|« Prev||Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The…||Next »|
Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The Franks.—Part III.
The mutual obligations of the popes and the Carlovingian family form the important link of ancient and modern, of civil and ecclesiastical, history. In the conquest of Italy, the champions of the Roman church obtained a favorable occasion, a specious title, the wishes of the people, the prayers and intrigues of the clergy. But the most essential gifts of the popes to the Carlovingian race were the dignities of king of France,59845984 Besides the common historians, three French critics, Launoy, (Opera, tom. v. pars ii. l. vii. epist. 9, p. 477-487,) Pagi, (Critica, A.D. 751, No. 1-6, A.D. 752, No. 1-10,) and Natalis Alexander, (Hist. Novi Testamenti, dissertat, ii. p. 96-107,) have treated this subject of the deposition of Childeric with learning and attention, but with a strong bias to save the independence of the crown. Yet they are hard pressed by the texts which they produce of Eginhard, Theophanes, and the old annals, Laureshamenses, Fuldenses, Loisielani and of patrician of Rome. I. Under the sacerdotal monarchy of St. Peter, the nations began to resume the practice of seeking, on the banks of the Tyber, their kings, their laws, and the oracles of their fate. The Franks were perplexed between the name and substance of their government. All the powers of royalty were exercised by Pepin, mayor of the palace; and nothing, except the regal title, was wanting to his ambition. His enemies were crushed by his valor; his friends were multiplied by his liberality; his father had been the savior of Christendom; and the claims of personal merit were repeated and ennobled in a descent of four generations. The name and image of royalty was still preserved in the last descendant of Clovis, the feeble Childeric; but his obsolete right could only be used as an instrument of sedition: the nation was desirous of restoring the simplicity of the constitution; and Pepin, a subject and a prince, was ambitious to ascertain his own rank and the fortune of his family. The mayor and the nobles were bound, by an oath of fidelity, to the royal phantom: the blood of Clovis was pure and sacred in their eyes; and their common ambassadors addressed the Roman pontiff, to dispel their scruples, or to absolve their promise. The interest of Pope Zachary, the successor of the two Gregories, prompted him to decide, and to decide in their favor: he pronounced that the nation might lawfully unite in the same person the title and authority of king; and that the unfortunate Childeric, a victim of the public safety, should be degraded, shaved, and confined in a monastery for the remainder of his days. An answer so agreeable to their wishes was accepted by the Franks as the opinion of a casuist, the sentence of a judge, or the oracle of a prophet: the Merovingian race disappeared from the earth; and Pepin was exalted on a buckler by the suffrage of a free people, accustomed to obey his laws and to march under his standard. His coronation was twice performed, with the sanction of the popes, by their most faithful servant St. Boniface, the apostle of Germany, and by the grateful hands of Stephen the Third, who, in the monastery of St. Denys placed the diadem on the head of his benefactor. The royal unction of the kings of Israel was dexterously applied:59855985 Not absolutely for the first time. On a less conspicuous theatre it had been used, in the vith and viith centuries, by the provincial bishops of Britain and Spain. The royal unction of Constantinople was borrowed from the Latins in the last age of the empire. Constantine Manasses mentions that of Charlemagne as a foreign, Jewish, incomprehensible ceremony. See Selden's Titles of Honor, in his Works, vol. iii. part i. p. 234-249. the successor of St. Peter assumed the character of a divine ambassador: a German chieftain was transformed into the Lord's anointed; and this Jewish rite has been diffused and maintained by the superstition and vanity of modern Europe. The Franks were absolved from their ancient oath; but a dire anathema was thundered against them and their posterity, if they should dare to renew the same freedom of choice, or to elect a king, except in the holy and meritorious race of the Carlovingian princes. Without apprehending the future danger, these princes gloried in their present security: the secretary of Charlemagne affirms, that the French sceptre was transferred by the authority of the popes;59865986 See Eginhard, in Vita Caroli Magni, c. i. p. 9, &c., c. iii. p. 24. Childeric was deposed—jussu, the Carlovingians were established—auctoritate, Pontificis Romani. Launoy, &c., pretend that these strong words are susceptible of a very soft interpretation. Be it so; yet Eginhard understood the world, the court, and the Latin language. and in their boldest enterprises, they insist, with confidence, on this signal and successful act of temporal jurisdiction.
II. In the change of manners and language the patricians of Rome 59875987 For the title and powers of patrician of Rome, see Ducange, (Gloss. Latin. tom. v. p. 149-151,) Pagi, (Critica, A.D. 740, No. 6-11,) Muratori, (Annali d'Italia, tom. vi. p. 308-329,) and St. Marc, (Abrege Chronologique d'Italie, tom. i. p. 379-382.) Of these the Franciscan Pagi is the most disposed to make the patrician a lieutenant of the church, rather than of the empire. were far removed from the senate of Romulus, on the palace of Constantine, from the free nobles of the republic, or the fictitious parents of the emperor. After the recovery of Italy and Africa by the arms of Justinian, the importance and danger of those remote provinces required the presence of a supreme magistrate; he was indifferently styled the exarch or the patrician; and these governors of Ravenna, who fill their place in the chronology of princes, extended their jurisdiction over the Roman city. Since the revolt of Italy and the loss of the Exarchate, the distress of the Romans had exacted some sacrifice of their independence. Yet, even in this act, they exercised the right of disposing of themselves; and the decrees of the senate and people successively invested Charles Martel and his posterity with the honors of patrician of Rome. The leaders of a powerful nation would have disdained a servile title and subordinate office; but the reign of the Greek emperors was suspended; and, in the vacancy of the empire, they derived a more glorious commission from the pope and the republic. The Roman ambassadors presented these patricians with the keys of the shrine of St. Peter, as a pledge and symbol of sovereignty; with a holy banner which it was their right and duty to unfurl in the defence of the church and city.59885988 The papal advocates can soften the symbolic meaning of the banner and the keys; but the style of ad regnum dimisimus, or direximus, (Codex Carolin. epist. i. tom. iii. pars ii. p. 76,) seems to allow of no palliation or escape. In the Ms. of the Vienna library, they read, instead of regnum, rogum, prayer or request (see Ducange;) and the royalty of Charles Martel is subverted by this important correction, (Catalani, in his Critical Prefaces, Annali d'Italia, tom. xvii. p. 95-99.) In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin, the interposition of the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom, while it threatened the safety, of Rome; and the patriciate represented only the title, the service, the alliance, of these distant protectors. The power and policy of Charlemagne annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master. In his first visit to the capital, he was received with all the honors which had formerly been paid to the exarch, the representative of the emperor; and these honors obtained some new decorations from the joy and gratitude of Pope Adrian the First.59895989 In the authentic narrative of this reception, the Liber Pontificalis observes—obviam illi ejus sanctitas dirigens venerabiles cruces, id est signa; sicut mos est ad exarchum, aut patricium suscipiendum, sum cum ingenti honore suscipi fecit, (tom. iii. pars i. p. 185.) No sooner was he informed of the sudden approach of the monarch, than he despatched the magistrates and nobles of Rome to meet him, with the banner, about thirty miles from the city. At the distance of one mile, the Flaminian way was lined with the schools, or national communities, of Greeks, Lombards, Saxons, &c.: the Roman youth were under arms; and the children of a more tender age, with palms and olive branches in their hands, chanted the praises of their great deliverer. At the aspect of the holy crosses, and ensigns of the saints, he dismounted from his horse, led the procession of his nobles to the Vatican, and, as he ascended the stairs, devoutly kissed each step of the threshold of the apostles. In the portico, Adrian expected him at the head of his clergy: they embraced, as friends and equals; but in their march to the altar, the king or patrician assumed the right hand of the pope. Nor was the Frank content with these vain and empty demonstrations of respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed between the conquest of Lombardy and his Imperial coronation, Rome, which had been delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the sceptre of Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person and family: in his name money was coined, and justice was administered; and the election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority. Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there was not any prerogative remaining, which the title of emperor could add to the patrician of Rome.59905990 Paulus Diaconus, who wrote before the empire of Charlemagne describes Rome as his subject city—vestrae civitates (ad Pompeium Festum) suis addidit sceptris, (de Metensis Ecclesiae Episcopis.) Some Carlovingian medals, struck at Rome, have engaged Le Blanc to write an elaborate, though partial, dissertation on their authority at Rome, both as patricians and emperors, (Amsterdam, 1692, in 4to.)
The gratitude of the Carlovingians was adequate to these obligations, and their names are consecrated, as the saviors and benefactors of the Roman church. Her ancient patrimony of farms and houses was transformed by their bounty into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and the donation of the Exarchate was the first-fruits of the conquests of Pepin.59915991 Mosheim (Institution, Hist. Eccles. p. 263) weighs this donation with fair and deliberate prudence. The original act has never been produced; but the Liber Pontificalis represents, (p. 171,) and the Codex Carolinus supposes, this ample gift. Both are contemporary records and the latter is the more authentic, since it has been preserved, not in the Papal, but the Imperial, library. Astolphus with a sigh relinquished his prey; the keys and the hostages of the principal cities were delivered to the French ambassador; and, in his master's name, he presented them before the tomb of St. Peter. The ample measure of the Exarchate59925992 Between the exorbitant claims, and narrow concessions, of interest and prejudice, from which even Muratori (Antiquitat. tom. i. p. 63-68) is not exempt, I have been guided, in the limits of the Exarchate and Pentapolis, by the Dissertatio Chorographica Italiae Medii Aevi, tom. x. p. 160-180. might comprise all the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the emperor and his vicegerent; but its strict and proper limits were included in the territories of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara: its inseparable dependency was the Pentapolis, which stretched along the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona, and advanced into the midland-country as far as the ridges of the Apennine. In this transaction, the ambition and avarice of the popes have been severely condemned. Perhaps the humility of a Christian priest should have rejected an earthly kingdom, which it was not easy for him to govern without renouncing the virtues of his profession. Perhaps a faithful subject, or even a generous enemy, would have been less impatient to divide the spoils of the Barbarian; and if the emperor had intrusted Stephen to solicit in his name the restitution of the Exarchate, I will not absolve the pope from the reproach of treachery and falsehood. But in the rigid interpretation of the laws, every one may accept, without injury, whatever his benefactor can bestow without injustice. The Greek emperor had abdicated, or forfeited, his right to the Exarchate; and the sword of Astolphus was broken by the stronger sword of the Carlovingian. It was not in the cause of the Iconoclast that Pepin has exposed his person and army in a double expedition beyond the Alps: he possessed, and might lawfully alienate, his conquests: and to the importunities of the Greeks he piously replied that no human consideration should tempt him to resume the gift which he had conferred on the Roman Pontiff for the remission of his sins, and the salvation of his soul. The splendid donation was granted in supreme and absolute dominion, and the world beheld for the first time a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince; the choice of magistrates, the exercise of justice, the imposition of taxes, and the wealth of the palace of Ravenna. In the dissolution of the Lombard kingdom, the inhabitants of the duchy of Spoleto59935993 Spoletini deprecati sunt, ut eos in servitio B. Petri receperet et more Romanorum tonsurari faceret, (Anastasius, p. 185.) Yet it may be a question whether they gave their own persons or their country. sought a refuge from the storm, shaved their heads after the Roman fashion, declared themselves the servants and subjects of St. Peter, and completed, by this voluntary surrender, the present circle of the ecclesiastical state. That mysterious circle was enlarged to an indefinite extent, by the verbal or written donation of Charlemagne,59945994 The policy and donations of Charlemagne are carefully examined by St. Marc, (Abrege, tom. i. p. 390-408,) who has well studied the Codex Carolinus. I believe, with him, that they were only verbal. The most ancient act of donation that pretends to be extant, is that of the emperor Lewis the Pious, (Sigonius, de Regno Italiae, l. iv. Opera, tom. ii. p. 267-270.) Its authenticity, or at least its integrity, are much questioned, (Pagi, A.D. 817, No. 7, &c. Muratori, Annali, tom. vi. p. 432, &c. Dissertat. Chorographica, p. 33, 34;) but I see no reasonable objection to these princes so freely disposing of what was not their own. who, in the first transports of his victory, despoiled himself and the Greek emperor of the cities and islands which had formerly been annexed to the Exarchate. But, in the cooler moments of absence and reflection, he viewed, with an eye of jealousy and envy, the recent greatness of his ecclesiastical ally. The execution of his own and his father's promises was respectfully eluded: the king of the Franks and Lombards asserted the inalienable rights of the empire; and, in his life and death, Ravenna, 59955995 Charlemagne solicited and obtained from the proprietor, Hadrian I., the mosaics of the palace of Ravenna, for the decoration of Aix-la-Chapelle, (Cod. Carolin. epist. 67, p. 223.) as well as Rome, was numbered in the list of his metropolitan cities. The sovereignty of the Exarchate melted away in the hands of the popes; they found in the archbishops of Ravenna a dangerous and domestic rival:59965996 The popes often complain of the usurpations of Leo of Ravenna, (Codex Carolin, epist. 51, 52, 53, p. 200-205.) Sir corpus St. Andreae fratris germani St. Petri hic humasset, nequaquam nos Romani pontifices sic subjugassent, (Agnellus, Liber Pontificalis, in Scriptores Rerum Ital. tom. ii. pars. i. p. 107.) the nobles and people disdained the yoke of a priest; and in the disorders of the times, they could only retain the memory of an ancient claim, which, in a more prosperous age, they have revived and realized.
Fraud is the resource of weakness and cunning; and the strong, though ignorant, Barbarian was often entangled in the net of sacerdotal policy. The Vatican and Lateran were an arsenal and manufacture, which, according to the occasion, have produced or concealed a various collection of false or genuine, of corrupt or suspicious, acts, as they tended to promote the interest of the Roman church. Before the end of the eighth century, some apostolic scribe, perhaps the notorious Isidore, composed the decretals, and the donation of Constantine, the two magic pillars of the spiritual and temporal monarchy of the popes. This memorable donation was introduced to the world by an epistle of Adrian the First, who exhorts Charlemagne to imitate the liberality, and revive the name, of the great Constantine.59975997 Piissimo Constantino magno, per ejus largitatem S. R. Ecclesia elevata et exaltata est, et potestatem in his Hesperiae partibus largiri olignatus est.... Quia ecce novus Constantinus his temporibus, &c., (Codex Carolin. epist. 49, in tom. iii. part ii. p. 195.) Pagi (Critica, A.D. 324, No. 16) ascribes them to an impostor of the viiith century, who borrowed the name of St. Isidore: his humble title of Peccator was ignorantly, but aptly, turned into Mercator: his merchandise was indeed profitable, and a few sheets of paper were sold for much wealth and power. According to the legend, the first of the Christian emperors was healed of the leprosy, and purified in the waters of baptism, by St. Silvester, the Roman bishop; and never was physician more gloriously recompensed. His royal proselyte withdrew from the seat and patrimony of St. Peter; declared his resolution of founding a new capital in the East; and resigned to the popes the free and perpetual sovereignty of Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the West.59985998 Fabricius (Bibliot. Graec. tom. vi. p. 4-7) has enumerated the several editions of this Act, in Greek and Latin. The copy which Laurentius Valla recites and refutes, appears to be taken either from the spurious Acts of St. Silvester or from Gratian's Decree, to which, according to him and others, it has been surreptitiously tacked. This fiction was productive of the most beneficial effects. The Greek princes were convicted of the guilt of usurpation; and the revolt of Gregory was the claim of his lawful inheritance. The popes were delivered from their debt of gratitude; and the nominal gifts of the Carlovingians were no more than the just and irrevocable restitution of a scanty portion of the ecclesiastical state. The sovereignty of Rome no longer depended on the choice of a fickle people; and the successors of St. Peter and Constantine were invested with the purple and prerogatives of the Caesars. So deep was the ignorance and credulity of the times, that the most absurd of fables was received, with equal reverence, in Greece and in France, and is still enrolled among the decrees of the canon law.59995999 In the year 1059, it was believed (was it believed?) by Pope Leo IX. Cardinal Peter Damianus, &c. Muratori places (Annali d'Italia, tom. ix. p. 23, 24) the fictitious donations of Lewis the Pious, the Othos, &c., de Donatione Constantini. See a Dissertation of Natalis Alexander, seculum iv. diss. 25, p. 335-350. The emperors, and the Romans, were incapable of discerning a forgery, that subverted their rights and freedom; and the only opposition proceeded from a Sabine monastery, which, in the beginning of the twelfth century, disputed the truth and validity of the donation of Constantine.60006000 See a large account of the controversy (A.D. 1105) which arose from a private lawsuit, in the Chronicon Farsense, (Script. Rerum Italicarum, tom. ii. pars ii. p. 637, &c.,) a copious extract from the archives of that Benedictine abbey. They were formerly accessible to curious foreigners, (Le Blanc and Mabillon,) and would have enriched the first volume of the Historia Monastica Italiae of Quirini. But they are now imprisoned (Muratori, Scriptores R. I. tom. ii. pars ii. p. 269) by the timid policy of the court of Rome; and the future cardinal yielded to the voice of authority and the whispers of ambition, (Quirini, Comment. pars ii. p. 123-136.) In the revival of letters and liberty, this fictitious deed was transpierced by the pen of Laurentius Valla, the pen of an eloquent critic and a Roman patriot. 60016001 I have read in the collection of Schardius (de Potestate Imperiali Ecclesiastica, p. 734-780) this animated discourse, which was composed by the author, A.D. 1440, six years after the flight of Pope Eugenius IV. It is a most vehement party pamphlet: Valla justifies and animates the revolt of the Romans, and would even approve the use of a dagger against their sacerdotal tyrant. Such a critic might expect the persecution of the clergy; yet he made his peace, and is buried in the Lateran, (Bayle, Dictionnaire Critique, Valla; Vossius, de Historicis Latinis, p. 580.) His contemporaries of the fifteenth century were astonished at his sacrilegious boldness; yet such is the silent and irresistible progress of reason, that, before the end of the next age, the fable was rejected by the contempt of historians60026002 See Guicciardini, a servant of the popes, in that long and valuable digression, which has resumed its place in the last edition, correctly published from the author's Ms. and printed in four volumes in quarto, under the name of Friburgo, 1775, (Istoria d'Italia, tom. i. p. 385-395.) and poets,60036003 The Paladin Astolpho found it in the moon, among the things that were lost upon earth, (Orlando Furioso, xxxiv. 80.) Di vari fiore ad un grand monte passa, Ch'ebbe gia buono odore, or puzza forte: Questo era il dono (se pero dir lece) Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece. Yet this incomparable poem has been approved by a bull of Leo X. and the tacit or modest censure of the advocates of the Roman church.60046004 See Baronius, A.D. 324, No. 117-123, A.D. 1191, No. 51, &c. The cardinal wishes to suppose that Rome was offered by Constantine, and refused by Silvester. The act of donation he considers strangely enough, as a forgery of the Greeks. The popes themselves have indulged a smile at the credulity of the vulgar;60056005 Baronius n'en dit guerres contre; encore en a-t'il trop dit, et l'on vouloit sans moi, (Cardinal du Perron,) qui l'empechai, censurer cette partie de son histoire. J'en devisai un jour avec le Pape, et il ne me repondit autre chose "che volete? i Canonici la tengono," il le disoit en riant, (Perroniana, p. 77.) but a false and obsolete title still sanctifies their reign; and, by the same fortune which has attended the decretals and the Sibylline oracles, the edifice has subsisted after the foundations have been undermined.
While the popes established in Italy their freedom and dominion, the images, the first cause of their revolt, were restored in the Eastern empire.60066006 The remaining history of images, from Irene to Theodora, is collected, for the Catholics, by Baronius and Pagi, (A.D. 780-840.) Natalis Alexander, (Hist. N. T. seculum viii. Panoplia adversus Haereticos p. 118-178,) and Dupin, (Bibliot. Eccles. tom. vi. p. 136-154;) for the Protestants, by Spanheim, (Hist. Imag. p. 305-639.) Basnage, (Hist. de l'Eglise, tom. i. p. 556-572, tom. ii. p. 1362-1385,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. secul. viii. et ix.) The Protestants, except Mosheim, are soured with controversy; but the Catholics, except Dupin, are inflamed by the fury and superstition of the monks; and even Le Beau, (Hist. du Bas Empire,) a gentleman and a scholar, is infected by the odious contagion. Under the reign of Constantine the Fifth, the union of civil and ecclesiastical power had overthrown the tree, without extirpating the root, of superstition. The idols (for such they were now held) were secretly cherished by the order and the sex most prone to devotion; and the fond alliance of the monks and females obtained a final victory over the reason and authority of man. Leo the Fourth maintained with less rigor the religion of his father and grandfather; but his wife, the fair and ambitious Irene, had imbibed the zeal of the Athenians, the heirs of the Idolatry, rather than the philosophy, of their ancestors. During the life of her husband, these sentiments were inflamed by danger and dissimulation, and she could only labor to protect and promote some favorite monks whom she drew from their caverns, and seated on the metropolitan thrones of the East. But as soon as she reigned in her own name and that of her son, Irene more seriously undertook the ruin of the Iconoclasts; and the first step of her future persecution was a general edict for liberty of conscience.
In the restoration of the monks, a thousand images were exposed to the public veneration; a thousand legends were inverted of their sufferings and miracles. By the opportunities of death or removal, the episcopal seats were judiciously filled the most eager competitors for earthly or celestial favor anticipated and flattered the judgment of their sovereign; and the promotion of her secretary Tarasius gave Irene the patriarch of Constantinople, and the command of the Oriental church. But the decrees of a general council could only be repealed by a similar assembly:60076007 See the Acts, in Greek and Latin, of the second Council of Nice, with a number of relative pieces, in the viiith volume of the Councils, p. 645-1600. A faithful version, with some critical notes, would provoke, in different readers, a sigh or a smile. the Iconoclasts whom she convened were bold in possession, and averse to debate; and the feeble voice of the bishops was reechoed by the more formidable clamor of the soldiers and people of Constantinople. The delay and intrigues of a year, the separation of the disaffected troops, and the choice of Nice for a second orthodox synod, removed these obstacles; and the episcopal conscience was again, after the Greek fashion, in the hands of the prince. No more than eighteen days were allowed for the consummation of this important work: the Iconoclasts appeared, not as judges, but as criminals or penitents: the scene was decorated by the legates of Pope Adrian and the Eastern patriarchs,60086008 The pope's legates were casual messengers, two priests without any special commission, and who were disavowed on their return. Some vagabond monks were persuaded by the Catholics to represent the Oriental patriarchs. This curious anecdote is revealed by Theodore Studites, (epist. i. 38, in Sirmond. Opp. tom. v. p. 1319,) one of the warmest Iconoclasts of the age. the decrees were framed by the president Taracius, and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and fifty bishops. They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the church: but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead, and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same mode of adoration. Of this second Nicene council the acts are still extant; a curious monument of superstition and ignorance, of falsehood and folly. I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the comparative merit of image-worship and morality. A monk had concluded a truce with the daemon of fornication, on condition of interrupting his daily prayers to a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult the abbot. "Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and his Mother in their holy images, it would be better for you," replied the casuist, "to enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in the city."60096009 These visits could not be innocent since the daemon of fornication, &c. Actio iv. p. 901, Actio v. p. 1081 For the honor of orthodoxy, at least the orthodoxy of the Roman church, it is somewhat unfortunate, that the two princes who convened the two councils of Nice are both stained with the blood of their sons. The second of these assemblies was approved and rigorously executed by the despotism of Irene, and she refused her adversaries the toleration which at first she had granted to her friends. During the five succeeding reigns, a period of thirty-eight years, the contest was maintained, with unabated rage and various success, between the worshippers and the breakers of the images; but I am not inclined to pursue with minute diligence the repetition of the same events. Nicephorus allowed a general liberty of speech and practice; and the only virtue of his reign is accused by the monks as the cause of his temporal and eternal perdition. Superstition and weakness formed the character of Michael the First, but the saints and images were incapable of supporting their votary on the throne. In the purple, Leo the Fifth asserted the name and religion of an Armenian; and the idols, with their seditious adherents, were condemned to a second exile. Their applause would have sanctified the murder of an impious tyrant, but his assassin and successor, the second Michael, was tainted from his birth with the Phrygian heresies: he attempted to mediate between the contending parties; and the intractable spirit of the Catholics insensibly cast him into the opposite scale. His moderation was guarded by timidity; but his son Theophilus, alike ignorant of fear and pity, was the last and most cruel of the Iconoclasts. The enthusiasm of the times ran strongly against them; and the emperors who stemmed the torrent were exasperated and punished by the public hatred. After the death of Theophilus, the final victory of the images was achieved by a second female, his widow Theodora, whom he left the guardian of the empire. Her measures were bold and decisive. The fiction of a tardy repentance absolved the fame and the soul of her deceased husband; the sentence of the Iconoclast patriarch was commuted from the loss of his eyes to a whipping of two hundred lashes: the bishops trembled, the monks shouted, and the festival of orthodoxy preserves the annual memory of the triumph of the images. A single question yet remained, whether they are endowed with any proper and inherent sanctity; it was agitated by the Greeks of the eleventh century;60106010 See an account of this controversy in the Alexius of Anna Compena, (l. v. p. 129,) and Mosheim, (Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 371, 372.) and as this opinion has the strongest recommendation of absurdity, I am surprised that it was not more explicitly decided in the affirmative. In the West, Pope Adrian the First accepted and announced the decrees of the Nicene assembly, which is now revered by the Catholics as the seventh in rank of the general councils. Rome and Italy were docile to the voice of their father; but the greatest part of the Latin Christians were far behind in the race of superstition. The churches of France, Germany, England, and Spain, steered a middle course between the adoration and the destruction of images, which they admitted into their temples, not as objects of worship, but as lively and useful memorials of faith and history. An angry book of controversy was composed and published in the name of Charlemagne:60116011 The Libri Carolini, (Spanheim, p. 443-529,) composed in the palace or winter quarters of Charlemagne, at Worms, A.D. 790, and sent by Engebert to Pope Hadrian I., who answered them by a grandis et verbosa epistola, (Concil. tom. vii. p. 1553.) The Carolines propose 120 objections against the Nicene synod and such words as these are the flowers of their rhetoric—Dementiam.... priscae Gentilitatis obsoletum errorem .... argumenta insanissima et absurdissima.... derisione dignas naenias, &c., &c. under his authority a synod of three hundred bishops was assembled at Frankfort:60126012 The assemblies of Charlemagne were political, as well as ecclesiastical; and the three hundred members, (Nat. Alexander, sec. viii. p. 53,) who sat and voted at Frankfort, must include not only the bishops, but the abbots, and even the principal laymen. they blamed the fury of the Iconoclasts, but they pronounced a more severe censure against the superstition of the Greeks, and the decrees of their pretended council, which was long despised by the Barbarians of the West.60136013 Qui supra sanctissima patres nostri (episcopi et sacerdotes) omnimodis servitium et adorationem imaginum renuentes contempserunt, atque consentientes condemnaverunt, (Concil. tom. ix. p. 101, Canon. ii. Franckfurd.) A polemic must be hard-hearted indeed, who does not pity the efforts of Baronius, Pagi, Alexander, Maimbourg, &c., to elude this unlucky sentence. Among them the worship of images advanced with a silent and insensible progress; but a large atonement is made for their hesitation and delay, by the gross idolatry of the ages which precede the reformation, and of the countries, both in Europe and America, which are still immersed in the gloom of superstition.
|« Prev||Chapter XLIX: Conquest Of Italy By The…||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version