FROM ST. GREGORY THE GREAT TO BONIFACE VIII. (590-1303)
BY WILLIAM BARRY, D. D.
FORMERLY SCHOLAR OF THE ENGLISH COLLEGE, ROME; AND PROFESSOR OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY IN ST. MARY'S COLLEGE, OSCOTT; AUTHOR OF "THE NEW ANTIGONE," "ARDEN MASSITER," ETC.
ÆNEID, vi. 851-4
T. FISHER UNWIN PATERNOSTER SQUARE, LONDON.
NEW YORK: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 1902
COPYRIGHT BY T. FISHER UNWIN, 1902 (For Great Britain)
COPYRIGHT BY G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS, 1902 (For the United States of America)
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I. ORIGINS (B.C. 753-A.D. 67). 1 -20
II. FROM PETER TO LEO THE GREAT (67--461 AD)
III. GREGORY THE GREAT, MONASTICISM, AND ST. BENEDICT (461-590-604)
IV. ICONOCLAST EMPERORS AND LOMBARD KINGS (604-739)
V. THE DONATION OF PEPIN (739-772)
VI. CHARLEMAGNE, PATRICIAN OF ROME (772-800).
VII. THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE (800-814)
VIII. CHAOS COME AGAIN (814-867)
IX. FEUDAL HIERARCHY--FALSE DECRETALS (847-882)
X. HOUSE OF THEOPHYLACT (882-964)
XI. ROMANCE OF THE OTHOS (964-1003)
XII. TUSCULAN SUCCESSION-- PAPACY BOUGHT AND SOLD (1003-1048)
XIII. HILDEBRAND (1048-1073)
XIV. HENRY IV. AT CANOSSA (1073-1076)
XV. NORMANS, CRUSADES, INVESTITURES (1076-1123)
XVI. ST. BERNARD OVERTHROWS ABELARD AND ARNOLD (1123-1155)
XVII. FREDERICK REDBEARD AND HIS TIME (1155-1177)
XVIII. ENTER INNOCENT III. AND FREDERICK OF SICILY (1177-1214)
XIX. CRUSADES AGAINST GREEKS AND ALBIGENSES (1201-1233)
XX. ST. FRANCIS--THE FRIARS--THE LATERAN COUNCIL (1182-1215-1226)
XXI. EXCOMMUNICATION--WARS--FATE OF FREDERICK II. (1216-1250)
XXII. CONRADIN DIES--THE SICILIAN VESPERS (1250-1299)
XXIII ROMAN LAW VERSUS ROMAN PONTIFF (1226-1287)
XXIV. PHILIP THE FAIR AND POPE BONIFACE (1287-1300)
XXV. DANTE'S VISION--ANAGNI--END OF THE MIDDLE AGE (1300-1303)
EPILOGUE 421 -428
LIST OF ROMAN PONTIFFS 429
INDEX OF NAMES 431
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
HEAD OF THE REDEEMER. Fresco in Catacomb of San Callisto--Third Century 2
HEADS OF SS. PETER AND PAUL. From a very Ancient Glass Patera 7
CONFESSION OR TOMB OF ST. PETER IN THE VATICAN BASILICA 15
ARCH OF CONSTANTINE THE GREAT. Fourth Century 23
GALLA PLACIDIA AND ST. LEO. Mosaic above Triumphal Arch in St. Paul's outside Rome. Fifth Century 39
TOMB OF THEODORIC AT RAVENNA. Sixth Century 48
ST. GREGORY THE GREAT. From an Engraving in the British Museum Print Room 57
ST. BENEDICT ABBOT. From a Portrait by Sassoferrato at Perugia 63
CHURCH OF SAN VITALE, RAVENNA. Sixth Century 69
POPE ZACHARY, A.D. 752 76
POPE HADRIAN I., A.D. 772 87
INTERIOR OF SANT' APOLLINARE IN CLASSE, RAVENNA. Sixth Century 93
EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF THE EMPEROR CHARLEMAGNE IN THE VESTIBULE OF ST. PETER'S. Cornacchini 103
CHURCH OF SANT' AGNESE OUTSIDE ROME, A.D. 625 117
OLD ST. PETER'S. Interior 126
SANT' APOLLINARE, RAVENNA. Exterior 142
HOUSE OF THE VESTALS IN THE FORUM (ROME) 151
CASTLE AND BRIDGE OF SANT' ANGELO (MOLE OF HADRIAN) 155
OTHO I., EMPEROR "THE GREAT," A.D. 973. From a print in the British Museum 165
THE GOOD SHEPHERD--EARLY BYZANTINE MOSAIC AT RAVENNA 179
INSCRIPTION IN SANTA SABINA ON THE AVENTINE. Fifth Century 186
ST. PAUL'S OUTSIDE ROME, OF WHICH HILDEBRAND WAS ABBOT. Fifth Century--restored 195
ARCH OF TRAJAN AT BENEVENTUM 199
ST. GREGORY VII., POPE A.D. 1085. From an old engraving 208
HENRY IV., EMPEROR A.D. 1076. From a print in the British Museum 222
COUNTESS MATILDA IN THE VATICAN BASILICA. Bernini 241
SALERNO WHERE GREGORY VII. DIED AND IS ENTOMBED 245
CLOISTER OF ST. JOHN LATERAN, ROME 251
THE DUOMO OF PISA, CONSECRATED BY GELASIUS II., A.D. 1118 257
HENRY II., KING OF ENGLAND. From an engraving in the British Museum 271
ARMS OF THE SEE OF CANTERBURY, SHOWING THE PALLIUM 276
MEETING OF ALEXANDER III. AND ZIANI, DOGE OF VENICE, A.D. 1177. Bassano 278
ALEXANDER III. BESTOWS A SWORD ON THE DOGE. Bassano 279
POPE INNOCENT III., A.D. 1198 289
SAN MARCO, VENICE 301
ST. FRANCIS WEDS POVERTY. Giotto 313
JOHN, KING OF ENGLAND. From a print in the British Museum 321
TOMB OF ST. DOMINIC--BOLOGNA, A.D. 1221 327
ROGER, KING OF SICILY, RECEIVES HIS CROWN FROM CHRIST. Mosaic in la Martorana, Palermo 337
CLOISTERS OF THE CHURCH OF MONREALE 343
PALERMO CATHEDRAL IN WHICH IS THE TOMB OF FREDERICK II 349
POPE INNOCENT IV., A.D. 1254 355
ESPOUSALS OF THE VIRGIN. Fresco at Viterbo 357
ESPOUSALS OF THE VIRGIN. Fresco at Viterbo 359
RUINS OF THE ARCHBISHOP'S PALACE, VITERBO 362
SAN GIOVANNI DEGLI EREMITI, PALERMO--("SICILIAN VESPERS, " A.D. 1282) 369
VITERBO--PALAZZO ALESSANDRINI 373
KING LOUIS IX. (ST. LOUIS) OF FRANCE 379
ST. LOUIS ADMINISTERS JUSTICE. Fresco in the Pantheon, Paris 383
THE GLORY OF OBEDIENCE. Fresco by Giotto--Assisi 387
EDWARD I., KING OF ENGLAND 399
POPE BONIFACE VIII. A Satirical Portrait from Joachim's "Pope Book " 407
PHILIP THE FAIR, KING OF FRANCE 412
THE PAPAL PALACE AND BROKEN BRIDGE OF AVIGNON. From an old Steel Plate after T. Allom 427
IN the first two chapters of this book I have endeavoured to explain its drift and purpose. As a contribution to the Story of the Nations it aims at brevity, clearness, and accuracy in outline; but it makes no pretension to do more than open a large subject and serve the purpose of a sketch-map or general introduction to the volumes of Baronius, Muratori, and other classic historians. The course followed, it will be seen, is neither that of a theologian writing on dogma, nor that of an apologist who desires to exhibit conclusions in favour of a religious system. I am concerned with the facts of history, not with inferences and deductions from them, which belong to another department and are foreign to the present series. Not the lope as a teacher, but the Pope as a ruler of men, in affairs which may be viewed under a secular as well as a religious aspect, will furnish the matter of my volume.
To attempt a bibliography commensurate with the subject would be no less difficult than superfluous, on occasion of a sketch like the following. Students will know what sources to consult better than I can tell them. But the general reader may be put in mind of some late or early works, accessible to him without much effort. Milman's "Latin Christianity" has long enjoyed popular favour; it is in some sort a comment upon Gibbon, to be supplemented or corrected by more recent publications. Gregorovius, in his voluminous "History of the City of Rome during the Middle Ages," is learned, eloquent, picturesque, and Ghibelline. Cardinal Hergenröther has given us the Guelf counter-pleading with equal erudition and hardly less vehemence in his "Catholic Church and Christian State,"--a work of accurate scholarship, abundant in original citations. The late Professor of Church History at Kiel, Dr. William Moeller, a Lutheran, has dealt with the Church in the Middle Ages at great length in the second volume of his well-known course, which contains an exhaustive and minute catalogue of the sources in every language. And Professor H. Grisar, S. J., has begun to publish a most interesting as well as authentic survey of the same period, historical and antiquarian, which it is hoped will appear in English; but only the introduction, coming down to Gregory the Great, is thus far in print.
To these must be added, as indispensable to students, Mgr. L. Duchesne's standard edition of the "Liber Pontificalis." And Hauck's "History of the Church in Germany," which travels over the same ground but in another direction, may be compared with the French author's "Origin of the Temporal Power." These works are not translated.
On special subjects and particular persons the following will be found useful: Lightfoot, "St. Clement of Rome," and "St. Ignatius of Antioch"; the volumes of Harnack "History of Dogma" which bear on the Roman Church at its beginning; Newman, "Development of Christian Doctrine"; Allies, "Formation of Christendom"; Bryce, "The Holy Roman Empire"; Hergenröther, "Photius"; Voigt and Bowden on Pope Gregory VII.; Cotter Morrison , "St. Bernard of Clairvaux"; Hurter, "Innocent III."; L. Tocco (in Italian), "Heresy in the Middle Age"; P. Sabatier, "St. Francis of Assisi," and other works; E. A. Abbott, "St. Thomas of Canterbury, his Death and Miracles"; Professor Maitland, "Roman Canon Law in the English Church"; Montalembert, "Monks of the West," with introduction by Abbot F. A. Gasquet; W. S. Lilly, "Chapters in European History"; L. Eckenstein, "Women under Monasticism"; Gosselin, "Power of the Popes in the Middle Ages"; Tosti, "Boniface VIII. and His Times"; Rodocanachi, "Communal Institutions of Rome under the Papacy"; and "Workmen's Corporations from the Fall of the Empire."
There is no end to this or any other list of authorities. Let me remark that I have, in my narrative, touched as briefly as possible on the relations of England with Rome during the medieval period, feeling that they were treated at length in many text-books. I conclude with the words which Pope Leo XIII. has quoted from Cicero: "Above all things let writers bear in mind that the first law of history is never to dare to say that which is not true; and the second never to fear to say that which is true; lest the suspicion of hate or favour fall upon their statements."
November 9, 1901.
"Roman, forget not thou to sway the world; These be thy arts; --bring in the reign of Peace; Spare the subject nation; put the haughty down."
CHAPTER I - ORIGINS
(B.C. 753-A.D. 67)
IN the night of the 24th of August, 410, Alaric, King of the Western Goths, entered Rome with his army, by the Salarian Gate -- outside of which Hannibal had encamped long ago--and took the Imperial City. Eleven hundred and sixty-four years had passed since its legendary foundation under Romulus; four hundred and forty-one since the battle of Actium, which made Augustus Lord in deed, if not in name, of the Roman world. When the Gothic trump sounded at midnight, it announced that ancient history had come to an end, and that our modern time was born. St. Jerome, who in his cell at Bethlehem saw the Capitol given over to fire and flame, was justified from an historical point of view when he wrote to the noble virgin Demetrias, "Thy city, once the head of the universe, is the sepulchre of the Roman people." Even in that age of immense and growing confusion, the nations held their breath when these tidings broke upon them. Adherents of the classic religion who still survived felt in them a judgment of the gods; they charged on Christians the long sequel of calamities which
HEAD OF THE REDEEMER. ( Fresco in Catacomb of San Callisto--Third Century.)
had come down upon the once invincible Empire. Christians retorted that its fall was the chastisement of idolatry. And their supreme philosopher, the African Father St. Augustine, wrote his monumental work, "Of the City of God," by way of proving that there was a Divine kingdom which heathen Rome could persecute in the martyrs, but the final triumph of which it could never prevent. This magnificent conception, wrought out in a vein of prophecy, and with an eloquence which has not lost its power, furnished to succeeding times an Apocalypse no less than a justification of the Gospel. Instead of heathen Rome, it set up an ideal Christendom. But the centre, the meeting-place, of old and new, was the City on the Seven Hills.
To the Roman Empire succeeded the Papal Monarchy. The Pope called himself Pontifex Maximus; and if this hieratic name--the oldest in Europe --signifies "the priest that offered sacrifice on the Sublician bridge," it denotes, in a curious symbolic fashion, what the Papacy was destined to achieve, as well as the inward strength on which it relied, during the thousand years that stretch between the invasion of the Barbarians and the Renaissance. When we speak of the Middle Ages we mean this second, spiritual and Christian Rome, in conflict with the Northern tribes and then their teacher; the mother of civilisation, the source to Western peoples of religion, law, and order, of learning, art, and civic institutions. It became to them what Delphi had been to the Greeks, and especially to the Dorians, an oracle which decided the issues of peace and war, which held them in a common brotherhood, and which never ceased to be a rallying point amid their fiercest dissensions. Thus it gave to the multitude of tribes which wandered or settled down within the boundaries of the West, from Lithuania to Ireland, from Illyria to Portugal, and from Sicily to the North Cape, a brain, a conscience, and an imagination, which at length transformed them into the Christendom that Augustine had foreseen.
If the Papacy were blotted out from the world's chronicle, the Middle Ages would vanish along with it. But modern Europe cannot be deduced, as was thought in the last century by, writers like Voltaire and Montesquieu, from Augustan Rome, with no regard for the long transition which connects them together. It is in this way that the medieval Popes take their place in the Story of the Nations; they continue the Roman history; they account in no small degree for the institutions under which we are living; and their fortunes, so exalted, so unhappy, and not seldom so tragical, shape themselves into a drama, the scenes and vicissitudes of which are as highly romantic as the are expressive of one great ruling idea.
The stage on which this mighty miracle-play was enacted, though spacious, was well defined. Our direct concern will not be with any dogmatic or strictly religious claims put forth by the Popes-these belong to the theologian--but with the sovereignty which they exercised, the nations affected by their decretals, the Holy Roman Empire which their word called into being, and the kingdoms which gladly or reluctantly acknowledged in them a feudal lordship. Thus their dominion never, if we except passing interludes, went beyond the old Patriarchate of the West, as recognised at the Council of Nicæa. Not even the haughtiest Pontiffs pretended to make or unmake the Byzantine Emperors. They dealt otherwise with the Frankish or Suabian chiefs, whom they anointed, crowned, excommunicated, and deposed at the tomb of the Apostles. But until Gregory II. in 731 cast off his allegiance, they had been subjects, not suzerains, of Constantinople. With Latin Emperors they felt themselves able to cope; but the majesty of that earlier Rome lingered yet on the shores of the Bosporus; and the Papal Monarchy vails its crest before it, unless when the Franks have usurped a precarious and hateful power in Byzance after the Fourth Crusade, or the Normans and Venetians divide between them the strong places of Attica and the Morea. Always the Pope is Western, not Eastern, though he may become a slave of the palace during the two hundred years which follow on the conquest of Italy by Belisarius. Yet even in that period of depression he was slowly winning ground outside the Empire, and every tribe made Christian was bringing a fresh stone to build up the arch of the Papal power, fated for so long to stride visibly across the kingdoms of Europe.
Had the Emperors of the East known how to withstand the onset of those hordes which streamed down over the Alps; could they have overthrown or subdued the Lombards, and so kept the Pepins and Charlemagnes at home, it may be questioned whether any Pope would have dreamt of playing the great part in politics which was found inviting or inevitable as time went on. But the old Empire shrank to the Exarchate of Ravenna; it could barely maintain itself on the edge of the Ionian Sea. The Pontiff, looking round for help against the now converted but always detestable Longbeards of Pavia, signalled to the most daring of the new Christian nations. Pepin answered his call; overcame Astolphus; bestowed on St. Peter a patrimony in lands, serfs, and cities; and paved the way for his son's coronation in 800 as Emperor of the West. He certainly did not foresee that the "Sacerdotium" and the "Imperium" -- those divided members which in heathen Rome had been united in the same person-would struggle during the next seven hundred years in a doubtful contest, until both sank exhausted and the. Reformation broke Christendom in twain. As there is a unity of place, determined by the bounds of the Lower Greek Empire, which includes this vast and exceedingly human series of transactions, so there is a unity of time, but as might be expected, not marked by such definite limits. St. Gregory the Great is its herald and anticipation; Boniface VIII. brings it to a close. But as several centuries take us slowly on to the culminating point, so the fourteenth and fifteenth lead us downwards again until the idea of an Imperial Papal Christendom has spent its force. The Lateran Monarchy stood at its height during some two hundred years -- from Gregory VII. to Innocent III., or perhaps to Gregory X. ( 1073-1274). Its creative influence, if we regard European civilisation as a whole, had begun sooner and lasted longer; it was often visible at the extremities when Rome itself had sunk into a strange barbarism. Its spiritual energy neither rose nor fell in exact proportion to the outward splendour of the Holy See, as many instances will prove in the pages that follow.
But another condition of this second rise to greatness on the part of Rome has been often overlooked. If St. Peter was considered to be the spiritual
HEADS OF SS. PETER AND PAUL. ( From a very Ancient Glass Patera.)
founder of the Papacy, and if the Emperor Constantine, by removing the seat of government to the Golden Horn, had left it room in which to expand, yet the marvellous apparition of Mohammed, and the conquests of his lieutenants or successors, broke the power of the Christian East, and in so doing allowed the West time to develop without hindrance on its own lines. The Caliphate bears, indeed, more than one point of resemblance, external at least, to the dynasty of the Vicars of Christ established in Rome. But it is the long series of invasions, stripping off province after province from the weak Emperors of Byzantium, laying waste the churches of Syria and Egypt, reducing the Patriarchates of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem to barren names, and thus abolishing the older forms of the Christian polity, which we have now in view. Straightway, the fame and consequence of the one remaining Patriarch who dated from Apostolic times must have been indefinitely enhanced. The Pope became, as a great Catholic genius has written, "heir by default" of antiquity. Those Sees, and, above all, the See of Alexandria, which had shared with him in political prestige, and could never be denied a voice when there was question of dogma or discipline, had passed for ever beneath the Moslem yoke. And the Bishop of Constantinople was but the Emperor's chaplain, incapable of pursuing a course for himself--the nominee, the puppet, and sometimes the prisoner of one who claimed in his own person to be most sacred, a Divine delegate, and a god on earth. In Rome the Bishop had no rival or second. He tended more and more to become what Cæsar had been of old, the embodied city, with all its mysterious charm, its predestination to supreme command, its unique and indelible character as a shrine or temple of deity. From the seventh century onwards, Rome appeared in men's eyes to be the Apostolic See par excellence. So much, unwittingly, had the Arabian prophet or impostor brought to pass when his armed disciples overran the many thousand bishoprics of Asia and Africa.
An hour there was when Islam appeared likely to conquer not only the Spanish but the Frankish Catholics. Mussulman armies crossed the Pyrenees; they came north as far as Tours; but Charles Martel in a bloody battle drove them south again. Yet could not the unhappy and degenerate Popes of the ninth or tenth century do much to repel their incursions. Under Leo IV. (in 855) they came up to the walls of Rome and sacked St. Peter's--an amazing feat, of which the Leonine City is to this day a monument and witness. But no sooner did the Holy See recover from its low estate than Gregory VII. set his undaunted mind to inaugurate against them a Sacred War--for Hildebrand, as he is the restorer of the Medieval Papacy, is likewise the author of the First Crusade. It was now Pope against Caliph during nearly two hundred years. Yet the conquest of the Holy Land, soon won and in a short episode lost, was by no means the chief gain to Rome of these world-famous expeditions. From them we date the extensive and permanent taxing-powers, enforced all over Christendom, which the Sovereign Pontiffs insisted upon as their rights, the Pope being, so to speak, generalissimo of the armies of the Cross. This war-tribute, levied on such a preamble, but constantly applied to purposes of another, and sometimes an indefensible kind, while it enriched the Holy See, gave rise to murmurings, and at last to rebellions which, like that under John Wyclif, assailed the Papacy itself. It is not untrue to assert that from the Crusades, which in their beginnings heightened so greatly the Roman power, sprang the first attempts at a Reformation.
We can now define, almost in a phrase, the splendid but simple theme which we have undertaken. Let us state it. How, we inquire, did the Pontifex Maximus, heir of old Rome and now its Christian Bishop, deal with the peoples which invaded and occupied the Western Empire? And how did they deal with him? Broadly speaking, we find ourselves in presence of three great world-facts or forces--the Roman, the Christian, the Teutonic. From these three modern civilisation is derived. Their contest fills the Middle Ages; their reconcilement in a purified Church and a Catholic Empire was the dream of Dante; but the poet's own time marks the epoch when Teutons, despairing of Rome as they saw it, turned back to their national aspirations, and when the North was already beginning to be rent from the South, as the Ten Tribes from the Kingdom of Judah. This parallel, which is no less exact than profound, might be carried out into most significant details. It will help us to understand the rise, the decline, and the everlasting attitude towards the German races of a spiritual power which was clad in forms coming down to it from a period long antecedent to Christianity, and from nations like the Etruscan or the Greek no less than the Hebrew.
Until of late years, the immeasurable event known as the "Conversion of the Roman Empire" has been much misunderstood. We ought rather to call it. a transformation; elements and institutions already existing were brought under the influence of a few far-reaching ideals, and of a Personality recognised as the Divine Incarnation of these. The old Roman life was not broken up and made over again. While Christians refused to be idolaters, they did not, as so many historians, including Gibbon, have taken for granted, decline to share in the public or private dignities, or to tolerate a multitude of harmless customs, which they found in use. Vehement polemical writers, like the fiery Tertullian, exaggerate a nonconformity which at all times must have been tempered by concessions to the circumstances of every day; while the remains we still possess, from at least the third century, prove that we may not charge upon converted Romans a disdain for the arts, the usages, or the business to which, as subjects of the Empire or citizens of the Capital, they had been accustomed. Their theological system underwent a change; their religion, in the deepest sense of the word, was baptized into a new life; but they took over (and how could it be otherwise?) the language, the ritual, the yearly observances, the festal adornments, and even the artistic symbols, to which they had been brought up. Whatever Puritan dislike to paintings and feastings of the Roman pattern had been nurtured in the Jewish Ghetto on the Janiculum, Christians in no long time must have laid it aside. Not many of them in the third century were Israelite even by descent. And Tertullian himself, who stands for the less accommodating principles, is our witness that the Bishop of Rome (probably Zephyrinus, about 216) was not unwilling to be known as "Episcopus Episcoporum" and "Pontifex Maximus."
The Roman would be a Christian; but he would not improvise either language or ritual when he found them ready to his hand. What he did was to cleanse them of their idolatrous associations, to combine them more or less skilfully with the teachings of the New Testament and the personages and stories of the Old, until a Catholic Hierarchy and a Christian Liturgy rose into sight, sustaining each other in a majestic and almost overpowering adaptation of outward to inward, of spirit to symbol, and of authority to doctrine. This was no sudden creation, but a slow and imperceptible growth of time, extending over five or six hundred years, so complete at length that as in Pope Leo I. we may contemplate the Romulus, so in Gregory the Great we discern the not unkingly Nunia, of a city more sacred than the antique Rome, yet hardly less imperial. Almost every step of this transmuting process can be followed when we pass out from the less lightsome centuries of the Christian origins. The Church in the West was to develop under the style of the Pontifex Maximus, in accordance with old Roman sacred rites, and by the strength of the Roman Law. St. Peter was to inherit all that Numa could bequeath, and to hand it down along the line of his successors.
This word "Pontifex"--meaning the sacrificer on the bridge--was associated from very early times with ceremonies in honour or deprecation of the dead, whom the Romans called Lemures. The feast of the Lemuralia was kept on the Sublician Bridge, which spanned the Tiber between Aventine and Janiculum, during the 9th, 11th, and 13th of May. Customary rites were performed, after which "the pontifices, vestals, prætors, and other citizens," according to the Greek writer, Dionysius, cast into the stream thirty figures, named "Argei," or "Argive men," made of bulrushes and in the human shape. There can be little doubt that these "priscorum simulacra virorum" were a substitute for live men once offered to propitiate the ghosts of the departed; as the legend says, they were invented by Hercules when he did away with human sacrifices formerly made at that spot in honour of Saturn. But a custom with which these Lemuralia seem to bear affinities --of "driving out" or "casting out" Death, at the beginning of summer--has been traced in nearly every part of Europe. Here, then, is the most ancient ritual in which the Pontifex Maximus comes before our view. Numa, the mythical priest-king of Rome, is said by Livy to have appointed a college of four pontiffs, at the head of which was the Pontifex Maximus. In 81 B.C. the number was raised to fifteen; and Julius Cxsar, who was himself the Sovereign Pontiff, added to it another when he returned from Egypt. Under Augustus, and down to the fall of Paganism, the Emperor always held the title; he was Pope as well as Consul and Imperator. He continued to hold it for some time afterwards; and not only Constantine but his more Christian successors, Valentinian I. and Gratian, are mentioned under this name on inscriptions now extant. Theodosius, however, gave up all pretence to be the High Priest of a heathen worship; and the title passed to the Bishops of Rome, for whose office it must have long seemed a fitting designation.
We learn from Festus, a Latin writer before 400, that the old Roman pontiffs were looked upon as "rerum quæ ad sacra et religiones pertinent, judices et vindices"; they judged and defended the interests of religion at large. They ranked above all other priests, and regulated the general worship of the gods. To them, it was said, Numa had entrusted the sacred "libri pontificales," in which were set down the lawful rites of sacrifice, dedication, and augurship, with their unchanging formulas. They were to guard against the decay of worship and the bringing in of strange gods and mysteries, such as those of Bacchus, Isis, and Serapis, which caused so much trouble at various times in Rome. Another, and, as we have seen, a very primitive department of their duties was concerned with the dead--how funerals were to be carried out; by what expiations the Alfanes, or the souls of the departed were to be given rest. They interpreted the heavenly signs of thunder and lightning. The times of the festivals were in their keeping, and they regulated the Calendar. Julius Cæsar, in his capacity as Pontifex Maximus, reformed it in 46 B.C. And Pope Gregory XIII., under the same title, reformed it again by his Bull of February 24, 1582.
Since the Pontiffs were not subject to any court of law, neither to the Senate nor the People, we may accurately describe them as exempt from secular jurisdiction. But they had their own courts, to which not only priests but other individuals and even magistrates were bound to submit, in all that related to religion. Over the Vestal virgins they had and exercised criminal jurisdiction. Where existing laws did not suffice to determine the matter, they made fresh rules which were called "Decrees of the Pontiffs." The Supreme Pontiff was present at the most solemn kind of marriage, known as confarreatio. He lived in a house which had the sanctity of a temple, on the Via Sacra, not far from that of the Vestals, until the Imperial palace became his home. He received the solemn vows of games and other dedications, whether by the State or private persons; and it is to be presumed that he used some discernment in allowing them; he had most probably a dispensing power. Like all pontiffs, he wore the toga prætextata and a conical cap, called the galerus (which is a name now appropriated to the Cardinal's hat) with a wooden apex fastened to it He could not, in Republican times, leave Italy. Last of all, the duty was incumbent on him of appointing the six Vestals and the Flamens, or particular priests, of Jupiter, Mars, Quirinus, and other gods.
It was the boast of Cicero, and Virgil's almost hieratic poem of the Æneid bears him out, that the Romans were a deeply religious people. This does not signify that they cultivated a speculative theology, or that their morals were austere and their lives devoted to well-doing; but that they observed a ritual which left untouched no act of their public or private existence. The gods had no concern with virtue; that was a man's own acquisition; but they watched over birth, marriage, death; over war and peace; over agriculture and commerce; they consecrated oaths and treaties, and avenged their violation; they were pledged to the prosperity of the State. Before every public undertaking they must be consulted. Certain sacred relics, the nature of which could only be guessed at, were tokens of their amity preserved by the Vestals in a secret shrine, before which burned the "everlasting fire." Rome, as it extended its conquests, brought home the vanquished deities; it became "the temple and the shrine of all gods," but above them towered on his hill Jupiter Capitolinus, and the polytheism of the nations was rapidly merging into a Divine Monarchy, of which Cæsar appeared to be the visible image, the Vicar on Earth, when Christians began to preach their glad tidings in the Jewish Ghetto, over against the Porta Portese, and in the region still known as "across the Tiber."
At what exact period this came to pass we have no means of ascertaining. Was it within ten or twelve years from the death of Christ, or something later? An early tradition associates it with St. Peter's arrival in Rome and the year 42 A.D., which Eusebius takes for the starting-point of his bishopric; or, to quote the stronger Latin of St. Jerome, at that date "Peter is sent to Rome, where, preaching the Gospel twenty-five years, he remains Bishop of the same city." But on what primitive testimony this length of years was stated, it is impossible to conjecture. In 58 A.D. St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, when a Church already existed, some members of which belonged to Cæsar's household. Three years later he was living at Rome in his own hired house, preaching to those who came about him. The severest critics are willing to allow a journey of St. Peter to the Capital in 64, when he dated his First Epistle from Babylon, that is to say, from heathen, persecuting Rome, as the Sibylline books of Jewish origin had long ago named it. To the martyrdom of Peter and Paul under Nero there is abundant witness, beginning with Clement ( 95 or 96), who speaks of the "good Apostles" (which implies that he knew them personally), and dwells on their sufferings. No explanation of the reference in St. John's Gospel to Peter's death has ever been suggested, save that he was crucified in his old age, and, as tradition affirms, close to the spot where his tomb in the early third century could be pointed out by Gaius the Presbyter, who writes (about 220), "I can show thee the trophies [or relics] of the Apostles. For if thou wilt go to the Vatican or the Ostian Way, thou wilt find the trophies of those who founded this Church." And among his disciples in Rome Peter had "Marcus my son," his interpreter--whom he sent by and by to Alexandria--as likewise Silvanus. Paul, we know for certain, had about him when there Timothy, Titus, Luke, Apollos. If a doubtful story could be accepted which Tertullian relates concerning the Apostle John--he was said to have undergone a trial at Rome in the reign of Domitian--this Church would have beheld the chiefest of Christ's followers, and the writers of three out of the four Gospels.
During the second century, Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred between 100 and 118 A.D.; Papias about 130; Dionysius of Corinth in 170; Irenæus, some twenty years later; and the Muratorian Fragmetit ascribed to Hippolytus towards 190, confirm these scattered notices, which connect Peter with Rome as founding the Church and dying there in a time of persecution. In like manner, the lists of Roman Bishops carry us back to Peter and Paul, who stand at their head. Five such catalogues are extant, clouded over with errors of transcription, but when duly revised, in agreement as regards the names, years, and order, which last has been preserved in the Latin Canon of the Mass. Hegesippus, a Jewish Christian, writing about the middle of the second century, drew up a list on the spot, now probably accessible in Epiphanius ( 375). Irenæus of Lyons, who paid a visit to Rome after 177, gives us his own catalogue. A third, due to Hippolytus, may be recovered from the Liberian, edited under the Pope of that name. On these and on Julius Africanus, Eusebius relied in his Chronicle and History. Irenæus appeals to "the greatest, oldest, and universally known Church, founded and established by the most glorious Apostles Peter and Paul at Rome." And he says that they "delivered the office of the Episcopate to Linus." The order, now recognised by experts, is therefore Linus, Anencletus, Clement, Euarestus, Alexander, Xystus, and so forth. That these names represent historical persons, who were "bishops, in the monarchical sense, of the Roman Church," is admitted by the most competent scholars of our day, and may be safely assumed. Of Clement's it noble remonstrance," addressed to the Corinthian schismatics, Lightfoot has declared that it was "the first step towards Papal domination." He regards the action of Victor, which he disapproves, at the close of the second century, when that Pope excommunicated the Churches of Asia, as a "decided step" forward. When Ignatius looks up to the Roman Church as "presiding in love," this, observes Lightfoot, bears witness to its moral ascendency, which was "the historical foundation of its primacy." CardinalNewman, as we might expect, takes a loftier view: "It seems to me plain from history," he tells us, "that the Popes from the first considered themselves to have a universal jurisdiction." It is indisputable, to say the least, that before the year 200, the Bishop of Rome was recognised everywhere as the successor of St. Peter, and not only as head of the local Church, but in some degree--to speak with the Clementine Romance --as presiding over Christendom.
CONFESSION OR TOMB OF ST. PETER IN THE VATICAN BASILICA
FROM PETER TO LEO THE GREAT (67-461)
BUT our first glimpses, which are tantalising in their brevity, of the Christians at Rome, show us the Church rather than the Bishop. Clement admonishes the Corinthians in its name, not in his own; Ignatius of Antioch, if his epistle be authentic, addresses "the Church presiding in charity in the country of the Romans"; and Pope Soter speaks as representing a community so late as 170 A.D. Thus the Bishop did not stand alone; like the Pontifex Maximus he was head of a College of clergy; and the Roman Church, by its central position in the world's Capital; by its beneficent use of the wealth which it soon acquired; and by its familiarity with the laws and even the fashions of the Metropolis;---was marked out for distinction as the Christian system moulded itself on the Imperial, and Bishops fell into their places, according to the importance of the cities over which they ruled. Not even Jerusalem could have resisted a movement so natural and widespread; but the Jewish war had made an end of Jerusalem; and what other city could vie with Rome? By the year 274, Aurelian is found deciding that the Christian Church property at Antioch, which was in dispute, shall be dealt with as the Bishops of Rome and Italy think fit. Cyprian of Carthage, in 256, recognises that Rome is the Chair of Peter, "whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise." These words, and this conception, were to furnish the Magna Charta of the Papacy. For the Popes attribute to themselves all that the "Prince of the Apostles" would claim, were he living on through the centuries. They fuse into one great idea the spiritual prerogatives of their founder and the legal supremacy of Rome over the whole Empire. Rome can be second to none; St. Peter is the first among his brethren. If the Churches of the world ever came into the form of a confederation or a Hierarchy, and they tended to do so from their earliest days, the Roman Church would of necessity be supreme.
As we see in Clement, the old and deeply-ingrained conception of law and order, which is distinctively Roman, had passed over at once into the Christian mind. These converts, whether Jews or Pagans, did not indulge in speculation; they started no new philosophy; and such has been the character of the Church in Rome ever since. It dealt with practice, ritual, discipline; it developed a government, not a school like Alexandria; it held aloof from the wide and remarkable effort of the Gnostics, or "Intellectuals," who attempted during the second century to resolve the tenets of the Gospel into a theosophic
ARCH OF CONSTANTE THE GREAT. ( Fourth Century )
romance. The Latin mind neither comprehended nor was drawn to these dreams of an Orientalised Greek fancy. In like manner, as it was averse to the speculations of the philosophers, so was the Roman Church unwilling to narrow the bounds of conformity by a regimen too severe for the multitudes, who were now thronging about its doors. It would not permit an esoteric creed to split up the congregation of the faithful into "enlightened" and "ignorant." It refused to shut out sinners from its penance, as the unbending Montanists and Novatians demanded. While conservative in doctrine, it exhibited a sagacious largeness in discipline, and while suffering the strongly forensic mind of Tertullian to model its tradition, it neither approved nor condemned the venturesome thought of Origen and the Alexandrian Clement. None of the early Popes were masters or pupils in philosophy; but this negative wisdom counted for not a little in the respect which was paid to them by the subtle and restless East.
Not individual genius, therefore, but an endemic "custom of the City," acting on a creed not fully developed, and in the strength of what was allowed to be Apostolic tradition, enabled this Church at the centre to grow in pre-eminence. It gave no theologians to Christendom; it produced neither monks nor thinkers; in the list of thirty-two Popes before Constantine, there is only a single illustrious name, that of Clement. But with the fourth century we enter on a new era. The Imperial Government takes the cross and begins by its laws and policy to make the Empire Christian. Constantinople is founded; Rome ceases to be the capital. And an interminable succession of quarrels on the philosophy of the Creed, associated for ever with the names of Arius, Apollinaris, Macedonius, Nestorius, and Eutyches, rends the East into factions, the Pope looking on from afar, not entangling himself in the nets of metaphysicians, receiving appeals from all sides, sitting umpire in the midst of a theological chaos. Had he played the philosopher, humanly speaking, he might have gone astray. But the Pontifex Maximus was a Roman and a statesman. He left to others the wrangling over terms of Greek art; for him it was enough to insist upon what had been handed down. These gladiatorial displays of logic went on for well-nigh a hundred and seventy years, during which time the only Pope who furnished a statement of any length to the combatants was Leo I.; and his manner is the Roman, sententious and judicial, not argumentative. The Latin language, copious in legal phrase, abounding in the technicalities of ritual, was neither delicate nor flexible enough to express the finer shades of heresy. It was the language of command: strong, plain, and matter of fact. The Eastern Bishops degenerated into sophists; the Roman found himself a ruler in a deserted but always august city.
Though long incorporated with the Empire, Gaul, Spain, and Germany had never exerted the political influence which was a characteristic of the Latin races; nor could they pretend to the charm, or contest the supremacy, of Greek culture. Outlying provinces, on the extreme line of defence, they lay open to attacks from the wandering tribes of the North. At Treves or Milan the Emperor lived in camp; he was at home only in Central Italy, or in the stately Eastern cities, like Nicomedia, which displayed the riches, the polish, and too often the luxurious softness that were an inheritance from classic Hellas. Taken as a whole, the East was compact in its geography, it had boundless resources of wealth, and could draw upon the mountaineers of the Balkans or the Cilician Taurus to recruit its armies; it could even make good use of Goths arid other untamed auxiliaries, without falling a prey to their strong right arm. Considerations such as these weighed with the sagacious but hardly great Emperor Constantine, when he turned the course of the Roman eagles towards the rising sun and left the Eternal City shorn of its crown of dominion. Henceforth, East and West would go their several ways. Europe was to be Latin, Frankish, German, in its political forms; in religion it was to be Papal and Protestant; while the Greeks became more and more Asiatic, and detested their Christian brethren, the Franks, almost as deeply as they feared the armed disciples of Mohammed.
Modern historians have seen in the founding of Constantinople ( 330 A.D.) a necessary sequel to the Edict of Toleration, published from Milan in 313, by which the Christian Faith was made one of the religiones licitæ. The Emperor could not have laid the foundation of his new Church and State on the Palatine, which was still the headquarters of Paganism. Arguments, these, of politicians, plausible enough; but in the Middle Ages legend threw the motives of Constantine into a picturesque and grue- some story, to the glorification of Pope Silvester and the Holy Apostles. Leprosy, that mysterious and almost sacred disease, had laid its taint upon the Emperor; he was tempted to cleanse himself in a bath of children's blood; when Silvester, warned in a dream, stepped between him and this awful experiment; persuaded him to descend into the waters of baptism; and brought him out thence, purified like Naaman in body and soul. Hereupon, Constantine made over to the Pontiff Rome and Italy, with the Islands of the West. He established the Pope where Augustus had reigned, gave him the tokens and state of royalty, and withdrew from the Holy Place. This was the Donation of Constantine, as first told in the eighth century, and believed down to the end of the fifteenth.
It is a prophecy after the event. Paganism, abandoned and soon to be persecuted by its Pontifex Maximus, without the conviction that makes martyrs, and long a hollow formality, was dying. Christians had the State in their hands. What was more, they showed the fiery zeal, the proselytizing spirit, the exuberance in quarrels among themselves, which are signs of a youth rich in hopes, bent upon shaping its own victorious future. Heathen Rome invited them to subdue it. Public policy required that the centre of administration should be at the heart of the Empire. The balance of power was displaced. Neither Pope Silvester nor any Pope for centuries dreamt of disowning the Imperial rule; from the Goths in Italy they suffered grievous things as the first subjects of Constantinople. But Rome left to itself was Rome in the hands of the Papacy, fronting the West and the Barbarians. Constantine had imitated Alexander the Great, who, in setting up his throne at Babylon in 330 B.C.--a curious coincidence--and assuming the tiara, left Europe free to follow its own fortunes. Such was the real Donation, not understood at the time by Pope or Emperor, which never lost its force until the Northern nations grew into a world as rich, as cultivated, and as haughtily self-conscious, as the Greek.
Paganism, it may be briefly said, was to furnish Roman Christianity with many of its holiday or outward shows. And the strange phenomena of heresy were to bring to light its powers of government, which, used at the beginning in disputes of local churches or contending sects, were afterwards applied to provinces and kingdoms. The Pope, we have seen, did not affect a speculative genius; he administered rule--a busy and extensive rule in so frequented a place as Rome--according to the tradition of the first age; he would never hear of innovations on the Creed. "Let there be none such, but only what has been delivered," said Pope Stephen in a quaint phrase to Cyprian ( 254 A.D.). Now the heretical movement, dating chiefly from Antioch and the Syrian literalists, was an endeavour to lighten the difficulties of the Creed by bringing down its "mysteries" to the capacity of human thought; a process at all times foreign to the spirit of Rome. For Rome, as Döllinger says, "took the world ready-made." It would not vex itself with philosophic inquiries, whether in its former heathen or its present Christian stage. In discipline it was accommodating, in dogma inflexible, and this from of old. When, therefore, conservative Easterns, such as the unconquerable Athanasius, the golden-mouthed Chrysostom, or the violent Cyril, looked round for help in their struggle with the party of Rationalism, it was a matter of course that they should appeal to Rome. And Rome stood by them. The Pope was at a safe distance from Court; he could not easily be taken or sent into banishment; his unswerving attitude, by which he seemed only to be maintaining that which had always been the rule, made him respected in an age when Bishops lost their dignity by engaging in hot and acrimonious disputes. It is significant that the three Popes who have proved embarrassing to Roman apologists--Liberius, Vigilius, and Honorius--were all charged with innovation. There was never any danger in holding to what had been received. Hence the Popes, unlike the Eastern Fathers, do not meet the arguments of heretics with counter-arguments; they decide, but they decline to reason the matter out. They attend no Councils, if they can help it, away from the Lateran. The only creeds which they approve are those of Nicæa in 325 and of Constantinople in 381. Pope Clestine imposes on the Council of Ephesus ( 431) his own judgment by the imperious hands of Cyril; the session begins and ends in a summer's day. Leo the Great sends his "Tome," which is by no means a treatise, to Chalcedon ( 451), and with the open assistance of Emperor and Empress compels six hundred Bishops to accept it. In a later controversy, Hormisdas ( 519), relying on the secular arm, makes his creed law throughout the length and breadth of Asia; it is sub- scribed, or acquiesced in, by perhaps two thousand five hundred Bishops.
But all the writings on divinity of the Roman Pontiffs down to Gregory the Great would not fill a volume of considerable size. Even where they approve, they content themselves with as few words as possible. Contrast the folios of Augustine, to whom they were benignant, with what Innocent, Zosimus, and Clestine did not write, on a subject so momentous as that of grace and free will. To others they resigned the task of explaining or defending Christian truth by methods adapted to the intellect. They put down heresy by cutting off the heretic from their communion. In this way, Rome exercised the functions of a Supreme Court of Appeal, and its judgments anticipated those of the General Councils, which were held in the Emperor's presence or that of his lieutenant.
We cannot describe the Popes of the fourth century as men of rare personal qualities. One of them, Damasus ( 367-384), has some features, in his tumultuous election and his worldly pomp, which forecast the days of Avignon or the Renaissance. Another, Siricius, who followed him immediately, is the first of whom we possess any genuine Decretal, as the letters were styled that the Roman Chancery sent to Bishops on points concerning which its opinion was asked. Yet the Church was steadily mounting towards pre-eminence. The Latin Fathers--this is their golden age--could not but magnify it by their character, their eloquence, and their achievements. Even Cyprian, who a hundred years earlier had quarrelled vehemently with Rome, "did far more," says Milman, "to advance her power by the primacy which he assigned to St. Peter, than he impaired it by his steady and disdainful repudiation of her authority, whenever it was brought to the test of submission."
But Ambrose, Bishop of Milan ( 375-398), was the most saintly of Western prelates--a true Roman born out of due time--and his reverence for the Apostolic See, during a long pontificate, summed itself up in the famous expression, imitated from the legists, "Where is Peter, there is the Church." On this classic sentence the policy of excommunication, interdict, and even deposition--which is the story of the Middle Ages--may be made to depend. The language of Jerome ( 342-420), most learned, lively, and provoking of the Fathers, is identical; and he who smiles at the frivolous elegance of Damasus or his clerics, yet cries out to him, "I am with thy blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter." When he undertakes his immortal work, the translation of the Bible, it is with the approval of the same Pope; and the Vulgate, which was the Scripture of the West for nearly twelve hundred years, might almost be reckoned among the genuine Decretals. Then came Augustine ( 354-430), whose inexhaustible fertility in dispute never drew him into controversy with Rome, though his deep or ingenious commentaries on received doctrine were, in the great break-up which we call the Reformation, turned against her by those most resolute enemies, Luther, Calvin, and Jansenius. But Augustine did more than all the Fathers to lift up the Papacy as on a visible height--to idealise it as the new Jerusalem and the Christian Sion--when he put forth his vision of the City of God. There was no place known to men except Rome which could fulfil so large and sovereign a mission; and that some distinct sanctuary it must be, the Middle Ages would have asserted no less confidently than the Greeks, who beheld the temple of the Sun, not in the open sky above them, but on the island of Delos or in the mountain-gorges of Delphi.
Marcus Aurelius, the crowned philosopher and Stoic ( 161-180), had in a touching apostrophe made invocation to the "dear City of God," which was to embrace all mankind. At that very time Christians were beginning to define their own society as the "Catholic Church," and to oppose against the multitude of Gnostic rites its mystic and divine unity. It was impossible that converts from heathenism should lose the sentiment, universal since Augustus, that Rome was the sacred capital of a world-wide civilisation, the meeting-place of all worships, and the centre of religion. This great idea can never have died out. Nor would it fail to be kept alive by the progress of the new creed, since it spread from the Imperial cities to their dependencies, and the Roman Province became the Metropolitan circle, with bishops occupying the rank of prefects, or subordinate to them, on the lines of the civil organisation. The primitive Church was the Empire taken a second time, but for spiritual and heavenly purposes. In every metropolis, says Bingham (whose evidence has stood the test of modern research), as there was a magistrate over the magistrates of each city, so there was a Bishop over the local bishops. That arrangement the Council of Nicæa confirmed. Constantine had new modelled the Empire. This first of the General Councils ( 325) acknowledged, in accordance with his dispositions, three great Patriarchates--Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. The Bishop of Rome, it observes in its sixth Canon, already exercised his rights over "the Suburbican churches," which are understood to mean the churches of the "Diocese of Italy." What the Popes did actually claim, as time went on, was a supreme right of interference in the "Prefectures" of Italy, in the two Gauls, which included Spain, and in Eastern Illyricum. Besides these particular jurisdictions, of which the last was frequently contested, they held, as appears from Athanasius, who cites a letter of Julius I. to this effect, that it was against the tradition to assemble councils and proceed to grave resolutions without their concurrence. All this betokens a close and increasing communion among the different local bodies of Christians. It is the old Roman vision of a world-empire expanding and realising itself as a Catholic Church, which if not yet governed by a Supreme Head, was by all its institutions calling for one.
The division of the Empire, which followed on Constantine's death, gave this problem a fresh turn. Of the Easterns it must be said, in general, that they were Erastians, if we may apply the language of the seventeenth century to the fourth. In the Emperor they owned a Divine right of superintending the Church; he was a kind of lay Bishop, and it was impossible to say where his power ended. The secular arm executed the decrees of Councils, drove heretics into exile, and through all the controversies which tore Christendom wielded the sword of the Lord. It seemed a conclusion from this Old Testament view that the Imperial city ought to share in its master's prerogatives. Constantinople, which as Byzantium had been the suffragan of Heraclea, would not submit to be reckoned among the inferior churches. It aspired to independence; and though it dared not vie with "Old Rome" at first, it elbowed aside not only Antioch but the ever-orthodox Alexandria, and boldly insisted on taking the second place. Nor, as was shown in the sequel, did it pause when that was attained. Its Patriarch, John the Faster, wrote himself "Universal Bishop" in 590. His successors are still denominated "cumenical," which is the title he usurped; but neither they nor he establish their claim on a direct descent from one of the Apostles. The ground taken was frankly political; the city of the Emperor must be supreme.
In two General Councils, one held within the walls of Constantinople ( 381), the other in sight of its towers and palaces at Chalcedon ( 451), this demand was formulated as a Canon, or rule of law. The Popes, without losing a moment, raised the cry of alarm. They felt the danger which this Erastian principle would bring on their own policy of independence and freedom. Damasus, in a statement which might have been dictated by Hildebrand, asserts emphatically the idea to be henceforward echoed in every tone by the Apostolic See. To the temporal greatness of the Empire he opposes ( 381) the voice of the Lord Himself, who has given to Rome the primacy in Peter. It owes nothing to synods; it is above all other Churches, because of the text in the Gospels. Even Alexandria is "the second See," as being "consecrated in the name of Peter," through his disciple, Mark the Evangelist; on a like account Antioch is honourable, "for Peter took up his abode there, before he came to Rome."
In these declarations, and in the acts to which they were an answer, we note the beginnings of the great schism that has divided the East from the West. Constantinople is Erastian; Pope Damasus is Ultramontane. The answer to Constantinople was the Papal Monarchy.
Disputes concerning precedence among Bishops may seem the vainest of quarrels; but we cannot fail to perceive that the races of men and the systems of philosophy extant within the Roman Empire were struggling here mightily against one another, like the winds on the great sea in Daniel's vision. Egypt had been from of old the home of a mystical and ascetic religion, of which Neo-Platonism and the Christian teachers had borrowed as much as they would. Antioch and its vast dependencies were now covered with schools, in which the Greek spirit of reasoning and contention exercised full sway. To this side Constantinople was drawn by the habits of its indolent population; but though they welcomed a Syrian of genius, like St. John Chrysostom, in their Archbishop's chair, they would not submit to rank below a provincial city on the Orontes. And Rome, which was neither given with the Egyptians to ecstatic dreaming, nor involved in the subtle syllogisms of the Asian Greeks, but which held fast by law and tradition, sided now with one of these parties and now with another, as the interests of orthodox government demanded. The history of the fifth and sixth Centuries does but exhibit the three Eastern capitals weakening one another by internecine wranglings, with their accompaniments of riot and persecution, until Syria and Egypt lay defenceless before Islam, and Constantinople trembled within her sea-girt fortifications. By the time of Gregory the Great, the two Patriarchal Churches associated with the name of St. Peter had almost run their course. Rome was left as the sole Apostolic See, founded on the rock.
We may watch this conception growing ever more luminous in the utterances of the Pontiffs themselves. It was to be strenuously acted upon, after the taking of Rome by Alaric, in matters of Church government as of dogmatic teaching, when Innocent I., Clestine, and Leo the Great displayed their conviction that in them and through them the Prince of the Apostles ruled. Innocent ( 402-417) declared that all the Churches of Italy, Gaul, Spain, Africa, and Sicily had been founded by Peter and his successors; it was incumbent on them to follow the "use" of Rome. He reminds the Bishops of Macedonia that they must send an account of their proceedings to the "head of the Churches." He takes the part of Chrysostom; excommunicates the usurper of his See, Acacius; is urgent against the Donatist schism in Africa; condemns Pelagius, who brings into the fifth century such a modern air of "Naturalism"; and strives to enforce upon the prelates at Carthage the power of receiving appeals which he grounds on the Canons of Nicæa. He was met, in this instance, with a counterclaim for verification; the Canons (real or interpolated) were those of a Latin assembly at Sardica, now Sophia, in Bulgaria. But they took their place in the Corpus Juris, and helped, like the ever-growing pile of Decretals, to furnish precedents on which the medieval lopes were ready to act iii every part of Christendom.
The fall of Rome in 410 was the destruction of Paganism. As a public religion it disappeared no less completely than the Jewish rites and sacrifices oil the burning of the Temple. Innocent had saved the Basilicas of the Apostles from profanation, and Alaric remained only three days in the city. But, henceforth, sacred ceremonies, popular festivals, and tile great days in the Calendar must all be Christian. The prefect of Rome was a shadow of the impotent Honorius, cowering behind the marshes and walls of Ravenna. But the Popes in their Lateran palace, given them by Constantine, lived amongst the busiest throngs of the ancient Capital, which until the fires kindled by Robert Guiscard and his Normans ( 1085) spread out round the Palatine, Cælian, and Esquiline Hills. It was the duty of the Pontiff, as it had formerly been of the Emperor, to feed the people in seasons of famine; to make good the losses occasioned by earthquakes, conflagrations, risings of the Tiber, invasions of Goths or Vandals; to preside at the crowded Church festivals, which took the place of gladiatorial sports, abolished at this time; and to do what in them lay as mediators between the people and their conquerors. Alaric had besieged Rome three times; Italy was soon to be threatened by, the strange figure of Attila the Hun ( 449), famous iii history as the Scourge of God and in medieval poetry as Etzel, the hero of the Nibelung Epic. In 455 Genseric the Vandal took and plundered the city. Yet these reiterated misfortunes did but enhance the Papal greatness; since, whatever mercy was shown amid the prevailing cruelty, the faithful attributed it with Augustine to the power of the Christian name; and Innocent, but much more Leo, might take the credit of it as granted to the Holy Apostles at their intercession.
While, therefore, the Bishops of Constantinople were failing, like Nestorius, into heresy, or suffering deposition and exile; and while Alexandria was disgraced by furious partisans like Theophilus, or miscreants of the stamp of Dioscorus and his Monophysite successors, the Roman dynasty grew in strength, acquired influence with foreign and even hostile nations, absorbed into itself the renown of the Eternal City, and looked forward to subduing the whole West by missionary enterprise. Clestine ( 422-432), the Pope who put down Pelagius and the Pelagians in Africa, and who withstood their intrigues at the Imperial Court, was the same mail that ordered the deposition of Nestorius at Ephesus, and is said to have dispatched Palladius, as afterwards he sent
GALLA PLACIDIA AND ST. LEO. ( Mosaic above Triumphal Arch in St. Paul's outside Rome. Fifth Century. )
St. Patrick, to preach the gospel in Ireland. Such missions were Roman in their language, liturgy, Canon Law, and cast of civilisation. They as truly implied a conquest to the legislation of the Church, as Caæsar's victorious campaigns in Gaul had brought with them the sovereignty of what was by and by denominated the Jus Civile over the vanquished barbarians. What was now attempted in the farthest Western Isle would be successfully carried out with the Franks before the century ended; with the Angles and Saxons a hundred years later; and at length with Germans, Danes, Norsemen, Wends, Poles, and Hungarians. The Papacy looked west and north. Its inheritance came to it from the old world; but during the next nine hundred years it appears in Europe as the principle of progress, expansion, assimilation, and novelty, disguised under the outward forms of law, which was continually enlarging its bounds by precedent.
Leo I., deservedly known as the Great ( 440-461), exhibits all the most splendid features of a medieval Pope, with no admixture of their forbidding or violent complexion. Like the eminent among them, he was a Roman by birth and breeding; yet we should not overlook the picturesque detail that he had personally made the acquaintance of Augustine in Africa during the troubles with Pelagius; he seems, indeed, to have risen up out of the pages of the "City of God," with his "noble aspect and spare youthful form," as though to carry their stupendous design into execution. He preached a majestic theology in language that no Papal briefs have surpassed, though the best among them aim at reproducing it; for the Ciceronian amplitude of later and present times is a lapse from the cursus Leoninus. But he was more than a teacher in the schools. He laid down the law with authority. Rome had now "become, through the sacred Chair of Peter, head of the world;" its religious empire stretched far beyond its earthly dominion; and this was the work of Providence. As already seen, the Roman Pontiff did not stoop to argue with the time-serving Bishops at Chalcedon; they must subscribe his "Tome" as he sent it; and these men, who would fain have exalted Constantinople, can yet flatter him in their epistle as "keeper of the Lord's vineyard," and "Archbishop of the world."
In Rome his action was no less decided. The Manichees, who were now and all down the Middle Ages to inherit the speculative tenets and bad name of their Gnostic forefathers, had been condemned to extinction by the Code of the Emperors. They survived, nevertheless; nay, they flourished exceedingly; nor did the conversion of Augustine to their sect, which they effected in his youth, ever pass from the mind of the mature theologian. A discovery made of them in the City ( 443) was followed by charges of magic, and of gross crimes against morality--the usual accusations, to be repeated with terrible consequences in after times, whenever a Manichæan society came to light. It is said that the evidence was strong and conclusive. Some were admitted to penance. The sect at large underwent exile and proscription; but none were put to death. Leo, whose share in dealing with them is described by himself, wrote to the Bishops of Italy to make search after these pestilent heretics, and persuaded Valentinian III. to renew the severest edicts against Manicheism. The whole story reads like a chapter from the Albigensian campaigns of Innocent III.
The tremendous Scythian, or Hunnish invasion, which in 449 and the years following swept over Europe, had met with only the shadow of resistance from Theodosius 11. It seemed likely to raze out the last vestiges of Western civilisation. With his innumerable hordes Attila laid siege to Constantinople, marched down to Thermopylæ, turned back through the Austrian and German forests, crossed the Rhine, and pitched his camp in Eastern Gaul. A battle of the giants was fought on the Plains of Chalons; oil the second day Attila underwent a horrible defeat at the hands of young Thorismund, the Visigoth, not altogether without assistance from Aëtius, the Roman commander. The Hun retreated, but only to lay waste Italy as far as the banks of the Po. He might now have captured Rome, whither Valentinian III., last of the line of Theodosius, had fled for refuge. But on the reedy shores of the Lago di Garda, not far from Mantua, the Barbarian was met by a solemn embassy, Pope Leo at its head. To the petition of the venerable Pontiff he yielded. He would be content with tribute--it was called the dowry of the Princess Honoria, who had offered herself in marriage to this ogre--and would retire beyond the Alps. That he listened to Pope Leo's prayers is certain; his motives must remain a conjecture. Was it disease in his army that held him back? Or a presentiment of approaching death, excited by the speed), end of Alaric after he had broken into the world's Capital? Or did he behold the Apostles in the air threatening him, while Leo spoke with grave sacerdotal eloquence? Later ages put faith in the sublime legend. But it is doubtless true that the wildest of Barbarian chiefs felt a superstitious reverence for the name of Rome. Examples will be frequent of lawless freebooters who turn aside even from sanctuaries known to be wealthy at the word of saint or monk, and in dread of the deities who dwelt there. Leo had saved the city; he was hailed on his return as a new Camillus.
Such noble achievements must have led him to reply with scorn and indignation, as he did in three letters still extant, to Anatolius the Patriarch who claimed for Constantinople the second rank, as enacted in Canon 28 at Chalcedon. He would not hear of it; whoso pretended to be an cumenical Bishop was Antichrist. Yet he not only received questions from all over the West on points of discipline, but when Hilary of Arles in 445 had, in a Council, deposed the Bishop Celidonius and the latter had appealed to Rome, Leo annulled the sentence and restored Celidonius. This was something new. Hilary, coming to the shrine of the Apostles, pleaded the usages of the Gallic Church and his own Metropolitan rights, in language of remarkable violence, to which the Pope answered by an epistle to the Bishops of his province, Vienne, releasing them from their allegiance to the See of Arles, and interdicting the offender from being present at future consecrations. Nay, more; Valentinian III.--a dissolute and cowardly prince, but devoted to the Church--issued at Leo's request a "Perpetual Edict" which recognised the Papal primacy as resting on the merits of St. Peter, the majesty of Rome, and the decree of a sacred Council. To resist the Pope's commands was treason; his decrees were law and did not need the Emperor's confirmation; he was ruler of the Universal Church; and all persons whom he summoned to him for judgment should be brought up, if they did not come willingly, by the Moderator of the province, that is to say, by the secular arm.
This establishment of the Roman Church as a supreme tribunal is attributed to the Empress Placidia, Valentinian's mother, and a staunch friend of the inflexible Pontiff. Regulations of a tenor not unlike, but without reference to Gaul, are quoted by a Roman Council of 380 in its address to Gratian and Valentinian II. "Following the precept of the Holy Apostles," say the Fathers, "ye have decreed that the Bishop of Rome should institute inquiries concerning the other priests of the churches." In these words we perceive that the ecclesiastical immunities were then allowed; or, to quote St. Ambrose, "Priests (alone) were to pass judgment on priests." Quite another question was it whether the Pope could take appeals over the head of Metropolitans; but the Perpetual Edict answered in the affirmative four hundred years before the False Decretals (about 850) made this principle the corner stone of a vast legal system. Hilary, it must be observed, was charged with tyrannical procedures, not with false doctrine. And the Gallican Church was already appealing from the Pope to its ancient Canons or customs--in vain now, as afterwards under Bossuet and the Assembly of 1682.
The crimes, follies, and murder of Valentinian brought Genseric with his Arian Vandals up the Tiber in 455. Rome could make no stand against him. Fourteen days were consumed in the pillage of the churches and plundering of the city. Pagan trophies were crammed on board ship, only to sink on their way to Carthage. The seven-branched candlestick and other sacred emblems brought by Titus from Jerusalem shared the same fate. The ladies of the Imperial house were made slaves, though not dishonourably treated. Leo might plead successfully with the Pagan Attila; but the Vandals were heretics, and did not heed his expostulations. Yet they passed away, suddenly as they came, while the Pontiff and his clergy remained, to console, to teach, and in some degree to preserve from the rising flood of barbarism a people who now saw in the Church their only ark of refuge.
If we extend our view over the ruins of the Western Empire, such is the spectacle that meets us on every side. Laws are broken up; governors cannot defend; the sword is the arbiter of public and private right; the Pax Romana has ceased; it is a universal confusion. But wherever a Bishop holds his court, religion protects all that is left of the ancient order. A new Rome ascends slowly above the horizon. It holds within it the Hebrew and the Christian Testaments; it has never forgotten the forms of jurisprudence; it possesses an art, an architecture, curiously modelled upon the lines of happier days; it is even the heir of the religion which it has overthrown it assumes the outward splendour of the Caesars but its reliance is upon a Creed they never knew, in which justice and mercy, qualities of the spirit, not of the flesh, are to serve as its strength and guidance. The Emperor is no more; the Consul has laid down the fasces; the golden Capitol has seen its gods and heroes carried into captivity by, a Wendish robber from the shores of the Baltic. But the Pontifex Maximus abides; he is now the Vicar of Christ, offering the old civilisation to the tribes of the North. He converts them to his creed, and they serve him as their Father and Judge Supreme. This is the Papal Monarchy, which in its power and its decline overshadows the history of Europe for a thousand years.
GREGORY THE GREAT, MONASTICISM, AND ST. BENEDICT. (461-590-604)
THOUGH Leo I. had seen clearly the part which this New Christian Rome was destined to play, and himself had acted up to it magnificently, the next hundred and thirty years brought to the Papacy little honour and much tribulation. Not until we come to Gregory, best and greatest in the long line of Pontiffs, do we meet a ruler of powers equal to his task, while the unexpected revival of the Empire, due to Belisarius and Narses, but called by the name of Justinian, made the Pope subject once more to an Eastern Court. Obscure but embittered controversies led to a schism in spirituals between Rome and Constantinople which lasted thirty-five years ( 484519). A Council, the Fifth General, is supposed to have cut off Pope Vigilius from Catholic Communion. But if the Greeks repudiated him, the Westerns revolted against him. Africa fell away; Ravenna, Milan, Aquileia strove to be independent. The Goths were Arians; and three times under their rude heretical kings did they besiege the Eternal City. After the last sieges by Totila ( 546-549), the population, greatly diminished, fled from their houses; during forty days Rome lay desolate and silent.
TOMB OF THEODORIC AT RAVENNA. ( Sixth Century.)
The end had come of its greatness; even the old race was extinct or was lost among the Barbarian adventurers. A plague, returning with terrible frequency, almost as fatal as the Black Death long afterwards, spread from Egypt to Gaul. Earthquakes, floods, and a darkening of the air which seldom lifted, were taken to be signs of approaching doom. When the Gothic kingdom fell before the Lombards, when Theodoric, Boethius, and Cassiodorus were fading into memories of a past not wholly uncivilised, the ruin of the Western Empire was complete. At this hour of deepest eclipse Gregory ascended the Papal Chair, and the Middle Ages began.
In this noble and attractive person we may affirm that all which the ancient world could now bequeath to the modern was to be found. He sprang from the most conspicuous of late Roman Houses, the Anicii, who had long been Christian. The grandson of Pope Felix and son of Gordianus, at one time he was Prætor, if not Prefect, of the City. Then, in obedience to the strongest current of his age, he had become a monk. He turned his fine mansion on the Cælian into a monastery. He gave himself up to prayer, to reading, and to ascetic exercises. By Pelagius II. he had been sent to Constantinople as apocrisiarius, or chargé d' affaires -an appointment which, while the Byzantine Court governed at Rome, led up, as a rule, to the Papacy. Though not in the classic sense a scholar, and affecting some disdain for heathen accomplishments, he spoke and wrote a Latin which was far superior to the jargon now resulting from tile wild intermixture of peoples and languages in Western Europe. In music and the arts that served for ritual or decorative purposes within the churches of Italy he was skilled to a degree which has made the name of Gregorians famous. Nor did he lack the qualities of it lawgiver and administrator. With ambition, pride, or avarice -- the temptations to which more than one Pope afterwards yielded--Gregory cannot be charged. His mind was not that of a philosopher; he shared in the beliefs so widely prevalent at his day, and by his book of Dialogues contributed not a little to spread them during the medieval period. His genius and character, direct, sincere, practical, yet over-laid with allegorising fancies (the common feature of decadence in thought), were altogether Roman.
Elected against his will in 590, he had no arms wherewith to resist the Lombards, whose Arian beliefs and barbarian race, no less than their burnings and plunderings, made them detestable to the older Italians. Yet on him it fell to feed and defend the city. The Imperial officers could do nothing. But the Church held large domains in the Agro Romano, in Calabria, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Dalmatia, which went by the name of St. Peter's Patrimony. It was a custom as early as Pope Soter ( 180) for the Roman Church to send assistance wherever Christians found themselves in distress. Now as then the Church fed the Roman people; to such elementary human offices had it come; but in thus stooping it laid foundations deep for the Pope's temporal power. Gregory acted as lieutenant of the Empire though not by, designation. The Exarch came from Ravenna; took with him what was left of the garrison; and deserted the city against which Agilulf was bringing his wild followers. They were bought off by the Pope, who called himself with a smile "paymaster of the Lombards." When he was rebuked by the Emperor Maurice, he could answer that he was sharing in the dangers and warding off the captivity of his own city. The sovereign power was passing into his hands. He defends officials who appeal to him from the violence of Byzantine corruption and secular judges. He alone signs the treaty, of peace with Agilulf. He insists on the freedom of soldiers who are desirous of becoming monks, although the Emperor had forbidden it. If, as Pope, he was the richest landowner in Italy, with thousands of serfs and myriads of acres yielding him a revenue, from these resources he nourished his Romans at the doors of the basilicas. Neither would he permit his coloni to be ruthlessly oppressed. He maintained the churches, ransomed captives, set up hospitals for pilgrims, and saw to it that twice in the year a corn-bearing fleet from Sicily, supplied Rome with provisions at Portus. His tribune protected the inhabitants of Naples from tyranny. He advised or commanded military precautions to be taken in Sardinia. Yet he would not exasperate the Lombards, hoping doubtless to see them turn one day from their heresy, as they came more and more under the magic of the Roman name.
His relations with the Bishops and Emperors of Constantinople were fluctuating. He had persuaded Eutychius to give up the doctrine of a purely spiritual resurrection. John the Faster, who styled himself "Universal Bishop," was reminded of the protest formerly made against this encroachment on the rights of his brethren and of the Papacy; but it was a title which Gregory put from himself with horror. The signature of his own predecessors, as the documents witness, had been "Bishop of the Catholic Church of Rome."
In 602 the Emperor Maurice was dethroned and murdered by Phocas, a centurion. That Pope Gregory had learned the details of this blood-stained revolution is not clear; but he acknowledged the unsurper, received his portrait solemnly in the Palatine chapel, and wrote to him in terms of Oriental adulation. It is said that he resented various measures of unkindness on the part of Maurice; above ill, his connivance in the ambitious designs of John the Faster. And confirmation is sought in the decree, put forth by Phocas in 607, which ordained that "the See of Blessed Peter the Apostle should be head of all the Churches." This undoubtedly was meant as a rebuke to the Patriarch and clergy of Saint Sophia. On the other hand, it does not appear that the Popes ever attached importance to the proclamation. In all their arguments they take their stand resolutely on the words of Scripture and their own Decretals, which had the force of law in Western Christendom.
The Bishops were fast growing into great temporal lords. Wherever a breathing time from war was given, men and benefits disposed of their wealth for spiritual blessings and benefits. Even unfit or youthful candidates now begin to appear, as the Sees of Christendom are worth coveting by noble families. But no Bishops can plead exemption from Gregory's jurisdiction. They are subject to his "forum." He deposes the Bishop of Naples, degrades him of Melita, threatens in severe terms the prelates of Tarentum, Cagliari, and Salona. He abounds in remonstrances, which bore little fruit, against the scandals of the Gaulish Church, under Queen Brunhilde and the Kings Thierry and Theodebert. He has a certain power in Greece; but his directions, even in matters of dogma, find no acceptance in Illyricum. The West was to be Rome's peculiar province. There Gregory overthrew the failing squadrons of Arianism, reconciled Spain, and by means of his legate or missionary, Augustine, established in England a succession of Bishops, under whose ecclesiastical government the country was organised, as its inhabitants gradually submitted to the Gospel, and men like Theodore of Tarsus were sent from Rome to rule over it ( 597-668).
Had Arianism stood its ground outside the Greek Empire, a state of incessant religious warfare, ending at last in toleration, might have ensued, as when, long afterwards, the Peace of Westphalia ( 1648) set up a balance of power between Catholics and Reformed Christians. But the Arian creed was the product of a learned and disputatious temper, more congenial to reasoning than to simple faith; its home had always been the cultivated cities of Asia. From the Imperial Court it spread among the Goths. As they moved onward and took possession of Southern Gaul and Spain, the links which bound them to a Syrian system and a rationalising philosophy grew constantly weaker. Of learned teachers they could scarcely boast. Ulfilas, their Bishop, had translated the Bible into Mæso-Gothic; but schools of theology they had none, nor a centre of religious life, nor the logical refinement out of which this not very attractive heresy had sprung. In the lapse of time it was upheld only by Court favour.
Arian chiefs had reigned at Ravenna, Pavia, Arles, and Toledo; but the Catholic Bishops desdained to give way before them. And towards the close of the sixth century this political arrangement was breaking up. By a supreme good fortune, the Franks under Chlodowig ( Clovis, Louis, Ludwig, are all forms of this Teutonic name) had accepted Roman Christianity at the hands of Remigius, Bishop of Rheims ( 496). It was a conversion equal in importance to that of Constantine, nor unlike it in its motives or its results. The mightiest sword wielded by a Barbarian was now at the disposal of the Roman Pontiff. The French King became "Eldest Son of the Church." He was destined to smite the Arian, to drive back the Mohammedan, to endow, the Papacy with a kingdom of its own, to make the name of Frank synonymous with Christian all over the East for many ages, to found the Holy Roman Empire, and to lead the Crusades.
In its palmiest days the Arian had never been a popular creed. Against it the Multitudes had risen in tumult; but its fiercest enemies were the monks, who swarmed out of their deserts and filled the streets of Alexandria or Ephesus with noisy protestations of the orthodox faith. Now, the whole world was turning to monasticism. It claimed to be the perfect, the Divine life. Its triumphs under Benedict, Columbian, Boniface, of which we have soon to speak, were already assured in the conviction even of the wild German tribes, on whom it exercised an irresistible charm. All that was mystic, miraculous, and beyond nature in the Christian teaching, found its realisation wherever the solitaries planted their staff in the wilderness. The Arian despised the monk, and was vanquished by him. Something not unlike the first age of the Gospel might be remarked in this contrast between simple or enthusiastic believers and the prelates, who were clothed in soft garments and dwelt in kings' houses. If the common people were to decide, the issue could not be doubtful.
Thus the newly-baptized sword of France, and the miracle-working rod of monasticism, were at the service of a polity in Rome which had never wavered since the days of Silvester and Athanasius. To this array of forces the Arian host was quite unequal. Law and learning, martial courage and the enthusiasm of the cloister, were banded against it. Burgundy, which had existed as an heretical power since about 430, fell in 520 before the assaults of the Franks, and with the dynasty its Arianism came to an end. This was to be the tale everywhere. Spain, under its feeble Visigoth rulers, abounded in crimes and tragedies. Yet, unlike the Vandals in Africa, they had given large toleration to their Roman or Catholic subjects (the names are now used indifferently), and had the Franks not come down upon them, Spain might have exhibited the rare spectacle of a heretic prince living in peace with his orthodox tributaries. But in 507 the sanguinary Clovis wrested from these Visigoths Toulouse and Aquitaine. There ensued hereupon a death-struggle between the Catholic party, which looked, for assistance to the Franks or the Greeks, and the Arian nobles with their king, who were now hemmed about as in a circle of fire.
Leodevigild had two sons, Hermenegild and Reccared. Their mother was Greek and orthodox; the sons shared her beliefs. Against Hermenegild the charge was brought that, in conjunction with Leander, Bishop of Seville, he meditated treason, and was for calling in the Franks. His father began general measures of persecution; imprisoned Hermenegild, offered him the Arian confession, and on his rejecting it, had him put to death. All proved in vain. The young prince was revered as a martyr. Leodevigild died speedily ( 586), and Reccared, now King, held a tourney of argument between the cotending Bishops at Toledo next year, which ended in his declaring himself a Catholic. Formal acceptance of the Nicene Creed followed in 589. Pope Gregory canonised Hermenegild, the story of whose martyrdom he has written with tender feeling. And in addressing Reccared, he spoke as though the Spanish kingdom were subject in a peculiar way to the Roman Church--a claim which later Pontiffs heightened into their suzerainty over the whole Peninsula.
As the Franks were instrumental in this conquest of Spain, so they took no insignificant share in the success of Gregory's mission to the Anglo-Saxons. Oueen Bertha was daughter of Charibert, King of Paris. Frankish interpreters accompanied Augustine to Thanet; and St. Martin of Tours, whose shrine
ST. GREGORY THE GREAT. ( From an Engraving in the British Museum Print Room.)
may be almost termed the cradle of the French monarchy, has to this day his church at Canterbury, founded by the pious Oueen. Monks whose home was Iona or Lindisfarne, helped to make England Christian, from the Cheviots to the Thames. But Augustine, Paulinus, and Wilfrid of York made it Roman in hierarchy, ritual, and learning. The Saxon kings were constant pilgrims to St. Peter's shrine.
Four times has the Papacy won its triumphs over barbarians or heretics with the aid of men who had renounced the world only to conquer it. Grecory the Great was a monk and a Benedictine. Without these marching legions he could have done nothing for civilisation, and neither England nor Germany would have known the Gospel. St. Benedict is the Cadmus and Solon of the centuries which find their Cæsar in Charlemagne. But the Dark Ages follow; and four hundred and fifty years after Gregory, another of his name, the monk better known as Hildebrand, calls again to his cloistered brethren. With their help he reforms the clergy, sets free the Church, beats the Emperor to his knees, and dies feudal lord of Europe. Once more, under the most majestic of the Popes, Innocent III., Christendom seems to be falling in pieces, rent by factions, simony, clerical vice, popular heresy. And again the monks, transformed to friars by Francis and Dominic, but disciplined by yet another Gregory, charm the people back to their allegiance, put down the dissenters, subdue to their scholastic doctors the philosophy of Aristotle and the Arabians. Last of all, during the agony of the Reformation, Ignatius Loyola and his Jesuits, taking to themselves the principle of utter self-sacrifice as a motive for combat and conquest, restore the day which had been all but lost, and cover the New World no less than the Old with churches, schools, universities, colonies. Medieval Europe can never be seen as it really was except in the light of that omnipotent monasticism.
Eastern in origin, it entered the West with Athanasius ( 340), captivated the impetuous Jerome, and was fostered at Milan by Ambrose. It flourished at Tours, Lerins, and Marseilles, and found a lawgiver in Augustine, who cultivated its most austere virtues. But though Cassian sketched its heroes in his Fathers of the Desert, it was to derive from Benedict of Nursia its lasting form, at once more practical and more moderate than even the Rule of the lofty St. Basil. Romans or Barbarians would not endure the pillar-saints of Syria; and wildly picturesque as were the lives of Celtic hermits, the good sense which marked Imperial laws and ordinances tamed even these, when Columban's severe regulations yielded to the genius of a more considerate legislator. Not that Benedict had learning, or took on himself a civilising mission. His aim was strictly religious, ascetic, personal. But he framed a code upon which the life in community might be lived during ages of social confusion.
Thus the Christian republic began like some dream of Plato. Its celibate members were drawn from a world in which the sword alone had rights; where traffic had become piracy or brigandage; where libraries were but sheepskin, the fields a thorny waste, the Roman high-roads between city and city fallen into disuse, and all Europe lay in the gloom of a forest stretching unbroken from the shores of Brittany to the steppes of Russia. A few walled towns, calling themselves Roman Municipalities, stood up as isolated rocks in the deluge. Over them the Bishops ruled as defensores civitatis, with phantomofficials at their elbow. But the question was, who would subdue the savage lands to the plough, and their intractable conquerors to a life not wholly warfare? After six hundred years of the strangest vicissitudes it was answered by St. Benedict's disciples. To all that is admirable in the Medieval centuries they lay a just claim, and the mighty figure of their hermit-founder stands aloft over modern civilisation as its author, if not its ideal. "The Order of St. Benedict," says Michelet, "gave to a world worn out by slavery the first example of labour done by the hands of the free."
His "legend," written by St. Gregory, takes us at a bound from the dead classic literature into the miraculous air and curiously painted lights of the Middle Age. Born near Spoleto ( 480), sent to study in Rome, he fled from the doomed city, and hid himself in the gorges of the Apennines, not far from a country house of Nero at Subiaco, where he lived three years in a cave, and where his twelve monasteries arose by and by, as well as the convent of his sister, Scholastica. The glory of monasticism was to be shared by illustrious women of genius, not Italian chiefly, but French Saxon, Irish, German, whose institutes were adapted from those of the sterner sex, while their industry in cultivating lands or books was scarcely inferior. Thus began the emancipation of woman in our Western world-behind the safe walls of a cloister, in a sacred peace, and under vows which Kings themselves could not trample on without remorse and public condemnation. Benedict, however, was to end his days at the yet more famous Monte Cassino, which still towers above the Garigliano, and which became a monastic Rome, mother and mistress of the thousand communities spread into every country where the Papal power extended. Here the Saint encountered Totila, King of the Goths, overawed him, and foretold his death. Cassino was ruined in these perpetual wars; but when Benedict and Scholastica passed away, almost at the same moment, their work had been set on an everlasting base, and time would prove this dream of enthusiastic piety to be as enduring as the foundations of Rome itself.
Much of the Saint's legend is romantic poetry. What the man did and was we may contemplate in his Rule. Its unstudied Latin lays down the sum of discipline for monks, who are to spend their stated hours in chanting the Divine service, in reading, in manual labour. The brethren are to serve God with their hands-- Laborare est orare --a perfect idea, in some magnificent degree fulfilled when the Order had restored agriculture and the arts of life, had saved from destruction the masterpieces of antiquity, and "Eden raised in the waste wilderness." To the letter they accomplished this word.
They were laymen, not clerics, except the few needed for Mass and other ordinances. Abstinence from flesh, much fasting, silence, and the strictest obedience to command, were all means well suited to creating a peaceful, orderly temper, at once the marvel of barbarians and a check upon the universal Faustrecht, or rule of the strong hand. No one who had taken the vows could quit them at his good pleasure. Children were often dedicated before coining to years of discretion; we must not suppose the modern respect for personal liberty in it time so rude and inchoate. A man belonged to his clan, his lord, or his community, unless lie fled away to the wild wood and became a heathen or Christian Ishmaelite. But soon Maurus in Gaul, as the story tells, or at all events some follower of Benedict, was establishing the colonies which had swarmed from Monte Cassino. Houses multiplied all through Italy. The Lateran had its monks, and Gregory the Great, as we have seen, turned his mansion on the Cælian Hill into a cloister, from which he ascended the Papal throne, and England received its Christianity. The great lines of medieval Europe were drawn as on a chart, its problems designed, their solution foreshadowed, when the most Roman of the Popes died, after a reign of only fourteen years, crowded with memorable issues, on March 12, 604. He was not much more than sixty.
ST. BENEDICT ABBOT. ( From a Portrait by Sassoferrato at Perugia.)
ICONOCLAST EMPERORS AND LOMBARD KINGS (604-739)
BETWEEN a dying system and one waiting to be born, the Pope stood, as it were, undecided for a hundred and thirty years after Gregory. His missionaries had gone out West; but he in the Lateran could not shake himself free of Constantine's successors, ruling by an Exarch at Ravenna, by a Dux Romanus in the Imperial City, and in the South by their military captains. On every side the Pontifex Maximus felt a power too strong for him. To rebel was not in his thoughts; still less would he or the citizens of Rome, proud though degenerate, exchange the tyranny of the Empire for the hated Lombard yoke. And what of the Franks? Their time was not come. Relations once frequent between the Pope and the Merovingians, seem to have died away in the seventh century. Councils were seldom called by the French bishops--only eight are recorded--and the petty kings, their wives, concu- bines, nobles, and serfs offer the dramatis personæ of a horrid, blood-stained play, in which scarcely a trace of human kindness is discernible. Clovis had given monasteries the right of sanctuary; too often they were prisons into which reluctant but defeated royalty was thrust, its head shaved, and a gown instead of a soldier's mail upon its back, to meditate vengeance on the next occasion. From these kings, Voluptuous, cowardly, and imbecile, nothing could be hoped.
Yet the Byzantine rule in Italy was doomed. With the Lombard invasion ( 569) the old order had come to an end. Always advancing, the new race drove before it to the sea, to Rome, Naples, and Otranto, what was left of the Imperial troops. In 650 the Lombard Duke of Beneventum held the South, while his lord the King reigned at Pavia; the provinces were transformed into military departments; instead of a Count there was now over the cities a feudal Guastaldo; and above these rose the Dukes of Beneventum, Spoleto, Tuscany, Friuli. Venice behind its lagoons was independent, though it acknowledged the Empire. But in this falling state, when the Exarch was feeble and his officers corrupt, Byzantium looked to the Pope as at once its subject and representative, nor would be content unless he took on himself the burden of a defence which brought him only affliction.
In one hundred and twelve years ( 604-716), down to the quarrel about image-worship, by which this intolerable degradation was violently brought to an end, we reckon twenty-five Popes, a series rivalling in lack of historic greatness those who encumbered or disgraced the tenth century. Two names are still remembered. Honorius ( 625-638), the victim of an imprudent answer to a captious question in divinity, was anathematised by the Sixth General Council, but was otherwise blameless. Martin I. ( 649-655), in repudiating the heresy charged upon his predecessor, fell into the hands of Theodore Calliopas the Exarch. He was hurried to Constantinople; stripped in the Emperor's sight before an innumerable crowd, who heaped curses upon the half-dead Pontiff; dragged through the city with an iron collar round his neck; and after eighty-five days of loathsome imprisonment was exiled to the Crimea, where he died. Such was the treatment a Pope might expect from Emperors who loved to be despots and theologians. His tormentor, Constans II., last of the Byzantines to visit Rome, spoiled the city in 663 of statues and works of art past reckoning, and took from the Pantheon its roof of bronze. The sea claimed this plunder, little of which ever reached the Bosporus. But it was clear that Monothelite and Iconoclast lords of slaves would sooner or later rouse the free West to break their bands asunder. The Churches were drifting towards separation. Ravenna, encouraged to brave Rome, as the story went, by Heraclius and Constantine, saw its Archbishop Maurus excommunicate Pope Vitalian, who retorted in kind. A dim shadow of Ghibelline Emperors and North Italian antipopes looms up out of this fog in which Latin erudition, and even the sense of history, appear to be failing from the schools of the Palatine. Agatho in 680 can but apologise for the ignorance of his Curia, and hope that Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, a Greek and a philosopher, will come to his help. So low had the Imperial City fallen! "The very profession of the clergy is the knowledge of letters," says Cardinal Newman, reflecting on this correspondence; "if even these lost it, would others retain it?" Lombard and Greek were both enemies of the Holy See. What was to be the end of these this?
Romans, Greeks, and even Syrians pass in the rapid and obscure Papal succession; but Constantine, who died in 716, was the last undoubted subject of an Eastern Court. The dispute about images, a Puritan reform attempted by the rude Cilician peasant, Leo the Isaurian ( 717-741), suddenly transported into the church and the market-place a controversy which could not leave the people unaffected. Instead of abstract science, here was the practice of religion, the visible art and daily worship now a custom of centuries, called in question by the Emperor, defended by Pope Gregory II., by Germanus, Bishop of Constantinople, by John of Damascus (destined to fix the standard of orthodoxy for Eastern Christendom), and, above all, by the monks, the multitude, the very women and children who pulled the ladders from under sacrilegious officials bent on defacing the Cross or shattering the marble effigies of the Saints. What the Popes had longed for was given them--a support on which to lean against the hitherto unassailable majesty of Cæsar. With them now were the people of Rome, of every, Italian city, of Ravenna and Byzantium itself. If Leo the Isaurian had learned his lesson, as has been affirmed, from the Moslems, then Mohammed may be looked upon as indirectly the occasion of the Pope's temporal dominion, with all that it involved during eleven hundred years.
Checked in their siege of Constantinople by Leo, a valiant soldier, the armies of Islam had triumphed in Africa; the Moors, a people not Semitic, beginning their career of romance and victory, had been converted to the Koran; and in 711 Tarik passed the Straits of Gibraltar, to which he gave his name. Thrice were the Berbers of the Atlas to conquer Spain, first from the Christian "infidels," and afterwards from their own fellows in the Mussulman faith. Not Saracens but Moors achieved this mighty enterprise, which in 720 brought them to the Pyrenees. In Languedoc, the old Roman city of Narbonne was their headquarters, whence in 725 they issued to capture Carcassonne, and destroy Autun, while they held Nismes to ransom. Their light horse swept into Burgundy. In 731 they gave the shrine of St. Hilary at Poitiers to the flames. Odo, Duke of Aquitaine, pressed hard, called in his natural enemies the Franks. Near Poitiers, South and North met in their first shock of battle ( 732); Abderrahman was defeated with unknown loss by Charles Martel, the Gallo-German chief, whose surname alludes to Thor's invincible hammer. A new royal race had come out from the Vosges mountains, and the Crusades had inscribed their great initial letter of crimson and gold oil the chronicles of history.
St. Columban of Luxeuil, it is said in his Life, had warned Theodebert, a base Merovingian, that the ruin of his kingdom was at hand. From Austrasia, the
CHURCH OF SAN VITALE, REVENNA. ( Sixth Century.)
country between Meuse and Rhine, a pathway for invaders, that prophecy would now be fulfilled. Arnulf, Bishop of Metz, an Aquitanian, had been married before consecration. His grandson was Pepin, who defeated the successors of Dagobert II. at Testry, near St. Quentin ( 687), took the family, of Clovis under his wing as Mayor of the Palace, and left a brave bastard son, more Pagan than Christian, this Charles of the Hammer. His wrestling was with Frisians, Saxons, Germans of every tribe, eager to get a footing west of the Rhine. Their Paganism devoured his; Charles found that the new Christians in Germany were his best allies; that Boniface, their Anglo-Saxon Bishop, would be the stay of the Franks and their unbought lieutenant; that to keep a hold upon Teutons he must join himself to the Roman Pontiff. At home he behaved as a despoiler of the clergy; beyond the Alps he seemed to defend the holy place against Saracens, and might prove to be a willing champion of the Pope against the not less intolerable Lombards.
It was in 726 that Leo the Isaurian published his edict for the destruction of images. Next year, when tumults had filled the streets of his Capital, the Exarch Scholasticus put it forth in Ravenna. Straightway, and without prompting, the people rose. Gregory II., whose character and abilities bore no proportion to those of his great namesake, watched the struggle from St. Peter's Chair. His own city, like Ravenna itself, was adorned with mosaics which depicted Christ, the Virgin Mother, and the Saints in glory. No one could dream that the Pope, any more than the people, would relinquish usages and traditions which might be traced on the walls of the Catacombs almost to Apostolic times. But the Lombards were now orthodox; their King Liutprand swooped down on Ravenna, took the popular side, drove out the Exarch, and overran Pentapolis. If not the unexpected, this, to Gregory and his Romans, was in the highest degree abominable. Scholasticus had escaped to Venice The Pope stirred into action the fleet of these islanders, and under his direction it combined with troops from the centre to get back Ravenna, which Liutprand for a moment had quitted. Such was the ancient policy of the Lateran. Gregory himself, says Duchesne, had maintained in its obedience Byzantine Italy, from Istria to Naples. He now, in effect, set up the fallen Exarch; doubtless to keep at a distance the "unspeakable" Lombards--as the Pope terms them again and again. But in requital threats of assassination were made, or fancied by the excited populace, on the part of Leo's officers against the intrepid Pontiff. He was to be murdered, the images broken; Paul the Exarch was marching on Rome. A general insurrection announced that Italy was lost to the Emperor. Eutychius, last Exarch, landed at Naples; his predecessor had been slain in a riot; and though Gregory would not favour open rebellion, the Captains began to set up for themselves; Lombards joined with Romans in a common league; and the citizens pledged their oath to live and die with their orthodox Bishop. In this act of spontaneous surrender we mark the birth of the Popes' sovereignty over Rome.
"Their noblest title," says Gibbon, "is the free choice of a people whom they had redeemed from slavery."
Liutprand, however, was playing a double game. If the Pope, as it appears from his passionate epistles to Leo ( 729), had in view, chiefly or altogether, the defence of images, and did not aim at independence, the Lombard, a wily politician, enlarged his territory by the Dukedom of Spoleto, and was ready (or so he pretended) to let the Exarch have his Rome again. He came south; entered the Holy City; threw himself at Gregory's feet; dedicated sword, crown, and cloak on the altar of St. Peter's. A truce was patched up. The Exarch withdrew to Ravenna. In 730 a Council at Rome condemned the image-breakers and rejected Leo from its communion. But Gregory neither deposed the Emperor nor released his Italian subjects from their allegiance, though he may have winked at their withholding of the customary tribute. Leo, not very wisely, confiscated the Papal estates in Sicily and Calabria; tore Illyricum from the Western Patriarchate; and demanded a heavier capitation tax. At this juncture, in 731, the Pope died, and Gregory III., a Syrian, reigned in his stead. This was the man who, in 739, sent to Charles Martel the keys of St. Peter's shrine and filings from his chains, with the title of Patrician or Roman Consul, as a lure which might tempt him over the Alps. For Liutprand had come to the gates of Rome, and the lamps ad limina Apostolorum, in St. Peter's itself, were seized and borne away by his marauding troops. Would the Eternal City become the Lombard capital?
THE DONATION OF PEPIN (739-772)
WE have reached the turning-point in Papal history. There had been a Duke of Rome, resident in the Imperial house on the Palatine; an exercitus Romanus, which comprised the nobles who, however mixed their blood, fabled a descent from the Cornelii and the other Patricians of classic renown; last, but greatest, the Pontifex Maximus held his court with its array of clerics about the Church of the Saviour. And how did he stand to Duke and nobles? While the Emperor governed, he was a subject, his election not valid till confirmed from the Golden Horn; and the "army," which claimed to be the Roman People, shared in his naming with the "venerable clergy." Now, was the Duke to continue when the Emperor had ceased? If not, the whole of Italy might be absorbed into the Lombard Kingdom, and the Pope, exercising a purely spiritual jurisdiction, would still have been a subject, liable to the military chief at Pavia, whose government he would consecrate but never share.
Neither Pontiff nor citizens felt disposed to accept this solution. Religion, we are to understand, was not at stake. Lombart Kings, Liutprand, Rachis, Astolf, Didier, were as orthodox and pious according to the standard of the age as any Carlovingians. They founded monasteries and more than once retired into them; in gifts to the sanctuary they were lavish; their reverence for St. Peter did not fail, even when his keys were fashioned into spears to smite them by the invading Franks. But once admitted within the walls of Rome, they could not be thrust out. Their rule would not pass with transient expeditions; they were at home in Italy, the Franks must always be foreigners. Intervention was one thing, conquest another. From Pepin to Napoleon III. French armies have come down into the Roman States; but on the morrow they are gone, and Pope and people exult in their departure. With a Patrician whose centre of government should be at Aix-laChapelle, Paris, or Worms, Rome might be free; then the question would arise whether the Pope was to rule the army, or the army to set up, pull down, pursue to death, or welcome in triumph its own Pontiff. Unaided, these turbulent sons of Romulus could not beat back the hardy Alpine mountaineers. At their bidding it was that Gregory III. and his Successors, who shared the popular sentiment, called aloud to Martel, Pepin, and Charlemagne.
The majesty of Rome, although an Emperor no longer bore it up in the West, survived under the name of the Republic, and in the prerogatives of St. Peter. At a distance this wonderful charm, religious and full of mystery, wrought its effect. What was a Lombard captain of yesterday, when compared with the shadow of Augustus, or with a living Pope? Franks, in whom the Christian faith was now after long eclipse coming to the light again, would have looked on calmly while the Roman exercitus fled before Liutprand. But if the Apostle sent for them, his command would not fall on deaf ears.
Yet Charles Martel, with Germans and Moors upon his hands, might have been unable, as he was perhaps unwilling, to take the decisive step. Gregory's loud laments had not been answered, when both the high contracting parties died, within a month of each other, in 741. A man of remarkable character, a Greek named Zachary, endowed with no little share of that firmness which we attribute to the Roman, succeeded. He met the pious though aspiring Liutprand in 742 at Terni, overawed him by a fervent appeal to the invisible powers, and won from him all the estates of the Church in Sabine territory, as well as Narni, Sutri, and Ancona. A truce of thirty years with the Roman Dukedom was agreed upon. Zachary made a triumphant march, on his return, from the Pantheon to St. Peter's, amid the plaudits of his people. But Liutprand assaulted Ravenna. Once more the Pope stretched out his hand to save the Exarch; he travelled in state to Pavia; confronted and subdued his Lombard, who gave back what he had taken, to die soon after with the reputation of a Saint. Rachis followed him upon the throne. He too, in 749, broke the peace, and invested Perugia. Zachary sought him out, enlarged on the favourite medieval text,
"All is vanity, except to love God and keep His commandments," drew him from the camp to a monastic life, and saw him a votary at Monte Cassino. There he must have been the associate of Carloman, Charles Martel's first-born son, who had quitted the
POPE ZACHARY, A.D. 752.
Mayoralty of the Palace in favour of Pepin, his younger brother.
Now came to pass the momentous series of events which bound in everlasting alliance the French nation with St. Peter at Rome. Pope Zachary was to reap where Gregory the Great had scattered the seed.
During the Merovingian period, Christian and indeed natural virtues had seemed to die utterly away among the Franks. Queens like Frédégonde and Brunéhaut, Furies in mortal shape, had made even that generation pale with astonishment at their awful wickedness. Irish monks, of whom Columban was the most illustrious by his severity of life and strength of purpose, had thundered against the heathen vices which they could not extirpate. They preached to the Neustrians, the Swiss, the Italians; but they turned aside from the German folk, although Kilian at Würzburg, and the philosophic Virgilius at Salzburg, have left their names as Apostles across the Rhine. An Englishman of Devon it was, Winfred or Boniface, who now stood forth, a fine historic figure, to unite the Pope with the dynasty of Pepin and to create in these immense Teutonic forests the churches, townships, and Christian peoples that should later on come into view as the Holy Roman Empire.
Boniface (680-756) made several journeys to the shrine of the Apostles. He was submissive in teaching as in station to "St. Peter and his Vicar." When he founded the See of Mayence, which was to be supreme over Christian Germany, and that of Cologne, second only to Mayence, he insisted that they should always ask for the pallium--the token of spiritual authority--from the Pope. His orthodox mind could not endure the errors, as he thought them, of Scots and speculative dreamers like Adalbert, Clement, Samson, and the more learned Virgilius. The same frank English temper led him to remark on the venality and corruption of which he heard as prevailing in the Roman Court. Living as a Saint, he died a missionary and it martyr, among the wild Frisians, in 756. But his work was accomplished. Four years earlier he had anointed Pepin King of France in the name of Pope Zachary.
It was a deed without precedent. No Pope had hitherto given away kingdoms or adjudicated between the nominal sovereign, legitimate but helpless, and his lieutenant, who could only be a usurper if he mounted the throne. Pepin sent his priest, Fulrad, and Burchard, Bishop of Würzburg, to consult Zachary, before the nobles elected him. Then the Pope authorised what the nation executed at Soissons in their Field of Mars; he spoke a winged word, "Let the man be called king that in fact is so," and it was done. Childeric, stripped of the dignity to which he had been born, found himself it prisoner in a convent. While we bear in mind that the laws of succession were unsettled in a barbarous age; that the Merovingians had long lost their grip of the sceptre; and that Pepin's ancestors had rendered inestimable service to France as to Christendom, it is impossible to deny that this was it revolution, peacefully carried out, with the consent and consecration of the highest religious authority. Could the Pope give crowns? Then he could take them away. Such was to be the public law of Europe during the next six hundred years, never in principle resisted until Philip the Fair withstood and overcame Boniface VIII. It is significant that the same nation which now accepted a ruler at the Pope's hands should be the first to proclaim that kings are inviolable, and their crowns beyond the jurisdiction of the Canon law.
Writing to the iconoclast Leo, Gregory II. had warned him that the Popes were the bond of union and mediators of peace between East and West. "The eyes of the nations are fixed on our humility," continued the Pontiff; "they revere as a God upon earth the Apostle St. Peter, whose image you threaten to destroy." Language as bold as it was affected, yet no fiction. In the memorable transaction by which Pepin's dynasty became legitimate and sacred, St. Peter had done his part. It remained that the Frankish monarch should do his. Constantine V., an able ruler who has come down to us in a dark and probably calumnious legend--for, like his father, he pursued images with a Mohammedan fury--still laid claim to Rome and the Exarchate. Had he not defaced the icons, he would have found an ally in his Roman Bishops, reluctant to face the unknown, counselling moderation lest a vigorous tyrant in Pavia should leap into the saddle and ride them down in their own city. But Astolf, the Lombard, saw in the abandoned provinces a desirable prey. He took Ravenna for the last time; extinguished the Byzantine government; and held all as far as Perugia (which escaped him) before 751. Not long afterwards Zachary left the Papal Chair to Stephen II., who made a truce of forty years with his Northern assailants, to be broken in four months. At this point we reach the Frankish descent upon Italy; the Donation of Pepin; and the establishment of St. Peter as a secular prince.
Southern chroniclers are never to be trusted when they speak of their foes. Violent terms, scarlet adjectives, which the facts will not warrant, appear to them as lawful in war as any other weapons. That the Lombards despised the Romans and called them liars and poltroons, full of lust and greed, we know from Liutprand. And that the Romans, though too probably the offspring of slaves or fugitives from every province of the Empire, scorned these tall, fair-faced men of the North as barbarians, is manifest in every line which Gregory the Great and succeeding Popes have left us concerning them. Had the Lombards told their own story, it would doubtless be still more evident than it is now that the quarrel which brought Pepin over Mont Cenis was on behalf of the Roman Republic, to which the Pope served as a figure-head, and that it did not originate in the high region of doctrine or discipline.
Astolf demanded once and again that the Imperial City should submit, pay a yearly poll tax of a golden crown, and leave him in possession of all he had seized in Central Italy. He could not win the city, but he dug up and carried away the bodies of certain Saints, to be laid in a shrine at Pavia. Some fruitless negotiations followed. The Pope sent urgent messages to the French King, and in return Chrodegang, Bishop of Metz, and the legendary Duke Autchaire or Ogier, were despatched as ambassadors to the Lateran. From Constantinople an injunction, which Stephen humbly accepted, bade him journey to the Lombard Court and there in person demand the restoration of Ravenna. With his Frankish protectors he set out, October 14, 753. The Imperial Legate was in his train. On arriving, despite Astolf's menaces, he spoke up boldly, offered gifts, and pleaded with tearful eloquence for the Greek Emperor's lost provinces. But his heart was with Rome, and only his words for the Exarchate. Astolf would yield nothing; but he did his utmost to keep the Pontiff from prosecuting his expedition across the Alps. They separated; the Byzantine Legate, with what nobles had accompanied him, went back to Rome, and disappears from history. Stephen and his clerks crossed the St. Bernard; stayed a moment at the abbey of St. Maurice; received a welcome from Prince Charles at Langres; and on the Epiphany, January 6, 754, found themselves in the presence of Pepin at his rude Teutonic castle of Ponthion.
The King prostrated himself and held Stephen's bridle; the lope with his attendants, amid solemn chantings, knelt in sackcloth before this mighty protector, imploring his aid for St. Peter and the Roman Republic. Still the argument ran upon "restitution," but Pepin brushed it aside. He would neither defend the Eastern Emperor nor quarrel with him. He was all for peace and accommodation between the Lombards and St. Peter. So the winter passed. Stephen, in the monastery of St. Denis, sickened and recovered. Again he crowned the successful usurper, his wife, and his sons. From Monte Cassino an unexpected messenger had arrived to take part with Astolf--the royal monk, Carloman, Pepin's brother. It was a bootless errand. He could not be suffered to stand in the way of these great impending events; and in the seclusion of a religious cloister at Vienne he expired with almost dramatic propriety. After long debates, war was decided upon at Quercy-sur-Oise, in a popular assembly, or, as we should say, a Parliament, Easter 754. The passage of the Alps followed at once. Astolf was besieged in Pavia; without serious fighting he gave up his conquests, at least on paper; and the Franks went home. Stephen, distrustful but impotent, returned to his own place. His fears were well-founded. On New Year's Day, 756, the Lombard, with three divisions of a plundering army, was encamped round the Roman gates from the Salarian to San Pancrazio.
Fresh envoys from Stephen, at their head the martial Abbot Warneharius--a Frank who delighted in his armour and set the bad example of a fighting churchman, too frequent during the Middle Age--got clear of the Lombards, and crossing the sea reached Pepin. They bore three letters, couched in terms of deepest affliction; the third, addressed to king, nobles, and army, was written in the person of St. Peter, and already spoke of the Gesta Dei per Francos in terms which, if inspired, were flattering. Myth and history embraced; the battle was won. A second time Pepin descended with his warriors from the Cenis; once more Astolf yielded; the Greek Silentiary John begged for the lands, the cities which his master had not been able to conquer. He was answered with civil scorn. Devotion to the Apostle, and the hope of pardon for his sins, had been the motives which actuated the Frank who now, by right of conquest, made over all his winnings to the Holy See. Fulrad, another warlike Abbot, in command of a small detachment, passed from town to town, accompanied by the Lombard commissioners; he received their keys from a rejoicing people, and laid them on the shrine of St. Peter along with the legal document which conveyed them to their new lord. This is Pepin's never-to-be-forgotten Donation.
Its text can no longer be found. But in Stephen Life, as told by the Liber Pontificalis, a catalogue of the territories informs us that Comacchio and Ravenna passed to the Pope with all the country, between Apennines and Adriatic, from Forlì in the north to Jesi and Sinigaglia in the south--dead cities now, not easily reached by the tourist, and with nothing to show but antiquities. Ancona was not included nor the rest of the March. Faenza, Imola, Bologna, Ferrara lay outside the royal grant. Except Narni, this so-called restitution comprised no more than Astolf had taken--the Exarchate and Pentapolis in their latest period. The Roman republicans still wondered if they could get again what Liutprand had borne away, and round off their possessions with Bologna and Osimo.
Yes, it might be, when Astolf to their delight was killed out hunting, and his brother Rachis, the monk of Monte Cassino, called to succeed him, was opposed by the Duke of Istria, Desiderius. Pope Stephen sent Fulrad, the warlike Abbot, and his own brother, whom we might describe as the Cardinal, Paul of Via Lata, to this aspiring Duke. The Duke promised, if he won the crown, to give back the remaining cities, Ferrara, Ancona--whatever they demanded. Desiderius became king; Stephen wrote to Pepin with transports of joy; he was now, in a manner, lord paramount of Italy. Rachis, at the Pope's order, retired to his convent. But the crowned Lombard kept only half his promise, and fresh troubles came in sight.
At this stage a series of deplorable events in Rome, to be often repeated amid fury and bloodshed, must engage our unwilling attention. Stephen died in 757. He belonged, it would appear, to a noble rather than a clerical family--we will explain how much this meant in due course--and his brother Paul was elected, not without opposition from Theophylact, a name which recurs with tragic frequency in the Roman annals. Paul was severe: his exactions were large, his prisons crowded; and the Imperial Law, which he took over with his new dominion, inflicted death where Franks or Lombards would have allowed wehrgelt, or a fine. He began speedily to be detested as a tyrant; but his victims or enemies bided their time. No sooner was he elected than he wrote to Pepin, interposed between Desiderius and the rebel Dukes of Spoleto and Beneventum, sought for them (though they were clearly in the wrong) a French protectorate, and urged on the Lombard that he should fulfil his engagements. Pepin received these overtures with politic serenity. But he declined to cross the Alps any more. His envoys made peace on the principle, "Keep what you have got and be satisfied." Paul submitted, perhaps because the Greek Emperor was holding out a hand to France, where the veneration of images had never struck deep root. The French king steered a middle course; he made Desiderius a sort of Vicar in Italy, left the religious question to the Pope, and kept the peace. We shall have occasion, not once or twice, to contrast the moderation of these French Constantines, when Roman affairs call them in, with the intense and blind fury which seems indigenous to the City on the Seven Hills. It was now to burst forth like a volcano, throwing up ashes and fire.
Paul was dying in 767 when Toto, Duke of Nepi, broke into the city with an armed band. He represented the nobles, who could not endure that a priest and his acolyths should rule over them. Toto would not have scrupled at murdering a Pope; but Christopher, who had been Paul's Secretary of State, prevented this horrible sacrilege; yet he could not hinder the monstrous Duke from seizing the Lateran (Paul had now expired) and proclaiming his brother Constantine Bishop of Rome. That the elect ruffian was a soldier and not a cleric; that George, Bishop of Palestrina, was compelled to ordain him on the spot; and that the Sunday afterwards he received episcopal consecration from this prelate and two others at St. Peter's shrine, throws a strange and far from heavenly light on the Roman world of the eighth century. Christopher still held out; he was a captive, then he escaped--but not till a year had passed--to the Court of Pavia with his son Sergius, and came back the Lombards helping him, on his errand of revenge. Toto was killed in the fight that ensued; Constantine fell into the victor's hands. The atrocious Greek custom of blinding prisoners was now common, especially in Italian tumults. Constantine, his brother Passivus, and the Bishop Theodore had their eyes put out. But this was not until a fresh Pope, Stephen III., had been elected--a feeble, good man, who let Christopher execute judgment as he pleased. When no more victims were forthcoming, order reigned in the Lateran.
Pepin did not choose to acknowledge Constantine; and his sons, who succeeded him in 768, despatched no fewer than thirteen bishops to the Lateran Council, which was to cover up the irregularities committed by Stephen III. before and during his election. For he had earlier recognised Constantine as Pope. This unhappy creature, thrust on his knees in presence of the assembly, was reviled, beaten and flung out, and the acts of his Pontificate burnt. His ordinations were declared null and void--a fatal precedent which, one hundred years later, led up to the most ignominious of all the incidents that have darkened the history of the Popes. Stephen III., not relishing the species of tutelage in which he was held by Christopher, triumphant over the military faction, called in Desiderius, who came on pilgrimage--he was sincerely devout, though shifty--during the Lent of 771. A revolution was the consequence. Paul Afiarta, then celebrated, and a rival of the Secretary, served as a go-between to all the interests leagued against him. Stephen, a captive in the Lombard tents round St. Peter's, sent for Christopher and Sergius, to whom he had bound himself by solemn oaths; they came at his command; he celebrated
Mass in the Basilica, and at once entered Rome across the bridge with Desiderius, leaving these men to their fate. Gratiosus, the assassin of Toto, whom Christopher had raised to a dukedom, now turned traitor. From the Apostles' shrine the unhappy pair
POPE HADRIAN I A.D. 772.
were dragged out at nightfall by Afiarta and led to the bridge of St. Angelo. There, by a just but fearful judgment, father and son were blinded. As they had done to Constantine, so was it done to them. Christopher died three days afterwards; Sergius lived a year in the great prison of the Lateran. He was drawn thence by Afiarta not many days before Stephen's death, half strangled, and buried alive under an arch in the Via Merulana. Stephen lay helpless in the hands of Desiderius, who could, and did, threaten him with the consequences of these murders if he made appeal to the Kings of France. In 772 the Pope went to his account, and Hadrian, the future friend and counsellor of Charlemagne, ascended the Apostolic Chair.
CHARLEMAGNE, PATRICIAN OF ROME (772-800)
ON an average, the duration of a Papal reign is less than eight years. Hadrian I. ruled for twenty-three ( 772-795). He stands out thus between Silvester in the fourth century and Pius VI., who closed the eighteenth, by his near approach to "the years of Peter." Learned, is the age reckoned learning; of illustrious descent; of pious and edifying morals; he satisfied the military by his pedigree, and the clergy by his devotion to their cause. Under Afiarta, the Lombard interest had governed Rome by proscriptions, exile, and murder. Young Carloman, the French senior king, meditated vengeance on the assassins of Christopher and Sergius; his brother, Charlemagne that was to be, had married, or, at least, had taken to himself, after divorcing a previous wife, Desiderata, daughter of the Lombard chief. But in a year the lady was sent home; Hildegard, of a great Suabian family, took her place. Carloman died, and his children were set aside in favour of their ambitious uncle in an assemby near Laon. Their mother, Gerberga, took the children and fled with them to the Court of Desiderius, who now staked all on a decisive throw. He lost, and his kingdom came to an end.
Before Gerberga's arrival, he had despatched an embassy to Hadrian, who replied by sending to him Paul Afiarta, as an easy means of getting him away from the city. Scarcely was the Chamberlain gone, when rumour announced that the Lombards had seized Faenza and Ferrara; that they were moving against Ravenna; and that Desiderius would insist on the coronation of the exiled French infants by Hadrian. Into this scheme Afiarta flung himself heart and soul. He boasted that, willing or unwilling, the Roman Pontiff should meet the King's wishes. But the Pope knew his man. A judicial inquiry was opened at Rome touching the circumstances under which Sergius had been half-strangled and buried alive. The guilt of Afiarta came to light. His accomplices died in prison or were exiled to Constantinople. The grand culprit, arrested by Hadrian's orders in Ravenna, confessed his crime, and before the Pope could deliver him out of his enemy's keeping, was put to death by the Archbishop and the Consular as a friend to the Lombards. Thus broke up in tempest the unnatural peace between Rome and Pavia. We seem to discern in Afiarta the strong man of action, unscrupulous and bloody, but a Roman patriot, whose alliance with the Italians of the North meant death to the foreign invader.
By his Dukes of Spoleto and Beneventum, the Lombard still wasted St. Peter's patrimony with fire and sword. Hadrian sent to Charlemagne at Thionville (now Diedenhofen, since 1871), and his appeal, which might have been unheeded, was enforced by Desiderius, who marched on Rome with Carloman's children in his train. At Viterbo he was met by three Bishops, charged to warn him off under the menace of anathema. It was an ominous expression, employed for the first time in a dispute concerning the Temporal Power. But for the moment it had ail effect. The King returned to Pavia. Some idle negotiations led on to the expedition which, about Midsummer, 773, came down by the valley of Aosta and Mont Cenis, under Charles and his uncle Bernard. The passes were betrayed to them by old Italic natives who bore no goodwill to their Lombard chieftains. Adelchis, the Prince Royal, gained some advantages, but famine dispersed his troops; he was compelled to take refuge in Verona with Duke Ogier and Carloman's children; the road lay open to Pavia. Both the King and his son stood out manfully behind their thick walls. No resistance was made elsewhere. Spoleto, tired of its dukes, declared itself subject to the Holy See. Ancona, Fermo, and other cities followed its example. Hadrian was lord of Central Italy before Charles could grant it away to him.
Verona fell, and Adelchis fled to the Greeks. Pavia would not surrender. In the meanwhile, Charles came on pilgrimage to Rome and was received (Easter, 774) with the honours formerly given to the Exarch. At St. Peter's, Hadrian waited at the head of the great staircase to welcome his protector. Charles--a notable sight--ascended it on his knees, kissing the steps, as is customary still when pilgrims go up the Scala Santa. The Pope embraced him; they entered the Basilica hand in hand; the solemn chants resounded, and the ceremonies of Holy Week began.
On Wednesday after Easter ( April 6, 774) was held the memorable meeting in St. Peter's which sealed this transaction, the birthday, in no questionable sense, of our modern Europe. Hadrian exhibited a document, drawn up, it was said, at Quercy-sur-Oise in 754, which, under the name and signature of Pepin and his two sons, made a present to the Pope not only of the Exarchate much enlarged, but of Spoleto, Beneventum, Tuscany, Corsica, Venetia, and Istria. In accordance with this more than royal donation, we are told, Charles had a new formula composed, copied, and solemnly ratified. One document was put into Hadrian's keeping; another was left with St. Peter in his shrine. Then the French King went back to besiege Pavia. It unclosed its gates. Desiderius with his Queen Ansa retired from the world; and at Corbey the last of the Lombards lived and died a monk, with the reputation of saintly virtues.
So extensive a donation as this of Quercy, though acknowledged by Charles in public assembly, takes away our breath. It was never fulfilled; we ask whether it was really proposed. Did we possess the original diploma, we might judge for ourselves. But that parchment has long since disappeared; and when we reflect on the manipulation of ancient deeds which
INTERIOR OF SANT APOLLINARE IN CLASSE, RAVENNA. ( Sixth Century.)
the legal conscience of those times indulged in and thought no crime, we can hardly take on trust a supposed engagement which would have made the Pope nothing less than King of Italy.
In any case, all that Charles yielded to Hadrian at this time were certain cities in Emilia; but even upon these Leo, the Archbishop of Ravenna, laid violent hands. He did so in the name of his Saint, the martyr Apollinaris. Ravenna claimed its share of the Lombard spoil. Its first Bishop, the story said, was a disciple of St. Peter; he could not be overlooked in the distribution of that Apostle's patrimony which was going forward. The late vassals of the Exarch were restive under what they called the Roman yoke. Neither in spirituals nor in temporals did they welcome it. Their Archbishop aimed at independence, like the prelates of Milan, Aquileia, and Grado, who had never been content to bow down before the Pope as Metropolitan or Patriarch of the West. Bishop Sergius in 756 had interpreted Pepin's donation as a gift of the Exarchate and Pentapolis to St. Peter at Ravenna. But Stephen III. had called him to Rome; kept him there until he submitted; and sent him back as his own Vicar. When Sergius died, Michael the Scriniarius was made bishop, despite the Pope's remonstrances, and held the See during a year. Then Leo came in, and his prompt execution of Afiarta shows what manner of man he was. While seizing the booty left after Desiderius had abdicated, he seems never to have lost credit with Charlemagne; it is possible that his death in 778 relieved Hadrian of an adversary whom he could not despise, Ravenna maintained its pretensions. Italy, like the ancient Greek world, was fated to be the battle-ground of civic strife, every little town against its neighbour, a prey to foreign foes because of its internecine and incurable factions.
Upon Ravenna and the adjacent territory Hadrian could now recover his purchase. He was continually adding parts of the old Sabine country, of Campagna and Capua, to his jurisdiction as a temporal prince. The Pope was henceforth to be a lord over many. He numbered his feudal retainers, who did him suit and service. He held a brilliant Court. He made generous donations to churches, charities, and especially to the city of Rome, which Hadrian restored and beautified. His kinsmen were to share in these unexpected honours. Paschalis and Campulus were nephews of the Pope. It is the first occasion on which we hear that word, destined to play a part as disedifying as momentous in Papal history. They became Primicerius and Sacellarius, heads of the Chancery and the Finances. There were always two sides, seldom if ever in agreement, of the Roman administration. On the Palatine resided the lay officials, who kept up the fiction dear to that proud people of a Republic, free and sovereign over Italian cities. At the Lateran dwelt their master, he was not their slave or their victim, the Pontifex Maximus, with his twenty-five Cardinal priests and his seven Deacons, to whom we must add the seven suburban Bishops. The Papal Palace had its chamberlains, esquires, masters of ceremonies; it was already displaying the forms of Byzantine hom- age, the prostrations, enthronements, and studied acclamations which are yet observed in the Roman Court. An officer predestined to greatness was the Archdeacon, first of the seven Cardinal Deacons. In the Chancery writers were trained; a Latin style not altogether barbarous was preserved amid the frightful grammar and inflated diction of the period; and notaries superintended the archives, issued new documents, and edited old ones; nor was the library quite forgotten.
But the entire government devolved on the Pope, who, imitating the policy of Augustus, took no fresh title, and whose wisdom it was to veil the transition from serfdom to independence under well-worn phrases. Hence a confusion of terms, rights, laws, privileges, exemptions, and contradictory claims, which no acuteness of jurist or historian has ever been able to clear up. What were the limits of jurisdiction for the Pope, the Patrician, the People? Seek them in the direct power, the indirect influence that each was able to exert; when the waves mounted, the sands were covered; as ebb-tide came after flood, again the sands stretched out unbroken. Living forces, often conquered, yet in their essence unconquerable, struggled, and to this day are struggling each for supremacy; but the Constitution, the Magna Charta, which would reconcile them, has not yet been written.
Only this we may affirm. Pope and aristocracy were opposed from the beginning. It was not on purely religious grounds that the Pontiff held or added to his temporal dominion, for how could religion be affected by his rule over Capua, Ferrara, and cities across the Apennines? Nor did the nobles, as a class, look up to him with reverence, or at any time take into account his relations to the Church at large. In their eyes he appeared like any other feudal sovereign, whom they would resist, dethrone, murder without scruple--it was the fortune of war--unless he were willing to purchase a doubtful immunity by leaving the government at their disposal, and sharing with them tax and tribute from the subject people. That divinity which, as we view the Pope's origin and venerable claims, should have hedged him above all men against sacrilege, never once hindered the Romans from proceeding to extremities with their ruler, alive and dead. In a ferocious time, they yielded nothing in barbaric violence to Franks or Easterns, and their outlook on the world was bounded by the walls of their blood-stained city. These factions, which often converted the Lateran or St. Peter's into a Colosseum where wild beasts tore one another, had sprung up long ago in the days of Pope Symmachus ( 501), and were to break out again after Hadrian's decease. Elected from a noble house, he satisfied the Roman "army" for a while; but did he satisfy the clergy? We may conjecture from the sequel that a sullen discontent brooded on their wrongs and waited for the day of reaction.
Outside Rome it was not likely that the princes and potentates overthrown by Charlemagne would keep still. Hildebrand of Spoleto, Rotgard of Friuli, Arichis down at Beneventum, were all stirring.
Adelchis, now in the South, urged them on; Beneventum was to inherit the fallen dignity of Exarch. In 776 Charlemagne appeared on the plains of Lombardy; he slew Rotgard in the first encounter, and went back to his German wars. But he turned a deaf ear when Hadrian spoke of the magnificent promises made at Quercy and St. Peter's, which were not yet fulfilled. When he came to Rome the second time, in 780, a still more imposing Lombard league demanded his attention. Arichis, the Beneventine Exarch, son-in-law of Desiderius, and the Patrician of Sicily, were laying waste Campania. Much was attempted, little achieved, by the restless Greeks. But, in the sequel, Hadrian gave up Terracina; Grimbald contrived to secure the independence of Beneventum; and the Holy See bartered its claims on Spoleto and Tuscany for the tribute which these Dukedoms had paid into the treasury of Pavia. To make it quite clear that the Donation of Charlemagne would not be exceeded, his sons Pepin and Louis were crowned Kings of Italy and Aquitaine. Under a new form the Lombard monarchy was revived. Nevertheless, at his third visit, in 787, Charles gave his "friend and brother," for whom he entertained a sincere affection, Viterbo, Orvieto, and some other prizes in Roman Tuscany.
The sum appears to be this. Pope Hadrian obtained for the Duchy (not the Province) of Rome those limits which it preserved during the entire Middle Age and almost down to 1870. He was master of the Exarchate, Pentapolis, and the intervening territories as far as Perugia; but Spoleto remained independent. From Charlemagne he had gained the Northern provinces and those on the Eastern slope of the Apennines. But in Rome and Perugia his dominion, never precisely determined, was a substitute for that of the Greek Emperors, cast off by the people because of their image-breaking heresy. Towards the South, as Byzantium lost, the Pope won; we shall see him putting forth claims by little and little to Naples, to Sicily, and to all the Italian islands. By way of recompense for this "pact of love and loyalty" on his part, Charles is made Patrician of the Romans. He was to mount higher yet, but not in the lifetime of Hadrian, who died on December 26, 795. The same day Leo III. was elected,
THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
SUCH headlong haste, which in later times was forbidden by regulations touching the obsequies of a Pope and the choice of his successor, must have been due to the still smouldering feud between clergy and army. Leo's election is described as unanimous; events showed by and by that it was not grateful to Hadrian's nephews, put down now from their high offices of dignity and emolument. At once Leo sent to Charlemagne, Patrician and Consul, the certificate of his election, with St. Peter's keys and the Roman standard--formalities hitherto not observed--which allowed or invited the Frankish ruler's interposition as a judge of appeal, were the electors disposed to make one. A legate even was asked for who might receive the popular oath of allegiance to Charles. Angilbert, a French Abbot, was sent, but no allegiance sworn. In the Lateran palace Leo built a triclinium, or dining hall, which he adorned with mosaics; Christ giving the keys to Silvester, the labarum to Constantine; St. Peter bestowing on Leo the pallium, and on Charlemagne the royal banner. Rome had two sovereigns, it would appear. But the Romans obeyed neither, except when they had no choice.
Arn, Archbishop of Salzburg, wrote to Alcuin in 798 from the city that discord was busy and the conduct of Leo himself not altogether apostolic. Paschalis and Campulus spread these reports or took advantage of them; a conspiracy was formed, and on St. George's Day, 799, as the Pope rode out in procession, these discontented churchmen saw their chance. At San Silvestro he was pulled off his horse by a troop of armed men. Hadrian's Cardinal-nephews flung themselves upon him bodily; they did their best to tear out his tongue and his eyes; but not succeeding, dragged him into the church, beat him till he fainted, and left him for dead in front of the altar. Night came, and he was thrust into a cell at Sant' Erasmo on the Cælian. His assailants, no doubt, supposed that if he escaped death, a blind and dumb Pope could not be allowed to govern Christendom.
But Leo, as by miracle, recovered. The French legate, Wirundus, and the Duke of Spoleto, helped him to flee out of the city. Charlemagne commanded his presence at Paderborn, gave him a splendid greeting, and sent him back with a troop of German Counts and Bishops. His return was a triumph; the insurrection went out in smoke; yet charges had been made and must be met if the Pope's good name were not to be lost for ever.
In his own painted triclinium Leo confronted the Frankish judges; Paschalis and Campulus were handed over to the royal power; but, manifestly, until Charles himself appeared on the scene no conclusion would be reached. He came once more to Rome. On December 1, 800, before clergy and laity in St. Peter's, the cause was opened by their secular sovereign. Yet who would accuse? And how was the Supreme Pontiff to be judged? He consented to purge himself by oath in another assembly on December 23--a humiliating and dangerous example, in which the majesty of the name of Leo underwent eclipse.
Two days later Christmas brought the people together again. Mass had been chanted, and the King lay prostrate before St. Peter's shrine, when, at a given signal, the Pope, his suppliant of yesterday, took a diadem from the altar and set it on his brows, the choir breaking forth in acclamation: "To Charles the Augustus, crowned by God, great and pacific Emperor of the Romans, long life and victory!" His "lauds" followed, as in the triumphs of old; he was already anointed, but on the head of his youthful son and namesake the holy oil was now poured; the Empire of the West had come to life in a Frankish chieftain, after an abeyance of three hundred and twenty-four years.
Not the same as that which Augustus bequeathed to his successors. For the first time a Pope had crowned an Emperor, on his knees before St. Peter's Confession. This was the everlasting mosaic which all through the Middle Ages kings and nations saw
EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF THE EMPEROR CHARLEMAGNE IN THE VESTIBULE OF ST. PETER'S. ( Cornacchini.)
above their heads when they looked up to Rome, the Capital of Christendom. In their mystic view, which deepened as years went on, no man could be God's lieutenant over the people unless crowned and anointed like Solomon by the priests in the sanctuary. Who was equal in exploits or renown to Charles the Great? Yet he it was, and not another, that had received the insignia of royalty from a Pope in the attitude of feudal obeisance. An age that delighted in symbols, that could not read, and therefore attached to visible ceremonies an importance we scarcely comprehend, gave to this Christmas pageant the value of those hieratic and wonder-working pictures in which its religion found so vivid an expression. The new Roman Empire was, from its birth, a Theocracy.
But the Emperor could not be, as in Pagan days, Pontifex Maximus, and this distinction of persons should have warned Pope Leo that a Charter, or Concordat, was necessary to prevent misunderstandings. None had been devised; the act of Christmas, 800, has all the air of an impromptu suddenly got up and carried into effect as if to atone for the humiliation of two days previously. A candid no less than ingenious writer, Duchesne, has reminded us that the False Donation of Constantine, dating from 774, alluded to by Hadrian, and probably the work of Lateran scribes, must needs represent the idea then favoured at Rome of an Imperial but absentee protector. The first Christian Emperor, said this lawyer's romance. had surrendered to Pope Silvester "all the provinces, places, and cities of Italy or the regions of the West." Could not, then, Leo yield on his own terms such powers as, he might, choose to a vicar in temporals, who would draw his sword, always on the Pontiffs behalf, never against him? Justinian Pandects were forgotten in these barbaric Occidental nations; and though Charlemagne legislated for many peoples, he could scarcely write his name; he was no student or law-books, and had only monks for jurists. His actions demonstrate how little he was disposed to be merely a Papal legate on the throne. Yet even an Emperor must reckon with captains who would not always obey, and with a clergy to whom the Donation of Constantine speedily became a corner-stone of history and jurisprudence. Latin Christendom had assumed the form of a Teutonic Empire.
Natural, inevitable, under the conditions of the ninth century, this bold idea, however imperfectly realised, was alone capable of hindering a return to the tribal chaos out of which order had been slowly emerging. It enabled the Pope to act on all ranks and dignities throughout the West, as a spiritual teacher indeed, but with a two-edged sword at his command. It gave to the nations who have established their laws and carried their civilisation over all continents an outward and visible unity. When Byzantium turned more and more towards the rising sun, or shrank within the walls of Valens, it created an independent, homogeneous Europe, one amid all its dissensions, arrayed in a feudal, an ecclesiastical hierarchy, at the summit of which sat enthroned the Pope and the Emperor, fountains of law, justice and religion. In the august cumenical Councils at the Lateran, on the banks of the Rhone, or in the city of Constance, a Parliament of the peoples met: there was felt and acknowledged the claim of brotherhood among Christians, so far as an age of embittered and ignorant controversy could imagine it. The Popes, by their restoration of the Empire, but with the cross above its crown, were doing for our Western world that which Mohammed and his Caliphs attempted to do for the Arabs, Persians, Egyptians, and Moors. Nor is it possible to conceive that Europe would have held its own against the Moslem onset--which, had it been victorious, must have put an end to the Christian Church and what was left of the Roman inheritance--did not this mighty spiritual force, embodied in the successor of St. Peter, consecrate the Teuton, Norman, English, and Flemish sword, rouse up host after host of princes to a distant Crusade, and meet the fanaticism of Islam with ail enthusiasm derived from Charlemagne and his paladins, the champions of Christendom.
It is time that we viewed more closely this extraordinary man, great in his achievements, his conquests, his laws and schools, his devotion to religious aims, weak only in his passions. The Charlemagne of legend and song is a prodigy, equal to Alexander. In the Chansons de geste, he is everywhere present, the King "à la barbe florie," whom that sweeping and stately verse appears to confound with Charles Martel, nay, even with Charles the Bald, ascribing to him all the victories, voyages, intrigues, events of the court, the field, the camp, which send him now to conquer Jerusalem, and now to perish with all his chivalry at Roncesvalles or Fontarabia.
The splendid "matter of France" had this Charles for its hero, whom it handled with a lad's bold and careless freedom, sometimes carrying him on uplifted shield, anon plucking at his plenteous beard in the mood of satire. Chief in a republic of princes, the King must be as ready to strike as unscrupulous in watch and ward against treason; he is a man of blood and fire. But he has likewise a loud, eloquent tongue, and the heart, or call it the sentimental and amorous temper, of the troubadour, with a veneration unbounded, yet hardly in our sense religious, for the "Apostle of Rome."
Whatever date we assign to this epic poetry, the figure thus drawn is not unlike Charles as history paints him. Frank and Gascon by descent, akin to priests on every side, prompt and far marching as Julius Cæsar, with a touch (and more) of the native subtlety masked by courage in arms which has ever characterised the Gallo-French; an admirer of old Teutonic ballads, yet willing to overlook treason in Paulus Diaconus because he wrote an elegant Latin; the Emperor added to these qualities an imposing presence and stature, which the Chansons exaggerate beyond human proportions. To them he is a giant in size and in prowess--the defender of the Cross, the enemy of the Saracens, who cannot bear up against his onslaught. Allowing for perspective, the picture is grandly and not falsely conceived. Charlemagne inherited from his ancestor, Martel, the renown of the victory of Poitiers. In establishing the Papacy at Rome on a basis of temporal power, while he assimilated the Church more than Dante would have approved to a feudal or secular hierarchy, his acceptance of the Empire was a step towards the making of Europe. Across the Rhine he fought and subdued in thirty-three campaigns another enemy, stubborn as the sons of the Desert, and resolute in their hatred to the Latin civilisation, the Frankish more settled life, the religion which cursed their gods as devils, which cut down their sacred oaks, and which burnt their forest sanctuaries. The Saracens whom Charles overcame were the Saxons. He did not win great victories, but he harried and drove these heathen from his own frontiers at Worms to the Lippe, the Weser, the Elbe, the Baltic. Like Mohammed, he preached with an army at his back. Death or baptism was the choice offered, and to give it emphasis, in one batch the Emperor massacred four thousand five hundred Saxons at Verdun on the Aller.
Violence marked his conquests; but the missionaries who followed him were heralds of peace; after repeated efforts at independence Witikind descended into the waters of baptism; his barbarians submitted to the clergy and paid them tithes, which was all that the Frankish victor asked of them. As long as they would be Christians, the Saxons might be comparatively free. From 787 onwards we trace the founding of the eight chief Bishoprics--"religious colonies" they have been rightly termed--Minden, Seligenstadt, Verdun, Bremen, Münster, Hildesheim, Osnaburg, Paderborn. There was a German Church, complete in its appointments, richly endowed, and entitled to the homage as well as the protection of the newly- converted nobles, long before the German State could be said to exist. When we arrive at the period of Antipopes and Anti-emperors, of Bishop-Electors arrayed against lay Dukes in the Diets of the Fatherland, it will not be unseasonable to remind ourselves that Mayence, Cologne, and Münster claimed precedence by their origin as much as by their ecclesiastical dignity of the great secular lords.
This twofold Hierarchy, of which Rome in Pope and Emperor set the example, arose over Western Europe under Charles's fostering legislation. Every district had its Bishop and its Count; a county was a Diocese, just as in England the ancient bishoprics were conterminous with the little kingdoms of the Heptarchy. At the base a widespread, almost universal serfdom; above that, qualified military charges, rank over rank, ascending to the Markgrave, Count, or Duke, who held of the King. To this pattern the Church conformed. Even a monastery must be a feudal tenure, and Bishops, though in vague and disputable fashion, held of the Metropolitan, who would fain have had no master. The False Decretals taught him that he must suffer appeals from his judgment to the Apostolic See--as indeed true examples dating far back were there to show. But, looking at this early medieval government as a whole, we may pronounce it to have been a confederation of freebooters with some semblance of law--a caste which disdained to till the soil, which would have thought commerce a degradation, and which lived and died with arms in its hands.
From such an aristocracy the Bishops were taken as a matter of course; plebeian prelates, if by some happy chance elected, found themselves in society as uncongenial as that of an English mess to an officer raised from the ranks. Some Bishoprics, like Clermont, Metz, and it would appear Milan, ran in families. Royal blood had a claim on wealthy benefices, and thus what the Sovereign gave with one hand he took away with the other. Medieval Theocracy too often meant a Knight in armour who was consecrated Bishop that he might enjoy the revenues, and command the thousands of serfs, attached to a Saint's inheritance. The Abbot raised his troop of horsemen and rode at their head; the Bishop received a training for the field, but little or none for the altar. When Europe was one vast camp--which is a true description of it during the centuries before Venice, Pisa, Genoa, and the Hanse Towns achieved commercial greatness--Ecclesiastics were military chaplains, inured to battle and bloodshed, who, even if they escaped and set up their abode in the wilderness, saw their Cluny, their Clairvaux, too soon endowed with lands, tenants, and public offerings, the price of which was always absorption in the feudal State.
Among barbarians, the tribe had claimed the man, but land was a fleeting possession. Now, every individual was adscriptus glebae ; the Church, tenantin-chief of a third, a half, or two-thirds, of the whole country, had become a feud; its Gospel character was strangely disguised in a parti-coloured garment, stained not unfrequently with sanguine hues. Its enormous and ever-growing wealth tempted Kings not so much to plunder as to appropriate these treasures, by the hands of their children, legitimate or bastard, and to trade in the selection of the unfittest to stalls, canonries, abbacies, mitres; until the world rang with a sinister cry of "Simon Magus," the detestable and ubiquitous Heresiarch, who bought or sold for money the gifts of the Spirit in every Church throughout the West.
When he had overthrown the Saxons, Charles found fresh enemies behind them, the Wiltzi or Slavs on the Oder. From these he took hostages, and marched on the Huns, encamped in their wooden huts amid swamps, but gorged with the spoils of Constantinople. They underwent defeat, at the Raab; it seemed that a Frankish Emperor would emulate the feats of Trajan, extend his dominion to the Danube, and appear as the neighbour no less than the rival or suitor of Irene, soon to be Empress of the East. He was recalled by troubles in Aquitaine, whither Hixem, the Moorish Caliph, had penetrated, and by a revolt of the Saxons. But his son, traversing the Theiss, defeated the Huns a second time, captured their ring, or stronghold, and sent home an incalculable booty. The Tartar Chagan professed himself a Christian; his power was annihilated.
At Aix-la-Chapelle it might have been imagined that Rome in all its majesty was about to begin a second Augustan age. Vassal or suppliant Kings, Egbert of Wessex, Erdulf of Northumbria, Lope Duke of Biscay, flocked to the Imperial Court. Clement and Mailros, Irish Scots, came with the reputation of philosophers, and opened schools for the children of the nobles. Albinus, an Englishman, better known as Alcuin, the disciple of Bede, received from Charles the Abbey of St. Martin at Tours, and became first rector of the Studium, which grew by and by into the University of Paris. An all-embracing system of laws, the Capitularia, dealt with every class of the Emperor's subjects. It fixed the revenues, and insisted on the duties of clerics; required an oath of fealty at their hands; and commanded their appearance as feudatories at the Sovereign's muster, called Heerban. It might even, in a more settled age, have fulfilled the task which so perplexed his descendants, of coping with the Roman, Ripuarian, Lombard, Bavarian, Salic, and Canon Laws, under which his subjects were liable to every kind of conflicting obligation and justice bowed to the sword of the stronger.
But active and incessant as might be Charlemagne's efforts to create order in a chaotic world, his enactments fail in the large wisdom, they never display that mastery of principles, which the ancient legislation of Rome bequeathed for later times to apply or interpret. His advisers, who were Churchmen, gave to their own Canons an exorbitant place in his collection. But neither they with their tradition, nor the Emperor with his genius, could arrest on the downward slope a society which was too little versed in things of the mind to found a genuine civilisation, too far removed from the spirit of Christian freedom and equality not to have transformed it into a real and scarcely disguised system of caste, where industry ministered to pride, war was the only honourable profession, and not even monastic solitudes could follow after peace or ensue it.
On Charles's death, an Empire which had no inherent principle of life or unity, fell to pieces. The century and a half succeeding were one long interregnum; the Emperors move by like figures in a pageant; the sole reality was a feudalism which held its chief a prisoner, or which dethroned and murdered him, while fresh barbarian races came, saw, and conquered, to fall in their turn under the Church's influence. In 810, the victorious but fatigued Charlemagne was told that a fleet of Northmen had touched the coast of Friesland. With his own eyes he saw their light barks on the Ocean in a city of Narbonnese Gaul. "They are not merchants, but pirates!" he exclaimed to those around him. "I weep over the harm they will do to my sons and my people." Godfried, who happened then to be leader of the Northmen, had allotted to himself the German Empire. His kinsfolk were more ambitious; they became the masters of East and West.
CHAOS COME AGAIN (814-867)
NOT unlike Augustus in his length of reign, extensive dominions, and combination of violence and cruelty with a charm which passed for good nature, Charlemagne resembled him also in the irregularity of his lusts, and the calamities which fell upon his immediate descendants. Pepin, his eldest and favourite son, died before him. With the consent of clergy and nobles, he named as his successor Louis, Prince of Aquitaine, whom we remember by his pretty old French title of the Débonnaire. But, as Michelet rightly observes, we should rather call him Saint Louis. The youth, bred up among priests, had learned piety, justice, tenderness, from their teaching rather than their example. Alone of the Emperor's sons he survived. That strong woman, Hermengard, the Empress, thought to govern him; as did afterwards his young second wife, Judith, mother of Charles, surnamed in his time the Bald. Yet, in the beginning, he acted on his own ideal principles; he reformed the scandals of the Court; he forbade his prelates to wear spurs and ride like cavaliers to battle; he sent back into their cloister the intriguing Adelhard and Wala, royal monks, who had counselled Charles, not wisely, in his old age; and he dreamt even of restoring the Benedictine Order to its former greatness, by the severe rule which Benedict of Aniane drew up. In his youth he had taken Barcelona from the Saracens. His heart yearned over the miseries of the serfs whom he tried to relieve. To the Saxons he gave back their right of inheritance. He would not, as his father did without scruple, appoint Bishops on his own authority; and in the Papal election he declined to interfere. Such was the man, simple, serious, chaste and merciful, whose virtues ruined the Empire, and whose multiplied humiliations have cast a shadow upon all, whether Bishops or Princes, that brought down his grey hairs to the dust.
He began his unhappy reign in 814. Two years later, Leo III. passed away. His end was not peace. Soon after Charles's death, a conspiracy of the familiar Roman type had broken out; the conspirators were seized, a large company, and executed under the ancient Imperial law of treason. Louis, on hearing the tragic event, was shocked. His milder law had been disregarded, himself not consulted. Bernard, his nephew, the young King of Italy, was charged to intervene at Rome. He did so; Leo sent an embassy which apologized to the French Court. But rebellion on one side, evictions in Campagna on the other, and the need of fresh reinforcements from Bernard, testified that discontent was rife. Leo died, neither loved nor popular. A protégé of Hadrian's, noble, and of accommodating temper, was chosen, Stephen IV. He exacted an oath to the Emperor from the Romans, travelled into France, crowned Louis at Rheims with a consecrated golden circlet, took back the exiles, and died on his return, in 817. The same day Paschal I. succeeded to a thorny inheritance. He was destined to disgrace and the hatred of his turbulent people.
Meanwhile, the long threatened storm was bearing down on Louis. With his own hand he crowned Lothair, his eldest and most vigorous son, at Aix, in 817. It was the signal for Italy to rise. Bernard had never acquiesced in his uncle's succession; he reckoned now on the Bishops and cities of the Peninsula to support him against the Transalpine barbarians. But the enterprise came to naught: he was captured, saved from death by the Emperor, blinded by Hermengard, and expired soon after. This crime weighed heavy upon Louis. Yet he put down the Slavs and Basques who had revolted; he invaded Brittany; he beat the Danes, gave Hamburg its first Bishop, St. Anschar, and sent another to Sweden. All this could not turn his mind from its remorseful thoughts. He insisted, like another but willing Theodosius, on undergoing a public penance; he was scourged before the altar; and his feudal lords seized the occasion to revolt from an Emperor so feeble. The movement was headed by his three sons, who shut him up in a cloister. Then his people at Nimeguen restored Louis, and Lothair, with the leaders of the revolt, was in his power. Louis forgave them ( 830).
Paschal, it is said, like the Bishops of Milan and Cremona, had favoured Bernard's stroke for Italian independence. In 823, when Lothair was in Rome,
CHURCH OF SANT' AGNESE OUTSIDE ROME, A.D. 625.
he crowned the young Emperor, whose hand the Popes were to feel more than they liked in the sequel. Obscure causes led almost immediately to the blinding and murder of two high Roman officials--Theodore the Primicerius and Leo the Nomenclator--an act charged upon Paschal by his enemies, from the guilt of which he purged himself by oath before the Imperial Commissioners. But he added that these traitors deserved to die. When his own turn came, in February, 824, the people, who hated him, would not suffer the Pope to be interred in St. Peter's.
A contested election followed. Two candidates were proclaimed; but, thanks to Wala, the French monk and politician, Eugenius II. won the day; and Lothair now intervened to some purpose. He issued his famous diploma ( 824), with its five articles, which guaranteed all persons who were under the Emperor's protection -- thus defeating the sanguinary law of lèse-majesté, under which so many horrors had been perpetrated. The Romans could henceforth choose to be tried by Lombard or Salic law. Again, their magistrates, though not appointed by the Emperor, must present themselves to him on being nominated. Two Missi, or Residents, one Imperial, the other Papal, always at Rome, are to report on the administration annually, to hear plaints, and to notify miscarriages of justice. And the election of the Pope is to be in the hands, not only of the clergy, as decided in 769, but of the laity as well; the elect, before his consecration, will take an oath in set terms and in presence of the Residents. It was a victory for the nobles, otherwise called the Roman People. Still more did this Constitution, as acted upon, enhance the suzerainty (no other word will express it) which the Emperor was now to exercise over the Holy See in its temporal concerns. When the next Pontiff succeeded in 827, the nobles insisted on their rights, and chose Gregory IV.
It was an age of impotent kings, national dissensions, and haughty, but far from enterprising nobles, when whatever courage or learning was left had taken refuge in the Church. Louis acts like a monastic saint; his kinsman, Wala, whom he had exiled from the Court to his cloister and imprisoned in the Castle of Chillon, is a politician, all-powerful with Lothair and now the adviser of Gregory. This Pope, therefore, followed the Italian King when he rebelled once more against his father. Judith, famous for her beauty, but more than suspected of infidelity to her husband, was always bent on securing to the infant Charles that Empire which, as an aged man, he obtained during a few troublous years. His step-brothers reckoned him the adulterous offspring of Bernard the Aquitanian; they would share among themselves the dominions of Charlemagne; and, in 833, Pope Gregory entered the Imperial camp at Worms as a mediator, but left it only when Louis had been betrayed. Judith, a captive in Lothair's hands, went her way to the Castle of Tortona; Charles, too young for vows, was imprisoned in a German abbey. This tragic intervention of the Pope and clergy was long known as the "Field of Lies," equal in disgrace to the still more famous "Day of Dupes." Gregory went back to Rome, and that is the last we know of him.
But Louis, in the Church of St. Médard at Soissons, was compelled to utter a confession in which he took on himself the guilt of this long civil war. Stripped of crown and armour, clad in a lugubrious garment, he acknowledged his sins, and submitted his conduct to Ebbo, Archbishop of Rheims, whom he had raised from a servile estate, and to Agobard of Lyons, the apologist of his sons, the accuser of his wife. This penance, which the Bishops inflicted on a meek if incapable Prince, called forth a speedy reaction, especially among the Germans and the lower people. Lothair's chief partisans died; a crowded assembly at Metz annulled the Diet of Compiègne; and Agobard was deposed, with some other great prelates. New treaties and more partitions filled the remaining years of Louis with sorrow; they were death-tokens upon an Empire now breaking up irrevocably. In 840 he died himself; in 843 the agreement of Verdun divided France from Germany for ever.
The documents which attest this memorable event were drawn up in both languages. Charles signed as King of the French, Louis as King of the Germans. Lothair was Emperor, holding a middle and transient domain which extended from the Meuse to the Mediterranean; but his Imperial dignity seems to have depended on his possession of Rome and Italy. All three were weak and failing powers. Northmen laid waste their maritime cities, burnt their abbeys, and sailed up their rivers, with a gay insolence which sang of war as a summer pastime. Saracens or Moors, above all the Aglabites from Kairouan (Cyrene), infested the seas, attacked Sardinia; in 831 they laid hands on Palermo; Sicily was almost colonised by these Africans. Yet in 840, two miserable pretenders to the Duchy of Beneventum called them in as allies, and the Peninsula lay open before them. On August 23, 846, they landed at the mouth of the Tiber. Ostia was abandoned; the children of
Ishmael came up to Rome, occupied and profaned St. Peter's, devastated St. Paul's, and went off with their booty. Some indecisive battles appear to have taken place, and the story ran that a tempest, overtaking these miscreants on the shores of Africa, had buried their sacrilegious spoils beneath the waves.
Though Europe lay under a cloud of ignorance and imbecility, an outrage so deplorable stirred the public conscience to its depths. People charged Lothair the Emperor with criminal negligence; the Pope, they said, was a simoniac. Sergius II., elected in 844 without consulting the Franks, had raised his brother Benedict to the See of Albano and suffered him to buy and sell in the courts of the temple. Even the monasteries were spoiled by this Mayor of the Palace, who contrived to get into his hands the civil no less than the ecclesiastical authority. The shock was great. Lothair ordained a reformation of the clergy; despatched his son Louis with an army against the Saracens of Beneventum; and levied a, collection for the building of walls and towers to defend St. Peter's. A fresh Pontiff, Leo IV., carried out this project in the still surviving Leonine City. Beneventum was conquered and divided. For the next twenty-five years, Louis II. is paramount in Italy ( 850-875). He combats the Saracens in Calabria; attempts Bari, which they had made their place of arms; interferes between the Pope and his own Missi or legates, threatened with death by Leo IV.; and prepares the choice of a Pontiff less unfavourable to the Franks by naming as Legate Arsenius, Bishop of Orte, whose son was the learned but unstable Cardinal of St. Marcellus, the secretary or librarian Anastasius.
This young man, it seemed likely, would occupy the Papal Chair as an Imperialist when Leo passed from it. On grounds which we cannot ascertain,--but the Iron Age possessed no historians and has left only meagre chronicles and a few scanty, not to say, partial documents,--he had been excommunicated and was living in exile. The year 855 saw a new election; Benedict III. became Pope; but he was not the French candidate. Anastasius returns with the Emperor's legates, is master of the city and the Pontiff The Roman clergy hold out; a compromise, a second election, the degradation of Anastasius to lay or monastic rank as Abbot of St. Mary across the Tiber, carry us on to 858, when Louis could appoint a man of his choice. It was the Deacon Nicholas, who shares with Leo and Gregory in the Roman line, and not without reason, the epithet of Great.
His reign, which lasted only nine years ( 858-867), was marked for remembrance among the obscure Popes of this period by three momentous and critical transactions,--the deposition of Photius, intruded Patriarch of Constantinople; the attempted but unsuccessful divorce of Lothair II., King of Lorraine, from Theutberga; and the putting down of quasiindependent prelates, who aimed at something like a national Church, whether in Ravenna or in Rhineland, but whose efforts and defeat have attained undying celebrity through the False Decretals. Each of these chapters fulfils the condition of a great and tragic history. The Greeks, hitherto on strained but not schismatical terms with Rome, now stereotype as differences of dogma what had been thus far regarded as variations in discipline. Christendom is rent in two not long after the Empire of Charlemagne falls to pieces. On the other hand, the Popes reserving to themselves the matrimonial causes of Kings, ascend a tribunal from which they depose sovereigns and give away sceptres. By a simultaneous stroke, the Church, instead of breaking up, as Charles's monarchy had broken, into petty and opposed principalities, is centralised in the West. A supreme Court of Appeal is set up in the sight of mankind, its charter the Bible, its weapons spiritual, but entailing penalties in this world. For deposition, interdict, excommunication greater or less, carry in their train forfeiture of dignity, goods, or life, and the Holy See can reckon on sentiments which become the foundations of order, in the State as in the Church.
Whenever, as now, the Pope seemed a man of genius and character, his great office made him supreme over all causes; the higher the ground he took the more implicitly was he obeyed. Though Nicholas had an Emperor at his doors, he upheld the independence of the Holy See in language not to be surpassed by Hildebrand. He began with the Archbishop of Ravenna, who was vexing in his neighbourhood certain Papal subjects. Summoned to Rome, protected by Louis II., and disregarding the mandate, he fell under excommunication in a Lateran Synod (the Pope in Council), which went on to forbid the intermeddling of strangers in elections to the Chair of Peter. At last the Archbishop came with Imperial legates,--but too late. Nicholas, during a journey northwards acted like a sovereign in Ravenna. Louis gave up his man; a forced but absolute submission was the consequence; and the city of the Exarch was once more humbled before Eternal Rome.
But Nicholas bore on his shoulders a double burden, under which it may be said that he sank, though victorious. The King of Lorraine, brother to Louis, had repudiated oil a monstrous charge his innocent wife Theutberga. And at Constantinople Cæsar Bardas, after a similar act, was living in open shame with his son's widow. The prelates of Rhineland, including Treves and Cologne, had not scrupled to bless Lothair's wickedness in solemn Synod; his concubine Waldrada was enjoying the honours of a Queen. More melancholy still, an accomplished, eloquent, and not unamiable scholar, the layman Photius, had suffered himself to be caught up in a scheme of revenge, devised against the lawful Patriarch by Bardas; in six days he had been carried through all the degrees of the priesthood, and was now seated upon a usurped throne. Ignatius, the deprived and persecuted Bishop--a Saint in the eyes of his own generation--who had rebuked the Cæsar and brought these evils on his head, was a prisoner in Mitylene. And Photius, by the hands of four prelates, sent to Nicholas a letter which did not tell the truth, and which sought recognition for himself from the Apostolic See.
But in Rome the facts were suspected; these Bishops returned with a cautious answer in which the Pope demanded a free Council, the unforced resignation of the canonical Patriarch, and the restitution of ancient rights over Illyricum, Epirus, and Thessaly. For bringing a message so insolent, the Emperor--that is to say, Bardas--threatened the Roman legates with violence; and they yielded to menaces or bribery. A Council was held; the legates suppressed what their master had written; Ignatius, tortured or under fierce compulsion, was made to sign (if he did sign) a blank paper, which his enemies filled up with a confession of guilt and a formal resignation. The judgment of this Court assembly Photius then despatched to the Holy See, with a letter of his own in which there is some beautiful but hollow writing. But Nicholas disowned his legates, refused to acknowledge the layman, and called on the other Eastern Bishops to execute his decrees. Early next year ( 863) Ignatius found means to acquaint him with what had really taken place, and with his own sufferings. The cup was full, it was running over. Sentence of excommunication was launched against Photius and Gregory of Syracuse, who had consecrated him. His acts, his ordinations, were pronounced null and void. Those who would not recognise the true Bishop were threatened with the woes of Judas and Canaan. All this Nicholas put forth in St. Peter's name, and from it no appeal was lawful.
A violent interchange of threats and anathemas filled the ensuing years. Photius kept his See, charmed the multitude, convoked a Council in 867, and secured nearly a thousand signatures to the manifesto in which he upbraided Rome with apostasy from primitive faith and usage. Bardas had come to
OLD ST. PETER'S. ( Interior.)
a bad end; Michael the Drunkard still protected the intruder. But scarcely was the meeting dissolved when a revolution in the palace led to Michael's assassination, and his murderer, Basil the Macedonian, deposed Photius, who had formerly crowned him as co-regent, and now perhaps would not condone his regicide. Ignatius was restored, and began a fresh reign of ten years.
By this time Nicholas was dead. The Eighth General Council, as it is reckoned in the Western Church, was celebrated in 869 under Hadrian II. Though Photius had been degraded in a tempest of obloquy, it does not appear that any one proposed to take his life. A student, he might have been happy in his exile could he have carried his books with him. On the death of Ignatius, he persuaded Basil to receive him into favour once more; and in 879 he mounted the shaking throne of Sancta Sophia, with the consent of that fiery Pontiff, John VIII. Again expelled by Leo the Philosopher, tried for high treason and acquitted, he withdrew into solitude and ended the schism of thirty years by his death,--perhaps in 891. To scholars and critics he has left in his Myriobiblion a feast of learning, which testifies to his insatiable and omnivorous appetite. To the divided Churches of East and West his more dangerous legacy has been the Eight Articles which, on grounds too frivolous for a smile, too trivial for refutation, have set Latins and Greeks in everlasting schism. Doubtless, the one sufficient article, not named among these, was the Papal Supremacy which Constantinople never would admit, except when the enemy was at her gates. Photius, Hincmar of Rheims, and Nicholas I., all three contemporaries, light tip the dull anarchy of their age by learning, force of character, and some of those qualities which entitle men to rank in universal history. Had they been united, France, Rome, and Constantinople might have offered a farshining and formidable front to the Mohammedan, who was exacting tribute from Italians and Greeks; the Norsemen would have been subdued by a civilised world at peace within its borders; and centuries of confusion need not have vexed mankind.
But the ambition of a literary and not overscrupulous Byzantine led Photius to scorn and reject the Roman Church. Nicholas would never consent to abandon his claims on the ecclesiastical provinces of Bulgaria and Western Greece. Hincmar, who ruled the French King, behaved towards Pope and people, towards his suffragans and Charles the Bald himself, with the insolence of a high-bred noble who held the crozier in his left, but was ready to strike with the sword in his right. Pretensions, real or fictitious, were bolstered up with forgeries. None of the scribes could be trusted not to interpolate or mishandle official letters; laws were invented as well as evaded; violence was the order of the day. Yet this perpetual turbulence did not imply strength of head or of arm. Invading Danes or Norsemen found the cities defenceless, the country open. Islam, which in our eighth and ninth centuries rose to splendour, and could boast of its art, science, literature, philosophy, and chivalrous manners, had lost in vigour what it gained in luxurious refinement. But it was yet able to put armies of Christians to flight. Like a crimson cloud it hung over Bosporus and Tiber simultaneously. Nothing save its internal divisions, the weakness of the Caliphate, and the sudden ascent of the Turks to greatness, while these had their eyes turned in the direction of India rather than Europe, prevented the conquest of Christendom in the years before us.
[ Continue to Ch.IX ]