their hands, chanted the praises of their great deliverer. At the aspect of the holy crosses, and ensigns of the saints, he dismounted from his horse, led the procession of his nobles to the Vatican, and, as he ascended the stairs, devoutly kissed each step of the threshold of the apostles. In the portico, Adrian expected him at the head of his clergy: they embraced, as friends and equals; but in their march to the altar, the king or patrician assumed the right hand of the pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain and empty demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed between the conquest of Lombardy and his imperial coronation, Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the sceptre of Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person and family: in his name money was coined, and justice was administered; and the election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority. Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not any prerogative remaining, which the title of emperor could add to the patrician of Rome." The gratitude of the Carlovingians was adequate to these obligations, and their names are consecrated, as the saviours and benefactors of the Roman church. Her ancient patrimony of farms and houses was transformed by their bounty into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and the donation of the Exarchate was the first fruits of the conquests of Pepin." * Paulus Diaconus, who wrote before the empire of Charlemagne, describes Rome as his subject city—vestrae civitates (ad Pompeium Festum), suis addidit sceptris (de Metensis Ecclesiae Episcopis). Some Carlovingian medals, struck at Rome, have engaged Le Blanc to write an elaborate, though partial, dissertation on their authority at Rome, both as patricians and emperors (Amsterdam, 1692, in 4to.) j Mosheim (Institution. Hist. Eccles. p. 263) weighs this donation with fair and deliberate prudence. The original act has never been produced ; but the Liber Pontificalis represents (p. 171), and the Codex Carolinus supposes, this Astolphus with a sigh relinquished his prey; the keys CHAP.


of Pepin
and Charle-
magne to
the popes.

ample gift. Both are contemporary records; and the latter is the more authentic, since it has been preserved, not in the papal, but the imperial, library.

and the hostages of the principal cities were delivered to the French ambassador; and, in his master's name, he presented them before the tomb of St. Peter. The ample measure of the Exarchate" might comprise all the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the emperor and his vicegerent; but its strict and proper limits were included in the territories of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara: its inseparable dependency was the Pentapolis, which stretched along the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona, and advanced into the midland country as far as the ridges of the Apennine. In this transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes has been severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy for him to govern without renouncing the virtues of his profession. Perhaps a faithful subject, or even a generous enemy, would have been less impatient to divide the spoils of the barbarian; and if the emperor had intrusted Stephen to solicit in his name the restitution of the Exarchate, I will not absolve the pope from the reproach of treachery and falsehood. But in the rigid interpretation of the laws, every one may accept, without injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without injustice. The Greek emperor had abdicated, or forfeited, his right to the Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the Iconoclast that Pepin had exposed his person and army in a double expedition beyond the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully alienate, his conquests: and to the importunities of the Greeks he piously replied, that no human consideration should tempt him to resume

* Between the exorbitant claims, and narrow concessions, of interest and prejudice, from which even Muratori (Antiquitat. tom. i. p. 63–68) is not exempt, I have been guided, in the limits of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, by the Dissertatio Chorographica Italia Medii AEvi, tom. x. p. 160–180.

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the gift which he had conferred on the Roman pontiff for the remission of his sins and the salvation of his soul. The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the dissolution of the Lombard kingdom, the inhabitants of the duchy of Spoleto" sought a refuge from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by this voluntary surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical state. That

mysterious circle was enlarged to an indefinite ex

tent, by the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne," who, in the first transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek emperor of the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate. But, in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the inalienable rights of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna," as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan CHAP. cities. The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away * in the hands of the popes: they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic rival:" the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest; and, in the disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and realized. Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; .." and the strong, though ignorant, barbarian was often ionofConentangled in the net of sacerdotal policy. The Va-" tican and Lateran were an arsenal and manufacture, which, according to the occasion, have produced or concealed a various collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they tended to promote the interest of the Roman church. Before the end of the eighth century, some apostolical scribe, perhaps the notorious Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of Adrian the first, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and revive the name, of the great Constantine." According to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte

! Spoletini deprecati sunt, ut eos in servitio B. Petri reciperet et more Romanorum tonsurari faceret (Anastasius, p. 185). Yet it may be a question whether they gave their own persons or their country.

* The policy and donations of Charlemagne are carefully examined by St. Marc (Abrégé, tom. i. p. 390–408), who has well studied the Codex Carolinus. I believe, with him, that they were only verbal. The most ancient act of donation that pretends to be extant is that of the emperor Lewis the Pious (Sigonius, de Regno Italia, l. iv. Opera, tom. ii. p. 267–270). Its authenticity, or at least its integrity, are much questioned (Pagi, A. D. 817, No 7, &c. Muratori, Annali, tom. vi. p. 432, &c. Dissertat. Chorographica, p. 33, 34); but I see no reasonable objection to these princes so freely disposing of what was not their own.

* Charlemagne solicited and obtained from the proprietor, Hadrian I. the mosaics of the palace of Ravenna, for the decoration of Aix-la-Chapelle (Cod. Carolin. epist, 67. p. 223).

• The popes often complain of the usurpations of Leo of Ravenna (Codex Carolin. epist. 51, 52, 53. p. 200–205). Si corpus St. Andreae fratris germani St. Petri hic humasset, nequaquam nos Romani pontifices sic subjugassent (Agnellus, Liber Pontificalis, in Scriptores Rerum Ital. tom. ii. pars i. p. 107).

P Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S. R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his Hesperiae partibus largiri dignatus est . . . Quia ecce novus Constantinus his temporibus, &c. (Codex Carolin. epist. 49. in tom. iii. part ii. p. 195). Pagi (Critica, A. D. 324, No 16) ascribes them to an impostor of the viiith century, who borrowed the name of St. Isidore: his humble title of Peccator was ignorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator; his merchandise was indeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold for much wealth and power.


CHAP. withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; * declared his resolution of founding a new capital in

the East; and resigned to the popes the free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West." This fiction was productive of the most beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the purple and prerogatives of the Caesars. So deep was the ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of fables was received with equal reverence in Greece and in France, and is still enrolled among the decrees of the canon law." The emperors, and the Romans, were incapable of discerning a forgery that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity of the donation of Constantine."

* Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 4–7) has enumerated the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin. The copy which Laurentius Valla recites and refutes appears to be taken either from the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from Gratian's Decree, to which, according to him and others, it has been surreptitiously tacked.

* In the year 1059, it was believed (was it believed 2) by pope Leo IX., cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori places (Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 23, 24) the fictitious donations of Lewis the Pious, the Othos, &c. de Donatione Constantini. See a Dissertation of Natalis Alexander, seculum iv. diss. 25. p. 335–350.

* See a large account of the controversy (A.D. 1105), which arose from a private law-suit, in the Chronicon Farsense (Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii. pars ii. p. 637, &c.), a copious extract from the archives of that Benedictine abbey. They were formerly accessible to curious foreigners (Le Blanc and Mabillon), and would have enriched the first volume of the Historia Monastica Italia of Quirini. But they are now imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. tom. ii. parsii. p. 269) by the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future

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