A Study of Twenty Famous Popes whose Careers and whose Influence Were Important in the Development of the Church and in the History of the World By Joseph Mc Cabe
Author of " Peter Abelard," "Life of Saint Augustine," etc.
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
COPYRIGHT, 1916 BY JOSEPH McCABE
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
PROBABLY no religious institution in the world has had so remarkable a history, and assuredly none has attracted so large and varied a literature, as the Papacy. The successive dynasties of the priests of ancient Egypt were, by comparison, parochial in their power and ephemeral in their duration. The priests of Buddha, rising to an autocracy in the isolation of Thibet or mingling with the crowd in the more genial atmosphere of China or cherishing severe mysticisms in Japan, offer no analogy to the Papacy's consistent growth and homogeneous dominion. The religious leaders of the Jews, scattered through the world, yet hardened in their type by centuries of persecution, may surpass it in conservative antiquity, but they do not remotely approach it in power and in historical importance. It influences the history of Europe more conspicuously than emperors have ever done, stretches a more than imperial power over lands beyond the most fevered dreams of Alexander or CŠsar, and may well seem to have made "Eternal Rome" something more than the idle boast of a patriot.
Yet this conservative endurance has not been favoured by such a stability of environment as has sheltered the lamas of Thibet or the secular priests of the old Chinese religion. The Papacy has lived through fifteen centuries of portentous change, though it seemed
in each phase to have connected itself indissolubly with the dominant institutions and ideas of that phase. The Popes have witnessed, and have survived, three mighty transformations of the face of Europe. They had hardly issued from their early obscurity and lodged themselves in the fabric of the old Roman civilization when this fell into ruins; but they held firmly, amidst the ruins, the sceptre they had inherited. One by one the stately institutions of the older world--the schools, the law-courts, the guilds of craftsmen, the military system, the municipal forms and commercial routes-disappeared in the flood of barbarism which poured over Europe, but this institution, which seemed the least firmly established, was hardly shaken and was quickly accepted by the strange new world. A new polity was created, partly under the direction of the Popes, and it was so entirely saturated by their influence that religion gave it its most characteristic name. Then Christendom, as it was called, passed in turn through a critical development, culminating in the Reformation; and the Papacy begot a Counter-Reformation and secured millions beyond the seas to replace the millions it had lost. The third and last convulsion began with the work of Voltaire and Rousseau and Mirabeau, and has grievously shaken the political theory with which the Papacy was allied and the older religious views which it had stereotyped. Yet today it has some 35,000,000 followers in the three greatest Protestant countries, the lands of Luther, of Henry VIII., and of the Puritan Fathers.
It must seem a futile design to attempt to tell, with any intelligent satisfaction, within the limits of a small volume the extraordinary story of this institution. No serious historian now tries to command more than a section of the record of the Papacy, and he usually finds a dozen volumes required for the adequate presentment of that section. Yet there is something to be said for such a sketch as I propose to give. If we take four of the more important recent histories of the Papacy --those of Father Grisar, Dr. Mann, Dr. Pastor, and Dr. Creighton--we find that the joint thirty volumes do not cover the whole period of Papal history even to the sixteenth century; and the careful student will not omit to include in his reading the still valuable volumes of Milman and of Dr. Langer. In other words, he must study more than fifty volumes if he would have an incomplete account of the development of the Papacy up to the time of the Reformation, and more than that number if he would follow accurately the fortunes of the Papacy since the days of Paul III. The history of the Papacy is very largely the history of Europe, and this voluminous expansion is inevitable. On the other hand, the general student of the history of Europe and the general reader who seeks intellectual pleasure in "the storied page" are not only repelled by such an array of tomes, but they have no interest in a vast proportion of the matter which it is incumbent on the ecclesiastical historian to record. One wants a view of the Papacy in the essential lines of its development, and they are usually lost, or not easily recognized, in the conscientiously full chronicles. Is it possible to give a useful and informing account of the essential history of the Papacy in a small volume?
The rare attempts to do this that have been made have failed from one or other of two causes: they have either been written with a controversial aim and therefore have given only the higher lights or darker shades of the picture, or they have been mere summaries of the larger works, mingling what is relevant and what is not relevant from the developmental point of view. The design which occurs to me is to write a study of the Papacy by taking a score of the outstanding Popes-which means, in effect, a score of the more significant or critical stages in the development of the Papacy-and giving an adequate account of the work and personality of each. The evolution of the Papacy has not, like the evolution of life in general, been continuous. It has had periods of stagnation and moments of rapid progress or decay. Of the first hundred Popes, scarcely a dozen contributed materially to the making of the Papacy: the others maintained or marred the work of the great Popes. It is the same with the environment of the Papacy, which has influenced its fortunes as profoundly as changes of environment have affected the advance of terrestrial life. There have been long drowsy summers closed by something like ice ages; there have been convulsions and strange invasions, stimulating advance by their stern and exacting pressure. I propose to select these more significant periods or personalities of Papal history, and trust that the resultant view of the Papacy will have interest and usefulness. The periods which lie between the various Pontificates which I select will be compressed into a brief account of their essential characters and more prominent representatives, so that the work will form a continuous study of the Papacy.
In the selection of a score of Popes out of more than two hundred and fifty there is room for difference of judgment. The principle on which I have proceeded is plain from the general aim I have indicated. The story of the Papacy may fitly be divided into two parts: a period of making and a period of unmaking. Taking the terms somewhat liberally, one may say that the first period reaches from the second to the fourteenth century, and that the subsequent centuries have witnessed an increasing loss of authority, especially in the catastrophic movements (from the Papal point of view) of the sixteenth and the nineteenth centuries. A selection of significant Popes must, therefore, include the great makers of the Papacy, the men whose vice or incompetence brought destructive criticism upon it, and the men who have, with varying fortune, sought to defend it against the inroads of that criticism during the last four centuries. One must make a selection neither of good Popes nor bad Popes, but of the Popes who, in either direction, chiefly influenced the fortunes of the institution; and, in order that no important phase may be omitted, a few men of no very pronounced personality must be included.
Regarded from this point of view, the history of the Papacy may be compressed within limits which rather accentuate than obscure its interest, and, at the same time, a very ample account may be given of some of its more instructive phases. The first phase, before the Bishop of Rome became a Pope, in the distinctive sense of the word, is best illustrated by taking the bishopric of Callistus at the beginning of the third century. The Roman bishopric was then one of several "apostolic Sees," rarely claiming authority over other bishoprics, and still more rarely finding such a claim acknowledged: thrown somewhat into the shade by the vastly greater strength of the Eastern churches, yet having an immense and as yet undeveloped resource in the tradition, which was now generally accepted, that it had been founded by the two princes of the apostles. There was, however, in three hundred years, no Roman bishop sufficiently endowed to develop this resource, and the fourth century still found the Roman See so little elevated that its African neighbours disdainfully rejected its claim of authority. Then the far-reaching change which followed the conversion of Constantine bestowed on it a material splendour and a secular authority which gave it a distinctive place in Christendom, and a study of the life of Bishop Damasus shows us the extension of its prestige and the exploitation of its tradition; while the founding of a rival imperial city in the East and the obliteration of all other apostolic Sees withdrew half of Christendom from Roman influence before its ecumenic claim was fully developed.
The fall of the western Roman Empire enfeebles the once powerful and independent provincial bishops and gives a more spiritual outlook to the successors of Peter who sit among the ruins of Rome. The life of Leo the Great illustrates this concentration on religious power amidst the autumnal decay of the more material power and of the wealth which had inflated and secularized some of his predecessors. The life of Gregory the Great marks the culmination of this development. The material world seems to be nearing dissolution and the old Roman spirit of organization, which is strong in Gregory I., is directed to the creation of a moral and religious dictatorship. There are still flickers of independence in remote bishoprics, and the East is irrecoverably removed, but the disordered state of Christendom cries for a master. Europe is young again, with a vicious impulsive youth, and the rod of Rome falls healthily on its shoulders; and the paralysis of civic government and land-tenure in Italy inevitably casts secular functions and large possessions upon the one effective power that survives. An elementary royalty begins to attach to the Papacy: the function of ultimate tribunal in that violent world is imposed on it almost by public needs: and, though Gregory is personally disdainful of culture, the Church, and the monastic refuges it consecrates, preserve for a wiser age to come some proportion of the wisdom of the dead age.
With Hadrian I. a new phase opens. The possession and administration of "patrimonies," or bequeathed estates, give place to the definite political control of whole provinces, under the protection of a powerful and conveniently remote King of the Franks. In the ninth century, Nicholas I. consolidates and extends the new power, both as temporal and spiritual ruler. The vice and violence of Europe still justify or promote the growth of a great spiritual autocracy, and the illiteracy of Europe--for culture has touched its lowest depth-permits the imposition on it (in the "False Decretals," etc.) of an impressive and fictitious version of the bases of Papal claims. Then Rome, which has hitherto had singularly few unworthy men in the chair of Peter, becomes gradually degraded to the level of its age, and the Papacy passes into the darkness of the Age of Iron: which is fitly illustrated by the Pontificate of John X. Gregory VII. shows its restoration to spiritual ideals and the union of monastic severity with the Papal tradition; and this steady creation of a machinery for dominating the vice and violence of Europe is perfected in the extraordinary work of Innocent III., who would, for its moral correction, make Europe the United States of the Church and treat its greatest monarchs as satraps of the Papacy.
After Innocent, the Papacy degenerates. A renewed school-life, the influence of the Moors, the evolution of civic life and prosperity, and the rise of powerful kingdoms stimulate the intelligence of Europe, while the political connexions in which the temporal power entangles the Papacy lead to a degeneration which cannot escape the more alert mind of the laity. During a long exile at Avignon the Papal court learns soft ways and corrupt devices--illustrated by the life of John XXII.--and the Great Schism which follows the return to Rome causes a moral paralysis which permits the Pontificate of an unscrupulous adventurer like John XXIII. The prosperous sensuality of the new Europe infects an immense proportion of the clergy: war, luxury, and display entail a vast expenditure, and the more thoughtful clergy and laity deplore the increasing sale by the Popes of sacred offices and spiritual privileges. The body of lay scholars and lawyers grows larger and more critical, while the Papal Court sinks lower and lower. The Papacy is fiercely criticized throughout Europe, and the resentment of its moral complexion leads to a discussion of the bases of its power. The earlier forgeries are discovered and the true story of its human growth is dimly apprehended. The successive Pontificates of Alexander VI., Julius II., and Leo X. exhibit this dramatic development: a flat defiance by the Papal Court of the increasing moral sentiment and critical intelligence of Europe. Men are still so dominated by religious tradition that, apart from an occasional heresy, they generally think only of "reform" and reforming councils. When Luther strikes a deeper note of rebellion, the echo is portentous, and neither reform, nor violence, nor persuasion succeeds in averting the disruption of Christendom. In Paul III., we have the last representative of the Papacy of the Renaissance wavering between the grim menace of Germany and the unpleasantness of reform. In Sixtus V. and Benedict XIV. we study two of the great efforts of the new Papacy to preserve the remaining half of its territory. In Pius VII., Pius IX., and Leo XIII. we see the Papacy meeting the successive waves of the modern revolution. In composing this sketch of Papal history, or, rather, study of its critical phases, I have gratefully used the larger modern histories to which I have referred. Dr. Ludwig Pastor History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages 1 is, for the period it covers (1300-1550), the most valuable of all Papal histories. The Catholic author is not less courageous than scholarly, even if we must recognize some inevitable bias of affection, and he has enriched our knowledge by a most judicious and candid use of unpublished documents in the Secret Archives of the Vatican. Dr. H. K. Mann Lives of the Popes in the Middle Ages, 2 which covers the ground from Gregory I. to Innocent III., is based upon an ample knowledge of the original authorities, but is much less candid and reliable, and seems to be intended only for controversial purposes. Dr. Creighton's learned and judicious History of the Papacy from the Great Schism to the Sack of Rome 3 must be corrected at times by the documents in Pastor. Father H. Grisar incomplete History of Rome and the Popes in the Middle Ages 4 is a learned and moderate partisan study of the Papacy in the first four centuries. The older works of Dr. J. Langer, 5 Dean Milman, 6 Gregorovius, 7 and Ranke are by no means superfluous to the student, though more
1 English trans., 1891, etc.
2 Ten vols., 1902-1914.
3 Six vols., 2d ed., 1897.
4 English trans., 1911, etc.
5 Geschichte der r÷mischen Kirche, 1881, etc.
6 History of Latin Christianity. 7 The City of Rome in the Middle Ages, English trans., 1900, etc.
recent research or judgment often corrects them. Less extensive works will be noted in the course of each chapter, and I owe much to industrious older authorities like Baronius, Tillemont, Raynaldus, Mansi, etc. I have, however, had the original authorities before me throughout. The earlier chapters are, indeed, based almost entirely on the Latin or Greek sources, and, in the later chapters, at every point which seemed to inspire differences of judgment I have carefully weighed the original texts. For the later mediŠval period, however, Creighton, Pastor, and Gregorovius have so generously strengthened their works with quotations and references that, except at a few points, I may direct the reader to their more comprehensive studies. The narrow limits which are imposed by the particular purpose of this work forbid either the constant quoting of passages or the design of enlarging on some of the remarkable scenes to which it at times refers. The severe condensation, after the first few chapters, has entailed a labour only second to that of research, and I can only trust that the abundance of fact will afford some compensation for the lack of elegance. Happily the earlier controversial method of writing Papal history has so far yielded to candid research that the points in dispute--as far as fact is concerned--are comparatively few. Where they occur--where grave and accepted historians of any school dissent--the evidence is more liberally put before the reader.
J. M. Christmas, 1915.
I.--ST. CALLISTUS AND THE EARLY STRUGGLE 1
II.--ST. DAMASUS AND THE TRIUMPH 19
III.--LEO THE GREAT, THE LAST POPE OF IMPERIAL ROME 38
IV.--GREGORY THE GREAT, THE FIRST MEDIĂVAL POPE 55
V.--HADRIAN I. AND THE TEMPORAL POWER 78
VI.--NICHOLAS I. AND THE FALSE DECRETALS 101
VII.--JOHN X. AND THE IRON CENTURY 124
IX.--INNOCENT III.: THE PAPAL ZENITH 171
X.--JOHN XXII.: THE COURT AT AVIGNON 202
XI.--JOHN XXIII. AND THE GREAT SCHISM 221
XIL.--ALEXANDER VI.: THE BORGIA-POPE 240
XIII.--JULIUS II.: THE FIGHTING POPE 267
XIV.--LEO X. AND THE DANCE OF DEATH 285
XV.--PAUL III. AND THE COUNTER-REFORMATION 310
XVI.--SIXTUS V. AND THE NEW CHURCH 330
XVII.--BENEDICT XIV.: THE SCHOLAR-POPE 351
XVIII.--PIUS VII. AND THE REVOLUTION 368
XIX.--PIUS IX. 391
XX.--LEO XIII. 414
LIST OF THE POPES 443
CRISES IN THE HISTORY OF THE PAPACY
ST. CALLISTUS AND THE EARLY STRUGGLE
AT the close of the second century after the birth of Christ the Christian community at Rome still saw no human prospect of that spiritual mastery of the world which they trusted some day to attain. They lived, for the most part, in the Transtiberina, the last and least reputable section of the great city, beyond the shelter of its walls. In that squalid and crowded district between the Janiculus and the Tiber dwelt the fishers and tanners and other poor workers; and the Jews, and others who shunned the light, found refuge among their lowly tenements. Near that early ghetto, from which they had issued, most of the Christians lingered. Still they were a small community, and still the might of Rome bade them crouch trembling at the gates, lost among the tombs and gardens of the Vatican or the dense poverty at the foot of the Janiculus. Across the river they would see, above the fringe of wharves and warehouses, the spreading line of the Roman people's palaces, from the Theatre of Pompey to the Great Circus: perhaps they would hear the roar of the lions which might at any time taste Christian flesh. Beyond these was the seething popular quarter of the Velabrum, sending up to heaven at night a confused murmur and a blaze of light at which the Christians would cross themselves; and on either side of the Velabrum, the stern guardians of its superstition, were the hills which bore the gold-roofed temple of Jupiter and the marble city of the CŠsars. More than one hundred and fifty years had passed since the death of Christ, yet his followers waited without the gates, little heeded by the million citizens of Rome.
The old gods were dying, it is true. In many a cool atrium there must have been some such discussion about the successor of Jupiter as has been finely imagined by Anatole France; but assuredly not the weirdest of the Syrian visionaries who abounded would have said that, in a few centuries, those neglected fields beside the Neronian Circus at the foot of the Vatican would become the centre of the world, and that men and women would come from the farthest limits of the Empire to kiss the bones of those obscure Christians. Men talked of the progress of the cult of Mithra, which spread even to distant Eboracum, or the success of the priests of Isis or of Cybele, but few thought about the priests of Christ. Earlier in the century, Pliny had written to court to say that he had found, spreading over his province, a sect named the Christians, whose beliefs seemed to him "an immoderate superstition"; though they had, he said, under pressure, abandoned their God in crowds; and he had little doubt that he would extinguish the sect. Few even of the Christians can have imagined that within two centuries their cross would be raised above the proudest monuments of Rome, and that the eagles of Jove and the rams of Mithra would lie in the dust.
Toward the end of the second century the Roman Christians can hardly have numbered twenty thousand. Dr. D÷llinger estimates their number at fifty thousand, but the letter of Bishop Cornelius, on which he relies, belongs to a later date and is not accurately quoted by him. 1 The Bishop says that, in his time, the Roman Church had forty-four priests, fourteen deacons and subdeacons, and ninety-four clerics in minor orders. The crowd of acolytes and exorcists must not be regarded in a modern sense; most of them would never be priests. At that time, there was not a single public chapel in Rome and it would be an anachronism to regard each of the thirty or forty priests of Rome as a rector in charge of more than a thousand souls. The Christians gathered stealthily in the houses of their better-endowed brethren to receive the sacred elements from poor glass vessels, and Tertullian blushes to learn that they are found among the panders and gamblers who have to bribe the officials to overlook their illegal ways. 2 The fact that they supported fifteen hundred poor, sick, and widows need not surprise us when we remember what an age of parasitism it was. At least a fourth of the citizens of Rome lived on free rations and had free medical service. There were, in fine, thirty years of development between the time of Cornelius and the time of Callistus. 3
Yet, it was nearly a century and a half, tradition said,
1 It is preserved in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, vi., 43.
2 De Fuga a Persecutione, xiii.
3 The number of interments in the Catacombs cannot very well be regarded as evidence. ArchŠologists differ by millions in estimating the number, and the populous Church after Constantine still buried in the Catacombs, at least until the Pontificate of Damasus.
since Peter and Paul had baptized crowds on the banks of the Tiber. One cannot today add anything to the discussion of that tradition and I will very briefly state the evidence. The First Epistle of Peter--which is not undisputed--says 1 : "The Church that is in Babylon saluteth you," and Babylon is very plausibly understood to mean Rome. Next, about the year 96, Clement of Rome, writing to the Corinthians, speaks vaguely of a "martyrdom" of Peter and Paul, and seems to imply that it took place at Rome. 2 About the middle of the following century, we find it believed in remote parts of the Church--by Papias in Hierapolis and Dionysius at Corinth--that Peter had preached the Gospel at Rome. 3 Ignatius of Antioch also seems to imply that Peter and Paul founded the Roman community. 4 IrenŠus and Tertullian and later writers know even more about it--the later the writer, the more he knows--but the historian must hesitate to use their works. There is a respectable early tradition that Peter and Paul preached the Gospel at Rome and suffered there some kind of martyrdom, during or after the Neronian persecution. Peter is not called "bishop" of Rome by any writer earlier than the third century, and the belief that he ruled the Roman Church for twenty-five years seems to be merely the outcome of some fanciful calculations of Anti-Pope Hippolytus. Of the earlier bishops, Linus and Anacletus (or Anencletus), we know only the names. 5 Then a faint
2 Epistle, v.
3 See Eusebius, ii., 15, and iii., 40, for the words of Papias, and ii., 25, for the testimony of Dionysius.
4 Letter to Romans, iv.
5 Even the names and order are given differently in early writers. I follow, as is now usual, the order given by Epiphanius ( xxvii., 6) and IrenŠus.
light is thrown on the metropolitan Church by the letter of Clement, its third Bishop. We find an ordered community, with bishop, priests, and deacons; perhaps we conceive it more accurately if we say, with overseer, elders, and servants. Then the mists thicken again and a line of undistinguished names is all that we can discern until the consecration of Bishop Victor in the year 189.
One would like to know more about Bishop Victor. He seems to have been the first Pope, in the familiar sense of the word. "Pope" was, we know, a common title of bishops until the sixth century, but Victor is one of the makers of a distinctive Papacy. We shall, presently, find Tertullian speaking, with his heaviest irony, of "the bishop of bishops, the supreme pontiff," and, although he is probably referring to Callistus, he is echoing the words of some other bishop. History points to Victor, who peremptorily cut off the Eastern churches from communion because they would not celebrate Easter when he did. They were not much concerned, but Victor's premature assertion of leadership marks the beginning of the Papacy.
The Roman Church was wealthier than those of the East, or had a few wealthy members in the city. It sent sums of money to more needy communities and received flattering requests for advice. It was, however, singularly lacking in intellectual distinction, and it produced no scholar to refute the subtle Gnostics and fiery Montanists who came to it. The waves of heresy which raged over the East broke harmlessly on the Italian shore of Christendom. One must not imagine that it was isolated from the East by difference of tongue. Until the end of the third century, it was wholly Greek: more isolated from Rome than from Corinth. Nor is it less inaccurate to say that the Latins were more interested in administration than in speculation. There is little trace of organization until the days of Callistus. One is more disposed to conceive the Roman Church shivering in poverty amid the wealth and culture of the metropolis. The disdainful language of the intellectuals and the wonderful success of Stoicism in the second century excluded it from the educated world; while its secrecy, its stern abstinence from games and festivals, its scorn of the gods, and the shadow of deadly illegality which brooded over it, made it less successful in appealing to the people than the other Eastern religions.
If, however, the Roman See made little impression in Rome, it made some progress in the Church. As the fragments of Papias and Dionysius show, Christians were saying, far away in the East, that it had been founded by Peter; and the Gospels plainly made Peter the chief of the apostles. The Roman See did not yet speak of having inherited the primacy of Peter, and it had very little share in the prestige of Rome. It must rise higher in the eyes of men, and at the end of the second century it was rising. Marcia, the robust ex-slave who shared the brutal pleasures of Commodus and was mistress of his harem of three hundred concubines, had a grateful recollection of earlier Christian kindness, and she secured peace and favour for the Church. Here it is that, for the first time, a clear light falls upon the Christian community at Rome and upon its bishops.
In the year 217 (or 218), Bishop Callistus succeeded Bishop Zephyrin, who had followed Victor. From the fourth century he has been counted one of the greatest of the early Popes. Two of the historic cemeteries bore his name, and there were a Church of St. Callistus (or Calixtus, as the Latins sometimes misspell it) and a Square of St. Callistus in the Trastevere district. Martyrologies honoured him as a witness to the faith, and (probably from the seventh century) the Acta of his martyrdom, including a most impressive account of his virtues and miracles, might be consulted in the archives of Sta. Maria in Trastevere. From these materials, Moretti composed an eloquent biography of the saint, and even the Bollandists, more discreetly, and with disturbing hints that Christian scholars were saying naughty things about the Acta S. Callisti, set their learned seal upon his diploma of sanctity and martyrdom.
Contemporary with Callistus, the saint and martyr, was Hippolytus, the scholar and saint and martyr. They were the two shining jewels of the Roman Church. The many works of Hippolytus had strangely disappeared, and tradition was not even sure of which town he had been Bishop; but there was evidence enough to connect him with the Roman Church and to justify the claim that he was the Origen of the West. When, in 1551, a broken marble statue of Hippolytus was discovered at Rome, it was devoutly restored and set up in the Lateran Museum. And just three hundred years afterwards, in 1851, there was given to the world a lost work of the saintly scholar, from which it is plain that he was the first Anti-Pope, and that the Pope whom he opposed and reviled was Callistus. The first book of this work, the Refutation of all Heresies (sometimes called the Philosophoumena ), had long been known; the manuscript copy of Books IV. to X. was found in a monastery on Mount Athos in 1842. Now that the true character of Hippolytus is known, some doubt has been cast upon his scholarship, but it was considerable for his age and environment. He was one of the very few scholars of the Roman Church during several centuries, and one chapter of his work throws an interesting light on the person of Callistus and on a remarkable phase of the development of the Papacy.
The controversy about the authorship of the book and about the charges against Callistus has brought to bear upon that period all the available light; and the modern student will probably find the truth somewhere between the extremes held by the contending historians of the nineteenth century. 1 De Rossi himself, indeed, while pretending to support, entirely discredits the arguments with which D÷llinger, in his years of orthodoxy, sought to defend the impeccability of the Popes and to prove the moral obliquity of all who opposed them. The Italian archaeologist, it is true, imputes to Hippolytus a malice which goes ill with his reputation for sanctity, but perhaps we shall be able to extricate ourselves from this painful dilemma without grave detriment to the character of either saint.
Callistus was, in the days of Commodus, a slave of the Christian Carpophorus, according to the Liber Pontificalis. 2 He was the son of a certain Domitius
1 Bunsen's four-volume Hippolytus and his Age ( 1852) was sharply attacked by D÷llinger ( Hippolytus and Callistus, English translation, 1876) and more judiciously handled by G. B. de Rossi in his Bulletino di Archeologia Cristiana ( 1866, pp. 1-33). Milman ( History of Latin Christianity, vol. i.) and Ch. Wordsworth ( St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome, 1853) supported Bunsen. The work itself is translated in The Ante-Nicene Library, vol. vi.
2 This anonymous catalogue of the Popes, which I must often quote, is a quaint mixture of accurate archives and inaccurate rumours. The first part seems to have been written in the sixth century, and it was continued as a semi-official record. See the Introduction to Duchesne's edition.
who lived in the Transtiberina. The master entrusted the slave with money to open a bank, and the faithful put their savings into it, but it became known after a time that Callistus had--to quote the text literally-"brought all the money to naught and was in difficulties." He fled to the Port of Rome, whence, after leaping into the sea in despair, he was brought back to the house of Carpophorus and put in the pistrinum, the domestic mill in which slaves expiated their crimes. The faithful, prompted by Callistus, begged his release on the ground that he had money on loan and could repay. He had no money, however, and he could think of nothing better than to make a disturbance in the synagogue on the Sabbath, for which the Jews took him before the Prefect Fuscianus 1 and described him as a Christian. He was scourged and was sent to the silver or iron mines of Sardinia--the Siberia of the Empire-from which few returned. But, shortly afterwards, Marcia obtained the release of the Christians, and although Bishop Victor had not included the name of Callistus in the list, Callistus persuaded the eunuch to insert it. Victor, however, reflecting on the hostility of his victims, sent him to live, on a pension provided by the Church, at Antium.
This narrative has been subjected to the most meticulous criticism, as if it were something novel or important to accuse a Pope of having committed certain indiscretions in his youth. It suffices to say that, while D÷llinger is, in the end, reduced to claiming that Hippolytus was probably not in Rome at the time, the more learned De Rossi is so impressed by the minuteness and (as far as it can be checked) the accuracy of the account
1 Fuscianus was Prefect between the years 186 and 189, so that we have an approximate date of these events.
that he believes Hippolytus to have been a deacon of the Church at the time and so to have had official knowledge of the facts. The single point of any importance is open to a humane interpretation. Did or did not Callistus embezzle the money? If he did, how came he to be elected bishop? If he did not, how comes his sainted rival to call him, as he does, a fraud and impostor? We may remember that financial troubles of this kind are peculiarly open to opposite interpretations. Hippolytus, Victor, and Carpophorus, it seems, took the less charitable view; but it would not be unnatural for others to persuade themselves, or be persuaded by Callistus, that he was merely the victim of circumstances.
Victor died in 198 and was succeeded by Zephyrin, "an ignorant and illiterate man," says Hippolytus. Callistus, who had ceased to be a slave when he was sentenced to penal servitude, was recalled to Rome and, apparently, made first deacon (now called archdeacon) of the Church. He was put in charge of a cemetery in the Appian Way which the community had just secured, and this cemetery bears his name to this day. Hippolytus, who was indignant, charges Callistus with ambition, and says that Zephyrin was avaricious and open to bribes; which we may humanely construe to mean that the able administration of Callistus enabled the Bishop to live in some comfort. Nor need we despair of finding a genial interpretation of his further charge, that the deacon induced Zephyrin to meddle with questions of dogma, and then, behind the Bishop's back, diplomatically sympathized with both the contending parties. The truth is that the Latins were sorely puzzled by the subtleties with which the Greeks were slowly and fiercely shaping the dogma that the Father and Son were one nature, yet two persons, and both Zephyrin and Callistus stumbled.
Callistus is further described as assisting Zephyrin in the "coercion," or, as others translate, the "organization" of the clergy, and this point is of greater interest. As far as one can construe the barbarous Latin of the Liber Pontificalis, Zephyrin decreed that the priests were not to consecrate the communion for the people. The sacred elements were to be brought to them, on glass patens, from the altar at which the bishop said mass. Probably this is the "coercion" to which Hippolytus refers, as the aim was, plainly, to emphasize the subordination of the clergy. I would further venture to suggest, against the learned Father Grisar, that this was also the occasion when the sphere of the Roman bishop was divided into twenty-five tituli (or parishes). The Liber Ponlificalis describes how Urban I., the successor of Callistus, substituted silver for glass vessels at the altar, and expressly speaks of "twenty-five patens."
We must conclude that Callistus was able as well as persuasive, and we are not surprised to learn that, when Zephyrin died in 217 (or, according to another account, 218) he was chosen Bishop. It was customary, until long afterwards, to choose the bishop from the body of deacons, but Hippolytus and his friends were indignant at the election of the ex-slave, and a schism occurred. Hippolytus had the support of the minority of precisians and correct believers: Callistus was the favourite of the majority. Epithets of which the modern mind can hardly appreciate the gravity were hurled from camp to camp. "Patripassian," thundered Hippolytus: "Ditheist" retorted Callistus. It is quite clear that the scholar set up a rival See at Rome. He says that Callistus, when he was elected, "thought" that he had attained his ambition, and this must mean that he claimed himself to be the true Bishop of Rome. Later tradition, concealing the ugly schism, left the bishopric of Hippolytus in the air, or placed it at the Port of Rome, twenty miles away. But this picture of daily combats implies that both bishops were in Rome, and the little flock was rent and agitated by the first Papal schism.
The dogmatic issue between the rivals cannot profitably be discussed here. The Church was then in an early phase of the great Trinitarian controversy, and, under Victor and Zephyrin, the Roman clergy had favoured the simpler, or unitarian, view. Sabellius, who has given his name to one form of unitarianism, was in Rome and was supported by the deacon Callistus: indeed, his rival says that it was Callistus who seduced Sabellius. However that may be, Callistus shrewdly perceived he could not meet his learned opponent on that ground. He disowned Sabellius, and soon lost himself in a maze of technical theology into which I will not venture to follow him. To theologians I leave also the discussion of the charge that Callistus favoured the rebaptizing of converted heretics.
It is the charges of a practical or disciplinary nature which best illustrate the character of Callistus and make his Pontificate a milestone in the history of the Papacy. When we have made every possible allowance for exaggeration, they show that Callistus infused a remarkable spirit of liberalism into the Christian discipline and made smooth for the tender feet of the Romans the rough ways of his Church.
The first charge is that Callistus admitted grave sinners to communion, if they did penance. The ancient discipline is well known. Those who committed one "mortal" sin after baptism could never again be admitted to communion. They were the pariahs of the community, bearing in the eyes of all the ineffaceable brand of their sin. There was as yet no central power to define mortal sins, but sins of the flesh were, beyond doubt, in that category, and, as such were not uncommon at Rome, a rigorous insistence on the old discipline hampered the growth of the Church. Callistus, with princely liberality, abolished it. "I hear," says Tertullian, "that an edict has gone forth. The supreme Pontiff, that is to say, the Bishop of Bishops, announces: I will absolve even those who are guilty of adultery and fornication, if they do penance." 1 So the narrow gates were opened a little wider to the warm-blooded Romans, and the Church grew.
But, while modern sentiment will genially applaud this act of the first liberal Pope, the fifth charge in the indictment, which I take up next, seems graver. The Greek text of Hippolytus is here particularly corrupt and ambiguous, but the translation given by the Rev. J. M. Macmahon in the Ante-Nicene Library is generally faithful:
For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded and burned with passion at an age at all events unbecoming [more probably, at a seasonable age], or [and] if they were not disposed to overturn their dignity through a legal marriage, that they might have whomsoever they would choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free [freedman],
1 De Pudicitia, i. D÷llinger, on no apparent ground, and against all probability, refers this to Zephyrin, and some older writers think that the indignant Puritan is quoting an African bishop. We must agree with De Rossi that Tertullian has Callistus in mind, especially when we find Hippolytus saying that he was "the first" to do this. An earlier attempt of an Eastern bishop might easily have escaped Hippolytus.
and that they, though not legally married, might consider such an one as a husband. 1
The Bishop goes on to describe in technical language, which need not be reproduced here, how the practice of abortion spread among Christian ladies as a result of this license.
The apparent gravity of the charge has, however, so far disappeared since the days of D÷llinger that we are now asked to admire the bold and exalted charity of Callistus. He is, of course, referring to the Roman law which forbade the widow or daughter of a senator, under pain of losing her dignity of clarissima, to marry a free-born man of lower condition; a slave or freedman she could not validly marry. There cannot have been very many ladies of senatorial rank in the Church at that time, seeing that, seventy years after the conversion of Constantine, St. Augustine found "nearly the whole of the nobility" still pagan. 2 There were, however, some, as the inscriptions in the Catacombs show, and their position was painful. They must either mate with a Christian slave or freedman, and be regarded by the law and their neighbours as living in concubinage: or marry a free-born Christian of low degree and thus forfeit their rank: or devote their virginity or their widowhood to God. The Church was concerned that they should not marry pagan senators, who would scoff at their superstitions and would dissipate their fortunes. Callistus told them that he would recognize as valid in conscience unions with slaves or freedmen which the
1 Vol. vi., p. 346. This is a fair, if inelegant, rendering of the Greek text given by Duncker and Schneidewin in their edition of the "Refutation", and it corresponds with the Latin translation given by those editors and with De Rossi. D÷llinger is alone in his interpretation.
2 Confessions, viii., 2.
State did not countenance. The number of ladies to whom the license extended must have been small, and Hippolytus evidently exaggerates the occasional scandals which followed. The impartial historian, however, will hardly regard the action of Callistus as a humanitarian protest against caste-distinctions. Such distinctions were maintained by the Church for centuries afterwards in its legislation about the clergy, and, on the other hand, the measure was profitable to the Church. In practice, indeed, these secret marriages would easily lead to disorder. A Christian lady would, if she were to keep her union secret, merely choose a "husband" among her slaves or freedmen, and would be tempted to use illicit means when her "marriage" threatened to be exposed too plainly to pagan eyes.
The other charges against Callistus show a general policy of liberality. He decreed that a bishop who was convicted of mortal sin was not necessarily to be deposed: he permitted men who had been twice or thrice married to become deacons or priests: he directed that "men in orders" must not be disturbed if they married. Some writers think that, in the latter case, he was referring only to men in minor orders, but that would not have been a daring innovation. Hippolytus, in fact, makes his policy and his character clearer by telling us, indignantly, how Callistus searched the Scriptures for proof that the Church must be wide enough to embrace both saints and sinners. There had been clean and unclean animals in the ark: Christ had said that the tares must grow up with the wheat: and so on. His reputation for liberality spread so far in the Church that, while Tertullian grumbled in Africa, a quaint Syrian charlatan named Alcibiades was attracted from the East to Rome. He brought a mystic work, given to him by two angels of the imposing height of ninety-six miles each, and he proclaimed that his new form of baptism absolved even from certain gross sins which he very freely and suggestively described.
The Church grew during these years of peace, of able organization, and of humanization. Callistus "made a basilica beyond the Tiber"--the Liber Pontificalis says--and there is an interesting passage in the Historia Augusta which seems to refer to this first Christian chapel at Rome. The biographer of Alexander Severus says (c. xliii.) that the Emperor wished to give the Christians the right to have public chapels, but his officials protested that "the temples would be deserted--all Rome would become Christian." This is obviously a piece of later Christian fiction. In a more plausible paragraph, however, Lampridius tells us that the Christians occupied a "public place," to which the innkeepers laid claim, and the Emperor decided that "it was better for God to be worshipped there in some form than for the innkeepers to have it." It is probable enough that this inn is the taverna meritoria (wine shop and restaurant) referred to by Dio Cassius 1 : among the portents which accompanied the struggles of Octavian a stream of oil had burst forth in this hostel in the Transtiberina. We know from Orosius 2 that the Christians claimed the occurrence in later years as a presage of the coming of Christ. The age, if not the disputed ownership, of the place suggests a dilapidated, if not deserted, building; and if we may in one detail trust that interesting romance, the Acta S. Callisti, we have a picture of the Christians of the third century meeting at last, under their enterprising
2 VI., 18.
Bishop, in the upper or dining room of this humble old inn in the despised Transtiberina. This was the highwater mark of a century and a half of progress.
Only one other act is authentically recorded of the brief rule of Bishop Callistus: he directed his people to fast on three Sabbaths in the year. This may seem inconsistent with his genial policy, but we must remember that rigorists abounded at Rome and demanded sterner ways. Callistus, apparently, merely sanctioned some slight traditional observance and thus virtually relieved the faithful of others.
It may be fascinating to conjecture what so enterprising a Pope would have done with the ecclesiastical system if he had lived long enough, but Callistus died, according to the best authorities, in the year 222, four or five years after his consecration. He did not die a martyr. In opening his account of the career of Callistus, the rival Bishop says: "This man suffered martyrdom when Fuscianus was Prefect, and this was the sort of martyrdom he suffered." It is inconceivable that Hippolytus should use such language in Rome after the death of Callistus if the Pope had really suffered for the faith. No Christian was executed at Rome under Alexander Severus. We must suppose that after his death, if not during his life, Callistus was applauded as a martyr because of his banishment to Sardinia, and probably this gave rise to the legend of his martyrdom, which first appears, as a bald statement, in the fourth century. The Acta S. Callisti may be traced to about the seventh century, and may be a pious contribution to the rejoicing of the faithful at the transfer of his bones to Sta. Maria in Trastevere. 1 The recklessness
1 Neither this church nor the Basilica S. Callisti can have been the original meeting-place, though the latter may have been founded on it.
with which the writer describes the gentle and friendly Alexander Severus as a truculent enemy of the Christians was noted even by mediŠval historians, and the narrative is now regarded as, in the words of D÷llinger, "a piece of fiction from beginning to end." Yet Father Grisar 1 describes Callistus as a martyr.
Hippolytus maintained his little schism under Urban I. and Pontianus, while the orthodox community prospered in the sun of imperial favour. Then the grim Maximinus succeeded Alexander on the throne, and the clouds gather again over Christendom. We just discern Pope and Anti-Pope, Pontianus and Hippolytus, passing together to the deadly mines of Sardinia. Later legend generously reconciled the rivals and gave to both of them the martyr's crown; but the authority is late and worthless. In whatever manner he ended his career, Rome was too proud of its one scholar to darken his memory, and the names of Hippolytus and Callistus shone together in ecclesiastical literature until that fateful discovery among the dusty parchments of the monks of Mount Athos.
1 History of Rome and the Popes in the Early Middle Ages. i, 313.
ST. DAMASUS AND THE TRIUMPH
IN the year 355, the Christians of the imperial city I startled their neighbours by a series of violent and threatening demonstrations. Armed crowds of them filled the streets, and monks and sacred virgins hid themselves from the riot. An inquiring pagan would have learned that the Emperor Constantius, who had waded to supremacy through a stream of blood, was attempting to force on their Bishop and themselves the damnable heresy of Arius. A few weeks before, Constantius had sent his eunuch with rich presents to Liberius, suavely asking him to condemn a certain fiery Athanasius who resisted the heresy. Liberius had courageously refused, and, when the eunuch had cunningly left the gifts beside the tomb of St. Peter, the Bishop had had them cast out of the church. When the exasperated eunuch had returned to the Emperor at Milan, the Christian community had prepared for drastic action, and it was presently known that the civic officials at Rome had received orders to seize the Bishop and send him to Milan. The Christians threatened resistance, and for a few days the city was enlivened by their turbulence. At last, Liberius was dragged from his house at night and taken to Milan; and, since he bravely resisted the Emperor to his face, he was sent on to remote and inhospitable Thrace. Then the clergy, and as many of the faithful as could enter, gathered in their handsome new basilica on the site of the Laterani Palace and swore a great oath that they would know no other bishop as long as Liberius lived. One, at least, of the clergy set out--no doubt amidst the cheers of the people--to accompany his Bishop into exile; this was the deacon Damasus, who was destined to be the next Pope of prominence in the Roman calendar. The scene reminds us forcibly of the dramatic transformation which had taken place since, a century before, Pope and Anti-Pope had been sent in chains to the mines. For fifty years after that date the Liber Pontificalis is a necrology, a chronicle of gloomy life in the Catacombs. Eleven Popes out of the thirteen who followed Urban I. are--most of them wrongly--described as martyrs, and the record of their actions shrinks to a few lines. At last, with Bishop Eusebius, the chronicle brightens and lengthens; and then, under the name of Silvester, it swells to thirty pages and glows with tokens of imperial generosity. The darkest hour of the Church has suddenly changed into a dazzling splendour.
The historical revolution reflected in this early chronicle of the Popes is well known. For eighty years after the death of Callistus, the hope of the faithful was painfully strained. The Decian persecution ( 249-251) sent some to the heroic death of the martyr, many to the corrupt officials who sold false certificates of apostasy, and very many back to the pagan temples. Then another schism and another Anti-Pope appeared; and the alliance with St. Cyprian and the African bishops, which had at first promised aid against the schismatics, ended in a contemptuous repudiation by the African bishops of Rome's claim to jurisdiction. The Valerian persecution dissolved the feud in blood, and, then, forty years of peace enabled the Roman Christians to recover and to extend their domain. Two or three small basiliŠ were erected or adapted. But, in the year 303, the new hope was chilled by the dreaded summons of the persecutor, and, for the last time, stern-set men and gentle maidens set out to face the headsman. Rome did not suffer much in the next seven years of persecution, but one can imagine the feelings of the faithful when they saw century thus succeed century without bringing any larger hope even of a free place in the sun. And then, in rapid succession, came the triumph of Constantine, the issue of their charter of liberty (the Edict of Milan, 313), the imperial profession of Christianity, the grant to the Christian clergy of the privileges of Roman priests, and the building of large basilicŠ, and scattering of gold and silver over their marble altars. Even the transfer of the court to Constantinople hardly dimmed the new hope. It remained "a new form of ambition to desert the altars," the pagans murmured, and no one dare thwart the zeal of the clergy.
So, by the year 355, when deacon Damasus makes an inglorious entrance into history, Rome had a large Christian community and at least half a dozen churches. But Christendom was now overcast by the triumph of Arianism and an Arian Emperor, and the struggle put an insupportable strain on the character of the faithful. At first, the prospect at Rome was brave and inspiring. They would all be true to their martyr-bishop; with that thrilling cry in his ears the deacon set out for Thrace. In a very short time, he was back in Rome, having changed his mind: "fired with ambition," his critics said. And, in another short time, the chief deacon Felix, who also had taken the oath, listened to the Arian court and became Bishop of Rome; and Damasus and most of the clergy transferred their loyalty to him. Then, in two or three years, Liberius grew tired of Thrace, and signed some sort of heretical formula, and came back to Rome; and the bloody struggle of Pope and Anti-Pope led to a train of sorrows which darken the life of St. Damasus.
He had been born, probably at Rome, though his father is said to have been a Spaniard, about the year 304. 1 The father had been a priest in the service of the little basilica of St. Lawrence in the city--I am not impressed by Marucchi's contention that he was a bishop--and had brought up Damasus in the same service. The mother Laurentia was pious: the sister Irene consecrated her virginity to God. Damasus became, and remained, a deacon, and was at least in his fiftieth year when he turned his back upon the heroic road to Thrace. He was popular in the new Christian Rome, which Jerome describes so darkly; envious folk called him "the tickler of matrons' ears," and even worse. But we lose sight of him again for ten years after his first appearance. 2
1 His latest biographer, the learned Father Marucchi, says 305, but St. Jerome does not say that he was "eighty years old" at death (in 384); he says, "nearly eighty." See Father Marucchi Il Papa Damaso ( 1907) and Christian Epigraphy (English trans. 1912), M. Rade's Damasus, Bischof von Rom (1882 ) is a little more critical.
2 The less flattering statements about Damasus are generally taken from a certain Libellus precum, or petition, which was presented to the Emperors by two hostile, though esteemed and orthodox, priests about the year 384. The attack on Damasus is, however, in a preface to the petition, which was probably not put before the Emperors. We must make allowance for bitter hostility, but we shall find some of their strangest statements confirmed by the highest authorities. The Libellus is reproduced in Migne Patrologia Latina, vol. iii.
The events of those ten years are, however, important for the understanding of Damasus and his Church, and must be briefly reviewed. That the clergy had, in the presence of the people, sworn to be true to Liberius, and that the majority of them broke their oath, is confirmed by St. Jerome in his Chronicle. Jerome, a decisive authority, tells also of the fall of Liberius, and this is also recorded by Athanasius, who writes the whole story. When Felix consented to be made bishop, the people were so infuriated that he had to be consecrated by the Emperor's Arian bishops in the palace: a group of eunuchs nominally representing the people, who raged without. Most of the clergy accepted Felix, but a minority, with the mass of the people, refused to do so, and, for two years, he gave his blessing to very thin congregations, or to empty benches. Then the Emperor came to Rome, and an imposing deputation of noble Christian ladies prevailed on him to recall Liberius. The Great Circus provided a new sensation for its 400,000 idlers when an imperial messenger announced that henceforward Liberius and Felix would rule their respective flocks side by side in Rome. "Two circusfactions, so two bishops," the pagan majority ironically replied: but the Christian laity ominously thundered, "One God, one Christ, one Bishop." So when Liberius, "overcome by the weariness of exile and embracing the heretical perversity" (says St. Jerome in his Chronicle), returned to Rome, he was received "as a conqueror." His loyal flock, finely indifferent to the way in which he had purchased his return, lined the route as men had done to welcome a triumphing general in the old days. This must have been about the end of 357 or the beginning of 358, and we shall not dwell on the scenes which followed. Felix and his followers were driven out of the city. Getting reinforcements, apparently, they returned and took possession of the Basilica Julii in the Transtiberina; but the mass of the faithful, led by Christian senators or officers, took the church by storm, and again swept them out of Rome. The Liber Pontificalis records that a number of the clergy were slain in the battle, and, becoming hopelessly confused between Pope and Anti-Pope, it awards these followers of Felix the palm of martyrdom. But it appears that the Felicians were strong, and for six years held several of the smaller churches; rival clerics and laymen could not meet in the baths and streets without violent results. However, Felix died in 365, and Liberius wisely adopted his clerical supporters. 1 Damasus remains in decent obscurity during these years, and we may assume that he repented his mistake, and renewed his allegiance to Liberius. But Liberius followed his rival in the next year (366) and the real career of Damasus opened. A well-known passage in the Res GestŠ of the contemporary pagan Ammianus Marcellinus 2 tells how, by that time, the Bishop of Rome scoured the city in a gorgeous chariot, gave banquets which excelled those of the Emperor, and received the smiles and rich presents of all the fine ladies of Rome; and the querulous old soldier is not surprised, he says, that Damasus and his rival Ursicinus
1 The Liber Pontificalis, which gives these events, first lets the schismatic Felix die in peace, and then introduces into the series of Pontiffs a Felix II., saint and martyr! To this day the fortunate Felix bears these honours in the liturgy. It was discovered, in 1582, that the AntiPope Felix had been confused with a real saint and martyr of that name, and the question of displacing him was debated at Rome. But the miraculous discovery of an inscription in his favour put an end to criticism. The genuine authorities are agreed that Felix died comfortably in his house on the road to the Port of Rome.
2 XXVII., 3.
(as the name runs in official documents) were "swollen with ambition" for the seat, and stirred up riots so fierce that the Prefect was driven out of Rome, and, after one fight, a hundred and thirty-seven corpses were left on the floor of one of the "Christian conventicles." Jerome, 1 Rufinus, 2 and other ecclesiastical writers of the time place the fatal rioting beyond question, and we may therefore, with a prudent reserve, follow the closer description given in the Libellus. As soon as the death of Liberius became known, in September, 366, the remnant of his original supporters met in the Basilica Julii, across the river, and elected the deacon Ursicinus, who was at once consecrated by a provincial bishop. It was an act of defiance to Damasus, the popular candidate, whom they were determined to exclude. Then, say these writers, Damasus gathered and bribed a mob, armed with staves, and for three days there was a bloody fight for the possession of the basilica. A week after the death of Liberius (or on October 1st), Damasus marched with his mob, now effectively reinforced by gladiators, to the Lateran Basilica, and was consecrated there. After this, he bribed the Prefect Viventius to expel seven priests of the rival party, but the people rescued them and conducted them to the Basilica Liberii, or Basilica Sicinini (now Sta. Maria Maggiore), in the poor quarter across the river. In this chapel the rebels were at worship in the early morning of October 26th when a crowd of gladiators, charioteers, diggers (or guardians of the Catacombs), and other ruffians (in the pay of Damasus, of course) fell on them with staves, swords, and axes, and an historic fight ensued. The Damasians stormed the barricaded door, fired the sacred building, mounted
2 II., 10.
the roof, and flung tiles on the Ursicinians. In the end the corpses of one hundred and sixty--Ammianus was too modest--followers of Ursicinus, of both sexes, lay on the floor of the blood-splashed chapel, and Ursicinus and his chief supporters were sent into exile.
Such is the tale of woe of the priests Faustinus and Marcellinus, and there is no doubt whatever that for months the most savage encounters desecrated the chapels and Catacombs of Rome. As to whether Damasus was or was not elected in his Church of St. Lawrence in the city before the election of Ursicinus the authorities are not agreed; and it must be left to the decision of the reader whether those who secured his triumph were really a hired mob of gladiators and diggers or a troop of pious and indignant admirers. Jerome, whose modern biographer, AmÚdÚe Thierry, 1 plausibly contends that he was studying in Rome at the time, expressly says that the followers of his patron Damasus were the aggressors, and that many men and women were slain. Rufinus is more favourable to the cause of Damasus, but he admits that the churches were "filled with blood."
The Emperor seems not to have been convinced by the report of the triumphant faction, and in the following year he permitted Ursicinus and his followers to return to Rome. But the trouble was renewed, and the Anti-Pope was again banished. His obstinate admirers then met in the Catacombs, and another fierce and fatal fight occurred in the cemetery of St. Agnes, where the servants of Damasus surprised them. It is clear that Damasus had the support of the wealthy and the favour of the pagan officials, but his rival must have controlled a very large, if not the larger, part of the
1 Saint Jerome, 1867.
people. The forces engaged, and the growth of the Christian body, may be estimated from the fact that, as Ammianus says, the Prefect Viventius was compelled to retire to the suburbs. He was promptly replaced, in the attempt to control the rioters, by the ruthless and impartial Maximinus, the Prefect of the Food-distribution; and clerics and laymen were indiscriminately put to the torture and punished. At length, in 368, one of the last of the sober old Roman patricians, PrŠtextatus, became Prefect, and put an end to the riots. The reflections of PrŠtextatus and Symmachus and other cultivated pagans are not recorded, but we are told by St. Jerome that, when Damasus endeavoured to convert the Prefect, he mischievously replied: "Make me Bishop of Rome and I will be a Christian."
Ursicinus went to din his grievances into the ears of provincial bishops, and there seems to be good ground for the statement in the Libellus that some of these were indignant with Damasus. It is at least clear that Damasus went on to obtain from the Emperor a concession of the most far-reaching character. The imperial rescript making this concession--one of the really important steps in the history of the Papacy and of the Church--has strangely disappeared, but we find the bishops of a later Roman synod (in 378 or 379) writing to Gratian and Valentinian that, when Ursicinus was banished, the Emperors had decreed that "the Roman bishop should have power to inquire into the conduct of the other priests of the churches, and that affairs of religion should be judged by the pontiff of religion with his colleagues." 1 A later rescript of Gratian indicates that the Bishop of Rome was to have five or seven colleagues with him in these inquir-
1 Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Collectio, iii., 625.
ies 1 ; and further light is thrown on the matter by St. Ambrose who observes 2 that, by a degree of Valentinian, a defendant in a religious dispute was to have a judge of a fitting character (a cleric) and of at least equal rank. Possibly the truculent impartiality of Maximinus was the immediate occasion for asking this privilege, and Valentinian would not find it unseemly that bishops should adjudicate on these new types of quarrels. But we have in this last document the germ of great historical developments. The clergy were virtually withdrawn from secular jurisdiction; the spiritual court was set up in face of the secular. Moreover, if defendants were to be judged only by their equals, who was to judge the Bishop of Rome? Damasus at once used his powers. He convoked a synod at Rome, and we may realize the enormous progress that the Church had made in fifty years when we learn that ninety-three Italian bishops responded to his summons. On a charge of favouring Arianism, which seems to cloak a real charge of favouring Ursicinus, the bishops of Parma and Puteoli were deposed by the synod, and they appealed in vain to the court. Henceforward bishops--under the presidency of the Bishop of Rome--were to judge bishops. The cultivated and courtly Auxentius of Milan was next condemned, but he was too secure in the favour of the Empress to do more than smile. Neither he nor his great successor, St. Ambrose, acknowledged any authority over them on the part of the Roman bishop. From this synod, moreover, the bishops wrote to the Emperor to ask that secular officials should be instructed to enforce their jurisdiction and sentences, and we shall hardly be unjust if we suspect the direct or
1 Mansi, iii., 628.
2 Ep., xxi.
indirect suggestion of Damasus in their further requests. They asked that bishops might be tried either by the Bishop of Rome or by a council of fifteen bishops, and that the Bishop of Rome himself might, "if his case were not laid before an (episcopal) council," defend himself before the Imperial Council. 1 This bold attempt of the Roman bishop to judge all bishops, yet be judged by none, seems to have displeased the Emperor, who may have consulted the Bishop of Milan. We have, at least, no indication that the privilege was granted. But the other points were granted, and instructions were issued to the secular officers, in Gaul as well as in Italy, apprising them of the juridical autonomy of the Church and of their duty to enforce its decisions. Out of his troubles Damasus had won a most important step in the making of the Papacy. Unfriendly critics might suggest that Damasus paid a price for these powers. A curious passage in the historian Socrates 2 tells us that, in the year 370, Valentinian decreed that every man might henceforward marry two wives. The statement is often rejected as preposterous, but we know that Valentinian had, shortly before, divorced his wife, Severa, in favour of the more comely Justina, and it is probable enough that he passed a law of divorce. The learned Tillemont blushes when he finds no ecclesiastical protest at the time against this flagrant return to pagan morals. However that may be, Damasus, from his palace by the Lateran Basilica, continued to strengthen his new authority and to regulate the disordered Church. Rome still harboured numbers of rebels, and they seem to have caused him serious annoyance by a persistent charge that, in earlier years, he had sinned with a
1 Mansi, iii., 624.
2 IV., 26.
Roman matron. A converted and relapsed Jew was put forward as the chief witness to the charge, and, when the young Emperor Gratian had failed to impress Rome by his personal assurance that Damasus was innocent, a Roman synod of forty-four bishops professed to investigate and dismiss the accusation. Ursicinus was now, however, living at Milan, and it is not implausibly suggested that his insistence made some impression on the puritanical young Emperor. The case was submitted to the Council of Aquileia in 380, at which St. Ambrose presided, and the bishops declared the innocence of Damasus and demanded the secular punishment of his accusers, who were now scattered over Europe. The Roman rebels then masked their hostility by joining an eccentric, though orthodox, sect in the capital whose ascetic leader bore the name of Lucifer. On these Luciferians in turn the hand of Damasus fell with ruthless severity. Their renowned Macarius, the champion faster of the time outside the Egyptian desert, was physically dragged into court and banished, and the "police" pursued them from one secret meeting-place to another. It is at this time that Faustinus and Marcellinus, who had joined the rigorous sect, addressed their Libellus to the Emperors.
Over the remainder of Italy and over Gaul Damasus did not press the virtual primacy which he had won from the imperial authorities, and the later language of Leo and Gregory makes it advisable for us to grasp clearly the situation in the fourth century. There was no question of Papal supremacy. No important decision was reached by Damasus apart from a synod, and the See of Milan was not regarded as subordinate in authority to that of Rome; though St. Ambrose naturally expressed a peculiar respect for the doctrinal tradition of a church that had been founded by the great apostles. When the Spanish Priscillianists applied to Italy for aid, they appealed, says Sulpicius Severus, "to the two bishops who had the highest authority at that time." When the great struggle with the pagan senators over the statue of Victory took place in 382, it was Ambrose who championed Christianity, Damasus merely sending to him the Roman petition. But Damasus knew the theoretical strength of his position, and knew, as a rule, when to enforce it. In 378, the Emperors severed Illyricum ( Greece, Epirus, Thessaly, and Macedonia) from the Western Empire. Damasus at once contrived that its bishops should look not to the Eastern churches but to himself for direction and support, and from that time onward the Bishop of Thessalonica became the "Vicar" of the Bishop of Rome.
We must leave this vague and imperfect primacy in the West, with its secular foundations, and turn to the more interesting and adventurous course of the diplomacy of Damasus in the East. The narrow limits within which each of these sketches must be confined forbid me to attempt to depict the extraordinary confusion of the Eastern Church. It must suffice to say, in few words, that the struggle against paganism was almost lost in the fiery struggle against heresy, and that the hand of the Arian Valens smote the orthodox as violently and persistently as the hand of any pagan emperor had done. The various refinements of the Arian heresy, the lingering traces of old heresies, and the vigorous beginnings of new heresies, rent each church into factions as violent as those of Rome, and made each important See the theatre of a truculent rivalry. Constantinople, or New Rome as it loved to call itself, was the natural centre of the Eastern religious world, but it was overshadowed by the Arian court and its growing pretensions were watched by the apostolic churches of Antioch and Alexandria almost as jealously as by Old Rome. The triumph over paganism had, before it was half completed, given place to a dark and sanguinary confusion, from the shores of the Euxine to the sands of the Thebaid.
In 371 St. Basil appealed to Damasus for assistance. He sent the deacon Dorotheus with a letter 1 asking the Italians to send to the East visitors who might report to them the condition of the churches. Damasus, not flattered by the lowliness of the embassy or by the smallness of the request, and still much occupied in the West, merely sent his deacon Sabinus. To a further impassioned appeal from Basil he gave no clearer promise of aid, and Basil indignantly observed that it was useless to appeal to "a proud and haughty man who sits on a lofty throne and cannot hear those who tell him the truth on the ground below." 2 Basil made further futile appeals to the West, though not to Damasus, and at length, in 381, the Eastern bishops met in the Council of Constantinople, discussed their own affairs, and, in a famous canon, awarded the See of Constantinople a primacy in the East. Shortly afterwards a synod was held in Italy, under Ambrose, and it sent to the Emperor Theodosius a letter in which the concern of the Italians was plainly expressed. 3 The bishops ask Theodosius to assist in convoking an Ecumenical Council at Rome, and say that "it seems not unworthy that they [the Eastern bishops] should
1 Ep., lxx.
2 Ep. , ccxv.; see also Ep., ccxxxix. and cclxvi., for violent language. All the letters of the Popes, up to Innocent III., are in this work quoted from the Migne edition.
3 Mansi, iii., 631.
submit to the Bishop of Rome and the other Italian bishops"; though they "do not claim any prerogative of judgment." It is interesting to note at this stage how the Bishop of Rome does not yet stand apart from the other Italian bishops or claim jurisdiction over the East. In a letter written by Damasus somewhere about this time to certain oriental bishops, there is question of "reverence for the Apostolic See" and of the foundation of that See by Peter, but such language is rare and premature, and is not implausibly ascribed to St. Jerome, who was then at Rome. 1 To the Eastern emperor and to the Eastern patriarchs it is not addressed.
Theodosius ignored the request, and sanctioned the holding of another Council at Constantinople. The Westerns had, in the meantime, announced an Ecumenical Council at Rome for the summer of 382, and invited their Eastern brethren. From one cause or other, the proceedings at Rome were delayed, and, while the Italians still anxiously awaited the response to their invitation, a letter came with the message that the Eastern bishops had settled the questions in dispute, and they regretted that they had not "the wings of a dove" in order that they might fly from "the great city of Constantinople" to "the great city of Rome." The letter is a model of polite and exquisite irony. 2 The statesmanship of Damasus had hopelessly miscarried, and the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom were farther than ever from uniting under his presidency.
A more intimate aspect of the character of Damasus is disclosed when we consider the condition of the Roman clergy during his Pontificate. It almost suffices to recall that an imperial rescript of the year 370 forbade
1 The letter is in Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History, v., 10.
2 Theodoret, v., 9.
priests and monks to visit the houses of widows and orphans, and declared that legacies to them were invalid. St. Jerome himself deplores that there were solid reasons for thus depriving the clergy of a privilege which every gladiator enjoyed, and that the law was shamefully frustrated by donations. 1 Indeed, in 372, the law was extended to nuns and bishops, and for nearly a hundred years the Roman clergy bore the stigma which was implied by such a prohibition.
Jerome's letters ruthlessly depict the condition of the Roman community. Fresh from his austerities in the, desert of Chalcidia, the impulsive monk was as ready to denounce vice as to encourage virtue, and evidences of singular laxity mingle with heroic virtue in his vivid pages. On the one hand he directed, in the sobered palace of Marcella on the Aventine, a group of noble dames in the practice of the most rigorous piety and the cultivation of sacred letters. The populace even threatened to fling him into the river, when the lovely and high-born Blesilla terminated her austerities by a premature death, and even Christian writers fiercely contested this introduction into Rome of the ideals of the Egyptian desert. But, on the other hand, Jerome's directions to his pupils incidentally betray that, beyond his little school of virtue and learning, he saw nothing but sin and worldliness. In plain and crude speech he warns his pupils to shun their Christian neighbours and distrust the priests. Sombre as are many of the letters which Seneca wrote in the days of Nero, not one of them can compare with Jerome's lengthy letter to the gentle maiden Eustochium. 2 He fills her virgin mind with a comprehensive picture of frailty and frivolity, and tells her that she may regard, not as a Christian,
1 EP. lii.
2 Ep. , xxii.
but as a ManichŠan, any austere-looking woman whom she may meet on the streets of Rome. He denounces "the new genus of concubines," the "spiritual brothers and sisters," who share the same house, even the same bed, and, if you protest, complain that you are evilminded. Eustochium is to avoid gatherings of Christian women, and must never be alone with these clerics, who, exquisitely dressed, their hair curled and oiled, their fingers glittering with rings, spend the livelong day wheedling presents out of their wealthy admirers. I omit the graver details given in this and other letters of the outraged monk.
The impartial historian cannot regard with reserve the criticisms which Ammianus passed on his pagan fellows and then literally accept Jerome's more severe strictures on his fellow-Christians. There is exaggeration on both sides. Yet no one now questions that the Christian community at Rome, lay and clerical, had in the days of Damasus fallen far below its ideals, and it is not pleasant that we find little or no trace of an episcopal struggle against this corruption. It is sometimes said that the rescript which prevented priests from inheriting was passed at the request of the Pope. For this statement there is no historical ground whatever, and it is in the highest degree improbable. It is clear that prosperity had lowered the character of the Church, from its bishop down to its grave-diggers; and the laments of St. Ambrose at Milan, of St. Chrysostom at Antioch and Constantinople, and of St. Augustine in Africa, indicate a general relaxation. The Roman world must pass through another severe and searching trial before men like Leo I. and Gregory I. arise in it.
This conception of Damasus as a courtly and lenient prelate is not materially modified when we regard his more strictly religious work. He restored the Church of St. Lawrence, in which he and his father had served: he built a tiny basilica --little more than a princely tomb for himself, Marucchi believes--on the Via Ardeatina: he erected a new baptistery at St. Peter's. These are not exceptionally impressive works of piety in so prosperous an age.
Damasus was an artist: not--if we judge him by his Epigrams --a man of much inspiration, but one who perceived the value of art in the service of religion. Jerome tells us that he wrote in prose and verse on the beauty of virginity, but we know his very modest poetical talent only from the surviving fifty or sixty inscriptions with which he adorned the graves of the martyrs or the chapels. 1 He had a genuine passion for the adornment and popularization of the Catacombs. They were already falling into decay, and Damasus cleared the galleries, made new air-shafts, and decorated the more important chambers with marble slabs and silver rails. No doubt he did this in part with a view to attracting the pagans, but there can be little doubt that he had a strong personal sentiment for the work.
With the assistance of Jerome, he also endeavoured to improve the literary standard of the Church. Jerome revised the "Old Italian" translation of the Bible; and it seems probable that the canon of the Scriptures which has until recently been regarded as part of a "Gelasian Decree" was composed by Jerome, under the authority of Damasus, and promulgated by a Roman synod. The canon can hardly be due to the pen which wrote the rambling and uncultivated list of books which fol-
1 The best collection is Ihm Damasi Epigrammata ( 1895).
lows it; probably a later hand united the two and ascribed them to Gelasius. 1
The eighteen years' Pontificate of Damasus came to a close in 384. He is not in the line of heroic Popes. He was, at his elevation, in his seventh decade of life and his remaining energy was largely spent in struggling against the disastrous consequences of his election. He succeeded rather by geniality of temper and the services of others than by strong personal exertion. But he was lucky in his opportunities. He had control of the new wealth of the Papacy, and the Emperors with whom he had to deal were the indifferent or undiscerning Valentinian and the pious and youthful Gratian. Hence he added materially to the foundations of the mediŠval Papacy. One might almost venture to say that the dogmatic Roman conception of a primacy inherited from Peter dates from the scriptural discussions of Damasus and Jerome. They were not the authors of that conception, but it would henceforward form the essential part of the Papal attitude.
1 There is a third part of this "Gelasian Decree," which assigns to the Papacy an absolute primacy derived from Peter. It is improbable that this was due to Damasus. A letter hitherto ascribed to Pope Sirianus ( Ep. , x. in Migne) has lately been claimed for Damasus ( Babut, La plus ancienne dÚcrÚtale, 1904), but there is not enough evidence to date it. It is a series of directions, better known as Canons of the Romans to the Bishops of Gaul, on the subject of clerical celibacy, fallen virgins, etc.
LEO THE GREAT, THE LAST POPE OF IMPERIAL ROME
DURING the half-century which followed the death of Damasus occurred two of the decisive events in the transformation of the Roman Empire into Christian Europe. Paganism was destroyed, and the Empire was shattered. Jerome had, with rhetorical inaccuracy, described the great temple of Jupiter as squalid and deserted in the days of Damasus. Now it was in truth deserted, for the imperial seal was set on its closed doors; and the same seal guarded the door of the temples of Isis and Mithra. The homeless gods had sheltered for a time in the schools and in patrician mansions, but these also had fallen with the Empire. The southern half of Europe became a disordered, semi-Christian world, over which poured from the northern forests fresh armies of barbarians. The City of Man was wrecked; and it was not unnatural that the Papacy should aspire to make its old metropolis the centre of the new City of God.
Two Popes of weak ability had followed Damasus, and witnessed, rather than accomplished, the ruin of the old religion. It was Ambrose who had directed the convenient youth of Gratian and Valentinian II., and had dislodged the pagans and other rivals at the point of the spear. Innocent I. ( 402-417) was a greater man: an upright priest, an able statesman, a zealous believer in the divine right of Popes. Milman has finely drawn him serenely holding his sceptre at Rome while the Emperor cowered behind the fortifications at Ravenna. While Rome tumbled in ruins about him, he continued calmly to tell the bishops of Gaul and Spain and Italy what the "Apostolic See" directed them to do. His puny yet bombastic successor, Zosimus, maintained the solitary blunder, without the redeeming personality, of Innocent, and might have wrecked the Papacy if he had not died within a year or so. The worthier Boniface and still worthier Celestine restored Roman prestige in some measure, and, in 440, after the edifying but undistinguished Pontificate of Sixtus III., Leo the Great entered the chronicle.
Leo, a Roman of Tuscan extraction, was the chief deacon of the Roman Church, and corresponded with Cyril of Alexandria on Eastern affairs. It was probably at his instigation that the learned Cassianus wrote his treatise On the Incarnation of Christ. In 440, Leo was sent by the Emperor to reconcile the generals Aetius and Albinus, who quarrelled while the Empire perished. Sixtus died in his absence, and Leo was unanimously elected to the Papacy. Toward the close of September he returned to Rome, and glanced about the troubled world which he had now to rule.
The dogmatic Papal conception, which we find dawning in the mind of Damasus and see very clear in the mind of Innocent I. and his successors, reached its full development, on the spiritual side, in the mind of Leo the Great. This development was inevitable. There were Eastern, and even some Western, bishops who maintained, against Leo, that the prestige of the Roman See was merely the prestige of Rome, but the answer of the Papacy was easy and effective. In the Gospels which Europe now treasured, Peter was the "rock" on which the Church was built, and to him alone had been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Had the Church lost its foundation when Peter died? Were the keys buried beside the bones of Peter in that marble tomb at the foot of the Vatican? There was, from the clerical point of view, logic in the Roman bishop's claim to have inherited the princedom. Leo from the first hour of his Pontificate was sincerely convinced of it. His sermons are full of it. To him is committed "the care of all the Churches": a phrase which he bequeaths to his successors. He is the new type of Roman, blending the ideas of Jerome and Augustine. The wreck of the City of Man matters little. What matters is that these Arian Goths and Vandals are trampling on the City of God: that the churches of Gaul and Spain and Italy and Africa and the East are in disorder, and the successor of Peter must restore their discipline. He is so absorbed in his divine duty that he does not notice how the circumstances favour him. Every other lofty head in the Empire is bowed, and from the seething and impoverished provinces hundreds are looking to the strong man at Rome.
His early letters are the letters of a Supreme Pontiff. The African bishops, he hears, suffer dreadful disorders in their churches. Elections to church-dignities are bought and sold: even laymen and twice-married clerics become bishops. With serene indifference to the earlier history of the African Church and its tradition of independence, he peremptorily recalls the canons and insists on their observance. 1 Fortunately for him, the long struggle against the Donatists and the devastating onset of the Vandals have enfeebled, almost annihilated,
1 Ep. , xii.
the African Church, and there is none to question his authority.
He hears that Anatolius has been made Bishop of Thessalonica, and writes 1 to remind him that he is the "vicar" of the Roman bishop, the successor of Peter, "on the solidity of which foundation the Church is established." When, at a later date, Anatolius uses his power harshly, he sternly rebukes him. And it is interesting to notice what the discipline is on which he insists in this letter. 2 Even subdeacons shall not marry, or, if they are married, shall not know their wives. We are very far away from Callistus.
Another aspect of Leo's character appears in his treatment of the ManichŠans at Rome: an interesting illustration of how he kept the strength and serenity of the old Roman though lacking his culture. Leo had a terribly sombre idea of the ManichŠans. They lingered in obscure corners of the metropolis, and met stealthily, just as Christians had done two centuries earlier; and of them were told, as had been told of the obscure Christians, dreadful stories. Leo conducted a great inquisition in 444, and brought the ManichŠan bishop, with his "elect," to a solemn judgment before the clergy and nobles of Rome. There, he says, 3 they all confessed that the violation of a girl of ten years was part of their ritual. He called down upon them the secular arm, and crushed them in Rome and Italy. What sort of a judicial process was employed to elicit this extraordinary confession--so utterly at variance with all that we know of the ascetic ManichŠans--we are not told. But we are painfully reminded of a similar declaration of Augustine in his old age. 4
1 Ep. , vi.
2 Ep. , xiv.
4 See the author's Saint Augustine and His Age, p. 409.
In Gaul, the Pope encountered one of the last opponents of Papal aims in the West. The province was completely demoralized by the triumphant barbarians and by the arrival of lax clergy from Africa. In a letter of uncertain date, 1 Leo gives us a dark picture of the state of things in the southern provinces, and this is more than confirmed in the work of the Marseilles priest Salvianus, De Gubernatione Dei. Laymen pose as bishops, Leo says: priests sleep with their wives, and marry their daughters to men who keep concubines: monks serve in the army, or marry: and so on. From this disordered world men were ever ready to appeal to the authority of Rome, and, in 445, a Bishop Celidonius came to complain of the harshness of his metropolitan, the austere and saintly Hilary of Arles. Hilary followed his Bishop to Rome, and, when Leo decided against him, the saint made use, says Leo, 2 of "language which no layman even should dare to use and no priest to hear," and then "fled disgracefully" from Rome.
Again we are in a dilemma between two saints, and we must weigh as best we can the letters of Leo against the biography of Hilary. It will be found a general truth of early Papal history that the man who appeals to Rome is heard more indulgently than the opponent who did not appeal. Hilary, who had deposed the Bishop in plain accordance with the rules, resented Leo's conduct, and scoffed at his supposed supremacy. He then apprehended violence, and stealthily left Rome for Gaul. Leo thereupon--or after hearing new charges against Hilary--wrote to the bishops of Vienne 3 that they were released from obedience to Hilary, who was thenceforward to confine himself to Arles. Whether Hilary ever submitted or no we have no certain know-
1 Ep. , clxvii.
2 Ep. , x. 3.
3 Ep. , x.
ledge, but the affair had an important sequel. In the same year ( 449), an imperial rescript, 1 confessedly obtained by Leo, confirmed the sentence, and added:
We lay down this for ever, that neither the bishops of Gaul nor those of any other province shall attempt anything contrary to ancient usage, without the authority of the venerable man, the Pope of the Eternal City.
Even in the height of this quarrel other provinces were not neglected, as a few letters of the year 447 amply show. The letter to the Spanish Bishop Turribius of Astorga 2 is notable as the first explicit Papal approval of the execution of a heretic. It is usual to point out that the errors of Priscillian, the heretic in question, were believed to include magical practices (then a legal and social crime) as well as ManichŠan and Gnostic tenets. But we must recognize one of the most terrible principles of the Middle Ages, and something far more than social zeal, in the following words of Leo:
Although ecclesiastical mildness shrinks from blood-punishments, yet it is aided by the severe decrees of Christian princes, since they who fear corporal suffering will have recourse to spiritual remedies. Here is no reference to legal or social crimes, but to an error which concerns the ecclesiastic. Similar letters, enforcing discipline in the accents of an undisputed head of the Church, were sent to the bishops of Sicily, 3 the bishop of Beneventum, 4 and the bishop of Aquileia.
These quotations from the letters and sermons of Leo will suffice, not only to show the untiring energy and
1 Ep. , xi., in Migne.
2 Ep. , xv.
XVI. and xvii.
lofty aim of the man, but to convince us that the primacy of Rome in the West is now won. West of the Adriatic, St. Hilary is the last great rebel against the Roman conception. It is true that this spiritual supremacy is still, in part, reliant on "the severe decrees of Christian princes," but the imperial authority is fast fading into nothing, and in another generation the Papal autocracy will stand alone. Leo was not ambitious. Something of the instinctive masterliness of the older Roman may be detected in his actions, but he was a profoundly religious man, seeking neither wealth nor honours of earth, convinced at once that he discharged a divine duty and exerted an authority of the most beneficent value to that disordered Christendom. The calamities of Europe had changed the empty glories of a Damasus into a power second only to that of Octavian.
When we turn to the East we have not only a most valuable indication of the evolution of Christendom into two independent and hostile Churches, but an even more interesting revelation of subtle and unexpected shades in the character of Leo. The great Pope, aided by the very calamities of the time, fastens his primacy on Europe; and, with even mightier exertions and the most tense use of all his resources, he proves that an extension of that primacy to the East is for ever impossible.
His friendly correspondence with Cyril of Alexandria was resumed in the year 444, and, in the adjustment of their differences, Leo made concessions. In the same year, Cyril died, and his successor Dioscorus was addressed with the same recognition of equality. There are differences in points of discipline, but Leo is content to say 1 : "Since the blessed Peter was made
1 Ep. , ix.
chief of the apostles by the Lord, and the Roman Church abides by his instructions, it is impossible to suppose that his holy disciple Mark, who first ruled the Church of Alexandria, gave it other regulations." Five years later, however, Leo received from the East an appeal against the Bishop of Constantinople, and a notable conflict began.
In the unending struggle in the East over the nature of Christ, the monks, a fierce and turbulent rabble living on the fringes of the great cities, had been the most effective champions of orthodoxy, and great was their excitement when the archimandrite (or abbot) of one of their large monasteries outside Constantinople was accused of heresy. The heresy is really diagnosed as such by the proper authorities, but it is not superfluous for the historian to observe that the monk Eutyches was godson of the most powerful eunuch at the court, and this eunuch was detested by the virtuous Empress Pulcheria and by Flavian, the Bishop of Constantinople. Eutyches was condemned by a synod in 448, and he appealed to Leo. I have observed that the appealer--especially from a province where Roman authority was disputed--always had a gracious hearing at the Lateran. In February, 449, Leo wrote to Flavian 1 to express his surprise that he had not sent a report of the proceedings to Rome and that he had disregarded the appeal which the monk had made from his sentence to Rome. However, since appeal has been made to Leo, "we want to know the reasons of your action, and we desire a full account to be communicated to us." Flavian's reply 2 curtly described the heresy and trusted that Leo would see the justice of the sentence.
In the early summer, the Emperors of East and West
1 Ep. , xxiii.
2 Ep. , xxvi.
issued a joint summons to the bishops of Christendom to assemble in Council at Ephesus, and Leo's letters indicate a feverish activity. His chief work was to write a long dogmatic letter 1 on the nature of Christ-a very able theological essay--to be read by his Legates at the Council. Dioscorus of Alexandria presided over this imposing assembly of 360 bishops and representative clergy, in the presence of two imperial commissioners, the Papal Legates, and the patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem, yet it has passed into Western ecclesiastical history under the opprobrious title, given to it by Leo, 2 of The Robbers' Meeting. It is quite true that the sittings dissolved in brawls, and monks and soldiers brandished their ominous weapons over the heads of the bishops, but that was not unprecedented. The main fact was that Dioscorus contemptuously refused to hear the Roman Legates, as Leo says, and induced the Council to restore Eutyches and depose Flavian. Deacon Hilary, one of the Legates, fled in terror of his life, and unfolded these enormities to Leo, whose correspondence now became intense and indignant. For a few months, Leo made strenuous efforts to redeem the prestige of his See. We know, since 1882, that Flavian in turn appealed to Rome, but Leo needed no new incentive. He wrote repeatedly to the pious Pulcheria, to Theodosius, to his "vicar" in Thessalonica, and to the monks, priests, and people of Constantinople. He knew the situation well. Alexandria had defied Constantinople, but the case of Constantinople was weakened by the division of court-factions and the monkish support of Eutyches. It seemed an admirable
1 The Tome of Leo, Ep. , xxviii.
2 Ep. , xcv.
occasion for Rome to adjudicate, and Leo pressed Theodosius and Pulcheria 1 to summon an Ecumenical Council at Rome. In the thick of the struggle ( February, 450), Valentinian III. visited Rome with the court, and Leo, with tears in his eyes, besought the Empress Galla Placidia to work for the Roman Council. Galla Placidia knew no more than the monks about theology, and was more concerned about her wayward daughter Honoria, but she urged Pulcheria to ensure the holding of the Council at Rome. Presently there came from Constantinople the news that Theodosius was dead, Pulcheria was mistress of the court, the eunuch-godfather had been executed, the monk exiled, and the Archbishop Flavian restored to his See.
But the more agreeable aspect of this situation was soon darkened by a report that the people of Constantinople had compelled Pulcheria to contract a virginal marriage with Marcian, and the new Emperor had summoned an Ecumenical Council in the East. Leo, for reasons which we may understand presently, now made every effort to prevent the holding of a Council, 2 but the Emperor would not endanger his position by flouting the Eastern Church, and, on October 8th, some six hundred bishops gathered at Chalcedon. Four Legates represented Leo, and were awarded a kind of presidency of the Council. Leo's great doctrinal letter was received with thunders of applause, and, when it was speedily decided to condemn Dioscorus (who had gone the length of excommunicating Leo), it was one of the Papal Legates who pronounced the sonorous sentence. But all knew that these compliments were the prelude to a very serious struggle.
After the fourteenth session, the Papal Legates and
1 Ep. xliii. and xlv.
2 Ep. , lxxxii. and lxxxiii.
imperial commissioners affected to believe that the business of the day was over. Later in the day, however, a fifteenth session was held, and the two hundred bishops present framed the famous twenty-eighth canon of the Council of Chalcedon. It runs:
As in all things we follow the ordinances of the holy fathers and know the recently read canon of the hundred and fifty bishops [of the Council of Constantinople], so do we decree the same in regard to the privileges of the most holy Church of Constantinople. Rightly have the fathers conceded to the See of Old Rome its privileges on account of its character as the Imperial City, and, moved by the same considerations, the one hundred and fifty bishops have awarded the like privileges to the most Holy See of New Rome. 1 This drastic restriction of the Roman bishop to the West, and disdainful assurance that the prestige of the city of Rome was the only basis of his primacy, was read in the next session, and the Papal Legates were gravely disturbed. There can be very little doubt that, as Hefele says, the Legates had abstained from the fifteenth session because they knew that this canon would be discussed and passed. There was no secrecy about it, and there was much in previous sessions that led to it. Indeed, it is clear that Leo himself knew of the design, and this probably explains his resistance, which has puzzled many, to the holding of the Council. In the heat of the discussion, the Roman Legate, Boniface, produced this instruction from Leo: "If any, taking their stand on the importance of their cities, should endeavour to arrogate anything to themselves, resist them with all decision." 2 Bishop Eusebius of Dory-
1 Hefele History of the Councils of the Church, iii., 411.
2 Hefele, iii., 425.
lŠum (the accuser of Eutyches) then said that he had read the third canon of Constantinople to Leo at Rome some time before the Council, and that Leo had assented to it. Leo afterwards denied this, but we must assume that he merely denied having consented, not the reading of the canon to him. It is quite clear that Leo prepared his Legates for this discussion.
It implies no reflection whatever on the character of Leo that he should instruct his Legates diplomatically to obstruct the passing of a canon which he regarded as contrary to a divine ordination. But the next act of his Legates is more serious. Bishop Paschasinus, the chief Legate, produced and read, in Latin, the sixth canon of the famous Council of NicŠa, and the Greeks were amazed to learn, when it was translated, that it awarded the primacy to Rome. There is now no doubt that this was a spurious or adulterated canon, and the feelings of the Greeks, when they consulted the genuine canon, can be imagined. The session closed in a weak compromise. The Legates were allowed to protest that the twentyeighth canon was passed in their absence, and was injurious to the rights of their Bishop, "who presided over the whole Church." The Greeks politely registered their protest, endorsed the canon, and proceeded to indite a very Greek letter to the Roman Bishop. They express to Leo 1 their deep joy at the successful congress, their entire respect for "the voice of Peter," their loving gratitude that, through his Legates, he had presided over them "as the head over the members"; but they admit that one of their canons did not commend itself to his Legates and they trust that he will at once gratify their Emperor by endorsing it! Christendom was divided into two parts.
1 Ep. , xcviii.
The sequel matters little. The Legates returned and declared that the signatures to the canon had been extorted (as Leo afterwards wrote), though this point had been raised in their presence by the imperial commissioners, and its falsity put beyond dispute. To Marcian, to Pulcheria, and to the new Bishop of Constantinople, Anatolius, Leo wrote acrid letters, denouncing the miserable vanity and ambition of Anatolius and the violation of the (spurious) canons of NicŠa. Marcian curtly requested him--almost ordered him 1 --to confirm the results of the Council without delay, and Leo signed the doctrinal decisions. There the matter ended. Rome affected to treat the famous canon as invalid, and the East genially ignored the absence of Leo's signature. 2 In the midst of his feverish efforts to defeat this Eastern rebellion, Leo was summoned to meet the terrible King of the Huns, and the memory of his triumph, gathering volume from age to age, has completely obliterated his failure to dominate the Greeks. Italy, painfully enfeebled by the Goths, now saw "the scourge of God" slowly descend its northern slopes and prepare for a raid on the south. Leo and a group of Roman officials met Attila on the banks of the Mincio, and the ferocious King and his dreaded Huns meekly turned their backs on Italy and retired to the East. Pen and brush and legend have embellished that won-
1 Ep. , cx.
2 In a letter which he wrote about the time ( Ep. , ciii.) to the bishops of Gaul, Leo tells them that Diosccrus has been condemned, and says that he encloses a copy of the sentence. The copy appended to the letter is spurious, for it contains an allusion to "the holy and most blessed Pope, head of the universal Church, Leo . . . the foundation and rock of faith." But I do not think one can say confidently that this is the actual document sent by Leo. derful deliverance until it has become a mystery and a miracle, but it was neither mystery nor miracle to the men who first made a scanty record of it. Jornandes 1 following the older historian Priscus, says that Attila was hesitating whether to advance on Rome or no at the moment when Leo and his companions arrived; his officers were trying to dissuade him, and were appealing to his superstition with a reminder of the fate of Alaric after he had sacked Rome. Prosper merely says in his Chronicle that Leo was well received, and succeeded. Idatius, Bishop of AquŠ FlaviŠ at the time, does not even mention Leo in his Chronicle. The Huns, he says, were severely stricken by war, by famine, and by some epidemic, and, "being in this plight, they made peace with the Romans and departed." 2. But Rome at the time knew nothing of these fortunate circumstances, and, in the delirious joy of its deliverance, imagined the savage Hun shrinking in awe before its venerable Bishop: kept on imagining, indeed, until some pious fancy of the eighth century believed that the holy apostles had appeared beside the Pope.
When, a few years later ( 455) a fresh invasion threatened Rome--when the vicious incompetence of the court amid all its desolation set afoot another feud and brought the Vandals from Africa--Leo went out once more to plead for the impoverished city. Genseric was not a savage; the Vandals are libelled by the grosser implication we associate with their name today. Yet he altered not one step of his onward course at the
1 De Rebus Geticis, xlii.
2 The Chronicles of Prosper and Idatius are in Migne, vol. li. Idatius adds that Attila was threatened (in his rear) by the troops of Marcian, though we cannot trace such a movement of the Eastern troops. It was enough that Attila believed it.
petitions or the threats of the venerable Pontiff. To say that he consented to refrain from slaying or torturing those who submitted, and from firing the city, is merely to say that Leo failed to wring any concession from the largely civilized Vandal. The aged Pontiff sadly returned with his clergy, and for a whole fortnight had to listen in the Lateran Palace to the shrieks of the women who were dragged from their homes, and to receive accounts of the plundering of his churches. The Church of St. Peter and, probably, the Lateran Church alone were spared. And when the Vandal ships had sailed away with their thousands of noble captives, including the Empress Eudoxia, and their mounds of silver, bronze, and marble, Leo had to melt down the larger vessels of the great basilicas to find the necessary chalices for his priests.
Ancestral feelings must have stirred unconsciously in the mind of Leo when he beheld this second ravage of the city of his fathers, but he at once resumed his Pontifical rule. On his return from the north of Italy, he had found occasion to act once more in the East as if the canon of the last Council were forgotten. Now the monks of Palestine had asserted their unyielding zeal, had driven the patriarch of Jerusalem from his seat, and had won to their cause the romantic Empress Eudoxia (of the Eastern court) whose suspected amours had brought on her a polite sentence of exile. Leo at once, somewhat superfluously, called the pious Marcian's attention to the ecclesiastical disorders in his kingdom, and, apparently at that Emperor's request, wrote paternal admonitions to Eudoxia and to the monks. It was gratifying to be able to report presently that the disorders were at an end.
Later (in 453) the monks of Cappadocia gave trouble; and the monks and other supporters of the deposed Dioscorus at Alexandria entered upon a far graver agitation, and murdered their new archbishop. The pious Marcian, to make matters worse, died ( 457), and, by one of those strange intrigues which disgraced the Eastern court, Leo the Isaurian, an astute peasant, mounted the golden throne. On this man Leo's diplomatic mixture of courtly language and high sacerdotal pretensions made little impression. In spite of Leo's protests 1 he called another General Council, and Leo had to be content to send Legates to inform the assembled bishops what is "the rule of apostolic faith"; which he again set forth in a long dogmatic epistle. 2 To the last year, Leo maintained, serenely and unswervingly, his calm assumption of jurisdiction over the East. Whether he wrote to the patriarch of Antioch, 3 or the patriarch of Constantinople, 4 or the patriarchs of Jerusalem and Alexandria, he spoke as if his sovereignty had never been questioned. "The care of all the churches" lies on his shoulders. He disdains diplomacy and argument. His tone is arrogant and dogmatic in the highest degree, yet no man can read reflectively those long and imperious epistles and not realize that he spoke, not as the individual Leo, demanding personal prestige, but as the successor of Peter, obeying a command which, he sincerely believed, Christ had laid upon him.
So the Papacy was built up. Leo went his way on November 10, 461, and was buried, fitly, in the vestibule of St. Peter's. He had formulated for all time the Papal conception that the successor of Peter had the care of all the churches of the world. A bishop shall not buy his seat in Numidia: a rabble of monks shall
1 Ep. , clxii.
not rebel in Syria: a prelate shall not harshly treat his clergy in Gaul, but the Bishop of Rome must see to it. How that gaunt frame of duty was perfected in the next two centuries, and how the prosperity of later times hid the austere frame under a garment of flesh, is the next great chapter in the evolution of the Roman Pontificate.
GREGORY THE GREAT, THE FIRST MEDIĂVAL POPE
SEVENTEEN Pontiffs successively ruled in the Lateran Palace during the hundred and thirty years which separate the death of Leo I. and the accession of Gregory I. The first seven were not unworthy to succeed Leo, although one of them, Anastasius ( 496498), is unjustly committed to Dante's hell for his liberality. 1 During their tenure of office the Arian Ostrogoth Theodoric set up his promising kingdom in Italy, and the stricken country partly recovered. But the succeeding Popes were smaller-minded men, looking darkly on the heresy of Theodoric and longing to see him displaced by the Catholic Eastern Emperor. Their unfortunate policy was crowned by a betrayal of Rome to the troops of Justinian; and its fruit was the establishment on the throne of Peter, by
1 Another of them, Gelasius ( 492-496), is, or was until recently, regarded as the author of the first canon of Scriptures and the first list of prohibited books. But this so-called "Gelasian Decree" does not bear the name of Gelasius in some of the older manuscripts, and is now much disputed. Father Grisar thinks that "we may take it as certain that it did not emanate from him" ( History of Rome and the Popes, iii., 236). The canon is probably due to Damasus (see p. 36 ) and the rather loosely written list of books which follows it is ascribed to the later age of Hormisdas ( 514-523). Gelasius was an able and vigorous Pope, and would hardly issue so poor a decree.
the unscrupulous Theodora, of the sorriest adventurer that had yet defiled it ( Pope Vigilius), the reduction of Italy to the state of a province of the corrupt and extortionate East, and a lamentable dependence of the See of Rome on the whim of the Byzantine autocrat. Seeing its increasing feebleness, a new and fiercer tribe of the barbarians, the Lombards, poured over Italy; and it was a city of ruins, a kingdom of desolation, a continent of anarchy, which Gregory I. was, in the year 590, forced to undertake to control.
At Rome the monuments of what was shudderingly called a pagan age were falling, year by year, into the soil which would preserve them for a more appreciative race. In Gregory's day, across the Tiber from the old quarter, there were to be seen only the mouldering crowns of the theatres and amphitheatres, the grass-girt ruins on the Capitol and on the Palatine, and the charred skeletons of thousands of patrician mansions on the more distant hills. Forty thousand Romans now trembled where a million had once boasted their eternal empire. And, as one sees in some fallen forest, a new life was springing up on the ruins. Beside the decaying Neronian Circus rose the Basilica of St. Peter's, to which strange types of pilgrims made their way under the modest colonnade leading from the river. From the heart of the old Laterani Palace towered the great Basilica of the Saviour (later of St. John) and the mansion of the new rulers of the world. The temples were still closed, and tumbling into ruins; for no one yet proposed to convert into churches those abodes of evil spirits, which one passed hurriedly at night. But on all sides churches had been built out of the fallen stones, and monks and nuns trod the dismantled fora, and new processions filed along the decaying streets. If you mounted the hills, you would see the once prosperous Campagna a poisonous marsh, sending death into the city every few years; and you would learn that such was the condition of much of Italy, where the Lombard now completed the work of Goth and Greek, and that from the gates of Constantinople to the forests of Albion this incomprehensible brood of barbarians was treading under foot what remained of Roman civilization.
The book of what we call ancient history was closed: the Middle Age was beginning. Gregory was peculiarly adapted to impress the world at this stage of transition. His father, Gordianus, had been a wealthy patrician, with large estates in Sicily and a fine mansion on the CŠlian hill. De Rossi would make him a descendant of the great family of the Anicii, but the deduction is strained. Gregory's mother was a saint. He inherited vigour and administrative ability, and was reared in the most pious and most credulous spirit of the time. He was put to letters, and we are told that he excelled all others in every branch of culture. Let us say, from his works, that--probably using the writings of the Latin fathers as models--he learned to write a Latin which Jerome would almost have pronounced barbarous, but which people of the sixth century would think excellent, at times elegant. There was very little culture left in Rome in Gregory's days. 1 About the time when
1 Lives of Gregory must be read with discretion. The best and most ample source of knowledge is the stout volume of his letters, but there are early biographies by Paul the Deacon and John the Deacon. Paul wrote about 780, but his fairly sober sketch--into which miracles have been interpolated--does not help us much. John wrote about a century after this, and his fantastic and utterly undiscriminating work is almost useless. The best biography of Gregory is the learned and generally candid work of W. F. H. Dudden ( Gregory the Great, 2 vols. , 1905).
Gregory came into the world ( 540), Cassiodorus was quitting it to found a monastic community on his estate, and he had the happy idea of rescuing some elements of Roman culture from the deluge; though to him culture meant Donatus and Martianus Capella rather than the classics. He succeeded, too, in engaging the industry of the Benedictine monks, to some extent, in copying manuscripts. Culture was, happily, not suffered to die. In Rome, however, it sank very low, and, for centuries, the Latin of the Papal clerks or the Popes is generally atrocious.
Gregory, in 573, was Prefect of Rome when it was beset by the Lombards. The desolation which ensued may have finally convinced him that the end of the world approached: a belief which occurs repeatedly in his letters and sermons. In the following year, he sold his possessions, built six monasteries in Sicily, converted his Roman mansion into the monastery of St. Andrew, and, after giving the rest of his fortune to the poor, began a life of stern asceticism and meditation on the Scriptures. One day he saw some Anglo-Saxon slaves in the market, and he set off to convert these fair, blue-eyed islanders to the faith. But Pope Benedict recalled him and found an outlet for his great energy in secretarial duties at the Lateran.
Pelagius, who in 578 succeeded Benedict, sent Gregory to Constantinople, to ask imperial troops for Italy, and he remained there, caring for Papal interests, for about eight years. On its pretentious culture he looked with so much disdain that he never learned Greek, 1 while the general corruption of clerics and laymen, and the fierce dogmatic discussions, did not modify his belief in a coming dissolution. He maintained his monastic
1 Ep. , ix., 69.
life in the Placidia Palace, and began the writing of that portentous commentary on the book of Job which is known as his Magna Moralia : a monumental illustration of his piety, his imagination, and his lack of culture, occupying about two thousand columns of Migne's quarto edition of his works. He returned to Rome about the year 586, without troops, but with the immeasurably greater treasure of an arm of St. Andrew and the head of St. Luke. Amid the plagues and famines of Italy, he returned to his terrible fasts and dark meditations, and awaited the blast of the archangel's trumpet. An anecdote, told by himself, depicts his attitude. One of his monks appropriated a few crowns, violating his vow of poverty. Gregory refused the dying man the sacraments, and buried him in a dunghill. He completed his commentary on Job, and collected endless stories of devils and angels, saints and sinners, visions and miracles; until one day, in 5 90), the Romans broke into the austere monastery with the news that Pelagius was dead and Gregory was to be his successor. He fled from Rome in horror, but he was the ablest man in Italy, and all united to make him Pope.
If these things do not suffice to show that Gregory was the first mediŠval Pope, read his Dialogues, completed a few years later; no theologian in the world today would accept that phantasmagoria of devils and angels and miracles. It is a precious monument of Gregory's world: the early mediŠval world. There is the same morbid, brooding imagination in his commentary on the prophecies of Ezekiel, which he found congenial; and in many passages of the forty sermons in which, disdaining flowers of rhetoric and rules of grammar, he tells his people the deep-felt, awful truths of his creed.
Characteristic also is the incident which occurred during his temporary guidance of the Church--while he awaited an answer to the letter in which he had begged the Emperor to release him. A fearful epidemic raged at Rome. Without a glance at the marshes beyond, from which it came, Gregory ordered processions of all the faithful, storming the heavens with hymns and litanies. The figure over the old tomb of Hadrian (or the Castle of Sant' Angelo) at Rome tells all time how an angel appeared in the skies on that occasion, and the pestilence ceased. But the writers who are nearest to the time tell us that eighty of the processionists fell dead on the streets in an hour, and the pestilence went its slow course.
Yet when we turn from these other-worldly meditations and other-worldly plans to the eight hundred and fifty letters of the great Pope, we seem to find an entirely different man. We seem to go back some centuries, along that precarious line of the Anicii, and confront one of the abler of the old patricians. Instead of credulity, we find a business capacity which, in spite of the appalling means of communication, organizes and controls, down to minute details, an estate which is worth millions sterling and is scattered over half a continent. Instead of self-effacement, we find a man who talks to archbishops and governors of provinces as if they were acolytes of his Church, and, at least on one occasion, tells the Eastern autocrat, before whom courtiers shade their eyes, that he will not obey him. Instead of holy simplicity, we find a diplomacy which treats with hostile kings in defiance of the civil government, showers pretty compliments on the fiery Brunichildis or the brutal Phocas, and spends years in combating the pretensions of Constantinople. Instead of angelic meekness, we find a warm resentment of vilification, an occasional flash of temper which cows his opponent, a sense of dignity which rebukes his steward for sending him "a sorry nag" or a "good ass" to ride on. We have, in short, a man whose shrewd lightbrown eyes miss no opportunity for intervention in that disorderly world, from Angle-land to Jerusalem; who has in every part of it spies and informers in the service of virtue and religion, and who for fourteen years does the work of three men. And all the time he is Gregory the monk, ruining his body by disdainful treatment, writing commentaries on Ezekiel: a medium-sized, swarthy man, with large bald head and straggling tawny beard, with thick red lips and Roman nose and chin, racked by indigestion and then by gout--but a prodigious worker.
To compress his work into a chapter is impossible; one can only give imperfect summaries and a few significant details. He had secretaries, of course, and we are apt to forget that the art of shorthand writing, which was perfectly developed by the Romans, had not yet been lost in the night of the Middle Ages. Yet every letter has the stamp of Gregory's personality, and we recognize a mind of wonderful range and power.
His episcopal work in Rome alone might have contented another man. Soon after his election he wrote a long letter on the duties and qualifications of a bishop, which, in the shape of a treatise entitled The Book of Pastoral Rule, inspired for centuries the better bishops of Europe. His palace was monastic in its severity. He discharged from his service, in Rome and abroad, the hosts of laymen his predecessors had employed, and replaced them with monks and clerics: incidentally turning into monks and clerics many men who did not adorn the holy state. He said mass daily, and used at times to go on horseback to some appointed chapel in the city, where the people gathered to hear his sermons on the gospels or on Ezekiel. Every shade of simony, every pretext for ordination, except religious zeal, he sternly suppressed. When he found that men were made deacons for their fine voices, he forbade deacons to sing any part of the mass except the Gospel, and he made other changes in the liturgy and encouraged the improvement of the chant. Modern criticism does not admit the Sacramentary and the Antiphonary which later ages ascribed to him, but he seems to have given such impulse to reform that the perfected liturgy and chant of a later date were attributed to him. 1
His motive in these reforms was purely religious; those who would persuade us that Gregory I. had some regard for profane culture, at least as ancillary to religious, forget his belief is an approaching dissolution, and overlook the nature of profane culture. It was indissolubly connected with paganism, and Gregory would willingly have seen every Latin classic submerged in the Tiber; while his disdain of Greek confirmed the already prevalent ignorance which shut the Greek classics out of Europe, to its grave disadvantage, for many centuries. Happily, many monks and bishops were in this respect less unworldly than Gregory, and the greater Roman writers were copied and preserved. Gregory's attitude toward these men is well known. He hears that Bishop Desiderius of Vienne, a very worthy prelate, is lecturing on "grammar" (Latin literature), and he writes to tell Desiderius that he is filled with "mourning and sorrow" that a bishop should be occupied with so "horrible" ( nefandum ) a pursuit. 2 It has
1 See Dudden Gregory the Great, i., 264-276.
2 Ep. , vi., 54.
been frivolously suggested that perhaps Desiderius had been lecturing on the classics in church, but Gregory is quite plain: the reading of the pagan writers is an unfit occupation even for "a religious layman." 1 In the preface to his Magna Moralia he scorns "the rules of Donatus"; and so sore a memory of his attitude remained among the friends of Latin letter that Christian tradition charged him with having burned the libraries of the Capitol and of the Palatine and with having mutilated the statues and monuments of older Rome. 2
The work of Gregory in Rome, however, was not confined to liturgy and discipline. The tradition of parasitism at Rome was not dead, and, as there was now no Prťfectus Annonť to distribute corn to the citizens, it fell to the Church to feed them; and the Romans were now augmented by destitute refugees from all parts. Gregory had to find food and clothing for masses of people, to make constant grants to their churches and to the monasteries, to meet a periodical famine, and to render what miserable aid the ignorance of the time afforded during the periodical pestilence. Occasionally he had even to control the movements of troops and the dispatch of supplies; at least, in his impatience of the apparent helplessness of the imperial government and his determination to hold Catholic
1 Dr. H. A. Mann ( The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, 1902, etc. ) would show that Gregory had a regard for culture by quoting much praise of secular learning from the Commentary on the First Book of Kings. This is not a work of Gregory at all. Even the Benedictine editors of the Migne edition claim only that it was written by an admirer who took notes of Gregory's homilies, and they admit that it frequently departs from Gregory's ideas.
2 See John of Salisbury, Polycraticus, ii., 26. It is difficult to conceive that so unflattering a tradition was entirely an invention.
towns against the Lombards, he undertook these and other secular functions.
The control of the vast Papal income and expenditure might alone have sufficed to employ a vigorous man. In Sicily, there were immense estates belonging to the Papacy, and other "patrimonies," as they were called, were scattered over Italy and the islands, or lay as far away as Gaul, Dalmatia, Africa, and the East. Clerical agents usually managed these estates, but we find Gregory talking about their mules and mares and cornfields, and the wages and grievances of their slaves and serfs, as familiarly as if he had visited each of them. It has been estimated, rather precariously, that the Papacy already owned from 1400 to 1800 square miles of land, and drew from it an annual income of from ú300,000 to ú400,000. Not a domestic squabble seems to have happened in this enormous field but Gregory intervened, and his rigid sense of justice and general shrewdness of decision command respect. Then, there was the equally heavy task of distributing the income, for the episcopal establishment cost little, and nothing was hoarded. In sums of ten, twenty, or fifty gold pieces, in bales of clothing and galleys of corn, in altarvessels and the ransom of captives, the stream percolated yearly throughout the Christian world, as far as the villages of Syria. Monks and nuns were especially favoured.
Within a few years, there spread over the world so great a repute of Gregory's charity and equity that petitions rained upon Rome. Here a guild of soapboilers asks his intervention in some dispute: there a woman who, in a fit of temper at the supposed infidelity of her husband, has rushed to a nunnery and now wants to return home, asks his indulgence, and receives it. From all sides are cries of oppression, simony, or other scandal, and Gregory is aroused. Jews appeal to him frequently against the injustice of their Christian neighbours, and they invariably get such justice as the law allows. The Zealots who have seized their synagogues (if of long standing--they were forbidden by law to build new ones) must restore them, or pay for them 1 ; impatient priests who would coerce them into "believing" are rebuked. There is only one weakness--a not unamiable weakness--in his treatment of the Jews. Those who abandon their creed are to have their rents reduced: to encourage the others, he says cheerfully. 2 For the pagans, however, he has no mercy, as we shall see. He sanctions compulsion and persecution with mediŠval frankness. It should be noted, too, that, while he approved the manumission of slaves, he never condemned the institution as such. Vast regiments of slaves worked the Papal estates, though the ease, if not advantage, of converting them into serfs must have been apparent. Still no slave could enter the clergy--lest, as Leo the Great had declared, his "vileness" should "pollute" the sacred order--and a special probation was imposed on slaves if they wished to enter monasteries: a wise regulation this, for many thought it an easy way to freedom. Still no slave could contract marriage with a free Christian, as Gregory expressly reaffirms. 3
These details of his work will, however, be more apparent if we pass from Rome to the provinces which he controlled, and observe the success or failure of his intervention. It will at once be understood that his intervention almost invariably means that there is an abuse to correct, and, therefore, the world which we
1 Ep., ix., 6, etc.
2 Ep., ii., 32.
3 Ep., vii., 1.
find reflected in Gregory's letters is fearfully corrupt. The restless movements and destructive ways of the barbarians had almost obliterated the older culture, and no new system either of education or polity had yet been devised. The influence of the East had been just as pernicious. The venality and corruption of its officers had infected the higher clergy, and simony prevailed from Gaul to Palestine. Over and over again Gregory writes, in just the same words, to prelates of widely separated countries: "I hear that no one can obtain orders in your province without paying for them." The clergy was thus tainted at its source. Ambitious laymen passed, almost at a bound, to bishoprics, and then maintained a luxurious or vicious life by extorting illegal fees. The people, who had been generally literate under the Romans, were now wholly illiterate and helpless. But Gregory has his informants (generally the agents in charge of the patrimonies) everywhere, and the better clergy and the oppressed and the disappointed appeal to him; and a sad procession of vice and crime passes before our eyes when we read his letters. This anarchic world needed a supreme court more than ever: the Papacy throve on its very disorders.
Italy was demoralized by the settlement of the Arian Lombards over the greater part of the country, and by their murderous raids in all directions. Parts which remained Catholic were often so isolated from Rome that a spirit of defiance was encouraged, and Gregory had grave trouble. Milan, for instance, was in the hands of the Lombards, but the Catholic clergy had fled to Genoa with their archbishop, and they retained something of the independence of the Church of St. Ambrose. We see that they must now have their selec- tion of a bishop approved by Gregory, and that the Pope often quietly reproves the prelate for his indiscretions; but we find also that when, on a more serious occasion, Gregory proposes to have Archbishop Constantius tried at Rome, the latter acridly refuses.
Ravenna, the seat of the Eastern Exarch, who is generally hostile to Gregory, occasions some of his least saintly letters. He hears that Archbishop John wears his pallium on forbidden occasions, and he reproves John with an air of unquestioned authority. 1 John partly disputes the facts, and partly pleads special privileges of Ravenna, but Gregory finds no trace of such privileges and orders him to conform. 2 Then he hears that John and the fine folk of the court are poking fun at him, and his honest anger overflows 3 : "Thank God the Lombards are between me and the city of Ravenna, or I might have had to show how strict I can be." John dies, and we see that the clergy of Ravenna must submit the names of two candidates to Gregory. He rejects the Exarch's man, and chooses an old fellowmonk and friend, Marinianus. But the new Archbishop is forced to maintain the defence of the supposed privileges of Ravenna, and the dispute seems to reach no conclusion during the life of Gregory.
In the isolated peninsula of Istria, the spirit of independence has gone the length of flat defiance, or schism, because the Papacy has acquiesced in the endorsement by the Eastern bishops of the Three Chapters: three chapters of a certain decree of Justinian. The schism is of long standing, and when Gregory is made bishop he sends a troop of soldiers to the patriarch of Aquileia, commanding that prelate and his chief supporters to appear at Rome forthwith,
1 III., 56.
2 V., 11.
3 V., 15.
"according to the orders of the most Christian and most Serene lord of all." The use of the Emperor's name seems to have been, to put it politely, not strictly accurate, for when Bishop Severus appealed to Maurice, the Emperor curtly ordered Gregory to desist. We have another indication of the mediŠval aspect of Gregory's ideas when, in the following year, he refused to contribute to the relief-fund for the victims of a great fire at Aquileia. His monies were "not for the enemies of the Church," he said. He went on to weaken the schism by other means, partly by bribes, and when Maurice died in 602 and a friendly Exarch was appointed, he at once urged physical force. 1 "The defence of the soul is more precious in the sight of God than the defence of the body," he enacted. He was legislating for the Middle Ages.
His relations with the Lombards and the civil power reveal another side of his character. Small Catholic towns, and even Rome, were constantly threatened by the Lombards, yet Constantinople was unable to send troops, and the Exarch remained inactive behind the marshes and walls of Ravenna. Gregory indignantly turned soldier and diplomatist. He appointed a military governor of Nepi, and later of Naples; and many of his letters are to military men, stirring them to action and telling of the dispatch of troops or supplies. In 592, the Lombards appeared before Rome, and Gregory fell ill with work and anxiety. He then purchased a separate peace from the Lombards 2 and there was great anger at Ravenna and Constantinople. Gregory's sentiment was hardly one of patriotism, which would not be consistent with his philosophy; he was concerned for religion, as he was bound to be since the
1 XIII., 33.
2 II., 46 ; v., 36.
Lombards were Arians. On the other hand, he acknowledges that if he makes a separate peace with the Lombards, it will be disastrous for other parts of the Empire 1 ; and it is clear from the sequel that the Exarch had a policy and was not idly drifting.
A later legend, which some modern writers strangely regard as credible, 2 makes Gregory meet the Lombard king outside Rome, and strike a bargain. A bargain was certainly struck, but the angry Exarch issued from Ravenna with his troops and cut his way to Rome, where his conversation with the Pope cannot have been amiable. The Lombards were back in 593, but were either bribed, or found Rome too strong to be taken. They returned again in 595. Gregory now wrote to a friend in Ravenna 3 that he proposed again to purchase peace, and the Emperor Maurice seems to have written him a scalding letter. From Gregory's indignant reply 4 we gather that Maurice called him "a fool," and hinted that he was a liar and traitor. The government idea evidently was that Gregory was a simple-minded victim of the cunning Lombards, as is very probable; but we must take account of his sincere concern for religion and his longing for peace. His policy of bribes would have been disastrous. At Ravenna, some person posted on the walls a sarcastic "libel" about his statesmanship, and another fiery letter appears in Gregory's register.
In other parts of Italy, he had grave ecclesiastical abuses to correct, and some strange bishops are immortalized in his letters. In 599, he had to issue a circular letter, 5 forbidding bishops to have women in their
1 V., 36.
2 It is first found in the unreliable Continuer of Prosper Chronicle, and seems to be founded on the meeting of Leo and Attila. Neither Gregory nor Paul, the Deacon speaks of a meeting with the Lombard king.
3 V., 36.
4 V., 40.
5 IX., ii.
houses, and ordering priests, deacons, and subdeacons to separate from their wives. Sicily, controlled by his agents, gave him little trouble, but his informers reported that in Sardinia and Corsica the clergy and monks were very corrupt, and the pagans, who were numerous, bribed the officials to overlook the practice of their cult. The metropolitan at Cagliari was an intemperate and avaricious man, and Gregory, after repeated warnings, summoned him to Rome; but there is a curious mixture of indulgence and sternness in the Pope's letters, and Januarius did not go to Rome or alter his wicked ways. As to the pagans, Gregory, at first, merely urged the Archbishop to raise the rents and taxes of those who would not abandon the gods. 1 When this proved insufficient, he ordered physical persecution. If they were slaves, they were to be punished with "blows and tortures"; if they were free tenants, they were to be imprisoned. "In order," he says, in entirely mediŠval language, "that they who disdain to hear the saving words of health may at least be brought to the desired sanity of mind by torture of the body." 2
With other provinces of the old Empire, his correspondence is mainly directed to the correction of grave abuses. His letters to Spain show that Papal authority was fully recognized there, and it is of interest to find a Spanish bishop bemoaning, when Gregory urges that only literate men shall be promoted to the priesthood, that they are too few in number. Africa virtually defied his efforts to reform the Church. The province had recovered a little under Byzantine rule, but its bishops and civic officials took bribes from the Donatists. 3 They refused to persecute the schismatics, when Gregory ordered them to do so, and they defeated
1 IV., 26.
2 IX., 65.
3 I., 84.
his attempt to break up their system of local primacies. 1 He was compelled to leave them in their perverse ways. The same condition of simony and clerical laxity prevailed generally throughout the Roman-Teutonic world, and Gregory could do little more than press for the election of good men to vacant bishoprics.
The diplomatic side of his character appears in his relations with Gaul, where the fiery and wilful Brunichildis was his chief correspondent. 2 It is true that her graver crimes were committed after Gregory's death, but he was particularly well informed, and one cannot admire his references to her "devout mind" or appreciate his belief that she was "filled with the piety of heavenly grace." When, in 599, she asked the pallium for her obsequious Bishop Syagrius of Autun, Gregory granted it: on condition that Syagrius convoked a synod for the correction of abuses and that Brunichildis attacked paganism more vigorously. When, on the other hand, the learned and devout Bishop Desiderius of Vienne, who was hated by Brunichildis for his courage in rebuking her, asked the pallium, Gregory found that there was no precedent and refused. It is true that Brunichildis was generous to the clergy and, in her way, pious; but Gregory must have known the real character of the woman whose influence he sought to win. His sacrifice, moreover, was futile. A few synods were held, but there is no trace of any diminution of simony, drunkenness, and vice among the Frankish priests and monks.
His interest in the neighbouring island of Angleland is well known. He began, early in his Pontificate, to buy Anglo-Saxon youths and train them for missionary work, but, in 596, he found a speedier way to
1 I., 74.
2 See Ep. , vii., 5, 50, 59 etc.
convert the islanders. The all-powerful Ethelbert was married to the Christian Bertha, and Gregory's friendly relations with Gaul opened the way to his court. He sent the historic mission of monks under Augustine, and, in a few years, had the converted King transforming the pagan temples into churches and driving his people into them. It was Gregory who planned the first English hierarchy.
The monks, who ought to have been Gregory's firmest allies in the reform of Christendom, had already become an ignorant and sensual body, sustaining the ideal of Benedict only in a few isolated communities, and Gregory's efforts to improve them were not wholly judicious. He insisted that they should not undertake priestly or parochial work, and he forbade the bishops to interfere with their temporal concerns. There can be little doubt that this tendency to free them from episcopal control made for greater degeneration. Here again, also, we find a curious illustration of his diplomatic liberality. As a rule he was very severe with apostate monks, yet we find him maintaining through life a friendly correspondence with a renegade monk of Syracuse. Venantius had returned to his position of wealthy noble in the world, and had married a noble dame. Gregory, it is true, urged him to return to his monastery, but the amiability of his language is only explained by the position and influence of the man. The last phase of this part of Gregory's correspondence is singular. Venantius died, and left his daughters to the guardianship of the Pope; and we find Gregory assuring these children of sin that he will discharge "the debt we owe to the goodness of your parents." 1
We have already seen that Gregory's relations with
1 XI., 35. the eastern Emperor were painful, and another episode must be related before we approach Eastern affairs more closely. The Archbishop of Salona, who was one of the typical lax prelates of the age and who had smiled at Gregory's admonitions and threats, was removed by death, and the Pope endeavoured to secure the election of the archdeacon, a rigorous priest who had been the Pope's chief informer. Neither clergy nor laity, however, desired a change in the morals of the episcopal palace, and they secured from Constantinople an imperial order for the election of their own favourite. Gregory alleged bribery and excommunicated the new archbishop. When the Emperor ordered him to desist, he flatly refused, and a compromise had to be admitted. In another town of the same frontier province, Prima Justiniana, the Emperor proposed to replace an invalid bishop with a more vigorous man, and Gregory refused to consent. 1
A graver conflict had arisen in the East. Constantinople, with its million citizens and its superb imperial palace, naturally regarded its archbishop as too elevated to submit to Rome, and its ruling prelate, John the Faster,--a priest who rivalled Gregory in virtue and austerity,--assumed the title of "Ecumenical Bishop." Gregory protested, but the Emperor Maurice, with his customary bluntness, ordered the Pope to be silent. A few years later, however, some aggrieved Eastern priests appealed to Rome, and Gregory wrote, in entirely Papal language, to ask John for a report on their case. When John lightly, or disdainfully, answered that he knew nothing about it, the Pope lost his temper. He told his ascetic brother that it would be a much less evil to eat meat than to tell lies: that he had better get
1 XI., 47.
rid of that licentious young secretary of his and attend to business: that he must at once take back the aggrieved priests: and that, although he seeks no quarrel, he will not flinch if it is forced on him. 1 John made a malicious retort, by inducing the Empress Constantina to make a request for relics which Gregory was bound to refuse. The priests were eventually tried at Rome. Whether Gregory's sentence was ever carried out in the East, we do not know, but John took the revenge of styling himself "Ecumenical Bishop" in his correspondence with Gregory, and the Pope then tried to form a league with the patriarchs of the apostolic Sees of Antioch and Alexandria against the ambitious John. In his eagerness to defeat John, he went very near to sharing the Papacy with his allies. Peter, he said, had been at Antioch before Rome, and Mark was a disciple of Peter; therefore the three were in a sense "one See." 2 He added that Rome was so far from aspiring to the odious title that, although it had actually been offered to the Popes by the Council of Chalcedon, neither Leo nor any of his successors had used it. 3 To John himself Gregory sent a withering rebuke of his pride. To the Emperor Maurice he described John as "a wolf in sheep's clothing," a man who claimed a "blasphemous title" which "ought to be far from the hearts of all Christians"! John may "stiffen his neck against the Almighty," he says, but "he will not bend
1 III., 53.
2 V., 43.
3 It is not true that the Council offered the title to Leo I. It occurs only in petitions which two Eastern priests directed to the Pope and the Council ( Mansi, vi., 1006 and 1012), and the Council, as we saw, decreed precisely the opposite. The only other place in which we find it in some form is the spurious Latin version of the sentence on Dioscorus to which I referred on p. 50.
mine even with swords." 1 He assured the Empress Constantina that John's ambition was a sure sign of the coming of Anti-Christ. 2
Gregory's peculiar diplomacy only excited the disdain of the subtler Greeks. His position is, in fact, so false --repudiating as "blasphemous" a title which, the whole world knew, he himself claimed in substance-that it has been suggested that he thought the term "Ecumenical Bishop" meant "sole bishopp." Such a suggestion implies extraordinary ignorance at Rome, but there is no need to entertain it. To his friends Anastasius of Antioch and Eulogius of Alexandria, Gregory complained that the phrase was an affront, not to all bishops, but merely to the leading patriarchs, and the whole correspondence shows that there was no misunderstanding. Gregory lacked self-control. Anastasius of Antioch, though very friendly, ignored his letters; Eulogius advised him to be quiet, and hinted that people might suggest envy; the Emperor treated him with silent disdain. John died, but his successor Cyriacus actually used the offensive title in telling Gregory of his appointment. There was another outburst, and Maurice impatiently begged the Pope not to make so much fuss about "an idle name." Eulogius of Alexandria, who had some sense of humour, addressed Gregory as "Universal Pope," saying gravely that he would obey his "commands" and not again call any man "Universal Bishop." Possibly Eulogius knew that Gregory had, a few years before, written to John of Syracuse: "As to the Church of Constantinople, who doubts that it is subject to the Apostolic See?" 3 Gregory protested in vain until the close of his life. The Greeks retained their "blasphemous" title: the
1 V., 20.
2 V., 21.
3 IX., 12.
Latins continued to assert their authority even over the Greek bishops.
Toward the close of the year 602, the Emperor Maurice, now a stricken old man of sixty-three, was driven from his throne by the brutal Phocas; his five boys were murdered before his eyes and he was himself executed. Phocas sent messengers to apprise Gregory of his accession. We may assume that these messengers would give a discreet account of what had happened and, possibly, bring an assurance of the new Emperor's orthodoxy; and we do not know whether Gregory's assiduous servants at Constantinople sent him any independent account. Yet, when we have made every possible allowance, Gregory's letters to Phocas are painful. The first letter 1 begins, "Glory be to God on high," and sings a chant of victory culminating in, "Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad." The bloody and unscrupulous adventurer must have been himself surprised. Two months later, Gregory wrote again, hailing the dawn of "the day of liberty" after the night of tyranny. 2 In another letter he 3 saluted Leontia, the new Empress,--a fit consort of Phocas,--as "a second Pulcheria"; and he commended the Church of St. Peter's to her generosity. These two letters were written seven months after the murders, and it is impossible to suppose that no independent report had reached Gregory by that time. Nor do we find that, though he lived for a year afterwards, he ever undid those lamentable letters. It is the most ominous presage of the Middle Ages.
Gregory died on March 12, 604. The racking pains of gout had been added to his maladies, and plague and famine and Lombards continued to enfeeble Italy.
1 XIII., 31.
2 XIII., 38.
3 XIII., 39.
He had striven heroically to secure respect for ideals-for religion, justice, and honour--in that dark world on which his last thoughts lingered. He had planted many a good man in the bishoprics of Europe. He had immensely strengthened the Papacy, and a strong central power might do vast service in that anarchic Europe. Yet the historian must recognize that the world was too strong even for his personality; simony and corruption still spread from Gaul to Africa, and the ideas which Gregory most surely contributed to the mind of Europe were those more lamentable or more casuistic deductions from his creed which we have noticed. Within a year or so-to make the best we can of a rumour which has got into the chronicles--the Romans themselves grumbled that his prodigal charity had lessened their share of the patrimonies, and we saw that more bitter complaints against him were current in the Middle Ages. Yet he was a great Pope: not great in intellect, not perfect in character, but, in an age of confusion, corruption, and cowardice, a mighty protagonist of high ideals.
HADRIAN I. AND THE TEMPORAL POWER
TWO centuries after the death of Gregory the Great we still find an occasional prelate of rare piety, such as Alcuin, scanning the horizon for signs of the approaching dissolution. Vice and violence had so far triumphed that it seemed as if God must soon lower the curtain on the human tragedy. But the successors of Gregory in the chair of Peter were far from entertaining such feelings. From the heart of the threatening north, another Constantine had come to espouse their cause, to confound their enemies, and to invest the Papacy with a power that it had never known before. The story of the Popes as temporal sovereigns had begun.
Once more we must say that the development was an almost inevitable issue of the circumstances. The Byzantine rule in Italy had never been strong enough to restrain the Lombards, and the rise of the Mohammedans in the farther East now made Constantinople less competent than ever to administer and to defend its trans-Adriatic province. First the city, then the duchy, of Rome fell under the care of the Popes, from sheer lack of other administrators and defenders. We saw this in the Pontificate of Gregory. Beyond the Roman duchy were the scattered patrimonies, the estates given or bequeathed to the Papacy, and these were often towns, or included towns. Here again the lack of secular authority put all government in the hands of the Pope's agents. Then the Eastern court successively adopted two heresies, Monothelitism and Iconoclasm, and the dwindling respect of Rome for the Greeks passed into bitter hostility. Imperial troops sacked the Lateran, dragged a Pope ( Martin I.) ignominiously to the East, and induced another Pope ( Honorius I.) to "subvert the immaculate faith" or, at least, to "allow the immaculate to be stained." 1 On the whole, however, the Pontiffs who succeeded Gregory were firm and worthy men. Rome began to shudder between the fierce Lombard and the heretical Greek, and there slowly grew in the Lateran Palace the design of winning independence of the erratic counsels of kings.
At this juncture, the name of Charles Martel blazed through the Christian world, and Gregory III. and the people of Rome implored him to take them under his protection. The Lombards were, however, auxiliaries of Charles, and, as Duchesne suggests, Charles probably resented Gregory's interference in secular affairs; the Pope had recently encouraged the Lombard dukes who were in rebellion against their king, and Liutprand had, in revenge, seized four frontier towns of the Roman duchy. Gregory failed, but his amiable and diplomatic successor, Pope Zachary, changed the Roman policy and made progress. He lent Liutprand the use of the little Papal army to aid in suppressing his dukes, and received the four towns and other "patrimonies." A little later, the Exarch and the Archbishop of Ravenna
1 So the successor of Honorius, Leo II., wrote to the Emperor. Ep. , iii.
asked Zachary to intercede for them, and the genial Pope again saw and disarmed the Lombard. The language of the Liber Pontificalis is, at this important stage, so barbarous--a sad reflection of Roman culture, for it must have been written in the Lateran--that one often despairs of catching its exact meaning, but it seems to me clear that it represents null Liutprand as giving the district of Cesena to the Papacy, and restoring the exarchate of Ravenna to the city of Ravenna. Presently, however, we shall find the Popes claiming the exarchate.
The next step was the famous intervention of Rome in the affairs of the Franks. Pippin, Mayor of the Palace, aspired to the throne of Childeric III., and consulted the Papacy as to the moral aspect of his design. The astute Pontiff went far beyond the terms of the request, and "ordered" the Franks to make Pippin their monarch: an act which founded the lucrative claim of Rome that she had conferred the kingdom on the father of Charlemagne. Zachary's successor, Stephen II., 1 completed the work. He was hard pressed by the Lombard King Aistulph, and, after a fruitless appeal to Constantinople, he went to France in 753 and implored Pippin to "take up the cause of the Blessed Peter and the Republic of the Romans." This broke the last link with the East, and Stephen secured the gratitude of Pippin and his dynasty by anointing the King and his sons and pronouncing a dire anathema --which he had assuredly no right to pronounce--on any who should ever dare to displace the family of Pippin from the throne. And so Pippin swore a mighty oath that he would take up the cause of the Blessed
1 Stephen I., who was chosen at the death of Zachary, died before consecration, and some historians decline to insert him in the series.
Peter, but what he precisely engaged to do is one of the great controversies of history.
It is clear that Pippin was made "Patrician" of Rome. This had long been the official title of the Byzantine Exarch in Italy, and it has no definite meaning when it is transferred to Pippin and Charlemagne. Probably this vagueness was part of the Roman plan. The Pope wanted Pippin's army without his suzerainty. Moreover, in conferring on Pippin the title which had belonged to the Exarch, it was probably implied that the exarchate became part of "the cause of the Blessed Peter." In point of fact, the Liber Pontificalis goes on to say that Pippin swore to win for Rome "the exarchate of Ravenna" as well as other "rights and territories of the Republic." Later, in recording the life of Hadrian I., the Liber Pontificalis says that Stephen asked for "divers cities and territories of the province of Italy, and the grant of them to the Blessed Peter and his Vicars for ever." This part of the work is, it is true, under grave suspicion of interpolation, but the sentence I have quoted may pass. Pippin swore to secure for the Popes, not only the Roman duchy, and "divers cities and territories" which they claimed as "patrimonies," but also the exarchate of Ravenna, to which they had no right whatever. As Hadrian I. repeatedly refers, in his letters to Charlemagne, to this "Donation of Pippin," and in one letter (xcviii.) says that it was put into writing, it is idle to contest it. 1
Pippin crossed the Alps and forced Aistulph to yield,
1 Pippin repeated his oath at Quiercey, and the bargain is sometimes described as the "Quiercey Donation." The "Fantuzzian Fragment," an ancient document which professes to give the precise extent of the donation, is full of errors and anachronisms, and is not now trusted by any serious historian.
but as soon as the Franks returned to their country the Lombard refused to fulfil his obligations and again devastated Italy. No answer to the Pope's desperate appeals for aid came from France and, in 756, when Rome was gravely threatened, Stephen sent a very curious letter to Pippin. 1 It is written in the name of St. Peter, and historians are divided in opinion as to whether or no the Pope wished to impose on the superstition of the French monarch and to induce him to think that it was a miraculous appeal from the apostle himself. There is grave reason to think that this was Stephen's design. The letter does not identify the Pope with Peter, as apologists suggest; it speaks of Stephen as a personality distinct from the apostolic writer, insists that it is the disembodied spirit of Peter in heaven that addresses the King, and threatens him with eternal damnation unless he comes to Rome and saves "my body" and "my church" and "its bishop." As Pippin, who had ignored the Pope's appeals so long, at once hurried to Italy on receiving this letter, we may assume that he regarded it as miraculous. However that may be, he crushed Aistulph and forced him to sign a deed abandoning twenty-three cities--the exarchate, the adjacent Pentapolis, Comacchio, and Narni --to the Roman See. 2 The representatives of the Eastern court had hurried to Italy and had claimed this territory, but Pippin bluntly told them that he had taken the trouble to crush Aistulph only "on behalf of the
1 Ep. , v. 2 This is sometimes called the "Donation of Aistulph," but is really the completed Donation of Pippin. On this point the Liber Pontificalis is confirmed by the Annals of Eginhard, in which we read that Pippin gave the Roman See "Ravenna and the Pentapolis and the whole exarchate belonging to Ravenna" (year 756), and by the later letters of Hadrian I.
Blessed Peter." Byzantine rule in Italy was henceforth confined to Calabria in the south and Venetia and Istria in the north. The Pope succeeded the Eastern Emperor by right of gift from Pippin; and Pippin would, no doubt, claim that the provinces were his to give by right of the sword. In point of fact, however, the Papacy had claimed the exarchate on some previous title, and that title is unsound. We may now pass speedily to the Pontificate of Hadrian.. Aistulph died in 756; Stephen III. in 757. The ten years' Pontificate of Paul I. was absorbed in a tiresome effort to wring the new rights of Rome from the new Lombard King, Didier, and the struggle led to the severance of the Romans into Frank and Lombard factions: one of the gravest and most enduring results of the secular policy of the Papacy. When Paul died, the Lombard faction, under two high Papal officials named Christopher and Sergius, led Lombard troops upon the opposing faction (who had elected a Pope), crushed them in a brutal and bloody struggle, and elected Stephen IV. Stephen was, however, not the Lombard King's candidate, and Didier intrigued at Rome against the power of Christopher and Sergius. He bribed the Papal chamberlain, Paul Marta., and it is enough to say that before long Christopher and Sergius were put in prison and deprived of their eyes. This was done at the Pope's command; it was the price of the restoration by Didier of the cities he still withheld. 1
1 Writers who say merely that Stephen was "suspected of complicity" must have overlooked the testimony of Hadrian himself in the Liber Pontificalis. He tells the Lombard envoys that Stephen assured him that, on Didier promising to return the cities, the Pope "caused the eyes of Christopher and Sergius to be put out." Stephen's character is further illustrated by his letter to the sons of Pippin ( Ep. , iv.), when it was proposed that one of them should marry Didier's daughter Hermin Rome was still under the shadow of this brutal quarrel when, in the year 772, Hadrian became Pope. He came of a noble Roman family, and, having been left an orphan in tender years, he had been reared by a pious uncle. Culture at Rome in the eighth century had sunk to its lowest depth, and the letters of Hadrian, like all documents of the time, are full of the grossest grammatical errors. In the school of virtue and asceticism, however, he was a willing pupil. His fasts and his hair-shirt attracted attention in his youth, and he was so favourably known to all at the time of Stephen's death that he was at once and unanimously elected. Didier pressed for the new Pope's friendship. Charlemagne had already tired of his daughter, or no longer needed her dowry (the Lombard alliance), and had ignominiously restored her to her father's court and ventured upon a third matrimonial experiment. We do not find Hadrian rebuking the Frank King, but he sent his chamberlain Afiarta to the Lombard court, to arrange for the restoration of the cities ceded to Rome and, presumably, form an alliance with Didier. While Afiarta was away, however, two things occurred which caused him to change his policy. Carlomann died in France, and his share of the kingdom was annexed by Charlemagne. Carlomann's widow then fled to the Lombard court, and Didier pressed Hadrian to anoint her sons in defiance of Charlemagne. When Hadrian hesitated, Didier invaded the Papal territory and took several towns; while Afiarta, the Pope heard,
gard. They were both married, but the Pope says very little about the sin of divorce; it is the infamy of alliance with the Lombards which he chiefly denounces. In point of fact, Charlemagne divorced his wife and married Hermingard, and not a word further was heard from Rome about this or any other of his peculiar domestic arrangements.
was boasting that he would bring Hadrian to Pavia with a rope round his neck. Meantime, however, Afiarta's rivals at Rome informed the Pope that Afiarta had had the blind prisoner Sergius murdered, and Hadrian was shocked. He ordered the arrest of his chamberlain, and, in defiance of his more lenient instructions, Afiarta was delivered to the secular authorities at Ravenna and executed. Didier now set his forces in motion. Hadrian, hurriedly gathering his troops for the defence of the duchy, appealed to Charlemagne and threatened Didier with excommunication. It seems also that he made efforts to secure other parts of Italy for the Papacy. Some professed representatives of Spoleto, which was subject to Didier, came to Rome to ask that their duchy might be incorporated in the Papal territory, and their long Lombard hair was solemnly cropped in Roman fashion. We shall find grave reason to doubt whether these men had an authentic right to represent Spoleto, but from that moment the Popes claimed it as part of their temporal dominion. Didier seems to have underrated the power of the young French monarch. Both Hadrian and Charlemagne (who offered Didier 14,000 gold solidi if he would yield the disputed cities) endeavoured to negotiate peacefully with him, but he refused all overtures, and the Franks crossed the Alps and besieged him in Pavia. Charlemagne remained before Pavia throughout the winter of 773-774, and, when Holy Week came round, he went to Rome for the celebration of Easter. Hadrian hurriedly arranged to meet his guest with honour, though the account of his ceremonies makes us smile when we recall how imperial Rome would have received such a monarch. Thirty miles from Rome the civic and military officials, with the standards of the Roman militia, met the conqueror; a mile from the city the various "schools" of the militia, and groups of children with branches of palm and olive, streamed out to meet the Franks, and accompanied them to St. Peter's. The awe with which Charlemagne approached the old capital of the world, and the feeling of the Romans when they gazed on the gigantic young Frank, in his short silver-bordered tunic and blue cloak, with a shower of golden curls falling over his broad shoulders, are left to our imagination by the chronicler. 1 His one aim is to show how the famous donation of temporal power was the natural culmination of the piety of the Frankish monarch. He tells us how Charlemagne walked on foot the last mile to St. Peter's: how, when he reached the great church on Holy Saturday, he went on his knees and kissed each step before he embraced the delighted Pope: how Frank bishops and 0 warriors mingled with the Romans, and how the vast crowd was thrilled by the emotions of that historic occasion. He describes how Charlemagne humbly asked permission to enter Rome, and spent three days in paying reverence at its many shrines; and how, on the Wednesday, Pope and King met in the presence of the body of Peter to discuss the question of the Papal territory. In a famous passage, which has inspired a small library of controversial writing, this writer of the life of Hadrian in the Liber Pontificalis affirms that Charlemagne assigned to St. Peter and his successors for ever the greater part of Italy: in modern terms, the whole of Italy except Lombardy in the north, which was left to the Lombards, and Naples and Calabria in
1 The visit is described very fully in the Liber Pontificalis.
the south, where the Greeks still lingered. The duchies of Beneventum and Spoleto, the provinces of Venetia and Istria, and the island of Corsica, which were not at the disposal of Charlemagne, are expressly included; and it is said that one copy of the deed, signed by Charlemagne and his nobles and bishops, was put into the tomb of St. Peter, and another copy was taken to France. This is the basis of the claim of later Popes to the greater part of Italy.
But the suspicions of historians are naturally awakened when they learn that both copies of this priceless document have disappeared: that the only description of its terms is this passage of the Liber Pontificalis, which was presumably written in the Papal chancellery: and that the art of forging documents was extensively cultivated in the eighth century. The famous "Donation of Constantine," a document which makes the first Christian Emperor, when he leaves Rome, entrust the whole Western Empire to Pope Silvester, is a flagrant forgery of the time; indeed, most historians now conclude that it was fabricated at Rome during the Pontificate of Hadrian. Certainly the Pope seems to refer to it when, in 777, he writes to Charlemagne: "Just as in the time of the Blessed Silvester, Bishop of Rome, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church was elevated and exalted by the most pious Emperor Constantine the Great, of holy memory, and he deigned to bestow on it power in these western regions. " 1
1 Ep. , lx. Some writers hold that this is merely an allusion to the Acta S. Silvestri, another forgery of the time, but the words which I have italicized point more clearly to the Donation of Constantine. For the literature of the controversy see Dr. A. Solmi Stato e Chiesa ( 1901), pp. 12-13. It is now the general belief that the Donation was fabricated at Rome, and probably in the Lateran, between 750 and
The equally mendacious Acta S. Silvestri was certainly known to Hadrian, and we do not trace it earlier; and it is probable enough that one or both of these documents were shown to Charlemagne. Some historians believe that the Fantuzzian Fragment (a similarly false account of the Donation of Pippin) belongs to the same inventive period, and this is not unlikely.
It cannot be questioned that Charlemagne renewed and enlarged his father's donation, since Hadrian's letters to him repeatedly affirm this. Immediately after his return to France, Hadrian reminds him that he has confirmed Pippin's gift of the exarchate, 1 and, a little later, he recalls that, when he was in Rome, he granted the duchy of Spoleto to the Blessed Peter. 2 Spoleto did not, in point of fact, pass under Papal rule, but we must conclude from the Pope's words that Charlemagne in some way approved the action of Hadrian in annexing the duchy, and in this sense enlarged the donation made by his father. Beyond this single instance of Spoleto, however, the letters of Hadrian do not confirm the writer of his life in the Liber Pontificalis in his description of the extent of Charlemagne's gift, 3 and their silence supports the criti-
781. Dr. Hodgkin ( Italy and her Invaders, vi.) has charitably suggested that perhaps the document was playfully composed by some Papal clerk in his leisure hours and taken seriously by a later generation, but apologists do not seem to grasp at this straw. 1 Ep. , lii.
2 Ep. , lvii.
3 Dr. Mann (vol. i., part ii., p. 423) finds some confirmation in "a passage of Hadrian's letter to Constantine and Irene, read in the second session of the Seventh General Council." This part of Hadrian's letter was not read in the Council. It is not included in the letter in the Migne edition (vol. xcvi.), and in Mansi (xii., 1072) it is explained that the latter part of Hadrian's letter, in which the passage occurs, was not read to the Greeks. In any case, the passage merely affirms that Charlemagne gave the Roman See "provinces and cities and other
cal view. While he complains of outrages in Istria and Venetia, while he occupies himself in a long series of letters with the affairs of Beneventum, he makes no claim that these provinces were given to him by Charlemagne. The whole story of the Papacy during the life of Charlemagne is inconsistent with any but the more modest estimate of the donation: that it was a vague sanction of the Spoletan proceeding, in addition to confirming the Donation of Pippin.
The learned editor of the Liber Pontificalis, Duchesne, is convinced that the first part of the life of Hadrian, which culminates in this donation, was written by a contemporary cleric and must be regarded as genuine. He suggests that, when Hadrian perceived the impracticability of Charlemagne winning two thirds of Italy for the Roman See, he released the monarch from his oath. This is inconsistent alike with the character of Hadrian and the terms of his correspondence, and recent historians generally regard the range ascribed to Charlemagne's donation in the Liber Pontificalis as either fictitious or enlarged by later interpolations. The first part of Duchesne's study--the proof that the early chapters of the life of Hadrian were written by a contemporary--is convincing: the second part--that the Pope sacrificed five or six great provinces because it was difficult at the time to get them--has not even the most feeble documentary basis and is unlikely in the last degree, to judge by the known facts. Either some later writer during the Pontificate of Leo III.
territories," and this is quite consistent with the more modest estimate of his donation. A letter written by Leo III. to Charlemagne thirty years afterwards (when the Papal description of the donation certainly existed), speaking of his gift of the island of Corsica, is not conclusive.
(or later) rounded the narrative of the early years of Hadrian with this grandiose forgery, or the passage which specifies the extent of the donation was interpolated in the narrative. For either supposition we have ample analogy in the life of the eighth century: for a Papal surrender of whole provinces we have no analogy whatever, and there is not the faintest allusion to it in Hadrian's forty-five extant letters to Charlemagne. 1
The life of Hadrian in the Liber Pontificalis consists, as will already have been realized, of two very distinct parts. The first is a consecutive and circumstantial narrative of events up to the departure of Charlemagne from Rome in the spring of 774. This seems to have been written by an eye-witness, possibly a clerk in the Papal service; and it seems equally probable that this contemporary narrative was rounded by a later hand with a fictitious account of Charlemagne's conduct on the Wednesday. Immediately afterwards, Charlemagne returned to Pavia, conquered Didier, and carried him off to a French monastery. This occurred in the second year of Hadrian's Pontificate, yet in the Liber Pontificalis, the remaining twenty years are crushed into a few chaotic paragraphs, and these are chiefly
1 See the dissertation appended to vol. vi. of Dr. Hodgkin Italy and her Invaders, where the author contends that a late writer used the contemporary account of Hadrian's early years to lead up to this fictitious donation. The hypothesis of interpolation in a genuine narrative is urged by Dr. W. Martens in his Die R÷mische Frage ( 1881) and Beleuchtung der neuesten Controversen Řber die R. Frage ( 1898). Th. Professor Lindner ( Die sogenannten Schenkungen Pippins, Karls des Grossen, und Otto's I. an die Pńpste, 1896) suggests that Charlemagne intended only to secure the patrimonies in the provinces named in the donation, but this is not consistent with the language of the Liber Pontificalis, though it may very well represent the actual intention of Charlemagne.
concerned with his lavish decoration of the Roman churches. We turn to his letters, and from these we can construct a satisfactory narrative and can obtain a good idea of the writer's personality.
Of the fifty-five extant letters of Hadrian no less than forty-five are addressed to Charlemagne, and they are overwhelmingly concerned with his temporal possessions. He is rather a King-Pope than a Pope-King. For twenty years he assails Charlemagne with querulous, petulant, or violent petitions to protect the rights of the Blessed Peter, and it is not illiberally suspected that the lost replies of Charlemagne contained expressions of impatience. The Pope's letters, with their unceasing references to the Blessed Peter and all that he has done for Charlemagne, are not pleasant reading, and the Frank King, whose Italian policy seems to baffle his biographers, must have realized that his position as suzerain of the Blessed Peter was delicate and difficult. Hadrian on the other hand, found that the temporal rights of his See left comparatively little time for spiritual duties and laid a strain on his piety. Once in a few years he smites a heretic or arraigns some delinquent prelate, but the almost unvarying theme of his letters is a complaint that the Blessed Peter is defrauded of his rights, and he is at times drawn into political intrigues which do not adorn his character. We may recognize that his ambition was as impersonal as that of Gregory the Great, yet the spectacle of his plaints and manťuvres is not one on which we can dwell with admiration.
Charlemagne had scarcely returned to France when he received from Hadrian a bitter complaint that Leo, Archbishop of Ravenna, had seized the cities of the exarchate and was endeavouring to win those of the Pentapolis. 1 Charlemagne did not respond; indeed Leo went in person to the Frank court, and it is significant that after his return he was, Hadrian says, more insolent and ambitious than ever. He cast out the officials sent from Rome and, by the aid of his troops, took over the rule of the exarchate. Charlemagne was busy with his Saxon war, and he paid no attention to the Pope's piteous appeals. 2 Leo died in 777, however, and his successor seems to have submitted to Rome. Charlemagne had meantime visited Italy and may have intervened.
The business which brought Charlemagne to Italy in 776 was more serious. Arichis, Duke of Beneventum, one of the ablest and most cultivated of the Lombards, who was married to a daughter of Didier, was an independent sovereign. Hildeprand, Duke of Spoleto, who had--in spite of the supposed annexation of Spoleto--chosen to regard Charlemagne rather than Hadrian as his suzerain, was on good terms with Arichis, and the Pope looked on their friendship with gloomy suspicion. He reported to Charlemagne that they were conspiring against his authority. Charlemagne's envoys were due at Rome, and Hadrian bitterly complained to him that they had gone first to Spoleto and had "greatly increased the insolence of the Spoletans," and had then, in spite of all the Pope's protests, proceeded to Beneventum. 3 It is clear that there was in Italy a strong feeling against the Papal expansion, and that the occasional appeals for incorporation in the Roman territory came from clerics. Spoleto remained independent, in spite of Hadrian's claim that it had been promised to him; in fact, it was clearly the policy of Charlemagne to leave these matters to local option,
1 Ep. , lii.
2 Ep. , liii., liv., lv.
3 Ep. , lvii. and he can scarcely have made a definite promise to include Spoleto in his "donation."
In the following year, Hadrian sent more alarming news. Adelchis, a son of Didier, had fled to the Greeks and was pressing them to assist in overthrowing the Frank-Roman system. Hadrian said that Arichis and Hildeprand, as well as Hrodgaud of Friuli and Reginald of Clusium, had conspired with the Greeks, and he implored the King "by the living God" to come at once. Charlemagne came, and chastised Hrodgaud, but he does not seem to have found serious ground for the charges against the Dukes of Spoleto and Beneventum. Presently, however, Hadrian was able to announce more definitely a conspiracy against his rule; the Beneventans and Greeks had captured some of his Campanian towns, and Tassilo, Duke of Bavaria (son-in-law of Didier), had joined them. It is true that Charlemagne was, at the time, busy in Saxony, but it is equally clear that he was angry with the Pope and resented his efforts to secure the two duchies. In 777, Hadrian wrote that he rejoiced to hear that Charlemagne was at length coming; he sent him a long list, from the Roman archives, of all the territories to which Rome laid claim, and invited the Frank to be a second Constantine. 1 But Charlemagne came not, and in his next letter Hadrian has to lament that the Frank has committed the "unprecedented act" of arresting the Papal Legate for insolence, and the Lombards are openly exulting in his humiliation. 2
There seems then to have been a long period without correspondence between the two courts, or else it has not been thought judicious to preserve the letters. In 781, however, Charlemagne came to Rome. Tassilo
1 Ep., lx
2 Ep. , lxii.
was disarmed, and, as Charlemagne's daughter was betrothed to the son of the Eastern Empress Irene, the Greeks must have been pacified. The six years of peace which followed were, no doubt, used by Hadrian in that princely decoration of the Roman churches of which I will speak later and in some attention to ecclesiastical affairs. We find him writing, in 785, to the bishops of Spain; though he seems to have had little influence on the Spanish heresy which he denounced, and it was left to the more vigorous attacks of Charlemagne. 1 In 786 he extended his pastoral care to England, which had not seen a Roman envoy since the days of Gregory. His Legates were received with honour, but they reported that the English Church was in a deplorable condition. 2 King Offa made a princely gift for the maintenance of lamps in St. Peter's (a euphemism of the Roman court) and for the poor, and it is curious to read that Hadrian consented, at the King's request, to make Lichfield a metropolitan see.
The peace was broken in 787 by an active alliance of Arichis, Tassilo, and the Greeks, and Charlemagne again set out for Italy. Arichis was forced to pay the Franks a heavy annual tribute and give his sons as hostages. The elder son and Arichis himself died soon afterwards, and Hadrian again made lamentable efforts to secure the duchy. The accomplished widow of Arichis, Adelperga, besought Charlemagne to bestow it on her younger son, Romwald, and Hadrian begged him not to comply. He trusted Charlemagne would not suspect him of coveting the duchy himself 3 ; but he reshy;
1 Ep., lxxxiii
2 See the interesting letter of Bishop George, one of Hadrian's Legates, in Jaffe Bibliotheca Rerum Germanicarum, vi., 155, and compare The Saxon Chronicle.
frained from suggesting an alternative to the son of Arichis, and at length he boldly warned Charlemagne not to "prefer Romwald to the Blessed Peter."1 Other indications of the building of the temporal power are not more edifying. We read that representative inhabitants of Capua and other Beneventan cities have sought incorporation in the Roman "republic"; and then we read that the cities have been handed over to the Papacy without inhabitants--a clear sign of the wishes of the majority--and that Romwald is assuring his subjects, on the authority of Charlemagne, that they need not pass under the authority of Rome unless they will.
Charlemagne again ignored the Pope's efforts, and soon had the Spoletan and Beneventan troops cooperating with his own against the Greeks. Hadrian obtained no control over Spoleto and Beneventum, and the fact that he does not charge Charlemagne with failing to keep faith with the Blessed Peter casts further discredit on the supposed donation. In Venetia and Istria he had no influence whatever, and his agents were barbarously treated. 1 Corsica never enters his correspondence. His power was confined to the Roman duchy, the exarchate, and the Pentapolis; and even there it was much assailed. It is true that in an hour of resolution he forbade Charlemagne to interfere in an ecclesiastical election at Ravenna, and it was as master of Ravenna that he gave Charlemagne the marbles and mosaics of the old palace. But he complained bitterly that Charlemagne listened to his critics in Ravenna, 1 and he had repeatedly to appeal to Frank authority to enforce his sentences. To the end his letters to Charlemagne were querulous and exacting.
2. Ep., lxxxii.
A few years before his death he heard that Offa of England was proposing to Charlemagne to depose him, and he protested, with more petulance than dignity, that he had been elected, not by men, but by Jesus Christ. 1
This demoralizing concern for his temporal rights seems to have warped Hadrian's religious temperament and to have left him little time for purely spiritual duties. A single lengthy letter to Spain and a legation to England are all that we have as yet related, and there is little to add. His third exercise of jurisdiction was unfortunate. Irene had restored the worship of images in the East and was eager for a reconciliation with Western Christendom. She invited Hadrian to preside at an Ecumenical Council. His reply was admirable in doctrinal respects, but he annoyed the Greeks by at once claiming all his patrimonies in the East and protesting against the title used by Archbishop Tarasius. They retorted by suppressing part of his letter to the Council of NicŠa ( 787), at which his Legates presided, and ignored both his requests.
This, however, was only the beginning of fresh and grave trouble with Charlemagne. The Greeks had annoyed him by cancelling the betrothal of Constantine with his daughter Rotrud, and there is reason to suspect that he already contemplated assuming the title of Emperor. There was, at all events, a sore feeling in France, and when the findings of the Council of NicŠa reached that country, they were treated with disdain and insult. Hadrian had, in his annoyance with the Greeks, refused to give a formal sanction to their findings, but he had so far accepted them as to issue from the Papal chancellery a Latin translation of the acta
1 Ep., xcvi.
of the Council. We can readily believe that the translation would be crude and inaccurate, but the quarrel was not based on these fine shades of meaning. The French conception of the use of images differed not only from that of the Greeks, but from that of Hadrian. The northern prelates held that images were to be regarded only as ornaments and as reminders of the saints they represented. In this sense Charlemagne issued, in his own name (though we justly suspect the authorship of Alcuin), the large work which is commonly known as The Caroline Books. It scathingly attacked the Greek canons which had been accepted by the Pope; it took no notice of Hadrian's doctrinal letter to the Council; and, in defiance of the familiar Roman custom, it denounced as sinful the practice of burning lights before statues or paying them any kind or degree of worship. It contained assurances of its loyalty to the Apostolic See, but Hadrian must have felt, when at length some version or other of the work was sent to him (three or four years after its publication), that it was an outrage on his spiritual authority. But the book bore the name of Charlemagne, and in his lengthy reply Hadrian prudently concealed his annoyance. 1 In the same year ( 794) the Frank bishops held a synod at Frankfort and resolutely maintained their position. Whether this synod followed or preceded Hadrian's letter we cannot say, but the Franks continued for years to reject the Roman doctrine. 2
1 Migne, vol. xcviii., col. 1247.
2 Alcuin afterwards wrote a very abject letter to the Pope (Ep., xviii.), and this is sometimes represented as an expression of regret, but he does not mention the image-question and plainly refers to his general unworthiness. The Franks were convinced that the Pope was wrong. See the Acta of the Frankfort Council in Mansi, xiii., 864.
Hadrian's biographer discreetly ignores these failures of his attempts to assert his authority, and almost confines himself to the record of his work in Rome itself. He restored and extended the walls, and added no less than four hundred towers to their defences. He repaired four aqueducts, and rebuilt, on a grander scale, the colonnade which ran from the Tiber to St. Peter's. The interior of St. Peter's he decorated with a splendour that must have seemed to the degenerate Romans imperial. The choir was adorned with silverplated doors, and, in part, a silver pavement; while a great silver chandelier, of 1345 lights, was suspended from its ceiling. Large statues of gold and silver were placed on the altars, and the walls were enriched with purple hangings and mosaics. Vestments of the finest silk, shining with gold and precious stones, were provided for the clergy. To other churches, also, Hadrian made liberal gifts of gold and silver statues, Tyrian curtains, gorgeous vestments, and mosaics. The long hostility to images and imagemakers in the East had driven large numbers of Greek artists to Italy, and the vast sums which the new temporal dominions sent to Rome enabled Hadrian to employ them. After a long and profound degeneration "the fine arts began slowly to revive." 1 For literary culture, however, Hadrian did nothing; the attempt of some writers to associate him with Charlemagne's efforts to relieve the gross illiteracy of Europe is without foundation.
In charity, too, the Pope was distinguished. He founded new deaconries for the care of the poor, and
1 R. Cattaneo, Architecture in Italy from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century ( 1896).
at times of flood and fire he was one of the first to visit and relieve the sufferers. But both his artistic and his philanthropic work was almost restricted to Rome. He added a few farms to those which his predecessors had planted on the desolate Campagna, but the great and increasing resources of the Papacy were chiefly used in laying the foundations of the material splendour which would one day daze the eyes of Europe, and in paying soldiers to protect it against his political rivals. It must be added that he was one of the early founders of the Roman tradition of nepotism. He appointed his nephew Paschalis to one of the chief Papal offices, and the brutality of the man, which will appear presently, shows that the promotion was not made on the ground of merit.
His long Pontificate came to an end on December 25th (or 26th) in the year 795, and it is an indication of the new position of the Papacy that his successor at once sent to Charlemagne the keys of Rome and of the tomb of St. Peter. We have the assurance of Eginhard that the Frank monarch wept as one weeps who has lost a dear son or brother, and he afterwards sent to Rome a most honouring epitaph of Hadrian, cut in gold letters on black marble. The character of Charlemagne and his inmost attitude toward the new Papacy he had created do not seem to me to be sufficiently elucidated by any of his biographers, but with that we are not concerned. He had deep regard for Hadrian, in spite of the Pope's failings. The new royal state was too heavy a burden for Hadrian I. to bear with dignity. One cannot doubt the sincerity of his religion, his humanity, and his impersonal devotion to what he conceived to be his duty. But it is equally plain that in the first Pope-King the cares of earthly dominion enfeebled the sense of spiritual duty and at times warped his character. It needed a great man to pass without scathe through such a transformation. Hadrian I. was not a great man.
NICHOLAS I. AND THE FALSE DECRETALS
THE coronation of Charlemagne by the Pope in the year 800 was also the crowning of the new Papal system. The ambition for temporal power had already disclosed the grave dangers which it brought. Soon after the death of Hadrian I. the horrible spectacle was witnessed at Rome of high Papal officials--one a nephew of the late Pope--attempting, on the floor of a church, to cut out the eyes of their Pontiff; and the record tells us that the Romans were so little moved by the charges brought against him that they left it to a provincial noble to rescue Leo III. Grave charges were also made against his successor, Stephen V., and Charlemagne came to Rome to judge him. He politely acquitted Stephen, and, on that historic Christmas morning of the year 800, he was surprised and disconcerted by the Pope suddenly producing an imperial crown and placing it on his head.
It is well known that Charlemagne regarded this coronation with distrust. The gifts of the Blessed Peter had a way of conferring more power on the giver than on the receiver. In point of fact, when the strong hand of the first Emperor was removed, and a brood of weaker men came to squabble over the imperial heritage, Rome gained considerably. The kingdoms of
France, Germany, and Italy were carved out of the Empire, but the spiritual realm was not exposed to any hereditary division. It merely awaited the coming of another strong man to make clear its power, and this revelation was reserved for Nicholas I. Of the eight Popes who preceded him, only one, Leo IV., made a reputable mark on history, and that rather as a strong and honest than as a spiritual personality. Most of them were, like most of the Popes, men of mediocre but respectable character. There is, however, some degeneration in the Papal calendar--which is, until the end of the ninth century, a more edifying record than many imagine--since two out of the eight remain under suspicion of grave misconduct, and one was a gouty gourmand ; while occasional outbreaks of a violence not far removed from barbarism betray that the new prosperity is not elevating the character of the Romans.
Nicholas, whose life in the Liber Pontificalis was probably written by his accomplished librarian Anastasius, was the son of a cultivated Roman notary, and was carefully trained in letters. These official panegyrics will not, however, impress the serious historian. The Pope's letters show that the extent of his profane culture was merely a stricter observance of the elementary rules of grammar than some of his predecessors had displayed. In 853, a few years before Nicholas began his Pontificate, Leo IV. had ordered the opening of schools in each of the twenty parishes of Rome, but he complained that teachers of the liberal arts were rare. The instruction given was mainly religious, and it seems that on the ecclesiastical side the Pope's culture was considerable. He had grown up in the devout service of the Church, and successive Popes had pro- moted and loved him; so that, when Benedict III. died, Nicholas was unanimously chosen to succeed him. In the presence of the Emperor, Louis II., Nicholas, who had to be dragged from a hiding-place in St. Peter's, was, on Sunday, April 24th, consecrated and conducted by joyous crowds along the laurel-crowned streets to the Lateran. Two days afterwards the Emperor entertained him at dinner, and they were very cordial. When Louis set out for France, Nicholas followed and had another festive dinner with him at his first camp. Then the Pope, after kissing and embracing'the Emperor, returned to the Lateran and gravely mounted the Papal throne. Within the next few years men learned that a new type of Pontiff ruled the Church, or the world. Nicholas I. conceived himself, in deepest sincerity, to be the representative of God on earth: fancied himself sitting on a throne so elevated that from its level all men-kings and beggars, patriarchs and monks--were of the same size. He believed that he was responsible to God for every immoral or irreligious movement in "every part of the world," as he often said. He was convinced that his words were "divinely inspired," 1 and that disobedience to him was disobedience to God. He was, by divine appointment, "prince over all the earth." 2 Kings received their swords from him, 3 and were as humbly subject as their serfs were to his moral and religious authority. The most powerful prelates must obey his orders at once or be deposed. 4 Not a council must be held in Europe without his approval 5 : not a church must be built "without the commands of
1 Ep. , lxxxiii., xcii., and cviii.
2 Ep. , lxv.
3 Ep. , lxxix.
4 Ep. , vi.
5 Ep. , xii.
the Pope" 1 : not a book of any importance must be published without his authorization. 2 Nicholas was conscientious in small duties: he kept lists of the blind and ailing poor to whom food had to be sent. But his great feature was his treatment of the mighty. He lived on a cloud-wrapt height, sending out the thunders of excommunication, on gentle and simple, as no Pope had ever dared to do before. He left to Louis the petty position of "emperor of men's bodies": he occupied the position of Jupiter. Europe was cowed by the impersonal arrogance of his language. He was the greatest maker of the mediŠval Papacy. 3 Nicholas did a greater work than Hildebrand because the times permitted him. He had to deal with the degenerate descendants of Charlemagne, not with a powerful ruler. On the other hand, court-favour and prosperity had made the leading prelates a feudal aristocracy, often arrogant and avaricious; and the monks they threatened and the priests they oppressed turned eagerly from them to the Roman court of appeal. Princes chafed at the independence of their spiritual vassals, and would depose them: bishops chafed at the interference of their suzerains, and would assert the independence of the Church. A thousand voices appealed to Rome. The fact that the Forged Decretals were not made at Rome or in the interest of Rome, but by the provincial clergy in their own interest, gives us the measure of the age. And the fact that such forgeries were at once received reminds us of another favourable circumstance: the dense ignorance of the time. There
1 Ep. , cxxxv.
2 Ep. , cxv.
3 An excellent analysis of his ideas is given in Dr. A. Greinacher Die Anschaungen des Papstes Nikolaus I. Řber das Verhńltniss von Staat und Kirche ( 1909).
was culture in places, as the contemporary work of Scotus Erigena reminds us, but to check these Papal claims one needed a knowledge of history, and the true story of the development of the Church and the Papacy, as we know it, was buried under a dense growth of legends and forgeries. Hence the dogmatic Papal conception, partly based on such documents as the Donation of Constantine and the Forged Decretals, sank almost unchallenged into the mind of Europe, and the Pope was now enabled to dispense with the swords of princes and rely on religious threats. The letters of Nicholas splutter anathemas from beginning to end.
His first extant letter gives the Archbishop of Sens and his colleagues a stern lesson on the prestige of the Papacy, as understood by Nicholas I. The sixth letter peremptorily orders the great Hincmar of Rheims and his colleagues, in language of the simplest arrogance, to excommunicate at once, as he had directed, the Countess Ingeltrude. But within a few years Nicholas was involved in such a mesh of correspondence with offending princes and prelates that we must consider the chief causes in succession.
The Eastern Empire was then ruled by Michael the Drunkard, his mistress Eudocia, and the Emperor's tutor in vice, his uncle Bardas. This pretty trio deposed the saintly Ignatius from the See of Constantinople, and put in his place the imperial secretary Photius, one of the most accomplished scholars and least scrupulous courtiers of the East. The better clergy protested, and the court sought the support of the Pope. A glittering captain of the guards presented himself at Rome with a set of jewelled altar-vessels and, no doubt, a diplomatic account of the situation. But Nicholas at once rebuked the Emperor for his "presumptuous temerity" in deposing Ignatius without the assent of Rome, and sent legates to inquire into the matter; and he took prompt occasion to demand the restoration of Papal rights and patrimonies in the East. 1 The Eastern court must have gasped at this language. However, the Pope's legates were suborned, and a Council held at Constantinople (May, 861) confirmed the election of Photius. Nicholas was not satisfied, 2 and at length he heard the truth from Ignatius. He called a Council at Rome, ordered Michael to restore Ignatius, 3 and threatened Photius with all the anathemas in the Papal arsenal if he did not retire.
Photius kept his place, and in 865 Michael wrote an abusive and threatening letter to the Pope. We gather from the Pope's reply that it expressed the greatest contempt and threatened that Greek troops would come and make an end of them all. The lengthy reply of Nicholas has some fine passages, but it argues too much where silence would have been more dignified, and is at times petty and petulant in hurling back the Emperor's foolish insults. 4 It received no answer, and in November, 866, Nicholas wrote again. He was, he said, sending legates to judge the case at Constantinople and would remind Michael of the terrible things in store for those who disobeyed him; as to that abusive letter, he says, if Michael does not take it back, he will "commit it to eternal perdition, in a great fire, and so bring the Emperor into contempt with all nations." He also sent a very threatening letter to Photius. But the letters never reached Constantinople. The legates were turned back at the frontier, and Photius went on
Ep. , xcviii.
1 Ep. , iv.
2 Ep. , xii. and xiii.
3 Ep. xlvi.
4 Ep. , lxxxvi.
to publish a virulent tirade on the errors and heresies of the Latins. This seems to have been beyond the resources of the Lateran, and the scholars of France were entrusted with the defence of the West. Ignatius was eventually restored, but Nicholas did not live to see the issue, and the Eastern Church again drifted far away from the Western.
The anathema had proved ineffectual in the East, but Nicholas had meantime begun to employ it with happier results in Europe. In spite of the Puritanism of Louis I., the loose tradition of Charlemagne's court lingered in France and Nicholas soon found it necessary to rebuke aristocratic sinners. I have mentioned that in 860 he threatened the Countess Ingeltrude with excommunication if she did not abandon her gay vagabondage and return to her husband, the Count of Burgundy. Her son Hucbert had claimed the attention of Benedict III., who tells us that this high-born young abbot went about France with a lively troop of actresses and courtesans, corrupted the most venerable nunneries, and filled monasteries with his hawks and dogs and licentious ladies. 1 Hucbert's sister, Theutberga, was wedded to Lothair of Lorraine, brother of the Emperor Louis, who accused her of incest with Hucbert before her marriage and proposed to divorce her and marry his fascinating mistress Waldrada. Whether she was guilty or not we cannot tell, as no proper trial was ever held. She claimed the hot-water ordeal, and her champion was unscathed. Then Lothair won the support of the chief prelates of his kingdom, and they obtained or extorted from her a confession of guilt. They committed her to a nunnery and, in 862, granted Lothair a divorce.
1 Ep., ii.
Theutberga appealed to Rome, and Nicholas ordered that a general synod should meet at Metz. In his most lordly manner the Pope directed Charles the Bald and Louis of Germany (uncles of Lothair) to send bishops to this synod, but they left the field to their nephew and, as he bribed the Pope's legates, he secured a confirmation of the divorce (June, 863). Nicholas set his lips with more than their usual sternness when the archbishops of Cologne and TrŔves arrived with this decision. Summoning his own bishops to a council, he bluntly described the Metz synod as "a brothel," annulled its decision, and excommunicated the two archbishops. In language more imperious than any that had yet issued from the Lateran, he declared that this was the decision of the Vicar of Christ, and any man--he seems to refer pointedly to the royal families--who ventured to dissent from this or any other Papal pronouncement would incur the direst anathemas.
GŘnther, the Archbishop of Cologne, fled in anger to the court of the Emperor, and before long Louis was marching on Rome at the head of his troops. 1 It was a critical moment for the Papal conception. Nicholas ordered fasts and processions, and one of these processions, headed by the large gold crucifix which was believed to contain a part of the true cross, went out to St. Peter's, near which the imperial troops were encamped. To the horror of the Romans, the soldiers fell on the procession with their swords, and flung the precious cross into the mud. Nicholas crossed the river secretly and remained in prayer in St. Peter's, for forty-eight hours, without food. This was the world's reply to his first tremendous assertion of author-
1 The best account is in the Annals of St. Bertin, in the Monumenta GermaniŠ Historica, vol. i.
ity, and the history of Europe might have been altered if the imperial sword had on that occasion prevailed over his spiritual threats. But the Papacy was saved by one of those accidents which so deeply impressed the mediŠval imagination. The man who had insulted the cross died suddenly, and Louis himself became seriously ill. The Empress hurried to the Pope, and in a short time the troops were marching northward. From that day anathema becomes a mighty weapon in the hands of the Popes.
Archbishop GŘnther was not so easily intimidated. He wrote a fierce diatribe against Nicholas--this new "emperor of the whole world,"--had a copy flung upon the tomb of the apostle, and departed for Lorraine. But Nicholas now knew his power. He scolded Charles and Louis like lackeys for not sending bishops to Metz; they held their swords from St. Peter, and they must listen to a Pope who speaks from direct divine revelation. 1 The two kings persuaded Lothair to disown Gfinther and submit, and the legate Arsenius was sent to France. This legate Arsenius, an arrogant and worldly Bishop, whose career ended in grave scandal, delivered the Pope's orders at the courts of Charles, Louis, and Lothair with a haughtiness even greater and less respectable than that of Nicholas. He was obeyed at once, says Hincmar, who shudders at the facile scattering of anathemas. 2 He then conducted Theutberga to her husband and made the prince and his nobles swear on the most sacred relics to respect her; and, after a final shower of "unheard-of maledictions" (says Hincmar), he set out for Rome with the siren Waldrada.
1 Ep., lxxxiii.
2 It is, at least, generally believed that Hincmar wrote this part of the Bertinian Annals.
There is grave reason to believe that the arrogant Bishop was bribed, or otherwise corrupted, by Waldrada. She "escaped" in northern Italy and returned to Lorraine; and the unhappy Theutberga now appealed to Nicholas to release her and let Lothair marry Waldrada. To this noble appeal Nicholas could have but one answer; for the claims of the human heart he had no ear. She must remain in her husband's bed if it means martyrdom. Lothair shall never marry that "whore" even if Theutberga dies. There death compelled Nicholas to leave the romantic situation of Lothair; and one reads, almost with a smile, that his successor, Hadrian II., accepted Lothair's sworn declaration (supported by many presents) that he had had no relations with Waldrada since the prohibition, and admitted him and the Archbishop of Cologne to the holy table. One must respect the great Pope's insistence on what he believed to be a divine ordination, but the historians who represent him as the champion of the human rights of an injured woman forget the final martyrdom of Theutberga.
One seems at first to find a more human note in the Pope's indulgence toward Baldwin of Flanders. Judith, daughter of Charles the Bald, had been put under restraint by her father for misconduct, and in 860 she eloped with the young Count of Flanders. Baldwin asked the Pope's mediation, and he won from Charles forgiveness for the erring couple. If, however, one reads his letter (xxii.) carefully, one finds no ground for the claim that he was "tender toward the penitent." He plainly says that Baldwin had threatened to throw in his lot with the Norman pirates if Charles persists in his threat of vengeance. There is a nearer approach to sentiment in the Pope's effort to secure the property of the widowed Helletrude, which had been seized by Lothair; but we do not know the issue of his intervention in that case.
If the new language of the Papacy fell with uncertain effect upon the ears of kings and sinners, it did at least win a triumph among the great prelates of Europe and raised the Roman See immeasurably above them. The conflict with Hincmar of Rheims was the most notable and successful struggle in which Nicholas engaged. Hincmar was the most distinguished and one of the more worthy of the prelate-nobles who had risen to wealth and power with the settlement of Europe. He was a man of imperious temper and great ability, yet of sincere religious feeling and concern for the prestige of the Gallic Church. One of his suffragans, Rothrad of Soissons, incurred his dislike, and, when this Bishop suspended one of his priests, who had been caught in adultery and ignominiously mutilated by his parishioners, Hincmar reinstated the man. When Rothrad not unnaturally remonstrated, he was deposed by Hincmar and a jury of five bishops, 1 and he appealed to Rome. In order to frustrate this appeal, Hincmar took a weak and improper advantage of a letter written by Rothrad, saying that in this letter the Bishop abandoned his appeal, and induced the King to forbid him to go to Rome. Then, in a synod which met at Soissons, he had the deposition confirmed and Rothrad sentenced to live in a monastery.
Nicholas at once, in 863, wrote a severe letter to Hincmar, harshly rebuking him for his want of respect for the Roman See and claiming that the case ought to have been remitted to Rome whether Rothrad had appealed or no.2 In a second letter written shortly
1 Bertinian Annals, year 8 65).
2 Ep., xxxiii.
afterwards, he threatened to depose Hinemar if he did not obey, or come to justify his conduct at Rome, within thirty days. 1 He wrote in the same harshly autocratic language to the King and to the other French prelates; if his orders were not at once obeyed, he would punish everybody severely. The greatest prelate-noble in Europe and the King himself submitted almost without a struggle, and Rothrad went to Rome. Hincmar, it is true, disdained to send witnesses and attempted in his letter to defend his action, but the Pope went on his way as calmly and inexorably as if he were dealing with a few refractory monks. On Christmas Eve, 864, he preached a sermon on the case and announced that he had reinstated Rothrad. The legate Arsenius was then about to set out for France on the mission I have already described, and he took Rothrad with him to the court of Charles. He took also a letter to Hincmar which began: "If thou hadst any respect for the canons of the Fathers or the Apostolic See, thou wouldst not have attempted to depose Rothrad without our knowledge." I will consider later this covert reference to the Forged Decretals. Rothrad was reinstated; and the language in which the Bertinian Annals describe the Pope's procedure shows the bitter resentment it provoked in France.
An incident that occurred in the course of the dispute shows--if proof were necessary--that Nicholas acted on a sincere conviction of right. In 863 Lothair appointed Archbishop Gfinther's brother, Hildwin, to the See of Cambrai, and Hincmar rightly protested that the man was unworthy. He appealed to Nicholas, and, although his appeal reached the Pope at a time when he was threatening to depose Hincmar, and that
1 Ep. , xxxiv.
prelate still evaded his orders, Nicholas at once discharged a shower of his menacing letters 1 in support of Hinemar and did not rest until Lothair abandoned Hildwin. Warped as it was, at times, by a too exalted conception of the authority of his See, Nicholas had, nevertheless, a rigid sentiment of justice, and it was his supreme aim to make that anarchic world bow to moral no less than ecclesiastical law.
He had not yet reached the end of his conflict with the great representative of the prelate-nobles. Hincmar's predecessor, Ebbo, had conferred orders after he had been deposed, and a council held at Soissons in 853 had suspended these clerics from the exercise of their functions. Benedict III. and Nicholas himself had expressed a qualified approval of this council, but the Forged Decretals were now circulating in France, and one of the suspended clerics, Wulfad,--possibly encouraged by the success of Rothrad,--appealed to Rome. Once more Nicholas curtly ordered Hincmar either to reinstate the clerics or to summon a new council, to which the Pope would send legates, at Soissons. The council was held, and the French bishops endeavoured by means of a compromise to save their own dignity yet avoid a quarrel: they decided to reinstate the clerics as an act of grace. This evasion drew from the Pope some of the sorriest letters in his register. Not only in a most harsh and offensive letter to the Archbishop, 2 but even in a letter to the bishops, 3 he accused Hinemar of fraud, insisted that the acta of the earlier Soissons council had been submitted in a dishonest form to his "divinely inspired" predecessor and himself, and, on the pretext that Hincmar was wearing his pallium on improper occasions, threatened to punish
XLL, xlii., and xliii.
his "pride" and "vainglory" by a withdrawal of that distinction. He ordered them to hold a new council. Nicholas died before the report of this council reached Rome, and his indulgent successor exculpated Hincmar. But the meekness with which those terrible letters were received is a measure of the advance of the Papacy.
A story that is told at length in the Liber Pontificalis affords another instance of this assertion of spiritual autocracy and its encouragement by appeals from the provinces. The Pope was informed that John of Ravenna abused his power; bishops complained that he quartered himself and his expensive retinue on them for unreasonable periods and made other exacting demands. When John received letters of remonstrance and legates from Rome, he forbade his subjects to appeal to the Pope, and strengthened his authority by falsifying the documents in his archives: a crime at which the Roman Anastasius expresses the most na´ve surprise and indignation. When Nicholas summoned him to appear before a Roman synod, John "boasted" that he was not subject to the Bishop of Rome, and, when the synod excommunicated him, he appealed to the Emperor. He then went, with the support of imperial legates, to beard Nicholas in the Lateran, but the Pope astutely detached the legates from him and he returned in concern to Ravenna. In this case the prelate was unpopular and unjust, so that Nicholas had a good local base for his authority. He went in person to Ravenna, and before long men pointed the finger of scorn or of horror at their proud Archbishop as he rode through the streets. The Emperor abandoned him, and in a few months we find John at Rome, humbly submitting to the rod, placing the written record of his penitence on the holy sandals of the Saviour.
A remarkable extension of this authority is attempted in a letter which Nicholas addressed to King Charles in 867. The dispute about predestination which then agitated clerical Europe, and gave some fallacious promise of a revival of intellect, had been submitted to Nicholas in the early days of his Pontificate. Nicholas was, like all the great Popes, a statesman and canonist, not a theologian. He prudently remained silent, and let Franks and Germans belabour each other with theological epithets. When, however, he heard that Charles had invited the famous John Scotus Erigena, the subtlest thinker of the early Middle Ages, to translate a supposed work of Denis the Areopagite ( De Divinis Nominibus ), he reproved the King for issuing so important a book without having submitted it to Rome. 1 We do not find that Charles took any notice of his claim of censorship, or sent him a copy of the book. It is a good illustration of the attitude of Rome that a thinker like Scotus Erigena, in whose works we plainly recognize the most advanced heresy that arose in Europe before the eighteenth century, incurred so little censure. Nicholas merely complains that the learned Irishman is rumoured to be not entirely sound in theology.
Still bolder is the claim made in a letter in which Nicholas sought to control the conversion of the Danes. No new national Church must be founded without his authority, he says, since "according to the sacred decrees even a new basilica cannot be built without the command of the Pope." 2 In this he outran not only the genuine, but the forged, Decretals. He had in mind, no doubt, a decree of Gelasius on the subject of church-building, but this merely forbade the erection
of a church, without authority, in the Roman diocese itself. At the other extremity of Europe Nicholas made elaborate efforts to bring the Bulgarians under his authority. He sent legates to King Boris, and wrote a very long and curious reply to a large number of questions--ranging from the most exalted points of faith to the wearing of trousers by women--which the Bulgarians submitted to him. He did not live to see the relapse of the deceitful and ambitious Slavs.
These are the outstanding features of the voluminous correspondence of Nicholas the Great. They bring before us the portrait of a man who is raised above the disorder of his time, not so much by strength of personality as by the exaltation of his sacerdotal creed. In a more orderly Christendom Nicholas might have seemed an exemplary and not greatly distinguished bishop, but chaos has ever been the native element of such creative genius as he possessed. Since all men now bowed in theory to the Christian ideal, their very disorders lent authority to the Pope's anathemas. He hears that a set of young bishops are devoted to hunting and even to less reputable pastimes, and his scorn is irresistible. 1 He hears that the sons of Charles the Bald have quarrelled with their royal father, and, though they are now reconciled, "we direct that you present yourselves humbly at a synod to be held in a place appointed by us, to which we will send legates of the apostolic authority." 2 He has little time or inclination for the material decoration of Rome. He restores St. Peter's and the Trajan aqueduct; he organizes the distribution of charity; but his life-work is the consolidation of the spiritual supremacy of the
Ep., xxxix. Popes. He is, pre-eminently, the smiter of the powerful; and, in smiting them, he strengthens the Papal arm. Fortunately for him and the Papacy, he has to deal with a degenerate, ignorant, and superstitious generation: the night of the Dark Age is drawing in--a night which is not disproved by showing, as Maitland does, that there was a little lamp here and there. And when we contemplate that world of murder, incest, rape, spoliation, and monastic and priestly corruption which is reflected in the Pope's letters, we feel that it was well for Europe to have such a master.
On the other hand, we do assuredly find Nicholas, and each succeeding great Pope, yielding to that most natural temptation of the moralist and priest in face of grave disorder--acting on the unformulated principle that the end sanctifies the means. The question whether Nicholas relied on the Forged Decretals has now been so fully discussed that it is possible to give a precise answer; at least when we consider certain passages in his letters which have been overlooked. On the origin and spread of the Decretals I need only summarize accepted results. 1 The collection originated in France about the year 850, though it is still disputed whether it was composed in the diocese of Tours or (as seems more probable) that of Rheims. It follows from this origin that the forgery was perpetrated, not in the interest of the Papacy, but of the bishops and
1 The famous collection which bears the name of Isidorus Mercator contains about sixty spurious Decretals in the first part, covering the first three centuries, and about thirty in the third part; the second part contains the canons of councils. The author makes an adroit use of older documents, and his work is largely a mosaic of genuine fragments (of Papal letters, chronicles, etc.) so pieced together and ante-dated as to father later developments of Papal authority on the earlier Popes. The best edition is that of P. Hinschius ( 1863), and the best survey of recent
lower clergy, to whom it gave the right of appeal to a central authority against the (often unjust) sentences of higher prelates and the aggression of lay nobles. The book, however, is not merely concerned with questions of jurisdiction and appeal. It is further agreed that, though the successor of Nicholas, Hadrian II., certainly used the Forged Decretals, they were little used by the Popes before the middle of the eleventh century; but it is equally agreed that they were of immense service to the Papacy in spreading a conviction of the antiquity of its most advanced claims and in promoting the practice of appeal to it.
The chief point in dispute is whether Nicholas knew and employed the forgery, and with this I may deal more fully. The first letter in the Pope's Register is a reply to Wenilo, Archbishop of Sens, in regard to the deposition of a bishop. Servatus Lupus, the learned abbot of FerriŔres, had written on behalf of Wenilo --the letter is fortunately preserved--to say that men were quoting a certain Decretal of Pope Melchiades which reserved to the Papacy the deposition of bishops. 1 This was evidently a quotation from the Forged Decretals, yet in his reply Nicholas completely ignores the supposed Decretal on which his opinion was expressly asked. Whether or no we may infer from this silence that Nicholas was ignorant of the source of the quotation, we may surely conclude that so industrious a
1 study is the article "Pseudoisidor" in Herzog's Real-Encyclopńdie fŘr Protestantische Theologie. There is a useful chapter in The Age of Charlemagne ( 1898), by C. L. Wells. The ablest Catholic study of the relation of Nicholas to the collection is Jules Roy's Saint Nicholas ( 1901). See also Les Fausses DÚcrÚtales ( 1879), of Father Ch. de Smedt. On the general question of the Pope's use of spurious documents see the able Old Catholic work of J. Richterich, Papst Nikolaus I. ( 1903).
1 See Ep., cxxx., of Servatus Lupus.
canonist would make immediate inquiries about this remarkable document, if he were not already acquainted with it. Since, however, he made no reply to the question whether the deposition of a bishop was reserved to the Papacy, I infer that he was unaware of the existence of the Decretals; and this is strongly confirmed by a letter which he wrote in 862. He tells King Solomon of Brittany that a bishop may be deposed by twelve bishops, on the evidence of seventytwo witnesses, and he refers to Pope Silvester as the authority for this mythical ordinance. 1 In this he relies on a spurious document, but a document not contained in the Isidorean collection. The main point is that he allows the local deposition of bishops, and enjoins recourse to Rome only in case of dispute. He does not yet seem to know the Decretals, but, as Hincmar had used them in 857 (possibly in 853), we can hardly imagine such a Pope as Nicholas remaining long unaware of the existence in France of this strong foundation of his authority; especially when, as I said, his attention had been plainly drawn to it by Servatus Lupus.
Then came the case of Rothrad, 2 and Nicholas, as we saw, wrote to Hinemar that the case ought to have been remitted to Rome whether Rothrad had appealed or no 3 ; but it is clear that he is speaking of a vague duty imposed by general respect for the Apostolic See,
2 It is not easy to regard Rothrad as the author of the forgery, as he was not deposed until 862. A more probable source of origin is the group of clerics ordained by Ebbo and suspended by Hincmar in 853. Even this seems too late, however, as such a compilation was not the work of a day. But it is very probable that Rothrad took the book to Rome, if it were not already there.
not of a duty enforced by canonical obligation. If, he' says, Hincmar were "not disposed" to send the case to Rome ( si id agere noluisses ), he ought at least to have respected Rothrad's actual appeal. But when we come to 865, and the famous letter (lxxv.) which the Pope wrote to Hincmar and his colleagues, Nicholas is quite clear. "Even if," he says, "he [ Rothrad] had not appealed to the Apostolic See, you had no right to run counter to so many and such important decretal statutes and depose a bishop without consulting us." 1 The French prelates had complained that such Decretals were not found in their collection: the Dionysian collection given to Charlemagne by Hadrian in 774. It does not matter, Nicholas replies, whether they have them or not; all Decretals approved at Rome are to be respected. And he makes it perfectly clear that he is referring, not to genuine Decretals which may not be in the Dionysian collection, but to the Isidorean. They make use of these Decretals themselves, he says, when it suits their purpose; we know that Hincmar had done so, and possibly Nicholas had learned this from Rothrad. But he makes it still plainer that he is not referring to Decretals in the Roman archives, but to the Isidorean forgeries, when he says that he is thinking of the Decretals of "ancient" (prisci) Pontiffs, not merely those of Gregory and Leo; and he leaves no room whatever for doubt when he includes letters written by the Popes in "the times of the pagan persecutions."
We must not, however, exaggerate the Pope's reliance on this imposture. M. Roy has made a careful
1 The modern writers who have contended that these tot et talia decretalia statuta are not the Isidorean Decretals seem not to have read the whole letter.
analysis of the letters of Nicholas, and he maintains that only four of his quotations are from spurious Decretals: that three of these are not in the Isidorean collection: and that the one which is common to Nicholas and pseudo-Isidore had already been in circulation before the imposture was published. 1
Father de Smedt further points out that Nicholas made no use of Isidorean Decretals which would, especially in his conflict with Photius, have been useful to him, and that, when he does use documents which are in the Isidorean collection, he gives their genuine words or assigns them to their real authors. These are generally valid claims, but they do not conflict with my conclusion. Nicholas plainly endeavoured to use the Forged Decretals, but he had a learned and acute antagonist in Hincmar and he dare not quote them individually or in their crude Isidorean form. One is almost reminded of the smiles of Roman augurs when one considers these two great ecclesiastical statesmen, using a forged document or watching with complacency the use of it, yet checking each other when it affects their own interests. There is no answer to Milman's sober charge that Nicholas saw the spread of the work and did not protest. He knew well the contents of the Roman archives--he had a number of scribes studying them--and he must have known as well as we do that there were no genuine Decretals before the time of Gelasius.
The analysis made by M. Roy must be supplemented by that of J. Richterich, 2 from which it appears beyond
1 Saint Nicholas, Appendix II. (followed by Dr. Mann, vol. iii.). See also F. Rocquain La PapautÚ au Moyen ┬ge ( 1881). Hefele (bd. iv., p. 292 ) admits that Nicholas relied on the forgery.
2 Papst Nikolaus I. ( 1903).
question that Nicholas made a very extensive use of spurious documents; as we have found Roman officials doing from the fourth century. Father de Smedt 1 "does not altogether deny" that, as Hinschius says, Nicholas sometimes, in quoting genuine Decretals, alters their meaning in accordance with the Isidorean. Roy himself has to admit that Nicholas goes far beyond the words and meaning of Gelasius in saying that no church may be built without the Pope's permission. 2 He goes equally beyond genuine precedent in claiming that no bishop can be deposed without his authority; hitherto there had been only the vague understanding that "grave cases" were reserved to the Pope. He advances equally beyond precedent in claiming that no council can be held without his sanction. Roy 3 calls this "a pseudo-Isidorean principle," and says that Nicholas nowhere asserted it. But Nicholas plainly asserts it in Ep., xii., and is just as plainly straining a vague early claim of Pope Gelasius. 4
We must conclude that, however beneficent may have been the spiritual centralization which Nicholas so ably elaborated, and however impersonal and religious his aim may have been, he proceeded at times on principles which no cause can sanctify: principles which it was dangerous to bequeath to less spiritual successors. He died in 867, after nine and a half years of heroic work for his ideal: a type of ecclesiastical statesman that it needs a peculiarly balanced judgment to appreciate. The pleasures and thrills of the world he despised, and it would be a deep injustice to conceive him as other than entirely indifferent to the personal prestige of his position. His personality was
1 P. 116.
Epp., lxxxii. and cxxxv.
3 P. 131.
4 Ep. , lxv
entirely merged in his office: he was, indeed, not a personality, but the vicar of a greater personality. The phrase which too often in Hadrian's letters is a mere artifice for obtaining wealth and power--"the Blessed Peter"--was to him the expression of a living and awful reality. If the Papacy did not tower above all the other thrones in Christendom, the intention of Christ was made void. Nicholas would have it realized. In that spirit he added strength to the frame of the Papal system. The historian must do justice to his aim and to the salutary tendency of his moral control of Europe; he must be no less candid in denouncing the sentiment that the end justifies the means.
[ Continue to Ch.VII ]