LIVES OF THE POPES
THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES
THE POPES IN THE DAYS OF FEUDAL ANARCHY
Horace k. Mann
The Popes and the House of Theophylactus
BONIFACE VI (April? 896)
STEPHEN (VI) VII (896-897)
THEODORE II (897)
SERGIUS III (904-911)
ANASTASIUS III (911-913)
JOHN X (914-928)
LEO VI (928 or 928-9)
STEPHEN (VII) VIII (929-931)
JOHN XI (931-936)
LEO VII (936-939)
STEPHEN (VIII) IX (939-942)
MARINUS II (942-946)
AGAPITUS II (946-955)
JOHN XII (955-964)
BENEDICT V (964)
JOHN XIII (965-972)
BENEDICT VI (972-974)
BENEDICT VII (974-983)
JOHN XIV (983-984)
BONIFACE VII (ANTIPOPE ?) (984-985)
JOHN XV (985-996)
GREGORY V (996-999)
SYLVESTER II (999-1003)
JOHN XVII (1003)
JOHN XVIII (1003-1009)
SERGIUS IV (1009-1012)
BENEDICT VIII (1012-1024)
JOHN XIX (1024-1032)
BENEDICT IX (1032-1045)
GREGORY VI (1045-1046)
CLEMENT II (1046-1047)
DAMASUS II (1048)
The Popes and the House of Theophylactus
BEFORE we proceed to give the details of the Lives of those popes who held the See of Rome during the period when Italy sank lower in the scale of civilization than at any other period of its history, it will be of advantage to say something as to the causes which brought about the evils of that age. We would say something of an age when the supreme Pontiffs of Rome, dragged down with Italy, were so degraded, in part by the treatment to which they were subjected, and in part by the vices of some of those whom brute force thrust into the chair of Peter, that one might have been tempted to believe that their authority must for ever have come to an end.
To the reader who has in mind the facts recorded in the preceding volume of this work, these introductory remarks may scarcely be necessary; but they will at least serve to impress still more upon him that the scandals in high places which he will soon see, if he continues his reading, were due rather to external circumstances than to any internal decay of the institution of the Papacy itself.
The period we would discuss — the tenth century and the first half of the eleventh — is often spoken of as the "unhappy or obscure, the iron or leaden age". And for many reasons it richly deserves the hard names which have been given to it; but it must at once be noted that it is very often the subject of undue generalization. It is frequently asserted that, for Europe at large, it was the blackest period of its long life. No doubt, when the head suffers grievously, the body cannot be in a very satisfactory condition. For Italy, and for Rome—the head and centre at this time both of Western civilization and of Christianity—the epoch in question was assuredly the most miserable of all the times they have passed through. But, though most of the other countries of Europe were in anything but a flourishing state, the second half of the tenth century saw them in a much better condition than the first half, and they had seen darker days some three centuries before. And so we find that this epoch witnessed at least a temporary revival of learning and discipline in England through the noble efforts of St. Dunstan and his monastic brethren. France, indeed, suffered almost as much as Italy at this time. Its historians are agreed that it never sank so low as in the tenth century. Yet even in France the very beginning of the tenth century saw the foundation of the monastery of Cluny, the influence of which, in the eleventh century, was to be the leaven which was destined to permeate and elevate the whole mass of European corruption. But, apart from what Fulbert of Chartres called "the strong capital of the monastic life", the Church in France was in as miserable a condition as the State. Christian Spain, however, on the other hand, advanced its frontiers during this age of woe; and Germany, which under powerful rulers broke the violence of the barbarian invaders, aided by its great bishops and by the comparatively prosperous state of its monastic institutions, experienced a decided advance in civilization generally. It was through Germany that Divine Providence seems to have worked in effecting the reform of the Church in its head.
The life of the Spirit, too, was not altogether dead in the tenth century. There were saintly men in every land, and great saints in some. St. Bernard of Menthon, "the apostle of the Alps", the founder of the hospices on the Great and the Little St. Bernard, was one; St. Odo of Cluny, not to mention his three saintly successors, was another. England produced St. Dunstan, St. Oswald, and others. Italy profited by the presence of St. Nilus, the famous Basilian monk, and St. Adalbert was a source of light to the Slavs. Earnest and zealous men spread the truths of Christianity into countries where they had not as yet penetrated. And the darkness of the tenth century was lightened towards its close by the conversion of the Northmen, the Hungarians, and some more remote Slavonic peoples whose ignorance had not been illumined by the great apostles of the Slavs, SS. Cyril and Methodius.
But if not the darkest day for Europe in general, the tenth century, with the first half of the eleventh, was confessedly the blackest night for Italy, and for Rome and its rulers. The causes which brought about the degradation of the Papacy were, to a large extent, those which brought about the fall of the empire. First of these was the barbarians. Under the strong rule of Charlemagne, civilization had grown apace in Europe. Religion, and consequently learning, flourished under the protection of that great ruler; and, broadly speaking, till the fall of the Frankish empire north Italy at least enjoyed a term of peace and prosperity. The strong right arm of Charlemagne had pushed back the borders of the barbarians, whose inroads were so fatal to the cause of civilization, and who hung over the empire ready to take advantage of the smallest symptoms of weakness which it might exhibit. These symptoms were not long in showing themselves. Following the example set by Charlemagne himself, the empire was progressively split up by his descendants among their children; and, worse still, those who succeeded him in the title of emperor were destitute either of physical vitality, mental ability, or both. The reins of government slipped from their nerveless grasp under the pressure of the barbarians from without, and of the turbulent dukes and counts from within. The nobility grew unruly, and the inroads of Normans, Saracens, and Slavs became incessant. Bad enough before, things became much worse on the deposition of the last Carolingian emperor, Charles the Fat, in 887. The empire was split up into seven kingdoms, and soon into more than fifty feudal sovereignties. In bringing these kingdoms into being, racial and linguistic tendencies and pressing local needs certainly had their share. But beyond doubt the greatest factor in producing them was the personal ambition of those who became their rulers, of men who by their birth considered themselves all equal. And "the ambition of the powerful, together with the deplorable miseries of the times", — we have it on the authority of the famous Gerbert — "turned right into wrong". Already, on the division of the empire at the time of the death of Louis the Pious, Florus, the deacon of Lyons, had, in verse not wanting in pathos, bewailed its partition. He had called on the lofty hills and the deep valleys to mourn over the race of the Franks who had fallen from empire. "A beautiful empire once flourished under a glorious crown. Then was there one Prince and one subject people. Every town had its laws and its judges ... The word of salvation was preached to all; and the youth everywhere studied the sacred Scriptures and the liberal arts ... The name and dignity of empire lost, we have now kinglets for kings; instead of an empire, its fragments ... Of the general good no one has a thought. It is each one for himself ... The bishops can no longer hold their synods. There are no assemblies of the people, no laws. Vain were it for an embassy to come hither, for there is no court to receive it". What would the high-minded deacon have said had he lived to see the deposition of Charles the Fat, and the divisions and wars that followed it?
That which rendered these wars specially disastrous was the fact that one or other of the contending parties was constantly inviting hordes of different barbarians to aid them in attacking their opponents and devastating their territories. Drawn by these invitations, and by the prospect of booty, Northman and Slav, Hungarian and Saracen "sometimes trod the same ground of desolation; and these savage foes might have been compared by Homer to the two lions growling over the carcass of the mangled stag".
In addition to the progressive subdivisions of the empire, and to the inroads of heathen or infidel invaders, a third most potent cause of the degradation of Europe in the tenth century and in the first half of the eleventh was the enslavement of the Church in its episcopacy. Freedom of election had been lost in the ninth century, and in this Dark Age the Popes and the bishops became the creatures not simply of emperors or kings, but of petty local barons. Though there were some great bishops in Germany and in England, the tenth century saw an episcopate largely composed of men who cared not for the glory of God and of His Church, who looked not to the beauty of His house, who had no concern for the spiritual and temporal welfare of their flocks, and who held learning in no esteem. Naturally, from the mode of their appointment, very many of them became barons rather than churchmen, and worked more for the privileges of a class than for the welfare of the whole body. Under such bishops there can be no difficulty in imagining what their priests were like. And when the salt of the clergy had lost its savour, the great mass of the laity necessarily became acquainted with corruption.
Of the barbarians who devastated Europe in the tenth century, the Northmen, that is, the Norsemen and the Danes, were destined in the sequel to be as great agents for good in the civilization of western Europe as they had once been powerful factors in its disintegration.
Though the piratical raids of the Norsemen had begun even before the close of the eighth century, their expeditions for permanent conquests did not begin till about the middle of the ninth century. About the same time, Harold Fairhair (863-934) in Norway, and Gorm the Old (860-935) in Denmark, strove successfully to make them- selves effective rulers in those countries. Their success caused many of the vikings to leave their Northern homes for ever. After their light ships had spread the terror of their name not only over the British Isles, the Low Countries, and France, but even into Spain and the countries of the Mediterranean; and after they had carried "property" back to Norway and Denmark from every other European country, the vikings, about the middle of the ninth century, turned their attention, as we have said, to making regular conquests. Large portions of the British Isles and of France soon fell under their control. This, however, proved fortunate for Europe. Skilled in the art of war, no strangers to the refinements of life, and now masters of a considerable tract of sea-coast themselves, they checked the ravages of their countrymen. When, in 912, Charles the Simple, of France, making a virtue of necessity, ceded to the viking Rolf or Rollo what was, from these very Northmen, afterwards known as Normandy, the wild Norseman and his followers not only became Christians, and adopted the civilization they found attached to it, but presented a strong barrier to future marauders. In the following century their proficiency in the arts both of peace and war caused them to become one of the chief agents in bringing the anarchy of the tenth century to a close. But before they thus settled down, these terrible sea-rovers, who "never put awnings on their ships, never furled their sails to the wind", and would have no "straw-made beds outside their ships' berths", were a scourge indeed, as our countryman Alcuin, and, long after him, Pope Formosus, had the best reason to note. Their aims were as lofty as their methods of striving for their accomplishment were ferocious. Hasting, the Danish sea-king, who invaded England in 893, had nothing less in view, so we are told, than the making of his king, Biorn Ironside, emperor of the West; and, driven by a storm out of his course, he seized Luna, near Carrara, in mistake for Rome (c. 857).
Worse, however, in themselves than the Norsemen, and certainly much worse for Italy, with which we are especially concerned, were the Saracens. While the Norse dragon was devouring the north, the Moorish crescent was casting its blighting glare on the south of Europe.
In the preceding volume enough has been said to show the mischief they wrought in south Italy in the latter half of the ninth century. To the centres of ruin and devastation which they established there during that period on the Garigliano, in Cetara, and in other places, they added others, towards the close of the same century, among the fastnesses of the Alps. Of these the most important was Fraxineto, in the neighborhood of Fraxinct or Garde-Frainet, situated perhaps on the promontory of the maritime Alps, which shuts in the bay of Villafranca to the east of Nice. Here and in the adjoining passes of the Alps they maintained themselves for the greater part of a hundred years. For though attacked at various times, as for instance even by a Greek fleet in 931, it was only in 942 that they were expelled from Fraxineto. Protected by the sea and by woods rendered almost impassable by a dense under- growth, they despised all local efforts to subdue them. At length, in 942, Hugh of Arles or Provence, king of Italy, obtained the aid of a Greek fleet to attack them by sea, whilst he assaulted them on the land side. The joint attack was successful. The Moors had to abandon their fortress, and fly to the passes of the mountains. But it is significant of the type of men who then controlled the destinies of Europe, that, instead of destroying this band of bloodthirsty bandits, Hugh agreed to let them remain on Monte Moro (Mons Maurus) on condition that, to the best of their power, they would hinder his rival, Berenger of Ivrea, from returning to Italy. It was not till 972 that they were ousted from this last coign of vantage.
Issuing from one or other of these lairs, the fierce Moors beset the passes of the Alps, plundering and murdering pilgrims on their way to Rome, and generally harassing the north of Italy. All the chroniclers of the times speak with horror of the sea-washed fortress of Fraxineto; and the dread doings of its Saracenic lords form a subject of frequent notice by them. Such as the following are the facts recorded by them or by the sad testimony of monumental inscriptions. In the year 921, says Frodoard, "a great number of Englishmen, on their way to Rome, were crushed to death with rocks rolled upon them by the Saracens in the passes of the Alps". We need not, therefore, suspect Gregory of Catino (who towards the close of the eleventh century drew up the Chronicle of his monastery of Farfa) of much exaggeration when he says of this period : "When at length, in punishment of the sins of Christians, the power of that dynasty (the Carolingian) began to decline, and became altogether impotent, a multitude of pagans of that wicked race called Agareni, or Saracens, invaded Italy, and few were the cities from Trasbido to the Po, with the exception of Rome and Ravenna, which escaped destruction at their hands, or which were not at least brought under the scourge of their tyranny. As for the cities and provinces which they conquered, it was their practice to plunder them of everything, and either to drive away the inhabitants into captivity, or to slay them with the edge of the sword".
The ports of south Italy were crowded with Christian captives waiting to be shipped as slaves to Africa. Saracen buildings all along the coast about Amalfi, Naples, and Vietri attest to this day the baleful presence of the Moors in those districts. Place-names, and Moorish towers on the ruins of Roman amphitheatres, enable their hold on the Rhone valley to be traced with ease. But of all the parts of Italy, it was particularly the Duchy of Rome which experienced the greatest hardships at the hands of the Saracens. They began to threaten it about 725. Rome itself was partially sacked by them in 846, and Liverani points out that their actual ravages in the Roman Duchy lasted for a hundred years; that the whole of it was ravaged at one time or another; and that not far short of four hundred towns were destroyed by them. They burnt such famous monasteries as Mt. Cassino, St. Elia at Nepi, Farfa, St. Sylvester on Mt. Soracte, and Subiaco; and established centres of aggression at suitable places both in and near the Duchy. But for such Popes as John VIII, John X, and Benedict VIII, they would have become masters of Italy.
If there is any exaggeration in the language of Gregory of Catino when applied to the Saracens only, there is certainly none when referred to the united barbarities of the Saracens and the Hungarians. These latter, kinsmen of the Huns and the Avars, proved the worst of the scourges that wasted the continent of Europe at this period. Known to themselves as Magyars (children of the earth), they were called by others Hungarians, because they came from Jugaria (Ougaria, hence the Greek "Ougroi"), on the slopes of the northern Ural Mountains. This Tartar people, of the great Turanian family, akin to the Turks and to those who gave their name to the "Bulgarians", came South, driven by hunger and enemies, or simply impelled by their nomad instincts. In the ninth century they settled in south Russia, in the district behind the Sereth, watered by the Pruth, the Dniester, the Bug, and the Dnieper, and then known as Ateleusu. Thence they soon advanced further West, either driven by the Tartar Petchenegs, or invited by the Greek emperor, Leo VI, to help him to make war on the Bulgarians, and it is said, by Arnulf, king of Germany, to assist him in his efforts to subdue the Moravians; or, at least partly, urged on again by their love of wandering.
As early as the year 862, what we may call the advance guard of this nation of mounted archers, alluded to by Archbishop Hincmar as a people hitherto unknown to western Europe, threw themselves upon the kingdom of Louis the German at the time when it was being ravaged by the Danes. For some thirty years not much is known in detail of the doings of the Magyars. They were engaged in subduing the Slavs, wedging themselves in between them, and getting a hold of the country about the Middle Danube and the Theiss. But after the year 892, when in the annals of the monastery of St. Gall we read the mysterious words that Arnulf the German relieved the Hungarians where they were cooped up, the chronicles are full of the doings of the Magyars. It is the Ungari here, the Ungari there, the Ungari everywhere, as though Arnulf had let the winds out of the bag! The hoofs of their indefatigable horses clattered over almost every road in Germany, France, and Italy. Their arrows brought death to the men and women of the North as to those of the South. And no "distance", says Gibbon, "could be secure against an enemy who almost at the same instant laid in ashes the Helvetian monastery of St. Gall and the city of Bremen on the shores of the Northern Ocean". And so we encounter such entries as these in the chronicles of the period : — A.D. 919, "The Hungarians harry Italy and part of France; to wit, the kingdom of Lothaire". "This year" (926), record the annals of Reichenau, "the Hungarians laid waste all France, Alsace, Gaul, and Germany (Alemanniam) with fire and sword"; and under the year 932: "When they had burnt many cities of eastern France and Germany, they crossed the Rhine near Worms, and devastated the kingdom of Gaul even to the ocean, and returned through Italy".
If their wide spreading and long-continued ravages caused the Magyars to be described by more or less strictly contemporary authors as a people who were "greedy, audacious, ignorant of God, acquainted with every crime, and keen only for slaughter and plunder", and as "most fierce in war", their appetite for raw flesh made even these coeval writers lay to their charge that they drank the blood of the slain. To later writers they were known as men with dark countenances, and deep-set eyes, small of stature, barbarous and ferocious in their language and morals, so that "fortune must be blamed, or rather the divine patience admired, which exposed this beautiful earth not to men, but to such monstrosities of men". So wrote the good Bishop Otho of Frising in the twelfth century. Of these latter exaggerated descriptions the popular imagination took hold, and in the ogres of our childhood we did but shudder at the wild doings of the Ungari in the tenth century.
The Hungarians, however, were not destined to have all their own way. Neither the science nor the art of war had been altogether lost in the West, and at length the Germans broke the power of the Magyars. A great defeat was inflicted upon them at Mersebourg by Henry the Fowler in 933, and another by the Saxons in 938. A final crushing overthrow was sustained by them at the hands of Otho the Great in 955, on the Lech, near Augsburg. Despite these reverses, it was not till the death of their great chief Taksony (947-972) that their ravages practically ceased. How much they contributed to help the confusion of the tenth century can easily be imagined. "The Hungarians", says Gibbon, "promoted the reign of anarchy by forcing the stoutest barons to discipline their vassals and fortify their castles. The origin of walled towns (becoming later on, we may add, the nurseries of our modern liberties) is ascribed to this calamitous period". The empire in the West was being broken to pieces for ever. It was at the same time being pulled down by its children from within, and battered by the barbarians from without. Out of its debris were to spring the nations of Modern Europe. But painful was their birth. Terrible were the throes of Christendom in the tenth century. And while the churches of the North rang with the mournful litany : "A furore Normanorum libera nos Domine", those of the South resounded with the tearful supplication : "Nunc te rogamus, licet servi pessimi, ab Ungerorum nos defendas jaculis".
The result of all these fierce incursions, and of the intestine wars waged by kings and nobles fur the name of emperor or for personal independence, for rivalry or for revenge, was, of course, widespread anarchy, ignorance, and immorality among all classes, both among the clergy and the laity. The bonds of civil and ecclesiastical law and discipline were cut by the sword, and all — at least the powerful — did what they considered right in their own eyes. Taking every advantage of the troubles which had come upon the fallen empire of the West, the nobles generally made themselves absolute masters in their own dominions, and did just as they thought fit. The canons of the councils of these unhappy times furnish a clear insight of what those deeds were which "they thought right", and of their results. The synod of Pavia (889), held for the election of Guido as king of Italy, decreed that the palatines of the king must refrain from plundering, and that, in coming to a diet (placitum), they must not rob the places they pass through, but pay for what they needed. The people, moreover, must not be unduly taxed nor violently oppressed (can. 7). Another synod, that of Ravenna in 898, under Pope John IX, calls on the Emperor Lambert to repress the arson, the robberies, the brutalities of all kinds which were rampant in the empire (can. 5). The council of Trosle, held under Heriveus, archbishop of Rheims, in 909, bewails at once the devastation of cities and country and the decay of virtue, and proceeds to lay the blame of the latter on the bishops. They have kept silent when they ought to have spoken out.
Certainly, in this unhappy period, the Church had not much influence for good, as she was in most parts suffering from the most grievous oppression. Candidates the most worthless and unfit were forcibly intruded into her most important offices — even into the chair of Peter. The wealth of some of the larger monasteries and episcopal sees caused them to be much coveted by the powerful. Greedy nobles seized on them by force or contrived to intrude into them some members of their family. The council last spoken of, besides regretting the destruction of many monasteries by the barbarians, deplores the absolute want of all discipline in many others. Some of them cannot be brought to order, as they are under the power of bishops different from those in whose dioceses they are situated. Others have laymen for abbots, who have taken up their abode in the monastic cloisters with their wives and children, soldiers and dogs! And whereas in some monasteries there was luxury and pomp, the direst poverty forced other monks to turn to worldly employments to gain a livelihood. So that, if the somewhat caustic Ratherius of Verona (d. 974) gives us a striking picture of Italian prelates of the tenth century, eating and drinking out of vessels of gold, entertained by dancing girls, hunting, and travelling in gorgeous carriages, it must not be forgotten that it was with those in the Church as with men in the State in the tenth century.
Luxury was for the few, poverty and oppression for the many. Bishops who were nobles, in many cases violently intruded into the sees they held, lived like the nobles. The interior clergy lived like the mass of the people, sure neither of their bread nor of their lives. Of this there is more than evidence enough in the fact that, even during the ninth century, councils in their decrees, and kings in their capitularies, found it necessary to be constantly legislating for the protection of Church property; and an author of the last twenty years of the tenth century speaks of the Emperor Otho I's restoring churches throughout Italy (Lombardy) and Tuscany which had been brought to desolation by the barbarity and wantonness of former princes.
Needless to say that the grossest simony was practised, and that matters went from bad to worse. St. Peter Damian has left on record the depth of ignorance, simony, and intemperance to which the clergy had sunk by the days when the brave Gregory VII began to put into action the moral lever with which he was to raise the Christian world into a higher groove.
The recital of a concrete case or two of lawlessness will serve better than anything else, perhaps, to put in clear relief the condition of the Church, in Italy especially, in the tenth century.
An historian who flourished under S. Gregory VII informs us that Hugh of Provence, king of Italy, finding that he could not succeed in getting his son consecrated archbishop of Milan on account of his extreme youth, had him tonsured (935). He then procured the election of Ardericus, from whose advanced years he anticipated that a vacancy would be sure to occur by the time that his son would have come of age. But as the venerable Ardericus lived longer than he wished, he resolved to put him to death. Accordingly he was invited, along with other magnates of Milan, to Pavia. There, in the midst of a royal entertainment, the followers of King Hugh fell on the archbishop and his friends. Ninety of the Milanese were murdered; but, as if by a miracle, the aged prelate escaped.
For a pecuniary consideration, this same king appointed as abbot of Farfa the murderer of the preceding abbot Ratfredo. This wretch, whose name was Campone, had an accomplice, one Hildebrand, who went to Pavia and paid the money to the king. The new abbot appointed Hildebrand to the richest of the "cells", or subordinate monasteries of the abbey. But before a year had passed, these precious monks, both noblemen, are at open war, with bands of armed men on both sides. Success is at first with Hildebrand, for he hired the banditti and free-bands of Camerino. The monastery of Farfa is carried by storm. But, by a judicious distribution of treasure, Campone wins over the marauders who had secured the victory for Hildebrand; his rival is expelled, and Campone is once more abbot of Farfa.
We will tell one more story of these times from the same annals, as Hildebrand figures in it also. Again in the days of King Hugh, writes the author of the chronicle of Farfa, there were savage wars between Ascarius and Sarilo for dominion over the March of Firmo. Sarilo slew Ascarius and obtained the March. On this, King Hugh broke out into a great fury against Sarilo, and pursued him with vengeance, because Ascarius was his brother. Sarilo, driven to the last straits in a small place in Tuscany, where he had taken refuge, put on the cowl of a monk, and with a halter about his neck came out from the town gate just at dawn, and threw himself at the feet of the king. Hugh, moved to compassion, forgave him the murder of his brother, and placed him over all the royal monasteries within the confines of Tuscany and the March of Firmo. All the abbots submitted to Sarilo except Hildebrand, the rival of Campone. He was accordingly attacked in the castle of St. Victoria, and forced to surrender it. Hildebrand returned with recruited forces, attacked the castle, and compelled the new abbot to retire ignominiously. He, however, returned to the charge, and with success the second time. With abbots such as Hildebrand, Sarilo, and Campone, ecclesiastical discipline might well have been at a discount.
It must not be thought from our reference to councils held in this period that these invaluable aids to order were then regularly celebrated. The fact is, as we have it on the authority of the ablest historian of the councils, Bishop von Hefele, this period, especially in comparison with the ninth century, was very poor in synodal gatherings; and those that were held were of no importance. Their action was purely local, and had no ameliorating influence on the sad condition of the Church in general.
As might be expected, the period of which we are writing was not distinguished for the cultivation of learning in any of its branches. "In the midst of such universal desolation", asks the illustrious author of the History of Italian Literature, Tiraboschi, "was the pursuit of learning possible? If the peace which Italy enjoyed under Charlemagne and Lothaire, and the measures taken by these princes to make learning flourish once again, were not enough to rouse the country and make it turn afresh to the 'bell arti' so long neglected, what must we suppose to have been the effect of disasters so terrible that they would have spread barbarism and ignorance even among more cultured provinces?". The effect may easily be estimated not only from the considerations set forth by the modern scholar, but from what a quasi-contemporary tells us of the appalling dearth of teachers, even to some extent in his own time. The philosophic abbot, Guibert of Nogent (d. 1124), writing particularly of the state of things just before his own days, tells us that a teacher in a small town could not be found, and that even the large cities could produce but few. The learning of such masters as were forthcoming was, he says, but very scant, and not to be compared with that of any wandering cleric of modern times. Both a cause and an effect of the prevailing ignorance of the times was a scarcity of books. No doubt there were other causes of this want of books, such as their destruction when monasteries, their chief repositories, were destroyed. Another cause was the dearth of paper, "For since Egypt, the ancient home of the papyrus, had fallen into the power of the Arabs, the scarcity of writing material had been keenly felt in Italy, and to this cause Muratori in part ascribes the intellectual barbarism of the tenth century". But we must be on our guard against forming exaggerated ideas of the book famine of this epoch. It was not so much that there were then no books, or but few, in Italy at any rate, as that, owing to the troubled state of the times, new ones were not so frequently written or old ones copied. We have the positive assertion of an author, viz. Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester II (999-1003), who knew more about books than any other man of his period, that there were a great many books to be found in all parts of Italy, as well as in Germany and in the "Belgic" provinces, i.e., the duchy of Lorraine. And we read of a Spanish priest stopping a whole year at the court of Pope John X (914-928), and collecting "a multitude of books" with which he returned "with joy" to his own country. If, too, it be the fact, as Richer avers it was, that music and astronomy were unknown in Italy in these dark and inharmonious days, there was light enough to prevent the brush of the artist from quite losing its cunning. The "prince of painters" had still his residence in Italy, and when the emperor, Otho III, in all things most eager for the glory of the empire, needed an artist to decorate the cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle, he summoned the pious Italian John to do the work.
During this hundred and fifty years of bloodshed and gloom, how fared it with the city of Rome? A poem on a manuscript of the period supplies us with an answer not wholly wide of the truth. "Alas! unhappy Rome, thy power was built up by great rulers; now, a servant of thy former slaves, thou art rushing to thy ruin. Thy princes have long abandoned thee; thy name and thy glory have fled to the Greeks. Prosperous Constantinople is known as the New Rome. In thy walls and in thy morals, O worn-out Rome, thou art falling to thy ruin. Empire has left thee, Pride alone remains. The worship of avarice has completely possessed you. A mob torn from the ends of the earth, the slaves of thy slaves are now thy lords. Not one of thy old nobility remains with thee; thy free-born sons are reduced to tilling the soil. You who once cruelly put the saints of God to death, are now wont to sell their sacred remains. Were you not nourished by the merits of Peter and Paul, long ago would you have quite shrivelled away."
Taking the evidence of invective verses for what they are worth, we are driven to form our ideas on the state of Rome at this period rather from conjecture from what we know of it in the ninth century, and from a few passing references to it in the records of the following age, than from the extremely little which contemporary docu- ments have to say regarding it.
Were we to confine our gaze to the legal documents of this epoch which have come down to us, we might be tempted to suppose that all was as usual in Rome. We find that the Prefect was still judging criminal cases (in the name of the Pope) both in the city and in its immediate neighborhood, and that there were Consules Romanorum and Duces and other papal officials exercising various executive functions during the whole period of these obscure years. Still was justice in civil cases administered by the seven great officials of the papal court, the primicerius, the secundicerius, the arcarius (treasurer), the first of the defensors, the nomenclator, the saccellarius (paymaster), and the protoscrinarius. Indeed, fairly complete lists of these functionaries during this age have been compiled. Assisting these seven judices ordinarii were certain subordinate judges, known as judices dativi, who, though usually exercising no other than judicial functions, were not competent to decide cases apart from the clerical judices ordinarii. And these palatine judges themselves, under increasing pressure of business, gradually ceased in the course of the eleventh century to exercise any other than purely judicial duties.
In theory, then, no matter how "imperfectly known the administrative organization of Rome before the middle of the twelfth century may be, it rested wholly on the sovereignty of the Pope. It is from him that all authority emanated, and it is in his name, and in virtue of powers which he had delegated to them, that the different officials issue orders, levy taxes, and administer justice". Further, if the schola cantorum, which was also known as the Orphanotropio— the ecclesiastical seminary of preceding ages, whence had issued so many Pontiffs who had graced the See of Peter— was still in existence, it is very certain that many who sat in his chair in the tenth century had never been inside its walls, or been subject to any kind of ecclesiastical training John, "the venerable subdeacon of the Roman Church", who was its primicerius in the days of Pope John XI (934), may easily have lived to wish that John XII had experienced a little of his disciplinary care.
Hence, as a matter of fact, if certain outward appearances connected the Rome of the Iron Age with the Rome of the Carolingians, it was really a changed thing. Not merely were its ancient fourteen imperial and seven ecclesiastical regions, which had hitherto existed side by side, replaced by twelve divisions corresponding fairly well to the modern rioni, but both the papal and the imperial power were reduced there to a shadow. No longer was there a permanent imperial missus in Rome; and if an emperor did come there in person or by an envoy, his authority was barely respected during the time of his visit. If the dignity of the emperor, who normally lived at a distance from Rome, was regarded there as of no account, even the authority of the Pope who resided in its midst was often but as little respected. All real power was at this time in the hands of the great families who, through their connection with the local militia, had become a practically independent feudal aristocracy. These families were all jealous of one another, and were perpetually fighting for supremacy. The aim of each party, pursued by every resource of violence and intrigue, was to get control of the chair of Peter. Its occupant must be one of theirs at all costs. And what a price had Rome to pay for their ambitions! Its law and order, its morals, even its very buildings were sacrificed to them.
Peering through the historic gloom, we catch sight of the fierce retainers of the different families feverishly converting into robber strongholds the monuments of antiquity, the Septizonium, the triumphal arches, and the temples of the ancient gods. By degrees the Forum and its immediate vicinity became a nest of castles, from the castellated arch of Septimius Severus in the north-west to the embattled arch of Titus in the south-east. From these fortresses issued forth men who neither feared God nor regarded man, and to whom were sacred neither the canon nor the civil law, neither the vestment of the priest nor the cloak of the citizen, neither the gold of the sanctuary nor the mite of the widow. And, as though these were not troubles enough for Rome, it was, to use the rather exaggerated language of Raoul Glaber, almost wholly the prey of fire towards the close of the tenth century. Moreover, whilst violence was the order of the day within the city walls, it was equally rife in their immediate neighborhood. Robber nobles beset the highways, plundering merchant and pilgrim with equal impunity; while quaking watchmen on the walls of Rome, at least during the first half of the tenth century, must have been ever afraid lest the wild Hungarian archer, whom they beheld spreading desolation around and discharging his arrows in impotent rage against its lofty towers, might yet stable his horse in the atrium of St. Peter’s, and transfer his barbarities to the already blood-dyed streets of the city. Often must they have encouraged one another to untiring vigilance; and often must they have prayed —for faith did not die in Rome during the tenth century—that God would deliver them from the darts of the Hungarians.
But again must the note of warning be sounded. Rome was not under a Pornocracy, as some writers would have us think, for a century and a half; nor was it an utter stranger to the arts of peace throughout that long period. There were books there, as we have seen, in plenty; and thither we know went men to consult them. It was at Rome also, as texts to be quoted in the course of this volume will show, that ecclesiastics purchased ornaments for their churches, both textile fabrics and articles in metal or marble. Charters of the tenth century have preserved the names of certain Roman artists (exigui pictores as they modestly style themselves); and it must be borne in mind that even during the sad days of that darkest age of Rome, the tradition of Roman art was never lost. It survived to a happier time, and passed on its principles to Florence, to be by that more fortunate city so gloriously expanded. But, considering the grinding poverty with which so many of the Popes of the Dark Age were oppressed, and the turmoil into which their city was so often plunged, an epoch of artistic development is not to be expected. On the contrary, it is matter for congratulation that the arts of painting and sculpture did not perish altogether in Rome. And it is remarkable that it was during this period of artistic depression that the Roman artists were "called upon to produce some of the most extensive works in the history of their school," viz. the redecoration of St. Peter's and the Lateran. Though their work may show "less of artistic quality than at any other time", their school "seems to have been pre-eminent in Europe". Nor was their work confined to Rome itself. Frescoes of the tenth century still adorn the walls of the monastic church of St. Elia near Nepi, and the artists who painted them have inscribed their names beneath the feet of the figure of our Saviour whom they have depicted in the apse. The brothers Stephen and John, and their nephew Nicholas, were the three "Roman painters" who executed the frescoes of St. Elia. When about the year 990 Otho III wished to decorate the imperial palace of Aix-la-Chapelle, he showed "the high esteem in which the Roman school of painting was held" by employing, as "his chief court painter, the Italian artist John". Finally, in this connection, it is worth noting that modern authorities assign to this age and to a Roman artist the little work De coloribus et artibus Romanorum, one of the very few technical productions of the early Middle Ages. It was the work of one Heraclius, who, while lamenting the decay of Roman genius and Roman institutions, and sorrowfully asking who is now capable of understanding and explaining the noble arts of the ancients, bravely made an attempt himself, and issued his practical manual "for painters, with all necessary receipts and directions for mixing and using colours, and for making mosaics".
In the second half of the tenth century, too, a religious reform was being carried out within the walls of Rome. The "terrible" tyrant Alberic was to a considerable extent under the civilizing influence of St. Odo of Cluny (879-942). Under him he became "a pious frequenter of the cloisters", and to him he gave the care of all the monasteries of Rome. Many of them were in consequence led to embrace the Cluniac reform, and some new ones were founded, — one on the Aventine by Alberic himself.
Among the other monasteries which were built at the time just mentioned was that of S. Maria in Pallara, on the Palatine, which was at the same period adorned with frescoes.
There are not wanting authors who maintain that there was no place in Italy in this unhappy time where learning was so conspicuous by its absence as in Rome. One of them cites in proof the words of "the Gallic bishops at Rheims" — "There is no one at present in Rome who has studied the sciences, without a knowledge of which, as it is written, a man is incapable of being even a door-keeper. The ignorance of other bishops is in some degree pardonable if we compare their position with that of the Bishop of Rome. In the Bishop of Rome, however, ignorance is not to be endured, since he has to judge matters of faith, mode of life and discipline, the clergy, and, in short, the universal Catholic Church". The weight of a man's words as evidence depends to a very large extent on the circumstances, such as the condition of body and mind, etc., under which he speaks. The words of a person in anger are not accepted without question. And in connection with the statement just cited, viz., "that, as report hath it, hardly any one at present in Rome has studied the sciences", it must be explained that the Gallic bishops were engaged in arbitrarily deposing Bishop Arnulf, and in substituting Gerbert (afterwards Sylvester II) in his stead. Hence they were endeavoring, by decrying the Pope's intellectual capability, to deprive his expected condemnation of their conduct of all force. When this is explained, the testimony of the Gallic bishops as to ignorance in Rome does not count for much. It is not equal to the testimony of Ratherius of Verona, which is quite to the opposite effect. He categorically asserts that there was no place where ecclesiastical science was better taught than in Rome; and Gerbert himself lets us know that, even towards the close of the tenth century, it was one of the cities to go to for books. No doubt for Rome there was a great falling off in learning in this unhappy period; but we must beware of taking it for granted that its light was there quite extinguished.
But how fared it with Rome's rulers, the Popes, during this calamitous epoch? In the same way, though to a much worse degree, as it fared with so many other European rulers. Just as the power of other Western sovereigns was curtailed by the practical independence which so many of their nobles won for themselves, so that of the Popes was hampered by the Roman nobles. With the fall of the imperial authority the curb was removed from them. They soon seized all power in Rome, and oppressed both the Pope, the clergy, and the people. Some among them endeavored to make the Papacy an appanage of their families.
Foremost amongst the nobility was the house of Theophylactus, whose relations or descendants were the practical rulers of Rome during this period. Of this house, if we are to trust Liutprand, the most notorious members were a certain Theodora and her equally famous or infamous daughters, Marozia and Theodora the younger. As ambitious as they were beautiful, they obtained the greatest influence in Rome by a prodigal prostitution of their charms. The supreme power in Rome was for a while practically in the hands of these licentious women. "Rome", says a contemporary chronicler, "fell under the yoke of women. As we read in the prophet: 'The effeminate shall rule over them' (Isa. III., 4). Creatures such as we have described would naturally not stop at anything which would serve their ends. Nothing was sacred to them. Popes, at times members of their own families, and consequently not of a race calculated to produce saints, were made and unmade at pleasure. Sometimes even laymen were intruded into the chair of Peter. For the advantage of the party anything was lawful. That men sprung from a family of debauchees, and without any clerical training, should be a scandal to the Church, is no matter for astonishment. The great wonder is that there were not more really bad Popes in this miserable era. Guided by the expressions of the great Cardinal Baronius, many seem to imagine that all the Popes of the tenth century were bad. His language is, no doubt, strong enough. "The greatest monsters of cruelty and injustice", he writes in an oft-quoted passage, "arrogated to themselves, during that period, the election of the Roman pontiffs. And, oh, shame! oh, heartbreaking! what monsters did they not force upon that throne of the Apostle which angels regard with reverence! What woes originated from this source; what dark and bloody tragedies! Alas! alas! for the age in which it was reserved for the spouse purchased by the Redeemer in His blood, the spouse without stain or blemish, to be so defiled with the filth thrown upon her as to be made (like her Divine founder) the object of scorn and the laughing-stock of her enemies". With the documents at his disposal, Baronius was, no doubt, justified in making these reflections. But since his time sources have been brought to light which, had the cardinal known them, would have caused him to modify his strictures. Were we, however, to allow that the Popes of this period were as bad as ever they have been painted, what has been said above, which we will now in part repeat in the words even of Gibbon, must be borne in mind : "These Popes had been chosen, not by the cardinals, but by lay-patrons" ... and "were insulted, imprisoned, and murdered by their tyrants; and such was their indigence, after the loss and usurpation of the ecclesiastical patrimony, that they could neither support the state of a prince nor exercise the charity of a priest". Further, as there is no question that in any case the Church was in great danger, it may be pointed out, again with Baronius, that the fact that the Church (which he compares to the ark of Noah) did not then perish is a striking fulfillment of the promise made to St. Peter that "the gates of hell should not prevail against it".
In fine, all who reflect on the lives of the Popes of the tenth century, especially if they be such as are content with the present position of dependence which has to be endured by the Holy Father in Rome, must ever remember that the history of the Popes of the tenth century "is the history of the Popes deprived of their temporal power.
Deprived of their temporal power, the Popes of the tenth century lost the patrimonies which had hitherto enabled them "to support the state of a prince and to exercise the charity of a priest". Some of their patrimonies were seized by the powerful, some were freely given away by the Popes themselves to their supporters; while, with regard to others, the supreme pontiffs were, so to speak, forced to fall in with the feudal ideas in vogue at the time, and to grant them to be held in feudal tenure, very often receiving but scant service in return. Hence we see Gregory V (998) granting to the famous Gerbert, archbishop of Ravenna, and to his successors, not merely the counties of Comacchio and Cesena, but even the city of Ravenna, with its district and all its dues, along with the right of coining money. And when, in the eleventh century, the Popes recovered temporal dominion, it was as Princes, and not, for the most part, as proprietors. Their territories became the "Patrimonium beati Petri" in a new sense, and yielded them only what was their due as ruler, and not as owner.
Without here going into any detail on the subject, we may note that one point cannot fail to impress itself deeply on the mind of the historian as he studies this period. That one point is, that the historical sources for it in general, and particularly for what relates to those who occupied the chair of Peter during its progress, are most unsatisfactory. Not only have the contemporary papal biographies, which for three centuries have provided us with a reliable source of information, ceased to be forthcoming; not only have even inscriptions, much less collections of inscriptions, ceased to be produced, but during the whole of the tenth century no remnant of the pontifical "registers has come down to us. Indeed, it may be questioned whether they were ever compiled. In Rome men would seem to have been so much occupied in trying to preserve their own lives or the smallest semblance of order, that they had no time to devote to the production of literary works of any kind. Hence, apart from the one-line contemporary notices which form, as it were, the continuation of the Liber Pontificalis, information on many of the Popes of the tenth century can only be procured from writers who were neither strictly contemporary nor had any intimate acquaintance with Rome. Hence authentic information about the Popes of this epoch is of the very scantiest, and it may be emphatically laid down that at least the vices attributed to some of the Popes of the tenth century are nothing like so well authenticated as the virtues of those of the ninth. Much of what is said against some of them may be true, but the evidence forthcoming to substantiate it is not enough to bring conviction to a judicial mind.
There is another important point to be borne in mind in this connection, and it is this : the essence of the Papacy, according to the Catholic point of view, is spiritual authority. No promise, it is pointed out, was made by our Lord that St. Peter and his successors should be either good men or temporal rulers. According to Catholic teaching, the line of the Popes was given to the world that through the ages there might be those who could always direct men aright in their spiritual necessities; who could always point out to them the right paths they must follow in their belief and conduct. To the Alpine traveller it is not the virtue of his guide that is to him of the first importance; it is his knowledge of the mountain paths. And if, in the period under discussion, it be proved that the sovereign pontiffs lost at once their virtue and their temporal authority, it is certain that they never failed in their office as spiritual guides to men through the mists and darkness of the mountainous desert of life. With regard to some at least among the Popes of this period it was a case of doing, not as they did, but as they said. Fortunately, among the troubles of this weary period heresy was not one. Neither heresy nor schism added to the difficulties of the Roman pontiffs. They were not called upon to give any important guidance to the Church in what it had to believe or practise. No doubt the spiritual influence of the Papacy decreased during the century and a half of which we are speaking, but its spiritual prerogatives, unlike its temporal, did not fail; and at the close of this disastrous period it was to give abundant evidence of its undying life by suddenly manifesting the most astounding vigour in both the spiritual and the temporal spheres. Hence when writers freely speak of the growth or fall of the Papacy, the distinction between its temporal and spiritual side must never be lost sight of. As in a man the body may flourish, pine away, or die while the soul lives on, the Papacy in temporal matters may, as it often indeed has done, show every sign of life, decay, or even death, whereas its spiritual prerogatives always endure. And not only do they merely endure, but, speaking broadly, it would appear that the exercise of these prerogatives, even in non-essentials, has gone on steadily increasing since they were first bestowed on St. Peter. At any rate there can be no question that, at the present day, when the Pope is deprived of the temporal power so necessary for the full and free use of his authority, the exercise of his spiritual power is more far-reaching in its effects than ever it has been before in the history of the Church.
Though at this period but comparatively slightly connected with the West in matters either spiritual or temporal, the Eastern Empire, if perhaps better governed than the West, still resembled it in many unfortunate particulars. Its Church, united with the See of Rome more in name than in fact, was in a very unsatisfactory condition. Greatly distracted, owing, among other causes, to the fourth marriage of Leo VI, the Wise, it has been truly said of it that, by the year 963, "the Eastern Church had entered on that period of stagnation in which it lies at the present day. And the synods held at Constantinople during this dreary age only prove the sad state of the Eastern Church." With regard to the temporal affairs of the Eastern Roman Empire, we find the historian of Byzantine history in the tenth century making the same complaints about the scarcity of documents as the historian of the Papacy, and equally regretting the impenetrable darkness which covers many of the events he would elucidate.
Even the Far East shared the depression of the West; and the continent of Asia suffered in sympathy with that of Europe. "It is not a little singular", writes Mr. Beazley, "that at the very same period when the expansive energy of Western Europe, even in pilgrimage, seemed to have become practically exhausted, or at least unfruitful, both the Caliphate and the Celestial Empire should have suffered so severely from social and governmental disorder. The whole world seemed to receive about this epoch a certain lowering of its tide of life".
The annexed tables may well serve as a conclusion to this introduction, wherein we have seen "the more powerful oppress the weak, and men, like fishes of the sea, devouring each other". It may be hoped that they will be of use to the student who wishes to traverse the mazes of the tenth century.
Shadowy Kings of Italy and Nominal Emperors from the End of the House of Charlemagne to the House of Saxony.
Berenger I., duke of Friuli, 888-924
Guido, duke of Spoleto, 889-894
Lambert, son of Guido, associated with Guido, 891-898
Arnulf, king of Germany, descended into Italy, 894-899
Louis III, the Blind, king of Provence, 900-c.923
Other very Fugitive Kings of Italy.
Rodolf II., king of Transjurane Burgundy, 921-926
Hugo, king of Provence, 926-abdicates 945
Lothaire (son of Hugo), associated in the empire, 931-950
Berenger II, marquis of Ivrea, grandson of the emperor Berenger; Adalbert his son, elected with his father, 950. Both deposed in presence of Otho I. 961
Kings of Germany and Emperors of the Romans.
Louis IV, the Child, 899
The Saxon dynasty
Conrad I., 911.
Henry I., the Fowler, 918
Otho I., the Great, 936.
Otho II., 973.
Otho III., 983.
Henry II., the Lame, 1002
The Franconian dynasty
Conrad II., the Salic, 1024.
Henry III., the Black, 1039.
Henry IV., 1056.
Henry V., 1106.
Lothaire the Saxon, 1125-1138.
The Macedonian dynasty
Leo VI., the Wise, 886.
Constantine VII., Porphyrogenitus, 912-958
Joint rulers, Alexander, 912-913. Romanus I., Lecapenus, 919-945.
Romanus II., 958-963.
Basil II., Bulgaroctonus, 963-1025.
Joint rulers, Nicephorus II., Phocas, 963-969.
The Macedonian dynasty
Joint rulers, John I., Zimisces,969-976.
Constantine VIII., 1025-1028.
Romanus III., Argyrus, 1028-1034.
Michael IV., the Paphlagonian, 1034-1042.
Michael V., 1042.
Constantine IX., Monomachus,1042-1055.
Kings of England.
Alfred the Great, 872.
Edward the Elder, 901.
Edmund I., 941.
Edgar the Peaceable, 958.
Edward II., the Martyr, 975.
Ethelred II., the Unready, 979.
Edmund II., Ironside, 1016.
Canute the Great, 1017.
Harold Harefoot, 1035.
S. Edward III., the Confessor,1043-1066.
Kings of France.
Charles the Fat, 884.
Charles III., the Simple, 893.
Louis IV., d'Outremer, 936.
Lothaire, 954. Louis V., 986.
Hugh Capet, 987.
Henry I., 1031-1060.
Of the early career of Formosus (born 816), bishop of career of Porto, the successor in that see (864) of the deposed Radoald, a Roman and the son of one Leo, enough has already been said in the previous volume. There mention was made of his embassy (864) to Constantinople on the subject of the election of Photius, and of the great work he performed in converting the Bulgarians to the faith of Christ.
Formosus seems to have erected, during his pontificate, a memento of this latter episode of his life, in the shape of a painting in a little oratory beneath the temple of Claudius, near the church of SS. John and Paul. In this picture our Lord was represented in the midst of SS. Peter, Paul, Lawrence, and Hippolytus. At His feet were depicted a barbarian chief on one side, and Formosus on the other. The painting was discovered in 1689, and a copy of it was published by De Rossi. Even then, though the name was visible, the figure of Formosus himself had faded; and for some time past this interesting monument has become quite obliterated.
Formosus enjoyed the confidence of Hadrian II as he had that of Nicholas I; and, at first, seemingly, that of John VIII also. Then, suddenly accused (876) of ambitious scheming with Bogoris, king of Bulgaria, and of aiming at the Papacy, he fled from the face of the angry John, and afterwards swore never to return to Rome. Recalled, however, by Marinus I, and by him absolved from the oath he had unwillingly taken at the council of Troyes in 878, he was reinstalled in his position as bishop of Porto, consecrated Stephen VI, and was pressed to succeed him.
"Stephen, the son of Hadrian, having gone the way of all flesh, says Vulgarius, or whoever was the author of the Invectiva in Romam, "thy bishops and nobles, O Rome, thy clerics too, and the classes (populus) and the masses (vulgi manus) came together, and going to the episcopal church of the See of Porto, situated within the city, they acclaimed its bishop (Formosus) Pope". The same authority tells us how Formosus refused the high honor which was thus thrust upon him, and fled to the altar of his church, from which he had to be dragged clinging to the altar cloth. The date generally assigned to this event is October 6, 891; but neither the day nor the month are known with certainty.
As Formosus was a bishop already, he was not consecrated again; but, amid the greatest demonstrations of joy, was simply enthroned, and received the homage of all. He was, at any rate, the genuine choice of the Romans. He was chosen spontaneously by them without any pressure from without, and simply on account of his merits — his high birth and the nobility of his character. He was also seemingly chosen without opposition; for what Liutprand relates about a counter-election of Sergius is the result of utter confusion on his part of data persons. Sergius opposed John IX in 897.
Translations from see to see were at this time certainly regarded as uncanonical, but exceptions to the law against them had always been tolerated. A good cause had always been held to be sufficient to justify a translation; and, in the case of Formosus, the Roman council of 898 declared that the satisfactory reason was present.
As the sequel proved, Formosus had many enemies. Some were hostile to him because they were opposed to translations from see to see under any circumstances; others because they thought that he ought to have kept to his oath and not returned to Rome; some, again, because they supposed he had been guilty of intriguing for the archbishopric of the Bulgarians, and others simply because he was not of their faction. Among these last was especially, as we shall see, the ducal, now imperial, house of Spoleto. But none of these parties made any decided move on the death of Stephen (V) VI. The election of Formosus was unopposed.
On the deposition of Charles the Fat (887) the Carolingian empire finally went to pieces. Arnulf, an illegitimate descendant of Charlemagne, possessed himself of Germany and aspired to be recognized as emperor, but had to recognize as kings, Odo, count of Paris, over the West Franks; Boso of Provence or Cisjurane Burgundy; Rodolf of Transjurane Burgundy (Regnum Jurense, the Juras and Switzerland); Berengarius of Friul, and Guido, duke of Spoleto (889), in Italy.
Guido, successful at first over his rival Berengarius, had had himself crowned emperor by Pope Stephen (V) VI (891). In the following year, in order to strengthen his hands in his unceasing struggle against Berengarius, who was still unsubdued in his Duchy of Friuli, he associated his son Lambert with him in the empire, and caused him to be crowned by Formosus in 892 (April 30?). But though the Pope had at one time written to Fulk, archbishop of Rheims, and a relative of the house of Spoleto, that he had a father's love for Lambert, and wished to keep an inviolable peace with him, he afterwards found it necessary (893) to invite Arnulf to come and free "the kingdom of Italy and the belongings of St Peter" from "bad Christians," i.e. from the oppression of the two emperors. As emperors the representatives of the house of Spoleto continued to act towards the Popes as they had done when they were merely dukes. They strove to further their interests at the expense of the Holy See.
Fighting, too, had begun again between Guido and Berengarius; and there was no one to check either the Greeks or the Saracens in South Italy. Formosus believed that the presence of a stronger monarch like Arnulf was necessary for the peace of the peninsula. He would be able to curb the grasping ambition of the house of Spoleto, and perchance prevent the further advance of Saracen or Greek.
With the Pope’s missi to Arnulf went primores of the kingdom of Italy, some of them at least of the party of Berengarius. Arnulf received the envoys graciously, dismissed them with presents, and promised to enter Italy. This he did in the early part of 894, before the close of a very severe winter. Success attended his march at first, but fever, which invariably overtook the German armies during their descents upon Italy, fell upon his troops and forced him to return without reaching Rome.
The death of Guido (894) did not alter the situation which, as Duchesne notes, was almost that of the year 754. Formosus, Arnulf, and Guido or Lambert stand to each other as did Stephen III, Pippin, and Aistulf. Lambert, now sole emperor, seems to have again forced the Pope to place the imperial diadem on his head. But he could not prevent him from a second time sending (895) earnest entreaties to Arnulf to come to Rome. "By the advice of his bishops", the German king complied with the Pope request, and set out for Italy in the October of the same year. After overcoming the greatest obstacles, Arnulf at length appeared before the walls of Rome. Here a new and unexpected difficulty presented it. Instead of finding Rome in the power of the Pope, and its gates thrown open to welcome him, he discovered that the city was in the hands of Ageltruda, the mother of the emperor Lambert, that the gates were all closed against him, and that the Pope was a prisoner. Ageltruda, the daughter of that Adalgisus, duke of Beneventum, who in 871 had seized the emperor Louis II, was one of the many Italian women of this period who distinguished themselves by their daring, if not always by their virtue. Astounded at this unexpected resistance, Arnulf turned to his troops to know what was best to be done. With courageous unanimity they all cried out that the city must be carried by assault. The storming was begun at once. The defenders were driven back from the walls with showers of stones, the gates were battered in with axes, and the walls shaken with rams, and scaled with ladders. By the close of the day "the Pope and the city were freed from their enemies".
There went out then to the Ponte Molle to meet the king, and to escort him into the city, "the whole senate of the Romans" and the "school" or colony of the Greeks with banners and crosses. Escorted into the Leonine city with the customary hymns and acclamations, Arnulf was honorably received by the Pope on the steps of the basilica of the Apostles. Formosus then led the king into the church, and "after the manner of his predecessors, anointed and crowned him, and saluted him as Augustus" (Feb. 22? 896). After arranging various matters, Arnulf received the homage of the Romans in St. Paul's. The oath of allegiance, which is inserted in the annals of Fulda, shows clearly that the obedience of the Romans to the emperor was to be second to that which they had to pay to the Tope. It runs as follows: "By all these holy mysteries of God, I swear that, saving the honor, obedience (lege), and fealty I owe to the Lord Pope Formosus, I will be faithful to the emperor Arnulf all the days of my life; and never will I to his detriment ally myself to anyone, nor ever afford any help to Lambert, the son of Ageltruda, or to his mother herself, towards worldly honor (imperial power); and never will I do anything in any way to hand over this city of Rome to Lambert or his mother Ageltruda".
Ageltruda escaped to Spoleto; but two of the chief nobles of the city were accused of high treason for having aided her to seize the city, and were exiled to Bavaria. Leaving one of his vassals, Farold, to guard Rome, Arnulf advanced towards Spoleto; but, attacked apparently with paralysis, as his father, Carlomann, before him had been (877), he had to withdraw into Bavaria. He never recovered from the stroke, but died on November 29, 899. Before the emperor reached Bavaria, the aged Pope he had come to aid had also died (April 4, 896).
Nothing could have been more unfortunate for Italy, and especially for Rome and the Papacy, than the departure and death of Arnulf. When his, the only arm capable of keeping anything like order, was withdrawn, not only was the whole country torn with intestine war, but the representatives of moral power in the world became the sport of petty Roman barons. Nothing more strongly justifies the efforts of Formosus in his endeavours to procure the active interference of Arnulf in Roman affairs than the sad events that happened in Rome immediately after his death.
Nine Popes succeeded one another in eight years. Raised to the papal throne by factions, several of them suffered a violent death at the hands of factions. It is and has been the fashion with some authors to blame John VIII and Formosus for imploring imperial protection, and much is said about their faithlessness to "Italy" by so doing. Much is written not only about the aspirations of national churches, but about the state of national parties at this time. It would, however, all seem to be beside the mark. It presupposes the playing of too high a game of politics for the period. Politics there were, and parties there were, but they were on a petty scale. To introduce our present ideas of European national politics into the tenth century is to convey a total misconception of the then existing state of affairs. Politics and parties were not then affairs of nations, but of individuals grabbing for power, and ready to ally themselves for their own ends with any one, Christian or heathen, or whether he spoke the same patois as they did or not. As yet there were no more formed nations than there were formed languages. Europe was then aristocratic, feudal, and local, not national.
Before we turn to relate what is known of the ecclesiastical doings of Formosus, there still remains something to be said of his political action. On the death of Charles the Fat, the nobles of France, passing over a posthumous son (Charles IV, the Simple) of Louis the Stammerer, elected Count Eudes or Odo, the valiant defender of Paris against the Normans (885), to be their king. He was supposed to rule over the country between the Meuse and the Loire. But in the reign of this Pope certain of the nobles, probably as much to make head against the power of Eudes as from loyalty to the Carolingian dynasty, chose the boy, Charles the Simple, king (893).
Fulk, archbishop of Rheims, was the chief supporter of Charles, and succeeded in attaching to him the interest of Arnulf, an illegitimate Carolingian, and of Pope Formosus. The sympathies of a Pope were naturally with a scion of the house of Charlemagne; and Fulk did not fail, by drawing a strong picture of the vices of Eudes, to endeavour to arouse them in behalf of his protégé. He obtained from Formosus in Charles's interest several letters, of which Frodoard has preserved the outlines; and that too, though at the time he had his hands full with the house of Spoleto. Besides writing to Fulk to instruct him how he was to behave towards Eudes, the Pope adjured that prince no longer to molest King Charles in his person or property, but to grant a truce till Fulk could come to Rome. The bishops of France were at the same time invited to warn Eudes not to usurp what belonged to another, and to grant the truce. The young Charles was congratulated on his elevation to the throne, and on the devotion which he had expressed to the Holy See. He was also instructed as to how he was to rule. And as a pledge of his affection Formosus sent the young king the blessed bread which he had asked for.
At first no success attended the efforts of Formosus. Not only did the fighting between Charles and Eudes continue, but Arnulf took advantage of these troubles to harry that part of the country which was in the hands of Charles. Robbed by both Arnulf and Eudes, Fulk implored the Pope to order Arnulf by his apostolic authority not only not to harass Charles, but, on the contrary, to help him as one relative ought to help another. He also prayed Formosus to threaten Eudes with ecclesiastical censure, but pointed out to him that, in the present disturbed state of the kingdom, he could not come to Rome. The one thing which the archbishop had at heart was peace — not, as he told the Pope, because Charles's party was the weaker, but lest the resources of the kingdom should be so exhausted by war that it would become an easy prey to the Normans. The efforts of the Pope and the archbishop were at length crowned with success. First a truce was concluded between the two rivals, and then a final peace on the basis which Fulk asked the Pope to suggest to Eudes and the great ones of the kingdom. Charles was to succeed, on the death of Eudes, to the kingdom which was his by hereditary right, and meanwhile a partition of the kingdom was to be made, and a suitable portion assigned to Charles (896). Becoming sole king in 898 by the death of Eudes, Charles distinguished himself, as we have seen, by granting Normandy to the Northmen (911), kept the semblance of kingship till 923, and died in 929. The share of Pope Formosus in bringing about this peace, so important for France, is often passed over.
From the very first months of his pontificate, Formosus turned his attention to the Church in France. He nominated as his vicar, in accordance with occasional precedents, the archbishop of Vienne, Bernoin (Barnoinus), the brother of King Boso, and did what he could to remedy evils which seemed to be on the increase. Everywhere among both clergy and laity was the spirit of personal aggrandizement rampant. Simple bishops were striving for the honor of using the pallium, while lay nobles were seizing the property of the Church. To put some check on the rapacity of the nobles, Formosus issued a sentence of excommunication against the powerful Richard, duke of Burgundy, brother of Boso, and one of the supporters of Charles the Simple against Eudes, and against Manasses, count of Dijon, and others. At the same time he ordered Fulk of Rheims to repeat the sentence against them. They are denounced by the Pope for having, amongst other crimes, been guilty of putting out the eyes of Theutbald, bishop of Langres, and of casting Walter, archbishop of Sens, into prison (896). For the same purpose, Formosus had already sent two bishops, Paschal and John, into France. By the order of the Pope, these legates presided at a council held at Vienne (892), where various canons were issued, condemnatory of the usurpations of Church property, and of the outrages offered to clerics. To restrain the ambition of certain bishops, on the other hand, Formosus authorized Fulk to convoke a synod and pass suitable decrees on this subject in the Pope's name. But whether such a synod was ever held, or another one which the Pope himself had ordered to meet at Rome in March 893, is not known. Fulk of Rheims had been summoned to the latter, which was to be held to avert the ruin with which the Roman Church was threatened, to take measures concerning the troubles in the Eastern Church, and to deliberate concerning a schism among the bishops of Africa, in connection with which deputies had come to Rome to seek a decision.
The following extract from Neale will show how it is that we are unable to furnish any details about the embassy from Africa here spoken of; though, at the same time, it furnishes a reason why such an embassy might well have been sent. “Of Chail II, the Catholic Patriarch (of Alexandria), history has preserved no particulars after the legation of Cosmas to assist in the re-establishment of Photius. He departed this life after an episcopate of more than thirty years (903), and the see remained vacant. He had been long preceded to the grave by his namesake (Chail III), the Jacobite Patriarch (899), and that see also remained vacant. This double vacancy seems to point to some persecution or affliction which both communions equally shared; but such is the ignorance or carelessness of the historians of the period, that we are unable to detail its nature, cause, or duration”.
Despite the difficulties and dangers of getting to Rome at this period, it was the pressure of similar difficulties and dangers at home that caused men to betake themselves thither, and to appeal for the protection of the Pope. Although at this time there were many whom no fear of God or of man would restrain, there were still left some who, if they feared not man, yet reverenced God, and the one whom they regarded as His vicar on earth, the Pope of Rome. Everything that was under his protection was sacred in their eyes. At all times, even during the darkest hours of this dark night of the Papacy, even when the occupant of the papal throne was personally unworthy of anyone's honor, men came to Rome to beg the Pope to cast his protecting mantle over them and theirs. Octavian might be despicable, but Pope John XII was the Vicar of Christ. In the reign of Formosus several abbots came to Rome to beg him to take their monasteries under his special protection. One, the abbot of Gigny, took the precaution of offering to the Pope the monastery which he and a relative of his had founded out of their own resources, "in order that it might remain immune". Servus Dei, bishop of Gerona in Spain, came to Rome to beg Formosus "to confirm by a privilege of his apostolic authority" the goods of his church.
In connection with this bull, it is interesting to note with Omont that it is still in existence. The most ancient papal bulls actually extant date only from the beginning of the ninth century. Up to the commencement of the eleventh century they were all written on papyrus, of from one to several yards in length. Their great size, and the fragile nature of the material on which they were written, are enough to explain how it is that only twenty-three such bulls have come down to us. While Spain boasts ten of them, France eight, Italy three, and Germany two, it appears that England does not possess a single one.
Amongst the fragmentary correspondence in connection with his church which Frodoard has preserved for us, he has left enough to show that even Fulk of Rheims, who was generally on the right side, striving hard for reform along with the Popes, could be guilty of tyranny, and stand in need of papal correction. Heriland, bishop of Térouanne, presumably a friend of Fulk, driven from his diocese by the ravages of the Normans, fled to the archbishop of Rheims. Fulk temporarily placed him in charge of a diocese which at the moment happened to be without a bishop, and wrote to ask the Pope to confirm Heriland in its possession. He at the same time asked Formosus to give as successor to Heriland a man who from his birth and knowledge of their tongue would be more acceptable to the barbaric people who occupied Heriland's late diocese. When, however, it came to the Pope's ears that Fulk had, in giving the see, "like a benefice" (beneficiali more), to Heriland, set aside a lawfully elected candidate, and had even sent the said candidate into exile when he wished to turn to Rome for justice, Formosus sent him an order, "peremptory indeed, but fraternally expressed", to appear before him. With the issue of this, as of so many other affairs at this period, we are unacquainted.
Similarly, though we know that this Pope had relations with this country, the unsatisfactory nature of the historical data of the period leaves us very much in the dark in connection with them. Among a number of documents which Eadmer, the disciple and friend of S. Anselm (d. 1137), describes as in part obliterated through age, and, in part from the material on which they were written (papyrus), quite worn away, he found a letter of Pope Formosus to Plegmund, and he has cited a few lines of it.
Rome was at this period very well acquainted with the condition of things in England. Each year from 887 to 890 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the sending of alms or letters to Rome. The country, owing to the ravages of the Danes, was in a sorry plight, whether looked at intellectually and morally or physically. But in his kingdom of Wessex the great Alfred was making heroic exertions to improve the state of affairs. Doubtless with a view to seconding his efforts, Formosus made persistent efforts to rouse the bishops of the country to more energetic action. That he was well supported by Plegmund, one of the able and good men whom Alfred had gathered round him, appears from the following letter of the Pope to the bishops of England, which Malmesbury has preserved for us (895): — "When we had heard that the abominable rites of the pagans had revived in your country, and that like dumb dogs you kept silent, we were minded to cut you off from the body of the Church. But, as we have learnt from our beloved brother, Plegmund, that you have at last aroused yourselves .... we send you the blessing of God and St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and beg you to persevere in the good work you have begun ... Suffer not the flocks entrusted to your charge to be any further injured by a dearth of pastors. But when one dies, let another fit candidate be forthwith canonically elected to replace him on the motion of the primate. And he, as you well know, is our venerable brother Plegmund, whose dignity we will not suffer to be in any way lessened, but nominate him our vicar .... and by the authority of God and of blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, we command all to obey his canonical dispositions".
What was the result of this letter is not satisfactorily known. The issue of the affair, as stated by Malmesbury, is clearly, to say the least, inaccurate, as he makes Formosus write in 905 to Edward, the son and successor of Alfred. However, out of the chaos of the statements on the subject two facts may be plucked. The Pope's recommendations relative to the bishoprics were carried out at last, somewhere about 909, in the reign of Sergius III, and about the same time Plegmund went to Rome "and took the alms for the people and for the king", says' the nobleman chronicler, Ethelwerd. No doubt he also went to confer with the Pope on the "bishopric question", though the action which Malmesbury attributes to Formosus must, with our later historians, be assigned to Sergius. At a council called together by Edward, and presided over by Plegmund, five new bishoprics, making seven in all, were established among the West Saxons. After the council Malmesbury tells us how "with splendid presents" Plegmund went to Rome (evidently the mission spoken of by Ethelwerd) and "with great humility pacified the Pope. He then read to him the decrees of the king, with which the Pope (i.e., Sergius) was greatly pleased". They were then duly confirmed by him, and such as should attempt to interfere with them were condemned.
Incidents such as this let us see how the unceasing exhortations, threats, and praises of the Roman pontiffs greatly helped to preserve the nations of the West from sinking back into the barbarism from which their ministers had first drawn them.
Formosus had also to intervene in the ecclesiastical affairs of Germany, in a case which had been begun under his predecessor. When Hamburg had been burnt by the Danes (845), Pope Nicholas I had joined its see to that of Bremen, and exempted the combined see of Hamburg-Bremen from the jurisdiction of the archiepiscopal see of Cologne. The loss of Bremen had never pleased the archbishops of Cologne; and Herimann made an attempt to recover the former rights of his see over it. This was during the episcopate of Adalgarius, who, according to a later writer, "received the pastoral staff from King Arnulf, and the pallium from Pope Stephen" (VI). The dispute was referred in the first instance to Pope Stephen, who ordered (890) both parties to send delegates to Rome. As only the representatives of Adalgarius, and then Adalgarius himself, presented themselves at Rome, Stephen decided not to settle the matter out of hand himself, "lest the affair might spring up again and the quarrel wound fraternal charity". But he ordered Fulk, archbishop of Rheims, to convoke in his name a synod to meet at Worms, "in the month of August, on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the forthcoming tenth indiction" (892). At this synod both Herimann and Adalgarius were commanded to present themselves, and the Pope engaged to settle the question once for all on the report of Fulk. Before the time fixed for the holding of the synod, Stephen was no more. Formosus, however, adhered to what had been decreed by Stephen, and ordered Herimann to present himself at the council, and then, along with Adalgarius and delegates from the council, to come to Rome for the apostolical decision; for the council had only "to hear and discuss, and not to pass sentence". No synod was held at Worms, but a meeting of bishops, presided over by the archbishop of Mayence, took place at Frankfort. Of this assembly word was sent to the Pope, and he was assured that the suffragans of the diocese of Cologne unanimously declared that, up to the time of Adalgarius, the bishops of Bremen had always acknowledged their dependence upon the See of Cologne. The bearers of this information were priests who were sent by Herimann to represent him, and to plead his cause before the Pope. For some reason or other, Adalgarius on this occasion neither came himself to Rome nor sent representatives. The consequence was that, for peace' sake, Formosus compromised. He decided that till such time as the city of Hamburg had recovered itself, the See of Bremen should remain united to that of Hamburg; and that in important ecclesiastical affairs the archbishop of Hamburg, not as a subject, but as a brother, should assist at the deliberations of the archbishop of Cologne. On the complete re-establishment of Hamburg, Bremen was to revert to Cologne. "Even among men of the world", concludes the Pope, "it is regarded as altogether unwarrantable to interfere with the rights of others; how much more unwarrantable is it that most holy bishops should transgress the boundaries laid down by the Fathers, and that those should quarrel who ought to set an example of peace to those subject to them". This decision of the Pope was upheld at the council or diet of Tribur (895), at which were present, besides the bishops, King Arnulf and many of the nobility. A "brotherly" subjection, however, was not calculated to satisfy either party — certainly not Adalgarius; and about the year 905 he obtained from Sergius III a bull annulling the decision of Formosus, and declaring the See of Hamburg-Bremen independent, in accordance with the decree of Nicholas I.
As we have said already, Formosus died (April 4, 896) soon after his coronation of Arnulf. It may be readily believed that it was with no regret that the octogenarian pontiff laid himself down to die. For though full details of his life are lacking, we know that trouble was his lot not only for some time before he became Pope, but even whilst he was wearing the tiara. The party which so outraged his memory after his death was no doubt actively working against him while he lived.
Frodoard praises the Pope for his chastity, for his nearness to himself, and for his generosity towards the poor. He tells how Formosus sowed the seeds of faith among the Bulgarians, and how he cheerfully suffered many trials, giving an example as to how adversity should be borne, and how no difficulties need be feared by the man who leads a good life.
Among the other good works placed to the credit of Formosus by his ardent anonymous defender, is mentioned his care for thw churches of Rome, some of which he either built, rebuilt, or adorned. And in this connection Benedict of Soracte, whose chronological arrangement of the Popes of this period is as extraordinary as his Latin, tells us that Formosus decorated the Church of St. Peter with paintings. Part of this decoration, of which a description has come down to us, was in existence till the demolition by Paul V of the eastern portion of the old basilica. According to tradition, the portraits of the Popes, which also adorned the old basilica, were the work of Formosus, and formed a portion of his adornment of the walls. According to Lanciani, there were in the old basilica of St. Peter two sets of portrait heads of the Popes, a lower set "on the freize above the capitals of the columns, the other on the walls of the nave above the cornice". The lower series was painted, or rather restored, by order of Nicholas III; the upper and more important series "seem to have been painted at the time of Pope Formosus, as were also the fresco panels which appear in the drawings of Ciampini". Needless to say, all this work, though important, was executed in very poor style. Benedict XII thought of restoring it with the aid of Giotto; but death prevented him from effecting any very extensive renovation.
In view of the suspicion as to his character, which must attach itself to the name of Formosus, because of the charges levelled against him by John VIII, and of the treatment his dead body received at the hands of his successor Stephen (VI) VII, it may be pertinently asked how those who knew him judged of him. It might not inspire us with much confidence in his virtue to find that his professed partisans, Auxilius, Vulgarius, and whoever was the author of the Invectiva, speak highly of him. And yet it must be acknowledged that they do so in a way which shows they feared not contradiction in what they said in his praise. To his nameless defender, he is "a most excellent teacher (doctor egregius); and if he is raised to the Papacy, it is due "to his upright character" (dignis ejus moribus promerentibus). And if, on the contrary, he is degraded from his episcopal rank, the Invectiva knows not whether to attribute the deed to excessive (or ill advised) zeal, or to spite. Auxilius declares that, with the exception of his rivals, it was acknowledged by all that he was most devoted to fasting, prayer, alms-deeds, and good works of every kind; that his chastity was remarkable and showed itself in his angelical countenance. Vulgarius dwells equally on the abstemiousness and conspicuous purity of Formosus. These authors extol the success of his mission among the Bulgarians, and call attention to the splendid reception given to him by the people of Rome on his return at the close of 867 or the beginning of 868. As further evidence of his sound character, they point to the favor with which he was regarded by Nicholas I and by Hadrian II, to the unanimity of his election to the chair of Peter, and to the fact that nothing was said against him by his immediate successor.
But the praises of Formosus are sounded not merely by declared partisans. The librarian Anastasius, or whoever was the author of the Life of Nicholas in the Liber Pontificalis, testifies to his "great sanctity". In the preface to the Latin translation of the acts of the eighth general council, of which Anastasius was certainly the author, " "the holy life" of Formosus is spoken of, and in the letter at the head of his translation of the Greek biography of St. John Calybite (876), which the librarian addressed to Formosus, he cannot praise him enough. He extols even his physical beauty, and adjures the Romans not merely to cease to attack such noble sons of theirs, but to embrace them with the sincerest love. It was his "holy life" which won for him the confidence and praise of no less a person than Hincmar of Rheims. Even to the slanderer Liutprand, Formosus was "a most religious Pope". And he was all in all to the Bulgarian king Bogoris.
Against all this there is his condemnation by John VIII. By that pontiff he was accused of intriguing with Bogoris to be made bishop of the Bulgarians; of wishing to pass from his own see to a greater (viz. to that of Rome); and of treason against the emperor, Charles the Bald. The profound esteem which the Bulgarian monarch had conceived for Formosus might easily give rise to the first charge. What force there was in the last accusation may be gathered from the fact that it was to the kingdom of Charles that he fled for refuge. And his unfortunate association with many of John's enemies would furnish grounds enough for the suspicion that he was aiming at the Papacy. By Stephen (VI) VII, who so outraged his memory, the only accusation made against him to justify the vile treatment to which his body was subjected was his translation from the See of Porto to that of Rome. That Stephen acted as he did towards the corpse of Formosus from such a reason, is the less to be believed since he himself was a bishop when he became Pope. And as there is no indication that Formosus was an ardent politician with views acutely opposed to those of Stephen, it is hard to suppose that the action of the latter was caused by any fanatical attachment of his to the imperial pretensions of the house of Spoleto, or by any opposite devotion on the part of Formosus to those of the Franks. It is quite possible, however, that, as some suppose, Stephen was a mere tool in the hands of the empress-mother Ageltruda, that he was merely the instrument she employed to manifest her hatred of the man who had brought trouble on her house. If this is not the case, Stephen must have been a personal foe of Formosus; and in any case, his outrageous conduct with regard to him need not lessen our good opinion of that pontiff.
To account for the attitude of John VIII towards him, it may perhaps be fair to suppose that, with all his learning and piety, Formosus may have been devoid of a sufficient share of "the cunning of the serpent". He may have lacked worldly astuteness enough to keep himself sufficiently aloof from the set upon whom fell the well-merited wrath of John VIII. If he was not simply a victim of calumny, it is more than likely that he was regarded by John as an enemy because he was seemingly being made a tool of by the unscrupulous party with which, by some bond unknown to us, he was connected. Formosus was condemned by John more owing to the faults of others than to his own. He had been chosen Pope "on account of his genuine piety and knowledge of divine things". But if he did not fulfil the expectations raised by his election, it was not because he ceased to be good and pious, but because he had always been somewhat deficient in character, and in ability to form a correct estimate of the character of others.
With Boniface VI, a Roman and the son of one Adrian, a bishop, we enter upon the gloomiest portion of the gloomy period of which we are treating. From the death of Formosus to the accession of John X, a period of eighteen years, we shall have to write the history, or rather we shall have to name, no less than eleven Popes. And if there is "nothing in a name", we shall certainly not have much to record to interest the reader in many of the Popes whose names will now be brought before him. And as we are dealing with a period of violent turmoil, it should not surprise anyone to find scum occasionally rising to the surface.
Of Boniface, who was certainly the successor of Formosus, and who reigned but fifteen days, and was carried off by the gout, it is sometimes said that he has no right to a place among the Popes, and that "the council of John IX of 898 pronounced his election null". It is urged that his election was due to a popular commotion and that before his election he had shown himself so vicious that he had been degraded from the subdiaconate and afterwards from the priesthood. This assertion is based on the third canon of the council just quoted. There it is decreed that, though Formosus was transferred from the See of Porto "from necessity and on account of his merits", no rule must be drawn from an exceptional indulgence. "Nor may anyone", it continues, "who has been degraded by a synod from any ecclesiastical rank, and not canonically restored to it, presume to advance higher, as Boniface, who had been deprived first of the subdiaconate and afterwards of the priesthood, was enabled to do by the aid of the arm of the people". As several most distinguished historians have inferred that the case here stigmatized is that of Boniface VI, it would perhaps be bold to say that the third canon of the council of John IX does not refer to the successor of Formosus. But it certainly may not; and several reasons make one hesitate to believe that it does. The Boniface of the canon is not styled Pope, nor is he connected with the See of Rome by any title whatever, while there is no doubt that Boniface VI was recognized as Pope by his contemporaries. Boniface VI would surely not have seemed to the council so deserving of condemnation as Stephen (VI) VII, who is nevertheless described (can. 1) as "of pious memory". It would appear then that, if the Boniface of the canon were the successor of Formosus, his name would have been qualified by some official addition, or by some description connecting him with the See of Rome. The more so that he was acknowledged as Pope, not only by his contemporaries, as we have remarked already, but also by later pontiffs, who quote a privilege of his in favor of the Church of Grado. Finally, if Boniface VI had been a degraded priest foisted by a mob into the chair of Peter, Frodoard would never have set him down as "almus", bountiful or gracious, and assigned him heaven as his reward.
The sepulchral monument of Boniface, whose pontificate of fifteen days was spent apparently in the month of April 896, seems to have been still standing "in the portico of the Popes" when Peter Mallius copied inscriptions in the days of Eugenius III.
STEPHEN (VI) VII
Stephen VII, called VI by such as do not include in the list of Popes the Stephen (II) who was elected Pope but not consecrated, was, according to the Catalogues, a Roman and the son of a priest John. Taking it for granted that Stephen was born before the said John was ordained priest, the reader cannot fail to be struck by the number of those who at this period became Popes, and counted a priest or bishop as their father. It must have been, even to married men, an object of ambition to be enrolled in the ranks of the Roman clergy. Hence, no sooner were they free from their matrimonial engagements, than many at once became priests.
The same Catalogues inform us that, before he became Pope, Stephen had been one of the Campanian bishops; and, more precisely, Auxilius says that Pope Formosus consecrated him bishop of Anagni, and that he had occupied that position for five years when he was elected Pope.
He was chosen to replace Boniface, if not at the beginning of May, at least before June 11, 896, as there is extant a diploma of the latter date which shows that Stephen was then Pope. It is frequently asserted that he was a violent partisan of the house of Spoleto, and bitterly opposed to the German Arnulf. But if that were the case, the agents of Arnulf, who were in power in Rome at the time of Stephen's election, cannot have known their man; and certainly at first Stephen dated his privileges by the years of the reign of Arnulf, and seemed to be in sympathy with him.
His pursuing the History of the Church of Rheims led Frodoard in due course to analyse the correspondence between Archbishop Fulk and Pope Stephen. After expressing his devotion to the See of Rome, and assuring Stephen, as he had already assured Formosus, that he was most anxious to visit "the threshold of the Apostles", but that various difficulties had interfered with the accomplishment of his wishes, Fulk informs the Pope that he has at length succeeded in bringing about peace between Eudes (Odo) and Charles the Simple. In his reply Stephen expresses himself as dissatisfied with Fulk’s excuses for not coming to Rome — others have contrived to come — and bids him present himself at the synod which he is going to hold in September 896. Unfortunately, we are not told for what end the Pope had determined to summon a council to which distant prelates were to be invited. It cannot have been for the purposes for which the infamous synod of the beginning of 897 was held. Stephen would never have dared to bring bishops, over whom he had no civil control, to witness the gruesome sight on which the assembly of 897 gazed. If a dignified council of many bishops from all parts had been held in September, perhaps the wicked farce of the following year would never have been perpetrated.
In sending an answer to the reprimand of the Pope, Fulk showed that he felt it; and felt it the more that he knew it was undeserved. He therefore begged the Pope not to listen to what uncharitable people might say against him. He renewed his protestations of loyalty "to the glorious See of the Prince of the Apostles and its holy rulers", informed the Pope he was sending to Rome a bishop to represent him, and assured him that, as soon as he really could, and Zuentibold (Arnulfs bastard son and king of Lorraine) ceased to block the roads, he would certainly" set out for Rome. In conclusion, he begged the Pope "by his apostolic authority" to repress the tyranny of Zuentibold. We also find Fulk recommending his cause to a prelate at Rome. The result of all this was that Stephen granted his request to remain in his diocese for the time, but instructed him to send Honoratus, bishop of Beauvais, and Rodulf of Laon, to take part in a synod to be held at Ravenna. It would certainly seem, from these different allusions to the holding of synods, that Stephen had, at least in the beginning of his pontificate, a strong wish to promote the general good.
Except that he confirmed the privileges of the archiepiscopal church of Narbonne, and those of the monastery of Vezelay (Yonne), and deposed Argrim, to wh Formosus had granted the use of the pallium, from the See of Langres, we know no more of Stephen VII but what he did at the Roman synod of 897, which covered his name with lasting infamy, and brought about his death.
As an augury of the terrible events of which the year 897 was to be a witness, it opened with the complete collapse of the venerable basilica of the Lateran. This untoward event, mentioned in the Catalogues, is placed before the holding of the synod by the author of the Annales Alamannici. "Negligently built", writes Lanciani, " with spoils from earlier edifices, as were the other churches of the time of Constantine, the basilica had long since begun to show signs of decay. The walls of the nave rested on columns of various kinds of marble, differing in height and strength. These yielding under the pressure of the roof, bulged outward so far that the ends of the 'beams of the roof-trusses came out of their sockets, and the building collapsed".
The ghastly synod we have now to describe, fortunately unique in the history of Christendom, took place probably in the month of January 897. Our account of it may well be opened with the words with which Auxilius begins one of his pamphlets: "'Who will give water to my head, and a fountain of tears to my eyes? (Jer. ix. i); and I will weep, not as Jeremias, not simply for those slain in body, but, what is worse, for the loss of souls, and for the dire deeds which have been publicly wrought in the head of all the churches ... by whose blessings the whole Church fructifies, and by whose judgment the faults of all the world are corrected". But with the same Auxilius we may console ourselves that though we shall see "the floods descend and the winds howl, the same Lord comforts me who deigned to promise the Prince of the Apostles: 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (S. Matt. xvi. 18).
Unwillingly and in fear a number of the Roman clergy were gathered together in synod by the Pope's orders. As the emperor Lambert and his warlike mother Ageltruda had entered Rome "a few days before", it is very probable that Stephen himself also acted as he did in fear of the imperial pair.
No sooner, indeed, had Arnulf left Italy than his authority there came to an end. Berengarius and Lambert at once asserted their sway over sections of Italy, and put to death such of the imperial officials as opposed them. Ageltruda and Lambert, as we have just said, made themselves masters of Rome, and found there a willing or unwilling instrument of their spirit of revenge against the man who had favoured their rival Arnulf.
The body of the unfortunate Formosus, still more or less entire, but of course half corrupt, was disinterred, and dragged before the assembly. Clad in full pontificals, the corpse was placed on a seat, and a deacon was assigned to defend the accused pontiff. A formal charge was brought against him. "When once deposed he ought not to have performed the functions of his office; and if he did, he ought not to have passed from one see to another". On these counts Formosus was condemned. "If the Bishop of Rome", urges the Invectiva, "is not to be judged by any one during his life, after his death is he to be judged by anyone? When put to the question, what reply did he make? Had he made answer, that horrible assembly would have broken up in abject terror, and fled from the place one after another. And the Lord God would have said : 'Formosus, who hath condemned thee?' To this he would have said: 'No man, Lord'; and the Lord would have added : 'Neither will I condemn thee".
However, by the synod of Pope Stephen, Formosus was anathematized and his ordinations declared null and void. Then was his dead body subjected to the most barbarous violence; it was stripped of its sacred vestments down to the very hair-shirt with which the unfortunate pontiff had mortified his body in life. Clad then in the garments of a layman, the body, after two fingers of the right hand had been cut off, was buried (c. February 897), by the order of Stephen, in some place reserved for the burial of pilgrims. It was even said that, when the body was being dragged forth for burial, fresh blood flowed out of its mouth on to the pavement. At this point our authorities, among whom up to this there has been an awful agreement, part company. While some, as Auxilius, state that Stephen himself, after a short time, ordered the body of his predecessor to be once more exhumed and then thrown into the Tiber, the ninth canon of the council (an. 898), so frequently cited, makes out with greater probability that this last outrage was due to treasure-seekers, who some time later had violated the tomb in the hope of finding valuables therein.
When this terrible synod was over, Stephen took measures to carry into effect what had been there decreed with regard to the ordinations performed by Formosus. He did not, however, interfere with any prelates at a distance, who had been consecrated by Formosus; nor, indeed, did he reconsecrate any who had been so ordained. But he made them sign and hand over to him a paper in which they declared that they resigned their offices.
But Stephen's career of violence was destined to be short-lived. He was seized, clothed as a monk, loaded with chains, thrown into a dungeon, and, somewhere about the close of July or the beginning of August, strangled. This much we know on good authority. It is so stated not only in his epitaph, composed by Sergius III (907), who, of the same faction apparently as Stephen, speaks rather approvingly of his conduct towards Formosus, but also by Frodoard and Auxilius.
But of the causes which brought about such a terrible termination to the life of a Vicar of Christ we have no information from reliable authors, or even from the gossip of Liutprand. We may conjecture that Lambert, unable or unwilling to care for the tool he had used, left him to the vengeance of a righteously indignant people; or what, under the circumstances, seems more likely, we may suppose that the faction of the nobility unfavourable to him got the upper hand, and took away his life lest he might ever be in a position to punish them for their rebellion.
In passing under review the conduct of Stephen towards Formosus, it is hard to resist the conclusion that it is to be ascribed, at least in part, to the evil influence of the house of Spoleto, which, from the time of John VIII, had shown itself capable of perpetrating any act of violence against the Popes. But the seemingly whole-hearted manner in which Stephen lent himself to serve what we suppose to have been the ill-will of Lambert, makes one fear that he had a share of that bitterly revengeful cruelty which has appeared but too often in the Italian from the days of the emperors Tiberius and Nero to those of Ezzelino de Romano and other tyrants of the later Middle Ages, and which has reappeared in the Italian assassins of kings and rulers of our own days. In every Christian century the hot hearts and cool heads of Italy have produced models of wickedness, side by side with men who have proved themselves masters in every material art, and models in the science of the saints. Italians are the authors of hymns to the Living God and to Satan of well-nigh equal merit.
Gallese, a town of some importance during the Middle Ages, nearly midway between Orte and Civita Castellana, which had already given one Pope (Marinus I) to the Church, was the birthplace of the short-lived successor of Stephen (VI) VII, Romanus. Pope in August, he was dead in November. From the Catalogues it appears that he was the son of Constantine, and priest of the title of St. Peter, ad vincula. One of them also adds that "he was afterwards made a monk". But as the same is said in other Catalogues of his predecessor Stephen, it is not unlikely that some ceremony of degradation was performed on that pontiff before he was strangled, and that the notice refers to him, and not to Romanus at all. Duchesne calls attention to the fact that St. Silverius and Christopher, who were both deposed, are also said to have been made monks.
Of the circumstances of his election, or of his attitude towards his immediate predecessor, nothing is known. It is possible, at any rate, that he was freely elected, and that he was no creature of the house of Spoleto; for Lambert must have left Rome soon after the trial of Formosus in order to make heal against Adalbert, marquis of Tuscany, the most powerful noble in Italy, who had thoughts of rendering himself independent. Romanus reigned long enough to grant the pallium to Vitalis of Grado, to confirm to the Spanish bishops of Elna (Rousillon) and Gerona, who had come to Rome for the purpose, the various possessions of their sees, and to coin money.
That he was a virtuous man may be inferred from the words of Frodoard : —
"Post hunc (Stephanum) luce brevi Romani regmina surgunt.
Quatuor haud plcnos tractans is culmina menses,
Aethere suscipitur, meritos sortitus honores.''
As this Pope only reigned for twenty days, it is very probable that the month of December saw the beginning and the end of his pontificate. But he did important work during that brief period, and deserved to receive high praise from Frodoard not only for his virtues, but for the efforts he made to quench the faction fires which were burning so fiercely in Rome. He was the son of Photius, and the brother of Bishop Theosius. He had been ordained priest by Stephen (V.) VI.
As soon as he became Pope, he showed that he disapproved of the action of Stephen (VI) VII in deposing those within the city of Rome who had been ordained by Formosus. He allowed them to resume their rights at once, returned to them and ordered to be burnt the written acts of resignation which Stephen had exacted from them, and caused them even formally to be restored to their functions in a synod.
Besides thus doing justice to the authority of Formosus,he did justice also to his outraged body. When writingthe Life of Stephen VII, we left the body of Formosus inthe Tiber. Of its recovery and subsequent treatment by Theodore, Auxilius has giventhe following account : “The same night that the body of Formosus was thrown into the Tiber (viz, by the treasure-seekers, as we suppose) a terrible storm broke over the city. The Tiber, as usual, was soon in a flood. Carried along by the rushing river, the corpse was freed from the weights which kept it down, and finally thrown up on to the bank near the Church of St. Acontius at Porto. Three days after this, Formosus appeared to a certain monk in a vision, and bade him go and bury his dead body which had been cast up on shore. The monk did as he was bid, but in fear buried the body secretly. Word, however, of what had happened was brought to Pope Theodore. By his orders, the body, still entire, was brought back to the city with the greatest pomp, with the singing of psalms and hymns, with lights and incense. Clad once more in pontifical vestments, it was conveyed to the basilica of St. Peter, and placed beside the confession. There, in presence of the Pope, Mass was said for the unhappy pontiff, and his body was restored to its tomb. Liutprand assuresus that he had it “from most religious men of the city of Rome” that when the body was brought to St Peter’s, it was “reverentially saluted” by certain of the images of the saints.
Like his predecessor, he granted a privilege to the See of Grado. The one silver coin of his which is known, and of which Cinagli gives an illustration, bears on its obverse, like the coins of his two predecessors, the name of the emperor Lambert. On the reverse we find “Scs. Petrus” and the monogram “Thedr”.
As his epitaph we will cite the words of Frodoard. He speaks in such high terms of this Pope as to make it matter for regret that he did not reign longer. To account for the very short pontificate of many of the Popes of this period, who are not known to have died by a violent death, it has been suggested that the faction leaders, who then controlled the pontifical elections, of set purpose placed upon the throne men who were either infirm or even older than were most of their predecessors at the time of their election :
Quo (Romano) rapto breviore subit fastigia sorte
Dilectus clero Theodorus, pacis amicus.
Bis denos Romana dies jura gubernans,
Sobrius et castus, patria bonitate refertus,
Vixit pauperibus diffusus amator et altor.
Hic populum docuit connectere vincula pacis.
Atque sacerdotes concordi ubi junxit honore,
Dum propriis revocat disjectos sedibus, ipse
Complacitus rapitur, decreta sede locandus.
According, then, to the canon of Rheims, Pope Theodore was beloved of the clergy, a friend of peace, temperate, chaste, affable, and a great lover of the poor. He was taken to his throne in heaven whilst he was working to promote peace and harmony both among clergy and people, and was restoring to their rights those who on earth had been robbed of them.
ORDAINED subdeacon by Marinus (882 - 884), and deacon by Stephen (V) VI, Sergius, a Roman, the son of Benedict, was consecrated bishop of Cere by Formosus. He was apparently one of those deacons who had been consecrated bishops from some motives of jealousy, says Auxilius, and against their wishes, but who had afterwards ceased to act as bishops. Ambitious of the Papacy, they would be deacons again. According to the same authority, whose interest, it must not be forgotten, was to depreciate Sergius, inasmuch as he had proclaimed the ordinations of Formosus null, Sergius declared himself that he had been consecrated against his will. And it is certain that he did not act as bishop of Caere for more than three years, i.e., most likely not after the death of his consecrator. Bishops returning to the rank of deacons to become Popes proves clearly enough that the ambition of men can scarcely be restrained by regulations.
Of the exact circumstances of his election at the time of the death of Theodore (898), of which we have already spoken, we have no information. He was doubtless elected by the party unfavourable to Formosus. At any rate it is certain that his party was not then "the larger and saner", and that he spent seven years in exile "among the Franks". Here we may follow Liutprand, though his utterly confused statements about Sergius cannot generally be accepted, and say that he betook himself to the court of Adalbert II of Tuscany. During his exile "among the Franks" Sergius made not the least attempt to act as an antipope. We may then emphasize the fact that, because he was chosen by a party to be Pope during a very factious period, it does not follow in the least that he was stained with any unholy ambition. He made no effort to be again chosen Pope till the violent usurpation of Christopher. And even then, if we ought to follow the authority of Frodoard, John the Deacon, and his epitaph, he waited till he was invited by the people, who could not tolerate the conduct of Christopher.
Sergius accepted the invitation of his friends, but took care not to come to Rome helpless. He advanced with a force of Adalbert's men at his back. This gave occasion to Auxilius and Liutprand to say that he obtained the Papacy "by the aid of the Franks". However, the usurper Christopher was in prison before Sergius entered Rome, and the latter became Pope, January 29, 904.
During the seven years of his pontificate he displayed no little energy. Unfortunately, however, he was too much of a party-man to try to extinguish the fires of faction. He at once showed himself attached to the memory of Stephen VII, and a bitter opponent of Formosus and his friends. In the epitaph which he wrote for the former, he expresses his approval of Stephen's action against "the haughty intruder Formosus". In his own epitaph his rival John IX is described as a "wolf"; and the bishop of Uzèes is blamed for designating the intruder Formosus as a bishop (sacerdos).
Unfortunately, too, he did not confine himself to words. In a synod he procured the assent of the Roman clergy to the rejection of the orders conferred by Formosus, and, as a consequence, to the rejection of those given by such as had themselves been ordained by Formosus. This consent was, according to Auxilius, wrung from the clergy by threats of exile to Naples and other evils, and by violence and bribery. Many, therefore, submitted to reordination.
The ecclesiastical world of Italy was at once thrown into a ferment. Such as had been ordained by Formosus, and were at a safe distance from Rome, did not fail to let their indignant cries be heard. Pens were set going, some to make inquiries, and some in defence of the work of Formosus. The question of the validity of ordinations performed by bishops illegally holding their sees was not thoroughly understood at this period; and the opponents of Formosus, or, what is much the same, Sergius's defenders, of whom unfortunately no writings are known, did not fail to put forward arguments against such ordinations. Hence Leo, bishop of Nola, endeavored to collect the opinions of learned men on the subject. Among others he consulted Auxilius. Though, as he expressed himself, "he was sitting in Peter's barque", Auxilius declared that he felt the tempest. He had been summoned to the synod by Sergius, but had declined to go. He contended that no one was bound to obey unjust commands; and, taking no notice of the excommunication pronounced against him by the Pope, continued to say Mass. To justify his contumacy, he went the length of distinguishing between the respect due to a see and to its occupant. "Due honour", he wrote, "must be paid to the different sees. But if those who occupy them deviate from the right path, they are not to be followed, i.e., if, as has often happened in the case of the sees of Constantinople and Alexandria, they act against the Catholic faith, no heed must be paid to them". He would await, he said at the conclusion of one of his tracts, the just judgment of a general council, which, it is more than hinted, is superior to the Pope.
Whilst reading the words of Auxilius, we seem to be in the midst of the controversies of the Great Schism. As Saltet, whom we have here been following, very pertinently observes, it is most dangerous for authorities to drive their subjects to distinguishing between just and unjust commands. They will soon make other distinctions which are much less innocuous.
In compliance with the request of Leo, Auxilius issued one pamphlet after another showing that consecrations performed by a bishop, whether lawfully occupying his see or not, were as valid as baptisms performed by Catholic or heretic.
Vulgarius too entered into the fray in a less scientific but correspondingly more fierce manner. He would have the more important concerns, the cause majores, settled by the common consent of all the bishops, and not "by any pomp of domination"; and he called on the primates to check the pride of the Romans (Romanicos fastus). But Vulgarius was very far from always writing in this strain. Both in prose and in verse, some of which was of a highly artificial character, Sergius, "whose fair face", he declared, he would venerate as long as "the bright stars ran their course", was proclaimed by Vulgarius as "the glory of the world, the incomparable, the harbinger of all good", etc. This Would be after he had been summoned to Rome to explain or justify his wild writing. For we find him dispatching letters not only to the Pope, but to the officials of his court, begging that he might be allowed to remain in peace where he was. To the former he writes that, though raised to the seventh heaven by the Pope's gracious letter, and though regarding the Pope as a god among men, he fears the gods when they show themselves too kindly disposed (nimium faventes)! And because he has reason to lament, he continues, that morality, and all other good with it, has perished, he is afraid of everything, and begs the Pope to grant him one only favour, viz. his absolution and benediction on the one hand, and leave to stay in his cell on the other. Bishop Vitalis, "the apocrisiarius of the supreme see and first senator", is asked to use his influence on his behalf that he may not have to go to Rome, "as the anger of the drawn sword is not easily repressed", but that he may get the Pope's forgiveness. His request was no doubt granted. And if, as seems to some very likely, he was the author of the Invectiva, he managed in that work to defend the cause of Formosus without attacking Sergius. What was the upshot of this ordination controversy there is no means of knowing. Very little historical light pierces the darkness of this period. Some writers, however, from the words of the epitaph of Sergius, which tell how he loved all ranks of men alike, conclude that before he died he mitigated the severity of his judgments, and ceased to trouble such as had been consecrated by Formosus.
As the theological bearings of historical facts are not the concern of an historian, this is not the place to inquire whether the action of Stephen (VI) VII and Sergius III in declaring the ordinations of a bishop null shows that they at any rate were not infallible. We may, however, be permitted to remark that, though it was not till the thirteenth century that the doctrine of the Church on the transmission of the power of order reached its full development, and came to be definitely formulated and generally understood, it is certain that there never was any doubt that an ordination validly conferred could not be repeated. Whatever erroneous views certain medieval Popes may have held as to the circumstances which may invalidate an ordination, or whatever faulty lines of conduct some of them may have followed in consequence of the theories they held, nothing more can be deduced from their action than that, in the words of the great Gallican historian, Natalis Alexander, their errors were those of private men, and not those of the heads of the Church. Not one of the pontiffs who are known or are believed to have held false views on the conditions which invalidate ordinations ever attempted to impose his ideas on the Church. And the Popes, according to Catholic belief, are only infallible when they proclaim; what is revealed truth to the Church at large.
Other discoveries, besides those of pamphlets of Auxilius and Vulgarius, have in comparatively recent times given a further insight into Sergius and his times. A rotulus, discovered in the archives of Prince Antonio Pio of Savoy, lets us see that Sergius was a man at least of strength of will. John of Ravenna, grievously oppressed by Albuinus, count of Istria, appealed to Sergius for protection. This the Pope at once promised, and wrote (c. 907) to the count bidding him refrain from harassing the property of the archbishop. As might be anticipated, it required more than letters, in these times of violence, to bring nobles to order. Albuinus continued his depredations. But Sergius was not at the end of his resources. Berenger of Friuli was anxious to wear the imperial crown, and had approached the Pope through his ambassadors with that end in view. Sergius, therefore, not only wrote (91o) to the bishop of Pola, the most important bishop in Istria, begging him to exhort Albuinus to cease his evil conduct and make amends to the archbishop, but made it known, through the medium of the same letter, that "he would never bestow the (imperial) crown on Berenger till he promised to take the (Istrian) March from Albuinus, and give it to some better man". We may be sure that, if it rested with Berenger of Friuli, Count Albuinus did not continue his depredations much longer.
While what we have said about the firmness of Sergius will have served to show both his views as to his rights with regard to the imperial crown and the aims of Berenger;what we shall proceed to say about the Pope’s kindness and sympathetic feeling will call our attention to the continued ravages of the Saracen in the south of Italy and of the Hungarian in the north. Among other places devastated by the terrible ravages of the Saracens was the Church of Silva Candida, one of the suburbicarian bishoprics which developed into the sees of the six cardinal-bishops in the immediate neighborhood of Rome. Silva Candida, which was united to the See of Porto by Pope Calixtus II, was at this time ruled by Bishop Hildebrand. Unable of his own resources to repair the damage done to his episcopal see, Hildebrand turned to the Pope, and the assistance he asked for he received "in the current eighth indiction", i.e., in 905.
Another of his bulls shows Sergius rejoicing that the church of the great abbey of Nonantula, burnt by the Hungarians, had been rebuilt. In an old catalogue (eleventh century) of the abbots of Nonantula, published by Waitz, there is the following entry :—"In this year (899) the Hungarians came into Italy. On September 24 the Christians met them in battle on the river Brenta. There the Hungarians slew many thousands of the Christians and put the rest to flight. They then advanced as far as Nonantula, slew the monks, set fire to the monastery, burnt many books (codices), and devastated the whole country. The venerable Abbot Leopard, however, with a few of his brethren, managed to escape, and for some time remained in concealment. At length they thought it safe to return. The monastery and its church were rebuilt, and the abbot sent to consult with Pope Sergius, who then ruled the Roman and Apostolic Church, regarding the reconsecration of the (abbey) church and the losses the monastery had sustained at the hands of the barbarians and other wicked men". The Pope in his reply gave the abbot a choice of one out of three bishops, whom he named, to whom he might apply to have the new church consecrated, and confirmed the privileges of the monastery.
Passing over the privileges granted by Sergius to the famous monasteries of St. Gall in Switzerland, Vezelay in France, to the churches of Vienne and Lyons and to the chapter of Aste, as these records are somewhat monotonous; and equally neglecting his dealings with William, the good bishop of Turin, and with the Church of Cologne on the Hamburg-Bremen question, for the simple reason that our knowledge of these transactions is of the haziest; and, after what has been already said on the subject in the Life of Formosus, saying no more about Sergius and England, we may now turn our attention to the East.
At this period there was peace and union between the Catholics under the Emperor Leo and those under the among the various rulers of the West. But the causes which were to bring about the great separation between them were gaining strength. Of these the most insidious, because the least comprehensible, and because it was the only one which had at least a seeming dogmatic basis, was the alleged difference in belief among the Greeks and the Latins on the doctrine of the Descent of the Holy Ghost. That the Latins had deviated from revealed truth on this difficult question was an assertion which had been frequently repeated among the Greeks since the days of Photius. Finding that it was being propagated with renewed vigour, Sergius took steps to combat it. And so the council of Trosle, in the diocese of Soissons, presided over by Herveus, archbishop of Rheims, decreed (June 909) in their fourteenth canon : "As the Holy Apostolic See has made known to us that the blasphemous errors of a certain Photius against the Holy Ghost are still vigorous in the East—errors which teach that the Holy Spirit proceeds not from the Son but from the Father only—we exhort you venerable brethren, together with us, in accordance with the admonition of the ruler of the Roman See, after a careful study of the works of the Fathers, to draw from the quiver of Holy Writ arrows sharp enough to slay the monster which is again springing into life." We may be sure, however, that the "fury of the Normans," though soon (911) to be lessened by the grant of Normandy to them, prevented the Fathers of the council from being able to turn their attention to any arrows but those of a very material nature.
One consequence, however, of this action which Sergius caused to be taken by the synod was that his name was struck off the diptychs by the Patriarch Sergius II of Constantinople (999-1019). This we learn from a Greek document of the first half of the twelfth century. Another similar document of the last half of the preceding century, apparently not so well informed, declares that Pope Christopher was the first Pope who, in his profession of faith, which he sent to Sergius, then (?) patriarch of Constantinople, asserted that the Holy Ghost proceeded "from the Father and from the Son."'
While the canon of Trosle is an indication that the poison brewed by Photius is slowly weakening the religious union between the East and West, another intestine commotion in the Church of Constantinople reveals the fact that as yet the Catholic Church among both the Greeks and Latins is still one. The Emperor Leo, misnamed the Wise, though he had himself in this particular brought the civil law into harmony with Greek canon law by causing it also to subject to penalties those who elected to marry a third time, not only married a third wife, but, when her death left him still without male issue, introduced into the palace as his concubine Zoe Carbonospina, a grand-niece of the historian Theophanes. By her he had a son (905), afterwards the literary Constantine VII, Porphyrogenitus. On condition that he ceased to live with a concubine, the patriarch, Nicholas the Mystic, or private secretary, solemnly baptized the child. Leo fulfilled his promise to Nicholas by breaking his father's law which forbade fourth marriages. He married Zoe, and crowned her himself! The indignant patriarch, who showed himself of very different mettle from the average occupant of the See of Constantinople, excommunicated the priest who had performed the nuptial ceremony, and interdicted Leo from entering the Church. Both parties turned to the Holy See; and the legates, whom Sergius at once dispatched to Constantinople, declared the marriage valid, as fourth marriages had not been condemned by the Church at large. Nicholas, however, though he acknowledged the supremacy of Rome in words, would not give way. He was accordingly banished, and Euthymius, the emperor's confessor, was named patriarch in his stead. Without expressly approving of third or fourth marriages, Euthymius recognized Leo's marriage as necessary for the public good (for an heir to the throne was very desirable), readmitted the emperor to ecclesiastical communion, and crowned Constantine. A schism among the clergy of Constantinople was the immediate result of this compliance on the part of Euthymius, and of the obstinate opposition of Nicholas. Before he died, Leo repented of what he had done, and reinstated Nicholas. But the latter had to reckon with the party of Euthymius, who showed themselves very hostile to him. Hence, during the reign of Alexander, a joint-ruler with the young Constantine VII, he wrote to Pope Anastasius III, not, as he said, to ask him to condemn his predecessor or the repentant Leo, but to condemn those still alive who were causing their patriarch such trouble. "This both your dignity and the honour of the Roman See require of you". Of any action taken by Anastasius in response to this letter we have no knowledge. Some nine years after Nicholas had written to Anastasius, a synod (silentium) was held at Constantinople (92o) in which fourth marriages were utterly condemned. The patriarch hastened to inform John X that, after fifteen years of trouble, peace had come to the Church of Constantinople. "But because we seek your fraternal love, the good offices of which towards us have been hindered by the disorders of the times, and desire the customary union of the churches, we have hence decided to send you this letter that, all memory of offence being laid aside, we may win your Holiness to that sincere friendship and union of minds which is proper among pastors of souls. This will be brought about when legates have been sent on both sides, and when it has been harmoniously decreed that the fourth marriage, which brought such dissensions and scandal into the Church, was permitted not for itself but for the sake of the person. The occasion required that a more indulgent treatment should be meted to a prince, lest, irritated by a refusal, he might do worse. And hence your name will, as of old custom, be celebrated with ours in the sacred diptychs of the Church of Constantinople". The emperor is set down as making the same request, and as sending to the Pope the protospathar Basil, while the patriarch sends a priest with him. John is asked to send a legate in return, "who with us, in accordance with the canons of the Church, may by his learning and advice correct anything which may still stand in need of correction".
From a letter of Nicholas to Simeon, the powerful king of the Bulgarians, it appears that John sent two legates, both bishops, Theophylactus and Carus. "By their coming", wrote the patriarch, "an end was put to the scandals which the fourth-marriage question caused amongst us, peace was restored to the clergy, and synods were held with marvellous unanimity of minds. In a word, the Churches of Rome and Constantinople were so welded together in one united faith that there was nothing to prevent us from enjoying that communion with them we have so ardently longed for."
Without pausing to note how this marriage difficulty showed on the one hand the greater breadth of view of the Roman Church, and, on the other, that at this period East and West were united under the primacy of the See of Rome, it remains to add that the schism among the Greeks themselves was not healed, as Nicholas had fondly hoped. After his death (925), the party of Euthymius was to the fore till the very end of the century.
In connection with the deposition of Nicholas, it may be noted in passing that the tenth century saw well-nigh as many patriarchs arbitrarily deposed by emperors at Constantinople as Popes by factions at Rome.
While endeavouring to close a schism in the living Church of Constantinople, Sergius III., of whom for some little space we have lost sight, was engaged in repairing a very important material church at home. This was the famous basilica of the Lateran, which, as we have seen, went to ruin in the days of Stephen (VI) VII, and which, by all the chroniclers of his time, Sergius III is credited with restoring.
From inscriptions which he found in various parts of the basilica, and of which copies are to be seen either in the body of his work on the Lateran basilica or in an appendix to it in the Sessorian MS. 290, and from other sources, John the Deacon has put on record the following account of the work of Sergius. After recounting the building of the basilica by Constantine in honour of our Saviour and in commemoration of St. John the Baptist, and its fall in the time of Stephen (VI) VII and its remaining in ruins till the time of the recall of Sergius, John continued: "Whilst the intruders occupied the Apostolic See, they took from the basilica all its treasures, all its ornaments of gold and silver, and all the vessels which had been presented to it from its foundation. Divine service was no longer celebrated within its walls, but it was abandoned to thorns and briars. Sick at heart at the desolation of this most glorious building, Sergius entirely rebuilt and refurnished it", at the same time covering its walls with frescoes. A long inscription in prose, which John quoted, not only set forth that Sergius accomplished what he did though "placed in the midst of many disorders", but also enumerated the different objects, images, crucifixes, etc., of silver "and most pure gold" with which he supplied the basilica. "All these things has the devoted lord Sergius III offered thee; nor will he cease to make offerings to thee as long as his soul rules his body". In yet another inscription it is proclaimed that the basilica was like Mount Sinai: from the latter was the old Law given; from the former laws are issued to elevate everywhere the race of men.
There would appear to be a little exaggeration in some parts of the language of the worthy Deacon, or of the inscriptions from which he quotes. It is quite impossible to think of any other "intruder" who could have robbed the basilica but the antipope Christopher; and we can have no reason to doubt that the fallen church occupied the attention of all the successors of Stephen (VI) VII, for we have actual evidence of one of them, Pope John IX, endeavouring to prepare the way for its repair. The new building, at any rate, seems to have become very dear to the Popes, for “henceforward, during a course of two hundred years, it served, instead of St. Peter's, as the burial-place of the greater number of the Popes”
By such as are prepared to yield full credence to party pamphleteers, to the party pleadings of Auxilius, and to Vulgarius, who at one time accuses Sergius of murder of his two predecessors and at another calls him "a god among men, the glory of his country, on whose life Rome depends for her happiness"—by such, no doubt, Sergius will be regarded as ambitious and cruel. But we imagine that not even these will be too ready to accept the story told by Liutprand which impugns the chastity of Sergius in addition. In fact, the more importance one attaches to the pamphlets of Auxilius and Vulgarius, the less importance can he attach to the accusations of Liutprand. It cannot be doubted that, had these writers known anything against the moral character of Sergius, they would not have failed to record it. But if, on the contrary, a preference should be felt for the authority of Liutprand in estimating the character of Sergius, such preference, it would appear, can only be entertained by a violation of the dictates of sound historical criticism; for, by his hopeless confusion of Sergius with Stephen (VI) VII, Liutprand shows that he did not know about whom he was talking. And such an authority as Muratori declares repeatedly that Liutprand is a very second-rate witness for what did not occur in his own time.
His evidence then, whatever it may be worth concerning the immorality of Sergius, is as follows :—Theodora, the grandmother of Alberic II, i.e. Theodora I, whom he designates as a shameless harlot, obtained, "in no unmanly way", supreme power in the city of Rome. She had two daughters, Marozia (I) and Theodora (II), women more abandoned than their mother herself. By their marriages, legitimate and illegitimate, with various distinguished persons, popes, dukes of Tuscany, and kings of Italy, they were enabled to work their will in Rome. By Pope Sergius, Marozia, so says Liutprand, had a son, afterwards Pope John XI; and with John X, both before and after he became Pope, she is said to have had illicit intercourse. Hence various writers have described the government of Rome at this period as that of a Pornocracy.
That these women had great influence in Rome at this period can scarcely be doubted. Benedict of Soracte, quoting the words of Isaias (III. 4), “the effeminate shall rule over them”, is at one with Liutprand as far as that statement goes. And we have already seen the husband of Theodora I described by Vulgarius as “the lord of the city”. The faction of Theophylactus and his family were certainly dominant in Rome in the days of Sergius, and of the Popes that succeeded him during some sixty years; and if the Patricians Crescentii were indeed, as we have supposed, descended directly from Theodora I through her daughter Theodora II, then it may be said that the house of Theophylactus swayed the destinies of Rome till the accession of the German Popes. The title of this volume, therefore, might well have been, “The Popes and the House of Theophylactus”.
Theodora and her daughters, then, may easily have had great influence in Rome, and yet not have been the abandoned women that Liutprand would have us believe they were. Wives and daughters of the heads of a dominant faction, especially if endowed with grace of body and mind, would naturally occupy an influential position; and such a proud position Theodora and her daughters may have acquired without that wholesale prostitution of their charms and persons of which speaks that indecent gossip and imperial partisan, Liutprand. And unless Vulgarius was one of the most audacious flatterers that ever disgraced mankind, Theodora I cannot have been the disorderly creature that Liutprand paints her. Vulgarius addresses her as a most holy, venerable, and God-beloved matron, the odour of whose piety is spread everywhere, and says that he has heard from many of her holy life and conversation; and he rejoices that God has set her as a shining example to the world. Especially does he praise in her a virtue which he declares to be greatly wanting in the world, viz. her chastity. Marozia and Theodora could, then, have been much worse than their mother, and yet still have been good.
Returning to the subject of this biography, we may ask: Was John XI the son of Pope Sergius by the abandoned Marozia? Liutprand says he was, and so does the author of the anonymous catalogue in the Liber Pontificalis in his one-line notice of John XI. But the catalogue by no means deserves at all times the respect which Duchesne seems disposed to allow it. It is certain that the notice of Sergius himself in the catalogue was not written down during the lifetime of that pontiff; nay, apparently not for some time after it. For, speaking of the inscriptions set up by him in the Lateran, the author of the catalogue says that they can be read "to this day". Men do not write in that way of an inscription erected a few years before. Liutprand's assertion was not written down till about fifty years after the supposed criminal intercourse. While, then, authors anything but strictly contemporary call John XI the son of Sergius, the careful, respectable, and contemporary author Frodoard twice describes John XI as "the brother of Alberic". What more natural than to believe that, as Alberic was confessedly the son of Alberic (I) and Marozia, so also was his brother, John XI? Besides, what is left on record of the deeds of Pope Sergius certainly suggests a man "in the midst of troubles" indeed, as he said himself, but a man devoted to work, and not to luxury. When Duchesne speaks of him as "revengeful, cruel, and mischievous", he evidently regards as true all that Auxilius, and especially Vulgarius and Liutprand, have said about him; and, with regard to Liutprand especially, it must be repeated that he is wholly unworthy of credence with regard to Sergius III and John X. He confuses, as we have seen, this very Sergius whom he so freely accuses, with Stephen VII. In referring to John X he makes mistakes of all kinds about his See of Ravenna; and, when speaking of his death and of his successor, apparently knows nothing of the two pontiffs who immediately succeeded him. Sergius was, unfortunately, a pronounced party-man, and anxious for the supremacy of his party, but the charges of revengeful cruelty and lust brought against him by Vulgarius and Liutprand must be pronounced "not proven"; for the charge of his having murdered his two immediate predecessors rests solely on the authority of a wretched sycophant (Vulgarius), and that of his illicit intercourse with Marozia rests chiefly on the word of a careless, spiteful retailer of indecent gossip. Men of that stamp may tell the truth about a personal or political opponent, but their character causes a judicial mind to hesitate about believing what they alone say to his deep discredit. We may then hold with Muratori : "Had the biography of this pontiff been written, and come down to our times, I firmly maintain that his character would have appeared in a very different light from that in which the father of the ecclesiastical annals (viz. Baronius) was too easily led to present it."
When he says that "the denarii of Sergius III are not marked with the name of the Emperor Louis", Gregorovius must have been following the mistake made by Cinagli, who, as was noticed in an earlier volume of this work, assigned to Sergius II a coin bearing the names of both Sergius and Louis, which seemingly could only have belonged to Sergius III. It is true, however, that most of the extant coins of Sergius III were struck after the year 905, and bear only the names of the Pope and St. Peter. On the reverse, besides the name of St. Peter, some of them have a figure of the saint wearing a mitre. One couples the name of Sergius with the significant epithet "Salus patrie".
That Sergius died in 911 is certain, but whether on April 14 (Duchesne) or about June (Jaffé) is not so clear. Mallius, who has preserved this Pope’s epitaph, confusing him with Sergius I, says he was buried in the Church of St. Peter, between the Silver gate and that of Ravenna. His epitaph he gives thus:
Limina quisque adis Papae metuenda beati
Cerne pii excubiasque (exuviasque) Petri.
Culmen apostolicae Sedis is, jure paterno
Electus, tenuit, ut Theodorus obit.
Pellitur Urbe pater, pervadit sacra Joannes,
Romuleosque greges dissipat ipse lupus.
Exul erat patria septem volventibus annis ;
Post populi muftis Urbe redit precibus.
Suscipitur, papa sacratur, Sede recepta
Gaudet, amat pastor agmina cuncta simul
Hic invasores sanctorum falce subegit
Roman ecclesiae judiciisque patrum.
It tells of his uncanonical election (jure paterno) on the death of Theodore, of his expulsion from the city, of the usurpation of John IX, of his seven years of exile, of his recall at the prayer of the people, of his love for all his flock, and of his condemnation of the usurpers of the Holy See. That he was, moreover, worthy to be ranked with bishops who were saints, is not said by his epitaph, but by his contemporary, Nicholas, patriarch of Constantinople.
of the two successors of Sergius III, it may be said that nothing is known except that it appears from their epitaphs and from Frodoard that they were good men and were an honor to the See of Peter. Anastasius, a Roman, and the son of Lucian, became Pope in some month, perhaps in April (Duchesne) or June (Jaffe), in the year 911.
In the following year he granted Ragembert, bishop of Vercelli, the use of the pallium; and besides renewing the privileges of the Church of Grado, he is credited by Sigonius, who as usual gives no authority for his statement, with granting various distinctions to the bishop of Pavia at the request of King Berenger. The bishop was to be allowed to have a canopy (umbella) carried over him, to ride a white horse, to have the cross borne before him, and in councils to sit at the Pope's left hand.
Little as we may know now about many of the Popes of certain periods, various striking pieces of evidence have sometimes survived which show that, though to us Rome and the Popes may at times look obscure enough, they were often at those very times bright and lightsome to their contemporaries. This is not unfrequently true of Rome and the Popes of the tenth century. While Anastasius III sat in the chair of Peter, little Wales was ruled by a wise king called Howel Dda, or the Good. Dissatisfied with the existing state of the laws, the king, with some of his bishops and nobles, betook himself to Rome "to consult the wise in what manner to improve the laws of Wales". On the strength of the information there obtained, the king, after his return to Wales, drew up a new code of laws; "and after that Howel went a second time to Rome, and obtained the judgment of the wise there, and ascertained those laws to be in accordance with the law of God and the laws of countries in receipt of faith and baptism". According to the ancient Welsh document whence the above quotations have been taken, Howel went to Rome to get his laws confirmed sometime between the years 920 and 930. But the preface to the Laws themselves, according to the Dimetian Code, assigns the date of Howel's visit to the pontificate of Anastasius, though it gives the year as 914. It says: "After the law had been all made ... Howel the Good ... went to Rome, to Pope Anastasius, to read the law, and to see if there were anything contrary to the law of God in it; and as there was nothing militating against it, it was confirmed ... The year of Christ, when King Howel the Good went to Rome to confirm his laws by papal authority, was 914". Rome must indeed have been "a city on a mountain" when, even amid the darkness and confusion of the tenth century, it was looked up to from the deep valleys of Wales as the abode of light and learning.
While in Rome the political situation, which left the Pope in situation subordinate to a dominant faction, remained unchanged, elsewhere events were in progress which were soon to have a marked effect on affairs in Italy and its chief city. The influence and power of the Greek emperor was steadily increasing in south Italy. This state of affairs was so far fortunate that it furnished John X with an additional resource when he gave his great blow to the Saracen power in that quarter. In Germany the terribly disastrous reign of Louis the Child came to an end in 911. His was a reign during which contemporaries tell us that every man's hand was against his neighbour's; that the nobles, who ought to have been promotors of peace, set an example of strife; that the law was trampled underfoot; and that the common people murmured and were completely out of hand. With the death of Louis the Child the Carolingian dynasty in Germany, strictly speaking, came to an end. However, as his successor, Conrad the Franconian, was a Frank, and was thought to be connected with the family of Arnulf, he is reckoned with the Carolingian sovereigns of Germany. On his death (918) the royal power passed, in the person of Henry I, to the house of Saxony, a house which, especially under the Othos, was to exercise an extraordinary influence on the Papacy. It was also during the reign of Anastasius that Rodolf II succeeded to the throne of Transjurane Burgundy. We shall soon see him fighting in Italy for its iron crown.
At least two coins of this Pope, bearing his name and that of St. Peter, are known. Anastasius was buried in St. Peter's about the middle (in June or August, following Duchesne or Jaffé respectively) of the year 913. We are indebted as usual to Mallius1 for his epitaph:—
Vatis Anastasii requiescunt membra sepulchro
Sed numquam meritum parvula claudit humus.
Sedem apostolicam blando moderamine rexit
Tertius existens ordine pontificum.
Ad Christum pergens peccati vincula sperat
Solvere clementer omnia posse sibi.
As given in Watterich (iI. 86), it has the following two lines in addition : —
"Undique currentes hujus ad limina templi
Ut praestet requiem, poscite corde Deum
The epitaph tells us that the tomb enclosed indeed the bones of Anastasius III, but could not contain his merits, and that he ruled the Apostolic See right well. He died trusting that his sins would be forgiven him. "Do you who from all quarters come to this temple, pray God to grant him rest".
SOME twelve years ago there was discovered in the neighbourhood of Rome a bronze coin of this Pope. On the obverse were the words, "Landus P. P.", and on the reverse were the heads of SS. Peter and Paul, with the letters "S. PA. S. PE". This coin serves, among other purposes, to prove that this Pope's name was Lando (in Latin Landus) and not Landone (Lando).
Concerning Lando, then, a native of the Sabina, and the son of Taino, we know, from Frodoard, that he was a worthy man who sat on the chair of Peter for some six months. A Ravennese document proves that he was still alive on February 5, 914. He reigned, then, from July (Duchesne) or August (Jaffé) to February (Duchesne) or March (Jaffe) in 914, and is credited with having granted a privilege to the Church of St. Saviour's in Forum Novum in the Sabina.
The words of Frodoard about him are as follows. Jaffé corrected the initial Quando of the text as we now have it into Lando, and would also have the ut of the second line changed into un:—
Lando (quando) dein summam Petri subit ordine Sedem,
Mensibus hanc coluit sex undenisque (ut denisque) diebus
Emeritus Patrum sequitur quoque fata priorum.
IF history in general repeats itself, so certainly does its biographical department. In reading the life of John X, the mind instinctively adverts to that of John VIII. In the hope of putting a term to the existing state of chaos, and of promoting the sacred interests of peace, both pontiffs strove to impart new life to the imperial idea. Both of them brought about leagues, and fought in person against the savage hordes of the Saracen in Italy. For their political freedom at home both of them had to contend against an unbridled nobility. If there was intestine strife in the Church of Constantinople, reference was made to both John VIII and John X, that peace might be restored to it. Both strove, though in different ways, to attach the Slavs to the Roman Church. And if a threat of excommunication was thought necessary to bring kings to a sense of their duty, neither of them was afraid to employ it. In all countries, both in the East and in the West, were heard the names of John VIII and John X when there was peace and order to be promoted. Of both of them it may be said that their energy in the promotion of good was untiring. And, if the Annals of Fulda have told truly of the end of John VIII, as a reward for all their zeal for the general welfare, both perished by a violent death. Hence, as in the case of John VIII so in that of John X, most writers are of accord that he is "unquestionably entitled to respect"—at least for the sum of his qualities. "For however the archbishop of Ravenna might be no example of piety or holiness, as the spiritual head of Christendom, he appears to have been highly qualified for the secular part of his office. He was a man of ability and daring, eminently wanting at this juncture to save Rome from becoming the prey of Mohammedan conquest." Gregorovius goes so far as to give it as his opinion that, in vigour and independence of character, John X was superior to John VIII, and was the foremost statesman of the age. And at the conclusion of his account of this pontiff he writes "John X, however, the man whose sins are known only by report, whose great qualities are conspicuous in history, stands forth amid the darkness of the time as one of the most memorable figures among the Popes. The acts of the history of the Church praise his activity, and his relations with every country of Christendom. And since he confirmed the strict rule of Cluny, they extol him further as one of the reformers of monasticism."
That which caused Baronius and earlier authors, who were not cognisant of many documents which have since been brought to light, to execrate the memory of John, and that which makes even modern writers speak in his praise with a certain amount of reservation, is the account of him to be read in the pages of Liutprand. That writer, who may be said to be solely responsible for the charges of immorality brought against Sergius III, was only born during the pontificate of John X, and makes as many mistakes in his story of that Pope as he did in that of Sergius III. However, he relates that whilst a certain Peter, the second in succession from Romanus, was archbishop of Ravenna, he had occasion frequently to send John, who was then his procurator (minister suae ecclesiae), to Rome on business. Captivated by his handsome appearance, Theodora I "compelled" him to sin with her repeatedly. In the meanwhile, the See of Bologna falling vacant, John was chosen its bishop, but before his consecration as bishop, Peter of Ravenna died. By the influence (instinctu) of Theodora, John, against the canons, usurped the archiepiscopal see. Then, as the Pope who consecrated John at Rome died soon after he had performed that act, Theodora, unable to bear the thought of the distance that separated her from the object of her affections, "compelled" John to desert the See of Ravenna and usurp that of Rome.
In this short narrative there is a complete confusion of time and person. Of time : according to Liutprand, the Pope who consecrated John died shortly (modica temporis intercapedine) afterwards, and was succeeded by John. Now, it is certain from authentic documents that John was archbishop of Ravenna as early as the year 905, and consequently, that he did not succeed his consecrator, who must have been Sergius III; nor was the interval between his consecration as bishop of Ravenna and his enthronization as Pope merely a trifling one. Of person : the bishop Peter, mentioned by Liutprand, if anybody at all, must have been Peter, bishop of Bologna, who ordained John deacon. The bishop of Ravenna at that time was Kailo. Leaving, then, to such as prefer to accept it, the story of Liutprand, "who was born during John's pontificate, and the value of whose statements is diminished by the frivolity of his character", John's early career will now be sketched from more reliable sources.
Though it might be argued from the catalogue of Peter William that the subject of this biography, the son of another John, was a native of Ravenna, there seems to be a reliable tradition that he was really born some seven miles from Imola, at a place on the Santerno, whence the appellation "of Tossignano" is added to his name. Ordained deacon by Peter, bishop of Bologna, he was elected in 905 to be archbishop of Ravenna. According to Liverani, he had, whilst archbishop, to vindicate his rights both against a would-be usurper of his see, and against the abbot of the famous monastery of Nonantula, who was anxious to free it from the control of the archbishops of Ravenna.
From the ancient chronicle of Monte Cassino, just cited, it appears that John was invited to be bishop of Rome by the nobles; i.e.,by a faction of them probably. Of this party Theodora may very well have been one, if not the head. It is generally agreed that John of Ravenna took possession of the Roman See in March 914. That he is called an intruder into the Holy See by various historians more or less contemporary, is due to the fact that they disapproved of translations from see to see, and called all such as left one see for another intruders.
From whatever motive John was summoned to be the head of the Church, whether it was the one assigned by Liutprand; whether it was because he was known to be an opponent of the ordinations of Formosus; or whether it was because he was thought to be qualified for the position, certain it is that he at once showed himself the man whom the times imperatively needed.
Great defeat of the Saracens
Casting his glance round the Church to ascertain what called most urgently for his attention, John soon saw that no good could be done by him until the terrible ravages of the Saracens on the Garigliano and in the Sabina were stopped. These marauders had been the scourge of south Italy from before the middle of the preceding century; and, from 882, when they established themselves on an eminence above the right bank of the Garigliano which separated the petty principalities of Gata and Capua, they were constantly ravaging the surrounding country even up to the walls of Rome. The famous abbeys of Monte Cassino, of Farfa, and of St. Vincent on the Volturno had all been sacked by them. To no purpose had Pope Stephen (V) VI brought about an attack on them. Equally fruitless was the assault conducted in 903 by Atenulf I, prince of Capua. The Saracens replied by desolating the patrimony of Silva Candida.
Urged on as much by indignation against the people of Gaeta, who had basely allied themselves with the enemies of Christendom, as by hatred of the Saracens themselves, Atenulf had already been endeavouring, before the accession of John X, to obtain the aid of the Greek Emperor Leo against the infidels. Accordingly, when the Pope consulted him as to what was best to be done against them, he bade him seek help from Byzantium, and from Camerino and Spoleto. "If we conquer", he concluded, "let the victory be imputed to God and not to our numbers. If we are defeated, let our discomfiture be set down to our sins, but not to our want of effort"
John took the proffered advice, and vigorously seconded the efforts of the princes of Capua. His legates were dispatched in all directions. Ships were asked from Constantinople to prevent aid from coming to the infidels by sea; and, realizing the importance of deepening the idea of Christian unity, the Pope sent, with many presents, legates to Berenger to offer him the imperial crown in exchange for his help. Where John VIII failed, John X succeeded. A Christian league was formed. Owing especially to the diplomatic address of the Greek Admiral Picingli, even the various petty princes of southern Italy for once acted in harmony. With the forces of King Berenger, i.e., with the troops of the northern parts of Italy, and with those of the south, and supported by the Greek fleet, the Pope took the field in person, along with the Marquis Alberic I, in the spring of 915. After some preliminary engagements at Baccano and at Trevi, the Saracens were driven to their fastnesses on the Garigliano. A three months' blockade ensued. At the end of that period, reduced to despair by hunger, the Saracens, burning their homes behind them, endeavored to cut their way through their besiegers. Animated by the presence of the Pope, who freely exposed his person, the allies met them with the greatest courage, pursued those who succeeded in cutting their way through the Christian lines, "and in this way, by the help and mercy of God, utterly eradicated them from those parts in the year of our Lord's incarnation, 915, the third indiction in the month of August." For this victory the Pope had to pay, just as his namesake John VIII had had to do on a similar occasion. The duke of Gaeta was induced to abandon his Saracen allies only on condition that the grant of Traetto, etc., made him by John VIII, was secured to him by John X. At any rate, it was confirmed to him, “because, for the love of the Christian faith, he had fought hard to drive the Saracens from all the territory of the apostles”. For long years after, the place where this most important engagement was fought was known as “The Field of Battle”; and an extant inscription shows that local buildings served for a considerable time to keep fresh the memory of the happy day when the Saracens were expelled from their fortress on the Garigliano.
Although this campaign of John is called by Muratori “a glorious undertaking”, the appearance of the “Vicar of Christ, the Pacific”, at the head of an army seems to have shocked that pious and learned ecclesiastic. For our own part, however, remembering that our Lord was not always “The Pacific”, but that He could become angry, make a scourge, and drive men before Him by means of it, we are content to regard the warlike achievements of John as a “glorious undertaking”, simply and unreservedly. Good work had to be done, and John did it. The influence of the Pope alone was then powerful enough to bring together into harmony, even for a short space, the discordant elements which then composed the ruling powers in Italy. What his influence alone could bring together, his presence alone could keep together. John's appearance in the Christian camp on the Garigliano gave courage to the soldiers and unity to their leaders. And this was the view of his action which Rome took of his deeds at the time. Benedict of Soracte tells us of the magnificent triumphal reception accorded by the Romans to the victorious pontiff and to the Marquis Alberic, who had fought against the Saracens “like the bravest of lions”. Be all this as it may, an act of no little importance, for the advancement of the cause of law and order in Italy, had been accomplished by John X. In proceeding to place the imperial crown on the brow of King Berenger, the same sacred cause was again furthered by him.
Blind, and so confined to his ancestral kingdom, it was obviously impossible that Louis of Provence could exert any influence which would make for the regeneration of the peninsula. The only man in it calculated, from his power and nationality, to command any respect at this period was King Berenger. To him, then, had John naturally turned. And though such historical records as we possess have not left us any precise account of the share that Berenger had in the league against the Saracens, it cannot be doubted that he did promote its ends, and that he received the imperial crown as the promised reward of his services. The details of his coronation are furnished us by his anonymous panegyrist. With such troops as he could muster, Berenger marched to Rome. Great was the joy of the populace when the king's heralds announced his approach. Looking forward to an amelioration of the existing state of things, the people streamed forth to meet and welcome the king, who, as usual, passing beneath the Mons Gaudii, or Monte Mario, encamped in the Neronian Field, about a mile from Rome. Thither to greet him proceeded the Senate and the different Scholae of the foreigners, all chanting the usual laudes, and bearing banners ornamented with the heads of eagles, lions, wolves, and dragons. Each nation acclaimed the emperor-elect in its own language. First the Romans, then the Greeks, and then the other nationalities in order. The procession was closed by the son of the consul (Theophylact), and by the brother (Peter) of the Apostolicus (John X), who, in token of submission, kissed the feet of the king. Riding on one of the Pope's horses, Berenger advanced through the surging masses of the people anxious to see the new emperor to the vestibule of St. Peter's, where at the top of the steps the Pope was awaiting him. Dismounting from his horse, Berenger ascended the steps with no little difficulty, so demonstrative in its greetings was the pressing crowd. After he had been greeted by the Pope with kiss and hand-shake, both stood before the gates of the basilica, while Berenger renewed all the promises made by his imperial predecessors to the Roman See. The gates were then thrown open, and, as the Pope and the king entered the basilica, the clergy intoned the "laudes" in their honour. After praying before the shrine of St. Peter, the Pope and the king adjourned to the palace adjoining the basilica. On the following Sunday, probably December 3, amid the excited shouts of an easily aroused crowd, who called on the Pope "by the chains of the Master (St. Peter)" not to delay the coronation, Berenger was anointed and crowned. Again were raised the "laudes", praying for long life for the new emperor, and that he might have strength to free the empire from the burdens under which it was groaning.
... Imperiumque gravi sub pondere pressum
But for the evil times, sighs the panegyrist of Berenger, John and Berenger might have been Sylvester and Constantine the Great.
The donations of previous emperors to the See of Peter were then confirmed by Berenger, and forbidden to be alienated; while, in accordance with precedent, no small sum of money was distributed among the people.
But the work accomplished by John, which might have been productive of so much good for Italy, was destined not to last. As we have frequently remarked before, while at this period the great nobles of Italy were thinking of nothing but their own personal gain, only the Popes had at heart the advantage of the whole country. "It must candidly be admitted," says Gregorovius, writing of this period, "that during a long period the Papacy was the sole power in Italy, even in a political aspect, and that in its absence the country would have sunk into yet deeper distress". In the present case, finding that in Berenger they would soon have a master, Adalbert, marquis of Ivrea, Berenger's own son-in-law, Odelricus, count of the palace, Lambert, archbishop of Milan, and others conspired against the emperor, and summoned to the throne of Italy Rodolf II, king of Transjurane Burgundy. He came at the end of 921 or at the beginning of 922; and about the same time too came the dread Hungarians. Whether summoned by Berenger or used by him as they chanced to be in Italy, the Hungarians, or some of them, fought for the emperor. The condition of Italy may be more easily imagined than described. Despite his Hungarians, the tide of war set in steadily against Berenger, and in the midst of it he fell by the knife of an assassin (March 924).
But, true to their plan of keeping themselves independent, while they played off one foreign ruler against another, certain nobles now invited into Italy Hugh, king of Provence, the successor of Louis the Blind, and the grandson of Lothair II by his mistress Waldrada. This time the fickle jade Fortune turned against Rodolf, and he had to return to his ancestral kingdom (926). In the summer of the same year, "God, whose will it was that Hugo should reign in Italy, brought him by favouring gales to Pisa", according to the expression of his protégé Liutprand. This unworthy monarch, who showed that he had fully inherited all his grandfather's lust, as even Liutprand allows, and whom Muratori stigmatises as "un picciolo Tiberio, una solennissima volpe, ed un vero ipocrita", is set down by the former as a man of equal learning and bravery, of no less boldness than skill, as a man who honored God and those who loved religion, who looked carefully after the poor, who was eager for the honour of the Church and religion, and who loved and honored learned men.
It would seem that John had been largely instrumental in bringing Hugo into Italy. Not only does Frodoard say that it was arranged at Rome that Hugo should be king of Italy, but the Pope's envoy was among the first to welcome him at Pisa. And soon after he had been acknowledged king of Italy at Pavia, he had an interview with John at Mantua, and concluded some treaty with him. The terms of the agreement are not known, but it has been conjectured that John stipulated for aid against the growing power of Marozia. If so, it will be seen that he did not get it.
So far, the events themselves and their sequence are certain. We have now to treat of a state of things of which some of the issues are known with certainty, but not the events that led to them. Being in the dark, we can but walk carefully, feeling our way. In 925 died Alberic I (the Upstart); and, to strengthen her position, his widow Marozia married Guido (Wido or Guy), marquis of Tuscany. Later writers, such as the author of the Greek chronicle of the Popes, Martinus Polonus, and other thirteenth century authors, speak of a difference having arisen between Alberic and the Pope. They are so far in harmony with the contemporary evidence of Benedict of Soracte that what he attributes to Peter, the Pope's brother, they attribute to Alberic. Later writers then, as confusing Alberic with Peter, had better be left aside, and the narratives of Frodoard, Benedict, and Liutprand followed. Alberic, who had fought and triumphed side by side with the Pope, we therefore suppose remained true to him. After his death, and her marriage with Guido, the ambition of Marozia had freer scope. A struggle for power soon commenced between the newly married pair and the Pope. They first directed their hostilities against John's brother Peter. Compelled to fly the city, Peter entrenched himself in Horta, and invoked the aid of some of the bands of Hungarians, who, as we have seen, had as early as 922 penetrated as far as Apulia. And it is precisely in this year (926) that Romuald of Salerno, only a twelfth century writer, it is true, chronicles the presence of Hungarians in the neighbourhood of Rome.
At length, presuming, no doubt, that the terrible ravages of the Hungarians, who had laid waste the whole of Tuscany with fire and sword, had sufficiently tamed its marquis and his wife, Peter returned to Rome. But Guido was as crafty as his half-brother, King Hugo. He contrived secretly to collect a body of troops, and with them made an attack (928) on the Lateran palace when Pete was off his guard, and had but few soldiers with him. He was cut to pieces before his brother's eyes, while John himself was thrust into a dungeon. How long he lingered in prison, or how exactly he died, cannot be stated with any certainty. The most trustworthy of our authorities, Frodoard of Rheims, makes him live on in prison till the following year (929), where he died, according to the general belief, from grief. “Pope John”, he records, “was deprived of his temporal authority (principatus) by a certain powerful woman named Marozia, and, whilst confined in prison, died as some say by violence, but according to the general opinion from grief (929)”. Benedict of Soracte also implies that John did not lose his life by any act of violence. Liutprand, the Annals of Beneventum, and other authorities of less weight assert that John was either choked or suffocated with a pillow. According to a tradition, noted by Liverani, John was seized whilst saying Mass, was hurried off to precipitous Veroli, nearly midway between Frosinone and Sora, and incarcerated in a cruel dungeon in the castle of St. Leucius. A movement of the people in the Pope's favor caused his enemies to take him back to Rome and put him to death. While therefore it is probable that John X died a natural death, it is possible in his case, as in of his great namesake John VIII, that he died by violence.
The circumstances attending the death of John X show us in the first place that Hugo, in whom the Pope seems to have placed hopes, was unable or unwilling to help him, and that we have certainly reached the times spoken of by Bishop Bonizo of Sutri (d. 1091) in his hopelessly confused jottings regarding the Popes of the tenth century, when "the Roman nobles seized the supreme civil power", and the days over which the monk Benedict laments that Rome had fallen beneath the yoke of women.
John and the Slavs
Whilst all these important political events, which terminated so disastrously for him, were in progress, John was watchfully attending to matters ecclesiastical both in the East and West. What he accomplished for the peace of the Church of Constantinople has been already narrated. But not with the Greeks only had he dealings in the east of Europe. He was in communication with the Slavs also, though at what period of his pontificate is not known with certainty. However, if John never thought of them before, he must have done so during the last two dread years of his pontificate; for, if the so-called Lupus Protospata and Romuald of Salerno have not made any mistake, the south of Italy was harried in the year 926 not only by Greeks, Saracens, and Hungarians, but also by Slavs.
Despite the prohibition of Stephen (V) VI and of later pontiffs, the Slavonic tongue continued to be used in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Church generally, not only among the more Eastern Slavs under the influence of the Church of Constantinople, but also among those of Dalmatia, where the Latin rite had long been in more or less general use. SS. Cyril and Methodius had introduced the use of the Slavonic liturgy among them because, as they told Pope Hadrian, they found them so utterly rude. Very wisely, then, had their action been approved by Hadrian II and John VIII. These pontiffs naturally concluded that it was not absolutely necessary that Mass should be said in Latin or Greek, and that it would be a mistake to alienate men from the Church for the sake of something which was not essential. Other Popes, however, with less wisdom it would seem, did not take the view of Hadrian and John VIII. Of a surety, in order to draw closer the bonds of unity, it is desirable that the great sacrifice of the New Law should be offered up everywhere in the same language; and so, no doubt, it was the proper thing for John X to prevent the Slav liturgy from replacing the Latin without reason. To this end, in response to a request from the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the country, he sent two bishops into Dalmatia, and with them various letters. The first (c. 924) was addressed "to our brother John, archbishop of Salona (Spalatro), and to all his suffragans". In it John expressed his astonishment that they had so long neglected to visit the Roman Church, the rock of the faith; and said he had learnt with sorrow that a doctrine which was not contained in Holy Writ, but in Methodius, was being preached in their province. He exhorted them boldly to correct "throughout the Slavonic land" what stood in need of amendment, but in such a way that they presumed not to deviate from the doctrine of his envoys, and he told them to follow the custom of the Roman Church, and say Mass in Latin, because a good son should speak as his father dictated; and, as the Slays are "most special sons of the Holy Roman Church," they must remain in the doctrine of their mother. Another letter to the same effect was addressed to Tamislaus, king of Croatia, and to Michael, most excellent duke of Zachulmia (Herzegovina), "to our most reverend brother John, archbishop of the most holy Church of Salona, to all his suffragans, to all the Zupans, and to all the priests and people throughout Sclavonia and Dalmatia". In addition to repeating what he had already said to the archbishop, the Pope gave them an important piece of instruction when he begged them to have their children trained in the science of God from their very tenderest years, so that by their exhortations they might themselves be drawn away from the allurements of sin.
The Pope’s words were not without their effect. A council was assembled at Salona. Besides vindicating the primacy of Dalmatia and Croatia for the bishop of Salona, and passing various disciplinary canons, the synod forbade the ordination of anyone ignorant of Latin, and forbade Mass to be said in Sclavonic, except in case of a dearth of priests, and with leave from the Roman pontiff. In conclusion, the assembled bishops decided that all the decrees they had drawn up were to be sent to Rome for the confirmation of the Pope, in accordance with the ancient custom of the Church in their country. In due course John wrote back to inform the Dalmatian bishops that he confirmed "whatever our legates have with you decreed in synod", with one exception. This had reference to the jurisdiction of Spalatro over the Croatian bishop of Nona. The council had asserted that jurisdiction, and Nona had appealed to Rome. John reserved to himself the decision of the question of jurisdiction, and summoned the parties to Rome. No doubt in this matter of the dependence of the Croats, through their bishop, on the archbishop of Spalatro, political questions were involved. However, in any case, through the contumacy of Gregory of Nona, as Liverani supposes, the disputants did not go to Rome. Death prevented John X from completely finishing the affair; but he lived long enough to send fresh letters (now lost) and more legates to settle it. The new embassy, of which Bishop Madalbert was the head, first made its way to Bulgaria to negotiate a peace between the Croats and Bulgarians. When this task had been successfully accomplished, Madalbert presided at a synod in Spalatro (926-927), at which, besides various bishops, the king of Croatia and his nobles were also present. After a careful examination of the ancient customs of the province, it was decided that Spalatro must keep the primacy; but that, as of old there used not to be a bishop in Nona, Gregory might select one of those ancient sees, like Scodra, where there used to be a bishop, and preside over it. Then, with a grim humour which is not often found in synodal decrees, the council further decided that if Gregory was enamoured of the burden of the episcopate, and was not content with one diocese, he might take two more of the extinct dioceses "to his own loss and theirs", as the difficulties of the country prevented easy communication between its parts.
These decisions were first solemnly confirmed by Madalbert, and then by John's successor. Perhaps the only document of Leo VI which has come down to us is the one in which he announces that he has granted the pallium to Archbishop John, orders all the bishops of Dalmatia to obey him, and bids Nona to be content with Scodra, and the other bishops to confine themselves to the limits of their dioceses.
But the legates of John X were seen not only among the southern Slavs. They were to be found among a people (the Bulgarians), Slav in fact if not in name, whose power at this period stretched almost to the walls of Constantinople. When John became Pope, the Bulgarians, under their great Tsar Simeon (892-927), the younger son of Bogoris the correspondent of Nicholas I, reached the height of their power. A man of great ambition, Simeon was ever striving to increase his sway. And as he was ever at war with Constantinople, he caused the Bulgarians to renounce spiritual obedience to its patriarch, and began merely for his own ends to make overtures to Rome. John responded, and exerted himself in the first place to try to bring about peace between the Bulgarians and the Eastern empire. When he sent bishops Theophylact and Carus to bring the Greek Church to peace on the "fourth-marriage" question, he gave them instructions to visit Simeon on their return. Much of this is made known to us by a most interesting letter of the patriarch, Nicholas I, to "Prince Simeon". This letter also shows the respectful views—views we have already noted—entertained, at times at least, by Nicholas on the position of the Pope in the Universal Church. After complaining that Simeon had ceased to display towards him proper filial obedience, the patriarch went on to say that he was impelled to approach him again not only by his former love for him, but also by the authority of the Pope, which is very weighty among all good men and whom it is wrong not to obey. When the Pope had heard of the sufferings of the people of the empire, he sent Theophylact and Carus, two bishops, "to induce you (Simeon) to make peace, or, if you refused, to excommunicate you". He (the patriarch) had not sent the bishops to him, because report had it that he was wont to maltreat even ambassadors. He had, therefore, persuaded the legates to stop with him, and had forwarded him the Pope's letters, which he trusted Simeon would obey. "For do not imagine that you can behave towards the Roman pontiff in the same contemptuous manner as you have behaved towards me". Simeon was then assured that the Princes of the Apostles regarded injuries done to the Pope as done to themselves, and reminded him that they had inflicted death on Ananias and Sapphira, and blindness on Elymas.
Peace was concluded between the Bulgarians and the Eastern empire in November 932. "One of the stipulations of the treaty was the public acknowledgment of the independence of the Bulgarian Church, and the official recognition of Damian, archbishop of Dorostylon, as Patriarch of Bulgaria both by the emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople". What influence the letters of the Pope may have had in promoting this useful peace it is impossible to say, but they show how utterly baseless was the supposition, noted by Finlay, that Simeon formed "an alliance with the Pope, who sent him a royal crown to reward his hostilities against the Byzantine empire and Church." We have recorded elsewhere what evidence there is that royal crowns were sent to the Bulgarian rulers Simeon, Peter, and Samuel by the Popes about this period. Whether they ever were sent or not, they were never bestowed as rewards for their barbarous acts of war.
The Bulgarian Tsar Peter (927-968), however, who, like his father the great Tsar Simeon, is presumed to have been crowned by the Pope, is said to have again become subject to Rome, along with his autocephalous patriarch, in 967. In any case, Greek influence resumed its sway in Bulgaria after the fall of the first Bulgarian empire in the beginning of the eleventh century.
But Theophylactus and Carus were not the only legates sent by John to the Bulgarians. Negotiations between the Pope and Simeon continued. A Bulgarian envoy appeared in Rome, and returned to his master with Bishop Madalbert as the Pope's legate. Again the work of the Pope was peace. The exertions of Madalbert put an end to the war which was being waged between the Bulgarians and the Croats. The deaths both of John X and the Tsar Simeon, within a few months of each other, closed negotiations between them.
Germany, the synod of Altheim, 916
While Franks, Germans, Slavs, Bulgarians, and Greeks were tossing the torch of battle from one end of Europe to the other, from West to East and East to West, and striving to sever with the sword every bond that bound them together, there was, fortunately for the future, one chain that linked them at least indirectly together. One and all of them turned with hope to Rome. And among them all went the legates of John, preaching the blessings of peace and order. As among the eastern peoples of Europe, so among the western were to be found envoys from Rome. And if from Germany there was soon to come redemption, dearly bought it is true, but still redemption for the Papacy, so now we find the Papacy itself helping to fashion its redeemer. The troubles of Germany had not ended with the death of Louis the Child and the accession of the bold and energetic Conrad I of Franconia (911-918). He had to face serious difficulties at home and abroad. Though king in name, he was in fact hardly more than ruler of Franconia, hardly more powerful than the dukes of Saxony, Swabia, and Bavaria, which with Franconia itself and Lorraine or Lotharingia constituted Germany. He was in perpetual conflict with the young Duke Arnulf of Bavaria and his two uncles Erchanger and Berthold. To add to his difficulties Henry, duke of the Saxons, who was destined to succeed him, abandoned him, and went over to one of his external foes, Charles the Simple. Charles, as a descendant of the Carolingian emperors by the male line, was indignant that he had not been chosen to succeed Louis, but had been rejected for one connected with them only on the female side. He seized Lorraine by force of arms, perhaps invited so to do by its nobles. Conrad's rivals, quite in the selfish style of those times, brought another external foe down upon him, viz. the terrible Hungarians. Amidst all these troubles the clergy stood by Conrad; and cruelly did many of them suffer for their loyalty. Their knowledge of ecclesiastical unity, their own connection with the centre of religious unity, naturally made them desire a national unity. To further this end, they met together at Altheim (now Hohenaltheim) in September 916, "in presence of Peter, bishop of Horta and apocrisiarius of the Pope", as the preface of the acts of the council declares. The preface went on to say : "The Pope's legate has been sent to destroy the seed sown in our country by the devil, and to make head against the machinations of wicked men.... He has laid before us a letter of exhortation sent us by the Pope. This we received with all due respect, and after tearfully recognizing our faults and our unworthiness, we have, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, drawn up the following decrees for our own amendment and that of our people". Bishops, according to them, were to show themselves the salt of the earth, and devote themselves to preaching. Both clergy and laity were to take care to have no relations with excommunicated persons. The clergy are not to be judged by laymen. Whoever is condemned by the bishops of the province can appeal to Rome, in accordance with the law from the earliest times. After the publication of these and other similar decrees regarding clerical and general discipline, the bishops and clergy, with the concurrence of the people, passed resolutions condemnatory of those who swore loyalty to the king with their lips only, and affirmed their own devoted attachment to their sovereign. Erchanger and his accomplices, who have dared to act against their king, the anointed of the Lord, and treacherously to seize Bishop Salomon, must do penance in a monastery for the rest of their lives. The followers of Erchanger and the other traitors, who, summoned to the synod, did not come, were commanded, if they would avoid the excommunication decreed against them in the Pope's letter, to go to their own bishops, and accept from them the penance prescribed by the synod. The bishops of Saxony, rebellious like their duke, did not come to the synod when summoned. If they do not obey a second summons to a council at Mayence, the legate and the synod, "by apostolic authority", forbid them to say Mass until they have justified themselves before the Pope at Rome (can. 30). The synod treated (can. 29) in the same way Richevin, bishop of Strasburg, on the ground of his being an intruder into that see. It has been suggested, with no small degree of probability, that Richevin's only crime was that he was devoted to the interests of Charles the Simple in Lorraine, and so hostile to Conrad. John X, at any rate, was a loyal supporter of Conrad, and evidently did all he could to further the formation of a strong monarchy in Germany.
Many of John's letters are addressed to Herimann, archbishop of Cologne, a city at this period in the power of Charles the Simple. Several of them contain replies to various moral difficulties which the archbishop had proposed to him, while others were on the subject of the bishopric of Liege—a subject quite on the same lines with that of Strasburg, and connected with intrigues between the Franks and the Germans for the possession of Lorraine. In May 92o, Stephen, bishop of Liege, breathed his last, and Charles, exercising a right sanctioned at least by ancient custom, nominated as his successor Hilduin, a priest of that church. As far as he himself was concerned, Charles seems to have made a bad selection. Hilduin straightway allied himself with Gilbert, duke of Lorraine, who was in open rebellion against him. Naturally indignant, the Frankish king cancelled the appointment of Hilduin, and nominated Richer, abbot of Prum and successor of the chronicler Regino. Supported, however, not only by Gilbert but also, as Charles declared, by Henry I, the Fowler, the successor of Conrad, Hilduin forced Herimann, under threat of loss of life and property, to consecrate him; and, again according to the capitulary of Charles, rewarded his supporters from the plunder of churches. The Frankish king and Richer then turned to the Pope. Herimann was soon (921) in receipt of a letter from the Pope, in which he was blamed for acting as he did through fear, "as ancient custom" required that no one except the king should nominate a bishop for any diocese—a custom resting "on the authority of our predecessors". The archbishop, with both Hilduin and Richer, was summoned to Rome, and in the interim the new bishop was suspended from saying Mass. Charles was also informed of what the Pope had done, and of the good-offices used in his behalf by the Emperor Berenger. Richer (922) not only won his case, but was consecrated by the Pope himself, while his rival was excommunicated. However anxious John may have been for a powerful German monarchy, he would not have its power increased at the expense of the king of the Franks. In fact, in the midst of all his troubles it was only on John X that Charles could rely.
Charles the Simple treacherously seized, 923
We have already seen how Charles began to reign in face of an opposition from Eudes, count of Paris. In this very year (922) he had to fight for his crown against Robert, the brother of Eudes, whom some rebels had caused to be crowned king. Though Robert lost his usurped crown with his life in 923, the troubles of Charles were not over. Raoul or Rodolf, duke of Burgundy and brother-in-law of Robert, was called to succeed him. In these confused and wretched times no king could rely upon any one. Charles was treacherously seized (923) by a relation, Heribert, count of Vermandois, and kept under restraint till his death (929), in order that Heribert might have a weapon with which, if necessary, to fight Rodolf, whom he had himself helped to the throne. Against the treason of Heribert John alone raised his voice. He threatened the count with excommunication unless he restored Charles to freedom. But with such men as he had to deal with John could effect little, and had to be content with the assurance of Heribert that he would do his best to fulfil the Pope's wishes, but that he himself had not conspired against the king, though he had had to yield to circumstances. With these written assurances Heribert sent envoys to Rome begging the Pope to order the restitution of Charles. The envoys found John in the same straits as they had left Charles, i.e., in the power of an enemy.
Whilst these negotiations were in progress, the archiepiscopal see of Rheims became vacant, and Heribert forced the election to it of his son Hugh, a child of five years old. Among those who suffered in their goods or bodies for opposing this scandalous affair was our worthy historian Frodoard. Whether it was because John hoped to get some influence over the ruffian, and so move him to release his king, or because he thought that opposition would only breed greater evils, he at any rate confirmed the child's election. But, to minimize the mischief as far as he could, he entrusted the spiritual management of the diocese to the bishop of Soissons till the child was anything like old enough to be consecrated. When Heribert had thus gained his will, he flouted both Pope and king, bestowed the spiritual administration on another bishopal together, and did with the temporalities of the see just whatever he had a mind to do. We shall hear of Hugh of Vermandois again.
However, not all the great men among the Franks were unfaithful to God, or traitors to their king. Of the loyal few was Heriveus, archbishop of Rheims, successor of the murdered Fulk. Not only was he true to Charles to the end, but like a faithful steward he labored hard for his Divine master among the pagan Normans. Frodoard tells us how "he often held synods with the suffragan bishops of his archdiocese, in which with wisdom and profit he worked for peace, for the spread of the faith of God's Holy Church, and for the well-being of the kingdom of the Franks. Nobly did he toil for the civilization and conversion of the Normans ... until at length they received the faith of Christ ... On this matter he was careful to consult the Pope of Rome ; and on his advice he ever decided what had to be done for their conversion". There is extant a letter of John X in reply to some of the difficulties which presented themselves to the mind of the archbishop. He was much perplexed as to how far he ought to treat with rigour those who were constantly relapsing into idolatry. He received in answer (914) the following admirable letter, often by mistake assigned to John IX:— "Your letter has filled me at once with sorrow and with joy. With sorrow at the sufferings you have to endure not only from the pagans, but also from Christians; with gladness at the conversion of the Northmen, who once revelled in human blood, but who now, by your words, rejoice that they are redeemed by the life-giving blood of Christ. For this we thank God, and implore Him to strengthen them in the faith. As to how far, inasmuch as they are uncultured, and but novices in the faith, they are to be subjected to severe canonical penances for their relapsing, killing of priests, and sacrificing to idols, we leave to your judgment to decide, as no one will know better than you the manners and customs of this people. You will, of course, understand well enough that it will not be advisable to treat them with the severity required by the canons, lest, thinking they will never be able to bear the unaccustomed burdens, they return to their old errors". No doubt the wise and temperate counsel of the Pope was followed, for the conversion of the Normans seems to have gone steadily forward.
Before proceeding with the narrative of the career of John X, enough has been said, we may note, to justify an adverse criticism of a remark made by Mr. Tout in his admirable little work, The Empire and the Papacy. Speaking of the period between 914 and 96o, he remarks: "For more than a generation the Popes had almost ceased to exercise any spiritual influence". No doubt the want of anything like an easily accessible full biography of John X may excuse Mr. Tout's remark, but it will not justify it, at least for the period during which that pontiff occupied the See of Rome.
Of all the relations of John X with France, or the land of the Franks, certainly not the least important is his connection with the famous monastery of Cluny, which was to be one of the most potent of the forces that were to bring about the revival of order, learning, and morality in the eleventh century. A few years before John X became Pope, William, count of Auvergne and duke of Aquitaine, founded (91o) the monastery of Cluny near Macon. This he did, as the charter of its foundation beautifully expresses it, first for the love of God, then for the spiritual and temporal welfare of himself, his wife, relations, and dependants, for the preservation of the Catholic faith, and for all the faithful. It was to be a refuge for the poor, who on leaving the world would bring nothing into religion but a good will. It was to be under the special protection of the Pope, who was entreated to be its protector, and to sever from the Church and eternal life such as should usurp its goods. Of the work of reform effected by the Benedictine monastery of Cluny and its dependent houses, it may suffice to state here with Tout :"As ever in the Middle Ages, a new monastic movement heralded in the work of reformation. As the Carolingian reformation is associated with Benedict of Aniane, so is the reformation of the eleventh century with the monks of Cluny". It was to protect the property of this important home of virtue and learning that Pope John wrote to King Rodolf, and various bishops and counts. He instructs them to restore to Cluny the property of which Guido, abbot of Gigny, had, pending a judicial sentence, violently possessed himself, and to take under their special protection that monastery which had been placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy See.
It is interesting to find that John's patronage was sought by other of Christendom's most famous monasteries not only in Gaul but in Germany (Fulda), Switzerland (St. Gall), and Italy (Subiaco). He even increased the possessions of the last-named monastery on condition that each day the monks should repeat the Kyrie eleison and the Christe eleison one hundred times "for the salvation of his soul". From such conditions some argue that the authors of donations of that sort must indeed have felt themselves in need of intercessory prayer. But it must be borne in mind that the strange fact is that it is the good who are anxious to secure prayers for themselves, and not the bad. Hence, from his deed in favor of Subiaco (926), it may be concluded that, at least at this time, John was striving after virtue.
Passing over other relations of John with France, e.g., with Geraldus, the forger of papal letters, we may mention one more of his "confirmations", viz. that in which he grants certain possessions to the bishop of Adria, the town which gave its name to the Adriatic, a few miles north of the point where the Po divides to flow by many mouths into the sea. He also gives him leave to erect a fort "in the place called Rhodige" (which brought the modern city of Rovigo into being), in order to protect his people "both against the pagans and the false Christians". Similar permissions which we find granted at this period by kings and bishops were fruitful in great results. They called into existence the walled towns which became centres and strongholds of freedom.
Such intercourse as we know that John X had with Spain points in the same direction as his grant to Subiaco. It has long been the tradition in Spain that the apostle St. James, known as the Greater, preached for a time in that country, that his sacred remains were brought back there by his disciples after his death, and interred near Iria Flavia in Galicia. Lost sight of in the troubles which fell upon the peninsula in the break-up of the Roman Empire in the West, the saint's relics were discovered during the beginning of the ninth century, in the days of Alfonso II, the Chaste, and of Bishop Theodemir. By the king's orders a small church was built over the body of the apostle, and the episcopal See of Iria was transferred to the place, a few miles from that old city, afterwards known, from the apostle's name (Giacomo Postolo), or from the lights seen where his body was discovered, as Compostela. It was by virtue of two bulls of John VIII, addressed to Alfonso III, the Great, that the first substantial church which had been erected there to the apostle was consecrated. And thither it was that, in the beginning of his pontificate, John x sent a legate who was the bearer of letters to the saintly bishop of the place, Sisenand. John had heard of his sanctity, and sent to beg his constant prayers to St. James in his behalf. Sisenand in return sent a priest to Rome with letters from himself, and letters and presents from King Ordoflo II.
It is said that the Romans were as much astonished at the liturgy followed by the Spanish priest as he was at the one in use amongst them. Returning to Spain with books from Rome, he told what he had seen and heard about the ceremonies of the Mass. The liturgy question was at once investigated in a council, and, while it was decided that the Spanish rite was not out of harmony with the Catholic faith, it was agreed to alter its form of consecration (secreta misso) to that of the Roman liturgy. Whatever truth there may be in this story about the liturgy, there is none in the statement put forth and accepted by Burke in his History of Spain, by Liverani, etc., that John X gave at least a qualified approval to the so-called Mozarabic liturgy (924). This assertion, as Hefele points out, "rests on a single document which is certainly not genuine"; and whatever of fact a supposititious document may preserve incidentally, that particular fact which it is its object to establish is certainly not true.
So tempestuous was the confusion of this period, that its contemplation might easily lead one to think that all communication between England and Rome must have been suspended. Every now and then, however, the sun of truth, faintly illuminating some small spot, enables us to see that in even the darkest days of the tenth century our countrymen turned to Rome for purposes of piety, and for guidance in things both spiritual and temporal. Undeterred by the fact that in 923 the Saracens of Fraxineto had murdered "a multitude of English who were going to Rome to pray at the shrine of St. Peter", Wulfhelm, archbishop of Canterbury, made his way there in 927. Thither too was sent, about the year 924, the English noble Elfred, under the following circumstances. The election of Athelstan, the grandson of Alfred the Great, as king of the English was opposed by one Elfred. The story of Elfred is thus told by Athelstan himself in one of his donations to the abbey of Malmesbury : "Be it known to the sages of our kingdom that I have not unjustly seized the lands aforesaid, or dedicated plunder to God, but that I have received them as the English nobility, and, moreover, John, the apostolic Pope of the Roman Church, have judged fitting, on the death of Elfred. He was the jealous rival both of my happiness and life, and consented to the wickedness of my enemies, who, on my father's decease, had not God in His mercy delivered me, wished to put out my eyes in the city of Winchester. Wherefore, on the discovery of their infernal contrivances, he was sent to the Church of Rome to defend himself by oath before Pope John. This he did at the altar of St. Peter; but at the very instant he had sworn, he fell down before it, and was carried by his servants to the English schola or quarter, where he died the third night after. The Pope immediately sent to consult with us whether his body should be placed among other Christians. On receiving this account, the nobility of our kingdom, with the whole body of his relations, humbly entreated that we would grant our permission for his remains to be buried with other Christians. Consenting, therefore, to their urgent request, we sent back our compliance to Rome, and with the Pope's permission he was buried, though unworthy, with other Christians." Stories of this kind show in what a thoroughly paternal light the Pope was at this epoch regarded by the nations of the West, and how such temporal power and influence as he acquired in the later Middle Ages had their source in spontaneous acts of submission offered to him by them, when they were in the days of their youth, and stood more in need of a father's guidance.
John and the See of Hamburg-Bremen
But when his eyes were turned to the North, John saw even far beyond the isles of Britain. Before the close of the ninth century, the enterprising long-ships of the Northmen had not only discovered Iceland and Greenland, but had even conveyed colonists thither. These events must have made some sensation even in the tenth century, and John so far provided for the future establishment of Christianity there as to put those distant countries, more or less romantic even now, under the spiritual care of the archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen. On the death of Bishop Reinward in 917, King Conrad, who did not end his days till just before Christmas Day in 918, "by divine inspiration" selected to succeed him not the elect of the clergy and people, but the elect's chaplain, Wenni or Unni. At least so the story was told to the good canon Adam of Bremen in the following century. To Wenni, as the papal bull proves, did John X send the pallium (October 29, 917). The privilege of John X confirmed the bulls of Gregory IV, Nicholas I, etc., and granted Wenni the pallium and jurisdiction over the bishops in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Scandinavia, Greenland, and in all the northern parts and in certain Slav localities. The privilege further subjected to the bishops of Hamburg all the countries they might bring to the faith. No doubt this final concession explains the subsequent introduction into the bull of "Iceland and Greenland", which had no bishops in 917. When these countries had been brought to the faith of Christ, some scribe who made a copy of the original bull after that event, would add their names to it; for he would regard them as clearly subject to the archdiocese of Hamburg. In conclusion, the privilege declared that the jurisdiction of the bishops of Hamburg was not to be interfered with either by the bishop of Cologne or by any other bishop. The date of the bull should be the fourth year of Pope John and the fifth indiction", and not the first year of the Pope and the eighth indiction, as it appears in the printed editions. By such as question the authenticity of this document, it must be ever remembered that a bull is not shown to be invalid when it is shown that its date, as it is read in such copies as have weathered the storms of time, is not properly expressed; that the existence of a bull of John X is vouched for by Adam of Bremen, who had evidently examined it; and that nothing conclusive can be urged against the genuineness of the particular one which has come down to us.
Amid the din of battle and the turmoil of faction John found time to beautify the Lateran, though in what precise manner we know not. Benedict of Soracte simply speaks of paintings and inscriptions placed by him in the Lateran palace.
This notice, however, is of value, as it apparently fixes the Pope's place of burial. For John the Deacon, in hisoft-quoted description of the Lateran, speaks of the tomb of a Pope John in the atrium of the basilica near the principal entrance; and, relying doubtless on some subsequent verses of the epitaph of which he quotes the first line only, adds of this Pope John that he renewed the basilica. Now, as John X is the only Pope of that name of whom we read that he repaired the Lateran basilica, we may reasonably conclude that the tomb spoken of by the deacon was that of John X.
Correcting Cinagli and others, Liverani maintains that there are only two and not three extant coins of John X, both bearing the names of the Pope and St. Peter, Rome and Berengarius, M.P. for imperator. Since the time of Liverani, however, other similar coins have been found.'
To show the good opinion of John entertained byFrodoard, and that too though he had to suffer for John's action in the matter of the young son of Heribert of Vermandois, and to serve as his epitaph, we quote the words of that careful historian
Surgit abhinc decimus scandens sacra jura Joannes.
Rexerat ille Ravennatem moderamine plebem.
Inde petitus ad hanc Romanam percolit arcem.
Bis septem qua praenituit paulo amplius annis.
Pontifici hic nostro legat segmenta Seulfo.
Munificisque sacram decorans ornatibus aulam,
Pace nitet, dum patricia deceptus iniqua
Carcere conjicitur claustrisque arctatur opacis.
Spiritus at saevis retineri non valet antris,
Emicat immo aethera decreta sedilia scandens.
In these words Frodoard tells how John was brought from Ravenna to Rome, and was Pope for rather over fourteen years. He tells of his gifts to his own archbishop, and of his decorating the Lateran. Whilst he was working for peace, patrician guile cast him into prison; but its black vaults could not enchain his soul, which ascended to the bright realms above.
While the anonymous panegyrist of Berengarius, not unnaturally perhaps, praises the friend of his hero, extolling his zeal and wisdom, Benedict of Soracte, who knows how to be very severe on a Pope when he likes, has no word to say against the moral character of John X. Finally, it is to be noted that not even John's one detractor, Liutprand, brings any charge directly against him after he became Pope. Even if, therefore, that inaccurate and slanderous historian is to be believed, and John must be set down as of loose character before he became Pope, his many glorious deeds are an indisputable testimony of his worth when Pope. If, according to Liutprand, he was the slave of Theodora while archbishop of Ravenna, he was not infatuated by Marozia when Pope of Rome.
928 or 928-9.
THE two immediate successors of John X are mere shadows of whom we barely know "their exits and their entrances". The first of them was Leo, a Roman, the son of Christopher who had been primicerius under John VIII, and whose name appears in several papal documents belonging to the year 876. When Leo became Pope he was serving the Church of St. Susanna. Practically all we know of him, viz., his action in Dalmatia, has been already told under the pontificate of John X. Ages ago Ptolemy of Lucca (d. 1327) declared that he could find nothing recorded of this Pope but that "he exercised no tyranny and died in peace, and that according to most writers he was buried in St. Peter's". Almost the same confession has to be made now.
Frodoard simply says of him :
Pro quo celsa Petri sextus Leo regmina sumens,
Mensibus haec septem servat, quinisque diebus,
Praedecessorumque petit consortia vatum.
Those who say he was placed on the papal throne by Marozia say what is perhaps probable; while those who say he died in prison say what is certainly improbable.
If with Jaffée we suppose he became Pope in June 928, he must have died in February 929; but in December 928 or January 929 if with Duchesne we hold that he was consecrated somewhat earlier than June.
THE shadow of Stephen VIII, a Roman, the son of Teudemund, and formerly cardinal-priest of St. Anastasia, the second successor of John X, is scarcely any better defined than that of Leo VI; and that too though he reigned longer. He was Pope for over two years and a half. While Ptolemy of Lucca could find nothing more to say of him than that "his pontificate passed in peace, and in death his body to St. Peter's", the diligence of such moderns as Pflugk-Hartung has brought to light a few of his bulls in favour of monasteries in France and Italy.
A silver coin with the name of Stephen, coupled withthat of St. Paul on the obverse, and on the reverse that of Rome along with that of St. Peter, is assigned by Cinagli to this Stephen. Other authors, however, suppose it to be the work of some other Pope Stephen. There seems nothing about the coin to enable its ownership to be decided definitely. Of this Pope Frodoard writes :
Septimus hinc Stephanus binos praefulget in annos,
Aucto mense super, bisseno ac sole jugato,
Disposita post quod spatium sibi sege locatur.
Those who believe that in a verse each word is the unshackled choice of the poet himself, and do not imagine the exigencies of the line itself have anything to do with the matter, will conclude from the word "praefulget" that our pontiff was illustrious by his shining virtues. It may be so; but they have failed to pierce the gloom of the period and to shed any light on posterity. If, however, we can put faith in a twelfth century Greek document, we must believe that Stephen VIII was "the first Pope who was shameless enough to shave himself, and to order the rest of Italy to do likewise!". In their anxiety to justify their position of schism, any charge was good enough for the Greeks to bring against the Roman pontiffs.
To two shadows there succeeded, in the person of John XI,a puppet, a man without authority, destitute of all worldly dignity, and who merely performed the sacred duties of his ministry. For all civil power had been seized by his brother (Alberic), the Patrician. So writes our best authority, Frodoard. But as the natural qualities of John are highly praised by that rigid upholder of ecclesiastical discipline, Ratherius of Verona, it is no doubt correct to suppose that his subordinate position was due not so much to any marked want of virtue or ability in himself as to the force of circumstances, to his youth, to the natural tendency to submission to parental authority, and to the masterful character of his brother Alberic II. The latter's admirer, Benedict of Soracte, who "thinks that his memory will endure for ever", gives us to understand that his character was in keeping with the fierce and gleaming countenance which he had inherited from his father. He was simply terrific—a type of a ferocious Italian bandit. When such a man was lord of Rome, little wonder that others had not much authority.
As John XI is always spoken of by Frodoard as the brother of Alberic I I and the son of Marozia, and as it is certain, not merely from Liutprand but from Benedict, that Alberic I I was the son of Alberic I, we may well be permitted to believe, despite Liutprand, that John XI also was the son of Alberic I. In addition to what was said on this subject in the life of Sergius III, it may here be noted that the letter of Theodore Daphnopata—the importance of which as historical evidence cannot be over-stated—makes it plain that John himself had spoken of his mother and his sister in a way that could not be looked for in a mere bastard. It can scarcely be believed too that John would have entered into negotiations with the punctilious emperor of Constantinople, with the object of allying his sister with the son of Romanus, if his own relationship to her was not that of brother in the strictest sense. No doubt the reason why John is so generally spoken of as the son of Marozia and the brother of Alberic is that his father, Alberic I, was dead when he became Pope, and his brother made himself so famous by becoming tyrant of Rome.
However, be all this as it may, Marozia, who, through the influence of her husband Alberic and the possession of the castle of St. Angelo, had acquired immense power in Rome, in order to increase that power, caused her son John, of the title of S. Maria in Trastevere, to be elected Pope about the month of March 931. Both Benedict and Liutprand err in making John XI the immediate successor of John X.
Not content with the increased importance which accrued to her from being the mother of the Pope, or perhaps already fearing her son Alberic, Marozia determined to advance her authority still more by marrying for the third time. She made choice of Hugo of Provence, the king of Italy, a man who, if "gifted in no common degree ... (was) the most dissolute voluptuary of his time", and was, moreover, her brother-in-law; for he was the stepbrother of her late husband Guido of Tuscany. But neither Hugo nor Marozia paid any regard to canonical impediments that stood in the way of their ambitions. She wished to be queen of Italy; he, to hold Rome.
Accordingly, if one can believe that gross flatterer Liutprand, who has the brazen effrontery to upbraid Marozia for ruining such a holy man as Hugo, the king accepted the invitation of Marozia and advanced on Rome. Whether it was because he trusted in the strength of the castle of St. Angelo, or because he found there was an indisposition on the part of the Romans to have an army within their walls, Hugo followed the usual custom, left his troops without the city, and entered Rome merely with a bodyguard. He met with an honourable reception from the Romans, and his marriage with Marozia was duly celebrated. Safe, as he imagined, within the fortress by the Tiber, Hugo determined to reduce the city under his complete control, and to this end to seize his stepson Alberic and to put out his eyes; for in him he rightly beheld the one obstacle to the accomplishment of his designs. According to the narrative of Liutprand, an accident brought matters to a crisis before the plans of Hugo were quite ripe. Chancing carelessly to pour out the water with which the king was to wash his hands, the young Alberic received a blow in the face from the irate Burgundian.
With cheek and passion alike in flame, the youth rushed from the castle. Soon the whole city was ablaze with his fiery words: "To such a depth of degradation", he cried, "has Rome been brought, that it obeys the rule of harlots. Burgundians, once the slaves of the Romans, now rule over them. If though but newly come amongst us, he (Hugo) has struck the face of a son-in-law, what will he not do to you when his position is secured? Are you ignorant of Burgundian haughtiness and voracity?". All this is, of course, merely Liutprand. The fact is, that Alberic realized quite as well as Hugo that Rome was not big enough for both of them, and he succeeded in stirring up the people (i.e. his own particular party) against his rival. To the sound of trumpets and bells a men flew to arms, and moved towards the Mole of Hadrian. Fearing for his life, Hugo contrived to escape before the castle was stormed, Master of St. Angelo and Rome, Alberic imprisoned his mother and confined the Pope,
These events probably took place at the close of the year 932, and certainly not later than the beginning of 933. And, in the words of Benedict, Alberic’s yoke pressed heavily as well on the Romans as on the Apostolic See. It continued to press heavily for over twenty years. Hence we may be sure that when Frodoard in his verses on John X. assigned him only two years of a reign, he did so because he would not reckon the years he was in confinement. To this period of the imprisonment of Marozia and the keeping of her son in durance vile, Muratori assigns the dissemination of those baseless stories against Marozia and her family which Liutprand repeated with such gusto. The spread of such reports would facilitate the usurped rule of Alberic, and may well have received his countenance.
It is of moment to form a correct idea both of the agents and of the results of the usurpation of the son of Marozia. Writers who speak of the Romans rejoicing over the action of Alberic because they "had shaken off at one stroke the monarchy, the empire, and the temporal power of the Pope, and had attained civic independence", must surely be attaching undue importance to some words of Liutprand, and neglecting not only other words of that same writer, but the far more weighty ones of other more reliable authors. The Romans under Alberic had as much "civic independence" as they had under the sway of Marozia, i.e., practically none at all, and John XI had still less power than he had under his mother. Already for some ten years or so the Popes seem to have lost all civil control over Ravenna and the exarchate. And now, by the usurpation of Alberic and his adherents, John XI lost not only all civil power in Rome, but practically his own personal independence. Rome was, in fact, under a tyranny. It was in a similar position to Florence, Milan, and the other great cities of the northern half of Italy at the close of the Middle Ages when under the sway of the Medici, the Visconti, and the rest. That section of the Roman nobility which had been striving for more power since the days of Pippin and Charlemagne, when increased temporal authority came to the Popes, had now, in the person of Alberic, gained the upper hand. And the titles of Senator, Patrician, Prince of all the Romans, which Alberic affected, were in no sense bestowed on him by the Romans at large; they were assumed by Alberic himself, as was the power they expressed. The women of his family assumed the title of Senatrix. But the power of the Senator of all the Romans was very limited; it was practically restricted to the city of Rome. If the Popes had no temporal jurisdiction within its walls, Alberic had none outside them. Hugo was frequently in arms before the gates of the Eternal City.
After laying waste the Campagna, Hugo appeared before Hugo the walls of Rome the year after he had been driven from it. After having in vain attempted to carry the city by storm, he had to raise the siege. However, in three years' time he was back again. On this second occasion, after peace had been made by the exertions of the saintly Abbot Odo of Cluny, Hugo tried the fox's skin as the lion's had failed. Trusting by its use to get Alberic into his power, Hugo offered him his daughter Alda in marriage. Alberic accepted the daughter, but would have nothing to do with the father-in-law. On the contrary, he received his enemies with great kindness. For a second time Hugo had to retire discomfited.
Alberic no doubt accepted Alda to pacify Hugo. But he had formerly hoped to effect a marriage which would have strengthened his hands against him. If Benedict has not confused Alberic's wish to espouse his sister to the son of Romanus I with a desire himself to marry a daughter of Romanus (who at this time was ruling in Constantinople with Constantine Porphyrogenitus), it would seem that the Prince of the Romans had at one time thought of securing his position by a double matrimonial alliance with Constantinople.
At this time the Greek Church generally was in as bad state as the Roman. Of the Church in Constantinople in particular, Finlay thus writes: “The attachment of the people had once rendered the Patriarch almost equal to the emperor in dignity, but the clergy of the capital were now more closely connected with the court than the people. The power of the emperor to depose as well as to appoint the Patriarch was hardly questioned, and of course the head of the Eastern Church occupied a very inferior position to the Pope ... Both religion and civilization suffered by this additional centralization of power in the imperial cabinet. From this period we may date the decline of the Greek Church”. Its decline was helped by the dissolute patriarch Theophylactus. For some twenty years this imperial nominee scandalized the Church of Constantinople. He was at once simoniacal, profane, and extravagant. He introduced dances into the most solemn services of the Church, kept two thousand horses, and could not wait to finish Mass if he was informed that a favourite mare was about to foal! This hippomania, which Schlumberger is pleased to observe “is worthy of a great English gentleman”, brought about his death. He died (956) from a fall from one of his horses.
To make way for the promotion to the patriarchate of this unworthy son of his, a eunuch of but sixteen years of age, the legitimate patriarch Tryphon had been deposed (September 931) by the Emperor Romanus, and negotiations had been opened with Rome to obtain the confirmation of the youthful Theophylactus. Judging from the length of time which elapsed between the deposition of Tryphon and the consecration of his successor (February 933), it would seem that whilst John was free he would not grant the required confirmation. But when Alberic had seized the reins of civil government, and had the Pope in his power, he realized that he might profit by compliance with the desires of Romanus. The price of the confirmation was to be the double matrimonial alliance of which we have just spoken. Liutprand, indeed, says that Romanus bought Alberic with money. It is, no doubt, likely enough that the “Prince of all the Romans” received money as well for his share in the transaction. At any rate the letters of confirmation were sent by the hands of papal legates (one of whom was Bishop Madalbert, whose former missions to the East have been already noted), and the furthering of the matrimonial projects of Alberic were no doubt entrusted to them at the same time. The youthful patriarch was duly installed by the papal legates (February 2, 933), who then turned their attention to the question of the alliances. As far as Alberic himself was concerned, we have already seen how the action of Hugo more or less forced him to take to wife Alda, the daughter of his enemy (936). However, the negotiations for the marriage of his and the Pope's sister with a son of Romanus continued; and it is in connection with that subject that there arrived in Rome the oft-mentioned letter to the Pope from the secretary of the Greek emperor.
It opened with the bestowal of great praise on the Pope's legates. John himself is then thanked for having acknowledged Theophylactus, and for having caused him to be installed as patriarch by his legates, through whom becoming homage was paid to him (John). The letter went on to deprecate the conduct of some who had opposed the consecration of Theophylactus on the ground that privileges ought not to be given up, and that it was within their right to manage the affairs of the Church of Constantinople without the interference of the bishops of Rome. Of course, they contended that, when there was question of any difficulty with regard to "our orthodox faith", the bishops of Rome and of the other thrones must be summoned to give their assistance. But where there was only question of making a patriarch, the bishop of Rome had never been called in, except in a friendly way to rejoice with them. These talkers, continued the emperor, had soon fallen into line, and all was now in harmony. This desired consummation was the work of the Pope, and to him, “the most revered of bishops”, thanks are again due. Romanus next apologized for detaining the Pope's legates so long, but the business was important. To accompany them on their return, he is sending two apocrisiarii of his own who will give additional explanations. Further, that matters may not go against his son after his (the emperor's) death, “as a suppliant of your supreme pontifical power”, he begs the Pope, his father, to assemble all the clergy of the Roman Church that they may hear the explanations of the imperial envoys concerning the consecration of Theophylactus; to cause a decree to be drawn up confirming the young patriarch's ordination; both to sign it himself and see that it was signed by all the rest; and to add at the end of the document : "If anyone should not acknowledge and confess as proper and lawful the consecration of the lord Theophylactus as patriarch of Constantinople, but should attempt to carp at it, let such a one, whether emperor, senator, priest, or man of low degree, be subjected to the ban of the Most Holy Spirit and of the Princes of the Apostles and be rendered amenable to eternal anathema". Romanus then begged that this document might be sent to Constantinople to be there kept; and assured the Pope he would be ever grateful to him, and would help him. In conclusion, he declared how pleased he would be to be connected with the Pope by the proposed matrimonial alliance. Owing to distance and reasons of state, his son indeed could not well go to Rome to fetch his bride, but perhaps the bride's mother could bring her, availing herself of the vessels in which the Pope's legates have left for Rome; or, if preferable, faithful servants could bring her. Or, in fine, if the present were for any cause an unsuitable time, the emperor would, on hearing from the Pope, send ships and proper persons to conduct the maiden to Constantinople, and by the will of Heaven "conclude the matrimonial alliance"
As Constantine Porphyrogenitus, with whom Romanus was then reigning, has left on record, in his work on The Government of the Empire, the various devices to which Byzantine rulers were wont to have recourse to prevent foreign princes from marrying into the imperial family, it is hard to say whether Romanus was in good faith in this marriage question. At any rate the young couple were never wedded. But it is not from matrimonial affairs that this letter is so interesting and valuable. It is because it shows the East and West still at one in matters of religion, and both as yet acknowledging the Pope as the head of that united whole. At the same time unmistakable mutterings of the coming storm are audible in it. In it may be noted the existence of those narrow spirits who are to be met with in every age of the Church, and who are ever trying to make the universal truths of which the Church is the guardian subservient to views merely local and temporal, and to subordinate the soul and its aspirations to the material advancement of the body.
Theophylactus was not the only one for whom Alberic arranged that the pallium should be sent. We have already seen how the powerful count, Heribert of Vermandois, had secured from John X the confirmation of the election, as archbishop of Rheims, of his youthful son Hugh. But when, in the course of a quarrel between King Rodolf and Heribert, the former seized Rheims, he placed by force on the episcopal throne of that city the monk Artaud; for the clergy and people refused to accede to his request to elect another archbishop, as Hugh was still alive. However, according to Artaud himself, he was accepted by the whole people of the city after his consecration (932), and a year afterwards received the pallium from Pope John, "the son of Maria, called also Marozia, or rather from the Patrician Alberic, brother of the Pope, who kept John in his power". With one bishop thus actually consecrated for the See of Rheims and another (Hugh), though not consecrated, long ago nominated for it, we may be sure that trouble would soon arise for the Church of Rheims; and it did. The further course of the history of the relations between Hugh and Artaud will be related in the life of Agapitus II.
Like his namesake John X, this Pope is also connected with the famous monastery of Cluny, the abbot of which, the famous Odo, did much good in Italy during his pontificate. John confirmed the privileges not only of Cluny itself—on the condition of a payment of ten solidi every five years—but also of various of its dependent houses, at the request of Odo. With the exception of the granting of a few similar privileges to other monasteries, we know no more of the actions of John XI during his period of bondage to his brother "the Prince of the Romans". Than the biographies of some of the pontiffs of the tenth century, no further argument can surely be necessary to show the necessity of the absolute freedom of the Pope from all local civil control, if he is to be able to fulfill adequately his duties as supreme pastor of the Universal Church.
The extant coins of this Pope show clearly the days both of his independence and dependence. Whilst he was free, his coins bore only his own name, that of St. Peter and Rome, if indeed the coin assigned by Cinagli to this Pope does not belong to John XII. His state of subjection is shown by a coin discovered somewhat over twenty years ago in the Tiber. On the obverse it not only bears the name of Alberic "Princeps", but sets forth that he ordered it to be struck. On the reverse appears the monogram of the Pope.
John XI died either towards the close of 935 (Duchesne, December) or in the beginning of 936 (January, Jaffäe). Of his overshadowed career Frodoard wrote:—
Nato patricae hinc cedunt pia jura Joanni;
Undecimus Petri hoc qui nomine sede levatur.
Vi vacuus, splendore carens, modo sacra ministrans,
Fratre a patricio juris moderamine rapto,
Qui matrem incestam rerum fastigia moecho
Tradere conantem decimum sub claustra Johannem
Qua dederat, claustri vigili et custode subegit.
Artoldus noster sub quo sacra pallia sumit;
Papaque obit nomen geminum ferre nactus in annum.
Duchesne tells us there was a contemporary gloss on the last verse to the effect that John was Pope in name indeed but not in fact.
In these verses Frodoard tells how John XI, the son of the Patricia, was stripped of all power by his brother, who placed his mother under the same confinement under which she had placed John X, when she attempted to make over the supreme power in the city to Hugo. It was from John XI that Frodoard's archbishop obtained the pallium. He died after having been Pope really only two years.
WITH regard to the dates of the consecration and death of Leo VII, a Roman by birth, and priest of St. Sixtus, we are on surer ground than we are for the corresponding dates of many of the other pontiffs of this period. In assigning January 3, 936 as the date of Leo's consecration and July 13 as the date of his death, Duchesne is in practical agreement with Jaffé. And both authors have sound documentary evidence to rest upon. Other evidence we have concerning Leo is not so easy to interpret. From the fact that Frodoard calls him "a servant of God" and that in a letter regarding the abbey of Fleury he himself alludes to St. Benedict as "a worthy father" and speaks of "our lord the most blessed Benedict", many authors conclude that Leo was a Benedictine monk. This contention may be said to be strengthened by the fact that Alberic, "the most glorious Prince and Senator of the Romans", was very much devoted to monasteries and monks, and hence may well be supposed to have selected a monk to succeed John XI. Besides, he was sure to have argued that a simple and pious monk would not be likely to question his usurpation of papal temporal power. It was during the pontificate of Leo VII that our worthy historian Frodoard came to Rome, so that what he tells us of the Roman pontiff of 936 he had first learnt by his own eyes and ears. The last of the good canon's verses tell of Leo VII. By them Leo is put before us as one whose thoughts were fixed only on God, and who had no care for the things of earth. Pressure had to be brought to bear upon him before he could be induced to accept the supreme pontificate, of which he showed himself to be thoroughly worthy. His elevation made no change in him; he remained devoted to prayer. Learned was he too, affable in manner, gracious in speech and countenance. Speaking of his kind reception by Leo, Frodoard fails not to tell us how the good Pope refreshed at once his temporal and spiritual needs, and sent him on his way rejoicing at the honorable treatment he had received. Naturally enough does Frodoard close his long poem on the Popes with the prayer that God will bestow temporal and eternal blessings on the amiable Leo.
It was during the first year of Leo's pontificate that King Hugo, as we have already related, besieged Rome for the second time; and it is generally believed that this was the occasion when the famous Odo of Cluny used his influence with the king of Italy to induce him to raise the siege. No doubt thoroughly well acquainted with the respect with which this loose-living monarch regarded the saintly abbot of Cluny, Leo sent for him to come into Italy to act as peace-maker. As we may well imagine from his position in the city, and as we are, in fact, directly informed, Alberic also had his share in this invitation to Odo to come to Rome. Hugh, abbot of the monastery of Farfa among the Sabine hills, in his Destructio Farfensis, records that Alberic, "the glorious prince, was so anxious to bring back the monasteries under his dominion to the due observance of their rule, which had fallen into abeyance during the ravages of the heathen, that he caused the holy Abbot Odo to come from Gaul, and constituted him archimandrite (or abbot-general) over all the monasteries in the neighborhood of Rome. Moreover, he gave the house on the Aventine in which he was born to be turned into a monastery in honor of Our Lady. It may be seen to this day". And on this day too of the twentieth century a church of Our Lady (S. M. Aventinense or S. M. del Priorato) still occupies the site of the house of Alberic
When Odo reached the Eternal City the troops of Hugo were encamped before its walls. “By Pope Leo was he sent”, writes Odo’s disciple and biographer, John the Italian, of his master, “as peacemaker between Hugo, king of the Lombards, and Alberic, prince of the city of Rome”. To effect a treaty between them, and "to save the city the horrors of siege, the abbot passed backwards andf orwards between the two rulers in his endeavours to soothe the rage of the king". The efforts of the saint, helped by famine among the besiegers and the loss of their horses, were, as we have already seen, crowned with success, and the investment of the city ended like many another tragic prelude with a marriage. Alberic took to wife Alda, Hugo's daughter, and for the time, at least, there was peace between the two rivals; and Alberic, with the aid of Odo, devoted himself to the founding and reforming of monasteries.
Massacre of Pilgrims to Rome, 936
From Rome and the Pope, however, no wars nor rumours of wars, no difficulties nor dangers of any sort have ever been able to keep the devout pilgrim. And in the tenth century the dangers were anything but imaginary. In 923 Frodoard chronicled the slaughter of many of our countrymen on their way to Rome by the Saracens of Fraxineto; and in this year (936) he tells of the same marauders making a plundering expedition into Germany, and on their return killing a number of people who were on the same errand. These scraps of information are worth recording because they show that, despite any disreputable deeds which may have been enacted even in the palace of the Popes during the tenth century, Rome was then to the Christian world still the centre of its religion, and the Pope of Rome still in its eyes the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
And again we may remark that many more or less isolated facts of this age, which are occasionally brought to the surface, prove that the prestige of the Papacy in Europe in the tenth century was not so utterly dimmed as many are disposed to believe. In the reign of Leo VII events were in progress which were to cause this truth to be illustrated under his successor by affairs in Gaul. In January 936 died, without issue, Rodolf of Burgundy; and the great nobles of France invited from England Louis, hence called d'Outre-Mer (from beyond the sea), the son of Charles the Simple, to be their king. His mother had carried him as a child to England when his father had been seized by Heribert of Vermandois. Though only sixteen when he came to France, he showed himself a worthy descendant of Charlemagne. Finding him determined to rule, we shall see the great nobles who had summoned him from England deserting him, and Stephen (VIII) IX, true to the papal tradition of friendship for the Carolingians, effectively standing by him.
In Germany, too, during the pontificate of Leo VII, events were taking place which were destined in their sequel to have the deepest effect on the Papacy, and on which the Popes in turn were to exercise an equal influence. It was in this same year (936) also that Henry I, the Fowler, died, who by his wise policy at home and gallant deeds in the field did so much to form a strong and united Germany, a stout barrier behind which the states of Europe might advance in safety along the road of civilization. He was contemplating a journey to Rome—whether as a pilgrim, to bring Italy also to some semblance of order, or for the imperial crown, is not clear—when he was seized with a mortal illness. His son Otho I, as famous in the annals of the Papacy as of Germany, was elected "with the consent of the nobles of the kingdom."
With the great political events of his age Leo had but little connection. To judge at least by the documents of his reign which jealous time has suffered to survive till now, he was mostly occupied in issuing bulls in favour of monasteries. The great monastic development at this time, attested by the decrees of Leo VII, is at least a good augury for the future. A new monastery then meant not merely a harbour of peace for such as were sick at heart at the violence and lawlessness they met with all round them, but a centre of learning, order, and peace. But while these bulls are of the first importance for purposes of chronology and local history, it will serve no useful end to go into them here in any detail. It will be enough to note that most of them are concerned with that grand centre of monastic reform, Cluny; and that some are granted at the request of Alberic, "most glorious Prince and Senator of all the Romans", thereby testifying in their silent way to the piety of the tyrant, and perchance to the dependence of the Pope. Others again had been petitioned for even by "Hugo, glorious king, along with his son King Lothaire", associated with himself on the throne of Italy in 931.
One letter at least of Leo VII, of no little importance, has reached us. It is addressed to Frederick, archbishop of Mainz (Mayence). Leo did not limit himself to groaning over the state of the world. It is true he said that, "in these our days, times full of danger have come upon us, and whilst charity has grown cold, iniquity so abounds that well-nigh the whole order of things is upset, and there does not seem a place whereon religion may rest". But at the same time he endeavored to make a home for religion. What he had heard of the work for law and order accomplished by Henry the Fowler, and what he had been told of the energy of his son, Otho I, naturally made him turn his eyes to Germany. To co-operate with the enlightened efforts of these two great princes, he appointed Frederick his vicar and missus throughout all the regions of the whole of Germany, so that, wherever he found any bishops, priests, deacons, or monks failing to do their duty, he was not to omit to correct them, and to bring them back to the way of truth. But while, in response to the archbishop's question as to whether it was better to baptize the Jews by force, or drive them out of the cities, he would not allow him to baptize them against their will, he so far yielded to the spirit of the age as to allow him to expel them from the cities unless they embraced the Christian religion. Whether Leo lived to see any of the fruits of his labours for reform in Germany we do not know. He died July 939.
Little as we know of his life, we know enough of it to say that he did what very many in high places fail to do. He dignified the lofty station he held with at least many of the virtues which became it; though Milman, with what must be stigmatized as his usual inaccuracy, classes Leo VII with his three successors as Popes who gave "hardly a sign of their power in Rome, no indication of their dignity, still less of their sanctity."
STEPHEN (VIII) IX
To supplement the little that they found recorded of Stephen IX by reliable authors, Bower and others have fallen back upon fables derived from Martinus Strepus, generally known as Martinus Polonus. This Dominican, who did not compile his famous Chronicle of Popes and Emperors till the latter half of the thirteenth century, is now universally allowed to have been destitute of critical ability and to have freely inserted fables for history. As his Chronicle was very popular, Wattenbach, in his well-known work on the Sources of History, has to regret the loss which accrued to historical studies by the wide circulation of such an uncritical production. On the authority of such a late and untrustworthy source, Stephen IX, is described as a German, and as elected Pope by the power of his relative Otho I, who set aside the rights of the cardinals. Hated as a Teuton, he was seized, and so disfigured by the partisans of Alberic that he could not appear in public. But that Stephen, who was attached to the Church of "SS. Silvester and Martin", now S. Martino ai Monti, was a Roman, is the testimony of the contemporary or quasi-contemporary catalogues; and it is needless to point out that Otho's influence on the affairs of Italy and the Papacy had not as yet made itself felt. In the earlier years of his reign he was too much taken up with endeavours to secure his own ascendancy over German dukes almost as powerful as himself, and to extend his sway westwards at the expense of Louis d'Outre-Mer, to have been able to concern himself with Italian interests, civil or ecclesiastical
Elected on July 14, 939, Stephen seems to have been largely taken up with the affairs of Gaul, as the country of the Franks was still frequently called. In the Life of Leo VII reference was made to the crowning of Louis d'Outre-Mer as king of France. He had been offered the crown because it had been fondly imagined that he would not attempt to wear it effectively. But when it was found that Louis wished to be king in reality as well as in name, several of the more powerful nobles, chief among whom were Hugh the Great, duke of the Franks, whose authority extended over the territory between the Loire and the Seine, and Heribert of Vermandois, combined against him. Hugh was the representative of the line which was soon to oust the Carolingian dynasty from the throne. He was the son of King Robert, and father of Hugh Capet, the founder of the Capetian line which ruled in France till the beginning of the fourteenth century (1328). To strengthen their hands against Louis, the malcontents made overtures to Otho I of Germany. Unable to make headway against such a powerful combination, the youthful monarch was, by the beginning of the year 942, reduced to the greatest straits. At this juncture Stephen decided to intervene in his behalf. He accordingly dispatched as his legate to the opposing parties one Damasus, "an illustrious man", whom he had consecrated bishop for the purposes of this embassy. He was the bearer of letters from the Pope to the nobles, "and to all the inhabitants of France and Burgundy", to the effect that they were to acknowledge Louis, and to cease their hostility against him under pain of excommunication. Aroused by this action of the Pope, the bishops of the diocese of Rheims met in synod and sought to induce Heribert to prevail on Hugh the Great to submit to Louis. Except that it tended to draw the bishops from the party of the nobles, this first attempt of Stephen to make peace was unsuccessful. One failure, however, only encouraged him to make a second attempt. Perhaps with a view to putting the youth's father (Heribert) and his uncle (Hugh the Great) under an obligation to him, Stephen granted (942) the pallium to Hugh, who, as we have seen, had been elected archbishop of Rheims in his fifth year. With the bearers of the pallium was dispatched another embassy from Rome "to the princes of the kingdom." Again were they exhorted to submit to Louis. This time they were told that, if before Christmas they had not sent envoys to Rome to make their submission known to the Pope, they would be excommunicated. The king's cause improved at once. Many of the great nobles rallied around him. "This movement in favour of the king seems to have been the result of the menaces from Rome; for the Papacy still enjoyed a considerable amount of prestige despite the disorders which had preceded the pontificate of Leo VII." Before the close of the year (942) Louis was at peace with Otho, and had received the submission of the great nobles of his kingdom. "None had dared to brave the sentence of excommunication. It was a victory for the Carolingian royalty in its decline. (But) it was almost entirely owing to the intervention of that Roman power which, in its heyday of prosperity, the decaying dynasty had done so much to establish". Even in the darkest hours of the tenth century the Papacy was not that negligible quantity in the political affairs of Europe which many have so long been wont to suppose.
The influence which the Popes then exercised was exerted when communication with Rome was, from one cause and another, most difficult. In 940 Frodoard has again to record another massacre, in the passes of the Alps, of Englishmen (Transmarini) on their way to Rome, by the Saracens of Fraxineto. And in the very year (942) which witnessed Stephen's intervention in behalf of Louis, there was a renewal of the fierce war between Hugo and Alberic, which seriously interrupted communication with Rome, and which was once more only brought to a close by the successful intervention of the saintly Odo.
Perhaps it is in connection with these efforts from without which Hugo made to overthrow the power of Alberic that ought to be placed the conspiracy against the latter in Rome itself narrated by Benedict of Soracte. In alliance against the Prince of the Romans were not only bishops, but the senatrices, Alberic's sisters. One of these latter, however, betrayed the plot to her brother, and he was enabled to triumph over his foes both within and without the city, whether they were in league or not. The conspirators were scourged (berberati as Benedict calls it), beheaded, or imprisoned. And a diet or placitum held by Alberic at this time (August 17, 942) shows him supreme in the city and, for the purposes of administering justice, employing in such assemblies both the officials of the papal court, such as the primicerius and secundicerius of the notaries, and the chief nobles of the city, the Vestararius Benedict, Crescentius, and others whose names are of frequent occurrence in Roman affairs of this period.
It would seem that it was about this time also that he renewed his efforts to secure the aid of the Greeks by means of a matrimonial alliance. He felt the necessity of making a counter-move to that of his powerful foe Hugo, who in 942 was himself negotiating for a Greek alliance on a matrimonial basis. Hugo's aim was to marry one of his bastard daughters to the grandson (afterwards Romanus II) of the Emperor Romanus. Alberic was not a little alarmed when he heard that the emperor was preparing to place at his enemy's disposal ships furnished with the dread Greek fire, and had already sent great presents to the Lombard king. Accordingly, as his wife Alda was dead, he again demanded the daughter of Romanus in marriage. As usual, a favourable hearing was seemingly granted to the request.
According to the prescribed etiquette of the Byzantine court, when Alberic's ambassadors arrived at Constantinople, they first offered to the emperor the respects of the Pope and clergy, and then the faithful service of "the most glorious Prince of Old Rome, of his nobles, and of all the people submitted to him". Then the logothete, who received them in the first instance, asked about the health of the most holy Bishop of Rome, the spiritual father of the emperor", and about that of the Roman clergy; and brought to a conclusion this formal part of the reception of the Roman envoys by polite inquiries about "the most glorious Prince of Old Rome".
Altogether his embassy was so favorably received that Alberic, regarding the matter as settled, made extensive preparations for the reception of his expected Greek bride. To attend upon her he gathered into his palace all the most lovely young ladies of the noble families both of Rome and the Sabina. But Alberic and his fair companions waited in vain.' The Greek princess never came; no doubt because it was never intended that she should come. The wily Greeks had no intention of offering substantial support to either party. The longer Alberic and Hugo fought, and the more they weakened each other, the better would their interests in south Italy be served.
In the little that history has to tell of the career of Pope Stephen, there is certainly no sign that he exercised anymore civic authority in Rome than his immediate predecessors or successors. He was released from his state of dependence by his death, which took place apparently in the month of October 942.
shadowy and still more shadowy are now growing the successor of St. Peter. Although a nominee of Alberic "without whose orders he durst not put his hand to anything", Marinus was a most worthy man. Indeed, there is this to be said in favour of Alberic's otherwise tyrannical domination, viz., that he seems in every case to have appointed to the papal throne men who, if weak, were at any rate good. Marinus, a Roman of the title of St. Ciriacus, was no exception to the rule. He became Pope in October (October 3o, according to Duchesne) 942.
Among the pilgrims who are said to have come "to the threshold of the apostles" during the pontificate of Marinus was the famous Udalric or Ulric, sometime bishop of Augsburg. But as the visit of Ulric referred to took place in the year 909, it is plain that his biographer must either have inadvertently written Marinus for Sergius, or have called Marinus Pope in 909, because he afterwards acquired that dignity. It is generally supposed that the latter is the correct explanation.
When Ulric reached Rome, he was well received by Marinus, who asked him of what nationality he was. Told that he was a German of Augsburg, and attached to the household of Adalberon, the bishop of that city, Marinus at once assured him that that prelate was dead, and that he was destined to succeed him. The saint expressed his profound astonishment at what he had heard, and his disinclination to become bishop. "Well", replied Marinus, "if you will not accept the bishopric now, when it is intact, you will have to take it when it is in ruins, and you will have to restore it". And so it happened. The diocese was laid waste by the terrible Hungarians, and, on the death of Adalberon's successor, Hiltinus (d. 923), Ulric succeeded him. Three visits of Ulric to Rome are recorded, but only the second could possibly have fallen in the actual reign of Marinus as Pope.
Like his predecessor Stephen IX, Marinus, in a quiet way indeed, but steadily, worked for the reform of the fChurch. He continued the appointment of Frederick, archbishop of Mayence, as "vicar and missus" of the Apostolic See throughout Germany and Gaul, "so that he had papal power, if he found any persons whatsoever deviating from the right path, to summon them to him wheresoever he pleased, to warn and correct them, and to hold synods". Frederick, like most of the great bishops of his day, was deep in all the great political movements of his age; but how far he found time to attend to the discipline of his clergy and to the improvement of the moral tone of the people "throughout Germany and Gaul" is a question not easily answered. At any rate, maintaining that it was better to have a few really good monks than many negligent ones, he made a dead set first against the smaller monasteries and then against the larger ones. But there is a suspicion that he did this out of resentment, because he had for a time been imprisoned in the monastery of Fulda on account of some conspiracy against Otho. Despite his intrigues against Otho, however, it may be fairly concluded from the fact of his meriting the confidence of two good Popes, that, for the times at least, he was a useful bishop, and contrived, in some way or other, to find opportunity to work for the good of souls. And so the Annals of Hildesheim (an. 954), in recording his death, speak of him as a man "of the greatest abstemiousness, and as of tried faith and morality". Even to his successor, who was an illegitimate son of Otho himself, he seems to have been regarded as a worthy man. The last entry in the Annates Augienses (954) records the death of Frederick, "of happy memory", and goes on : "The same year, I, William, unworthy to succeed such a great man, was elected in his place with the consent of the clergy and people of the same holy see," viz. of Mayence.
While endeavouring to improve discipline in distant lands through his vicars, Marinus in his own person strove to amend it nearer home. Sicus, bishop of Capua, had seized a church which his predecessor had given to the Benedictines that they might build a monastery alongside it, and had bestowed it as a benefice on a deacon who was as unworthy a cleric as the bishop himself. When the affair was brought to the Pope's notice, he took occasion from the incident to upbraid the bishop not only for this act of injustice, but also for his ignorance both of sacred and profane literature, and for the company he kept. For Sicus preferred not merely the company of laymen to that of clerics, but even that of the lowest of laymen and the most ignorant of clerics. The Pope decided that the bishop must restore the church forthwith, so that it may no longer be used for disorderly purposes. Sicus must also cease to make a companion of the said deacon. If he does not obey, he will be deprived of his dignity and excommunicated. Whether Sicus had anything to urge against the accuracy of the information, which had been forwarded to the Pope by a certain learned man", is not known, but the church was no doubt restored.
The interest felt by Marinus in the great monastic development which was then in progress is shown by the bulls he issued in favour of various monasteries. Of some of these documents the contents have come down to us. One of the privileges of Marinus deserves to be mentioned, as it serves to show that, though the Popes had at this time no civil power in the more distant parts of what was once their dominion, they had not lost all their property there. It is a privilege addressed to the archbishop of Ravenna "in connection with a portion of the county of Ferrara."
Whether Marinus ever lived in it or not, it is interesting to know that modern archeological research has revealed the fact that the palace built by John VII out of palace on the ruins of the north-eastern section of the Domus Guiana, which overlooks the Forum and the Sacred Way, was still apparently habitable in his time. The latest bit of evidence regarding the real or nominal occupancy of the Palatine episcopal residence by the Popes came to light November 8, 1883, during the excavation of the house of the Vestals. At the north-eastern corner of the peristyle the remains of a modest mediaeval dwelling were discovered, belonging to a high official of the court of Marinus II ... This official must have been in charge of the Pope's rooms which were placed among the ruins of the Domus Gaiana.
From what has been already narrated of Marinus, we can have no difficulty in accepting what is said of him by of Marinus. Cardinal Baronius, though the authority he adduces is no more definite than "an ancient Vatican MS". According to that document, "Marinus gave himself up wholly to the inner life of the Church. He strove to reform both the secular and regular clergy, and devoted himself to the repair of the basilicas and the care of the poor. And by his letters he did all he could to promote the sacred cause of peace amongst Christian princes."
Marinus died in April (Jaffé) or May (Duchesne) 946.
In the middle of the twelfth century, and seemingly by Otho, who was bishop of Tivoli in 1160, a collection was made of the chief documents regarding that church. The quarto volume into which they were formed is remarkable for the number of illuminated miniatures with which it is adorned. It was presented to the Vatican archives by Mario Orsini, who was bishop of Tivoli from 1624 to 1634, and it was first completely edited by Bruzza.
One of the miniatures represents Pope Marinus II, seated, and giving a privilege to Hubert, bishop of Tivoli. The Pope is represented as clean-shaven and wearing the tonsure. He is clad in a red robe over which is a tunic of a brick-red. A blue chasuble, edged with green lace, completes his costume. He wears the pallium on his shoulders. His feet, shod with red sandals, rest on a yellow cushion. The circular nimbus round his head shows he was dead when the miniature was painted.
WHAT we do know of the work of the Roman Agapitus and what we are told of his "wondrous sanctity" can only make us regret with Muratori that no biography of him has come down to us. However, that he was consecrated Pope on May to, 946, is a point on which both Jaffé and Duchesne are agreed, and which is established by documentary evidence.
No doubt that which helped Agapitus to accomplish more than some of his predecessors was the fact that during his pontificate Rome and its neighborhood were left free from the visits of armed enemies. But when Gregorovius writes that under him the Papacy "reappears as taking part in matters connected with foreign countries, matters in which, under the immediate predecessors of Agapitus, it had had no share", he is robbing Peter to pay Paul. What has been recorded in the foregoing pages is more than sufficient to show that at no period of the tenth century up to this has the influence of the Papacy been unfelt in the affairs of Europe.
Before the accession of Agapitus, King Hugo was in serious difficulties. Berenger, marquis of Ivrea, the grandson of the Emperor Berenger, who had married Willa, the niece of Hugo, appeared in arms against his uncle (945) . Some five years before, dread of Hugo's jealousy had forced Berenger to fly to the court of Otho. However, no sooner did he descend the Alps with a small army than the lascivious and avaricious Hugo found himself abandoned by all. As a last resort he resigned the crown of Italy to his popular son, Lothaire, and with his money-bags went back to Provence (94 6), where he died the following year. Among the jottings of news entered by Frodoard under the year 946, we find recorded the return of Hugo to his Transalpine kingdom, the accession of Agapitus, and the fact that "peace was concluded between the Patrician Alberic and Hugo, king (of Italy)."
For a year or two, with the consent of Berenger and the nobility, Lothaire retained the title of king, while Berenger held its power. This unsatisfactory state of things was terminated in November 95o by the death of Lothaire, poisoned, as some relate, at the behest of Berenger. The next month Berenger and his son Adalbert were proclaimed kings of Italy. But the lawlessness of their rule soon raised a hornet's nest about them. The young widow of Lothaire was treated by them with the utmost indignity, and then imprisoned (April 951); justice was sold, and papal property seized in the most brigand-like style. By Liutprand Berenger is lashed in unmeasured terms. Quoting Job (xxxix. 13, 18) he says : The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron and of the hawk ... When the time comes, she setteth up her wings on high; she scorneth the horse and his rider. Whilst Hugo and Lothaire were still to the fore, that great and voracious ostrich was not good, indeed, but it had the semblance of good. But on their death ... how he raised his wings and despised all of us, I have to tell not so much in words as in sighs and groans". Were the words of the evil-tongued Liutprand not supported by those of more reliable men, not much weight could be attached to them; for he was once in the service of Berenger, and for some cause had left it for that of his enemy Otho.
However, when Adelaide contrived to escape from the clutches of Berenger, all who had a grievance, real or imaginary, against the two kings of Italy turned their eyes to Otho, and to him directed their prayers for help. And Otho was nothing loath to give it. He determined to free Adelaide altogether from the power of Berenger, marry her, and with her to obtain possession of the kingdom of Italy. What he resolved to do, he accomplished. When he entered Italy, opposition melted away before him. In October (951) he was proclaimed king of Italy, and at Christmas he married the attractive Adelaide. But his ambition was not satisfied. He would be emperor. He had given out before he started on this, his first expedition into Italy, that Rome was his goal. And so when he found himself so easily master of the north of Italy, he sent the bishops of Mayence (Mainz) and of Coire or Chur to Rome to negotiate for his reception there (952). Through the influence of Alberic, no doubt, who did not want a master, Otho was given plainly to understand that he was not wanted at Rome. With Berenger still at large in Italy, and with his own position at home not too secure, owing to rebellious dukes on the one hand and Hungarians on the other, Otho did not at the time feel justified in braving a new foe. He returned to Germany (952), with his own hopes of the imperial crown and those of the Pope for liberty alike temporarily frustrated.
Alberic then, meanwhile, was left in undisturbed possession of his usurped power, at least in so far as external interference was concerned; and he knew how to put down conspiracy at home with a strong hand. His name continued to take the place of the emperor's on the papal coins, and it was he who, in conjunction with St. Odo, abbot of Cluny, took the leading part in promoting monastic reform in Rome and in its immediate neighborhood. And if, as throughout the ninth century, the hall in the Lateran palace, to which the presence of the bronze she-wolf, popularly known as the "mother of the Romans", gave the name of ad Lupam, continued to behold the judicial assemblies of the clerical and lay nobility, we may be sure that any decisions they came to were in accordance with the wishes of "the Prince and Senator of all the Romans".
Soon after the departure of Otho from Italy, Berenger submissively placed his pretensions in the hands of Otho, and received back from him, as his vassal, the kingdom of Italy, less the marches of Verona and Aquileia, which were entrusted to Henry, duke of Bavaria.
Meanwhile, the miseries of Italy continued. Seeing that Otho was fully occupied at home, Berenger wreaked his vengeance for his humiliations on the nobility of Italy, both clerical and lay, thereby simply laying up further trouble for himself. And while the Hungarians made a practice at this period of returning from their plundering expeditions by way of the north of Italy, the southern portion of the peninsula was still kept at fever-heat by the warlike struggles of Greek, Saracen, and native prince.
However, as we have said, during all this turmoil in north and south Italy, Rome remained at peace under the strong arm of Alberic II. But at length, in the words of Benedict of Soracte, "the glorious prince began to languish". And so, summoning the nobles of Rome before him in St. Peter's, he made them swear, by the side of the Confession of the apostle, that on the death of Agapitus they would elect his son Pope. "We do not doubt the statement", writes Gregorovius "Alberic's clear intellect must have recognized that the separation of the temporal power from the Papacy in Rome was impossible for any length of time. In the hope of the intervention of Germany, however, the Papacy had attained a new power under Agapitus, and sooner or later Otho the First must seize the reins of government in Rome. Alberic understood this ... He therefore secured dominion to Octavian in thus inducing the Romans to invest him with the papal crown". In the absence of any direct evidence as to Alberic's intellect, and as to the political theories which he adopted, we may take it that these are the views of Gregorovius himself; and we may pause to note that it is as true now as Gregorovius declared it to have been in the tenth century that “the separation of the temporal power from the Papacy in Rome” is impossible.
“Though a cleric” says Frodoard, “his son Octavian obtained the princedomin succession to his deceased father Alberic, the Patrician of the Romans”. And as Princeps he awaited the death of Agapitus to become head of the Universal Church as well as head of the State of Rome.
The death of Alberic was in many ways a misfortune. During his reign, the Popes, if powerless, were virtuous; and, if he himself ruled absolutely, he would appear to have ruled justly and firmly. Under his sway the good were free to perform the works of virtue, and the lawlessness of the barons was kept in check. No sooner was his strong arm taken away than violence again stalked abroad, and we find Leo, the abbot of Subiaco, complaining to the Pope “of the great wrongs they had endured since the days when the Lord Alberic, of good memory, departed from this life”
Now that we have reviewed the general political situation in as far as it affected Rome and the Pope, we may direct our attention to the more particular actions in which Agapitus was engaged. Perhaps the most important of these was the question of the See of Rheims. It has been already told how the powerful Heribert, count of Vermandois, got his child-son elected to the See of Rheims, and how King Rodolf, after he had obtained possession of the archiepiscopal city, forcibly placed Artaud on its ecclesiastical throne. Though somewhat weak in his attachments, Artaud was, in the main, true to the Carolingian line, and supported Louis d'Outre-Mer against his recalcitrant nobles. Naturally, therefore, on every count had he to face the enmity of Heribert. In the struggle between Louis and Heribert with his allies, not a few of the possessions of the See of Rheims fell into the hands of the count of Vermandois. In the presence of Louis and the bishops who remained true to him, Artaud solemnly excommunicated Heribert for retaining the property "of St. Remy" (939). Next year, however, Rheims fell into the hands of the king's enemies, and Artaud found himself incarcerated in a monastery. Attempts were made to force him to resign his claims to the archbishopric; and, according to Richer, report had it that he did so on oath. Hugh, his rival, now aged twenty, was ordained priest; and at a council held at Soissons (940), was declared duly elected to the archiepiscopal see and immediately consecrated. Artaud appealed to Rome. Whether or not he had any opportunity of getting his case brought properly before the Pope, certain it is that Hugh procured the pallium from Stephen (VIII) IX (942). But the fortune of war again turned in favour of Louis, and Artaud was once more in Rheims (946). He was reinstalled by the archbishops of Trier and of Mayence, for Otho was now in alliance with Louis. Hugh, however, took good care that his rights to the See of Rheims were not lost for want of making them known. In accordance, therefore, with instructions received from Rome, a council was held in November 947 at Verdun, under the presidency of Robert of Trier. As Hugh would not present himself before this assembly, another synod was assembled early the following year at Mouzon itself, where he was residing. But after an interview with Robert, Hugh refused to appear even before this council. He forwarded, however, to it by the hands of a deacon a letter, which purported to come from the Pope, and which, without more ado, ordered that the bishopric should be given to Hugh. The assembled prelates, however, decided that it was not the proper thing to pass over a regular commission received by Robert of Trier from Rome in favour of a letter presented by an enemy and rival of Artaud, and that what had been begun in due form, should be also finished in accordance with the canons. They further decreed that, till a general or national council could be called, Artaud was to retain the see, and Hugh to be regarded as excommunicated. While the latter set the decrees of the council at naught, they were forwarded to Rome. Agapitus at once authorized the calling of such a council, and sent as his legate to Otho to arrange for its convocation Marinus, bishop of Bomarzo, and librarian of the Holy See. He also wrote himself to various bishops, charging them to be present at the council. Its proceedings show, further, that the Pope wished it to be a means of helping the unfortunate Louis d'Outre-Mer.
In presence of both Louis and Otho, the famous synod of Ingelheim was opened in June 948. Ingelheim, which we have met with before as a villa of the Carolingian kings, was on the left bank of the Rhine, some eight miles from Mayence. Not to count the priests and abbots, over thirty bishops, mostly Germans, were present at the council, which, as its Acts and the Annals of the period proclaim, was presided over by the papal legate Marinus. It was the power of Hugh, duke of the Franks, the enemy of Louis, which prevented the presence of many bishops from the dominions of the latter. The proceedings of the council were opened by the reading of the gospel and by prayer. Then Marinus produced his commission, in which it was stated that he had been sent "by the universal Pope" to Germany in order that in every canonical discussion which might arise, he might "by apostolical authority" bind what ought to be bound and loose what needed loosing. Both kings and bishops proclaimed their adhesion to the papal mandate.
In connection with the first object of the synod, the restoration of Louis, Marinus pointed out that the Pope had written to the people of France to induce them to be loyal to Louis; and it was decreed (can. I) that in future no one was to dare to assail the royal authority, and that Hugh was to be excommunicated if he did not present himself at the appointed time before a synod and make reparation to Louis. Artaud was then (can. 2) declared lawful archbishop of Rheims, and Hugh excommunicated. After these two most important affairs had been dealt with, the council passed various decrees for the amelioration of discipline with the approval of the papal vicar.
Through the armed support of Otho, Artaud was restored to his see, and Hugh the Great was summoned to appear before a synod at Trier (Troves), September 948. Here again Marinus presided, and as Hugh did not appear, he was excommunicated, on the initiative of Otho, till such time as he should make satisfaction before the papal legate. If he failed to do this, he would have to go to Rome for absolution.
To give greater solemnity and effect to the decrees of these two assemblies, Agapitus, in a council held in St. Peter's, confirmed the condemnation of the youthful archbishop, and excommunicated "Prince Hugh till he should make atonement to Louis". This settled both questions. Finding his nobility, clerical and lay, falling away from him, Duke Hugh submitted once more to his sovereign (950). "This change in the relations of the duke of France and of the Carolingian (king) was, as in 942, the result of the intervention of the Pope and the mediation of the king of Germany."
The death of Artaud, towards the close of 961, caused the whole question to be reopened again to the great danger of the Carolingian line. The representatives of the house of Vermandois, Albert and Heribert, demanded of Lothaire, who had meanwhile succeeded his father Louis, that their brother Hugh should now be placed in possession of the vacant See of Rheims. Their demand was backed by the powerful support of Hugh Capet. Naturally Lothaire did not wish to have the most important see in France in the hands of a hostile faction. To counteract the alliance of Hugh Capet with the family of Vermandois, Lothaire sought the aid of Otho I, and meanwhile caused a synod to discuss the question of the restoration of Hugh. The partisans of the king maintained that a smaller number of bishops could not remove from Hugh the excommunication which had been imposed upon him by a greater number at Mouzon, Ingelheim, etc. It was finally decided to leave the matter in the hands of the Pope. John XII, influenced perhaps by Otho, renewed the excommunication against Hugh, first at Rome and then at Pavia (962). A papal legate brought word of the Pope's action to France. Within a brief space Hugh died of chagrin. Through the influence of the famous Archbishop Bruno, Lothaire's brother-in-law and the adviser of Otho I, Odelric, a canon of the church of Metz, a man both acceptable to Lothaire and endowed with wealth, nobility of birth, and learning, was elected to the vacant see. Thus was another source of danger to the successors of Charlemagne removed by Rome. If anything could have preserved the Carolingian line from political extinction, the support of the Popes would have done it. But, despite the continued goodwill of Rome, the Carolingians could not resist the pressure of the Robertians, but had to yield to them the pride of place.
The other relations of Agapitus with Louis and Otho were of a character more strictly ecclesiastical. He granted a bull in favour of the church of Macon, at the request of the "pious" King Louis, "his dear son" and, in response "to the intervention of our lord the glorious King Otho", he does the same for the nunnery of Essen, now famous for something very different to nuns. We also find him subjecting another monastery simply to Otho himself and to the abbot elected by the monks. Agapitus seems to have had great confidence in Otho. This he showed not merely in the last-mentioned bull, but also in the ready way in which he gave him permission to arrange certain bishoprics as he listed. However, the protest of William, archbishop of Mayence, the papal vicar, whose jurisdiction would have been curtailed by the carrying out of the schemes of Otho, seems to have rendered this concession abortive. Further, to Bruno, archbishop of Cologne, the king's youngest brother, and the Alcuin of the court of Otho, he not merely granted the pallium, but the exceptional privilege of wearing it when he chose. As far as Bruno was concerned, he well deserved honour at the Pope's hands; for his one desire was to be united in word and deed "with those who preserve the sound doctrine handed down from Blessed Peter the apostle". But if Agapitus had foreseen that Otho's dreams of universal dominion would lead him to try to enslave the Church, he would probably not have been so considerate towards him.
Denmark and Hamburg-Bremen.
Before leaving Otho, a word or two must be said of the spread of the jurisdiction of the See of Hamburg-Bremen. In his efforts to drive back the pagans, the Danes, the Slavs, and the Hungarians, who pressed him on all sides, Otho in due course came into collision with the Danes under Harold Bluetooth, the son of Gorm the Old. The Danish monarch was defeated. With a view to humbling and elevating him at the same time, Otho insisted that he should become a Christian, as Charlemagne had done in the case of Widukind the Saxon, and our own Alfred with Guthrum. The result was in every case satisfactory. Harold remained true to his new faith. "At that time", says Adam of Bremen, "Cismarine Denmark (Dania), which the natives call Jutland, was divided (presumably by joint agreement between Harold, Otho, and the Pope) into three bishoprics, and subjected to that of Hamburg. There are preserved in the church of Bremen diplomas of Otho which show that he held the Danish kingdom beneath his sway, so that he even appointed (donaverit) its bishoprics. And among the privileges of the Roman See there may be found a bull in which Pope Agapitus renewed the privileges granted by his predecessors to the church of Hamburg, and conceded to Adalgar, its archbishop, the right of consecrating bishops in the Popes' stead as well for Denmark as for the other northern countries" (948).
Before this, another Danish ruler had been in communication with Agapitus. Among those vice-kings whom Gorm the Old (883-941) had striven to bring into subjection to the king of Denmark was Frode VI, vice-king of Jutland. He had been baptized by Unni, and at the suggestion of Archbishop Adalgar had sent to Rome for missionaries for his country. We will give the account of this embassy in the quaint words of Saxo Grammaticus.
After speaking of Frode's success in war, Saxo continues: "He also came forward to be baptized with holy water in England, which had for some while past been versed in Christianity. But he desired that his personal salvation should overflow and become general, and begged that Denmark should be instructed in divinity by Pope Agapete, who was then Pope of Rome. But he was cut off before his prayers attained their wish. His death befell before the arrival of the messengers from Rome; and indeed his intention was better than his fortune, and he won as great a reward in heaven for his intended piety as others are vouchsafed for their achievement".
Affairs of Italy.
Some of the letters of Agapitus to different princes of Italy, with which Germany was to be so closely connected for many centuries, shed no little light on the state of the country. When he had to admonish the princes of Beneventum and of Capuato restore to certain monks their monasteries or their freedom, or to send back to their monasteries such monks as had fallen away from monastic discipline; and when he had to condemn simoniacal intruders into the sees of Termoli and Trivento, he evidently found South Italy in as unsatisfactory a condition ecclesiastically as it was politically.
In attending to reform nearer home, following the policy of his predecessors in showing well-deserved honor to the monks of the Cluniac reformation, he determined to place St. Paul's, outside-the-walls, in their hands. Accordingly he wrote to Einold, the abbot of Gorze in Lorraine, to send him some religious. The request was duly attended to.
It is, perchance, to go beyond our premises directly to connect the monks of Gorze, an abbey originally founded by St. Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, with the reformation of Cluny. At any rate, Agapitus was bent on drawing his supply of monks from a particularly pure source. And how hard it was to find a pure source may be estimated (allowing for a little exaggeration) from a remark of the biographer of Blessed John of Gorze, that "there was not a monastery in all the Cisalpine countries, and scarcely one in Italy, in which there was due observance of rule". At the beginning of the tenth century Gorze was almost in ruins. Adalberon, bishop of Metz, restored it, and put it into the hands of some pious ecclesiastics (933), among whom were Einold and the Blessed John de Vendiere. He soon gave them the religious habit, and their house, in a very short time, acquired a great reputation for virtue.
The position of the Pope in Rome is very plainly, if incidentally, shown by the contemporary author of the Life of Blessed John (t974), from whom we have these particulars, when he says that Agapitus proposed to introduce the monks from Gorze, "with the help of King Alberic."
Two coins of this Pope, preserved in the Vatican Cabinet, tell the same tale of the Pope's loss of supreme temporal authority in Rome. Though both coins bear the name of Agapitus, that of Alberic is equally prominent upon them.
Both Duchesne and Jaffé are agreed that Agapitus died in December 955. His tomb was in the Lateran basilica, "behind the apse", and close to those of Leo V and Paschal II, as John the Deacon tells us in his description of the Lateran. Though it is thought that from the time of John X the Popes were buried, not in the Vatican as formerly, but in the Lateran, no express mention of the place of burial of those between John X and Agapitus II is to be found.
IT is unfortunate that the principal data from which a judgment has to be formed of the character of John are supplied from sources either actually German, as the Continuation of the Chronicle of Regino of Prum, or written in the interests of Germany, as the productions of the "malicious Liutprand", to use a correct expression of Gregorovius. There cannot be a doubt that John XII was anything but what a Pope, the chief pastor of Christendom, should have been. Between the vindictive Liutprand, who recorded all that he had picked up from the gossip of the spiteful or of the ignorant, and Frodoard, who has recorded practically nothing to the detriment of John, there are other contemporary authors who have said enough to let us see that John was far from being an exemplary pontiff. Such are the catalogues, Benedict of Soracte, and the anonymous author of the Chronicle of Salerno. John is supposed also to have fallen under the lash of Ratherius of Verona. If that zealous bishop really did scathe John XII for immorality, he certainly respected him as head of the Church. To Ratherius John is: "The archbishop of archbishops, and, if any man ought to be so designated, Universal Pope". And if towards the close of John's reign Ratherius could not refrain from denouncing him, he at any rate did not do so by name. Perhaps this was because he had been kindly treated by John. He wonders, however, at the general contempt of the canons displayed by all, "from the laymen, up, unfortunately, to the supreme pontiff". This expression of his occurs in a work, De contemptu canonum, published in the beginning of the year 964. And again, in order to show that the possibility of reform depended largely on the moral character of those in power, he asked what improvement could be looked for if one who was leading an immoral life, who was bellicose and perjured, and who was devoted to hunting, hawking, gaming, and wine, were to be elected to the Apostolic See.
However, whether this picture was drawn from life or not, it is certain that those who brought the most definite charges against John XII were partizans of Otho and the Germans. Hence their stories to his detriment have been viewed with suspicion, and that not merely in modern times, but in the Middle Ages, when historical criticism was not much in vogue, and, moreover, by Germans themselves. The worthy bishop, Otho of Frising (d. 1158), even though disposed somewhat to favour the Empire in its struggle with the Papacy, remarks in his Chronicle : “I have found it stated in certain chronicles, but in such as were written by Germans, that John XII lived in a blameworthy manner, and that there were frequent meetings of bishops and others on this subject”. This Otho goes on to declare it hard to believe, on account of the privilege bestowed on St. Peter of resisting the gates of hell. While realizing that our Lord's promise to St. Peter bestowed upon him not impeccability but infallibility, we may agree with Otho that what he read in the German chronicles is hard to believe, not because any impeccability was granted to St. Peter or his successors, but because it was written by German authors anxious to make out the best case for Otho.
While it is certain that John was the son of Alberic, it is supposed that Alda, daughter of Hugo of Provence, was his mother. Alberic married Alda in 936, as we know from the Annals of Frodoard, and the same is thought to be established from some words of Benedict, if anything can be deduced with certainty from his barbarous phrases.
If, then, John was the son of Alberic and Alda, he was only eighteen when he was elected Pope. But if the words of Benedict have to be strictly interpreted, and he was the son of some concubine of Alberic, then he was probably older. A contemporary painting, indeed, represents him as quite a middle-aged man in the year 96o; for it was in that year we are assured that was painted the picture which formerly adorned the old sacristy of the Lateran basilica, and which was copied by Cardinal Rasponi, and then inserted by him in his history of that church. The Pope, who is represented as bearded and as clad in cassock, tunic, and dalmatic, is being invested with a large chasuble covered with small Greek crosses.
Alberic's ordinary residence was near the basilica of SS. Philip and James, known as that of The Apostles, and appears to have been situated where now stands the Palazzo Colonna. And so in the catalogues John is spoken of as belonging to the region of the Via Lata, the aristocratic quarter that was situated between the Quirinal Hill and the Campus Martius.
We have already seen how Prince Alberic, on his death-bed, made "all the Roman nobles" promise that on the death of Agapitus they would elect his son, the young Octavian, to succeed him. They were as good as their word, and the youth was consecrated on December 16, 955, taking the name of John XII. From the Sigeric catalogue it appears that he had been cardinal-deacon not of the title but of the deaconry, S. Maria in Dominica or Domnica (or in Ciriaca, its Greek equivalent), so called from its occupying the site of the house of S. Ciriaca. It is on the Celian Hill, not far from S. Stefano Rotondo. In temporal concerns the new Pope made use of the signature Octavianus, and in spiritual of John. This custom of using sometimes their family, and sometimes their assumed, name is still observed by the Popes.
Octavian is generally credited with being the first Pope who changed his name on his election to the pontifical throne. Though to take a new name on their accession became more or less customary soon after the time of John XII, he was not the first Pope so to alter his name. It had already been done by a namesake of his, John II (533-535), who when a simple priest had been known as Mercury.
Apart from grants of privileges, among the first acts recorded of John is the dispatch of a letter to William of Mayence, the papal legate in Germany, in reply to one which had been sent to his predecessor. John sympathizes with the archbishop in his troubles, declares that he will have a care of the honor due to him, and exhorts him boldly to assail those who contumaciously wish to lead a bad life, and devastate the churches of God. He expresses a great wish to be informed of all that was going on "in the parts of the Gauls and Germany."
Writing (657) to another German archbishop, Henry of Trier, while granting him the use of the pallium, he exhorts him to a good life. Equally significant is his confirmation (958) of the possession of the monastery of Subiaco. Thishe did on condition "that every day by priests and monks should be recited, for the good of our soul and the souls of our successors, a hundred Kyrie-eleisons and a hundred Christe-eleisons, and that thrice each week the priests should offer the Holy Mass to Almighty God for the absolution of our soul and those of our successors". If John was bad himself, he had no intention of letting others do wrong, and showed himself fully alive to the value of prayer.
But a quiet life was not for John XII. For some cause, unknown to us—no doubt to recover the property or territory at one time belonging to the Holy See —he took up arms, and led an expedition against the princes of Beneventum and Capua. Not perhaps unnaturally, as a southerner, the author of the Chronicle of Salernum, from whom alone we have these facts, and who, moreover, was not very discerning, puts the blame of the war on the Pope, "a youth, and given up to the vices thereof". John marched south at the head of a body of Tuscans and Spoletans, as well as Romans. To strengthen their position the attacked princes contrived to secure the support of Gisulf, prince of Salernum, who is highly praised for his valour and military skill by our anonymous chronicler. The mere rumour of the approach of this renowned warrior was enough to put the papal army to flight, and to make it return to its own territories. Struck by the power of Gisulf, the Pope decided to make an alliance with him. The chronicler tells us how the two met at Terracina, and how the Romans, astonished at the display of power made by Gisulf, exclaimed that the sight showed them that his greatness was even in excess of what report had declared it to be. Though we are informed that a treaty was made between John and Gisulf, nothing is known as to its terms. However, from the fact that, whereas in the Donation of Louis the Pious (817) mention is made of the papal patrimony of Salernum, but in those of Otho I and Henry II (1020) it is not alluded to, Fedele infers that the sacrifice of this patrimony was the price paid by John for an understanding with the strong prince of Salernum.
About this time (viz. 96o) John took a step which very materially altered the state of things. By his cruelty and the avarice of his wife, Willa, Berenger, the vassal king of Italy, made himself odious to Pope, bishop, and noble alike. Accordingly a general appeal for help against him was made to Otho. He was not only approached by legates of the Pope, by Walpert, archbishop of Milan, and others, "but almost all the counts and bishops of Italy, by means of letters or envoys, begged him to come and free them." The papal envoys bade Otho either give up his patriciate or protectorate of Rome altogether, or come and help them.
Free now, after his many wars against enemies at home and abroad, to attend to the affairs of Italy in person, Otho, the warlike soldier of the Church, accepted their invitation and entered the country (961). He had previously taken the precaution of associating his little son Otho with him in his kingdom. This time also, just as on the occasion of his former entry into Italy, no resistance was offered him. Berenger and his adherents fled, and shut themselves up in strong castles, and the victorious German marched to Rome. There he arrived on January 31, 962. He had sworn that, if received in the city, he would not interfere with the Pope's rights therein. According to the form preserved by Bonizo of Sutri, the oath he had taken ran thus : "To thee, the Lord Pope John, I, King Otho, promise and swear, by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by the wood of the life-giving cross, and by these relics of the saints, that, if by the will of God I come to Rome, I will exalt to the best of my ability the Holy Roman Church and you its ruler; and never with my will or at my instigation shall you lose life or limb or the honour which you possess. And without your consent never, within the city of Rome, will I hold a placitum (plea) or make any regulation which affects you or the Romans. Whatever territory of St. Peter comes within my grasp, I will give up to you. And to whomsoever I shall entrust the kingdom of Italy, I will make him swear to help you as far as he can to defend the lands of St. Peter."
Encouraged by these promises, and, no doubt, like the rest of the Romans, duly impressed by the king's fierce soldiery, John bestowed "the glory of the imperial crown" upon Otho and his wife Adelaide in St. Peter's on February 2, 962.Though Frodoard and others speak of the cordial reception accorded to Otho, a German chronicler tells a story, and it is probably no more than a story, to the effect that Otho on this memorable occasion thus addressed his sword-bearer Ansfried :—"When this day I pray before the sacred shrine of the Apostles, do you hold your sword over my head all the time. For I know that my ancestors have often had good reasons to suspect the good faith of the Romans. And it is for the wise man by forethought to anticipate difficulties while yet they are afar, that they may not overwhelm him by taking him unawares". True or false, the story illustrates the fact that at the time of their imperial coronation in Rome, the German monarchs had always to show that they possessed the power of the sword. There was always in the Eternal City a very strong party which objected to the presence of the German king in their midst, and it seldom, if ever, failed to make its power felt, either at the time of the coronation itself or soon after. And on the present occasion we shall see that no sooner was Otho's back turned on Rome than it made its influence manifest at once.
Meanwhile, however, the act of John had renewed the The Holy Roman Empire in the West. Through him "the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation" came into being, and that chain was forged which was to bind Germany and Italy together for centuries. Once more the affairs of Christendom were regarded as in proper hands. In theory at least, all acknowledged the supremacy of the Pope in matters spiritual, and that of the emperor in matters temporal. And though in practice turbulent bishops or nobles did not hesitate, as before, to oppose the authority of either or both; and though, indeed, the "two swords" themselves, i.e., the spiritual weapons of the Pope and the civil might of the emperors—were often crossed, still there can be no doubt that the grand idea of Pope and emperor, a supreme spiritual and a supreme temporal head of the Christian commonwealth, had an immense effect in the uplifting of Europe. With such ideals, narrow views could not but broaden; and it was difficult for such as put themselves in opposition to them to avoid not merely being regarded as in the wrong, but, in secret at least, thinking themselves in the wrong. It was the common possession of one grand ideal in religion and in politics that knit Europe together, and not only made possible such enterprises as the Crusades, but deepened such important fundamental conceptions as the brotherhood of nations and of man.
But to return to John and Otho; for with Otho of Frising I may say that it is my object rather simply to relate the facts of history than to unfold their causes and results. The need of an accurate narration of them as far as the Papacy is concerned can scarcely be questioned; for, on the basis of a very imperfect knowledge of the facts of the history of the Popes, new theories are constantly being erected. And it is hard to see how a building can be stronger than its foundations.
The donation of Otho.
The coronation of Otho was accompanied by mutual concessions on the part of the Pope and the emperor. John and the whole nobility of the city promised on oath, "over' the most precious body of St. Peter, "to remain true to Otho, and never to help Berenger and Adalbert; while the emperor not only gave the Pope many splendid presents, but “restored his own” to him; i.e., by special deed of gift, of which a contemporary copy is still extant, he renewed the Donation of Charlemagne. This contemporary document, whether original or a copy, has been made the subject of what has been rightly called a “magisterial inquiry” by Professor Sickel of Vienna—the same author who made the searching investigation into the Liber Diurnus. With the permission of Leo XIII, of glorious memory, he was allowed to examine the diploma, and to make a photograph of it. “It is written in italics of tenth-century character, with ornaments in harmony; and it is written with gold ink on purple vellum. The professor does not regard this document to be strictly the original, but a copy executed in the Imperial Chancery; but its lavishly splendid get-up suggests that it was made for a special purpose. Hence he holds the Vatican document to be an official copy, intended to be laid on the Confession of St. Peter”. Although this document is dated February 13, 962, Duchesne regards it as a copy of an original of that date drawn up a year later. To this he is moved by the mention in it of “our venerated lord and spiritual father Leo”. With others he thinks that such a form of expression could only be used of a contemporary pontiff, and that consequently it must refer to Otho's Pope, viz. Leo VIII. However this may be, the authenticity of Otho’s diploma may be said to be now completely established. It renews the grants of territory and patrimonies of the preceding donations; and among the patrimonies it may be noted that the ancient one of Sicily, “if God shall deliver it into our hands”, is mentioned. By this donation there was guaranteed to the Popes all the land between a southern line, drawn from Naples to Capua and on to the mouth of the Trinius (Trigno), and a northern one drawn from Luna, to include Venetia and Istria, by Berceto, Parma, Reggio, and Monselice. This latter line is the one which we have quoted in a preceding volume from the Liber Pontificalis as showing the limit of the original grant of Pippin, and concerning which it has been noted “that the claims made by the Pope at different times never went beyond it. The diploma goes on to assure freedom of election to the papal throne, according to the pact of Pope Eugenius, but insists that the elect be not consecrated before he has made the promise to preserve the rights of all, which our venerated lord and spiritual father Leo is known to have done of his own accord, in the presence of our missi, of our son (Otho II) and of the generality (universes generalitatis)”. The remaining articles of this document treat of the administration of justice; and, though they are on the same lines as those in the pact between Eugenius and Lothaire, just mentioned, they can scarcely be reconciled with the terms of Otho's oath to the Pope. He had sworn not to interfere with the papal government of Rome; and yet the clauses of the concordat of 824, which practically limited the Pope's jurisdiction, were reintroduced into his privilege.
John XII was very far from entering into immediate possession of all the territories made over to him by the Donation of the emperor. Of some of them the Popes were never to have control; and it was to be long enough before they exercised jurisdiction, direct or indirect, even over the greater part of them. However, during the reign of an emperor at once well-disposed and powerful, there is no doubt that the Popes even of this age exercised control in the exarchate. The first of the letters of John XIII in Migne’s collection of them, is a charter in favour of the clergy of Bologna, by which John confirmed a privilege in their behalf which they had obtained from Leo V, and which exempted them from the payment of all public taxes. He enumerated the dues they were to be free from. Some of these taxes were dues levied on vessels, others were feudal dues. In either case it is plain that they were taxes which only the civil ruler could remit. But when there was no powerful and friendly sword-arm to support the pacific arm of the Popes, their power at this period in the exarchate must have been even more nominal than in Rome.
Before Otho left Rome, he induced the Pope to fall in with his views in connection with various matters regarding the Church in Germany. To curtail the power of the archbishop of Mayence, or for the better propagation of the faith among the Slavs, as the Pope's bull states, he induced John to make Magdeburg into an archbishopric, and Merseburg into one of its suffragan bishoprics. Under the same influence the Pope granted the pallium to Archbishop Frederick of Salzburg, and threatened the deposed prelate Herold with excommunication if he did not refrain from saying Mass.
It would seem from the Book of the Popes that before Otho left Rome, he made strong representations to John ("who passed his whole life in vanity and adultery") to induce him to amend his life. But whether these expostulations were the same as some that Liutprand records he made later, they were equally without effect. At any rate Pope and emperor parted (February 14) apparently good friends; the one to see to the final crushing of Berenger and his party, and the other to the final crushing of Hugh of Vermandois. For on the death of his successful rival Artaud, Hugh had made another effort to secure the See of Rheims. But he again failed, and was excommunicated by John in a synod at Rome.
Ecclesiastical affairs, however, do not seem to have had much attraction for John XII. Pleasures and politics were more to his taste; and to both he gave himself up on the departure of Otho. Finding that the powerful emperor was going to prove a greater check upon him than Berenger and Adalbert could be, he opened negotiations with the latter, who was wandering about trying to get help from any quarter. At any rate it is Liutprand's version of the affair that it was the Pope who first began to treat with Adalbert. The more sober narrative of the continuator of Regino, however, would lead us to believe that it was rather the youthful inexperience of John which was prevailed upon by Adalbert. It is most unfortunate that for all the details of the relations between John and Otho we have to depend wholly upon the narrative of Liutprand, the latter's parasite. And one is disposed to believe that his partial narrative has not only almost necessarily affected modern historians, but has powerfully influenced those of his own time to the detriment of the truth.
Word of John's attitude could not fail to reach the ears of Otho. He at once sent to inquire into what was really the position of affairs in Rome. He was informed that the Lateran was a brothel; that respectable women of foreign nations were afraid to come to Rome on pilgrimage on account of the lascivious conduct of the Pope; that the churches were all falling to ruins; and, in order that he might continue to do as he listed with impunity, that John was in negotiation with Adalbert. Needless to say that all this is from Liutprand, and that if such things were ever told to the envoys of Otho, they must have been looking for gossip. The historians of foreign nations (always excepting those of Germany) say nothing about the infamies of John, and the churches must have gone to decay of set purpose, when such wholesale ruin was produced in some six years! When Otho heard these stories he remarked : “He is only a boy, and will easily be changed by the example of good men. When I have mastered Berenger, I will turn my attention to the improvement of the Pope”
Accordingly, Otho betook himself to Umbria to besiege Berenger in the castle of St. Leo, in the district of Monte Feltro. Thither too were sent to the emperor by John the protoscriniarius Leo, afterwards the antipope Leo VIII, and one of the most illustrious nobles of Rome. The ambassadors were instructed to assure the emperor that, if the Pope had sinned through youth, he was going to live differently, but at the same time to protest against his receiving into favour Bishop Leo and the cardinal-deacon John, who had proved unfaithful to the Pope, and against his action in causing certain cities to take the oath of fidelity to himself and not to the Pope. To these charges the emperor retorted that, before he could restore the cities to the Pope, he had first to get possession of them himself; that as for Leo and John, he had heard that they had been seized on their way to Constantinople, whither they had been sent by the Pope against the emperor's interests and that, moreover, others had been seized on their way to stir up the Hungarians against him (Otho). Liutprand himself, who tells us all this, and others were then dispatched to Rome to offer to prove the innocence of the emperor by oath or trial by battle. They met, however, with a cold reception; and, after a few days, were sent back to Otho in company with two envoys from the Pope, John, bishop of Narni, and the cardinal-deacon Benedict, both of whom afterwards filled the papal chair.
They had no sooner left Rome than Adalbert was admitted into the city by John (963). This was more than Otho could endure, and as soon as the heats of summer were over he marched on the Eternal City. At first John thought of resistance, and appeared in helmet and cuirass. But the power of Otho was evidently irresistible, and, gathering together much of the treasure of St. Peter's, he fled with Adalbert, apparently to Tibur (Tivoli).
When master of Rome, the emperor resolved to reduce the Papacy to the same state of dependency on himself as his own German episcopacy. Though strong, the papal party in Rome dared not make resistance, and Otho exacted from all the preposterous promise that they would neither elect nor consecrate a Pope without his consent.
As the details of what followed the emperor's arrival in Rome are only to be found in Liutprand, it may be worthwhile to quote his exact words, so that the exaggerations of this author—who was one of John's would-be judges—may be the more easily noted.
"After three days, at the request of the Roman bishops and people, a large assembly (conventus) was held in the Church of St. Peter; and with the emperor sat the archbishops : from Italy the deacon Rodalph, representing Ingelfred, patriarch of Aquileia, whom a sudden illness had carried off, Walpert of Milan, Peter of Ravenna; from Saxony, Adeltac, the archbishop (of Hamburg), Landohard, bishop (of Minden); from France (Franconia), Otker, bishop of Spires; from Italy, Hubert of Parma, Liutprand of Cremona". Then follows a long list of Italian bishops, of cardinals, of officials of the papal court, and of Roman nobles, and Peter, who was called Imperiola (or de Imperio), representing the people (ex plebe), with all the Roman militia.
"These therefore being present, and keeping perfect silence, the holy emperor began thus : 'How right it would be that the Lord Pope John should be present at so distinguished and holy a council. But we ask you, 0 holy Fathers, who have had life and business in common with him, why he refused to join such an assembly?' Then the Roman bishops and cardinal-priests and deacons with the whole populace replied : 'We wonder that your most holy prudence should want us to inquire into this matter, which is not unknown to the inhabitants of Iberia, Babylon, or India'... The emperor answered : It appears to us just that the accusations should be set forth one by one; then what we should do can be decided on by common advice. Then the cardinal-priest, rising up, bore witness that he had seen him celebrate Mass without communicating. John, bishop of Narni, and John, the cardinal-deacon, declared that they saw him ordain a deacon in a stable, and out of the appointed times." Others accused him of simony, of consecrating a child of ten years as bishop of Todi, of adultery, of converting the Lateran palace into a bad house, of hunting publicly, of mutilating men, of arson, and of wearing armour. “All declared—clergy as well as laity—that he had drunk wine in honour of the devil. They said that, in playing dice, he had invoked the assistance of Jove, Venus, and other demons. Finally, they declared that he did not even celebrate matins or the canonical hours, nor bless himself with the sign of the cross”
Instead of proceeding to say that Otho did not understand Latin, the adroit flatterer, remarking that Otho knew that the others did not understand German, goes on to say that the emperor ordered him to remind the assembly in the emperor's name that the great are often defamed by the envious, and that hence they must not bring baseless charges against the Pope. Then the whole assembly exclaimed, "as one man", that they prayed they might be eternally lost if the charges brought against John were not true; and, at their request, a letter was sent to the Pope bidding him come "and clear himself from all these things". The letter (dated November 6) offered John a safe-conduct, and received (according to Liutprand's version of the matter) the following curt reply: “John, the bishop, servant of the servants of God, to all the bishops. We have heard it said that you want to make another pope. If you do this, I excommunicate you by Almighty God, that you may not have permission to ordain anyone, or to celebrate Mass”. It may be here remarked, parenthetically, that the learned Cardinal Pitra wonders that the Regesta could ever for a moment have regarded such a document as the above as authentic; and he adds that all the injurious writings inspired by the struggle between the Papacy and the Empire ought always to be viewed with suspicion.
To this answer of the Pope the synod sent a reply (November 22). After some childish remarks, which could only have come from the flippant Liutprand, on a grammatical blunder in the Pope's letter, put there, no doubt, by the bishop himself, the bishops declared that, if John did not come to answer the accusations brought against him, they would set his excommunication at naught; nay, would retort it on himself. For he was in the same plight as Judas, who, though he had received from Our Lord the power of binding and loosing, after his treason had only power to bind himself, and that with a halter! If such coarseness really owed its origin to the council, it shows how competent it was to judge even such a Pope as John XII.
Those who had been entrusted with the delivery of this letter to the Pope returned to Rome to say that they could not find out whither he had gone. A later author tells us he was lurking in the woods like a beast. The emperor thereupon again laid before his assembly the political “perfidy” of the Pope towards him, and concluded: “Now let the holy synod pronounce what it decides upon this”. To this the Roman bishops, the rest of the clergy, and all the people answered: “An unheard-of wound must be cauterized in an unheard-of manner. We therefore beg your imperial greatness to drive away from the Holy Roman Church this monster, unredeemed from his vices by any virtue, and to put another in his place, who may merit by the example of a good conversation to preside over us”. Then the emperor replied: “Nothing will be more welcome to us than that such a one may be found'. When he had spoken thus, all with one voice exclaimed: We choose for our shepherd ... Leo the venerable protonotary; ... John the apostate being cast off on account of his reprobate conduct ... With the agreement of the emperor, singing the customary laudes, they conduct the said Leo to the Lateran palace; and, after a given time, raise him by holy consecration in St. Peter's Church to the supreme priesthood, and promise with an oath to be faithful to him” (December 6, 963).
Here the narrative of the bishop of Cremona may be again interrupted for a moment to point out that both the deposition of John and the election of a layman were illegal. This is acknowledged by authors as well non-Catholic as Catholic. Otho's act was, moreover, condemned at the time even in Germany. "The contemporaries of the Othos" notes Mr. Fisher, "were devout believers in the sacred pre-eminence, and even in the infallibility of the Popes, and there were doubts expressed in Germany as to the right of Otho I to depose a Vicar of Christ. When Burchard of Worms, in 3002, compiled a kind of canonical florilegium, he was, while recognizing the king's right to punish and correct clerks, concerned to point out that the Pope is a supreme judge, who may be asked to purge himself of an accusation, but who may not be judged by any mortal save himself."
Further, there is no doubt that the election of Leo had not, in fact, even the appearance of freedom given to it by Liutprand. Otho simply placed Leo in the Apostolic See. He was his nominee.
To resume the narrative of Liutprand : “When these things had happened in this way, the most holy emperor, hoping that he could remain in Rome with but few men, gave permission to many to retire, that the Roman people might not be oppressed by the great number of the army”.
And when John, who was called Pope, heard this, knowing how easily the minds of the Romans are bribed with money, he sent messengers secretly to Rome, and promised them the money of St. Peter and of all the churches, if they would fall upon the pious emperor and the Lord Pope Leo and impiously slay them. A street rising took place (January 964); but the trained soldiers fell upon the crowd "like hawks among a crowd of birds". At the request of Leo, however, Otho restored to the Romans the hostages he had exacted from them; and, commending his Pope to their good faith, left Rome (c. January 12) to pursue Adalbert, who was now abandoned by John, and reported to be in the neighborhood of Spoleto or Camerino. At once the Romans were in arms again, roused this time, so Liutprand would like us to believe, by the numerous lovers of the voluptuous John. With difficulty Leo escaped to the emperor, and John XII was once again master in Rome (February 964).
After severely punishing some of his enemies by mutilation or death, John assembled a council which met on February 26 in St. Peter's. There were present at it sixteen bishops, all from Italy, twelve cardinal-priests, and a considerable number of clergy of inferior rank. Though most of the distinguished members of the council had been present at the synod which had condemned John, they had now no scruple, in the three sessions which they held, in condemning Otho's assembly. They would probably have urged in defence of their conduct that in the first instance they were under compulsion.
John himself opened the proceedings: “You know, dearly beloved brethren, that by the power of the emperor I was expelled from my see for two months. I ask you then if, according to the canons, that can be called a synod which was held in my absence in my church on December 4 by the Emperor Otho and his archbishops and bishops?” The bishops replied in the negative; and the said synod was duly condemned. Next the action of Sico of Ostia in hurriedly ordaining and then consecrating the intruder Leo was also condemned, and he was summoned to come up for judgment at the third session. Sentence was then solemnly passed on Leo by the Pope himself: "By the authority of God Almighty, of the Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, of the ecumenical councils and by the judgment of the Holy Ghost pronounced by us, may Leo, one of the employees of our curia, a neophyte (layman), and a man who has broken his troth to us, be deprived of all clerical honours; and if, hereafter, he should again attempt to sit on the apostolic throne, or perform any sacerdotal function, let him be anathematized along with his aiders and abettors, and, except in danger of death, not receive the sacred body of Our Lord Jesus Christ". Then those who had received any sacred orders from Leo were introduced before the council, and were made to sign a paper to the effect that as Leo had no spiritual power himself, he could not impart any to them. They were thus reduced to the rank from which Leo had raised them.
In the second session the bishops of Albano and Porto acknowledged their guilt in helping at Leo's consecration; and in the third session, as Sico did not appear, he was definitely degraded from his sacerdotal rank. At the conclusion of the synod laymen were forbidden to take a place on the sanctuary during the celebration of Mass.
Death of John
John did not long survive his return to power. But before he died he seems to have made some effort to come to terms with Otho. With that end in view, he released and sent to the emperor, Otger, bishop of Spires, whom he had scourged and imprisoned when he took possession of the city. “But by the will of heaven”, says Regino's continuator, “his hopes came to naught. For he died on the fourteenth of May”
Though his death brought fresh troubles on the Roman See, there can be no doubt that the chair of Peter was the better for the death of John XII. His youth and want of special preparation for the exalted position he held have, however, caused most moderns, whether Catholic or not, to put forward pleas for a merciful judgment on him. “But perhaps the errors of John XII”, says one of the latter class, “however scandalous, were not greater than might have been expected from the education bestowed on the son of Alberic and grandson of Marozia, or from the natural struggle of impulse and passion against the unnatural restraints of a rank forcibly imposed in the absence of every qualification”
With all his faults, John XII has deserved well of England, if only because he approved of the election of St. Dunstan to the See of Canterbury, —of St. Dunstan whom our ancestors always spoke of with reverence and gratitude as of a man “of great power in earthly matters, and of high favour with God”, but whom some modern English writers, certainly not resting on the testimony of antiquity, have not hesitated to depreciate. The battle-axes of the Danes had shivered the bonds of society in this country, and their torches, by firing the monasteries, had destroyed the homes of learning in our land. The settlement and incorporation of large numbers of these fierce heathens among our people had not improved matters; nor had the plundering of such monasteries as had escaped the ravages of the Danes by the Saxon princes themselves, in their anxiety to replenish their coffers emptied by the wars. As a result of all these causes of national deterioration, the laity became well-nigh as savage as the pagan Norsemen who had harried them; and the clergy throughout most of the land had grown ignorant and undisciplined. The monks had well-nigh disappeared from the country along with their vanished homes. And—a thing which had been unheard of in England for two if not three centuries after the arrival of St. Augustine—the tenth century saw no small number of married priests in the land. Up to the very close of the ninth century, the great Alfred made the strongest efforts to apply remedies to these evils. But he left much to be done after him. It is the great glory of St. Dunstan that he continued the work of reform inaugurated by that enlightened monarch, and restored the monastic order and learning along with it. On the death of Elfsy or Elfsine, who was frozen to death in the Alps when on his way to Rome for the pallium, and on the retirement of Brythelm, Dunstan was translated to the See of Canterbury, and instantly set out “on the wearisome journey which the Primates are wont to make to Rome, on account of the vigour of the apostolic faith and authority. At length he reached the long-wished-for church of the Roman See, where he gloriously received the chief pallium, with the privilege of the archbishopric, and the apostolic blessing. When he had revisited the shrines of the saints, and given alms to the poor of Christ, the Pope sent him back to the English nation as it were the angel of the Lord of Hosts, to unfold the science of God, or as it were a column of fire to illumine the face of the earth”
The bull of John XII granting him the pallium and the primacy has been preserved by Eadmer and others. The new archbishop is exhorted to show himself a true pastor of souls, and the primacy is confirmed to him by the Pope, who tells him to act in the stead of the Apostolic See as his predecessors have done. “According to custom, we bestow on thy brotherhood the pallium, to be used at the solemn celebration of Mass. We grant it to thee to be worn only at Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, and Whit Sunday, and at the Assumption of Mary the Mother of God, and at the feasts of the Apostles, as also at the consecration of bishops, and on thy birthday, and on the feast of the consecration of thy church”
The saint is told to let his life be as bright and spotless as the pallium itself, to be strictly yet mercifully just, and to defend the poor.
This is not the place to dilate on the work of that truly patriotic prelate St. Dunstan, "whose one object in life was never to cease working for his Divine Master". His biographer, Osbern, has done it most eloquently in the chapter (34) from which the last quotation was taken. The little leisure that public affairs allowed him, the saint employed in prayer, in reading the sacred Scriptures, and—a work of the utmost importance—in correcting their codices. Hislove of his country is frequently insisted upon, as is also his zeal in helping all in need, and pushing forward every good work, for which he took care to raise money. He practically governed the country. For, such faith did King Edgar place in him, that whatever Dunstan thought ought to be decreed, that the king ordered. But, as we have said, his great work was the reformation of the clergy, especially by the establishment of monks in places where the secular canons would not amend their lives. One of the principal difficulties that Dunstan had to contend against was the marriage of the clergy. During the times of trouble many had taken unto themselves wives, and had been allowed to retain them, or, at any rate, had kept them, if they had been married before ordination. And though we have absolutely no means of determining the proportion of the married clergy in the country, there were certainly enough of them to make a stand for their position.
An interesting entry in the Brut y Tywysogion, orChronicle of the Princes of Wales, shows that the same state of things existed in Wales. “The same year (961) Padarn, bishop of Llandaff, died, and Rhodri, son of Morgan the Great, was placed in his room, against the will of the Pope, on which account he was poisoned; and the priests were enjoined not to marry without leave of the Pope, on which account a great disturbance took place in the diocese of Teilaw, so that it was considered best to allow matrimony to the priests”
But in England, under the firm hand of Dunstan, the case of the married priests had at length a different issue. He proclaimed that they must either live in accordance with the canons, or be expelled from their churches. Procuring the elevation to the episcopate of such men as St. Oswald and St. Ethelwold, he proceeded with the work of reform. And to effect it he had occasionally need of the assistance both of Pope and King. To Ethelwold his clergy of Winchester offered a desperate resistance—a resistance such as might be expected would be offered by men who made no scruple about “repudiating the wives they had married unlawfully in the first instance, taking others, and giving themselves up to gluttony and intemperance”. The bishop appealed to his Primate and to the king; and both primate and king turned to the Pope. An authoritative letter, not from John XII, but from his namesake John XIII, assigned by Jaffé to 971, was in due course dispatched from Rome. “John, servant of the servants of God, to the most excellent King Edgar, and to all the bishops, dukes, counts, abbots, and to all the faithful people of the English race, greeting in Christ and the apostolic benediction” ... “Wherefore, illustrious king and most dear son, what your Excellency has asked of this Apostolic See through our brother and fellow-bishop Dunstan, that we most willingly grant. With regard to those canons, who by their vices are hateful to God, to their bishop, and to all good Catholics, we approve, by our apostolic authority, of their being ejected from the monastery in Winchester which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and to the apostles Peter and Paul. And, as your sublimity desires, let our most beloved brother and fellow-bishop Ethelwold therein establish monks living in accordance with their rule; and let the successors of the See of Winchester be in future chosen from them, or from some other congregation of monks where a suitable candidate may be found”. The monks were in due course properly installed.
With Pope, king, primate, and bishop working in harmony, suitable measures of reform could soon be established everywhere. But unfortunately those who wish to pursue their own courses know how to interfere with this harmony. Adelard and Eadmer have preserved a story which shows that Dunstan did not always secure the cooperation of the Pope, but that he knew when he might safely exercise a wise independence of character. He had had occasion to inflict a canonical penalty on an ealdorman who had refused to separate from a woman whom he had married within the forbidden degrees of kindred. The ealdorman contrived to influence King Edgar in his favour. But the king's interference only brought a more severe punishment on the offender. The ealdorman became furious. He would gain his ends cost what it might. With well-filled purses he sent his agents to Rome, and with these he won over “the hearts and tongues of certain Romans”. Through their help, it was not difficult to procure a bull ordering Dunstan to recall his sentence. But, even under this assault, the archbishop stood firm. He understood that the "singular sublimity of the Roman pontiff" had been deceived, and he told the noble “that he would obey the commands of the Pope when he saw him (the ealdorman) sorry for his fault”. The firmness of Dunstan was as successful in this case as in that of the refractory monks. The ealdorman did his duty, and submitted. When such men as Dunstan in England, and Bruno in Germany, were at work, there was hope, both for the despised laws of God and man, and for the down-trodden masses of the people.
All the coins, silver as usual, of John XII, of whom we have lost sight a little, proclaim his complete independence, bearing always the word “Dominus”. Those which were coined before the coronation of Otho bear his own name and that of St. Peter with “Roma”. The others show the name of Otho as well as that of the Pope; some having “Otto imperator”, and others only “Otto”.
While on the subject of coins, we may note that if John XII was as bad as he is painted by Liutprand, our ancestors must have thoroughly understood the difference between the man and his office. At any rate their Peter’s Pence was paid with becoming regularity. At least we may presume so from the severity of Edgar's laws with regard to it. “If anyone failed to pay his penny (denarius) by the feast of St. Peter, he had to take it to Rome with thirty more; and on his return with a receipt that he had paid it, he had further to disburse 12o solidi (shillings) to the king ... For the third offence all his goods were to be confiscated”. The attachment of the English to the See of Rome was then practical as well as theoretical even during the dreadful tenth century.
The Catholics of Spain also knew equally well how to distinguish the personal character of a Pope from the office which he held. This we learn from a fact preserved for us by the abbot Leo, the legate of John XV to France. Writing in connection with some derogatory remarks made at a council at Rheims (991) against certain Popes, the abbot say : “In the same way with regard to Spain. In the times of Pope John the son of Alberic, whom you (the kings and bishops of Rheims) have wantonly besmirched, Julian, archbishop of Cordova, sent (to the Pope) by envoys a letter on many difficult matters. He wanted guidance, and, not asking about the character of the reigning pontiff, but expressing his respect for the Apostolic See, he sought for what was useful for himself. From this incident”, concludes the abbot, “learn that the Roman Church is still honoured and venerated by all the churches”
FOR peace' sake it would have been very much better if the Romans had now made a virtue of necessity and elected Otho's nominee, Leo. But, by their prompt recall of John XII, the moment the emperor's back was turned on Rome, they had made it plain that they regarded Leo's election as the work of Otho, and not theirs; and so, on the death of John, they determined to show that they, and not the emperor, had the right to elect popes. They accordingly chose as the successor of John XII the cardinal-deacon Benedict, a Roman and the son of another John. Frodoard adds that he was a notary, and had taken part in the election of John, i.e., of Leo; for, throughout, Frodoard or his copyist has here written John for Leo. According to a twelfth-century catalogue, Benedict belonged to the "region of Marcellus, de regione Marcello". This would appear to be the only mention of a region bearing this title. It may, perhaps, be presumed that the quarter was called after the theatre of Marcellus, which, at first, in the ninth region (Circus Flaminius), was in the Middle Ages included in the eleventh region (St. Angelo). Hence, if it be the fact that the tenth and eleventh regions are not mentioned in any contemporary document of the tenth century, it would appear that the region which was afterwards the eleventh, was then known as that "of Marcellus". On this occasion certainly their choice did the Romans credit, for Benedict was as remarkable for his prudence as for his learning. So learned was he that he was known by the name of Grammaticus.
The Romans at once sent to inform the emperor of their choice. Their envoys found him at Rieti, but in no mood to listen to them. He would, he said, as lief give up his sword as not restore Leo. Seeing there was no hope of any concession to the wishes of the Roman people, the envoys returned to Rome. Undaunted, the electors proceeded to the consecration of the object of their choice, and Benedict became Pope in May (possibly May 22) 964, "without the consent and will of the emperor", after having received a promise on oath from the Romans that they would never abandon him, but would protect him against the power of the emperor. Benedict had already had experience of the phenomenal fickleness of the Romans. He was destined to have more.
The indignation of the emperor at these events can easily be imagined, and “he swore by the power of his kingdom” that he would besiege Rome until he had Benedict in his power. He had already captured Berenger and his wife, and sent them into Germany. The forces of Adalbert and of the other sons of the late king of Italy had been scattered. He had now nothing else to attend to but the affairs of the Papacy. Accordingly, gathering together a large army, he advanced on Rome, and closely blockaded it. No able-bodied person was allowed to leave it. Famine soon made itself felt within the walls. A modius (peck) of bran cost thirty denarii. The whole country round about the city was devastated; its walls were ceaselessly battered by engines of war. It was to no purpose that Benedict mounted the walls, and endeavoured to inspire the Romans with courage; it was in vain he threatened to excommunicate the emperor and his army. Hunger soon extinguished the effervescent courage of the Romans. They gave up both their city and their Pope into the hands of Otho (June 23, 964). Leo entered Rome “with his Cesar”, as Gerbert well puts it; and at once, with the emperor's co-operation, caused Benedict to be brought before him and his clerical and lay adherents. Clad in his pontifical robes, and with his pastoral staff in his hands, “the innocent Benedict” was shown scant courtesy. Asked how he had dared to aspire to the Papacy during the lifetime of Leo, whom he had himself helped to elect, he simply appealed for mercy. “Si quid peccavi, miseremini mei”, was his cry, if any faith can be placed in Liutprand, from whom alone we have these particulars. Assured by the emperor that, if he chose to acknowledge his guilt, he would find mercy, Benedict threw himself before the feet of Leo and acknowledged himself an intruder. Of all this abject humiliation the continuator of Regino says nothing; but he agrees with Liutprand in stating that Benedict was degraded with the consent of all, that by the hands of Leo himself his pallium was torn from him, and his pastoral staff broken in pieces, and that it was only through the intercession of Otho that he was allowed to retain his rank as deacon
Considering, however, the courage which, according to Liutprand himself, was displayed by Benedict during the siege, the story of his appeal for mercy related by that narrator or fabricator of myths may be dismissed, and we may take it as a fact that he was simply deposed by Otho by brute force. The latter’s high-handed conduct was condemned by the German historian Ditmar or Thietmar. “The mighty emperor of the Romans gave his consent to the deposition of the apostolic Lord Benedict, more powerful in Christ than he, whom no one but God can judge, and who had been unjustly, as I hope, accused. Furthermore, what I would that he had never done, he ordered that he should be sent into exile to Hamburg”. Whether or not Thietmar has here, as is thought by some, confused Otho's second expedition into Italy (961-965) with his third (966-972), it is clear enough that he wished to record his righteous disapproval of the emperor's violent methods.
After he had exacted an oath from the Romans over the body of St. Peter that they would be faithful to him and to Leo his Pope, Otho on this occasion took no further vengeance on the Romans, but left the city soon after the feast of SS. Peter and Paul' (June 29), with Benedict in his company. But he had delayed too long for the health of his army. And if Benedict imagined he had been unjustly used by Otho, he must have believed also that the heats of the Roman summer had thoroughly avenged him. "Henry, archbishop of Trier ... Godfrey, duke of Lorraine, and a countless number of others, both of high and low birth, perished by pestilence".
When Otho had recruited his strength with a little autumnal hunting in North Italy, and had regulated the affairs of that kingdom, he returned to Germany in the very beginning of 965, still with Benedict in his train.
What is known of the last days of the unfortunate Benedict may best be told in the words of Adam of 965. Bremen, who had learnt from “his fathers” what he says of him. Otho entrusted the custody of him to Adaldag of Hamburg-Bremen. “The archbishop kept him with great honor till his death; for he is said to have been both holy and learned and worthy of the Apostolic See ... And so living a holy life with us, and teaching others how to live well, he at length died a happy death just when the Romans had come to ask the emperor that he might be restored (to the See of Peter). His death is set down as having taken place July 4, at Hamburg” (965). It would seem, however, that if Adaldag was kindly disposed towards the poor exile, other Germans were by no means so considerate. Many regarded him as an antipope, as an insolent opponent of their mighty emperor and of the lawful Pope Leo VIII, their countryman. Scant courtesy did Benedict receive at the hands of these men, who endeavored to keep away from him such as wished to show him honor and goodwill. With many they were, no doubt, successful. But even among the rough Germans of the tenth century, there were men with human hearts; and one such, Libentius (Lievizo, d. 1013), the successor of Adaldag, found consolation on his death-bed from the way in which he had behaved towards one who had borne the title of Pope. “My dearest brethren and sons”, said the dying archbishop to those around him, “that none of you may ever lose faith in the divine goodness, and that your long labor in nursing me may now be a little lightened, I would put before you my own career as an example. When the Lord Pope Benedict was an exile in these parts, I sought him out; and though every effort was made to prevent my going to him, I would never allow myself to be influenced against the Pope. But, as long as he lived, I closely adhered to him. After his death, I faithfully served my Lord Adaldag, who entrusted his poor to my care, and afterwards made me his treasurer (camerarius). When that good man went to the heavenly country for which he had ever sighed, I succeeded him by your unanimous election and the royal favour. For the love of Christ let us put from our hearts any wrongs we may have done one another, that, parting now in peace, we may be joined together again at the last day”.
By the command of Otho III, Razo, his chaplain, who was afterwards elected to succeed Adaldag (d. 988), but died before his consecration, took back to Rome the bones of Benedict, sometime before the year 988. But where he laid them is not known. Thietmar, who gives us these particulars, says that this was done in accordance with a prophecy of Benedict himself. "Here", said the deposed pontiff, "must my frail body return to dust. After my death all this country will be devastated by the sword of the heathen and be abandoned to wild beasts. Nor will the land experience solid peace till my translation. But when I am taken home, I trust that, by the intercession of the apostle, the pagan ravages will cease". And all this, we are told, was exactly what happened.
The Bollandists have given us a description of Benedict's cenotaph which was to be seen in the old cathedral of Hamburg. Raised about a foot from the pavement, and somewhat over a yard broad and two and a half yards long, it was composed entirely of glazed bricks. The figures on it were in white on a green ground. Benedict was represented as a simple bishop without the pallium, but wearing the mitre, and with a crozier in his gloved hand. Figures of the apostles, and representations of the Crucifixion and the Annunciation, adorned the sides of the tomb, while the inscription on it stated to whom it belonged. Battandier says nothing about the age of this cenotaph, but from the illustration which he gives of it, it is obviously not of the age of Benedict himself. Indeed, a German author, writing in 1675, declares that it was not two hundred years old. It may, then, be safely set down as a fifteenth-century monument, erected, possibly, to replace an older one.
Of the three denarii which Cinagli assigns to this Pope, there is one which bears the names of the Pope and St. Peter only, and not that of the emperor. But even with regard to this coin, it is stated that there are traces of letters on it which cannot be made out. However, if it really never bore upon it the name Otho, it might have belonged to this Pope; but it would seem certain that the other two belonged to Benedict VI (972-973), who had more leisure and inclination to strike off coins bearing the emperor's name. With Promis, then, we conclude that not one of the extant denarii was coined by Benedict V
Regarding John XII, and the good but unfortunate Benedict V, as lawful Popes, it is by no means easy to say what was the status of Leo VIII. Most modern Catholic authors describe him as an antipope; and such, till the deposition of Benedict V, he undoubtedly was. For as certainly as the deposition of John XII by Otho was illegal, the election of Benedict was legal. But, if Liutprand could be relied on, and we could thus be sure that Benedict acquiesced in his deposition, then Leo could be regarded as lawful Pope from July 23, 964, till his death. He was a Roman and the son of John, the protonotary. In the Book of the Popes, he is described as a venerable man, energetic and honorable; and when nominated to the chair of Peter by Otho, was himself "protonotary of the supreme Apostolic See". He belonged "to the region which is called Clivus Argentarii" (now the Via di Marforio, which connects the Corso and the Forum Romanum), and gave his name to a street or streets in the locality. For there were to be found there streets called "the descent of Leo Prothus", and "de Ascesa Proti", where the Prothus, etc., is evidently derived from Protoscriniarius.
The name of Leo VIII is most famous for its connection with bulls, in virtue of which Otho and his successors are alleged to have received the right of choosing their successors in the kingdom of Italy, and of nominating (ordinandi) the Pope, and the archbishops, and bishops, so that they were to receive investiture from him. Leo is also said to have given up to Otho all the lands that had been granted to the Apostolic See by Pippin and Charlemagne. Though it may be likely that Leo granted various concessions to his patron, it is allowed on all hands that the bulls in question were, if not wholly fabricated during the investiture quarrel, at least then so tampered with that there is now no recognizing their original form.
As the right of Leo VIII to be numbered among the Popes is so doubtful, the rest of his doings will here be passed over in silence. Besides, as a matter of fact, very little is known of them to tell. According to Cinagli and Promis, there are extant three silver coins of Leo VIII. But one of the three which does not bear the emperor’s name, is by some thought to belong to another Leo.
Leo VIII died about the month of March 965—certainly between February 20 and April 13, as is clear from the dates of various authentic documents which bear his name.
ON the death of Leo VIII, the Romans for once put a curb on their impetuosity and did not complicate matters by flouting the emperor. They dispatched to Saxony Azzo the maimed protonotary, and Marinus, bishop of Sutri, to ask Otho "to nominate anyone he wished to the Papacy". This statement of the continuator of Regino, improbable in itself from what we know of the feelings of the Romans as to their rights of election, is in opposition to the account of Adam of Bremen. From him it appears that the Romans sent to ask that Benedict might be sent back to them; and that, had he not died in the meanwhile (July 4, 965), their request would have been granted by the emperor. Otho then proposed to the envoys as Leo's successor, John, bishop of Narni; and with them on their return sent Otger, bishop of Spires, and his trusted Liutprand to see that his will was carried into effect. His missi did their work well, and John, bishop of Narni, was unanimously elected to sit in the chair of Peter. He was consecrated on Sunday, October 1, 965.
Leaving out of consideration the manner in which John was elected, the choice of him was certainly creditable to Otho. The catalogues speak of him as "the most reverend and pious bishop of Narni", as "highly learned and skilled in the Scriptures and in canon law", and as, in short, "most holy". This no doubt was due to the fact that he had been properly trained for the sacred ministry. For in the same catalogues special stress is laid upon the fact that from his earliest youth he had been brought up at the Lateran palace in the schola cantorum, and had in due course passed through all the regular grades of "doorkeeper (hostiarius), reader, exorcist, acolyte, subdeacon, and deacon". After he left the schola, and entered on the battle of life, he took a distinguished part in public affairs. We find him in the Papal Chancery under John XII and Leo VIII; sharing in the condemnation of John XII, and in his restoration; and, in 961, signing himself "librarian of the Holy Apostolic See". Even in these dark times the light of learning was evidently not altogether extinguished in Rome. The care of the precious archives of the Holy See was entrusted to its most learned son. So that even that hard-hitter and learned bishop, Ratherius of Verona (d. 974), who, by the way, praises Otho for nominating John to the See of Rome, in his Journey to Rome, writes : “Where shall I learn better than in Rome? What is known concerning the dogmas of the Church which is not known in Rome? There it is that have ever shone the sovereign teachers of all the world, and the princes of the universal Church. There are the decretals of the Popes; there are the canons examined, and some are approved and some rejected. What is there annulled is never confirmed, and what is there established is never overthrown!”
To what is known for certain of the family of John XIII, who, according to some, from the white or light hair he had had from his childhood was known as the White Hen, something is generally added on more or less plausible conjecture. That he was a Roman and the son of Bishop John is told us by the Book of the Popes; and Hugh of Farfa, who became abbot of that great monastery in 998, is supposed by Gregorovius to add to our knowledge of him by informing us that John, "who is known as the Greater", exalted a certain nephew of his called Benedict, by making him count of the Sabina, and by giving him in marriage Theodoranda, daughter of Crescentius, of the Marble Horse. But the John "who is known as the Greater" may have been John XV, so called, no doubt, to distinguish him from his immediate predecessor John XIV. Hence the editor (Bethmann) of the work of Hugh for the Monumenta Germania assigns the "exaltation" of Benedict to John XV, and to the year 985.
Two extant diplomas, one of the year 987 and the other of 970, show in the one case a Count Benedict and his wife, the Comitissa and Senatrix Stephania, making a grant to the monastery of S. Alessio; and in the other the Pope granting a lease of the ancient town of Praeeste for a rent of ten gold solidi to “his most beloved daughter in the Lord, and most dear Senatrix Stephania and her sons and grandsons”. Hence it is conjectured that this Stephania was the mother of the supposed favoured nephew and the sister of John XIII; that Pope John and Stephania were children of Theodora, the daughter of Theodora I, and that therefore John XIII was of the house of Theophylactus, and of that branch of it which produced the Crescentii. A genealogical table put forth (sous réserves) by Duchesne supposes that Theodora II was the mother of John XIII. Unable to reconcile this with some of the data at our command, I have supposed him to be the son of another Theodora (III), the wife of John, who first appears as consul and duke, and afterwards as bishop. But it is to be feared there is too much supposition about all the genealogical tables of the house of Theophylactus to make any of them quite satisfactory,
Doubtless feeling strong in the support of Otho, John promptly took in hand the task of curbing the Roman nobility. But he was not strong enough to carry into effect this very necessary undertaking. The emperor was far away in Germany, and Adalbert had again appeared in arms in Lombardy. Feeling that their liberties (i.e. their licence) were about to be checked, certain of the nobles, headed by Rofred, a Campanian count, and Peter, the prefect of the city, raised the cry of "Down with the foreigner". "The Saxon kings", they urged, "were going to destroy their power and influence, and were going to lead their children into captivity". This specious pretext was quite enough to rouse the Romans; the disaffected nobles procured the aid of the "leaders of the people, who are called decarcones. The Pope was seized, disgracefully maltreated, and thrust into the Castle of St. Angelo, "in accordance with the malignant practices" of the Romans. This was in the middle of December. Then, fearing that the knowledge that the Pope was a prisoner in his own city would give strength to his party, the rebels sent him into the Campagna, perhaps into some stronghold belonging to Rofred. However, they had not their own way for long. Rofred was killed by John, the son of Crescentius and perhaps the Pope's nephew, the Pope himself made his escape, and fled to Capua, and Otho entered Italy (August 966) with an enormous army.
Meanwhile the Pope, erecting Capua into a metropolitan see, and consecrating as its first archbishop John, the brother of its prince, Pandulf, gained the support of that ruler, and marched on Rome through the Sabine and Tuscan territories. After the death of Rofred, the supporters of the Pope had no difficulty in gaining the upper hand, and when he drew near to Rome, clergy and people went forth to meet and welcome him. After an exile of nearly a year, John re-entered the city, November 14, 966. He said Mass in St. Peter's, and then once again took possession of the Lateran palace. With the usual paternal weakness of the Popes, instead of vigorously punishing the turbulent Romans, John simply endeavored to gain their goodwill by showing them acts of kindness. There was one, however, who justly looked on the outbreak with different eyes. That was the Emperor Otho. When he entered Rome, he straightway hanged the twelve "decarcones", sent "the consuls of the Romans" beyond the Alps, dug up and scattered to the winds the bones of Rofred and of another rebel, Stephen, the vestararius, and handed over the chief offender Peter, the prefect, into the hands of the Pope. Perhaps to requite the culprit for the insulting treatment he had meted out to him, John caused a punishment to be inflicted upon Peter that was at once ludicrous and painful. The prefect's beard was shaved off, and then he was hung by the hair of his head "to the horse of Constantine", that is, to the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is still to be seen on the Capitol, "that those who looked upon him might henceforth fear to do as he had done". Taken down thence, he was placed, naked, upon an ass with his face to its tail, and his hands beneath it. A bag of feathers was placed upon his head and two more at his thighs. With a bell fastened round its neck, the ass was driven through the city with its strange burden. After being thus exposed to the ridicule of the people, Peter was cast into a dungeon, and finally sent by the emperor into Germany (ultra montes).
While we may deprecate the manner in which, in some particulars, Otho administered justice, or allowed it to be administered, one cannot but feel that a little more of it, properly applied, would have tamed the turbulence of the Romans, and saved themselves as well as the Popes from much suffering and misery. For, though powerful in words, and against a ruler who was generally old and always merciful, the Romans were never a match for the Germans, and their childish violence was again and again severely punished. However, because the meed of justice was meted out by Germans, the patriotic indignation of the monk of Soracte was aroused, and his barbarous chronicle closes with a lament for the decay of Rome's might. “Woe to Rome, oppressed and crushed by so many nations! Even by a Saxon king hast thou been taken; thy people have been put to the sword; thy strength reduced to naught. Thy gold and silver have they carried away in their purses. Once wert thou a mother; now thou art but the daughter!” And here we may note that John XIII is the last Pope of whom anything is said by another author whose words in connection with the Popes of the tenth century have been up to this frequently quoted, viz. the bishop of Cremona. Both Liutprand and Benedict are interesting in their way. The very extraordinary Latinity of the monk of Soracte makes his short chronicle striking; and if the pages of Liutprand are scarcely historical, they are at least anything but dull. The kind of story he loves to tell, and the abusive language he uses so freely, make his writings resemble those of certain of the Humanists of the Renaissance.
In company with Otho and bishops from various parts of Italy and Germany, John held several synods at different times for the needs of the Church. Among other things it was decided in a council held at Rome in the beginning of 967 that Grado was to be the patriarchal and metropolitan church of the whole of Venetia. And in a similar council at Ravenna (April 967), Otho again "restored to the apostolic Pope John the city and territory of Ravenna and many other possessions which had for some time been lost to the Popes". But Otho had no intention that the granting should be all on one side. Now that he had a Pope after his own heart, he would have his own aims forwarded. He procured the extension of the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Magdeburg. In the bull which John published for this purpose, he was careful to call attention to the fact that, "Rome, the head of the whole world and the Universal Church", which in the past had been oppressed by wicked men, had been reverently restored to its former position by "our son, Otho", whom he designates as "great and thrice blessed," and proceeds to call "the third after Coystantine, who had very greatly exalted the Roman Church". Further to ensure the peaceful succession of his son to all his power, the emperor induced John to write to the youthful King Otho to invite him to come to Rome to receive the imperial crown at Christmas.
After this journey to Ravenua the Pope returned to Rome, while Otho went from one part of Italy to another, consolidating his power therein. He soon cast his eye on Southern Italy, still distracted by the rival pretensions of Italian counts, Greek emperors, and Saracen robbers. He would also add that to his crown. At first he tried to effect his end by diplomacy; and, as was usual with him, his diplomatic efforts consisted in marriage negotiations. Envoys were sent to Constantinople to arrange a marriage between his son and the Greek princess, Theophania, the daughter of Romanus II and the step-daughter of Nicephorus Phocas, the reigning emperor. Whilst these schemes were in progress, the youthful Otho came into Italy, and was with his father most warmly received "on the steps of St. Peter's" (December 21, 967), after he had been welcomed with the usual laudes at the third milestone from the city" by a very great number of senators with crosses and banners (signa)". On Christmas Day, in presence of his father, "our son received the crown, which raised him to the imperial dignity, from the blessed apostolic lord", as Otho I proudly wrote, "from Campania, near Capua, on the 15th of the Kalends of February (January 18), to the dukes and the other prefects of our commonwealth."
Various synods were held before the emperors left Rome, in which, sometimes at their request, the Pope took several German monasteries under his special protection, or decided that in some cases they were to remain for ever "under the patronage of the kings or emperors". And, in order to further Otho's views with regard to the marriage of his son, he addressed (968) a letter to Nicephorus to urge the suit.
Before the dispatch of this document, Otho had sent Liutprand of Cremona to Constantinople in the hope that the astuteness of that prelate would win for him as a marriage portion with Theophania what he had failed in a first attempt to win by the sword, viz. South Italy. Liutprand reached Constantinople June 4, 968. The ill-feeling with which he was greeted was only deepened when Nicephorus received the Pope's letter addressed not to the Emperor of the Romans, but to the "Emperor of the Greeks". "Was it not unpardonable", it was said, "to have called the universal emperor of the Romans, the august, great, and only Nicephorus, emperor of the Greeks, and a barbarian, a pauper, emperor of the Romans?". Greek as they were, the emperors of Constantinople prided themselves on being the descendants of the Roman conquerors of the world, and on being emperors of the Romans. And when Liutprand ventured to ask for the hand of Theophania (or Theophano) for the young Otho, and to suggest that her dowry should be the provinces, or themes as they were then called, of Longobardia (Apulia) and Calabria, he was haughtily informed that for a Porphyrogenita to be allied to a barbarian was such an unheard-of thing, that it could only be entertained if instead of asking for a dowry, Otho were to restore to the emperor at Constantinople not only Rome and Ravenna, but all the country south of those places. If he would have simply the emperor's friendship, he must at least give up the city of Rome and its territory, and leave them free, i.e., put them at the disposal of the Basileus. The Pope too was abused in the most unmeasured language not only because he had communicated with "the adulterous and sacrilegious son" of Alberic (John XII), but especially because he had not addressed Nicephorus as emperor of the Romans. And yet, retorted Liutprand, as you have changed your language, your manners, and your clothes, the Pope naturally thought you had no regard for the name of Romans! The mission of the caustic prelate failed completely. The emperor would not condescend to write back to the Pope with his own hand, but sent him a threatening letter written by his brother. Liutprand, on his side, when he had to leave Constantinople, consoled himself by wishing that the Pope, “to whom belongs the care of all Christians, would send to Nicephorus a letter like a sepulchre, white without, but full of dead men's bones within. Let him inside the letter reproach him for gaining the empire by perjury and adultery; let him summon him to a synod and excommunicate him if he disobey”
But Nicephorus, as well to annoy Otho and the Pope as to strengthen his influence in South Italy, endeavoured to extend the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople in that locality. It was during the iconoclast troubles that Leo the Isaurian forcibly withdrew the churches of Apulia and Calabria (with their metropolitan sees of S. Severina and Reggio) from the jurisdiction of the See of Rome, and made them dependent upon the patriarch of Constantinople. This usurpation did not cease with the image-breaking controversy. By the action of Leo V, the Armenian, the Latin rite was practically stamped out of Calabria in the beginning of the ninth century. And now, to further the same policy, Nicephorus "ordered the patriarch of Constantinople to transform the bishopric of Otranto into a metropolitan see, and no longer to tolerate the Divine Mysteries being said in Latin in any part of Apulia or Calabria, They were to be said in Greek only. The patriarch Polyeuctos accordingly addressed an order to the head of the Church of Otranto giving him authority to consecrate bishops in the churches of Acerenza, Tursi, Gravina, Matera, and Tricarico, all incontestably dependent on the Church of Rome". So at any rate writes Liutprand, and in this case there is confirmatory evidence of his assertions.
Thus baulked, Otho again had recourse to the sword before the close of 968. Supported by Pandulf, he reaped some slight successes against the Greeks in Calabria. To please his ally "the prince of Beneventum and Capua, and marquis and duke of Spoletum and Camerinum", as he is described in the papal bull, he induced John to make Beneventum into a metropolitan see (969). This, no doubt, the Pope and the Roman council which acted along with him were the more ready to do, since the position of the Latin Church in South Italy, which we have just seen attacked by the Byzantine basileus, would be thereby strengthened. All through this troublous period in South Italy conflicts in the realm of ecclesiastical jurisdiction between Greek and Latin churchmen were going on just as keenly as the struggles between the Greek and Latin races in the sphere of political organization. The Greeks endeavoured by every device to improve their military grasp of their conquests in Apulia and Calabria by increasing their ecclesiastical hold of those districts; with the result that, through the natural opposition of the Latins to their schemes, ecclesiastical difficulties added to the other miseries of south Italy during these unhappy times.
Whilst the war in south Italy was being prosecuted by Otho in a desultory manner, the Emperor Nicephorus was murdered (December 969), and his assassin, John Zimisces, became emperor of the East. Naturally anxious to make friends, Zimisces granted what Nicephorus had refused. The young Princess Theophania, or Theophano, who was about the same age (16) as the youthful emperor, and of remarkable beauty, was sent over (972) to Italy with a splendid escort and dowry. First crowned by the Pope (April 14), the youthful pair were then married by him, in St. Peter's, "to the great joy of all Italy and Germany".
Soon after the marriage, Otho I, with his son and daughter-in-law, returned to Germany after an absence of six years—years during which his presence had brought peace if not liberty to the successor of the Apostles. The Pope did not survive the emperor's departure many months (d. September 6, 972); nor did Otho I himself long outlive the Pope (d. May 7, 973). With him, says his epitaph with no little truth, died also the peace of the world.
The power of Otho I helped in no small degree the spread of Christianity among the Slavs. Among those of Bohemia it had entered in the ninth century from Germany and Moravia; and their duke, Borziwoi, had been baptized by St. Methodius. By the apostacy of some of his successors, the young Church had, as usual, much to suffer. It was in trouble when Otho forced the pagan Boleslaus I, the Cruel, who had assassinated his brother, to give a free hand to the teachers of Christianity (95o). Under his son, the second Boleslaus (967-999), known as the Pious, and equally acknowledging the supremacy of Otho I, the Church made great headway. The anonymous Annalista Saxo gives us certain details of the relations of John XIII with the young Church of Bohemia. A sister of Boleslaus, a nun, or one at least who had taken a vow of virginity (virgo sacra), of the name of Mada or Mlada, came to Rome on a pilgrimage in the days of John XIII, and was by that pontiff very kindly received. Whilst in Rome Mada studied the cloistral life; and the Pope, seeing that she was a woman of no ordinary type, made her an abbess of the order of St. Benedict, and, changing her name into Maria, sent her back to Bohemia with a bull in which he authorized the foundation of the bishopric of Prague in accordance with the wishes of Boleslaus. The Pope assured the duke that he was thankful to God for the spread of His Church, and "by the authority of Blessed Peter" granted the request which Boleslaus had made through his sister, and decreed that the church of SS. Vitus and Wenceslaus should be the new cathedral church. At the church of St. George a convent of nuns was to be established, over which the duke's sister was to preside. The Latin and not the Slavonic rite was to be followed and one who was well instructed in Latin literature had to be chosen as the first bishop. The instructions of the Pope were duly carried out. A Saxon priest and monk named Ditmar, distinguished for his eloquence and learning, was selected by Boleslaus, both because he was known to him, and especially "because of his perfect knowledge of the Slavonic language." Following the wishes of their ruler, the clergy and nobles elected Ditmar; and Otho, at the request of Boleslaus, caused him to be consecrated by the archbishop of Mayence. His diocese of Prague remained subject to the arch-diocese of Mayence till the middle of the fourteenth century. Despite the devoted work of Ditmar and his successor, Adalbert, it was not till the middle of the following century that the savage pagan manners of the Bohemians were to any considerable extent modified.
Though it is true that Miecislas I. (or Miechko), the first Polish duke or ruler of whom any certain particulars are known, also acknowledged the suzerainty of Otho, became a Christian (966), and founded a bishopric at Posen, the statement that the duke, in conjunction with John XIII, founded two metropolitan and seven other episcopal sees, has a merely legendary foundation.
If John XIII is connected with this country by documents, if not certainly spurious, at least of doubtful authenticity, he is also connected with it by others the genuineness of which is undoubted. His bull supporting the action of King Edgar and