaring that he is not acting from any motives of making political capital, that he seeks not Lothaire’s kingdom, but Lothaire himself, urges that the matter is of importance to all Christians, that kings who ought to set a good example to all must beware of giving a bad one, and that Lothaire must put an end to the scandal which is being spread through all Christendom. The Pope’s injunctions, “in no way opposed to the teaching of the Gospel or the authority of the apostles and the canons”, must be carried out. And Louis is reminded that “that holy and first See in all the world cries out to them and to all Christians, with such a one not so much as to eat”.

These efforts of Charles the Bald, if ever so well meant, came to nothing. Receiving countenance from Louis, the adulterous monarch felt himself in a position to despise the admonitions of his uncle Charles. Throughout the whole of this tedious affair, political motives entered largely into the support or opposition meted out to the king of Lorraine.

Partly through the intrigues of Lothaire and partly through an incursion of the Northmen, the holding of the synod ordered by the Pope was deferred. Then there came more letters from Nicholas, and the synod met at the place appointed (Metz) in June 863. But Lothaire had bought the legates, and by arrangement no bishops were present except those of the king’s own country. To such an assembly Lothaire’s wishes were law; his divorce was approved, and Gunther and Theutgard were commissioned, in deference to the orders of Nicholas, to convey the results of the deliberations of the synod to the Pope.

The iniquitous decision of the council was at once universally denounced, and word of it conveyed to Nicholas by pilgrims and by letters. Nicholas was, however, unwilling to credit mere report. Rodoald had the wit not to await the searching examination of Nicholas. He fled. Gunther and Theutgard, however, either trusting to their own acumen to deceive Nicholas, or relying on might rather than right, boldly faced the Pope and a Roman Council (October 863) in the Lateran palace.

Their acumen, at any rate, counted for nothing when Nicholas was in question. He laughed at it as at “a mousetrap set for the unwary”. As was his wont, he called together a synod. It was held in the Lateran palace. A little examination of the memoir of the council which they had brought with them was enough to convict them. The decision of the synod of Metz was annulled, the two archbishops deposed, and a like fate was decreed against the other bishops of the council unless they submitted at once to the decision of the Holy See. Of his decision Nicholas at once informed Lothaire, and asked him if he did not deserve to be punished also, inasmuch as, set to guide his people, he was leading them to ruin by his bad example.

But Gunther and his supporters had no intention of submitting to the spiritual authority of the Pope. They went to seek what seemed to them the more tangible might of the civil power. They turned to their king’s brother, the emperor Louis. They loudly proclaimed both in words and in writing that they had been unjustly deposed, they spread abroad all kinds of calumnies against the Pope, and they drew up a document, under seven heads, which evinced, at least to their own satisfaction, the justice of their cause on the one hand and the tyranny of the Pope on the other. This they sent to the bishops of their own country, to Photius, and even to the Pope himself; and, finally, by judiciously exalting the emperor’s pretensions, they secured his armed support. To Louis they urged that it was outrageous that proceedings should be taken against ambassadors of kings and emperors, and that metropolitans could not be condemned without the cognizance of their prince. In their manifesto, which Hincmar speaks of as “diabolical”, they spoke of “Nicholas, who is called the Pope ... and makes himself the emperor of the whole world”. They wanted the bishops of his kingdom to give every encouragement to their common lord, Lothaire. They pretended that they had come humbly to ask the Pope’s decision on what they had done, but that Nicholas, after keeping them long waiting, had “arbitrarily and tyrannically” condemned them. Nicholas and his sentence they alike despised.

With the two archbishops in his train, Louis advanced on Rome “to make the Pope restore them or pay the penalty”. Nicholas prepared for his coming by ordering fasts and prayers to beg the Almighty to move the emperor “to reverence the authority of the Apostolic See”. On the arrival of the emperor at Rome, violence became the “order” of the day.

According to Wido, a cleric of Osnabruck, who at the close of the eleventh century wrote a pamphlet against S. Gregory VII, Louis kept the Pope and his clergy besieged in St. Peter’s, and greatly oppressed by want of food and by cold for fifty-two days. As his authority for all this, Wido quotes a work De querimonia Romanorum, of which, unfortunately, nothing else is known. Confining ourselves, however, to the works of authors of whom something is known, we read that the emperor’s troops violently dispersed a procession that was making its way to St. Peter’s. In the tumult the magnificently adorned cross which contained the wood of the true cross, and which the empress Helen had sent to Rome, was broken and tossed into the mud. “Whence”, adds the archiepiscopal annalist Hincmar, “it was picked up and restored to its custodians by some men, who are said to have been English”.

The speedy death of the man who had broken the cross, however, and the fact of the emperor’s being seized with a fever, changed the aspect of affairs. Through the mediation of the empress, Louis and the Pope were reconciled. Louis withdrew his troops, who had inflicted 2he gravest injuries on men, women, and things, and ordered the degraded archbishops to return to their own country. The bishops of Lorraine, moreover, submitted to the sentence of the Pope, as did also Theutgard.

Gunther, however, took not the slightest notice of the Pope’s sentence, and did not hesitate to say Mass on Maundy Thursday. But, not choosing to have his cause utterly compromised by being connected with a deposed and rebellious archbishop, Lothaire himself abandoned Gunther, who, according to the annals, known as Xantenses, was excommunicated by all the bishops of the kingdom of Lothaire. Enraged at this treatment, Gunther, after seizing, to gratify his avarice, all that was left of the treasure of his Church, betook himself to Rome “to lay bare before the Pope all the deceits which had been practiced by Lothaire and himself in the affair of Theutberga”.

In the early part of the following year (865) Lothaire received a joint intimation from Louis the German and Charles the Bald, to the effect that before he went to Rome, as he constantly talked of doing, he was to put an end to the scandal he had caused in the Church. Fearing that the division of his kingdom was what Louis and Charles had chiefly in mind, Lothaire found it necessary to turn to Nicholas for protection. Thinking the moment favorable for bringing him to his duty, Nicholas wrote to stir up to action the bishops of his kingdom, and sent to him Arsenius, bishop of Horta. He commended his legate to the above-mentioned two kings, and assured them it was only that there might not be bloodshed that he had hitherto refrained from excommunicating Lothaire. At Gondreville, near Toul, on the Moselle, Arsenius met Lothaire and his bishops, and, in the Pope’s name, declared that, unless he took back Theutberga, he would be excommunicated.

Lothaire was now thoroughly alarmed. He and twelve of his nobles swore to recognized only Theutberga as queen. After she had been publicly accepted as his consort by Lothaire, Arsenius set out for Rome. On his return he passed through Bavaria to collect the money that was due to the Holy See from patrimonies situated therein, having in his custody, to take before the Pope, Lothaire’s mistress, Waldrada.

She, however, before they reached Rome, contrived to escape from the legate, and returned to where there might be easy communication between herself and her paramour. Indignant at this disgraceful relapse, Nicholas publicly excommunicated (February 2, 866) Waldrada, “and all her aiders and abettors”.

Meanwhile the unfortunate Theutberga had been subjected to the grossest indignities by her brutal husband, and at length, weary of the struggle, begged the Pope to annul her marriage, and let Lothaire have Waldrada as his legitimate wife. But Nicholas at once came to the poor woman’s support. He assured her by letter 2 (January 24, 867) that, from what he had heard from all sources of her cruel treatment, he knew she would write to him in that strain. She must understand one thing, however, that even if she dies, he will not, by the mercy of God who will judge adulterers, leave Lothaire wholly unpunished if he ever takes back Waldrada. He exhorts her to be brave, and not to fear, especially in the cause of truth, to meet death, which she must necessarily one day encounter. Still he does not think that Lothaire would dare to plot against her life. She has the Apostolic See on her side.

Nicholas did not stop with this letter. He wrote (January 25) to the bishops of Lothaire’s kingdom to urge them to do their duty boldly in the matter of the excommunicated Waldrada; and to Charles the Bald, that he could not believe that by the gift of a monastery he had been induced to side with Lothaire against Theutberga, and that he could not allow Theutberga’s case to be again brought forward and submitted to the trial “by single combat”. And he instructed Lothaire himself to avoid the excommunicated Waldrada lest he himself be also excommunicated. A little later (March 7) he wrote to Louis the German, to beg him to exhort Lothaire to bestow his love on Theutberga.

Lothaire replied (867) in his usual style. He professed the most unbounded respect for the authority of the Pope, and the most ardent wish to present himself before “his most beloved paternity”. But “various unfortunate circumstances had hitherto put obstacles in the way of his devotion”. However, in the month of July he is to hold a diet, and by envoys from it will prove to the Pope that he will be as obedient to him as his ancestors have ever been. “But if anyone has told you that, since the departure of Arsenius, I have anywhere seen or held any converse with Waldrada after her return from Italy, he has said what is wholly untrue”. One knows not whether more to grieve at the sufferings of the unfortunate queen, loathe the hypocrisy of Lothaire, or wonder at the patience of Nicholas in dealing with him.

To within a fortnight of his death the unwearied Pope exerted himself for Theutberga. He wrote to exhort the bishops of the kingdom of Louis the German to take up her cause; and to Louis himself to explain that he would not allow Lothaire to come and personally plead his case at Rome until, in accordance with his orders, Waldrada was first sent there.

The interminable negotiations concerning this divorce were only brought to an end in the reign of Hadrian II by the death of Lothaire. Hadrian, who was consecrated (December 14, 867) a few days after the death of Nicholas, was a man of a most conciliatory disposition. As far as man could go without sacrifice of principle, that far, without any thought of what his own status in the eyes of men might lose, would Hadrian go. And yet he was so strictly wedded to the ideas of Nicholas, that by the opponents of that great Pope he was called a Nicholaïte. He began his policy of concession by admitting to communion as priests—but not as bishops—Theutgard of Trier, Zachary of Anagni, and the cardinal priest Anastasius, whom he soon appointed “librarian of the Roman Church”.

Encouraged by this, Lothaire wrote to him lamenting the death of Nicholas as well as the fact that he had given heed rather to his (Lothaire’s) enemies than to himself, and expressing his great desire to come to Rome.

Hadrian, in reply, bade him come to receive the blessing he asked, if he felt himself free from the charges urged against him, or suitable penance if he was guilty. He would not, however, listen to Theutberga, who came to Rome to beg for the dissolution of her marriage, but threatened to excommunicate anyone who should molest her in the meanwhile, were it Lothaire himself.

As a further step in his policy of conciliation, he removed the sentence of excommunication from Waldrada on the ground that he had learnt from many, and especially from the emperor Louis, that she was sorry for her previous conduct. She was not, however, to hold any intercourse whatever with Lothaire, and was to strive so to live that the absolution he had given her might be ratified before God, who, unlike man, can see the heart.

Hoping to win Hadrian entirely over to his desires, Lothaire set out for Rome to have an interview with him, June 869. He gained the avaricious empress Ingelberga with presents, and had the desired meeting with Hadrian at Monte Cassino. As what took place at that famous old abbey is often very sensationally stated by moderns, relying on their imaginations or on other than strictly contemporary authors, we will here give verbatim the account left us by Hincmar, our best authority, in his Annals. “Through the mediation of Ingelberga, Lothaire succeeded in obtaining that the Pope, to whom he had given many presents, should sing Mass in his presence, and should give him Holy Communion on the understanding that, since Waldrada’s excommunication by Pope Nicholas, he had never dwelt with her, had criminal relations with her, or even a conversation with her. The unhappy man, like Judas, pretending a good conscience, did not hesitate boldly to receive Holy Communion. His supporters also received communion from the Pope, among whom was Gunther, the chief instigator of this public adultery. He received communion from Hadrian among the laity, after he had presented to him in public a declaration (of submission)”.

The same annalist goes on to relate that Lothaire followed the Pope to Rome (July), but was not received nor lodged in state.

However, before he left Rome he received a few small presents from the Pope, who had arranged that a final decision should be pronounced on his case in a synod to be held in Rome the following year (870). But Lothaire was seized with a fever before he left Italy, and, “not willing to perceive therein the judgment of God”, he died (August 8, 869) at Piacenza along with most of his suite. Both Theutberga and Waldrada ended their days in convents.

In bringing the long history of this divorce question to a close, we may observe that the conduct of Nicholas and Hadrian throughout it has won the admiration of all schools of historians alike. One would be less than man not to admire it.

With Lothaire on the one hand and Photius on the other, Nicholas might seem to have had enough to keep his thoughts occupied. But not to speak of smaller matters, he had many other affairs of great moment on his mind at the same time. He had to bring to submission the imperious archbishop of Rheims, and to guide the first steps of the Bulgarians along the road of Christianity. Of his negotiations with Hincmar on the matter of Wulfad and his companions we have already spoken. It remains for us to treat of the differences between them on the subject of the deposition of Rothad.

His paramount respect for the Holy See was the only thing which prevented Hincmar, the greatest prelate in the West after Nicholas himself, from bringing one or other of his disputes with the Pope to the extreme to which Photius had carried his difference with Rome; for, though good and learned, Hincmar could not brook opposition. He would go very far to have his own way.

With one of his suffragans, Rothad of Soissons, Hincmar had for many years not been on very good terms. He accuses Rothad of being “an unfruitful fig tree”. This very vague accusation was taken up by Charles the Bald, who afterwards favored Hincmar in this matter. He had long, he says, been useless in the sacred ministry; and (here was the unpardonable offence) to his archbishop’s written exhortations, had returned for sole answer that his metropolitan could do nothing but send him his booklets all day long! Descending to some detail, he further accuses Rothad of alienating at will the property of his Church. But it must be confessed that in his explanation of his conduct to the Pope, Hincmar does not attend in a straightforward manner to the facts of the case in question. According to the statement in Rothad’s apology, these were as follows. “Rothad had regularly deposed”, or, as he explains in another part, had deposed “on the decision of thirty-three bishops”, a priest taken in adultery. After the lapse of three years Hincmar espoused the cause of this man, and, “without in the least informing” Rothad, he caused the priest (whom Rothad had put in the place of the one he had deposed) to be seized, excommunicated, and imprisoned; and reinstated the adulterer. Such unreasonable, not to say uncanonical, conduct Rothad naturally resented. Thereupon, in a synod held outside Soissons (861), Hincmar declared Rothad deprived of episcopal communion till he should submit to his decision.

But when, in the following year, Rothad was prohibited by Hincmar, “who lorded it over the whole” gathering, from attending an assembly convoked by Charles the Bald, at Pistres, near Pont de l'Arche on the Seine, he appealed to the Holy See. But before he could set out for Rome, Hincmar had obtained possession of one of his letters, in which, according to him, Rothad stated that he withdrew his appeal, and asked that his case might be tried again before certain selected judges. It was really one of a series of letters which he had written preparatory to his departure. In it he had exhorted some of his colleagues to continue to sustain his cause as they had done at Pistres. The archbishop then made haste to call a second synod together in the neighborhood of Soissons, and summoned Rothad to appear before it. He, however, persisted in his appeal. “To the supreme authority of the Holy See I appeal unceasingly—to that See, the authority of which no one can gainsay, to that See which through Blessed Peter has merited such power (principatum) from Our Lord Jesus Christ. I await the decision of that See to which I have appealed, nor do I consent to be judged elsewhere than at Rome. It is preposterous that the inferior should be preferred before the superior”. Rothad was, nevertheless, declared by the synod contumacious, and deposed. He was then imprisoned, and another bishop ordained in his place. Concerning this decision Nicholas afterwards (Christmas Eve, 864) said that if Rothad “had never appealed, he ought not to have been deposed without his knowledge, inasmuch as the sacred canons and the venerable decrees of bishops have decided that the causes of bishops—as affairs of greater importance (majora negotia)—were to be left to the judgment of the Apostolic See”.

As soon as Nicholas had been informed of what had happened with regard to Rothad, unofficially at first, and soon after by the formal account of the synod of Soissons, he took up the affair with his usual vigor. Six letters were dispatched in the month of April to Charles the Bald, to Hincmar, to the bishops of the synod of Soissons, and to Rothad. To Hincmar, Nicholas expresses his indignation at the cruel treatment that had been meted out to Rothad in his old age, and gives the archbishop plainly to understand that, within thirty days after the receipt of his letter, he must either restore Rothad to his former dignity, or come to Rome in person or by deputy, in order that the matter may be there thoroughly investigated. If the Pope’s orders are not complied with, Hincmar has no longer permission to offer the Holy Sacrifice—a punishment which he must inform the other bishops, who acted with him, will also fall on them if they show themselves disobedient. The bishops themselves are blamed for trying to show from the civil law that Rothad had no right of appeal, when by the canon law they knew that he had.

They are commanded “by apostolical and canonical authority” to send Rothad to Rome under the penalty above rehearsed. He forcibly points out to them that it is to their own interest to strive that the privileges of the Roman See, “as the remedies of the whole Church”— privileges he is resolved to defend even to death—may be safeguarded. “The privileges of the Apostolic See are the protection of the whole Catholic Church, its bulwark against all the attacks of the wicked. What has happened to Rothad today, how know you that it will not happen to you tomorrow?” Charles the Bald is informed of the orders Nicholas has sent to the bishops, and is earnestly exhorted to restore Rothad to his rank, and to grant him a safe-conduct to the Pope. Finally, Rothad is told not to cease proclaiming his appeal to the Apostolic See, though in another letter to him Nicholas does not fail to admonish him not to give useless trouble to himself (Rothad) nor to others, if his conscience does not fully bear him out in the matter.

At first only a part of the orders of Nicholas was fulfilled. Rothad was released from confinement, but not allowed to go to Rome. A fresh batch of letters from the Pope—among them one now lost to Hincmar—had the desired result. Rothad was sent to Rome (864). At the same time Hincmar forwarded a long apology for his conduct. Whilst defending himself, he over and over again professes his submission to the Pope, “because all of us, whether young or old, know that our churches are subject to the Roman Church, and that we bishops are subject to the Roman Pontiff in the primacy of Blessed Peter. Wherefore, saving our faith, which has always, and, with the help of God, will always flourish in the Church, we must obey your apostolic authority ... And it is only right that when the Roman Pontiff summons any bishop whatsoever to Rome, he should haste to go to him unless sickness or some serious necessity hinder him”.

Till the close of the year Nicholas waited to see if any accuser of Rothad would come to Rome. None appeared; so that on Christmas Eve he was reclothed with his episcopal robes, and on the Feast of St. Agnes (January 21, 865) was formally restored to his See and sent back to France. He returned along with Arsenius, bishop of Horta, who, as we have seen, was sent at this time as legate to decide the case of Lothaire’s divorce. A series of letters made known the restitution of Rothad to all parties concerned. Hincmar, not indeed with the best of grace, submitted, and Rothad ruled his See in peace till his death.


Arsenius of Horta


Before adducing further examples of ecclesiastical appeal cases, lest they should prove too monotonous if treated of all together, the mention, by no means for the first time, of the name of Arsenius of Horta may be our excuse for a word or two concerning him and others like him, whom we find about the persons of the popes at this period. The power of the emperor who wished to have among the papal officials men devoted to his interests, or the influence of powerful families, managed to place round the Pope many men who would not have been respectable members of a decent lay, much less clerical, nobility. The sole thought of these men was personal aggrandizement. The presence of these noble officials, cleric and lay, in rapidly increasing numbers in the court of the Pope, had no little influence in bringing about the disorders which darkened the papal throne in the following period. Not to mention Sergius, a lay official, who married the niece of Pope Nicholas, afterwards abandoned her for a mistress, and plundered the papal palace while his uncle lay dying, nor the antipope Anastasius, possibly the secretary of Nicholas, we will confine our attention to one who seems to have been the father of the said Anastasius, viz., Arsenius, bishop of Horta. Both Hincmar and Nicholas accuse him of pride, ambition, and avarice. And John the Deacon (the biographer of Gregory the Great), who was alive at this time, tells us a story concerning the bishop which bears out his reputation for being proud and a lover of display. The story, not much in itself, is, moreover, interesting, as it gives us a peep into various legal and mercantile matters of the time. It appears that despite various laws against them, and despite the fact that they were not permitted to see the Pope, Jews contrived to do most of the trading in the more valuable kinds of merchandise. From the days of Jugurtha to those of John of Salisbury, not to come down any further, money was superior to the laws in Rome. By it the Jews brushed to one side the enactments against themselves, and contrived to bring their wares before the people. However, so indignant were the popes that the sons of Judah were able thus to set the laws at defiance, that they kept them at a distance. And for fear lest any suspicion should arise that they had themselves received anything in the way of a bribe from the Jews, they would not allow them to come anywhere near their palace gates, and made them count the money they had received for their goods publicly whilst sitting on the marble pavement. Among others, the magnificent wares of the Jews had an attraction for Arsenius. Not only did he purchase and wear some of them, but he positively wished to celebrate a station (palatina processio) clad, not in his priestly robes, but in his Jewish finery. It need hardly be said that Nicholas did not allow the fulfillment of such a wish.

Hincmar assures us that report had it that Arsenius died (868) “talking with devils”. His miserable death at Acerenza came to be quoted in later times as a warning to the avaricious. After his sudden demise without the last sacraments, his attendants set out with his body, intending to take it to Rome or Horta. But unable to endure the stench that came from it, they hastily interred it in a field.

To give the reader some idea of the number and variety of matters that were referred to Nicholas for his decision, we will here, in brief, give some of these cases, of which the letters of Nicholas give us cognizance, now that we have discussed at some length the most important of the appeals which were addressed to him.

On the death of Thierry, bishop of Cambray, Lothaire, to strengthen his hand, appointed to the vacant bishopric Hilduin, the brother of his supporter Gunther, and a relative of the more famous Hilduin, abbot of the great monastery of St. Denis. This man, as a quite unworthy subject for such a position, Hincmar, the metropolitan of Cambray, refused to consecrate. Lothaire, however, put Hilduin into possession of the temporalities of the See, and Hincmar turned to Rome for the support of his rights. Prompt to support any just claim, Nicholas at once (863) dispatched letters to the bishops of Lothaire’s kingdom, to Lothaire himself, and to the intruder Hilduin. The bishops were to exhort Lothaire to reject Hilduin, and to leave the clergy and people of Cambray free to choose a bishop for themselves, in accordance with the canons. Lothaire is told that to the other “countless execrable charges that were made against him”, he understands there is added that of interfering with the metropolitan rights of Hincmar, and of forcing an intruder into the Church of Cambray. If he does not confine himself to his proper business—which is to regulate, as it were, the bodies only of his subjects he will have to excommunicate him, especially in view of his other wicked conduct. Finally Hilduin is reminded that, if the State sanctions his holding the See of Cambray, the Church never will. After some further negotiations, and after bringing pressure to bear on Lothaire, through Charles the Bald and Louis the German, the rights of Hincmar were vindicated, and one John (865) was properly elected to the See.

To obtain money to buy off the Norsemen, the weak yet tyrannical Lothaire seized the possessions of his sister Heletrude, who was then a widow. Unable to obtain justice elsewhere, the injured woman appealed to the Pope. Again Nicholas took up the cause of the oppressed. To Lothaire himself, as he explains in his letter to Charles the Bald on this subject, he will not write, “as for his wicked deeds he holds Lothaire excommunicated”. Though Nicholas had not actually excommunicated him, he means to say that he is like one excommunicated.

But Charles and Louis the German are urged to restrain his culpable cupidity, by notifying to him the authority of the Pope and of the laws, and to see to it that the property of Heletrude is restored to her. The issue of this intercession of Nicholas we do not know. In all probability justice was done to Heletrude. Charles and Louis were ever on the lookout for a casus belli with Lothaire, who generally took care to give in at once when pressure was brought to bear upon him from those quarters.


Baldwin of Flanders and Judith


If Nicholas was stern to determined vice, he was kind to the penitent. Judith, Charles the Bald’s daughter, whom Ethelwulf had married on his return from Rome to his kingdom of Wessex, had on the death of her husband (858) been taken to wife by her stepson Ethelbald. Such an incestuous union shocked the people. After about “two years and a half of licentiousness”, Ethelbald died (860), and Judith had to return to France. On her arrival in France, Charles the Bald, her father, placed her under episcopal surveillance at Senlis, till such times as she should decide either to renounce the world or “contract a proper legal marriage”. She managed, however, to elope with Baldwin, count of Flanders. In great indignation, Charles had her condemned by both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The pair fled to the kingdom of Lothaire, whence Baldwin betook himself to Rome to beg the intercession of Nicholas (862). Finding that the Marriage had taken place with the fullest freedom of consent on both sides, Nicholas was moved to write in behalf of the runaways. One reason which he made use of to induce Charles to relent was lest his indignation should drive Baldwin to ally himself with the pagan Norsemen, who were then inflicting so much injury on his kingdom. Nicholas assured the king he did not wish to order, only to entreat. At length (863) Charles gave his consent to a legal union taking place between Judith and Baldwin. From them sprang not only the line of the counts of Flanders, but what is of much more interest to us, Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror.


Solomon, king of Brittany


The efforts which we have seen made by Nomenoius to free Brittany from all dependence on Charles the Bald, and its bishops from all subjection to any archbishop in Charles’ kingdom, were continued by Solomon. He succeeded to the dukedom (857) by the murder of his cousin Herispoius. He endeavored to induce Nicholas to recognized the bishops whom Nomenoius had forcibly intruded, and apparently sent the Pope a very specious account of the preceding negotiations on the subject. Nicholas wrote (862) to Solomon, “king of the Bretons”, to let him know that his researches into the archives of the Holy See showed him that the letters of popes Leo IV, Benedict III, and of himself were to a different effect than that represented by the king. Hence the question of the deposed bishops could not be regarded as settled, but must be referred either to the metropolitan, the archbishop of Tours, with twelve bishops, or to the Pope himself. As to which See was to enjoy metropolitan rights over Brittany, Nicholas wisely temporized. That question could be considered when peace had been made between Solomon and Charles.

Peace was made between the two in the following year (863), and Solomon renewed his request that Dol might be recognized as the metropolitan See of Brittany. Nicholas, however, refused to accede to the petition, on the ground that no proof had been sent to him that the pallium had ever before been sent to the bishops of Dol. He ordered Festinianus of Dol to submit to the jurisdiction of the See of Tours in accordance with the previous decrees of the popes and with ancient custom. And he made it plain that he objected to civil differences interfering with the rights of churches. He had evidently no sympathy with men who wished to make use of the Church in their attempts to secure independence for themselves at the expense of the unity of established kingdoms. But not even a decree of Nicholas settled this debated point. As already noticed, it took more than three hundred years to settle the question of the rights of Dol and Tours.

Another dispute referred to the decision of Nicholas had already lasted as long as the “Dol” question was yet to endure. It was a disagreement as to jurisdiction over a monastery, which was at first known as Anisol (or Anille), from the river on which it was built, but afterwards, with the small town that grew up round it, as St. Calais (in Latin, Karilefus), from its founder (d. 542). Originally the monastery was subject to the jurisdiction of the neighboring bishop of Le Mans. But, according to the favor or disfavor with which it was regarded by the sovereign of the country in which it was situated, it was withdrawn from, or resubjected to, the authority of the bishop of Le Mans. At the period of which we are now treating it was the fashion to favor the monastery. Synods (e.g. that of Pistres, 862) under Hincmar decided for Anisol. And, in 863, Nicholas himself confirmed its privileges, on the ground of its long immunity from the jurisdiction of Le Mans. The laws placed a limit, he urged, to the period in which rights could be called in question.

Robert, bishop of Le Mans, however, appealed to the Pope against the sentence of the councils which had non-suited his claims. Nicholas accordingly ordered the affair to be gone into again by a fresh council (863). One which met at Verberie (October 863) found in favor of the monastery. The documents with which Robert attempted to prove his claims were declared forgeries and ordered to be burnt. Anisol became definitely independent.

Dealing with bishops and counts, priests and deacons, we see Nicholas informing Charles, archbishop of Mayence, and his suffragans, that he cannot see his way to passing any adverse sentence on Solomon, bishop of Constance; ordering Stephen, count of Auvergne, to restore Sigon, bishop of Clermont, to his See, on pain of being interdicted from wine and flesh; cautioning Wenilo, archbishop of Sens, not to interfere with a certain priest if he sees fit to appeal to the Apostolic See; and restoring the deacon Pepo, who had been uncanonically condemned by his bishop.

True to the traditions of his See, and in harmony with his conduct during the pontificate of Leo IV, John, archbishop of Ravenna, gave Nicholas a great deal of trouble by his insubordinate and tyrannical conduct. Deputations from Ravenna waited upon the Pope, praying him to relieve them from the oppressions of their archbishop, who was depriving them both of their property and of their rights. By legates and letters Nicholas endeavored to reclaim John. The only notice the archbishop took of the paternal admonitions of the Pope was to go from bad to worse. The librarian says of him that he excommunicated people without just ground, prevented others from going to Rome, arbitrarily seized property, even property belonging to the See of Rome, and interfered with its ecclesiastical rights. For he passed sentence upon clerics, not only on those subject to his own jurisdiction, but also on many in Amelia who were directly subject to Rome. Anastasius thinks it not wonderful that John, in the later years of his pontificate, acted in that lawless manner, as in the very beginning of his rule, like his predecessor Felix, he either falsified documents preserved in the episcopal archives of the city (no doubt those which showed the true relations between Ravenna and Rome), or added forged ones to them.

Thrice summoned to Rome to give an account of his conduct before a council, he boastfully declared that he was not bound to attend any council there (861). Finding him contumacious, and, moreover, accused of heresy, the Pope excommunicated him in a synod held, perhaps, about Easter.

John, however, again imitating the conduct of certain of his predecessors, tried to secure the support of the secular power. He betook himself to Pavia, and gained the ear of the emperor. Louis sent him to Rome with ambassadors of his own to support his claims. By pointing out to the ambassadors how wrongly they had acted in remaining in communion with one who had been excommunicated, Nicholas had no difficulty in detaching them from the archbishop’s cause. But John himself was not so amenable to admonitions of duty. He left the city, refusing to give any undertaking that he would present himself for judgment at a synod to be held on November 1, 861.

Weary of the tyranny of John, the senators of the city of Ravenna, and many of the inhabitants of other cities came to the Pope and begged him to go to Ravenna and see for himself what was being done. This the Pope did, and at once restored to the injured people the property of which they had been plundered by the archbishop and his brother.

John, who had meanwhile again set out for Pavia, did not win the same reception as he had received on the occasion of his previous visit. Headed by their bishop, Luitard, one of the chief counselors of the emperor Louis, the people would not receive the excommunicated archbishop into their houses, nor sell anything to his followers, so anxious were they not to share in his excommunication. This strong manifestation of their sentiments on the part of his people had its effect upon the emperor. When John asked him to support him a second time, he sent word to him by a messenger that he had better go and humble himself before the Pope, to whom both he himself (Louis) and the whole Church were subject. However, after much difficulty, he secured the company of deputies from the emperor, and set out for Rome. To their intercession on the archbishop’s behalf Nicholas would not listen, but remained firm in his determination to bring him to justice. “If our dear son the emperor”, he said, “had made himself thoroughly acquainted with his doings, so far from interceding in his behalf he would have compelled him to come to us, however unwilling he might have been”.

In obedience to the Pope’s orders, the bishops of the neighboring provinces assembled for the November synod, the first session of which was held “in the Leonine palace”—part of the work of Leo IV on the Vatican hill.

Finding himself abandoned by all, John begged for mercy, and drew up in clear and precise language, “according to the custom of his predecessors”, the terms of the oath of fidelity and obedience he owed to the Pope. We read in Nicholas’s biographer, that with this document in his hand, John appeared before the Pope, bishops, and nobles assembled in council, that he placed it in turn on the cross, on the sandals of Our Lord, and on a copy of the Holy Gospels, and that in fine, holding his act of submission in hand, he declared aloud that he would for the rest of his life faithfully act up to its provisions.

A day or so later, at another session held in the Lateran basilica, John cleared himself of the charge of heresy, and was restored to communion.

Next day, which was apparently November 18, John again appeared before the Pope and the college of cardinals, to hear the charges brought against him by the bishops of Aemilia and others. From the papal biographer, and from an extant fragment (?) of this council, it appears that the following decrees were passed in reference to him :—He was to come to Rome every year; was not to consecrate the bishops of Aemilia (the country round Milan, according to Hefele) except after a canonical election by the duke, clergy, and people, and after the reception of a written authorization from the Pope; was not to interfere with the aforesaid bishops when they wished to come to Rome, nor was he to exact any payment or service from them not sanctioned by the canons; nor, in fine, was he to possess himself of property, whether apparently belonging to the Holy See or to others, except after proof of legal claim in presence of the proper authorities, i.e. of the Pope himself at Rome or of his representatives, his missus or his vestararius, at Ravenna. On the conclusion of the publication of these decrees, the members of the council cried out : “Just is the judgment of the Pastor of the whole Church. With him we are all in accord!”

The synodal decree, which was signed by some seventy bishops, gives in detail the arbitrary doings of the archbishop. Every two years he “visited” his suffragans, and stayed so long with them with all his court as well-nigh to ruin them. John also made them thrice every year send “presents” of food and drink to himself and his chief officials, and in various other ways interfered with their rights or their property. It was as a ready means of putting a curb on the tyranny of such metropolitans as John of Ravenna that made the False Decretals so rapidly popular. The fact that John was deposed in 863 for siding against the Pope with Gunther shows that his submission on this occasion was only verbal.


Gotteschal and Predestination


Of what heresy John was accused we have no means of knowing, unless, indeed, as is most likely, the decrees of the council of 861 against those who held that Our Lord suffered not merely in His human but also in His divine nature, and that baptism was not equally efficacious for all, were aimed against him. Certainly the latter decree strikes at the absolute predestination doctrine of Gotteschalc who, we know, in 846 had made a pilgrimage to Rome, and had, on his return journey through Italy, broached his theories at the house of a friend in the North. Or he may, perchance, have been charged with at least countenancing that German monk. At any rate, the latter’s heretical views were the ones most in evidence at the period of which we are writing. Gotteschalc, whose name, as might be anticipated, is spelt in many different ways, revived the heresy which had been promulgated in Gaul, four centuries before his time, by the Gaulish priest Lucidus. He taught the awful doctrine of absolute predestination. Of a disposition naturally rash, headstrong, and intractable, he was soured by being compelled to remain a monk against his will. He was understood to teach that “the good were inevitably predestined by God to eternal life and the bad to everlasting death”. But in his confessions he was careful not to say whether the predestination to eternal death imposed any necessity on man’s will. Unfortunately, in the replies issued against his teaching, this point was not pressed home; and confusion was caused by some of his orthodox opponents, in their anxiety to unmask his terrible sophisms, not admitting, in the proper restricted sense, double predestination. Beginning to propagate his views before the close of the first half of the ninth century, he soon attracted attention to them. Many works were published on this most difficult subject of predestination, and not unnaturally there was no little confusion of expression, if not of thought, in some of the productions. Some of their authors were probably sounder in belief than in their mode of propounding that belief. A word or two on the subject of predestination may perhaps (we may hope not by way of example) make it clear how confusion of expression and mutual misunderstanding could readily arise among heated writers on this abstruse topic.

It will not be denied that it is impossible for anything to happen except by the will of God, i.e. either by His direct or, at least, by His “permissive” will. Everything, therefore, which comes about may be said, from that point of view, to come about in virtue of the will of God. Now it is the teaching of the Church that God gives to every man sufficient grace to be saved. But one man, using the free will which God has given to him, will avail himself of God’s proffered grace and be saved, another will reject it and be lost. Hence, in the sense noted above, God may be said to will the damnation of the latter and the salvation of the former. Further, as He “foreknows” who will embrace His grace and be saved, and who will neglect it and be damned, He may be said to predestine “the one to eternal life and the other to the second death”. It will, however, be observed that the reward or punishment is “predestined” in view of foreseen merit or demerit. So that God may be said rather to predestine “eternal death to some men rather than some to eternal death”.

It will be obvious from what has been said, that the same form of phrase, on the subject of predestination, may be either orthodox or heretical; and, from the complexity of the question, doubtless still clearer that a writer might easily be really in mind or in intention quite orthodox, and yet unwittingly use heretical phrases. Thus, if it be said that God “predestines a man to hell”, the expression would be heretical if the words are to be understood “as they stand”, in their strict sense, or absolutely. But they will be orthodox if they be meant to convey the idea that God, foreseeing that a man will freely elect to walk along the road that leads to the bottomless pit, permits him to arrive there, or to put it more strongly, decrees eternal punishment for him as the natural consequence of his evil choice. Once again, the similarly ill-sounding phrase that “Christ died only for the elect” would be orthodox, if it be explained to mean that Christ died “efficaciously” for the elect only, as they alone availed themselves of the merits of His death.

When the views of Gotteschalc became public, they were immediately controverted. Some, however, either because they were in sympathy with his doctrine or with himself, or because they thought he had been misunderstood, took up their pens in his favor. The controversy lasted some ten years. Not merely learned men, but councils, were ranged on both sides; facts which have their explanation almost more in this, that the latter were held in countries often hostile to each other, and that the former were not unfrequently occupants of rival Sees, rather than in real opposition to doctrine. Both parties brought their arguments under the notice of the Pope. Among others, Hincmar also informed Nicholas of the doctrine of Gotteschalc, begged him to check his account of it by the testimony of others, and said that, if his “authority wished the monk to be released and sent to him or to some other bishop he might appoint in order that the affair might be further investigated, he had no objection to offer”

Prudentius, bishop of Troyes, who was the author of part of the Annals of St. Bertin, even goes the length of asserting that Pope Nicholas published decrees on grace and free will, “on the truth of the twofold predestination” (viz., to life and death eternal), and on the dogma that the blood of Christ was shed for all believers. But, as we learn from the continuation of the same annals, written by Hincmar, Prudentius was a partisan of Gotteschalc. And in another place, citing this very passage of the annals of Prudentius, Hincmar declares that such a statement is not to be found anywhere else; and he conjures Egilo, archbishop of Sens, to whom he was writing, to let the Pope know what Prudentius had asserted, so that no scandal might arise in the Church, as it certainly would were men to think that the Pope had the same belief as Gotteschalc.

There is no doubt that Hincmar is correct in this matter. Nicholas prudently abstained from intervening in the controversy. He examined witnesses as to what was going on, received (863) the works of Hincmar on Predestination, and especially interested himself in the treatment that was being meted out to Gotteschalc. Hence Hincmar was careful to instruct (866) Egilo of Sens to assure the Pope that the unhappy monk was abundantly supplied with food, clothing, and all necessaries.

By his prudent reserve in not allowing himself to be drawn into the midst of the confusion of the “predestination” controversy, Nicholas effected more than he could have done by any active interference. His policy of non­intervention resulted in the close of the dispute with the death (868) of its author. The Pope knew that men who were not fanatical would hold fast to the truths that God has given free-will to man; that it requires the grace of God to win heaven; that no man will lose his soul except through his own fault, and that it was not their affair to reconcile these truths one with the other or with the supreme dominion of God over everything. He knew that words would be powerless against practical belief.

Before leaving Gotteschalc, it may be noted with some interest that one of those who by their writings on the subject of predestination only added to existing confusion, was John Scott the Erin-born; and that, too, though his work was directed against him. Much less a steady theologian than a ready-witted, pantheistic philosopher, his refutation of Gotteschalc contained more false teachings, philosophical and otherwise, than the work he took in hand to answer, and brought upon himself various literary missiles, such as canons of councils which condemned all “Scots’ porridge”, and the keen eyes of Nicholas. Hence, when at the request of Charles the Bald the clever Irish­man published some time later a translation of the work De divinis nominibus, then attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Nicholas wrote to Charles to let him know, that “according to custom”, the book ought to be sent to him for his judgment, “the more so that the said John, though reported to be a man of much learning, was at one time by common report declared not to be sound on certain points. Accordingly let your industry make good what has been omitted, and at once send us the aforesaid work, that, approved by us, it may, in virtue of our authority, be the more readily received by everybody without hesitation”. This fragment is very interesting, as it shows that a papal censorship of at least famous theological works was practiced in the ninth century.


The Slavs


In the history of Christianity, the ninth century is marked out by the conversion of the Slays, like ourselves, members of the great Aryan or Indo-European family. The Slavs, though by no means to the extent commonly supposed as far as the first two qualities are concerned, were a quiet, peaceful, democratic people, devoted to pastoral pursuits, and later on, after their westward and southern migration, to commerce. They came originally from the plain of Central Europe, the region of the Don, Dnieper, and Vistula. Hence, as “die Weidenden” probably means the “dwellers on the great prairie”, they were known to the Germans, who afterwards subdued some branches of them, as Wends. They called themselves Serbs.

The Slavs began to move southwards at the end of the second century, but at first rather as auxiliaries, slaves or vassals of other tribes. They began to make their appearance within the Roman provinces as conquerors on their own account at the end of the fifth century, and continued their ravages for two centuries. By the middle of the seventh century almost the whole of the Balkan peninsula was covered with their colonies, and they had pushed as far west as Bavaria. Traces of their settlements are still to be discovered in various parts, e.g. in Greece, where for a long period none of their direct descendants have been found.

By the end of the seventh century Slav migration towards the West ceased. Since that time, while losing territory in that direction, they have made up for it by colonizing Eastern and Northern Russia. Of the various branches of the Slavs, there was originally the greatest divergence between the Slavs of the East (Russians), and of the South (Sloveni or Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians, etc.), on the one hand, and those of the West (Lechs, etc.) on the other. This difference was, of course, accentuated when the latter came into contact with Rome and the Teutons, and the former began to be influenced by the Byzantine empire and the East. Of the action of these different sources of influence on the Slays we shall have to treat immediately.

In a broad way, the different families of the Slavs occupy now the same territory as at the close of the seventh century, though it was not till the invasion of the Magyars at the end of the ninth century that they began to form separate states. Nowadays the different Slav races may be enumerated as follows. Under the Slavs of the South and East are reckoned the Russians, Bulgarians, and lastly, the Illyrians, who include the Serbes, Croats, and Wends or Slovens of Carinthia; and under those of the West, the Lechs, who embrace the Poles, Silesians, and Pomeranians, the Czechs or Bohemians, with whom are counted the Moravians and Slovaks; and the Polabians, who represent the disappearing Slavonic tribes of North Germany.

These various Slavonic tribes seem to have had a vague idea of a Supreme Being, who was, later on, worshipped as the thunder maker, and perhaps impersonated by an idol known as Perun. Like the Hindoos, they were very fond of “many-headed” gods. At Arcona, the capital of the isle of Rugen, the Danish missionaries found “Svantovit” (Holy Light), an idol with four heads. At Stettin was the triple-headed Triglay. There was also, among many of the tribes, a Persian Dualism. They recognized good (Bieli­-Bog) and bad (Tcherni-Bog) gods; or, more exactly, white and black gods. Procopius assures us that they were given in times of danger to the making of vows, which they most religiously performed, and also to the practice of divination. Their mode of worship was not unlike that of the Druids, and like them the northern Slavs, at any rate, offered even human sacrifices. Originally, at least, they held their religious services in the open air, in the woods and forests, which they peopled with inferior gods, fairies, and the like.

Of a well-formed frame, and by no means wanting in courage, the Slav, though said to be fond of liberty, lacked and still lacks independence of character. Though hospitable, musical, and cheerful, they were not (locally, at any rate) without cruel customs. Mothers were at liberty to destroy their infant daughters, and sons to kill their fathers when from old age they were no longer useful to the State. Wives were often obliged (another connection with the religions of India) to cast themselves upon the fire which consumed the dead bodies of their husbands. The Slavs held their women in very little account; they regarded them as beneath them.

Hence, concludes Leger, “by their manners and customs, by their religion, at once simple and poetical, by their patriarchal constitutions, the Slavs were evidently better predisposed to the coming of Christianity than any other race. With an external worship calculated to satisfy their imagination, it came to bring them the solution of those great problems of the Unity of God, the origin of evil, the immortality of the soul, with which they were acquainted, and which their own naïve myths had endeavored to resolve”.

As far as we know, the truths of Christianity were first accepted (apart from the conversion of individual Slavs) by the Croats in Dalmatia. Their king, Porga, and many of his people were baptized under Pope John IV (640­642), himself a Dalmatian. Contact with Bavaria brought the faith to the Slavs of Carinthia (the country between the Drave and the Danube) at the end of the eighth century.

Events in Moravia, however, were most instrumental in bringing about the conversion of the Slavs. Strife among the chiefs of the Moravians brought German interference into their affairs. Though satisfied with the truths of Christianity which the Germans introduced into his country, the great duke of Moravia, Radislav (or Rastices), in order to be quite independent, determined to obtain teachers of the new doctrines rather from the weak Greeks than from his political enemies, the powerful Germans. In reply to his request for missionaries, Michael III sent him (863) perhaps the two most famous brothers in the history of Christianity, S. Constantine, better known by his religious name of Cyril, and S. Methodius, the glorious apostles of the Slavs. Of these devoted men, to whom the Slavs most properly pay such honor, whose “cult” has been so much advanced by the late Pope (Leo XIII), and whom Nicholas summoned to Rome, but was not destined to behold, we shall have much to say under the life of Hadrian II.

But the Slavs with whom Pope Nicholas was most concerned were the Bulgarians. The Bulgarians properly belonged to the Ugro-Finnish or the Ugro-Altaic branch of the great Turanian family. Akin to the Huns and Avars, they moved south from their homes in the north of modern Russia in the early centuries of the Christian era. Of their earlier history Oman writes : “This Ugrian tribe, who had dwelt for the last two centuries (fifth and sixth) beyond the Danube, crossed the river in the end of Constantine’s (IV, Pogonatus) reign (668-685), and then threw themselves on the Slavonic tribes who held Moesia”. Constantine at length “allowed the Bulgarians to settle without further opposition in the land between the Danube and the Balkans, where the Slavs had hitherto held possession (679). A new Bulgarian nation was gradually formed by the intermixture of the conquering tribe and their subjects; when formed it displayed a Slavonic rather than a Ugrian type, and spoke a Slavonic not a Ugrian tongue”. In the ninth century they began to extend towards the south-west, and in the tenth century ruled from Varna and the mouths of the Danube to the mountains of Thessaly and Phocis. That is, at the time of the greatest extent of Bulgaria’s rule, under the sway of its Tsar Simeon (892-927), it embraced nearly the whole of the Balkan Peninsula, part of Hungary and Walachia, and was the suzerain of the Serbs.

Contact with the Byzantine Empire brought the Bulgarians into constant touch with Christianity. But at first it made little progress among them. One of their kings, Telerig, on embracing Christianity, had to abandon his throne (777). The wars between them and the Greeks resulted, in the early years of the following century, in a great many of the latter being conveyed as prisoners into Bulgaria. Through them, though such Christians as had not fled from the country during the different barbarian invasions, and especially through Manuel, archbishop of Adrianople, which was captured by the Bulgarians in 813, Christianity made some headway. It was not, however, till the reign of King Boris, or Bogoris (852-888), that it was at all firmly established. His sister had been baptized whilst a captive at Constantinople. In fulfillment of a vow, Boris got himself baptized (864), according to the Sclavonic and Greek legends, by a Byzantine bishop, Joseph or Clement, and had for godfather the emperor Michael III. But according to the well-informed contemporary Anastasius, in his oft-cited Preface, the sacrament was administered by a Roman priest named Paul.

Next year (865) Photius sent to the Bulgarian prince a long letter explanatory of Christian faith and duty. Borrowed largely from Isocrates’s letter of exhortation to Nicocles, it was much too learned for the convert barbarian. He was, moreover, still further troubled by various doctrines which were poured into his ears by different Eastern heretics.

Accordingly, whether it was that he was “perplexed ... by these written arguments of Photius or by the contradictions of the Easterns; or that he was vexed because Photius would not at once establish a complete hierarchy in Bulgaria; or that he feared that ecclesiastical subjection to Constantinople might be followed by civil; or whether in consequence of a childish love of change, or of a cunning scheme to play off one party against the other, certain it is that, in 866, Boris “determined to go straight to the fountain-head”, and sent a solemn embassy to Rome to put the infant Church of his country under the care of the Pope. Among the presents which his envoys brought “for St. Peter” were “the arms with which he was equipped when, in Christ’s name, he overcame his (pagan) adversaries”. Very valuable or very curious, the gifts of the Bulgarian monarch appear to have aroused the cupidity of the emperor Louis, who was then at Beneventum. At any rate he sent an order to the Pope that they should be transmitted to him. Through his partisan, Arsenius of Horta, Nicholas sent him some of them, but excused himself from sending all.

Meanwhile, however, he had dispatched (866) two men “of great sanctity”—Paul, bishop of Populonia, and the famous Formosus, bishop of Porto, of whom we shall hear much more—to preach the faith to Boris and his people. They travelled with Donatus and the other legates who were going to Constantinople. He also sent, in the shape of his “Replies to the questions addressed to him by the Bulgarians”, a document which, based to some extent on the instructions of S. Gregory I to S. Augustine, served, among other purposes, as a “species of code of civil constitutions for an uncivilized nation”.

At the outset of his famous Responsa, Nicholas explained that Christianity consisted of faith and good works. He then proceeded to give his questioners various instructions on the sacrament of baptism and matrimony. With regard to the latter sacrament he reminded them that the most important part of it was the mutual consent. Entering upon some explanation of the marriage ceremonies, he speaks of the blessing and the reception of the veil, and of the happy pair leaving the church with crowns upon their heads—crowns which are wont, says the Pope, to be kept in the church for the purpose. Days of fasting are made less numerous for the new converts, but they are taught not to work on holy days of obligation. Boris is blamed for the cruelty he displayed towards certain of his rebellious pagan subjects; but “as he acted from zeal for the Christian religion, and from ignorance rather than from any malice, he will obtain forgiveness, on repentance, through the mercy of Christ”. Various superstitious practices are forbidden by the Pope. He bids them cease applying a certain stone to the sick for the purpose of bringing about restoration to health. They are not to act on ideas got from opening books at random, etc. He also gave a variety of answers all tending, if put into practice, to mitigate the warlike ferocity of the Bulgarians. They are to prepare for battle by prayer; their standard must in future be the cross, and not the tail of a horse. He always inculcated mercy, when he could not say that some of their strict laws relating to the conduct of their wars were absolutely unjust. It was their custom, for instance, to put to death those who came to the field of battle with their equipment in an unsatisfactory condition. The Pope would have them more careful of their spiritual equipment. Torture is not to be employed.

The pagans are not to be converted by force. Polygamy is prohibited, the wife must be treated more as an equal, and sound rules are laid down with regard to continence in married life. Bad priests cannot soil the Sacraments.

With regard to a patriarch for Bulgaria, as Boris evidently wanted civil and religious independence for his country, the return of the papal legates who would report on the progress made by Christianity in those parts, must be awaited. A bishop, however, will be sent to them at once; and, when the faith has spread, an archbishop, who must get his pall from Rome. Those are the only true patriarchs who govern churches established by apostles, viz., those of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. The Sees of Jerusalem and Constantinople are not of the same rank (auctoritatis) as the former ones. No apostle founded the Church of Constantinople, nor is it mentioned by the Council of Nice. But because it was called the New Rome, its bishop has been called a patriarch rather by the favor of princes than by right

In conclusion, writes the Pope, you ask us to give you, like the other nations, Christianity without spot or wrinkle, inasmuch as you are much troubled by the contradictory utterances of Greeks, Armenians, etc. “In this matter we are sufficient of ourselves, our sufficiency is from God; and Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his See, gives the true faith to those who seek for it. The Roman Church, which is ever without spot, sends you men and books to teach you the truth. Until the roots of truth strike deep within you, we will not cease to water you. You are my joy and my crown”.

The Pope's legates took along with them (866) a written code of laws and books in addition to the Responsa. Such success attended the preaching of the missionaries sent by the Pope, that contemporary historians speak as though the king and all his people were converted by them. So greatly did Boris become attached to the Romans, that we are told that on one occasion, grasping his beard, he cried out, “Let all the nobles and people of the land of the Bulgarians know, that from henceforth, after God, I serve St. Peter and his Vicar”.

Boris expelled all the other missionaries, and begged that Formosus, “a bishop in life and character”, says the papal biographer, might be raised to the archiepiscopal dignity, and that more priests might be sent out to preach to his people. With great joy Nicholas commissioned (October 867) two more bishops and a number of carefully chosen priests to proceed to Bulgaria. Of these latter, he told Boris by letter that he might select one to be sent back to Rome to be consecrated archbishop, for he did not think that it was the right thing that the people who had been entrusted to the pastoral care of Formosus should lose their bishop. Doubtless the fact was that the Pope objected to episcopal translations. But, to all appearances at least, it would have been well for Formosus himself if he had been transferred to a Bulgarian See; and, as Boris was very much attached to him, Bulgaria might have been thus preserved in the unity of the Roman Church. Meanwhile he was destined by the Pope to go on an embassy to Constantinople in connection with the doings of Photius. Nicholas died (November 13, 867) before this second company of missionaries set out on their journey, and he was spared the pain of seeing the fickle Bulgarian monarch veer round again, and throw himself finally into the arms of the patriarch of Constantinople.

As we shall soon have to chronicle grave disputes on the subject of jurisdiction over Bulgaria, we may here examine a little more closely the sources whence the Bulgarians first drew their Christianity, and to whom jurisdiction over the countries subdued by them originally belonged. Both Pope and patriarch laid claim to priority of ecclesiastical rights over Bulgaria, and it would seem that each party had grounds for its pretensions, and that both the Latin and the Greek rite had exerted an influence in making Christians of the Bulgarians.

When, in the course of the seventh century, they established themselves in the triangle of territory formed by the Dneister, the Danube, and the Theiss, they found there, besides the Avars and the Slavs, no inconsiderable number of Daco-Romans, the descendants of the numerous colonists whom Trajan had poured into Dacia, and whom neither Goth, Hun, nor Avar had been able to exterminate. This curious Eastern-Latin race still dwells between the three rivers, is now independent, and proclaims its origin by the name (Roumania) it has given to a large tract of the country in which it was first formed. Though Dacia was separated from the Roman Empire in A.D. 270, the irrefragable testimony of the Roumanian language shows that it was through Latin agency that it first received the faith of Christ. “The fundamental ideas of Christianity are invariably expressed in the Roumanian language by words of Latin origin”. Though dominated for eight centuries by the Slavs and their ritual, the Roumanians have been but slightly influenced in their sacred terminology by them, and such ecclesiastical words as they borrowed from the Greeks only concern matters of secondary importance in religion. What is true as to the original source of Christianity in the country between the three rivers is true of the country between the Danube and the Balkans (known at the end of the sixth century as Moesia Inferior) which was overrun by Slavs in the seventh century, and was conquered and made their permanent home by the Bulgarians in the eighth century. Even during the pontificate of S. Leo I, the bishops of Moesia Inf. did not know Greek. The Bulgarians must, therefore, have encountered the Latin rite as soon as they broke into Dacia, and the Greek rite at least when they took possession of Moesia. And when in the ninth century they stretched away towards the West and South, and touched the empire of the Franks, they must again have come in contact with Latin Christianity, and have thus a second time been influenced by it.

But the question of primitive ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Bulgaria is not so easy to resolve. In a division of the Roman Empire made by Constantine the Great (306­337), the Balkan Peninsula was divided into Western and Eastern Illyricum. The latter then included Thrace, in which is situated the modern Bulgaria. But, in the year 314, Thrace was separated from Eastern Illyricum, and after that date was sometimes united to it, and sometimes divided from it. Now while it is certain that both Illyricums were under the patriarchal jurisdiction of Rome, that authority does not seem to have been organized there till Pope Damasus (366-384) established a vicar at Thessalonica; and it seems that at that date Thrace was separated from Eastern Illyricum. Hence when in the days of Boris I (852-888) Photius averred that ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Bulgarians belonged to him, his contention was so far just that, at least from the days of St. John Chrysostom, the patriarchs of Constantinople had held sway over the six provinces of Thrace which embraced the modern Bulgaria. And it was there that the Greeks first met the Bulgarians. But, by the time of Photius, the Bulgarian kingdom had spread far into Western Illyricum, and King Boris resided in Achrida. When Pope Nicholas, therefore, made the same assertion as Photius, his claim would seem to have had a broader foundation. But the whole question is obviously complicated, and the present writer cannot unravel it further.


S. Ansgar and his successors


Nicholas was also watching with interest the good work which was still being done by St. Ansgar among the Scandinavians. Mention has already been made of his bull, by which, owing to the burning of Hamburg by the Danes (845), he incorporated that See with the diocese of Bremen, and named Ansgar archbishop of the combined See. This he did (864) at the request of Louis the German, after he had learnt how matters stood from Solomon, bishop of Constance, sent to Rome by Louis, and from the priests who had been sent by Ansgar himself. In his bull the Pope takes care to ordain that for the future the archbishop of Cologne, in whose diocese Bremen was originally comprised, was not to exercise any jurisdiction in the new diocese. The bull concludes by granting Ansgar the pallium on the usual conditions—“to wit, that his successors, both in writing and on oath, proclaim, in person or by their envoys, that they are united with us in faith, that they receive the six holy synods, and the decrees of all the bishops of Rome; and that they will accept and put into execution the (apostolic) injunctions (epistolae) which may be brought to them”. Certain it is that Ansgar took the greatest care of the privileges which he received from the Apostolic See, and, moreover, had them copied and sent to nearly all the bishops of Louis the German.

The same year (864) Nicholas wrote to the Danish king Horic (or Eric), the Younger (854-888?), who, though not yet baptized, had “offered his vows to God and to Blessed Peter”, to thank him for the presents he had sent him by bishop Solomon, and to exhort him to give up the worship of idols, which cannot help themselves, much less him. From some later authors it would seem that Horic followed the Pope’s recommendations, and was baptized along with many of his people. With his predecessor, Eric I (d. 854), St. Ansgar had had a good understanding, for it was “upon the healthy admonitions of Ansgar that he had laid aside the errors of his impious heart, and had atoned for whatsoever he had done amiss in the insolence thereof”. During his reign, therefore, Christianity made substantial progress in Denmark; but his successor Eric II was persuaded to act vigorously against it. In due course, however, through the instances of the Saint, Eric withdrew his opposition, and Christian churches were once again opened in his country. But whether he himself became a Christian is very doubtful. At any rate, not long before his death, Ansgar was able to report to the bishops in Louis’s kingdom that “the Church of Christ was established both among the Danes and the Swedes, and that priests perform their functions in those countries without let or hindrance”. On the death of the Apostle of the North (865), his biographer and companion, Rembert, was chosen to succeed him. He received the pallium from Nicholas in December 865. Great must have been the consolation which the heroic work of these two kindred spirits brought to the Pope. He watched so carefully the beginnings of Christianity among the Slavs and Scandinavians, because it was his contention that his authority was requisite for the due founding of a new church. “If”, he said, “according to the sacred decrees a new basilica cannot be built without the sanction of the Pope, how can a church, i.e. a collection of Catholics, be instituted without the consent of the Apostolic See?”.

So far it may be said that we have not seen any intervention on the part of the Pope in the political affairs of the empire. The fact is that, speaking generally, did not mingle in them at all. Affairs more strictly spiritual occupied his attention, and it has been well said in their regard that under Nicholas I “the papacy entered upon the full possession of its primacy of jurisdiction, drawing and reserving to itself all important questions of ecclesiastical or moral interest, and thus preparing itself to play later on, at the full tide of the Middle Ages, a most splendid role, that of the most powerful mistress of souls which the world has ever seen”.

In the domain of politics, the efforts of Nicholas were confined to endeavors to promote the cause of peace. There was ever war either between Charles the Bald and Louis the German, or between each of those sovereigns and their respective sons. In the first year of the pontificate of Nicholas, Louis, invoked by certain malcontents, invaded the territory of his brother. At first he carried all before him; but a reaction set in in favor of Charles, and Louis had to retreat to his own country. Anxious to clear himself in the eyes of the emperor (Louis II) and of the Pope, he sent (859) Thioton, abbot of Fulda, into Italy, to exculpate him, In this mission Thioton was completely successful, and returned with a letter from the Pope in his master’s favor. Peace was concluded between the two sovereigns at Coblentz (860), where they took oaths of mutual fidelity “in accordance with the will of God and for the honor and defence of Holy Church”.

Two of the sons of Charles the Bald, viz., Louis and Charles, had given serious trouble to their father. In a letter of 863, the Pope informs the rebellious sons that he was preparing to punish them when he heard from his legate, bishop Odo, that they had become reconciled to their father. He exhorts them not again to fall away from their duty to their parents. In conclusion, he commands them to be present at a council which he has ordered to assemble, and to submit to what shall be there decided concerning them. It may be noted, in passing, that if Nicholas was ready to admonish the sons of Charles to obey their father, he was equally prepared to point out to Charles himself (unless, indeed, the reference by Hincmar and the bishops of the Council of Kiersy, 858, to the Apostolic See relates to some previous Pope) what he ought to amend in the maladministration of his kingdom.

In 865, the legate Arsenius was sent into “France”, not only in connection with the divorce of Lothaire, but to renew the peaceful understanding between Louis the German, and his nephews Louis, the emperor, and Lothaire, king of Lorraine. Two years later Nicholas has to try to keep the sons of Louis the German in obedience to their father. The fruit of this incessant warfare between brothers, fathers, and sons might well be the anarchy of the tenth century.

Many of Nicholas’s letters and decrees—signs not only of the man but of the times—show that the approaching anarchy was already casting its black shadows before. They reveal to us bishops at once youthful and vicious; priests the mere servants of laymen; priests whose sacred character did not save them from being murdered; bishops deposed from their Sees by lay nobles; the nobility, on the one hand, plundering priests and people with impunity, and, on the other hand, bishops recklessly scattering abroad excommunications. The letters of Nicholas show also that the long and severe canonical penances, so characteristic of the earlier centuries of the Church, were still in vogue, though they were somewhat modified in their severity by him. On a certain monk who had killed another, Nicholas imposed a penance of twelve years’ duration. The penitent was to pass the first three years in sorrow at the door of the church, the next two among the “auditors” (auditores), but was not to be allowed to receive Holy Communion. During the last seven he was to be allowed to communicate on the great feasts, but was not to be permitted to make any offerings for use in the sacrifice. Throughout the whole twelve years, except on Sundays and great festivals, he was to fast till evening, as in Lent. If he undertook a journey, it was to be on foot. Nicholas declared that had it not been for the faith displayed by the monk, and for his respect for the holy apostles Peter and Paul, whose protection he had come to Rome to implore, he would have had to impose a lifelong penance upon him.

Whether there was less to be done after the labors of his predecessors in this direction, or whether Nicholas had less taste or leisure for work of the sort, it is certain that he did not spend so much time and money on public buildings as the popes who had immediately gone before him. Still, his biographer has to record not a few of the Pope’s gifts to different churches and many of his building operations. Among his most important undertakings in the latter department was the repairing of the Tocia, i.e. Jocia, and the Trajana or Sabatina aqueducts. The former, the locality of which was at one time unknown, had, we are told, long been out of repair. The