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THE growth of the papal power can be regarded from two standpoints according as we interpret the expression in an earthly or a spiritual sense. Are we to regard the popes as rulers over large domains and at times the most powerful of Italian princes; or are we to look on them as the heads of Western Christendom, the supreme arbiters of religion and morals from Iceland to Sicily, from the Atlantic to the eastern outskirts of Germany and Hungary? At the beginning of the seventh century they were neither, and by the end of the eleventh they were both. Till 1859 their secular dominion remained unimpaired in extent, and since 1517 they have ceased to exercise undisputed moral authority in Western Christendom. In 1870 the last vestige of their temporal power was wrested from their grasp, yet in the same year they made claims to a spiritual authority which would not have been conceded to them by the Church even when their influence was paramount. Closely interwoven therefore as are the temporal and spiritual powers of the Papacy, they are not identical; and however difficult it may be to separate one from the other, they must be distinguished. Yet in the present case it is necessary to deal with the subject from both aspects, paying special attention to the question of the process of the liberation of the Papacy from influences which might subsequently have controlled or fettered its development.

Gregory the Great is said to have originated the medieval Papacy; and this is in part true, though it took nearly three centuries after his work was done to produce the first of the medieval popes. Nicolas I inaugurated the line of priest-kings of Western Christendom in a truer sense than Gregory I. It is true that the earlier pontiff was far the greater man; but the office he filled was less in the eyes of his contemporaries; and he was obliged to address kings and princes in a more submissive tone than that employed by Nicolas in the ninth century. Gregory was, in fact, a great subject, possessed of vast estates and considerable wealth, able to exercise a powerful influence on the politics of his age, to arrange treaties and to delimit frontiers. But, though a great noble, he was not a sovereign prince, his lands were estates, not dominions; he spoke to emperors and kings not as their equal but as a subordinate; he even judged them from the standpoint of an inferior. Nicolas I on the other hand was lord paramount in his own dominion, and addressed the princes of Western Europe with the authority of a ruler on earth, vested with spiritual powers which rendered him infinitely their superior. The task before us is to trace how this came about, showing the successive stages by which the Roman pontiffs asserted their independence of all secular authority. It is this which differentiates the Papacy from every other Christian bishopric, making it both a temporal and a spiritual power, and the accomplishment of this took place between A.D. 604 and 868, though this chapter concludes with the year 800.

The immediate successors of Gregory the Great do not appear to have given much promise of the future eminence of the throne they occupied. The popes of the seventh century succeeded one another with suspicious rapidity, few occupying the See of Rome for more than a few years. Appointed by permission of the Emperor or his representative in Italy, the exarch of Ravenna, the pontiffs submitted themselves to the secular power, and felt its heavy hand whenever they presumed to resist the imperial commands even in matters spiritual; nor was it till the eighth century, when the Lombards were extruding the Greeks, as the imperialists of Constantinople had already begun to be called, from the shores of Italy, that a series of greater popes, more fortunate than their predecessors in the duration of their pontificates, were able to assert and maintain their authority. Then it was that the Lombards, who had captured Ravenna, and extended their influence to the South of Italy and were preparing to occupy the ducatus Romae, found themselves confronted by the Roman pontiffs claiming to represent the majesty of the Empire and to seize those prerogatives which, as they maintained, had only been wrested from the hands of the Greeks in order to revert to Rome and its chief priest.

Thus began those extraordinary negotiations between the popes and the Frankish rulers, who with the sanction of St Peter were transformed first into native kings and finally into emperors and legitimate lords of the Roman world. In gratitude for these services the kings of the Franks and emperors of the Romans made over to the See of Rome certain parts of northern and central Italy which had belonged to the Empire in the seventh century.

At the same time, whilst the popes were consolidating their authority over Christendom and their dominion in Italy by diplomacy, their power was being strengthened by the assertion of legal claims to all privileges which the reverence of princes was bestowing upon them. Appeals to the antiquity rather of the imagination than of history attempted to show that the claims of the Roman See were based on immemorial rights or on the acts of emperors whose names, already half legendary in the West, were bound up with the vanished glories of imperial days. The false decretals and the donation of Constantine were demonstrating that nothing which the popes could receive or demand was beyond their rights, and casting a false glamour of legality over any claims they might choose to make.

In dealing with the strange and wonderful history before us it is remarkable that we meet with comparatively few noteworthy characters or dramatic incidents if we except Charles the Great and his coronation at Rome. Hardly any literature worthy of the name illumines our path, and the verses which have come down to us are sufficient to show that poetry was a lost art. The revival of civilization and government under Charles is only remarkable because of the darkness which preceded and followed it, and the two striking features of the age, the rise of Islam and the revival of the Roman Empire in the East after a series of unparalleled disasters, do not come into our purview of events. Despite all this the squalor which surrounds the period is brightened by the presence of great ideals, which men kept in their minds and before their eyes, though they were unable to give them form or substance. The remedy for the anarchy of Western Europe was sought in the ideal which the Roman Empire had left, a unity of government for the human race; and men's eyes were turned to Christian Rome to provide what was so sorely needed. The faith in Jesus Christ went far beyond the Roman law in recognizing the unity of mankind; and from it, as embodied in the Roman Church, the inheritor of the city which had been mistress of the world, the Frankish monarchs hoped that a Christian Empire would arise to federate humanity. For centuries successive generations persevered in carrying out this idea; and who can deny that it was a grand and noble one?

The rise of the papal power is one of the most important events in modern history because it was inspired by the motive which dominated the best thinkers of the Middle Ages and raised their impotent efforts above the sordid policy of our own day. Even the completeness of their failure does not rob them of the glory of having seen great visions and dreamed splendid dreams.

The rise of the papal power was due alike to the necessity of political independence and to the circumstances which freed the popes from the domination of the emperors in Constantinople and the Lombard conquerors of Italy, and enabled them to secure the assistance of the Franks from beyond the Alps : it was due still more to the disintegration of the Empire of Charles the Great under his unfortunate successors. It will perhaps be of assistance to us if each of these be taken separately. We will therefore discuss (1) the Papacy and the Eastern emperors, (2) the Lombards, (3) the Franks, and the new Western Empire.

(1) Since the outbreak of the Arian dispute the eastern provinces had never known the meaning of religious peace, though the way in which that controversy had ended might have encouraged hopes that similar differences were not incapable of adjustment. Despite the attempt of Constantius to coerce his subjects to unity in his struggle with Athanasius and despite the feebler efforts of Valens, the question was allowed much freedom of debate; and the creed of Nicaea, as explained by the wisdom of the Cappadocian fathers, was ultimately accepted by all. But the unfortunate dispute concerning the Two Natures of our Lord, partly owing to the unscrupulous character of those who engaged in it, and partly to the mutual jealousies of the great patriarchates of the East, produced schisms which seriously threatened the peace of the Empire, and ultimately lost it some of its most important provinces. In this great dispute Rome twice intervened, first in favor of Cyril in condemnation of Nestorius, and later in opposition to Dioscorus against Eutyches. On the latter occasion the pope, Leo the Great, put forward his famous Tome, which the Western Church considered to be a fitting end to the whole controversy. Not so thought many of the Oriental Churches; especially those of Egypt and Syria, by whom the proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon were regarded as an insult to Cyril, the revered head of the Alexandrian Church. In Constantinople, a city which gained an evil name for the formidable character of its riots and seditions, parties were evenly divided between the upholders and opponents of the Council of Chalcedon, between whom the reigning Emperor endeavored often in vain to hold the balance, generally at the cost of being denounced as a heretic and traitor to the Faith.

Policy seemed to require that the Church should come to some such agreement as was arrived at in the Arian controversy, during which the work of the Council of Nicaea, without being repudiated, was somewhat modified and explained. In like manner it was hoped that the ambiguities of the Council of Chalcedon would be removed by the conciliatory action of the ecclesiastical authority backed by that of the Emperor. In the Christian East matters of religion and doctrine had always been considered to lie within the sphere of the imperial prerogative, and the Emperor regarded himself as even more than the clergy responsible for the maintenance of the purity of the faith. But to the Western ecclesiastics the faith as defined by Leo was not to be explained but accepted with unquestioning obedience, and any attempt to reopen the question was an insult to his memory and to the Roman See. Accordingly, when at the instigation of Acacius of Constantinople, Zeno sanctioned (481) the Henoticon, or scheme of union with the Monophysites, the Roman Church broke off all intercourse with that of Constantinople. Fortunately for the prestige of the popes, Italy was under the government first of Odovacar and afterwards of Theodoric, both of whom were barbarians professing Arianism, and no intervention from Constantinople was possible. Till A.D. 519 the Old and the New Rome remained in a condition of religious separation, and union was only brought about by the submission of the Church of the new capital. With the accession of Justinian (527) and the subjugation of Italy by the Byzantines (535-553) the Papacy entered upon a series of humiliations which no barbarian ruler had even dreamed of inflicting upon it. The loyalty and submission displayed by the popes is a proof of the awe in which they held the majesty of the Empire.

The attitude of Justinian towards the Roman Church was frankly autocratic: he expected and exacted obedience. For the early part of his reign he favored the orthodox, whilst his wife, the powerful Empress Theodora, inclined to the Monophysite, party. But at her death Justinian inclined to a compromise suggested to him by Theodore Askidas, bishop of Caesarea. Briefly, this was to condemn the writings of three divines specially obnoxious to the Monophysites, whilst otherwise maintaining the dignity of the Fourth General Council. Justinian has been reproached for devoting his time to the study of theology instead of attending to the politics of his empire; but in truth, its tranquillity mainly depended on the theological question, and the Emperor hoped that in condemning Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret's writings against Cyril, and the letter of Ibas to Maris the Persian he would render the settlement at Chalcedon acceptable to his Egyptian and other Monophysite subjects. Such was the political aim of the otherwise uninteresting controversy of the “Three Chapters”. That the Roman See would oppose the imperial policy was inevitable, especially as the three writers condemned had been acquitted at Chalcedon, and to doubt the justice of the acts of this council was disloyalty to the memory of Pope Leo. But Justinian was not accustomed to allow his will to be disputed. Pope Vigilius was hurried from Rome to Constantinople and forced to assent to the condemnation of the Chapters at the Fifth General Council (553). Never had a pope, at any rate since the days of Liberius, endured such a humiliation. So fully was this realised in the West that the churches of Illyricum and Istria made the weakness of Vigilius, hampered as he was by the promises exacted by the Empress Theodora as the price of his consecration, the pretext of a schism which lasted for a generation or more.

Monotheletism and the Papacy [c. 630

The disasters which overtook the Eastern Empire in the seventh century might well excuse any attempt to procure ecclesiastical unity. More and more the divisions of the Church were becoming tokens of national rather than religious sympathy. The Monophysite in Egypt believed in One nature in Christ, not because he was a theologian but because he was the natural enemy of the Melchite or Greek Christians who declared that Christ was “in Two Natures”. The century had opened with the remarkable successes of the Persians, who seemed to have wrested from the Romans the domination of the East and to have restored their Empire to the extent it had reached in the days of Cambyses. The overthrow of the despicable Phocas (610), however, made way for a monarch who, had he died a few years earlier than he did, would have been comparable to Alexander the Great. Heraclius 715 rolled back the tide of conquest, restored the frontiers of the Empire, recovered the Holy Cross, and humiliated Persia. Is it to be wondered at, therefore, that the victorious Emperor should have made another attempt to reunite the Christians, and have listened to those who suggested that, if it could be acknowledged that in our Lord were two natures (the human and the divine) and but one working energy, Monophysites would unite with the supporters of Chalcedon? To this Honorius (pope 625-638) was disposed to assent, and in his correspondence he used the term “one will” (una voluntas) as applying to the Saviour.

Hence the controversy is known as the Monothelete. But the action of Honorius was profoundly unpopular in Rome; and the successes of the Muslims and the loss of Egypt and Syria were regarded as a just punishment of the heresy of Heraclius as expressed in his Ekthesis.

The Monothelete controversy was fraught with humiliation for the See of Rome. Constans II (641-668), the brutal grandson of Heraclius, issued his Type in favour of Monothelete views; and, because he was opposed by Pope Martin V, he ordered the exarch Theodore Calliopas to seize the recalcitrant pontiff and bring him to Constantinople. There the Roman bishop, after enduring insult and imprisonment, which were unable to break his spirit, was deposed and banished by imperial decree to the Crimea, where he died deserted by his friends, a martyr for the faith as defined by his great predecessor Leo.

During the reign of Constantine Pogonatus, in the pontificate of Agatho (678-682), the Roman See obtained some reparation for the insults heaped on Martin. At the Sixth General Council, which met in Constantinople 7 Nov. 680, the Monothelete doctrine was condemned, and with it its supporters, Cyrus, bishop of Alexandria, and two patriarchs of Constantinople, Sergius and Pyrrhus. In addition to these, a unique circumstance in ecclesiastical history, the General Council pronounced Pope Honorius to be anathema non quidem ut haereticus sed ut haereticorum fautor. Thus the Roman See had to accept the deep humiliation of having one of its occupants pronounced unsound in a matter of faith. A further insult was still in store for the Papacy. In 692 another council was summoned to Constantinople for the purpose of completing the work of the Sixth Council by drawing up canons of discipline. This Synod, generally known as the Council in Trullo, passed its canons and sent them for ratification to Pope Sergius, and on his refusal to acknowledge the work of the Council the Protospatharius was sent to arrest him and he was threatened with the fate of St Martin. The Romans however stood by their bishop and rescued him from the imperial officer.

The last pope to be summoned to Constantinople was Constantine (708-715), who came at the invitation of Justinian II (Rhinotmetus). He was, however, treated with honour by that formidable emperor and returned in safety in 711 to Rome.

715-731] Iconoclasm

We have now reached the period of the last struggle between Constantinople and Rome, due, like the Three Chapters in the days of Justinian I and the Monothelete controversy in the following century, to another amazing display of the strength inherent in the Empire. In the famous Isaurian dynasty the Graeco-Roman power, which had been threatened at its very source by the triumphant Caliphs, once more showed itself the strongest force in the world. Again orthodoxy made overtures of peace to Monophysitism, but in a very different form from those of the sixth and seventh centuries. The schismatic or heretical churches, whether Nestorian or Monophysite, showed a conservatism greater than that exhibited by the Catholics in maintaining a simplicity in church ornamentation which orthodoxy had long abandoned. The images or pictures, originally introduced, to use the words of John of Damascus, as “books for the unlearned”, had not found a place in the Monophysite or Nestorian churches; but among the orthodox had become objects of superstitious reverence. To remove this scandal and to save the Church from the reproach of Jews and Muslims as well as to conciliate the Christians outside its pale, Leo the Isaurian in 726 issued his celebrated edict against the images and inaugurated the Iconoclastic controversy. Since the Monophysites opposed the attempt to represent the human appearance of our Lord as contrary to their doctrine of the loss of his manhood in the infinity of his Godhead, the edict was sure to find favour in their eyes.

It is not easy to determine the precise effect of the Iconoclastic decree on the Roman Church. Certainly Leo the Isaurian's reign saw the beginning of the complete abandonment of the exarchate of Ravenna and its dependencies by the Greeks. Letters survive, professedly by Pope Gregory II (715-731) to Leo, denouncing him with the utmost violence and defending the image-worship with as grotesque an ignorance of the Old Testament as of the rules of common courtesy. It is now generally supposed, however, that these two letters are spurious, alien as they are to what we know of the wise and prudent man which Gregory II showed himself in his other dealings. Nor does there seem to have been any formal breach between the Papacy and Constantinople. Down to the end of the eighth century the popes acknowledged the Emperor. But the chain was really broken. The Lombards took Ravenna, occupied the Pentapolis and began to threaten the ducatus Romae, already a virtually independent state with an army commanded by its Duke, and with the Pope almost acknowledged as the representative of the Emperor. When Ravenna was taken is unknown: the whole history of the period is obscure; all that can be said with certainty is that by 7 July 751 the exarchate had come to an end and the Greeks were no longer a power in Italy. The Pope had also lost his Sicilian estates which afforded his principal revenue. The experience the Papacy had gained by its connexion with Constantinople was not forgotten, and moulded its subsequent policy. It became evident that to work out its destiny it needed alike freedom and protection freedom to assert its claims to rule over the conscience of mankind, and protection from the enemies who encompassed the defenceless city.

Neither of these could the Byzantine government afford. The Lombards were pressing closer on Rome, and no prospect of aid from the Emperor was at hand; and in any case it would be too great a price to yield to his demands in matters theological. The aims of the Empire and the East were distinct from those of Rome and the West. In the latter there was practically no great religious difference, and the priests, secure in their monopoly of learning, were unlikely to disturb men's minds by explaining the traditional faith or adapting it to the conditions of the hour. In the more educated East questions of the utmost moment caused serious divisions among clergy and laity alike; nor is it without significance that Pope Agatho had to explain to the Sixth General Council that his delegates were rude and unlettered men who had to live by the labour of their hands. So far then were the rough and ignorant clergy even of Rome removed from their brethren of the East. But, though ignorant of the arts of life, the Roman clergy had one distinct advantage over the more cultured ecclesiastics of Constantinople. They had fought a long and stubborn battle with the barbarian invaders of Italy with no one to come to their aid, and in the struggle they had developed political instincts denied to the servants of a political and spiritual despotism. Thus the popes of the eighth century learned the statecraft with which their successors were to raise the papal power to its highest pitch. From the birth of Christ there is approximately as long an interval backwards to Romulus as forwards to the political severance of Rome from the Empire, and at the latter period the foundations of a world-governing power were as surely laid as when the first king built the walls of Rome.

The Lombard invaders of Italy after a long struggle had succeeded in dispossessing the Empire of all pretence to exercise sovereignty in Italy. They had made their appearance in the year 568 under Alboin, and though Paul the Deacon testifies to the comparative mildness of their rule at first, on the death of Alboin it became intolerable. Two facts are worth bearing in mind, namely that the Lombards are the first invaders of Italy who settled with no sort of imperial sanction - Alaric, Odovacar, and Theodoric having all had recognition from the Roman government; and further that under their occupation the theory of a united Italy was abandoned, never to be realized till the nineteenth century.

There was further a sort of undeveloped feudalism in the Lombard settlement by which the kingdom was divided into more or less independent dukedoms, some like those of Spoleto and Benevento eventually detaching themselves completely from the king's authority. After the death of Alboin in 573 there were no less than thirty-six dukes each exercising unrestrained the power of a petty tyrant. But anarchical as was the condition of affairs among the Lombards at the close of the sixth century, it was becoming evident that the Byzantine government was powerless to expel them from Italy and even that its abandonment of the peninsula was only a matter of time.

The condition of Byzantine Italy was not altogether dissimilar from that of the Lombard territory. As at Pavia, the capital of the king, so at the exarch's seat at Ravenna, the central authority was at times deplorably weak; and in both cases the "dukes" were practically independent princes. The duke of Naples for example was as little amenable to the exarch as the Lombard dukes of Benevento were to their sovereign. The difficulty was principally one of communication. The Lombards held the country and the Byzantines the coast, and unless the road between Rome and Ravenna could be kept open it was impossible for the exarch to govern, succour, or advise the Pope; and in one case a pope’s enthronement had to be deferred for more than a year owing to the difficulty in obtaining confirmation of his election. Hence it was of the utmost importance to keep open the Flaminian way leading from Rome to Ravenna and the coast, and the possession of such places as Perugia was vital to the Romans.

The territory occupied in Italy by the Lombards and the exarchate in Italy respectively, say during the pontificate of Gregory I (590-604), was approximately as follows. The Byzantines on the east coast held Istria on the Adriatic, the islands along the coast already known as Venetia, the marshes around Comacchio and Ferrara, the mouth of the Po where Ravenna is situated, and inland as far as Bologna.

Practically from Venetia to Ancona the frontiers of the Empire were the Apennines and the sea. Then came a very debatable territory giving access by way of Perugia to the Roman duchy. Proceeding southward, Calabria remained imperial till 675, when Brindisi and Tarento fell into the hands of Romuald, duke of Benevento, and Bruttium and Sicily were held by the Greeks.

On the western coast were two duchies, Naples and Rome. The Roman duchy was constantly shrinking owing to the encroachments of the Lombard dukes of Benevento and Spoleto, the latter having pushed his frontier almost to the N.E. wall of the city, his boundary being the old Sabine one formed by the Tiber and the Anio. The rest of Italy was held by the Lombards, the valley of the Po being more directly under the authority of the king, whose capital was Pavia, whilst the three great almost independent duchies were Friuli (Forum Julii), north of Venetia, Spoleto, extending from the Pentapolis to the Roman duchy, and Benevento in the south,

This partition of Italy was practically recognised by the treaty made, mainly by Pope Gregory I, in 593, but throughout the seventh century the power of the Lombards increased whilst that of the exarchate diminished. It is not necessary for our purpose to trace the progress of the Lombard power till we reach the eighth century when the popes came into sharper conflict with it than they had done since the days of Gregory I.

In the century which intervened between the death of Gregory I and the accession of Gregory II the Lombards had been transformed from Arian heretics into devout Catholics, so that the religious difficulty which parted Roman from Lombard had disappeared. The hostility of the popes to the Lombards was therefore political rather than religious. The cause of it was a feeling, inherent in the Papacy, that any supreme secular power in Italy would be detrimental to its interests. This was natural and not wholly unjustifiable, as the sequel of events tends to show. The whole spirit of the Roman Church in Italy being anti-national, the predominance of one people was felt to be inconsistent with its ideal of universality. We have seen how sorely tried the patience of the clergy had been by the policy of the Byzantine Caesars; but these, at least in theory, were the rulers of the world. The Lombard kings on the contrary were merely local princes, representative of the two things most detested by the Papacy nationality and barbarism. An even worse evil was in store should (as was far from unlikely) the Lombard territories become a number of independent dukedoms, for in that case the Pope would be at the mercy not even of a king but of a petty prince like the duke of Spoleto; and Rome itself would be the carcass over which the Lombard chieftains would be constantly quarrelling. The breach between the Lombards and the popes was therefore inevitable directly it was understood that the end of the Byzantine rule in Italy was a mere question of time. Let the monarch and his dukes be never so conciliatory and the Pope never so gracious, their interests were radically dissimilar, and either the Lombard dominion must perish or the Papacy must abandon the very motive of its existence. In one respect the pontiffs had a distinct advantage; they were perfectly indifferent to the fate of the Lombards; whilst these, as Catholics, held the priestly office of the bishops of Rome in the highest honour. The period therefore we are about to survey from Gregory II (715) to the accession of Hadrian I (772) is fraught with the most important consequences, as what happened then gives the clue to the whole secular policy of the Papacy for eleven centuries, from Charles the Great to Napoleon III a policy which, despite all adverse circumstances, is not yet abandoned.

The somewhat complicated relations of six popes, Gregory II and III, Zacharias, Stephen III, Paul, and Stephen IV, with three Lombard kings, Liutprand, Aistulf, and Desiderius, must now occupy the attention of the former. Liutprand, the Lombard king, reigned 712-744 and this period is almost covered by the pontificates of the two Gregories (715-741), men of great ability as popes and statesmen. Under Gregory II came the breach with the exarchate not so much on account of the Iconoclastic decrees, which were not promulgated till 726, as of the heavy taxation imposed on Italy by Leo the Isaurian.

The politics of the time are certainly perplexing. First we find the Lombards on the side of the Pope laboring to defeat the dastardly plot to murder Gregory hatched by the exarch Paulus and Marinus, duke of Rome. Next the Pope takes part with the great dukes of Spoleto and Benevento against Liutprand, who is in alliance with the Empire against his vassals. Twice we find the Lombard king advancing into the Roman duchy: on the first occasion withdrawing after presenting Sutrium, which he had captured, to the Pope, on the second, in 729, marching to the very gates of Rome only to find the intrepid Gregory entering his camp in peaceful guise and himself conducted as a suppliant to the tomb of St Peter.

Gregory II died in 731, and was succeeded by a Syrian of the same name who occupied the chair of St Peter for ten years. His policy was to play the Empire, Liutprand, and the Lombard dukes against one another, and he entered into an alliance with Spoleto and Benevento against their king. The duchy of Rome was invaded by Liutprand in 739, and Gregory III made the first advances towards the Frankish Charles Martel a momentous step in the history of the Papacy.

Notwithstanding this, Liutprand was throughout subservient to the papal will, and Gregory's successor, Zacharias, obtained from him several cities which had belonged to the Empire. Thus the principle was recognized at Rome that the territory which the Byzantines had once held justly belonged to the Pope. Liutprand, the great Lombard benefactor of the Papacy, died in 744. In the Liber Pontificalis he is called “most wicked”, showing that neither gifts nor piety could avert the papal animosity if a monarch’s claims were in conflict with those of St Peter.

It was under the ambitious Aistulf that the mutual hostility of Pope and Lombard came to a head. Despite oaths and treaties made by Liutprand and his successor Ratchis, whom Zacharias' exhortations had induced to exchange the crown for the cowl, the king persisted in the conquest of Ravenna. Instigated by Constantine V (Copronymus), Pope Stephen III made his famous journey first to Pavia, where he remonstrated with Aistulf, and then, when he found his protests of no avail, supported by the Frankish envoys to the Lombards, the undaunted Pope crossed the Alps and met Pepin king of the Franks face to face. By the agreement at Kiersy (754) Ravenna was secured for the Pope. Stephen returned to Rome and died in 757, Aistulf having been killed by a fall from his horse in the previous year.

Now that the Byzantine influence at Rome had almost vanished, we begin to see that the interference of exarch and Emperor in papal affairs had not been wholly an evil. The Roman priesthood, great as were its claims, was not really capable of maintaining itself without the support of some external force. For the last century and more papal elections had been uniformly peaceful : but now that the imperial power was no longer a restraint, this peace was at an end. Paul the brother of Stephen was however elected after a contest with the archdeacon Theophylact, and reigned for ten years (757-767), occupied mainly in disputes with Desiderius the last king of the Lombards, who refused, though constantly prevaricating, to observe the agreement made between Pepin and Aistulf after the Frankish invasion of 755, and to restore to the Roman see the cities he had taken.

Passing over the negotiations between the Papacy and Desiderius, we may take notice of some incidents which show the weakness of the Papacy and the danger which threatened it from the Lombard supremacy. The seizure of the papal chair by Toto duke of Nepi, who placed his brother Constantine in it after the death of Paul, the ejection of Constantine by the primicerius Christophorus and his son the sacellarius Sergius, the choice of Stephen IV, and the horrors which followed - blindings, imprisonments, murders, and other cruelties showed the savage lawlessness of the Romans when left to themselves.

Next we have Pope Stephen and Desiderius caballing together against the too powerful papal officials Christophorus and his son, their betrayal and cruel treatment, and the rise of Paulus Afiarta, the real ruler of the Church and city in the latter days of Stephen IV. This disgraceful state of things at the time of Stephen’s death and the accession of Hadrian I showed the impotence of the Romans to govern themselves and of Desiderius and his Lombards to restore order. A new act in the drama of papal history is about to begin, dominated by the majestic figure of Charles the Great.

664-750] Boniface of Crediton

The Franks who succeeded the Lombards as controllers of the destiny of the Papacy enjoyed the distinction of having been the first of the continental Teutons to embrace the orthodox Faith and the only ones which never held any creed save that of Nicaea. Since the days of Clovis who had borne the title of “patrician” their connection with the Empire had been particularly friendly: and the Roman pontiffs had seen the wisdom of attaching this powerful and energetic nation to the see of St Peter.

One reason for the amity which existed between the Roman ecclesiastics and the Franks lay in the fact that, unlike other barbarian nations, they were not disposed to migrate from their home in northern Gaul; and widely as their conquests extended they never contemplated making Italy the centre of their government. Aachen, Laon, Soissons, and Rheims were the cities of the Frankish monarch; and the popes felt they could safely summon so remote a nation to deliver Rome from their enemies and then to retire leaving the sacred city to its ecclesiastical rulers.

A still more remote nation was destined to play its part in the events of the eighth century. The conversion of England, planned by Gregory the Great and begun by Augustine, had gone on apace and in it the Church of Rome had played a most honourable part. The Church of Canterbury, already acknowledged as a primatial see, was essentially a Roman outpost, though already it had been presided over by a native-born archbishop in the person of Frithonas who took the name of Deusdedit. On his death in 664 another native by name Wighard was elected and sent to Rome to be consecrated by Vitalian (657-672). Wighard was presented to the Pope but died before he could be consecrated, and Vitalian sought earnestly for a suitable successor. Failing to induce the African Hadrian to undertake the office he accepted his nominee Theodore, a native of Tarsus, a man of ripe years and learning to whom the infant Church of the English owes so much. It must not however be supposed that, in thus nominating an occupant of the throne of St Augustine, Vitalian can in any way be reproached for setting a precedent for the interference of his medieval successors in the election of English primates. It was not arrogance which made Vitalian nominate, nor did avarice induce Theodore to accept the charge of the Church in a land so remote and barbarous as Britain, and the whole business is illustrative of the care taken on behalf of the most remote Churches by the Roman see of that age.

The close relation which sprang up between the Papacy and the descendants of Arnulf, a Frankish noble who became bishop of Metz (died 624), who ultimately became the famous royal family known as the Carolingians, was fostered by our great countryman Boniface, the indefatigable missionary in Germany during the first half of the eighth century. This remarkable man combined the zeal of a missionary with complete devotion to the Roman see; and may almost be compared to some proconsul, who, in the days of Rome's secular glory, spent his life in bringing kingdoms and territories under her conquering sway. A native of Crediton and a monk of Netley near Winchester, Winfrid, for that was his original name, joined his countryman Willibrord in his missionary labors among the Frisians. Full of that zeal which makes him a worthy predecessor of Selwyn and Livingstone, he devoted his chief efforts to the conversion of the heathen. His objective was the Saxon nation beyond the Elbe, for his heart seems to have yearned towards the men of his own race; but he labored in Thuringia and among the Hessians, and finally with his own hands struck a blow at German heathenism by felling the sacred oak at Geismar. His own country sent willing monks and nuns to aid the great missionary. Monastery after monastery was founded to secure the permanence of his labors and thus to pave the way for Frankish conquest and Roman influence. His devoted labors in the cause of the Gospel were supported by the blessings of the popes and the arms of the Franks; since he was both the pioneer of the see of Rome and of the rising house of Charles Martel. Pope followed pope only to receive fresh testimonies of the loyalty of Boniface and to load him with fresh honours.

In 723 the wise and statesmanlike Gregory II recognized the merits of the ardent Englishman by making him a regionarius or bishop without a see. When we remember the perilous times of this Pope, harassed alike by the Iconoclastic emperors and by the prospect of the ruin of the imperial power in Italy, we cannot fail to compare him with his great predecessor and namesake, who when the Lombards were threatening Rome was carefully planning the conversion of England. That Gregory II could in equally anxious times find leisure to send the Englishman Winfrid, who probably then assumed the name of Bonifatius (the fair speaker), to convert Germany, proves that this Pope was no unworthy successor of St Gregory the Great.

Gregory III raised Boniface to the rank of an archbishop, still without confining his labours to any single city, but the real object in thus honouring the great missionary was to give him authority in Gaul, where the disorders of the Church, especially in Neustria, were most serious; and indeed the Roman see seems to have desired a reform of the episcopate even more than missionary extension. Boniface loyally cooperated with the Popes in this object and did his utmost to enlist the support of Charles Martel. During the pontificate of the saintly Zacharias we find Boniface at the height of his influence. Council after Council was held under his presidency: the disorders among the clergy both in Austrasia and Neustria were suppressed, and new sees were founded in far Bavaria. In 743 the see of Mogontiacum (Mainz) was raised to the dignity of an archbishopric and conferred on Boniface, who thus became primate of all Germany. Under Stephen III he won the crown of martyrdom after resigning his see in order to prosecute his missionary labors (755). Such then is a brief outline of the life of the churchman who did more than anyone to bind together the Austrasian Franks and the Roman see. Boniface began his labors as a devoted servant of the Papacy, but he soon recognized the fact that he could neither continue the missionary labor, so dear to his own heart, nor carry out the reforms in Gaul, on which the popes were resolved, without the help of the great Mayor of the Palace, Charles Martel. But engaged as he was in warlike enterprise, Charles, despite the great victory of Tours (732) which delivered Gaul from the Muslims, has not gone down to posterity as a loyal son of the Church. His followers required rewards for their services, and his enemies kept him actively employed in Gaul. Consequently when in 739 Gregory III appealed for the first time to the Franks to enter Italy in order to deliver the Church of Rome from Liutprand, the most generous “oppressor” of the Holy See known to history, Charles ignored his request; and he is further accused, not without reason, of having laid hands on the estates of the clergy. A century after his death it was generally believed that he had incurred “that righteous damnation of him by whom the property of the Church has been unjustly taken away”.

Charles Martel and Gregory III both died in 741. The next pope was, as we have seen, the saintly Zacharias (741-752), under whom Boniface rose to the summit of his influence. The successors of Charles were his sons Pepin and Carloman. The latter prince was a monk at heart and in 747 retired from the world, and Pepin himself was far more religiously disposed than his father. Consequently the reform of the Church north of the Alps went on apace under Boniface, now Archbishop of Mainz and Primate of Germany.

The time had now come for the house of Arnulf to assume the office the power of which they had so long exercised. Confident in the support of the Church, Pepin inquired of Zacharias whether it would not now be advisable for him to ascend the German throne in place of the last puppet Merovingian Childeric III. How far Boniface took part in the elevation of Pepin as king is much disputed. He had withdrawn much from public life since 747. At any rate in 751 Childeric III was deposed, tonsured and sent into a monastery, and Pepin was solemnly anointed and was more Francorum elevatus in regno. Thus at the hands of our great countryman the new Frankish dynasty came into being. It was probably owing to Boniface's influence that Pepin's brother Carloman, Mayor of the Palace in Austrasia, renounced the world and settled in Italy in a monastery on Mount Soracte. Thus the Roman see was continually entering into a closer and closer relationship with the most vigorous of the Teutonic nations of the north, the Austrasian Franks, who aided by their English kinsmen beyond the sea were spreading the Gospel eastward in Europe.

In the short but memorable pontificate of Stephen III (752-757) Pepin laid the foundation of the temporal power of the Roman see in return for his formal recognition by the Pope. Hard pressed by the Lombard Aistulf, Stephen crossed the Alps on a visit to the Frankish king. The pontiff was met by Pepin’s son Charles, then a boy of eleven, who brought him to his father at Ponthion. There Pepin promised to “restore” to the Holy See the exarchate of Ravenna and the “rights and territories of the Roman Republic” On 28 July 754 Stephen solemnly anointed and blessed Pepin, his wife Bertrada, and his two sons Charles and Carloman, pronouncing an anathema on the Franks should they ever choose a king from another family. Pepin at the same time received the title of “patrician” with all its undefined liabilities as protector of Rome. In the following year Pepin held a “diet” or placitum at Carisiacum (Kiersy or Quierzy) and decided to advance into Italy to win Stephen III his rights from the Lombards.

Donation of Pepin [757-768

A document was drawn up, which has unfortunately perished, setting forth what territories were to be given to the Pope. This is the “donation of Pepin”. Twice did the Frankish army invade Italy on the first occasion at the Pope's personal request and on the second owing to the receipt of the letter which St Peter himself was believed to have addressed to the king of the Franks. In the end twenty-three cities including Ravenna were surrendered by Aistulf to Stephen III, who, at the time of his death in April, 757, had become a sovereign prince. But in gaining territory the Papacy lost independence by becoming too great a prize for any man to win without a struggle. The rest of the history of the eighth century shows that in order to enjoy that which Pepin had bestowed the popes must become dependents of the Franks, who were thus compelled to invade Italy as conquerors to maintain the Papacy which they had enriched.

Paul I, the successor of Stephen, enjoyed a somewhat peaceful pontificate of ten years, A.D. 757-767; but we are able to see that the acquisition of the imperial territory on the shores of the Adriatic had further relaxed the feeble tie which still held the Papacy to Constantinople. Paul had to deal with Constantine V, the most formidable of the Iconoclasts; and he had to protect alike the holy images and the possessions of the Roman Church. In his correspondence with Pepin, the Greeks are styled nefandissimi. Once the Church had obtained Ravenna and the cities of Emilia and the Pentapolis there could be no restoration of the exarchate. The political connection between Rome and Constantinople was practically severed by the donation of Pepin. The king of the Franks died in 768, a year later than Paul; and we enter upon one of the most critical eras of papal history. All on which this chapter has hitherto dwelt : the severance from the imperial authority at Constantinople, the disputes with the Lombards, the alliance with the Franks, the work of Gregory II, Boniface, and Stephen III, culminates in Charles the Great. With his accession we stand at the opening of a new epoch in the history of Western Europe, fraught with important consequences. The theological breach between East and West, the medieval theory of Papacy and Empire, the great strife of secular and spiritual powers, are traceable to the years immediately before us.

In considering the relations between the popes and the Franks during the long reign of Charles the Great it is necessary to bear in mind that, though Pepin by his donation had made the popes into priest-kings, their position was precarious in the extreme. Italy under Lombard rule was in a state of anarchy; and Rome itself was the centre of a barbarism which was intensified by being concealed under the specious name of ecclesiastical government and claimed to represent not only the piety but the civilization of the West. When we read of kings, dukes, pontiffs, cardinals (first mentioned in the Liber Pontificalis at this time of the senate, of the exercitus or militia; when modern terms that of the “unification of Italy” are applied to the policy of a ruler like the Lombard Desiderius, we may lose sight of the fact that under this specious veneer there lay an utterly disintegrated society, characterized by a savagery which could hardly be paralleled by the acknowledged barbarism of many countries north of the Alps. The pontificate of Stephen IV (768-772) is, as has been already hinted, a period of violence and bloodshed : and the events which characterised it are repeated almost exactly not thirty years later in the days of Leo III : for centuries not even the person of a pope was safe in Rome without the protecting hand of some external authority. It is only possible here to allude to the strange story of Stephen IV as related in the Liber Pontificalis; and to proceed to a hasty summary of the main events of the reign of Charles the Great.

On Pepin's death the Frankish dominions were divided between his two sons Charles and Carloman. The two brothers speedily became rivals, and the scene of their machinations was Italy. Their mother Bertrada had brought about a nominal reconciliation between her two sons Charles king in Austrasia, and Carloman king in Neustria, and in the interests of peace sought to contract matrimonial alliances with the Lombard monarch Desiderius. With this end in view she visited Italy and persuaded Charles to give up the lady whom he had perhaps irregularly married and to take Desiderata, the daughter of the Lombard king. These projects alarmed Stephen IV, and his letter to Charles and Carloman warning them against an alliance with the detestable Lombards, a race infected with leprosy and naturally repulsive to noble Franks, is one of the most extraordinary in the papal correspondence with the Carolingian family; and confirms us in the idea that Stephen's passionate weakness of character was one cause of the misfortunes of that unhappy pontiff. But the alliance was short-lived. Charles repudiated his Lombard wife, and on Carloman's death in 771 the widow Gerberga placed herself and her children under the protection of Desiderius a proof that the two brothers regarded the Lombard as the determining factor in their rivalry for the possession of the whole Frankish realm. The Pope sided with Charles against Gerberga and her children; for Desiderius, no doubt hoping that the Franks were sufficiently divided to leave him alone, had ravaged the newly acquired papal dominions in the exarchate and the Pentapolis.

Stephen died in 772, and was succeeded by two pontiffs who held the Papacy for no less than forty-four years. Hadrian I from 772 to 795 and Leo III from 795 to 816. Never till our own days have two successive pontificates occupied so long a period. Till the days of Pius IX no pope so nearly attained to the traditional years of Peter as Hadrian.

Judged by his actions Hadrian was a man of vigor and ability; and if he shows himself querulous and apprehensive in his correspondence with Charles, it only reveals the extreme difficulty of the situation in which he was often placed. His first act on succeeding Stephen was successfully to repress disorder in Rome. Paulus Afiarta, the evil genius of the late Pope, who had brought about the ruin of Christophorus and Sergius, was sent under arrest to Ravenna, where the archbishop Leo, to Hadrian's indignation, put the unfortunate prisoner to death. In the following year, 773, Charles invaded Italy, defeated Desiderius, and invested his capital of Pavia. In 774 the Frankish king paid his first memorable visit to Rome, and was received with due honor by the Pope and the Roman clergy. Touched by his reception and deeply impressed by his visit to the tomb of the Apostle and to the holy churches of Rome, Charles bestowed on Hadrian all that Pepin had given to the Holy See, and, if we may believe the Roman account, something more. The documentary evidence for the donation of Charles needs separate treatment; but the king is said to have included in his magnificent gift all Italy south of the Po which the Lombards occupied. Charles returned to Pavia after his visit to Rome and completed the conquest of the Lombards. Desiderius was forced to retire into a monastery, to make way for the victorious Frank who was now king of the Lombards and Patrician of Rome.

Thus fell the Lombard kingdom after two centuries of rule in Italy; and it may here be observed that none of the nations which had occupied the territory of the Empire had been able to survive the baneful atmosphere of the ruined Roman world. The Visigoths of Spain, the Vandals in Africa, the Ostrogoths in Italy, the Merovingians of Gaul, had all like the Lombards rapidly degenerated in contact with the ancient civilization. It was beyond the limits of the Empire that a new and more vigorous life was coming into being. Among the Franks in Austrasia, in the monasteries of Ireland, in Britain from which all traces of Roman dominion had been swept by the conquering Angles and Saxons, arose the makers of a new world. Columbanus the Celtic monk, Wilfrid the English bishop, Boniface the missionary from Devon, Charles Martel and his illustrious sons and grandson, Alcuin the Yorkshire scholar nearly all of these hailed from lands which Tertullian had described as Romanis inaccessa, Christo vero subdita.

When Charles departed from Italy in 774, Hadrian was left alone to assert his authority over the splendid principality he had acquired from his Frankish benefactors. But only by a strong hand could rights be maintained in those unsettled days; and the Pope was hard pressed on all sides. Not only did the unconquered Lombard duchy of Benevento encroach on his territory in the south; his tenure of the exarchate was threatened by Leo, the ambitious archbishop of Ravenna, who sought independence, and was resolved to seize the cities in his neighbourhood over which the Pope claimed jurisdiction. Hadrian, one of the ablest of the popes, did his best to maintain his authority. His troops defended his frontiers against the Beneventans and even captured Terracina. But his correspondence with Charles reveals the weakness of his position. That Hadrian was a great man is certain; and Charles seems to have recognised in him somewhat of a kindred spirit to his own; and at the Pope’s death the Prankish monarch mourned as for a lost brother. But in this case his position was less assured than his ability, and he needed the support of the arms and influence of Charles in order to maintain it. How truly Hadrian deserves to be classed among the greatest rulers of the Roman Church, and how precarious was the situation of a pope in the eighth century, is shown when we come to the disastrous commencement of the pontificate of his successor Leo III.

774-799] Outrage on Pope Leo III

It is one of the ironies of fate that the pontiff to whose lot it fell to inaugurate the Middle Ages in Western Europe, by an act second to none in dramatic circumstances and in its far-reaching consequences, was not a great ruler like Hadrian, but a man in almost every respect his inferior. Leo III, the son of Atzuppius and Elizabeth, is described as a Roman priest of blameless character and abounding charity; but there is a certain mystery overhanging the early days of his pontificate. If we may judge from the names of his parents he had not the advantage of being of noble birth, a matter of the utmost importance in his age; as, not only was it regarded as one of the chief recommendations for a bishop, but it gave a man the almost indispensable support of powerful kinsmen. Hadrian, perhaps the earliest example of papal nepotism, had given the highest positions in the Roman Church to his relatives, committing to them the administration of its great wealth and extensive patrimony. The government of the apostolic Church was vested at this time in seven officials, who though only in deacon's orders took the highest rank in the hierarchy under the Pope. The chief of these, the primicerius notariorum, Paschalis, a nephew of Hadrian, who is also called the consiliarius of the Holy See, with Campulus the sacellarius or treasurer, another relative of the late Pope, evidently cherished deep resentment against Leo; and on the occasion of the procession of the greater Litany on 25 April 799 (St Mark's day) they determined to wreak their vengeance. Joining the procession from the Lateran at the church of St Laurence, the conspirators took their places beside the Pope, apologizing for not wearing their official planetae on the plea of illhealth. When the procession reached the monastery of SS. Stephen and Sylvester, a band of ruffians dashed forth and threw Leo to the ground. Then, with Paschalis standing at his head and Campulus at his feet, an attempt was made to blind the pontiff and to cut out his tongue. The wretched Pope was left for a while bleeding in the street, then dragged into the church of St Sylvester, and imprisoned in the Greek monastery of St Erasmus on the Coelian Hill.

Strange to say, the outrage seems to have produced no great effect on the Roman people, and Leo remained a prisoner till he had recovered from his wounds. Then his partisans rescued him, and though he is said to have been welcomed with enthusiasm in St Peter's he did not again enter the city; but placing himself under the charge of Winichis, duke of Spoleto, retired thither. Thence he betook himself to Charles at Paderborn, was received by the king and assured of his protection, under which he was able to re-enter Rome on 29 Nov. 799. Charles himself was fully occupied the greater part of the following year. In the spring we find him in Neustria looking after the defences of the shores of the Channel, in the summer he is at Tours, visiting Alcuin and bewailing the loss of Queen Liutgardis, in August he is holding a great placitum at Mainz; and not till autumn was well advanced did he undertake his memorable expedition to Italy, arriving at Rome on 24 Nov. 800.

He came not so much as a defender of the rights of the Pope as in the capacity of his judge. Leo’s fair fame as well as his person had suffered at the hands of his adversaries, and grave though to us mysterious charges were spread abroad concerning him. Alcuin had received from his friend Arno, archbishop of Salzburg, so serious an account of affairs in Rome and of Leo III that he thought it advisable to burn it; and Charles himself does not seem to have held the same opinion of Leo as he had of Hadrian. At any rate on 3 Dec., in the presence of the king, the Roman clergy, and the Frankish nobles, Leo solemnly exculpated himself and took an oath on the gospels that he was guiltless of the crimes laid to his charge. It is particularly important in view of his subsequent action to remember that three weeks before Leo had been in the humiliating position of having publicly to profess his innocence.

Charles was now at the height of his glory; master of Italy and northern Europe, he was regarded as the representative of Christendom. A woman who had sinned foully against her own son occupied the throne of the Eastern Caesars, and the eyes of all men turned to the gigantic Frank whose wars with the surrounding barbarians had been for the defence and propagation of the gospel. The day after Leo had professed his innocence the priest Zacharias arrived from Jerusalem with the Keys of Calvary and of the Holy Sepulchre and the banner of Jerusalem. Leo had already sent him the keys of the tomb of St Peter, and Rome recognised him as its Patrician.

On Christmas day Charles clothed himself in the Patrician's robe and went, not as a barbarian king but as the greatest of the nobility of Rome, to the already venerable church of St Peter. Then he knelt in prayer before the “confession” of the Prince of the Apostles, and the Mass began. After the reading of the gospel the Pope took from the altar a most precious crown and placed it upon the head of the kneeling monarch. With one voice the assembled multitude, Frank and Roman, ecclesiastic and warrior, shouted “Carolo piissimo Augusto a Deo coronato magno et pacifico Imperatori Vita et Victoria”. The birthday of the Christ was the birthday of the new Roman Empire. “From this moment modern history begins” (Bryce).

The significance of the act has been variously interpreted from the first. In the Lives of the Popes and in the German contemporary annals the papal and the imperial share in the transaction have been respectively magnified. The claims of the Pope to exact obedience from temporal rulers and of the Emperors to regard the Popes as their subjects were based throughout the Middle Ages upon the meaning attached to the coronation and unction of Charles. Without attempting to pronounce judgment on so vexed a topic, we may set forth three points : namely (1) the significance of the proclamation of Charles as Emperor to the world of 800, (2) the effects on the Empire and the Papacy respectively, and (3) ultimate results.

(1) The world understood that the nations of the West, after nearly four centuries of anarchy and decay, still recognised that they belonged to the Roman Empire and were resolved to seek for peace and unity under a single ruler. Charles was no more a Frankish king ruling by his might, but the lawful lord of Christendom. As the Faith represented by the Pope was one, so all temporal authority was centred in the person of the Emperor. Hitherto the Roman in the West had regarded the distant Augustus in Constantinople as his lawful master. But the experience of generations had proved him powerless to protect Italy, and in theory at least in the year 800 there was no Emperor. Irene having usurped the throne of Constantino VI, the allegiance due to the Eastern Caesar could be lawfully transferred to Charles.

(2) By his coronation Charles had obtained an accession neither of territory nor of wealth : but he gained that which he never could have secured by himself. It is difficult for us to understand how great a departure from precedent his coronation was. The one title withheld from the barbarians was that of Emperor. They might master Italy as Ricimer, Odovacar, Theodoric, and the Lombard kings had done. They might be decorated with the titles of consul and patrician like Clovis. They might set up puppet emperors and rule in their name. But never did they presume themselves to assume the imperial title. To acknowledge a barbarian king to be his Emperor, as Leo acknowledged Charles, was unexampled in the annals of the Roman world. This explains the astonishment of Charles when Leo III placed the crown on his head, and accounts for his assurance to Einhard that he never would have entered St Peter’s had he suspected the intention of the Pope. The Pope on the other hand had by this act taken the place of the Roman people, of the Senate, and of the Army in a word of all the powers which had in the past proclaimed an Emperor. That he had done so entirely on his own initiative might have been credible of Hadrian, but scarcely of Leo, whose position was too insecure, and his character not sufficiently established to warrant so bold an action. Without the consent and approval of the Roman people and the nobles who attended Charles he never could have assumed so mighty a role. If the Frank knelt unsuspectingly at his devotions to receive the imperial diadem, we can hardly doubt that Leo’s action was the result of a carefully preconceived plan of which many of the spectators were fully cognisant. By it, however, the Papacy gained an advantage which no one then possibly foresaw. Pepin and Charles had delivered the Popes from Greek oppression and Lombard tyranny; they had made them princes in Italy by securing them a kingdom which they held for eleven centuries; and in return the Papacy sanctioned the conversion of the mayors of the palace of Austrasia first into kings and finally into Emperors, but in so doing they laid the foundation of claims which were in later days to shake terribly the earth.

(3) The new Empire was essentially the creation of the Western genius. Unlike the older imperial system which made the Emperor, Justinian as truly as Augustus, supreme in matters spiritual as well as temporal, the regime inaugurated by Leo III emphasised the Augustinian ideal of the City of God; and, though in theory the Christian State in the Middle Ages was essentially one, there arose a practical dichotomy between the province of the clergy and that of the laity. That these worked sometimes in harmony, sometimes in discord, but never in complete unity, was one of the results of the Carolingians creating the Papal States and of the Popes calling into being the Empire of the West.