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CHAP. build the fabric of a commonwealth. Their scanty
remnant, the offspring of slaves and strangers, was despicable in the eyes of the victorious barbarians. As often as the Franks or Lombards expressed their most bitter contempt of a foe, they called him a Roman; “and in this name,” says the bishop Liutprand, “we include whatever is base, whatever is cowardly, whatever is perfidious, the extremes of avarice and luxury, and every vice that can prostitute the dignity of human nature.” By the necessity of their situation, the inhabitants of Rome were cast into the rough model of a republican government: they were compelled to elect some judges in peace, and some leaders in war: the nobles assembled to deliberate, and their resolves could not be executed without the union and consent of the multitude. The style of the Roman senate and people was revived," but the spirit was fled; and their new independence was disgraced by the tumultuous conflict of licentiousness and oppression. The want of laws could only be supplied by the influence of religion, and their foreign and domestic councils were moderated by the authority of the bishop. His alms, his sermons, his correspondence with the kings and prelates of the West, his recent services, their gratitude, and oath, accustomed the Romans to consider him as the first magistrate or prince of the city. The Christian humility of the popes was not offended by the name of
* Quos (Romanos) nos, Longobardi scilicet, Saxones, Franci, Lotharingi? Bajoarii, Suevi, Burgundiones, tanto dedignamur utinimicos nostros commoti, nil aliud contumeliarum nisi Romane, dicamus: hoc solo, id est Romanorum nomine, quicquid ignobilitatis, quicquid timiditatis, quicquid avaritiae, quicquid luxuriae, quicquid mendacii, immo quicquid vitiorum est comprehendentes (Liutprand, in Legat. Script. Ital. tom. ii. pars i. p. 481). For the sins of Cato or Tully, Minos might have imposed, as a fit penance, the daily perusal of this barbarous passage.
* Pipino regi Francorum, omnis senatus, atque universa populi generalitas a Deo servatae Romanae urbis. Codex Carolin. epist. 36, in Script. Ital. tom. iii. parsii. p. 160. The names of senatus and senator were never totally extinct (Dissert. Chorograph. p. 216, 217); but in the middle ages they signified little more than nobiles, optimates, &c. (Ducange, Gloss. Latin).
Dominus, or Lord; and their face and inscription
gory the second," withdrew his troops, resigned his
conquests, respectfully visited the church of St. Peter, and, after performing his devotions, offered his sword and dagger, his cuirass and mantle, his silver cross,
* See Muratori, Antiquit. Italia, Medii AEvi, tom. ii. Dissertat. xxvii. p. 548. On one of these coins we read Hadrianus Papa (A. D. 772); on the reverse, Vict. DDNN. with the word CONOB, which the Père Joubert (Science des Medailles, tom. ii. p. 42) explains by CONstantinopoli Officina B (secunda).
"See West's Dissertation on the Olympic Games (Pindar, vol. ii. p. 32–36. edition in 12mo.), and the judicious reflections of Polybius (tom. i. 1. iv. p. 466. edit. Gronov.)
v The speech of Gregory to the Lombard is finely composed by Sigonius (de Regno Italia, l. iii. Opera, tom. ii. p. 173), who imitates the licence and the spirit of Sallust or Livy.
and his crown of gold, on the tomb of the apostle. But this religious fervour was the illusion, perhaps the artifice, of the moment; the sense of interest is strong and lasting; the love of arms and rapine was congenial to the Lombards; and both the prince and people were irresistibly tempted by the disorders of Italy, the nakedness of Rome, and the unwarlike profession of her new chief. On the first edicts of the emperor, they declared themselves the champions of the holy images: Liutprand invaded the province of Romagna, which had already assumed that distinctive appellation; the Catholics of the Exarchate yielded without reluctance to his civil and military power; and a foreign enemy was introduced for the first time into the impregnable fortress of Ravenna. That city and fortress were speedily recovered by the active diligence and maritime forces of the Venetians; and those faithful subjects obeyed the exhortation of Gregory himself, in separating the personal guilt of Leo from the general cause of the Roman empire." The Greeks were less mindful of the service, than the Lombards of the injury: the two nations, hostile in their faith, were reconciled in a dangerous and unnatural alliance: the king and the exarch marched to the conquest of Spoleto and Rome: the storm evaporated without effect, but the policy of Liutprand alarmed Italy with a vexatious alternative of hostility and truce. His successor Astolphus declared himself the equal enemy of the emperor and the pope: Ravenna was subdued by force or treachery,” and this final conquest extinguished the series of the exarchs, * The Venetian historians, John Sagorninus (Chron. Venet. p. 13) and the doge Andrew Dandolo (Scriptores Rer. Ital. tom. xii. p. 135), have preserved this epistle of Gregory. The loss and recovery of Ravenna are mentioned by Paulus Diaconus (de Gest. Langobard. 1. vi. c. 49, 54, in Script. Ital. tom. i. who had reigned with a subordinate power since the CHAP.
parsi. p. 506. 508); but our chronologists, Pagi, Muratori, &c. cannot ascertain the date or circumstances.
* The option will depend on the various readings of the MSS. of Anastasius —deceperat, or decerpserat (Script. Ital, tom. iii. pars i. p. 167).
time of Justinian and the ruin of the Gothic kingdom. Rome was summoned to acknowledge the victorious Lombard as her lawful sovereign; the annual tribute of a piece of gold was fixed as the ransom of each citizen, and the sword of destruction was unsheathed to exact the penalty of her disobedience. The Romans hesitated; they entreated; they complained; and the threatening barbarians were checked by arms and negotiations, till the popes had engaged the friendship of an ally and avenger beyond the Alps.”
In his distress, the first Gregory had implored the Her deli
aid of the hero of the age, of Charles Martel, who ,
governed the French monarchy with the humble title A. P. 754.
of mayor or duke; and who, by his signal victory over the Saracens, had saved his country, and perhaps Europe, from the Mahometan yoke. The ambassadors of the pope were received by Charles with decent reverence; but the greatness of his occupations, and the shortness of his life, prevented his interference in the affairs of Italy, except by a friendly and ineffectual mediation. His son Pepin, the heir of his power and virtues, assumed the office of champion of the Roman church; and the zeal of the French prince appears to have been prompted by the love of glory and religion. But the danger was on the banks of the Tyber, the succour on those of the Seine; and our sympathy is cold to the relation of distant misery. Amidst the tears of the city, Stephen the third embraced the generous resolution of visiting in person the courts of Lombardy and France, to deprecate the injustice of his enemy, or to excite the pity and in
y The Codex Carolinus is a collection of the epistles of the popes to Charles Martel (whom they style Subregulus), Pepin, and Charlemagne, as far as the year 791, when it was formed by the last of these princes. His original and authentic MS. (Bibliothecae Cubicularis) is now in the imperial library of Vienna, and has been published by Lambecius and Muratori (Script. Rerum Ital, tom. iii. parsii. p. 75, &c.)
CHAP. dignation of his friend. After soothing the public * despair by litanies and orations, he undertook this laborious journey with the ambassadors of the French monarch and the Greek emperor. The king of the Lombards was inexorable; but his threats could not silence the complaints, nor retard the speed, of the Roman pontiff, who traversed the Pennine Alps, reposed in the abbey of St. Maurice, and hastened to grasp the right hand of his protector; a hand which was never lifted in vain, either in war or friendship. Stephen was entertained as the visible successor of the apostle; at the next assembly, the field of March or of May, his injuries were exposed to a devout and warlike nation, and he repassed the Alps, not as a suppliant, but as a conqueror, at the head of a French army, which was led by the king in person. The Lombards, after a weak resistance, obtained an ignominious peace, and swore to restore the possessions, and to respect the sanctity, of the Roman church. But no sooner was Astolphus delivered from the presence of the French arms, than he forgot his promise and resented his disgrace. Rome was again encompassed by his arms; and Stephen, apprehensive of fatiguing the zeal of his Transalpine allies, enforced his complaint and request by an eloquent letter in the name and person of St. Peter himself.” The apostle assures his adoptive sons, the king, the clergy, and the nobles of France, that, dead in the flesh, he is still alive in the spirit; that they now hear, and must obey, the voice of the founder and guardian of the Roman church:... that the Virgin, the angels, the saints, and the martyrs, and all the host of heaven, unanimously urge the request, and will confess the * See this most extraordinary letter in the Codex Carolinus, epist. iii. p. 92. The enemies of the popes have charged them with fraud and blasphemy; yet they surely meant to persuade rather than deceive. This introduction of the
dead, or of immortals, was familiar to the ancient orators, though it is executed on this occasion in the rude fashion of the age.